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SPF T.I. Poll (Week 9): Shakeups At The Top!

1.  Tennessee Titans - Like the #1 college team working each week to hold their place at the top, the Titans have methodically marched through their undefeated season.  This isn't a big play team.  It doesn't have to be.  They attack opponents like a wrestling stranglehold, slowly sucking the life out of them.

The significance of this year's Titan team against the backdrop of the University of Tennessee's football program falling into disarray can't be understated.  The Titans have a chance to move into the #1 position in the hearts of Tennessee football fans, a place the Vols have had a lockdown hold.

For this kind of excellence, the Titans deserve the #1 position in our Poll.

The Volunteers wish they had an icon like Jeff Fisher running their storied, but battered program

2.  Miami Dolphins - People forget that the Dolphins have been one of the NFL's winningest organizations.  They have gone to multiple Super Bowls.  They have the NFL's only undefeated team in the Super Bowl era.

It's easy to forget because the Dolphins have been so damn mediocre.

Last year's bottoming out served as a catharsis for this franchise.  It led to owner Wayne Huizenga beginning his exit strategy - selling to Donald Ross and bringing in Bill Parcells to run his football team.  The effects of both have been swift and effective.

The Dolphins sit at 4-4 with a very good chance at challenging for a playoff spot.  Their only tough games remaining are division games.  This puts their destiny in their own hands.

There are millions of Dolphin fans out there that have been waiting for this resurgence.  They are starting to wake up and pay attention.

3.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs shouldn't have needed miracles to win in KC, but win they did, and that's what matters.  This team still has a championship air about them.  They have been dominant at home which leads them to a very possible 11-5 overall record - a likely playoff team.

When you play in the NFC South, making the playoffs is a significant accomplishment.  If the Bucs continue to get healthy over the course of the season, the team should also get better as well, especially on offense.

Like Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden has built something special in Tampa Bay.

4.  Washington Redskins - We still love Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell, but what occured Monday night has to be accepted - the Redskins don't look like anything more than a one win playoff team at best.

The Steelers just handed it to them in the same manner that the Redskins are supposed to do to other opponents.  Simply put, the Redskins were soundly beat at their own game.  So, in two of the Redskins three losses, they have been beaten down by physically superior teams.

It is a tough realization to know that your best isn't nearly enough.  Despite all that they have accomplished, that may be the storyline for the 2008 Redskins.

5.  Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys and the Redskins share the same story although the Cowboys fall is farther.  Not only does it look like the Cowboys aren't nearly as good as advertised, the Cowboys also don't seem to be heading in the right direction.

Even if Jerry Jones replaces Wade Phillips, can Cowboy fans really be that excited about Jason Garrett as head coach?

The faces of the 2008 Cowboys are either broken (Tony Romo), beaten down (Wade Phillips), or lowered in stature (TO).  They've got a bye this week to figure it all out.

Things may not be as bad as all that, but it feels that way to the Cowboy faithful.  In our Poll, that's what matters most.

As their promising season lies in shambles, the lost look on Jerry Jones' face reflects the feelings of Cowboys' fans everywhere.

 6.  Indianapolis Colts - The Colts showed they can still win when it matters by beating their longtime rivals from New England in a close one last week.  However, the Pats aren't what they used to be either.

This season still feels like a transition year for the Colts.  Even if they do squeak into the playoffs, any chance of another Super Bowl seem almost impossible.

This year shows that changes need to be made to give Peyton another shot at Super Bowl glory.

7.  Carolina Panthers - The Panthers are 6-2, alone atop the NFC South, and they face two straight games against the league's worst teams.  Why aren't they higher up the Poll?

That reason is simple - their second half schedule is so brutal they could easily finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs.

The Panthers still haven't proven anything yet, although they will get a chance to do so.  So far, the 2008 season has proven that the Panthers are a good team again.  The question that remains is whether they are a championship team.

8.  New Orleans Saints - The Saints are 4-4 for the second straight season.  With four of their final eight games against division opponents, the Saints still hold destiny in their hands.

They stumbled to 4-6 last year removing any chance of recovery.  The stretch run starts today.

9.  Atlanta Falcons - That stretch run begins in Atlanta where this season's best feel good story lies outside of Miami.  The Falcons seem to be gaining in confidence each week.  It doesn't hurt that the Falcons may have the division's second best QB in rookie Matt Ryan whose celing has yet to be reached.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, the second half of their season looks pretty tough.  They will have to keep proving it on the field.

The Falcons Mike Smith has helped to revitalize professional in Atlanta

10.  Cincinnati Bengals - Yay!  Cincy won a game!  The question remains as to why it took them so long to find a win.

There is way too much talent on this roster to see it struggle as it has.  One thing's for sure, they have a toxic mix in the locker room.

If owner Mike Brown will allow Marvin Lewis to clean things up, the team might compete in 2009.  Otherwise, they will continue to struggle.

11.  St Louis Rams - After a brief period when it looked like the Rams would fulfill their preseason promise, they have fallen back to earth.  Losing to the Cardinals at home in blowout fashion brings everything into question once again.  This team could be looking at a serious rebuilding job replacing their coach, their QB, and most of their veteran core.

It might be somewhat poetic watching the Rams old Super Bowl QB that they cast off, Kurt Warner, drive the nail in the Rams' coffin. 

12.  Houston Texans - Richard Justice has been bringing down the hammer on the Texans all season.  It's about time.  This week he has brought the questionable coaching of Gary Kubiak under his microscope.

This franchise needs new leadership.  They have talent, but they have no idea how to win.  They need to think boldly if they ever hope to challenge for a playoff spot in the next ten years.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars - Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union does a great job of summarizing the Jaguars sad 2008 season.  However, the biggest issue stands right in front of the Jaguars.

They put too much trust in Jack Del Rio, and they are getting burned by that - big time.

Del Rio has slowly, but surely taken control of this franchise even though he was handed a solid roster and several good drafts to follow.  He has spent more time and effort accumulating power within the organization rather than focusing on winning.

This year's Jaguar team has all the players and coaches that Del Rio wanted.  The result is 3-5, last in the AFC South.

SPF again urges Wayne Weaver to fire Del Rio before it gets any worse.  Your decision making as owner has been poor since deciding to fire Tom Coughlin.  Coughlin built a fantastic team in Jacksonville before the salary cap caught up to him.  Weaver felt Coughlin didn't deserve a chance to rebuild the team, the same chance that Tennessee gave Jeff Fisher and Tampa gave Jon Gruden. 

Today, Tom Coughlin coaches the defending Super Bowl champs who look like they may repeat.

This week's Del Rio tantrum against LB Mike Peterson has finally showed what a prima donna this guy truly is.  This Captain Ahab-like behavior creates a prime example of how to lose your team. 

Del Rio has been exposed.  Now, it's up to Weaver to make a change.

Rather than talking, Wayne Weaver should listen to Arthur Blank and hear his lesson about fixing a franchise by hiring the right people

related tags

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

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