By Pete Prisco
Updated Sept. 11
The Power Rankings:Sometimes, you just get it right. And it feels good when you do.
After months and months of evaluation, traveling to training camps, figuring out who made the best moves and who made the bad ones, gauging coaching changes and quarterback shuffles, you just have to stick to your instincts when putting together ratings of the NFL's 32 teams.
I did that in my first batch of CBSSports.com Power Rankings last Tuesday. And you know what? I'm glad I did.
My top five teams were the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.
It might have seemed like an odd five. Most had the Colts slipping. Most had the Steelers a long shot to win their division.
I saw it differently. I saw five teams that can throw the football. I saw five good quarterbacks. And I saw five good defenses, even if there were doubts about the Colts and the Cowboys didn't live up to the hype in their opener.
After one week, those first set of rankings look pretty darn good. So I'm patting myself on the back. (By the way, did you hear I went 11-5 against the spread in my CBSSports.com Expert Picks? Were it not for a dumb move by Brian Billick on the goal line and the Cardinals blowing a lead in usual fashion, I would have been 13-3.)
All five of my top teams in the Power Rankings came out and impressed in their opening-week victories. The Colts and Patriots were the most impressive.
Indianapolis made the New Orleans Saints look like anything but a Super Bowl contender. The Patriots went into New Jersey and showed off their high-flying offense, much to the dismay of the New York Jets. Of course, knowing the defense thanks to a sneaky cameraman helped.
And we thought Randy Moss did it all.
On the flip side, the bottom of my first rankings was right, too. Is there any doubt that Cleveland is the worst team in the league? The Kansas City Chiefs, a team I had way down, showed they deserved their spot in getting blown out by the Houston Texans. Tampa Bay is down there as well.
It sure feels good to be right -- at least for a week.
Of course, with San Diego and New England playing this week, the top five won't stay the same. But that's doesn't diminish the euphoria of getting it right.
Even so, in my best coach-speak, I know it's a long season and you just have to take it one week at a time.
You can never get too high or too low.
Things change quickly in this league.
Yada, yada, yada.
Don't rain on my parade. It's too damn sunny for a change.
1Colts · Trends1 Do we still have doubters as to why I had them in the top spot to open the season? I didn't think so. They're even better than last season.
2Chargers · Trends2 The defense was smothering against the Bears, but they had better get that offense cranked up against the Patriots. I still need to see more from their outside passing game.
3Patriots · Trends3 Will they score some points or what this season? Tom Brady might push that NFL touchdown pass mark. So they say Randy Moss has slowed down. Really?
4Cowboys · Trends4Tony Romo lit up the Giants, which is a good sign. Eli Manning lit up the Cowboys, which isn't. The Terence Newman injury could be a lingering problem. That would hurt.
5Steelers · Trends5 The new-look Steelers will be fun to watch. Ben Roethlisberger, like I predicted in the summer, will go to the Pro Bowl.
6Broncos · Trends9 Jay Cutler handled himself well at Buffalo, and that's a good sign. Traveling across the country and winning a road game on opening day is a big deal for this team.
7Bears · Trends10 At some point, they have to open up their offense. If Rex Grossman can't do it, go somewhere else. Playing it safe doesn't work
.8Panthers · Trends12 Getting a tough road victory on opening day is a good sign of a bounce-back season for the Panthers. The defense might be back to its old ways.
9Seahawks · Trends14 They struggled in the first half against a bad Tampa Bay team, but got it going in the second half. I still am not convinced about this team's playoff ability.
10Bengals · Trends11 If the defense continues with the improvement it showed in the opener, watch out for the Bengals. We know the offense will score.
11Eagles · Trends7 Let's hold off on the panic in Philly. Losing on the road in the opener isn't cause for that. If they lose at home to the Redskins, that might be.
12Saints · Trends8 The offense will get back on track this week at Tampa Bay. How do we know? Sean Payton calls the plays.
13Ravens · Trends6 That wasn't pretty against the Bengals. And now Ray Lewis has a strained biceps and Steve McNair has a separated shoulder.
14Packers · Trends21 Keep an eye on this young team. There is some talent on both sides of the ball. If they can fix that running game, they could push the Bears.
1549ers · Trends19 The good news is the defense looked better against Arizona. The bad news is the offense didn't. But you won't hold Frank Gore down for long.
16Titans · Trends24 They pounded a good Jacksonville defense, which is impressive. But the best sign is how well the Titans defense played.
17Redskins · Trends22 The defense played well against the Dolphins, but they need to score more points. It doesn't help that right tackle Jon Jansen is lost for the year.
18Texans · Trends25 How happy is Andre Johnson to have Matt Schaub? And the defense played well. But it was just the Chiefs.
19Jaguars · Trends15 When the defense in Jacksonville goes bad, you know it's a bad day. At some point, though, the offense does have to score more than 10 points.
20Vikings · Trends28 They beat up on a bad Atlanta team, so temper the excitement a bit. But it was a nice showing. The defense was dominant, which it will have to be all season long.
21Cardinals · Trends13 Go ahead and admit it. You stayed up late and watched the 49ers drive to the game-winning touchdown thinking these were the same Cardinals. They're not, but they better win against Seattle this week.
22Lions · Trends30 The offense is going to be fun to watch. That's a nice road victory to start the season. Jon Kitna lit up the Raiders.
23Giants · Trends16 They have all kinds of issues. The quarterback is hurt, they can't defend the pass, Brandon Jacobs is out for a month and Osi Umenyiora is also out. Tom Coughlin can't be too happy.
24Jets · Trends17 That was putrid against the Patriots. They did little right. Chad Pennington's time might be coming to an end as the starting quarterback.
25Rams · Trends18 Losing at home to open the season isn't a good way to start. The defense gave up too many big plays. And Steven Jackson might want to start holding onto the football again.
26Bills · Trends20 You can't win many games when the quarterback doesn't throw for 100 yards. The defense gave up yards, but made key stops.
27Raiders · Trends23 What happened to that defense? I'd like to think that's just a one-game aberration. If not, this team is in big trouble.
28Dolphins · Trends26 Losing an overtime game is tough in the opener. Don't you get the feeling they will be down here for most of the season?
29Falcons · Trends27 Their season is already on the way to going to the dogs. Oops, couldn't help myself. But it's going to be a long first season for Bob Petrino.
30Chiefs · Trends29 When I put the Chiefs down near the bottom last week, plenty of Chiefs fans groaned. Now what do you think?
31Buccaneers · Trends31 The defense plays a decent game against Seattle, but the offense will struggle to score points all year long. And Jon Gruden's an offensive wizard?
32Browns · Trends32 Boy, it's worse than we thought. It's time to go to Brady Quinn now. What does it matter? The team will struggle no matter who plays quarterback.
There's also a poll on there with the top five teams to vote for. So far there's over 40,000 votes...we're next to last, so go vote if you have a moment!