By Don Banks
October 14, 2009
NFL Power Rankings
21 Houston Texans
Last Week: 19
You like that the Texans fought back at Arizona and made a game of it in the fourth quarter. But then they gave it away with that horrible Matt Schaub interception, and their running game couldn't punch home the game-tying touchdown from the 1 in the closing minute. Add it all up and it's still losing football. Which is really all they know in Houston's second NFL incarnation.
22 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 18
OK, everybody off that modest Jaguars bandwagon that had been forming the past couple of weeks. The score of Jacksonville's debacle at Seattle last week reminded me of the 2000 NFC title game between Minnesota and the Giants. As Randy Moss put it so memorably that day, the Vikings lost "41 to donut" to the Super Bowl-bound G-Men.
23 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 25
You can see it coming, can't you? The Panthers were down 17-2 at home to the Redskins in the third quarter and their season was almost officially dead. But an 18-point comeback later, they had their first win, and now with games at Tampa Bay and home against Buffalo on the horizon, Carolina could be at .500 and very much alive by the end of the month. The Falcons and Saints probably aren't nervous just yet, but there is hope for John Fox's team.
24 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 23
Dead man walking. Jim Zorn coaching. Same number of syllables. Coincidence?
25 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 24
I'm not dropping the Titans any further than 25th because I believe they'd beat any team from 26th on down in the power rankings. How's that for being damned with faint praise? Although to be honest, I'm not positive Jim Schwartz's Lions wouldn't give his old team all it could handle. Is it VY time yet in Tennessee?
26 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 26
Boy, for a little while there, things were looking up in Michigan. The Lions beat the Redskins. The Tigers looked playoff-bound in the AL Central. The Wolverines knocked off the Irish. Late September. Those were the days. But they were fleeting, and they're gone now. All gone.
27 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 31
You want to know just how bad the bottom rung of the NFL is this season? It's so bad that if you win a game 6-3 with your starting quarterback completing 2 of 17 passes for 23 yards, you still get bumped up four big notches in our power rankings. That's how bad.
28 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 29
The Chiefs offense is ranked 30th in yards, and their defense is dead last in yards allowed. But I still see effort from the Chiefs, and they're going to beat somebody fairly soon. A win at Washington this week? Maybe. If Matt Cassel can get hot.
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 30
It's nine consecutive losses for the Bucs since they marched into Carolina in Week 14 last December with first place in the NFC South on the line. The Bucs got their butts kicked by the Panthers that Monday night, and it could unfold roughly the same way when they face Carolina again this week.
30 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 32
It was only baby steps, but the Rams previously moribund offense actually showed some life against the Vikings before getting buried by a wave of red zone turnovers. You think nine losses in a row is tough, Bucs fans? St. Louis is on the cusp of running the table in reverse. A loss at Jacksonville makes the Rams 0 for their past 16 games.
31 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 27
I'm coming around to the notion that Turk Schonert was actually the big winner in Buffalo this season. The Bills' deposed offensive coordinator got out before the real carnage began.
32 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 28
I'll bet Tom Cable is mad enough to hit someone about now. Which is more fire than his defense has shown of late. Week by exasperating week, we're all left wondering where is bottom for Al Davis and the Raiders?
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