Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NFL Power Rankings - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

For this week’s NFL rankings, I went back to another great television show from the early 1990’s – The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The show ran from 1990 to 1996, and right now I guarantee everyone out there is singing the theme song in their head, “Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air. In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days...........”

Thankfully this is the final week of byes in the NFL, and it will be a full slate of games from here on out. This week’s big movers on the upside are the Chargers and Cardinals, and on the downside it’s the 49ers.

The Will Smith Category
The Fresh Prince was the engine for the show, the comedic star and the sympathetic dope. Whether it was his macking of the co-eds, his crazy crooked hat, or his general soft gansta style, he always managed to skate through with a little scheming and a little swagger walk. He toyed with the other characters on the show, but in the end, you knew he was always going to be the one to walk away the winner. These are the top teams in the league and the most serious threats to win the Super Bowl. They may toy with the teams below them, but if they lose to any team outside this top tier, it is a disappointment.

1. Saints (Last week: 1) – Eventually it has to catch up them when they continue to spot teams a couple TD start, right? Maybe not when you have the offensive weapons the Saints have. Yet they still have some tough challenges standing between them and a perfect second half of the season with the Patriots, and at Atlanta and Carolina still looming.

2. Colts (2) - Another week, another scare, yet another win for the Colts. And now they have to prepare for the Patriots. The Colts could be in trouble with a banged up secondary trying to slow down Brady, yet you can never count out Manning, the leading MVP candidate.

3. Steelers (3) – A very impressive performance this week in Denver, without a starting safety. The defense looks as good as it ever has, and the rushing game is rounding into form. Right now, the Steelers look like the class of the AFC, even with their two early losses.

4. Vikings (4) – The Vikes couldn’t have had a better bye week. Not only did they gain ground when the Packers and Bears lost, but they also have time for Brad Childress to help heal Brett Favre’s ailing groin.

5. Patriots (5) – The Patriots were ready for the wildcat last week, and now they have to be ready for the Colts. Brady is 7-3 against Manning, and he appears to be back to his 2007 form. They can get themselves in a strong position for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win against the Colts.

The Geoffrey Category
Definitely the most underappreciated character on the show. He was witty, slick and always a step ahead of his rich “masters”. He always had a line for everyone, like when Uncle Phil asked him to get his tools, he responded quickly, “Do you mean your fork and knife?” These teams have some fast talking guys (Ochocinco, Roy Williams & Brandon Marshall), and are capable of slapping a loss on any team in the league. Yet, at the end of the day, they’re still a butler to the top teams.

6. Bengals (8) – Another impressive win for the Bengals against the Ravens, and now they go to battle with the Steelers this week. No one would have guessed that the Bengals have a defense on par with the Steelers and better than the Ravens half way through the year.

7. Cowboys (10) – Much like Geoffrey liked to put the fat black Uncle Phil in his place, the Cowboys managed to put a fat white guy (Andy Reid) in his place last week. And yet, everyone is still waiting to see how Tony Romo will play once the calendar reaches December.

8. Broncos (5) – Has the clock struck midnight on the NFL’s version of Cinderella? It’s not time to panic yet, but the concern is that the rest of the league has caught on to the fact that Kyle Orton resembles a lumberjack more than an NFL quarterback at times.

The Uncle Phil Category
Uncle Phil was the rich family patriarch who could shake the foundation of the Bel Air mansion with his angry yells or by jumping up and down. Everyone in the house was afraid of him, and not just when he was wearing those ridiculous dashikis every once in a while. And he also had a strange resemblance to Suge Knight, the head of Death Row Records and accused orchestrator of the murder of Tupac Shakur. These teams can scare every team in the league, but they are a little soft at their heart – which isn’t a good thing in the NFL.

9. Falcons (11) – They let the putrid Redskins hang around a little too long for my liking, but I loved how their coach went after the overpaid, underachieving d-bag DeAngelo Hall on the sidelines – a player he sent out of town 2 years ago. If Mike Smith really wants to mess with Hall, he should just dress up as a WR and Hall will be smoked.

10. Chargers (16) – Well, after their typical slow start, they seem to be finding their strengths – and it doesn’t include Tomlinson or Merriman. This is officially Phillip Rivers’ team, and his weapons are Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson.

11. Cardinals (17) – After the smackdown they laid on the Bears, maybe they aren’t the underachievers we thought they were. Warner did his best impersonation of Rachel McAdams, a two-face that can look great in some lights (against Chicago) but awful in another light (against Carolina).

12. Eagles (7) – Coach Andy Reid (along with Tom Coughlin) made a run at Jim Zorn for dumbest coach in the NFC East. Down 7 with only a few minutes left, Reid opted for a field goal to cut the lead to……4. Still needing a TD. Maybe he was just hungry to get to the post game buffet table.

13. Texans (14) – If they want to be considered among the top teams in the league and want to win their division, they HAVE to win games like last week against the Colts. Throwing a bad interception and missing a FG at the end are the reasons they remain the frustrating Texans.

14. Ravens (9) – They are firmly entrenched as the 3rd best team in the AFC North, behind the Steelers and Bengals. Their defense is not the same, and the league is starting to figure out ways to slow down their quarterback, Bert. At least they’re still better than the Browns.

The Hilary Banks Category
Hilary was the pretty girl on the show with the fatal flaw that kept her reliant upon her father’s large bank account and understanding – she was an idiot. But she played the perfect bimbo role, spending money and going through life clueless about her shortcomings. These teams have pretty exteriors, but have major problems when you pull back the curtain and shine a light on them.

15. Giants (12) – A 5-0 start has deteriorated into 5-4 when they’ve faced better competition, and Tom Coughlin is officially in crisis mode. He didn’t do himself any favors with a few ultra conservative run calls when a TD could have put away the Chargers.

16. Jets (20) – The Jets are like a weatherman (Hilary’s big break for her career) in that they feel no pressure after making terrible forecasts, and continue to run their mouth that they have it all figured out.

17. Packers (15) – Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson, your real estate agents are on line 1. They have some tremendous places in Wyoming for you to look at purchasing before January. No, you won’t need to look for places in Bel Air. They have to rally this week against the Cowboys after the debacle last week.

18. Bears (18) – After getting slapped around like Rihanna last week, the Bears are who we thought they were (it’s right up there with Herm Edwards “You play…… to win…… the game.” It just never gets old). Cutler can only do so much without receivers, and a poor defense.

The Aunt Vivian Banks Category
Aunt Viv was the fiery, woman-power and black-power matriarch of the family. She was a major character in the show, and yet somehow, we weren’t supposed to notice after 3 years when she suddenly was being played by a new actress. She went from a very skinny, darker skinned lady to a more relaxed, lighter-skinned lady. And it was never addressed at all, like we were just supposed to understand that Aunt Viv had an extreme makeover. Really? Was it too hard to just write in that Uncle Phil got divorced and remarried? Nah, maybe people just won’t notice. Maybe she was just getting a skin treatment like Sammy Sosa? Seriously Sammy – something went horribly wrong with whatever you were doing and you look like a scary extra from one of those vampire shows. Anyway, these teams have completely changed character after terrible starts, and one of them even changed their actress at quarterback.

19. Panthers (22) – The Panthers looked strong in jumping on New Orleans early, but weren’t able to finish it off. As long as they remain committed to the running game, the Panthers have a chance to play with every team in the league. And most teams won’t have the firepower of the Saints to erase early leads.

20. Titans (25) – Vince Young has taken over, and for whatever reason, it has lit a fire under Chris Johnson who is now leading the league in rushing. Young hasn’t done anything spectacular, but he continues to win. Maybe he’s going to go out and celebrate with a little tequila?

The Ashley Banks Category
Ashley was the little sister, and always was on Will’s side in every scheme. As she got older, they tried to make her into a singing star on the show, and of course, Will was involved making sure things stayed screwed up at every turn. She was young, but had potential, and actually turned into a very good looking girl after she got older. These are the teams have some potential, but have someone (like Will) that keep screwing things up.

21. Jaguars (21) – If anyone asked what the Jag’s record is, I would probably guess it’s 2-6 or 3-5, and yet they are actually 4-4 and on the fringe of the playoff hunt. This is a team that barely squeaked by the Chiefs last week and is playing in front of sparse crowds at every home game.

22. 49ers (13) – The Niners are in a serious tailspin after a hot start, and now face a must win tomorrow (Thurs) night against the Bears. Can they turn it around? They need to or it will be just another disappointing season in the Bay.

23. Dolphins (19) – They battled gamely against the Patriots, but they just don’t have the talent to play with the big boys. I think they kind of resemble Emmanuelle Chriqui, in that they have all the physical tools to be a powerhouse, but they don’t have the ability to make the big plays (or act in Emmanuelle’s case). But they have their big moments – beating the Jets, or being in a threesome in Entourage.

24. Seahawks (23) – They continue to battle despite the injuries, but they are only capable of beating the weaklings in the league. And they were barely able to get by the Lions, aided by the 5 INTs thrown by Matthew Stafford.

25. Bills (24) – Do you think Dick Jauron appreciated Tony Dungy suggesting Michael Vick could end up in Buffalo next year? Actually, he probably appreciated the break from discussing where he was going to buy a retirement/fired house next year. Interesting fact: Trent Edwards has been the best QB out of the 2007 draft, and that is the definition of being the tallest midget. Edwards is 14-15 as a starter, which is tremendously better than JaMarcus Russell (7-17), Brady Quinn (1-5), Kevin Kolb (1-1), John Beck (0-4), Troy Smith (1-1) and Tyler Thigpen (1-10).

26. Lions (28) – The good was that they jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the road in Seattle. The bad was that they blew that lead and lost by a dozen. Matthew Stafford turned it over 5 more times, and he was probably longing for his days back in Athens, Georgia when life was pretty simple and he was the big man on campus.

The Carlton Banks Category
Carlton was the nerdy cousin of Will on the show and always the butt of every joke or prank. He was the ultimate tool, always trying way too hard to be cool, and always the hardworking opposite of the slacker Will. And you can’t mention Carlton without mentioning his love for Tom Jones, and his memorable dance to his song – “It’s not unusual to be loved, by anyone…….it’s not unusual to have fun with anyone.” These teams appear to still be showing effort, but they are a laughingstock and continually get left behind by their popular teams.

27. Chiefs (26) – Well they at least finally rid themselves of the Larry Johnson distraction. And they added Chris Chambers, who responded with 2 TDs last week against the Jags. Todd Haley at least has the team buying into his philosophy, but no one could say Carlton wasn’t trying when he was dancing.

28. Buccaneers (32) – The Josh Freeman Era got off to a huge start with the upset of the Packers, so now we’ll see what he can do for an encore. And I’m not sure, but for some strange reason, I actually prefer those creamsicle orange uniforms for the Bucs. Maybe it just reminds me of when they were a perennial doormat.

29. Rams (27) – They’re coming off a bye week, so at least they couldn’t restart another losing streak until this weekend.

The Jazz Category
Jazz was the clown of the show, only really there for comedic purposes. Well, that pretty much describes these teams as well. They are a joke and really don’t have that much hope of turning it around in the near future.

30. Raiders (29) – The Raiders are actually favored this weekend against the Chiefs, which is the worst game of the weekend. They would be better off having Jazz play quarterback than JaMarcus Russell, and they will not be successful until they acquire a real quarterback.

31. Redskins (30) – Jim Zorn continues to do his best Weekend At Bernie’s impersonation on the sidelines for another 8 weeks.

32. Browns (31) – Eric Mangini is holding back who will be the starting quarterback for the Monday night game when the Browns get slapped around on national television. Really, Eric? Do you think the Ravens care? And now he’s claiming that he didn’t know about Quinn’s escalator contract based on the amount of playing time he receives. On top of being stupid, now he’s just flat out lying. Rumor has it the Human Walruss, Mike Holmgren is on the list for Randy Lerner to come in and run the football operations. Wasn’t he a huge failure as a personnel guy in Seattle, when he had the GM role stripped, and then 2 years later they went to the Super Bowl? How short are the memories of these supposedly successful decision makers?

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