There were two things abundantly clear following Monday night's Cleveland Browns beatdown of the New York Giants. For starters, the Browns are undefeated! Just ask Braylon Edwards, who lacks the basic logical understanding of "a full season."
And secondly, who the hell is the best team in the NFL? MDS will, of course, answer this in a rational and sane manner come Power Rankings time on Wednesday, but what good is a giant blog without knee jerk reactions?
So. Yeah. The Titans, I suppose, are the "best" answer. They are, after all, the only undefeated team left in the NFL at 5-0.
Who else is there? If you want to go by actual record, there's the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and OHMYGOD, the Atlanta Falcons. Not to be overdramatic, but the last team kind of points out how wide open the NFL is this season thus far, especially with the Cowboys suddenly worse than mediocre for a few weeks. You could also toss Philly and San Diego in there, simply based on talent, which means that this scene is insanely crowded.
Speaking purely in terms of defaulting to a true number one, you either have to go with Tennessee or the Giants. One is undefeated and one is the defending champ with only one loss.
But does anyone actually believe the Titans are the best team?
On the other hand, Chris Johnson is totally legit -- like myself and Snyder have been saying since he was drafted, before, ahem, others got aboard this bandwagon -- and Collins has been to a Super Bowl. And the defense is oh-so-stout.
But then on the other hand, they haven't really played anyone that could be considered dangerous. Sure, Minnesota, Baltimore and Jacksonville can all be strong, but the Jags' lack of an offensive line and the other two teams' plain ol' lack of offense plays right into the Titans' hands. Also, Cincy is not, um, "good." And Houston is just perplexingly mediocre.
So maybe it's someone like Pittsburgh that should be "Irrelevantly Ranked Best Team in the League." I mean, why not? Yes, Rashard Mendenhall is donecakes, but Willie Parker is coming back, their defense is very good and, as a result of the porous offensive line, the offense hasn't even really kicked into high gear.
But they haven't really played anyone either -- swap out Cleveland and Cincy and their schedule is basically the same cakewalk as the Titans.
Again, I might still argue San Diego -- they would be 5-1 were it not for a miracle Jake Delhomme toss and an Ed Hochuli misfire of the guns, and we would be discussing Philip Rivers for MVP. Instead, they're seemingly an afterthought -- it might have something to do with that loss to Miami.
Of course, I have a soft spot for the Bills and Cardinals and I think both of them deserve at least a mention, particularly the Bills if, as Tom Herrera suggested they should, they decide to trade for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. (Assuming here that the Bengals will do about anything for some young defensive or offensive line talent at this point.) But Buffalo has been blown out by Arizona and Arizona has been blown out by the Jets, so it's a murky situation there. Also: Kurt Warner.
The Panthers could/should/might deserve your attention ... at least until the embarrassment that was Sunday against the Bucs. They do have every piece to the puzzle in theory, but there's a legitimate question as to how long the defense can hold, and whether it can stop the pass. Also, three points is degrading.
And of course, there's the NFC "Beast". (I don't really want to spend long talking about the Eagles, Skins and Cowboys, but I'm acknowledging them right ... now! ... in order to appease the fans.) They're all good but they're all going to beat each other up. And I'm still not convinced that starting Eli Manning can allow you to qualify your team as the best in the NFL.
So who's the best then? I would take the Chargers against most anyone at this point. And the Panthers. Kidding. Kind of -- I did have them in the Super Bowl, so that works out nicely. I do think they're legit.
But I'm probably not alone as a member of a particular fanbase. And that might be the coolest thing about this season. Screw the complaints of mediocrity -- looking your way, Sports Guy -- parity is more dominant now than ever in the NFL and that's what makes this sport our de facto national pastime, all due respect to baseball.
If you're a Cards fan, a Panthers fan, a Bills fan, a Giants fan, a Skins fan ... hell, even if you're the only Falcons fan outside of Georgia, you've got reason to cheer. Just as long as you're not from Detroit or Cincinnati.