By Don Banks
October 14, 2009
NFL Power Rankings
11 New York Jets
Last Week: 6
While the Jets did beat the No. 10 Patriots in Week 2, my rationale for flopping them this week is that New England looked better in losing on the road to undefeated Denver than New York did in falling to the previously 1-3 Dolphins Monday night. The Jets defense got manhandled at the point of attack by Miami, and that's just not supposed to happen to a Rex Ryan-schooled defense. I'm afraid Buffalo's disjointed offense is about to pay for New York's lackluster showing against the Dolphins.
12 Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 8
Back to back losses to New England and Cincinnati and the Ravens have tumbled all the way from the top of the heap to a middling 12th. And here comes undefeated Minnesota in that crazy, loud Metrodome. It'd be a fine time for Baltimore's defense to re-assert its dominance, but I would imagine Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre have other ideas about how this story turns out.
13 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 13
The Lions had 335 yards, 21 first downs and hogged the ball for more than 32 minutes against the Steelers defense, and now Pittsburgh must do without underrated defensive end Aaron Smith for the rest of the season. It just feels like it's going to be an uphill climb for Dick LeBeau's defense this time around, after last season's dominance. But a home game against the bumbling Browns should spruce things up a bit this week.
14 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 10
My colleague Peter King had a good tidbit about Michael Crabtree the other day, with the rookie receiver quizzing 49ers GM Scot McCloughan on why San Francisco return man Allen Rossum was inactive for a recent game at St. Louis. It showed that Crabtree, even while unsigned, was paying attention to the details in San Francisco. But I couldn't help but notice this week that the 49ers released Rossum to make room on their active roster for -- you guessed it -- Crabtree. Do you think McCloughan had to explain that one to him?
15 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 15
With the Chargers trailing the first-place Broncos by 2½ games and playing host to Denver Monday night, I think it bears noting that last year at this time San Diego was in a similar situation at 2-3, two games behind 4-1 Denver. But if the Chargers are counting on another 8-8 fade job from the improved Broncos this season, they could be sadly miscalculating. That's why it's must-win week in San Diego. If Denver goes up 3½ games, the AFC West race will be all but over.
16 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 16
The Cowboys have opened the season win, loss, win, loss, win, and now stagger to their Week 6 bye. They've beaten three teams that were winless at the time in Tampa Bay, Carolina and Kansas City, and lost to the two undefeated teams they've faced: the Giants and Broncos. You sensing a pattern here? Because you -- and Wade Phillips -- definitely should be.
17 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 17
The eye-opening success of the defensive makeovers of the Saints and Broncos -- and to a lesser degree of the Jets and 49ers -- only seems to highlight what hasn't happened for the Packers so far under new coordinator Dom Capers. Green Bay hasn't created the improved pass rush that was expected in the 3-4 formation, and the takeaways that came four a game in the preseason haven't materialized either. The Packers need to play more physically, and set a tone on defense. It best start this week at home against Detroit.
18 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 20
A trip to Seattle means it's a big week for the Cardinals, who despite an ugly few weeks against the AFC South are still in position to defend their NFC West title. Already 0-1 in the division, Arizona needs this one. The key to last season's playoff trip was that 6-0 mark in the West, and trailing both the 49ers and Seahawks six weeks into the season is not a trail the Cardinals care to blaze.
19 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 21
I'm not the biggest fan of the Wildcat formation, but watching the Dolphins run their version Monday night against the Jets was both entertaining and intriguing. Miami tries to trick you at times with the razzle-dazzle element of the Wildcat, and at other times it lines up and runs the ball right down your throat, like Ronnie Brown did on the game-winning 2-yard touchdown. Nobody else has the level of sophistication to match Miami's Wildcat, and I don't think it's even close.
20 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 22
Two shutouts at home already for the Seahawks defense? Even against the likes of the Rams and Jaguars, that's a feat. But in its other three games, all losses, Seattle has surrendered 27.3 points per outing. So which is the real Seahawks defense? This week's pivotal home game against the high-octane Cardinals should enlighten us.
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