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SPF T.I. Poll (Week 6): Tennessee Reigns!

1.  Tennessee Titans - The last undefeated team in the NFL has to get the top spot for at least one week this season.  They have become Tennessee's team as the Vols in Knoxville have struggled to maintain their own identity.

2.  Dallas Cowboys - We put the Cowboys into our "Startin' To Turn" category of our Tuesday Tastings. So how are they at #2?  This team is just so darn entertaining!  They lose to the Cardinals.  Then, Tony Romo finds out he has a broken pinky and might miss a month of the season.  Then, they give up a big chunk of their draft to get WR Roy Williams out of Detroit bringing him back home to his native Texas.  Then, they give Williams a new contract that pays him as much as T.O. leaving everyone waiting for T.O. to go off.  Then, we find out that Romo might, in fact, play this Sunday after all.

To top it all off, Randy Galloway opines that the Cowboys' early season greatness may just be a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Yes, this may be true, but so what?

The Cowboys, under Jerry Jones, are here to entertain.  They have a roster loaded with personalities because the fans want to see that.  They may not win it all this year, but they will entertain from week to week.

They may not win on Sunday, but they will win the war of the water cooler come Monday regardless.

"Folks, this man is here to entertain you. He may frustrate you as well because I'm really not sure who is listening to him.  I may have to fire him if he loses any more games like the one in Arizona.  One thing's for sure - you won't want to miss a minute of his time in Dallas!  He may be here for a limited time only"

3.  Indianapolis Colts - The Colts have re-emerged behind Peyton Manning's recovery.  They went out and pounded a supposed power from Baltimore, the same team that took our #1 to the brink the week before.

Many will argue this point, but from the moment that Tony Dungy came to Indy, it has never seemed to SPF that the Colts were a unified team in the classic sense.  It seemed like Dungy ran the defense and Manning ran the offense.  As long as each guy did his job, everything worked out.  They did win a Super Bowl after all.

When Manning had off season surgery, came back a little gimpy, and the Colts looked very mortal, this team became a team.  They realized who their leader is.

Many can argue the greatness of Tony Dungy, but it is the greatness of Peyton Manning that makes this team a team.

As he stepped up and led the Colts in a miraculous win over Houston a couple of weeks ago, Manning shot past Dungy on the significance scale.  The team has put itself in his hands.

Good choice!

4.  Washington Redskins - We're sorry to see this kind of a fall, but their loss at home to the hapless Rams is inexcusable.  It makes everyone wonder what happened to the team that went on the road and beat Dallas and Philly.  For one thing, let's make it clear that neither of those teams may be a dominant as earlier advertised.  The NFC East still resides in so many big media markets that they get a little overhyped.

Unlike the Cowboys, the Redskins aren't just here to entertain.  They are here to win.  They don't have that entertaining of a team. 

They are now at 4-2 with 5 other NFL teams with another 5 at 3-3 and one team at 4-1, the Giants who are in their division.  After looking dominant, that one inexcusable loss brings the Skins back to the pack.

Fortunes change quickly in the NFL.  The Redskins need to show that theirs haven't changed for the worse.

5.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers - It was exactly what the Bus needed - a dominant home win over the Carolina Panthers.  In the past, the Panthers had beaten the Bucs by being more physical.  That didn't happen here.

The Tampa Tribune had a great article centered around the Bucs roster and how players are drafted for their versatility so that injuries don't rob the Bucs of capable players.  This sometimes frustrates Bucs fans because it seems like Jon Gruden won't stand by his players.  Take QB Jeff Garcia, who played very well last week, as an example.

Some may not like his tactics, but Gruden like his teams to be teams.  No one player can be more important than the others.  He wants his players a little on edge so that they never get too comfortable.  This also keeps his opponents a little off guard.

Some may question that he handed Garcia's starting job to Brian Griese and then gave it back to him, but now the Bucs have two QBs that can lead their team, two QBs that have the confidence of the rest of the roster.

SPF still believes this team has a magic in them.  As we mentioned in the Redskins section of the Poll, the NFC is bunched up.  The Bucs are as good as anyone else in the 4-2 camp.

"You see, Jeff.  It's not about keeping you happy.  It's about making sure we win ball games.  There is a difference."

6.  Atlanta Falcons - Amongst the 4-2 crew, few are more unlikely than the Falcons.  They have absolutely reimagined themselves this year.  How wrong we were about them.

Matt Ryan appears to be the best QB in Falcons history.  No rookie QB since Dan Marino has led a team so confidently and so successfully.

Congrats during this bye week.  It says something when the town of Atlanta will actually miss you this week.  With Georgia and Georgia Tech also riding high, football fever is alive in the Peach State.

7.  Miami Dolphins - Ouch!  Losing to the Texans was a big stumble for this scrappy Dolphin team.  They don't have a lot of talent so losing games will happen.  It just isn't a good thing when it happens to a formerly winless team.

The Dolphins are still on the upswing.  A year under this coaching staff and another solid draft should have them in contention for years to come.

SPF just hopes that they continue to show up each Sunday and try to get to 8-8 or better.

8.  New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers - These two NFC South rivals will face off in Charlotte this weekend.  Still, no one knows what we have here.

The Saints could be 6-0, but they are 3-3 with 3 losses turned into wins for their opponents.  The Panthers look dominant one week and then get blown out the next.

Consistency is the problem here for both.  Each of these teams can dictate a game to lesser opponents, but they have trouble staying on track against good teams.

The Panthers will need this type of aggressive play from Steve Smith if they hope to stay atop the NFC South

10.  Jacksonville Jaguars - They still need to crawl out of a deep hole.  They might have found some swagger against the Broncos, but the Titans are undefeated and the Colts found their mojo a week earlier and neither seem ready to give up their position above them.

The Jags still have room to improve, but they can't waste any more time.  Consider them on constant notice that no games on their schedule should be anything but an expected win.

11.  Houston Texans - Ok, they won one.  Now, everyone is excited that they might string a couple more together since they play a couple of winless teams in successive weeks.  Others might, but SPF isn't goiing to forget that expectations were a heck of a lot higher this season.  Remember that the Dolphins were an expected win.  The fact that the Texans had to come from behind and win it shouldn't be celebration but relief.

No one denies that the Texans have talent.  The problem has been whether this franchise has enough talent to ever compete in a tough division, and if so, whether they have the right coaching staff to make that happen.

In the meantime, they will continue to underwhelm their fans.

12.  St Louis Rams - It's nice to be out of the cellar.  We shall see if the fiery demeanor of Jim Haslett continues to produce results.

The word is that Haslett will keep his job if he can put together 5 more wins.  If he does win 5 games or more with this team, it says far more about the horrid job Scott Linehan did then Haslett's own coaching.


"What was that?  Coach Linehan.  Yes, I'm YOUR coach.  Uh huh...Scott Linehan.  I was an offensive coodinator in Miami.  Yes, I was your coach last year.  How many times are going to have to go over this?  Listen guys, the season is about to start.  When I said we were getting back to basics, I didn't mean this basic."

13.  Cincinnati Bengals - Carson Palmer looks like he's done for the year.  The Bengals could be looking at a winless season.  Things are pretty bad in this river town.

related tags

North Carolina,
New Orleans,
Southern Pro Football,
Mercenary Territory,

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