By Don Banks
September 23, 2009
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 16
If I were in the same room with all 32 starting quarterbacks in the league, I think I could quickly recognize 31 of them by face. But I'd have to use the process of elimination to identify Shaun Hill, the 49ers starter. And that just doesn't seem right for a guy who's 9-3 as San Francisco's starter since late 2007. But I'm covering the 49ers game at Minnesota this week, and I plan on getting a good, long look at Mr. Hill.
12 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 12
Is it just me, or does Philip Rivers seem to have some of his best games in Chargers losses? Throwing for 436 yards against the Ravens defense is no small feat. But all those red-zone trips and San Diego kept kicking field goals instead of notching touchdowns. Bet that drove the Norv Turner haters right out of the woodwork this week in SoCal.
13 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 15
The Cowboys came out of their Sunday-nighter with some issues -- Tony Romo's inaccuracy and their secondary's porous coverage -- but there were still some positives to build on with their strong running game and run defense against the Giants. Speaking of issues, the Giants-Cowboys game reminded me of one that bores me to tears: The celebration of big TV ratings. I really don't care that 24.8 million people watched the Giants-Cowboys Sunday night on NBC. Not in the least. I know NBC cares, and it should. Ditto for the NFL. But I don't care. I know I watched the game. I was there, and it was on in the press box. But after that? Yawn.
14 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 18
Two weeks in and I'm already having to pay very close attention to make sure I don't have someone ranked below a team they've already beaten. Like I almost bumped the 1-1 Bengals ahead of the 2-0 Broncos this week, based on Cincy's big win at Green Bay. Then I remembered a certain deflected pass that Brandon Stokley caught in Week 1, and well, lucky or not, you can't have Denver beneath Cincinnati. You just can't.
15 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 24
Likewise, you have to make sure you drop Green Bay below the Bengals, because Marvin Lewis just went into Lambeau and made a mockery of my NFC Super Bowl pick. I'm telling you, there are a lot of rules to these NFL Power Rankings, and Dr. Z taught me them all.
16 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 3
Two weeks in, and the Packers offensive line has greatly furthered the Pro Bowl candidacies of Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom. But it hasn't done much for Aaron Rodgers' health. I knocked Green Bay way, way down this week, making them my biggest slider at a minus-13 slots. It would seem a trip to St. Louis this week is just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Pack.
17 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 17
That was a big, equilibrium-gathering win against the Steelers, but can a franchise that barely survived the Good Rex, Bad Rex era endure a similar Good Cutler, Bad Cutler routine from week to week? In case you're wondering, the Bears beat the defending champs and didn't move an inch because we're not jumping them over the Packers, who just beat them in Week 1.
18 Houston Texans
Last Week: 23
Speaking of saving your season, that was quite the display of moxie by the Texans in Tennessee. With home games coming up against Jacksonville and Oakland, Houston should be staring at a 3-1 record a month into the season. But that's where we've gotten ahead of ourselves with these Texans before. The Raiders, don't forget, beat Houston in Week 16 last season, costing Gary Kubiak's team its first winning record.
19 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 8
The reality in Tennessee is that a pair of three-point defeats count the same as a pair of blowouts in the loss column. The Titans are clearly the best 0-2 team in the league, but that's a distinction they never intended to earn. Time to go all in this week at the Jets, or the rest of the season might turn into a slow, uphill climb that proves too steep.
20 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 20
The Bills are oh so close to being 2-0 this season, but alas, they'll have to settle for being in the 20 slot of my rankings. What a difference a hyphen can make.
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