By Don Banks
October 27, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 5
The hardest thing to reproduce in a post-Super Bowl-winning season is the single-minded focus it took to get to the mountaintop in the first place. The Saints clearly lack the consistent drive they had in 2009, and thus they've ridden the rollercoaster that most of the rest of the league experiences every year. A crisp showing at home against the Steelers this Sunday night is almost a must if New Orleans hopes to reassert its dominance in the NFC in the season's second half.
12 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 14
Denver aside, they can really run the ball in the AFC West this year. The Chiefs are tops in the league with 176.5 rushing yards per game, and the Darren McFadden-led Raiders are third with 158.4. Even pass-happy San Diego is a respectable 17th, with 105.3 yards per game. The Chiefs gouged the Jaguars for 236 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground, and they didn't even have the division's most efficient running game in Week 7.
13 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 15
Mike Shanahan has already brought a sense of respectability back to Washington, and the Redskins' four wins matches their total from all of 2009. But the next goal is to develop more consistency and put together a significant winning streak. The Skins can improve to an impressive 3-1 on the road this week at Detroit, but the Lions pulled the upset last year at Ford Field and are even better in 2010.
14 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 16
Last year's Charles Woodson versus Darrelle Revis debate in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year balloting could be revisited this week when the Packers travel to the Jets, but neither one of the veteran cornerbacks is in top form this season. Woodson has been a liability at times in coverage and inspired talk of a move to safety, and Revis's season has been all about a holdout and health issues thus far.
15 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 18
The Seahawks have again developed a decided home-field advantage, and just like they often did under Mike Holmgren, they're going to ride it to a division title in the NFC West. Seattle is 3-0 at home, and has four of its final six games of the year at Qwest Field. If Pete Carroll's club can get through its first 10 games at 5-5, that should be good enough to go 9-7 and win the West.
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 17
The Bucs are taking care of business against all the teams in their weight class this season, and that's plenty good enough to contend in the so-so NFC. With five come-from-behind wins in his 15 career starts, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman continues to emerge as one of the more prescient draft picks in recent league history.
17 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 12
Did I actually hear Jay Cutler stand up in the postgame news conference and say he'd throw DeAngelo Hall's way again the next time they meet, four interceptions in one half be darned? There's bravado and then there's not knowing enough to keep your mouth shut. When the Hall of Fame called to request the jersey Hall was wearing against the Bears, that might have been Cutler's cue to tip his hat and move on.
18 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 13
All that star power being added to the Dolphins' ownership group hasn't helped Miami win a home game yet this season. But it probably has more to do with kicker Dan Carpenter being the Dolphins' leading offensive weapon than anything J-Lo and Jimmy Buffett aren't providing in the way of game-day glitz.
19 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 19
We thought we knew Kurt Warner's value to the Cardinals, but could anyone have predicted the offensive fall-off Arizona has suffered? The Cardinals rank last in the league with just 237.8 yards per game, a whopping 22 yards fewer than the 31st-ranked Panthers (259.8).
20 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 20
I suppose it's a measure of the raised expectation level in St. Louis that the Rams' second-half collapse in Tampa registered as devastating. But young teams often struggle to close out wins on the road, and that's the next step Steve Spagnuolo's club must take.
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