By Don Banks
September 15, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
21 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 12
OK, so happy days are not quite here again just yet in San Francisco. The truth is, we're watching as Mike Singletary still tries to get the hang of this head coaching thing, and it isn't always pretty. He's a smart guy, and Alex Smith is a smart guy. But the 49ers coach and quarterback are not always on the same page, and it shows.
22 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 24
I heard it from Jags folk last week about my aside that Tim Tebow's visit might prompt the only sellout of the season in Jacksonville. Not true, I was told repeatedly. The first four or five home games of the year look like sellouts and will be shown on local TV. See what you can do when you drop ticket prices and tarp off part of your stadium's upper deck? Oh, and very nice win over Denver, Jaguars. But the bar gets set higher with this week's trip to San Diego.
23 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 26
"The first-place Chiefs" doesn't exactly come tripping off your tongue, but I did predict the AFC West race was going to tighten up considerably this season, and K.C.'s upset of San Diego on Monday night (Tuesday morning?) was the first sign of that. The Chiefs got big plays from their big-play guys, but they need more from quarterback Matt Cassel to keep the momentum building.
24 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 20
If there were any positives to be gleaned from that debacle of an opener in Nashville, I missed them. The Raiders have the Rams at home this week, and if they can't stop the bleeding right then and there, 2010 in Oakland is going to wind up looking a lot like 2003-2009.
25 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 29
The good news is that Matt Forte has his mojo back and Jay Cutler threw for 372 yards and a couple touchdowns in his first real game in Mike Martz's offense. But the bad news is Chicago needed that horrible Calvin Johnson call in the final half-minute to avoid getting beat by the Lions with their backup quarterback (Shaun Hill) playing the second half.
26 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 22
Two first downs via rushing for the Panthers against the Giants? Is that possible for the team that last year featured the first pair of 1,100-yard ground gainers in NFL history? If Carolina isn't going to do well at what it does best, it's going to be a very long season in Charlotte.
27 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 27
I don't get all wound up about every NFL tempest in a teapot that comes along -- the mini-furors over the height of the Cowboys video boards and where the umpire lines up mostly bored me -- but the Calvin Johnson non-catch call is different. That single play made the difference between victory and defeat for the downtrodden Lions, and the rule is just so ridiculous that it doesn't even make sense to the naked eye any more. That's a controversy/cause worth getting worked up about in my book.
28 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 23
What I couldn't help but think about on Sunday -- when we barely noticed Tim Tebow's impact against the Jaguars -- was Michael Vick, circa 2009. After all the offseason chatter, hype and speculation, when the games actually started, Vick was at best a bit player in the Eagles season. Perhaps it'll be the same way for Tebow in 2010, and we all will again have made much ado about very little. And no, we won't ever learn.
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 31
You can't face Jake Delhomme every week in the NFL, but kudos to the Bucs for taking care of business when they got their opportunity against Mr. Turnover. Opportunistic is how Tampa Bay has to play this year to get to five or six wins.
30 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 30
Alas, the Rams are still a team capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, as their giveaway against Arizona proved. But Sam Bradford is the real deal at quarterback, and that's going to start making the difference between wins and losses at some point in the future.
31 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 32
For all you suicide poolers out there, I'm guessing you already know the Bills at Packers is the lock pick of the week. Maybe the year. Take Green Bay to win and start mulling over the Week 3 schedule.
32 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 28
I checked and it looks like we're going to be treated to another one of those classic Browns-Bills showdowns in Week 14, in Cleveland. The league's two stragglers played that memorable 6-3 slugfest last October (won by the Browns). They're on a collision course for ineptitude once again.
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