Wednesday November 10th, 2010

NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 13
I know the quarterback theme has been the story of the year so far in Philly, but who would ever thought we'd get to see Andy Reid's passing form this season? If you haven't seen it yet, you have to watch the just-surfaced clip of a rather large 14-year-old Reid in a 1971 Punt, Pass and Kick competition in Los Angeles. I'm reduced to near-tears of laughter ever time I see the size of the little kid standing behind Reid, who I might add is absolutely shoe-horned into a Rams uniform. Ah, the internet. What wonders you do hold.
12Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 9
The Chiefs had the Raiders on the ropes and were ready to seize control of things in the AFC West, but Dwayne Bowe drops a critical third-down throw, K.C. cornerbacks can't knock down a Jason Campbell pass or two, and Oakland finds a way to get it done in overtime. A little more killer instinct, and Todd Haley's club would truly look formidable.
13Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 12
For the second year in a row, an NFC South turnaround team is making a lot of good use of takeaways. The Bucs, like the Saints last season, have been opportunistic on defense. Tampa Bay is tied for the NFL lead with 14 interceptions, and three of those have been returned for critical touchdowns in games the Bucs won.
14Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 15
Got to watch Oakland receiver-return man Jacoby Ford from field level for a bit late in regulation against the Chiefs, and I'm still not sure how he wrestled that pivotal 29-yard pass away from K.C. cornerback Brandon Flowers on the Raiders' game-tying field goal drive. "He had it, but we just kind of fought for the ball,'' Ford told me later. "I just had to become a defensive player and intercept the ball.'' Not bad for a rookie, having 306 all-purpose yards and playing a little defense, all in the same game.
15San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 20
I'm beginning to think Philip Rivers could really make something of an insurgent's run at the MVP this season. The Chargers could station cardboard cut-out receivers at various points downfield and Rivers would probably still complete 23 of 30 for 322 yards and three scores. Without Antonio Gates, Rivers looked for and found the forgotten Randy McMichael for two scores at Houston. Without Malcolm Floyd, or Vincent Jackson, or Legedu Naanee, or Buster Davis, Rivers found undrafted and unknown rookie receiver Seyi Ajirotutu for two scores against the Texans. San Diego makes use of everyone short of Chuck Muncie these days.
16Chicago Bears
Last Week: 21
OK, Bears fans, I promised a bump back up in the rankings if Lovie's guys won in Toronto against the luckless Bills, and it says here Chicago triumphed by three. That makes the Bears one of five NFC teams with a 3-1 mark on the road this season, and that's not bad at all. See the good things that can happen in Chicago when it gets the sacks (just one allowed against Buffalo) and the interceptions (none) under control?
17Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 25
Taking in the Browns' 20-point beatdown of New England last Sunday, my two recurring thoughts were: Wow, Cleveland has clearly learned how to play up to the level of its opponent, and secondly, Eric Mangini really looks good with all the weight loss. Have you seen him? He's half the man he used to be. I wonder if that's impressive to his new boss, Mike Holmgren, who's not exactly a svelte guy himself, or is it more annoying in that nobody-wants-to-be-the-fattest-guy-in-the-room sort of way?
18Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 16
The Dolphins are just so middle of the road. They're not bad, but they're not really good either. They're so perfectly suited to third place, right there on the cusp of contention, but never fully in the thick of things. Brandon Marshall said it best the other day: "I think it's obvious: Right now, we can't beat the great teams, we can't beat the good teams. I can't put my finger on it. We just shoot ourselves in the foot.''
19St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 18
The next hurdle that must be cleared by the Rams is winning on the road, and they just happen to have four of their next five games away from home, including their next three road games against teams with losing records: at San Francisco, Denver and Arizona. If St. Louis can win two of those, its odds of winning the NFC West will skyrocket. I still think 8-8 is going to get it done in this division, and a 7-9 champion is not out of the question.
20Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 23
Funny how no one is really talking about how Brett Favre's "broken'' ankle will end his consecutive-game starting streak any more. But two weeks ago, after Favre hobbled off the post-game interview platform in Green Bay, plenty of TV folks were lining up to fall for the banana-in-the-tailpipe routine all over again. This just in: Favre on Sunday threw for his first 400-yard passing game in a span of 16 years and 337 days on that "broken'' ankle. So you know it must be really debilitating.
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