By Don Banks
November 17, 2010
NFL Power Rankings (cont.)
11 Tampa Bay <a href=Buccaneers" title="Tampa Bay Buccaneers">
Last Week: 13
The more you win in the NFL, the greedier you get to keep those good vibrations going every week. But in some ways, the rookie-rich Bucs are playing with house money for the rest of 2010. They've already doubled their win total from last season, and gone a long way toward establishing that general manager Mark Dominik, head coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman were the correct choices. That's a pretty good year's work right there.
12 Tennessee <a href=Titans" title="Tennessee Titans">
Last Week: 10
The maturity question has surfaced once again in connection with Vince Young's work habits, and you have to start wondering if the ex-Longhorn is just one of those guys who is never going to "get it." On a scale of JaMarcus Russell to Peyton Manning, Young is somewhere in that vast middle ground, but he seems to lean more to the ex-Raiders bust than to the Colts' future Hall of Famer when it comes to dedication to his craft.
13 Oakland <a href=Raiders" title="Oakland Raiders">
Last Week: 14
The Raiders went into Pittsburgh last season in Week 13 and shocked the defending Super Bowl champions 27-24, but they won't have the element of surprise in their favor on this road trip. They'll be running into a Pittsburgh team stinging from that humbling loss to New England, and Oakland now carries the designation of being a first-place team in mid-November.
14 Chicago <a href=Bears" title="Chicago Bears">
Last Week: 16
When you think about the winnable games the Bears lost at home to Seattle and Washington in Weeks 6-7, you realize this flawed Chicago team could have been 8-1 and in command of home-field advantage in the NFC. How bizarre would that have been? But the schedule is about to turn tougher for the Bears, and we'll soon find out if Chicago is built for the long haul in 2010.
15 Miami <a href=Dolphins" title="Miami Dolphins">
Last Week: 18
Twenty-five years ago about now, we got the 12-0 Bears against the Dan Marino-led Dolphins in that Monday Night Football classic for the ages. At the Orange Bowl that night, Miami ended Chicago's bid to join the 1972 Dolphins in undefeated history, and there was much rejoicing in Shula-ville. There's not quite as much on the line in Thursday's Bears at Dolphins matchup, but it will be played in South Florida, at night, and be televised. So there's that.
16 Kansas City <a href=Chiefs" title="Kansas City Chiefs">
Last Week: 12
The Chiefs get 469 yards passing, four touchdowns and zero interceptions out of quarterback Matt Cassel -- and no one in Kansas City is happy about it, because it came in a 20-point loss that was really worse than that. But I suppose fantasy football owners loved it, which is probably reason No. 1 why I hate fantasy football.
17 San Diego <a href=Chargers" title="San Diego Chargers">
Last Week: 15
Of course the Chargers climbed back into this AFC West race. Why do we ever try to throw dirt on Norv Turner's team before Thanksgiving? This is a club that was 4-8 two years ago and still won the division, plus a playoff game. Compared to that, 4-5 is practically time to start figuring out San Diego's magic number.
18 Cleveland <a href=Browns" title="Cleveland Browns">
Last Week: 17
The Browns have three wins, and absolutely nobody wants to play them. The Broncos have three wins, and they just hung 49 points on the first-place Chiefs. The Cowboys have two wins, and suddenly you don't want to see them on your team's schedule. The Lions and Bills have three victories combined, but they scare people and make their opponents sweat it out almost every week. Nice league.
19 Seattle <a href=Seahawks" title="Seattle Seahawks">
Last Week: 23
The NFC West is a rather laughable league unto itself this season. Everyone in the division has been outscored this season, with first-place Seattle currently looking at a 33-point deficit. The division's four teams own a combined three road wins, with only one of them being in non-NFC West play (Seattle won at Chicago). Not to overstate things, but this is all Kurt Warner's fault.
20 Jacksonville <a href=Jaguars" title="Jacksonville Jaguars">
Last Week: 24
God love 'em, those Jaguars fans who have been coming out in support of their team have gotten their thrills this season. Josh Scobee's 59-yard laser at the gun beats the Colts, and then Mike Thomas rescues them against the Texans when the ball catches him on a last-play miracle touchdown. It's almost enough to make up for those two blowout home losses to Philadelphia and Tennessee.
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