Each week, we’ll be scouring the net for team rankings, from football experts, covering the previous week, and discussing them here. Do the experts know what they’re talking about? Can they back up their rankings, or are they just repeating the same lines we’ve hear over and over (Colts can’t run. They’re soft. Manning can’t win the big one)? Let’s see what they have to say this week.
Average Ranking: 4.47 (previously 5.90)
Adam Schefter – 2nd (new): Peyton has yet to throw an interception.
(This is Adam’s first stab at a power ranking. He has the Colts at #2 and their upcoming opponent, Jacksonville, ranked 27th. Sounds about right. Welcome to the fold, Adam.)
Fox Sports – 2nd (+3): Once again, the Colts are looking great on offense. No surprise there. The defense will never be great, but it’s good enough to not bring the team down. They can still win plenty of games this season without SS Bob Sanders because his backup, Melvin Bullitt, is outstanding.
(Saying the defense will never be great really sells that squad short. They do play great… within the scheme. Also, I really, really like Melvin Bullitt. I love his great attitude and blue-collar work ethic. But even I have to stop short of calling him ‘outstanding’. Melvin plays his role and plays it well. But I, for one, am counting the weeks anxious for Bob’s return.)
Walter Football – 5th (unchanged): In back-to-back weeks, Peyton Manning has trashed his little brother’s team and defeated a squad mourning the loss of a receiver who took his own life. Manning clearly lacks compassion and has a dark soul. All he cares about is winning. What a jerk.
(Riiiiiight. Let’s move on, shall we?)
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports – 2nd (+4): They have it back on track after the opening-day loss at Houston. The good news is their defense has played two good games in a row.
Pete seems to get it. I’m personally not convinced the Colts are the #2 team in the league right now – too many injuries at key positions – but his analysis is spot-on.
NFL.com’s Collective Brain Trust – 4th (unchanged):
(Hey, if they won’t make time to comment, I won’t either… oh, wait.
Michael Silver – 10th (+1): How refreshing is it that Peyton Manning, when backed up on his own half-yard line, simply drops back to pass, rather than running a panicky quarterback sneak or quick-dive into the line?
(Refreshing. There are a lot of things about the Colts that are refreshing, if you think about it. Numerous free agents on the roster, impressive and precise play, few divas making headlines. Good point, Michael. But 10th?)
WEEI in Boston – 2nd (+1): Peyton Manning can make any receiver effective. Without Pierre Garçon and Anthony Gonzalez, Manning found backups Austin Collie and Blair White all over the field. Can anyone argue, barring an injury to Manning, that this team won’t win at least 12 games this year?
(I don’t imagine anyone here arguing. Thanks for paying attention.)
ESPN – 3rd (+1): In Denver, the Colts gave up a lot of yards, but they made defensive plays in red zone. (Kuharsky)
(While this is true, I’m having a hard time finding the connection to a weekly power ranking or how it justifies a #3 spot. Then again, this is ESPN we’re talking about.)
Sporting News – 6th (+2): The Colts are on a familiar playoff-bound roll with Peyton Manning in full control.
National Football Post – 1st (+2): The Colts and Peyton Manning look primed for an early season run.
(I find it interesting that the lone #1 ranking comes with an expectation of continued success in a year where the team’s play has been very, very inconsistent. I’m encouraged that someone at NFP thinks Indy will roll, but I’m not convinced it’s justified. #1? Really?)
WhatIfSports – 13th (-7):
(I’d like to try to explain a drop of 7 spots after a win, but I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.)
Peter King from Sports Illustrated – 7th (-2): You know how you always hear quarterbacks say it takes so long to mesh with new receivers and get good chemistry with them? Not Peyton Manning. He pulls undrafted Michigan State free-agent wideout Blair White up from the practice squad and the kid catches three balls for 27 yards, one for a touchdown, in his first game.
Developing chemistry is easy? Really, Peter. How wrong can you possibly be? Apparently, Mr. King wasn’t paying attention when Peyton lamented how important all that off-season practice is. Peyton is amazing, but he works hard at it.
USA Today – 2nd (+3):
(How can anyone argue with the amazing football experts at USA Today? If they say we’re #2, I guess we are.
CHFF – 3rd (+2): It’s probably not even worth arguing anymore whether or not Peyton Manning is the greatest regular-season QB of all time. Three games, all with exactly three TDs and exactly zero INTs. Over his career he’s had 34 of these games (3+ TDs, no INTs), two behind Brett Favre in 100+ fewer games.
(Interesting tidbit, and I look forward to 18 surpassing 4 very, very soon. I also look forward to scratching the words ‘greatest regular-season QB of all time’ from Peyton’s resume. It’s certainly true but will soon be trimmed to ‘greatest QB of all time’.)
Don Banks at Sports Illustrated 5th (+3): Has anyone noticed how Austin Collie has morphed into Peyton Manning’s pet receiver in the season’s first three weeks, leading the NFL in receptions (27), yards (359) and touchdown catches (four)? Nice dilemma for opposing defenses, deciding where to concentrate your coverage, on Collie, Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark? Jacksonville’s best strategy this week might be praying for a driving rainstorm.
(Uh, Don? The Colts won it all in 2006 in a driving rainstorm. Just sayin’.)