By Don Banks
September 16, 2009
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 12
It kind of got overlooked in a busy Week 1, but Peyton Manning tying Johnny Unitas's franchise record of 118 wins is pretty special when you consider that Manning did it in the opener of his 12th season, while Unitas spent 17 years with the horseshoe on the side of his helmet. Has one franchise ever been blessed with two quarterbacks as good as Unitas and Manning? I say no.
12 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 13
I'm not ready to bump the Vikings way up my board based on a win over the bottom-feeding Browns. Minnesota actually trailed at halftime before it remembered the game plan this year is to give Adrian Peterson the ball. I don't know what the Vikings put in that halftime IV that Peterson got in the locker room, but I might think about using it to replace the Gatorade this week at Detroit.
13 New York Jets
Last Week: 16
After the Jets big win at Houston, we heard a lot about how nobody was listening when rookie head coach Rex Ryan was telling everyone he had a pretty good team this preseason. I beg to differ. I picked the Jets to go 10-6 and earn a wild-card berth this season, and hearing about Ryan's inspirational Saturday night speech to his team only reinforces my belief that New York will feed all season off his competitive juices.
14 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 14
Taking care of business against the Rams at home won't win you big headlines, but the Jim Mora era in Seattle had a nice takeoff, with his club posting a shutout for the onetime 49ers defensive coordinator. It's pretty clear that with a healthy Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, the Seahawks are the favorites to win the NFC West.
15 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 17
OK, Cowboys fans. I can hear you hollering already about a middle-of-the-pack ranking after such an impressive offensive display in the opener at Tampa Bay. Patience, patience. I'm headed to Dallas this week for the grudge match against the Giants on Sunday night, and let's see how Tony Romo and the passing game fares against a defense that doesn't have safeties running in molasses like the Bucs. Win this one and you'll make a big move. Promise.
16 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 22
Having 203 yards of offense, just 13 first downs and 21 yards on the ground won't get it done against too many opponents, but the 49ers defense was good enough to make those meager numbers work at Arizona. Step two in San Francisco's return to relevance would be a similar showing this week at home against division rival Seattle. A 2-0 start in the NFC West and we're going to have to take Mike Singletary's club for real.
17 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 10
What a difference a week makes in Bears-land. Jay Cutler morphs into Rex Grossman, and Brian Urlacher is lost for the year before it really begins. And now the home opener against the defending champ Steelers looms. Let's see what Lovie Smith's guys have in their guts. If they're going to hang with the Packers and Vikings this season, avoiding an 0-2 start looks mandatory.
18 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 26
Nobody took a bigger step in this week's rankings than the better-to-be-lucky-than-good Broncos, who galloped upwards eight slots after Brandon Stokely went all Franco Harris on us at Cincinnati. Do I believe Denver is destined to stay in our top 20? Not necessarily. But that's the way this thing works: You win, you climb. You lose, you dive. Any questions?
19 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 15
In their past two games that have mattered, the Dolphins have lost by a combined score of 46-16 to the Ravens and Falcons, the other two surprise turnaround teams that, like Miami, went 11-5 and made the playoffs in 2008. From those results, it's hard not to deduce that Baltimore and Atlanta have sturdier foundations than the Dolphins on which to build.
20 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 23
I'm officially adding the term "Dick Jauron face" to the NFL lexicon. Did you see that hollow, not-really-there look in the eyes of the Bills' embattled head coach while his club was self-destructing in the final five minutes at New England? Sadly for Bills fans, they've seen it plenty in the past four years or so. But if Buffalo doesn't win this week at home against struggling Tampa Bay, there's a good chance I coined a term that will have a very limited shelf life.
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