By Don Banks
November 04, 2009
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 12
It's not often we move a team up a notch after a loss, but I like the way the Falcons fought Monday night at New Orleans. They kept trading punches with the high-octane Saints, and were still scrapping for loose balls at the bottom of the pile in the final minute. For the first time in the 24-game Mike Smith coaching era, Atlanta is on a losing streak. I predict that'll make the Birds plenty feisty when Washington comes to town this week.
12 Houston Texans
Last Week: 15
What a bittersweet win at Buffalo it was for the Texans, who climbed two games over .500 for the first time in franchise history but lost their superb tight end, Owen Daniels, to a season-ending knee injury. With the Colts looming this week in the biggest game Houston has ever played, it's not a good time to be doing without one of the major cogs in your offense. Then again, the Texans did re-discover the talents of running back Ryan Moats, sentencing the sophomore-slumping Steve Slaton and his fumbling ways to the bench for now.
13 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 8
The Cardinals just aren't getting the same Larry Fitzgerald who took over the league last year. He's averaging almost five yards fewer per catch this season (10.8 compared to 15.4) though seven games, and doesn't have a reception for more than 27 yards, after racking up 10 games last season in which he caught at least one pass for 30 yards or longer. But that's far from the whole story behind Arizona's uneven season. The Cardinals suddenly can't win at home, losing three of their first four after winning eight times in 10 games there last season.
14 New York Giants
Last Week: 10
With San Diego coming to the Meadowlands this week, this is not the ideal time to be re-visiting the Eli Manning versus Philip Rivers 2004 draft-day trade. Manning's a mess right now, and so are his reeling Giants. Everything we thought we knew about New York has been proven false in the past three weeks: the Giants aren't the most consistent, even-keeled team in football; they don't have a rock-solid defensive front; and Manning hasn't matured past the point of struggling for no more than a quarter or two at a time. Did I leave anything out?
15 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 17
I did the math, and if the Chargers continue their trend of beating every team with a losing record (they're 4-0 against that subset this season) and losing to every team with a winning record (they're 0-3 in that regard), they'll finish exactly 8-8 again this season. But I promise you that won't be good enough for the division title and a playoff trip this time around, Norv-men. So time to get cracking and steal one from a winner. This week's trip to the dazed and confused Giants would appear a perfect opportunity for just such a heist.
16 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 13
The Packers were finally hoping to put their long and draining Brett Favre saga behind them last Sunday, and climb fully out from under No. 4's shadow. But alas, not happening. Unless they somehow meet again in the playoffs and beat the old goat (and we say that affectionately, of course), this is the story that won't go away in Green Bay. I didn't think Ted Thompson's hair could get any whiter, but I might be wrong.
17 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 22
Can't have the Dolphins behind the Jets, even if they do trail them by a half-game in the AFC East. Not after Miami went 2-0 against Rex Ryan's big-talking bunch, winning twice in the span of 20 days. And Tony Sparano is right. His Fish are 3-0 in the division, so maybe they're putting up a defense of their AFC East title after all. But two of Miami's next five games are against New England, and those showdowns will tell the real tale of the Dolphins' season.
18 New York Jets
Last Week: 16
No one in the NFL plays weirder games than the Jets. No one. They run for 318 yards at Buffalo, but lose by three in overtime. They hold the powerful Saints offense to just 10 points in the Superdome, but lose by 14 because their offense gives up more points on turnovers (14) that it actually scores (10). And they give up just 104 yards offense to Miami, but lose by five points thanks to a pair of kickoff return touchdowns and a fumble recovery for another score.
19 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 18
Talked to Trent Dilfer about Alex Smith the other day. He too agrees the 49ers need to let Smith spread the field with receivers and do what he does best, find the open man. But he doubts whether the run-oriented Mike Singletary will open things up and run the kind of offense that best suits Smith's talents. "Toward the end of 2006 (when Smith and Dilfer were teammates in San Francisco), that's what (offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) was moving toward, some empty backfield sets and spreading the field with receivers. Alex's used to that and that's what he how he knows how to play," Dilfer said. "But I don't think the 49ers will have the wisdom and the foresight to change to that degree. I just don't."
20 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 19
With three of their wins coming against Seattle, Detroit and Cleveland, the Bears haven't stockpiled many style points so far. But a win at home against unpredictable Arizona this week and they're positioned to at least have a meaningful second half of the season to play for. But the pass protection issues have to improve in Chicago, or we're going to start a pool to see which NFC North quarterback gets broken into little pieces first: Jay Cutler or Aaron Rodgers?
1 - 10 11 - 20 21 - 32

You May Like