By Don Banks
September 29, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 15
Reality returned to Tampa Bay with a vengeance last week against the Steelers. But the key for Raheem Morris this season will be to find ways to stop the bleeding and avoid long losing streaks. The Bucs are on their bye and have two weeks to prepare for a trip to Cincinnati next week. Let's see how much coaching Morris can do with his young club.
22 New York Giants
Last Week: 17
I'm not sure another dose of prime-time exposure is what Tom Coughlin's sloppy Giants need right now. New York beat itself last week at home against Tennessee, and you get the feeling the Giants are only one more meltdown away from full-blown crisis mode. I'm pretty sure NBC is going to train a camera on Brandon Jacobs (and his helmet) at all times Sunday night.
23 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 18
The Redskins have played progressively worse every week, and that's not what you're looking for as you head into your first division road game of the year. Washington had a top-10 defense last year, but the move to a 3-4 formation has been far from seamless. The Redskins are surrendering 423.7 yards per game, last in the NFL, and both the Texans and Rams scored 30 points against Washington the past two weeks.
24 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 22
Kyle Orton and the Broncos passing game isn't the problem. Denver leads the NFL with 350 yards per game through the air. But the Broncos, partly due to injuries, have had a nonexistent ground game. Their 2.5-yard average rush is last in the league, and their 67 yards per game ranks 30th. It's actually the Denver rush defense that should be pretty crucial this week, with the Broncos traveling to Tennessee to face Chris Johnson and the Titans.
25 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 27
The Raiders did enough to win at Arizona and kicker Sebastian Janikowski turned victory into defeat with one swing of his chunky left leg. But I still think Oakland will be heard from in the AFC West playoff race before this season is done.
26 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 29
The Rams hung up 30 points in their win over Washington, an offensive high-water mark they hadn't reached in 28 regular season games (since a 34-14 upset of Dallas in Week 7 of 2008). But with Seattle coming in this week, now comes the even more important challenge: Trying to win a division game for the first time since beating San Francisco in mid-November 2007.
27 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 24
I understand why Jack Del Rio is excited about getting Trent Edwards off waivers from Buffalo. He's about had his fill of David Garrard. But I keep wondering if Edwards is excited to be going from one struggling, small-market team to another?
28 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 25
Firing Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator only momentarily deflects the pressure from 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. Now it's up to him to be more than a good motivator and find a way to win a season-saving game for San Francisco.
29 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 28
The Lions simply aren't making enough good things happen to win games. They're competitive, but they're also 0-3 for the fifth time in the past 10 years. Tough to see anything but 0-4 on the way with this week's trip to Lambeau, where the Packers should be in the mood to take out their aggression on someone.
30 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 31
The Bills gave the Patriots all they wanted last week at Foxboro, and that's something to build on. But the release of Trent Edwards on Monday just reinforces the belief that there's not much of a long-term plan in place in Buffalo.
31 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 32
No blowout losses for the Browns, but that's little solace for the tortured Cleveland fans. I have one suggestion for the Browns: Keep Seneca Wallace as the starting quarterback, even past this week, once Jake Delhomme is healthy. Unless Cleveland trades for Kevin Kolb one of these days, Wallace is the best QB the Browns have to choose from.
32 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 30
The Panthers' offense ranks 31st in the league and doesn't threaten anyone at this point. Just getting this team to four or five wins might register as the best coaching job of John Fox's career.
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