By Don Banks
December 02, 2009
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
21 Houston Texans
Last Week: 19
Amid the gloom of the Texans' three-game season-killing losing streak, the realization that Houston has found itself another young defensive star in linebacker Brian Cushing has shone through. Cushing had 11 tackles and an interception of Peyton Manning in Sunday's meltdown against the Colts, and the kid has that limitless energy that seems to keep him near the ball all game long.
22 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 27
Rather quietly, Fred Jackson has become interim head coach Perry Fewell's lead guy in the Buffalo running game, at the expense of first-round pick Marshawn Lynch. Jackson churned for 116 yards of combined rushing and receiving in the win over Miami, and found the end zone twice on runs. I'd keep feeding him the ball, too. Jackson runs like he wants his next contract. I suppose he and Fewell have that much in common.
23 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 21
Jake Delhomme's broken finger on his throwing hand merely saves Panthers head coach John Fox from having to bench his turnover-plagued quarterback. It was time to pull the plug on the Delhomme era in Charlotte after a good, long run. Carolina can take a look at backup Matt Moore for a few weeks, and then plot out its future at quarterback from there.
24 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 26
I'm not sure the Redskins defense hasn't looked almost better without the injured Albert Haynesworth these past two weeks, in losing by one point at Dallas and three points at Philadelphia. At the very least, it shows you Haynesworth isn't the kind of game-changing player who should have had $100 million thrown at him.
25 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 28
It would appear the Seahawks have uncovered the latest example of how much running back talent exists in the later rounds of the draft. Second-year man Justin Forsett, a seventh-round pick out of Cal in 2008, has produced 368 yards of combined rushing and receiving and four touchdowns in Seattle's past three games. And at 5-foot-8, 194 pounds, Forsett adds to the growing list of shorter NFL backs who are coming up very, very big.
26 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 23
I suppose in time we'll almost forget Orlando Pace ever left St. Louis and ended his standout career with one last desultory season as the Bears left tackle. It was painful to watch Pace get beat so often by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on Sunday, but the big guy looks old and slow after 13 years in the NFL. And now he's hurt too, which means he might have to miss this week's reunion game against the visiting Rams.
27 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 24
The Chiefs have made a defensive player their first pick in five of the past six drafts, and yet the talent level on that side of the ball still seems woefully lacking. Kansas City has allowed eight of its 11 opponents 400 yards or more of offense, and that's a pretty good recipe for going 3-8 in today's NFL. Rebuilding the Chiefs defense will continue to be job one for Scott Pioli and Todd Haley.
28 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 25
The Raiders' Tom Cable landed the team's fulltime head coaching gig by beating playoff contenders Houston and Tampa Bay last December. What would it take for Oakland to be convinced to bring Cable back in 2010? Probably wins over the likes of Pittsburgh, Denver and Baltimore from here on out. Not happening.
29 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 29
When Detroit brought in proven veterans like Larry Foote, Julian Peterson, Phillip Buchanon and Grady Jackson last offseason, I presumed its defense would improve faster than its offense under first-year head coach Jim Schwartz in '09. Boy, was I wrong. Other than rookie safety Louis Delmas, the Lions defense is a disaster again.
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 31
I keep seeing highlight clips where Josh Freeman is rolling left and throwing touchdowns with pinpoint accuracy back across his body. Freeman had a 118.5 passer rating at Atlanta, and that's plenty good enough to win most NFL games. Tampa Bay has found its quarterback of the present and future.
31 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 30
The Rams really are a one-man team on offense. Running back Steven Jackson has accounted for 39 percent of St. Louis's yards from scrimmage (1,378), and he leads the NFC with 1,120 yards rushing -- 36 more than Minnesota superback Adrian Peterson.
32 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 32
You can't say anything good about the Browns these days, but I did see where nice guy Romeo Crennel hopes to return to NFL coaching in 2010. Wonder if the ex-Browns head coach and Charlie Weis could both wind up reprising their coordinator roles in New England, five years after they left Foxboro?
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