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The Polite Power Rankings: Week 9

Politics and football are set to overlap on Monday night, when the Washington Redskins take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. No, Obama and McCain aren’t suiting up. But the outcome of Monday night’s game just may predict the presidential winner. In every presidential election year since 1936 (with 2004 as the only exception), if the Redskins won their final home game before the elections, then the incumbent’s party held onto the White House. So, if you’re pulling for Barack Obama, than root for the Steelers on Election Eve. And if McCain’s your man, then get ready to cheer for the Redskins.

1. Tennessee Titans (2)

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Titans — despite their undefeated record — still had something to show the world. And that was that they could take down the reigning AFC South champs from Indianapolis. And did they ever.

2. New York Giants (3)

Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field is no easy place to play. But on Sunday, the Giants eventually found their comfort zone and beat the Steelers on their own turf — the tough kind of win that makes good teams even better.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (1)

Half way through the first quarter, it looked like Pittsburgh was ready to roll over the Giants. But as the Giants continued to work toward their comfort zone, the Steelers watched their offense and defense drift into a disarray. The Steelers look to get back on track (and to forecast a Democratic president) this Monday night.

4. Carolina Panthers (8)

The Jake Delhomme of old has reemerged. On Sunday against Arizona, Delhomme went 20/28 with two TDs and a final tally of nearly 250 yards. Will they maintain the NFC South throne? This Sunday’s game against their interdivision foes from New Orleans will help answer that question.

5. Washington Redskins (6)

Detroit tried to scratch and claw its way to its first win of the season on Sunday, but the Redskins staved the Lions off. And this is proof that the Redskins are a tough team ready to make the march into the post-season: bending without breaking.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (7)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)

8. Buffalo Bills (5)

9. Dallas Cowboys (11)

Sure, they won. But is the same team that so many of us were ready to crown at the beginning of the season? Not really. And it’s not just that they’re Romo-less; they seem to be all-around mojo-less.

10. Chicago Bears (10)

11. New England Patriots (13)

12. Green Bay Packers (12)

13. Arizona Cardinals (9)

14. Baltimore Ravens (17)

Coming into this season, you wouldn’t have been alone if you thought the Ravens would be occupying the basement of the AFC North. But the defense is looking strong as ever and Joe Flacco is proving that he knows how to walk in Super Bowl veteran Trent Dilfer’s shoes — to be a pretty decent game manager, that is.

15. New York Jets (16)

16. New Orleans Saints (21)

17. Atlanta Falcons (14)

18. Indianapolis Colts (15)

19. Houston Texans (22)

If Matt Schaub can continue to rack up an 84 percent passing rate and toss three touchdowns and avoid any picks, well, he and his Houston Texans just might avoid the AFC South cellar this year.

20. Minnesota Vikings (20)

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (18)

22. Cleveland Browns (21)

23. Denver Broncos (23)

24. Miami Dolphins (26)

25. San Diego Chargers (19)

Fine. You refuse to act like winners? See if I care. The era of saying the Chargers “have so much potential” is over.

26. Seattle Seahawks (28)

27. St. Louis Rams (24)

28. Kansas City Chiefs (30)

29. San Francisco 49ers (27)

30. Oakland Raiders (29)

Well, there was one bright for Oakland on Sunday: Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders’ kicker, went 1 for 1 in field attempts. That’s 100%.

31. Detroit Lions (31)

32. Cincinnati Bengals (32)

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