By Don Banks
November 10, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
21 Houston Texans
Last Week: 14
Last year, after the Texans lost again to the Colts to fall to 5-7 and basically out of the playoff race, I thought it was time for Houston owner Bob McNair to lower the boom on head coach Gary Kubiak. Instead, McNair gave Kubiak a contract extension amidst the late-season four-game winning streak that earned the Texans a winning record but not a playoff berth. Now here we are again, with Houston underachieving when it matters most -- it has lost three of four home games since starting the season 2-0 -- and the Texans still facing a brutal five-game stretch that goes at Jets, Titans, at Eagles, Ravens, at Titans. Could both Texas teams be looking for a new coach come January? I hear Wade Phillips is available, and he already owns the Western-wear wardrobe.
22 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 19
Does Donovan McNabb ever get really mad? Does he ever do the righteous indignation thing? I'd like to see No. 5 fire back a bit the next time some head coach tries to replace him with Rex Grossman in the final two minutes of a close game. You can't always just don a baseball cap and a slightly wounded look and go with the flow. Flashing a little emotion can actually be a good thing at times for a quarterback. Let's see some, DM. Preferably starting Monday night at home against the Eagles. That'll make for good television.
23 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17
The Seahawks are plummeting in our rankings while still being tied for first place in their division, but that's what happens when Oakland and the Giants roll you for a combined 1,032 yards of offense and 74 points in consecutive games. Exactly what kind of defense are they playing up there in the extreme top left corner of the map? Not even Pete Carroll's well-known enthusiasm can surmount that kind of production gap.
24 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 22
Strange as it sounds, the loser of the Texans at Jaguars game on Sunday drops into last place in the tightly packed AFC South, while the winner might just end the day tied for first place in the division. Those are the kind of second-half plot twists we're in for this season in an AFC where 12 of 16 teams hit midseason owning between four and six wins.
25 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 24
It's got to be killing the Lions and their fans to look up every week and see the winning exploits of second-year quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman and realize for now they drew the short straw in 2009's first-round quarterback lottery. Staying healthy enough to play is always part of the equation of greatness in the NFL, and so far, Matthew Stafford hasn't been able to cut it on that front. Maybe Stafford perseveres and never misses a game for the next 15 years, but at the moment, he's got a body that has betrayed both him and Detroit.
26 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 26
In the past few NFL weeks, we've seen big games turned in by LaRod Stephens-Howling, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mike Sims-Walker, and Maurice Jones-Drew. Why exactly is it that the hyphenated name guys are taking over the league?
27 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 27
Chad Ochocinco is that kid you grew up with in the neighborhood who was always a pretty good guy when things were going his way. But as soon as the worm turned, or a tough day came along, he'd wind up fuming and having a meltdown, eventually taking his ball and heading home. Imagine what it's like to be Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, with Terrell Owens being your most mature starting receiver?
28 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 28
After spending last weekend in the bay area, I could tell how much the euphoria from the Giants' month-long postseason run helped distract the 49ers fan base from the carnage that unfolded in the season's first half. But now Mike Singletary's team has the stage again, and somehow it's just two games out of first place in the tame NFC West. Let's see what the 49ers do with this undeserved second-half chance at playoff contention.
29 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 29
Like the 49ers, the Broncos should be dead in the water, but aren't in this season of parity on steroids. Denver trails first-place Kansas City by three games, but the Broncos still have an AFC West-high five division games remaining -- two with the Chiefs, two with the Chargers, and one with Raiders (who nipped them 59-14 the last time they played). You just know somebody crazy is going to wind up in this year's playoffs. The Broncos are thinking ''Why not us?''
30 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 31
I don't know if this Canada thing is working out, Buffalo. The Bills are 0-3 in the regular season in Toronto, and the whole exercise still has that exhibition-game feel to it. Come to think of it, maybe they should play their future Toronto games outdoors, on the grounds of what once was the Blue Jays' old Exhibition Stadium. Just a bit of whimsy.
31 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 30
If you were paying attention, you knew in the preseason the Panthers were going to be not just bad on offense, but borderline horrible. And with Matt Moore gone for the year, Jimmy Clausen lost in a rookie haze, and Tony Pike about to get the call, things could actually get worse in Carolina. The Panthers have scored just 88 points in eight games, and that's 42 points (six touchdowns) fewer than the next lowest-scoring team (Seattle, with 130).
32 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 32
Nothing like getting your dream job, huh, Jason Garrett? I'm guessing this isn't necessarily the way he envisioned the big promotion unfolding. No pressure or anything, but your entire future as a head coach in the NFL likely hinges on how Jon Kitna and the rest of the characters who quit on Wade Phillips respond to the final eight games of the season.
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