October 31, 2011

Navigating the Arbitrary Ranks

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America loves to rank things. We want to know where we stand against others. Our need to know how good our team is compared to others is the reason why we have power rankings. So without further delay, I present to you, the inaugural Completely Arbitrary Power Rankings!

32. The NBA Lockout.

It sucks. A lot.

25. My Fantasy Football Team

At 3-5, my fantasy football team, the Albertosaurs, is struggling. I blame Chris Johnson and Phil Rivers for their lackluster play. Several readers just slowly nodded their heads in understanding. Several other readers just furrowed their brow in confusion.

21. New Orleans Saints

20. New England Patriots

After establishing themselves as the second- and third-best NFL teams in some order, they both ruined their credibility by losing this weekend. Ben Roethlisberger picked apart every seam in the Patriots’ defense, holding the ball for almost 40 minutes of the game. As bad as the Patriots looked, the Saints looked worse. In its loss to the previously winless St. Louis Rams,  New Orleans allowed a season-high six sacks, mustering just 283 yards against the 30th-ranked defense.

12. Indianapolis Colts

Now, this may be a little confusing and surprising, considering that the Colts are still winless and don’t appear capable of winning a game any time soon. Indianapolis lost, 62-7, to the Saints two weeks ago for God’s sake, but they are currently in the lead for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes! That is something worth celebrating.

9. Peyton Manning

He seems to be kind of important. Without him, the Colts are 0-8, while when Tom Brady was injured in 2008, the Patriots managed to go 10-6. Although this may not directly tell us who the better quarterback is, it does show us that the Patriots were a Belichick-led team, while the Colts are most definitely a Manning-led team.

8. Cam Newton

When he was drafted, he was the most polarizing first overall pick since JaMarcus Russell, and did nothing to help himself in the preseason, possessing a completion rate of 42 percent. Then the season started.

He tied a rookie record with 422 passing yards in his first game, and then broke that mark with 432 yards through the air in his very next game. Although the Panthers are just 2-6, they have been competitive in every game. Cam Newton’s play has been praised by critics and opposing coaches alike. With his strong, accurate arm, intelligence and freakish physical gifts, it would be hard to imagine that Newton not evolving into a Top-5 quarterback within a year or two.

5. Alabama

4. LSU

Both teams have clearly been the top two teams in college football this season, beating all their challengers by at least 13 points. The Tide is led by Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson, while LSU relies on a bevy of players who always seem to step up when called upon. Their projected starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, top rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon have all been suspended, yet they have not missed a beat. Both squads also had a bye last weekend to prepare for their big showdown on Saturday to determine the No. 1 team in the country, but more importantly, who will move up in these completely arbitrary power rankings.

3. Texas Rangers

So why did I arbitrarily put them this high after losing a soul-crushing World Series? Because they still have a great future lined up. If Texas is able to erase the memory of having two chances to put away the Cardinals, the franchise stands a great chance of reaching the World Series for a third year in a row. The only substantial player the Rangers can lose is C.J. Wilson. Their farm system is very strong, containing players that are not household names, but have great potential. With the Red Sox in flux and the Yankees lacking a true starting rotation, the Rangers are the early favorites to come out of the American League next year.

2. Green Bay Packers

Things look pretty nice for the Packers at this point. Green Bay is the only undefeated team left, Aaron Rodgers is playing at a special level and is currently the clear-cut MVP favorite, and yet they might be the tenth most important story in the league right now. Without any drama surrounding them, the Packers have a legitimate shot at going undefeated this season, with the biggest challenge coming from the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

After making the postseason on the final day in dramatic fashion, many Cardinals fans already viewed their season as a success, but few gave the team a chance to win the Division Series against the Phillies — a team critics thought could become the best team ever in baseball history — let alone the World Series. Yet somehow, St. Louis kept winning and winning … and then won some more. Nothing could stop them; not an injury to Matt Holliday, bullpen communication issues or even being down to their last strike twice in Game 6 against the Rangers. The Cardinals persevered through all of that to become one of the most unexpected champions of all time.

With the retirement of Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols’ contract expiring after this season, we have no idea how the Cardinals will fare next year, but let us think about that later. Rejoice, Cardinals fans, in the champions of one of the most exhilarating, amazing, heart-wrenching MLB playoffs of all time.

Original Author: Albert Liao