Column: Return of the rankings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Jeff Budlong, On the Rebound

With the NFL season at its midway point it is time to take a look at where the teams rank. In a season with few dominant teams there has been a couple of shakeups near the top.

1. Indianapolis (7-0) &045; I know we have been here before. Great start to a season but it doesn&8217;t mean anything if the postseason success doesn&8217;t follow. Regardless, Peyton Manning and Co. look like the team to beat right now.

Email newsletter signup

2. New England (6-1) &045; How convenient but the top two teams in the NFL power rankings will settle this dispute on the field this Sunday. The Patriots are quietly positioning themselves to make a run for another ring.

3. Chicago (7-0) &045; The offense looked good in bouncing back from the Arizona mess, but come on it&8217;s the 49ers. Rex is an improvement at quarterback but he is still not close to Peyton or Brady.

4. N.Y. Giants (5-2) &045; Tiki runs, Eli throws to Buress and the defense is pretty good. So far the combination works.

5. Atlanta (5-2) &045; If Michael Vick continues to play like this (7 TDs in his last two games) watch out. Getting a little pass to go with all that running is scary.

6. Baltimore (5-2) &045; Air McNair can look flat at times but I still like this team even if I can&8217;t stand Billick.

7. New Orleans (5-2) &045; Did not look good in losing to Baltimore Sunday, but I still think this team is on the rise.

8. San Diego (5-2) &045; Who would you rather have, Philip Rivers or Jake Plummer? I&8217;ll take

Rivers so that is why the Bolts are ranked ahead of the Broncos. I would be even higher on San Diego if Shawne Merriman wasn&8217;t about to get suspended for four games.

9. Denver (5-2) &045; Great looking defense until Peyton comes to town.

10. Cincinnati (4-3) &045; Lost a tough game to Atlanta but still a good team with too much offensive firepower to ignore as the season is at the halfway point.

11. Dallas (4-3) &045; The Tony Romo experiment is off to a good start. Lots of talent on this team, but it also has one major headcase that can mess anything up on a moment&8217;s notice.

12. Kansas City (4-3) &045; Larry Johnson is a fantasy football beast once again. I think I will rename my team LJ and everyone else.

13. Minnesota (4-3) &045; Lost to New England but still in the thick of a wide open NFC Conference.

14. St. Louis (4-3) &045; A team that has gone from looking great to very average. Took Seattle&8217;s spot because of injuries at QB and RB.

15. Seattle (4-3) &045; If Seneca Wallace can pull out a couple of wins and this team gets healthy they will win their division.

16. Carolina (4-4) &045; The ultimate rollercoster team. Up one week down another. Too much

talent to be just a .500 team.

17. Jacksonville (4-3) Hello, Byron Leftwich I&8217;m the bench we are going to become very good friends.

18. Philadelphia (4-4) &045; Has any other team fallen so far so fast. Tough-luck losses are still losses.

19. N.Y. Jets (4-4) &045; Good record considering the team but the loss to the Browns will sting for a while.

20. Green Bay (3-4) &045; Wins haven&8217;t come against powerhouses, but the confidence has to be building.

Everyone else:

The Yuck division

San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Washington and Tennessee.

The Let&8217;s Get Ready for Next Year division

Buffalo, Miami, Houston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Detroit and Arizona.

(Sports editor Jeff Budlong&8217;s column appears every Wednesday.)