The Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Rankings are compiled by Steve Hatch and Chuck Robinson, two barely functioning members of society who are even bigger football geeks than you are.
When Chuck's not hiding out in dark alleys fondling data, he chronicles sports and music on This week's music selection is the North Mississippi All-Stars track "Shake 'Em on Down."
Hatch, meanwhile, inspired the commercial last year of the guy who wanted team merchandise so bad that he hid out in the dirty laundry bin in the Giants locker room. He represents just the second generation of his family to walk erect.
Unlike other ranking systems, the Cold, Hard Football Facts put a premium on quality wins*, the single most accurate indicator of teams' relative strength.
Indianapolis (2-0; previous, 2) – Further proof that gaudy passing stats don't equal victory: In gutsy Week Two win over Jacksonville, Manning had one of the worst statistical games of his career, (13 for 28, 122 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT and a passer rating of 44.0, his lowest regular-season rating since Dec. 2001). But in the fourth quarter he pieced together a game-winning 17-play scoring drive. The Indy defense recorded six sacks and forced three fumbles while holding the Jaguars to one field goal (on two attempts) and a measly 175 yards passing. After two games Indy has allowed a league-leading 10 points.
Kansas City (2-0; previous, 4) – The Chiefs and Colts must have shared an offseason memo called "How to Build a Champion." After two games, Kansas City's souped up "D" has allowed a stingy 128 total rushing yards, along the way holding 2004 rushing champ Curtis Martin to just 57 yards in Week One. Kansas City is 6-1 in its last seven regular season games, though the streak includes three wins against Oakland.
Pittsburgh (2-0; previous, 7) – History is at stake Sunday when the Steelers host the Patriots. Pittsburgh is just two wins shy of the matching New England's official NFL consecutive win record of 18 set just last season and, of course, ended by the Steelers. Pittsburgh may be known for its defense (No. 1 in scoring last year, No. 2 so far this year). But Roethlisberger has a near-perfect 153.6 passer rating while unheralded second-year man Willie Parker has carried the ball 47 times for 272 yards (5.8 YPC) and 2 TDs.
New England (1-1; previous, 1) –Everyone's talking about the Week Two penalties (12 for 86 yards) and mistakes (more numerous to mention). But New England's primary problem is an inability to run the ball. The 2004 Patriots averaged 133.4 rushing YPG (7th in the league); after two games this year's they average 56.0 YPG (29th). Dillon picked up 73 yards in his worst performance in 2004 (against Pittsburgh in the AFC title game); this year he's compiled back-to-back games of 63 and 36 yards.
Jacksonville (1-1; previous, 3) – The Jaguars snuffed out Indy's offense in Week Two, forcing the Colts into seven punts and a pick in their first eight possessions and holding last year's No. 1 scoring offense out of the end zone until the fourth quarter (following an injury to DB Donovin Darius). In Week One, Jags held Seattle QB Hassleback to a 74.5 rating; In Week Two, Manning was held to 122 passing yards, a 44.0 rating and no touchdowns for the first time in a regular-season game since December 2003.
Philadelphia (1-1; previous, 6) – In apparently less time than it takes to butcher a chicken (19 minutes) McNabb and Owens had hooked up for 143 yards and 2 TDs in Week Two rout of San Fran. McNabb served notice to the league with 342 yards and 5 touchdowns in just three quarters of play. With a 110.1 rating through two games, McNabb is one pace to top his career-best 104.7 set last season. He even shared a smile with Owens.
Atlanta (1-1; previous, 5) – Michael Vick has accounted for a ridiculous 72 percent of Atlanta's total yards and half of its touchdowns so far in 2005. Unfortunately for Falcons fans, the Atlanta offense boasts just 542 yards of offense (25th in the league) and four TDs, while Vick has generated just 390 yards rushing and passing through two games. That's even worse than his snail-like (and woefully under-reported) 2004 pace of 200.9 yards of offense. Vick is reportedly hampered by a hamstring problem.
Cincinnati (2-0; previous, unranked) –Tony Dungy still has Manning, James and Harrison. But Marvin Lewis boasts the NFL's newest and most productive "Triplets." Over their last five games together, QB Palmer (1,452 passing yards, 14 TDs, 74.8 completion percentage), RB Johnson (563 rushing yards, 3 TDs) and WR Johnson (41 receptions, 588 yards, 5 TDs) have been on fire. The Bengals lead the league with 462.0 YPG of total offense.
Tampa Bay (2-0; previous, unranked) – Roll Cadillac, Roll. In his first three years in TB, Gruden's offense had a pass/run ratio of 57.6/42.4. This year with Cadillac Williams the ratio has been reversed to 41.8/58.2. The high-powered rookie has rushed 51 times for 276 yards and 2 TDs, more yards than any rookie in NFL history through two games.
N.Y. Giants (2-0; previous, unranked) – In 106 games with the Giants prior to the arrival of coach Coughlin, Barber scored 36 TD's (0.34 per game) with a fumble every 49 touches. In 18 games under Coughlin, Barber has 18 TDs (1.0 per game) with a fumble every 82 touches. Oh yeah, he also arrives at least five minutes early for everything now. For the first time in his young pro career Eli Manning has a better passer rating (76.3) than brother Peyton (74.7).
* The Cold, Hard Football Facts define quality wins as any victory against a team that currently possesses a winning record.