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December 06, 2001

Making a Super list
By Dan Patrick

The Rams-Bucs' Monday Night Football game got me thinking. Who are the Super Bowl-ready teams in the league?

Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner is at the controls of a fantasy team come to life.

The Buccaneers, like the Ravens, have a great defense and an average offense. But Monday night Tampa Bay seemed to turn a corner. That game-winning drive was something you just did not see from them in the past. The Bucs seem to be getting it together at the right time.

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, started the season with the 2000 NFL season blueprint for success. Score more than the other guy, even if it's just one point and the over/under is in the 70s. Open it up and get vertical, baby. Well, here we are at the end of the season and the blueprint has been scrapped.

This year in the NFL, teams that have given up 252 points or less are 72-33. The Rams have given up a league-worst 450. And they are probably not going to make the playoffs.

Let's look at the other teams: Are they ready for the Super Bowl?

New York Giants: First team to clinch but somehow under-whelming. What good is home-field advantage if you play better on the road?

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Donovan McNabb and who else? Good year to build on.

Minnesota Vikings: They did look ready three weeks ago. But two straight losses to the Rams and Packers have them reeling. Look at it this way: Their immediate hopes could be in the hands of Bubby Brister, who may play for an injured Daunte Culpepper.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Very inconsistent year. Win three, lose three. Lose at home, win at home. They may be putting it together at the right time, though.

Detroit Lions: One more win, over the lowly Bears, and they are in. Didn't Bobby Ross say these guys quit on him? They were 5-4 when Ross bailed. They have gone 4-2 since and may finish out a strong 5-2. Not ready for the Super Bowl but going in the right direction.

St. Louis Rams: Will score more than 500 points and not make the playoffs. Let's just say they'll draft a defensive player in the first round.

New Orleans: We know the city is ready for a Super Bowl. That city is always ready for a Super Bowl. But what a turnaround for that team! Injuries to Ricky Williams and Jeff Blake could be tough to over come. But then again, Aaron Brooks has been a revelation.

Washington Redskins: Well, Mr. Snyder certainly paid for a Super Bowl-ready team.

Miami Dolphins:
Super Bowl-readiness can be glimpsed in December records. Over the last five years, the Dolphins are 9-15 -- 0-2 this year.

New York Jets: It seems the overachievers have come back to earth. No consistent wide receivers. QB Vinny Testaverde is just not up to it in crunch time lately. It adds up to no Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts: Edgerrin James has run for 1,500 yards and Peyton Manning has thrown for 4,000 yards. But the Colts have trouble getting points on the board early with just 66 of their 398 points in the first quarter. You can't do that with a bad defense. Not ready.

Oakland Raiders: Kind of like the Saints and the Vikings. Reeling from a goofy loss to the Seahawks and a bit banged up. Not quite ready.

Denver Broncos: Patchwork orange instead of clockwork orange has led to a tremendous season for coach Mike Shanahan. Gus Frerotte and Mike Anderson instead of Brian Griese and Terrell Davis has worked out well in Denver. But no Super Bowl this year.

Baltimore Ravens: This defense is Super Bowl-ready. This team will go as far as Trent Dilfer and Jamal Lewis can take it.

Tennessee Titans: Last and not least. The consistent and balanced Titans are Super Bowl-ready. Kevin Dyson got stopped on the 1-yard line in Atlanta. But who's going to stop Eddie George and Steve McNair this time?

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