Power Rankings: Giant blip aside, Patriots still the ones
By Pete Prisco
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Updated May 20
I feel sorry for the New York Giants.
They are the defending Super Bowl champions. Their shiny new bling rings are coming this summer after capping off a magical playoff run with an upset victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and yet they are getting little love heading into 2008.
Have Eli Manning and the Giants had their moment? (Getty Images)
Have Eli Manning and the Giants had their moment? (Getty Images)
You hear people actually say their victory was a fluke or lucky or not sustainable. Most so-called experts don't even list the Giants as the top NFC team right now when doing rankings, with that honor going to the Dallas Cowboys. Didn't the Giants go into Dallas and upset the Cowboys during their Super run? Did I miss something?
When I spoke to Cowboys coach Wade Phillips a few weeks ago, he pointed out that the Cowboys outgained the Giants and ran the ball for more yards, yet lost.
"We won almost everything except for the score," Phillips said. "You have games like that. The stats went our way, but they made the plays and won the game. We didn't play bad. We played a good game. We just didn't make the plays we had been making all season."
Phillips, by the way, was speaking to me at Tom Coughlin's charity golf tournament in Jacksonville, with Coughlin a short chip away.
No respect, none at all.
Coughlin still has a quality team and a quarterback who just might have punched his ticket to join the elite if that fourth-quarter performance in the Super Bowl is an indication of things to come.
Eli Manning, I think, arrived that day.
It's too bad he might be coming to a place already occupied by his brother, Peyton, and that model-loving quarterback he beat in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the two reasons why New England and Indianapolis are ranked 1-2 in my latest CBSSports.com Power Rankings. Yes, ahead of the Giants.
If the Giants and Patriots played 10 times last February, I think the Patriots would have won seven of them. That's not to take away from what the Giants did, but the Patriots were the better team.
Just not that day.
Don't buy for a minute, though, the talk that the Boston Herald story about a possible taping of the Rams' walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI, which ran the Friday before this year's Super Bowl, had any impact on the game. The Patriots are claiming it might have. That's absurd -- and they know it.
With Spygate now buried by the league, which clearly wants it to go away, the smug Bill Belichick is back. Did you see how arrogant he was in that interview with Armen Keteyian on the CBS Evening News?
It was a far cry from the woe-is-me Belichick we saw at the league meetings in March when he was peppered with questions about Spygate with the uncertainty of what Matt Walsh knew still to be determined.
With Walsh providing no new information, Belichick blasted away. You can bet he will try to use all of that as motivation for his team.
He doesn't really need it. The Patriots are the best team right now. And the Colts are the second-best team.
But I'm not going to put the Cowboys ahead of the Giants just yet. At least New England lost to the Giants on a neutral field. The Cowboys lost on their home field.
I'm not ready to pick the Giants to repeat, but it's not a stretch to say they're the best team in the NFC right now.
Too bad few others think that.
Current Team Previous
1 Patriots · Trends 2
Is there any reason to think they won't be sitting here for most of the season? The Super hangover won't bother this group.
2 Colts · Trends 3
I was tempted to put them in the top spot, but Dwight Freeney's health is still a concern. They aren't far behind the Patriots.
3 Giants · Trends 1
How can you not have them as the top NFC team? Too many people are forgetting the tough path they took to the Super Bowl.
4 Cowboys · Trends 4
They have almost the same team back that had the best record in the NFC last year. The one issue they must handle is having Phillips looking over his shoulder at Jason Garrett.
5 Jaguars · Trends 5
This is a deep, talented team that has filled some big holes through the draft and free agency. If David Garrard can prove he's not a one-year wonder, they could be an elite team.
6 Chargers · Trends 7
Here's another loaded team. The main concern is the health of both Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson. Phillips proved in the AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots that he's a tough guy, playing on a bad knee.
7 Steelers · Trends 8
Too many experts are counting this team out. The offensive line is an issue, but if that gets sorted out, the Steelers will win the division again. Sorry, Browns fans.
8 Eagles · Trends 10
Andy Reid is too good a coach for the Eagles to be a non-playoff team for another season. They will be the bounce-back team in 2008.
9 Seahawks · Trends 9
This is a tough team to gauge. Are they good or were they a product of a bad division last season? They do have to run the ball better.
10 Packers · Trends 6
I think Aaron Rodgers will be better than most people, which is why I still have the Packers in the top 10. This is a young, talented team with a good head coach.
11 Browns · Trends 17
They are the preseason chosen ones. A lot of experts think they're ready to take the division from the Steelers. Let's hold off on that.
12 Saints · Trends 15
It's all about the defense for the Saints. If adding Sedrick Ellis and Jonathan Vilma and others can help that side improve some, they can be a deep playoff team like in 2006.
13 Cardinals · Trends 12
Is this the year they break through and win the division? The talent is there, so it's all on Matt Leinart.
14 Titans · Trends 13
If Vince Young can take major steps throwing the football, the Titans have a chance to supplant the Jaguars as the second team in the division. If not, they might fall behind the Texans.
15 Buccaneers · Trends 11
Jon Gruden has a bunch of quarterbacks. But does he have the one? Jeff Garcia played well last season. Can he do it again at age 38?
16 Redskins · Trends 14
I'm a big believer that Jason Campbell can be a quality passer. Now that he has more receiving help, that time has come. New coach Jim Zorn will be a good thing for Campbell.
17 Bengals · Trends 16
First things first: Chad Johnson will be catching passes from Carson Palmer. No way he sits out. But is that enough to compensate for defensive issues?
18 Bills · Trends 18
They are a trendy pick as the "sleeper" team in 2008. If Trent Edwards is the real thing at quarterback that might not be far off.
19 Broncos · Trends 21
Jay Cutler struggled with diabetes last year, but now seems to have it under control. He should be better, which will help the offense. But they still have issues at too many positions.
20 Bears · Trends 19
Haven't we already heard all this talk about how they can be a good team if they get decent quarterback play? Rex Grossman, Act II.
21 Panthers · Trends 26
Where is Jake Delhomme in his battle back from elbow surgery? The coaching staff, which is under fire, better hope he's all the way back.
22 Rams · Trends 20
It's all about health for the Rams. If they can stay healthy, which they didn't last season, they could be a significantly better team than in 2007.
23 Texans · Trends 22
They might be better than they were a year ago, but not show it in their record. That's because they play in a brutal division
24 Vikings · Trends 23
They have the makings of a deep playoff team with one exception: quarterback. Do you believe in Tarvaris Jackson?
25 Ravens · Trends 27
Can Joe Flacco step in as a rookie and turn the passing game around? Or is that too soon, which means it's more of Kyle Boller again?
26 49ers · Trends 28
Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. It's all about that spot with the 49ers. Is it Alex Smith or Shaun Hill?
27 Lions · Trends 25
So Jon Kitna is saying the Lions will win 10 games again. Whatever he's taking, it must be pretty damn good.
28 Raiders · Trends 31
They're a year away from being a contender in the AFC West, provided JaMarcus Russell is the real deal. This will be his learning year, and then he makes big strides in 2009.
29 Jets · Trends 29
They're raving about all the moves they made in the offseason. But it won't matter if the quarterback play is as bad as it's been.
30 Chiefs · Trends 24
The Chiefs are clearly in rebuilding mode. That's could give Herm Edwards a reprieve. He has to hope Brodie Croyle shows big improvement.
31 Falcons · Trends 30
New coach Mike Smith will watch his team take its lumps for a couple of seasons. He faces a big rebuilding process.
32 Dolphins · Trends 32
Who's the quarterback? Whenever you have issues at that position, it's pretty hard to climb up from the bottom. But the Dolphins won't be as bad as last season. Will they?