By Don Banks
October 21, 2009
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 9
The Bears may want to induce me to stay away from their games this season. I've seen Chicago twice so far, and both times it lost a Sunday-nighter on the road with me on the premises. In those defeats, Week 1 at Green Bay and last Sunday in Atlanta, quarterback Jay Cutler tossed six of the seven interceptions he has this year. In Chicago's other three games, its 3-0 and Cutler has been near flawless. I'm open to reason on this issue if Lovie Smith would like to talk.
12 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 18
Yeah, the Cardinals passing game is getting revved up again, but the best news coming out of Arizona's domination at Seattle on Sunday was a defense that held the Seahawks to just 128 yards of offense, seven first downs and forced eight punts. That's the kind of showing that can shake off those post-Super Bowl loss blues once and for all.
13 Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 12
Here's your basic case of a problem stemming from unintended consequences: The Ravens improved offense scores so quickly these days that Baltimore's defense is struggling with the amount of time its spending on the field. Four of the Ravens' first six opponents have run at least 64 plays, and Minnesota held the ball for nearly 35 minutes against Baltimore in its victory last Sunday. It's a tiring situation.
14 New York Jets
Last Week: 11
I can't help but think that if Dr. Z were doing our power rankings this week, he wouldn't let the upcoming Jets at Raiders matchup go by without a fond reminiscence of the Heidi Game in November 1968. NBC infamously cut off the last 65 seconds of the Jets-Raiders game in the Eastern and Central time zones to show everyone the exploits of a certain little Swiss girl, setting off a firestorm of protest when Oakland rallied to score 14 late points and win 43-32. Now that's a bit of AFL history that would be fun to see commemorated. You good with that, CBS?
15 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 14
Big week for the 49ers. If they're for real, they'll go to Houston, play some blood and guts defense for Mike Singletary, and take care of business against the Jekyll and Hyde-like Texans. Anything short of that and I can see doubt starting to descend on San Francisco. On offense, Michael Crabtree returning to Texas to make his NFL debut should be interesting, but I'm not expecting a Texas Tech Red Raiders' level of fireworks.
16 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 16
How 'bout them Cowboys, gaining on every other NFC East team last week without ever getting off the couch? It might have been the best Sunday Dallas will have all season. I actually like Wade Phillips' club this week at home against the Falcons, but I'm not exactly sure the rationale for my optimism. And it's good that we finally get to see what a day game looks like in the new Cowboys Stadium. Any of those famed Texas Stadium shadows in the offing?
17 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 17
Living amidst Packers lovers as I do these days, you'd have thought Green Bay lost 26-0 to the Lions last Sunday at Lambeau to hear the general lack of enthusiasm for the victory. NFL fans are a spoiled bunch for the most part. Once upon a time, a 26-0 division win would have sufficed. You take your W and move on. No sniveling. Now everybody wants a masterpiece every week.
18 Houston Texans
Last Week: 21
The Texans did a great job of slowing down the Bengals' blitz that Cincy defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has had coming all season. A 59-yard receiver screen to Andre Johnson on the game's first play did the trick nicely, taking some of the aggressiveness out of the Bengals D. It's called game-planning, and to every yin, there is a yang in the NFL.
19 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 19
And to think these Dolphins could have had Drew Brees back in 2006, had then-Miami head coach Nick Saban not been quite so dubious about Brees' surgically repaired throwing shoulder. The Dolphins get the chance to inspect Brees' shoulder in person this week, but they may wind up wishing they hadn't.
20 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 15
Maybe it's that laid-back SoCal vibe, but the Chargers just can't start a season with any sense of urgency in the Norv Turner era. Their AFC West title hopes were on the line Monday night against the visiting Broncos, and they came up small again. There will be no 8-8 playoff berth awaiting San Diego this season.
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