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The Polite Power Rankings: Week 6

If you’re a fan of the gridiron — NFL or college — this has got to be a great a time of year for you. Rankings and standings are reshaping themselves and games are beginning to take on greater weight. But perhaps what’s best about this time of year is the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the surprises. For instance, Vince Young’s out of the picture in Tennessee and yet the Titans boast one of only two undefeated records in the league. The down-and-out Dolphins are no longer down or out, but rather soundly in business as the team that specializes in upsets. Even right here in Illinois, the Kyle Orton surprise has given Bears fans plenty of unexpected October optimism. So enjoy the surprises the game dishes up, and dig into this week’s rankings.

1. New York Giants (1)

Sorry to say it, Plax, but the Giants know how to win without you. And with a game this week against the Browns, the Giants should have victory secured by the end of the first half — regardless of what the reinstated Plaxico Burress does on the field.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (2)

How many points do you get for toughness? Last week, the answer was 26 — the number of points a battered Pittsburgh team needed to take down their established rivals down in Jacksonville.

3. Dallas Cowboys (3)

A couple of sloppy weeks for the Cowboys probably have them wishing that the bye week wasn’t all the way in week ten. And they can’t afford to look that far ahead. The Arizona Cardinals welcome Dallas to Arizona this weekend, and the Cardinals, after a thumping of the Bills on the road, are hoping to give their home fans a treat.

4. Tennessee Titans (5)

A lot of good players + not many egotistical superstars = a team to reckoned with. Is it possible that the Titans, one of the NFL’s big surprises heading into week 6, will end up atop the AFC South this year?

5. Washington Redskins (11)

Yes, three of the top five teams in this week’s rankings hail from the NFC East. And the Redskins, with solid play in every phase of the game, are playing like a team wants to ascent to the NFC East throne. They have a little more to do, though, before the Giants will give that piece of furniture up.

6. Chicago Bears (7)

7. Carolina Panthers (14)

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8)

9. Buffalo Bills (4)

10. Denver Broncos (13)

11. Philadelphia Eagles (6)

This is an underperforming team right now — something Donovan McNabb readily admits on his blog. Will the long flight to San Fran lead the Eagles to a much needed turnaround? Tune in Sunday.

12. Arizona Cardinals (21)

You beat one of two undefeated teams (in fact, the Cardinals whomped the Bills 41–17 last week) and you earn the privilege of being taken seriously. But remember: This is a privilege, not a right.

13. New York Jets (15)

True, they had a bye last week, but they still get to climb in the rankings. With a few days’ rest behind them and a broken Bengals squad ahead, Favre and the boys should be poised to continue on their quest to becoming a synched-up and formidable football team.

14. Indianapolis Colts (16)

15. New Orleans Saints (10)

16. New England Patriots (18)

17. Atlanta Falcons (25)

18. San Diego Chargers (9)

19. Green Bay Packers (12)

20. Miami Dolphins (24)

Who are these once-putrid teams surging into the ranks of the respectable? Break out your bong, Mr. Williams — looks like good times ahead in Miami.

21. Minnesota Vikings (26)

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (17)

23. Baltimore Ravens (20)

24. San Francisco 49ers (23)

25. Seattle Seahawks (19)

26. Houston Texans (27)

27. Cincinnati Bengals (30)

28. Cleveland Browns (28)

29. Kansas City Chiefs (22)

Last week I asked: “Is it possible that LJ and the boys know how to play the game?” This week I answer: “No.”

30. Oakland Raiders (29)

31. Detroit Lions (31)

32. St. Louis Rams (32)

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