By Don Banks
October 20, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 Houston Texans
Last Week: 13
There is a certain irony in Atlanta's Dunta Robinson being fined $50,000 for his hit on Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson. Because when he was a Houston cornerback, many Texans fans claimed he really never shut down anyone's No. 1 receiver.
12 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 8
Suggestion to my friend, Steve Sabol, of NFL Films: When you put this Bears season to music, how about dropping the theme song from the Benny Hill Show behind all those highlights of quarterback Jay Cutler running for his life? I know that's what I hear every time I watch Chicago try to pass block.
13 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 18
Who knew the hot-blooded Dolphins had morphed into a cold-weather team when we weren't looking? Miami has wins at Buffalo, Minnesota and Green Bay this season and is 0-2 at home in South Florida. I know, weather didn't really have much to do with any of it. But the Dolphins finally get a 1 p.m. Sunday home game this week, where they can try to use the sun to their advantage against the visiting Steelers.
14 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 12
You know how they used to say of Cris Carter that all he does is catch touchdowns? Not true. Now, Mike Vrabel, he really does catch nothing but touchdowns. His 12 career receptions have produced 12 touchdowns, which might be the most remarkable statistic in NFL history. Two of them were in the Super Bowl. I still can't believe defenders don't blanket him when he goes into the game on offense. Why would you not with a record like that? And here's maybe even the cooler stat on Vrabel: His 12 catches have produced all of 17 receiving yards.
15 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 16
I remember seeing Redskins running back Ryan Torain in training camp and thinking he looked like he could help Washington. But running against the Colts (like he did last week, for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries) is not the same thing as running against the Bears (his challenge this week, in Chicago). But it does appear Mike Shanahan has found himself another quality young runner.
16 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 9
The Packers are just horrible on third downs of late (5 of 26 over the past two games, both overtime losses) and that just shouldn't happen with this offense, even with the multiple injuries that have weakened the lineup. In its next three games before a Week 10 bye, Green Bay has Minnesota at home, at the Jets, and Dallas at home. If the Packers intend to win the NFC North, they had better win two of those and be sitting at least 5-4 heading into the Week 12 rematch at Minnesota.
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 16
The Bucs had almost no running game (42 yards on 18 carries) against the Saints, and their run defense performed at 2009 levels (212 yards allowed on 32 carries). That's what you would call some serious regression by Raheem Morris's young club, but this week brings a chance for redemption at home against the improved Rams. For a change, the Bucs' Josh Freeman gets to be the veteran quarterback in the game.
18 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 25
I'm thinking Seahawks receiver Mike Williams has to be the early favorite for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, and his 10-catch, 123-yard showing in last week's upset win at Chicago served as a centerpiece performance. But there's Wes Welker, LaDainian Tomlinson, E.J. Henderson and, oh, yeah, Michael Vick, to consider on the comeback front as well. It's a very tough category this year.
19 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 20
The top of the NFC West could start sorting itself out over the course of the next four weeks, because the Cardinals and Seahawks (both 3-2) face off twice in that span. Arizona is at Seattle this week in a first-place showdown, and Ken Whisenhunt's team hasn't really showed up on the road yet this season outside of stealing away with a fortunate win at St. Louis in Week 1. Let's see what rookie quarterback Max Hall learned during his bye week.
20 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 26
It really didn't get any worse in the NFL in the past three years than the state of Missouri. The Rams and Chiefs combined to go 16-80 (.167) from 2007-2009, but they're 6-5 this year and have that turnaround mojo going so far. Sam Bradford is getting most of the buzz in St. Louis, but that Rams defense is starting to make us sit up and take notice. Seven sacks of Philip Rivers last week was a revelation.
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