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2010 Midseason NFL Power Rankings, Part 1, 32-25

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32. Carolina Panthers (1-7)

When the local headline reads: “Carolina Panthers must turn to Clausen, Pike, or …” that is not a good sign. When the … stands for Keith Null, that’s an even worse sign. Factor in the injury concerns for DeAngelo Williams and the fact that Jonathan Stewart paid Darren Sharper to give a concussion just to get out of there (probably), and this team could be historically bad.  I bet Carolina fans, all 34 of them, didn’t think that they would be fantasizing about Jake Delhomme. The Panthers have played 8 games and scored 88 points. Theoretically they are on pace to score 174 points, but some of those points came with a healthy offense. With this current group, they might give the 92 Seahawks and their 140 point season a run for their money. Forget Mercury Morris; Stan Gelbaugh is on the edge of his seat with his sparkling grape juice ready to celebrate.  The only thing that can sideline their run to glory is getting a healthy DeAngelo Williams back, but with Jeff Otah headed to IR, their shot at destiny remains as strong as ever.

31. Buffalo Bills (0-8)

Maybe a bit low for the Bills, who have actually been competitive against some solid teams. However, at 0-8 and giving up 30 points a game, it’s hard to argue this rating. The good? The Bills can actually move the ball a bit. The bad? They can’t even sell out the 54,000 seat Rogers Center in Toronto for their “come see why the NFL is better than the CFL” game against the Bears.  Roger Goodell might want to rethink that whole idea, because the Montreal Alouettes Avon Cobourne would put up 250 on the ground against the Bills. Hell, if you gave me Avon Barksdale and over 150, I’d be counting the money before the opening kickoff. The Bills have a winnable game this week at home against the Drew Stanton-led Lions. If they don’t win that game, look out.

30. Arizona Cardinals (3-5)

Yes, the Cardinals have won 3 games, and are still alive for the NFC West title. Which reminds me; a while back someone wrote how the NFL should have a relegation process like European soccer. If you finish in the bottom four teams of the league, you get moved down to the lower grouping, and the top four teams from the lower grouping get moved up. In this case, the NFL could institute a relegation process for the worst division.  They wouldn’t go anywhere, just go away. If the NFC West just disappeared for a year, would anybody really care or miss it? As for the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald is now the Kevin Love of the NFL. The difference is that Larry Fitz at least played on some good teams. Kevin Love seems doomed to spend his career under the watchful eye of David Kahn. Oh, and about that NFC West title possibility? Max Hall, Derek Anderson, John Skelton…let me know how that works out.

29. Dallas Cowboys (1-7)

Well let’s see, they can’t run the ball, they can’t stop anyone, they are giving up 29 points per game, and Jon Kitna is their quarterback. Come to think of it 29th in the rankings might be a bit high. The Cowboys do get credit for firing Wade Phillips, who somehow each year has found new and interesting ways to do less with more than any coach in the league. Baseball has a stat called VORP (value over replacement player), which is a measuring stick of how a player stacks up against a hypothetical average-below average counterpart. For reference, Albert Pujols led the league this season with an 82.7 VORP. If football had a VORC stat, Wade Phillips would be the 3rd lowest all time at a -39,428 VORC; ahead of only Bruce Coslet and Art Shell.

28. Detroit Lions (2-6)

Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson are two of the best players in the league, and Matthew Stafford is a quarterback with all of the tools to be a very good for many years. Then came Sunday: Up 20-10 with a little over 5 minutes remaining against a team that many project to make it to the Super Bowl. America on the edge of their seats the same way they were when Tom Watson almost won the British Open last year (by America I mean a handful of drunk guys in downtown Detroit, that were still celebrating the impending re-signing of Jhonny Peralta). Unfortunately for the Lions, much like Watson, they couldn’t get it done. Their franchise quarterback was more-or-less lost for the season with a separated shoulder, they allowed Mark Sanchez to go John Elway on them, and Theo Spight was left crying in his hardhat… again.

27. Seattle Seahawks (4-4)

Someone has to win the recently relegated NFC West, and it very well could be the Seahawks, or it couldn’t, as I mentioned earlier, who really cares? 3 NFC teams will be getting playoff byes this year including whoever plays the least-bad team in the West in the first round. The Seahawks started Charlie Whitehurst last game, a guy whose only redeeming quality is that he looks like Jesus. Maybe the Seahawks thought that’s who they were getting when they agreed to trade a 3rd round pick, and swap 2nd rounders for him. Instead they got Chas Whitehurst. You know that a player is bad, when you type his name into google, and two of the first things that come up say: “Charlie Whitehurst, QB for the Seattle Seahawks” and “Charlie Whitehurst? Huh? Who Is This Guy?” Getting Russell Okung back will help, but Pete Carroll putting Washington St. and San Jose. St. on the schedule would help even more.

26. Denver Broncos (2-6)

My how things have changed. Less than 2 years ago, owner Pat Bowlen decided that it was time to make a change at head coach. Upset by the team continuously wearing down in the second half of the season, and general lack of defensive ability, he gave Mike Shanahan his walking papers. He had a quarterback with tremendous ability, a running game that had been near the top of the league for over a decade, and one of the most exciting receivers in the NFL. He also had wins. Shanahan was 138-86 in Denver.  His replacement? Josh McDaniels, who, to his credit, has taken pieces and parts and made them into a high powered passing offense, led by, wait for it…Kyle Orton.  To his discredit, he disassembled one of the best lines in football, changed the scheme, and now has the worst rushing offense in the league on his hands. How bad is it? Denver as a team, is being outrushed by 15 individual players, including cast-off Peyton Hillis. Denver has been hit by the injury bug this season, and many key players have been unable to play, and they have shown flashes in beating the Titans on the road and dominating the Jets (but losing). However, at the end of the day, there isn’t much positive that can be said about a team that loses by 45 points… at home… to the Raiders.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)

Jacksonville did beat Indianapolis, but they’ve done that in every even year dating back to 2002, so there are higher powers at work. The other 3 teams that they have beaten have a combined record of: 3-21. Their next 6 games are against teams with 28 combined wins, so don’t expect many wins added on to the current total. I have a personal rule to not root against any team that has Maurice Jones-Drew, unless that same team also has David Garrard. As you can see, I’m in quite a bind. Things aren’t all bad in Jacksonville though, it will be 75 and sunny today, The Black Keys will be in concert on December 3rd, and no players have hit themselves in the foot with an axe so far this year, so perk up.

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