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2010 Midseason NFL Power Rankings, Part 2, 24-17

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24. San Francisco 49ers (2-6)

The 49ers were picked by many (including myself) as preseason favorites to win their division. Well, things haven’t gone according to plan. The 49ers are currently in last place in the worst division in football, so 24 is probably about 8 slots too high, but they will get at least 2 additional wins from not having Alex Smith at QB. Literally playing with 10 men on offense and no QB is good for a net win total of 2 rather than having Alex at the helm. I do think that they will end up winning the division formerly known as the NFC West (currently known as CFL south). But, even if they lose by 80 each week from here on out, and no one in San Francisco will care, thanks to the Giants and rallies to get Prop 19 back on the ballot.

23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6)

Who would’ve thought that having Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens on the same team wouldn’t work out? That’s not entirely fair because OchoCinco is drawing double teams every week and Owens is thriving. Quarterback Carson Palmer on the other hand is Cinderella and 3rd down is his midnight. On 3rd down his completion percentage is under 50%.  The Bengals need to bring in Rex Grossman and use him every time they get to 3rd down.  If the game is close, forget it. Palmer turns into Bubbles circa seasons 1 & 2, he means well, but can’t escape who he is, the NFL equivalent to Sergio Garcia A guy with all the talent in the world, and great when it doesn’t matter, but when it does, it’s uh-oh time. Check out these splits:

Winning by 15+: QB Rating: 98.3

Winning by 1-7: QB Rating: 50.6

Losing by 1-7:  QB Rating 59.2

Losing by 15+: QB Rating 127.5

22. Washington Redskins (4-4)

One thing Redskins fans are finding out about Mike Shanahan is that he is like reading a Faulkner book. Genius, that usually reminds you of your crazy uncle, but every once in awhile really proves his brilliance.  Unfortunately, much like Faulkner, sometimes Shanahan really is your crazy uncle.  Such is the case as when he inserted Rex Grossman in a winnable game with 2 minutes to go. Rodney Harrison quipped that he wouldn’t put Rex in a 2 minute drill in a high school game. Shockingly, the ‘Skins did not win that game. When asked why McNabb didn’t get the chance to win the game, Shanahan changed his tune more than Herschel Walker at a fun house. First he said McNabb was injured, then that he was fat and that he didn’t know the offense among other things. Needless to say, It looks to either be one and done for Donovan in Washington…or he will get an extension, you just never know with Shanny.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

This is one of the toughest teams to slot.  On one hand, as Cleveland sportswriters can’t stop mentioning, they could have won just about all of their games. Well, Cleveland sportswriters like to change “could have” to “should have”, with one going so far as to say that the Browns could easily beat the Ravens & Falcons. He also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Browns in the Super Bowl, and he wasn’t talking about after he had a 2 week old bean burrito.  On the other hand, they are winning games with trick plays, the great white hope at RB, and a QB who is jealous of Chad Pennington’s arm strength.  In taking care of the Saints and Pats, the Browns, used some nice gadget plays, and got a bit of luck here and there, which is new for the city the Cleveland. It will be interesting to see how they do against a team that stacks the box against McCoy and makes him try to win the game. The Browns could conceivably win the next 5 of their next 6 games, but any team starting Eric Wright could just as easily lose their next 8.

20. St. Louis Rams (4-4)

The Rams hit a home run with Sam Bradford. Aside from an inexplicable 38 points loss in Detroit, they have lost their other 3 games by a total of 7 points. Granted they have had one of the easiest schedules in the league to this point, but they also only have 2 teams with winning records remaining. On paper, they could easily get to 8-8, which would probably be enough to win the CFL South, but if they can’t figure out how to win a game on the road (4-1 at home, 0-3 on the road), that can’t happen, and Steven Jackson will be denied his first playoff appearance since his rookie year. Worth noting, the Rams defense is quietly putting together a nice season ranking 8th in yards given up and 6th in points.

19. Chicago Bears (5-3)

When Mike Martz compared Matt Forte’s role to Marshall Faulk in St. Louis, I knew what that meant.  Get rid of anything and everything Matt Forte that is anyway reliant on his success.  Martz didn’t get the ball in Faulk’s hands anywhere near as much as he should have for such an elite back.  So how is a guy without a significant explosive burst supposed to thrive in an offense where his role is sporadic at best? Forte had 24 touches week 1 for 201 yards and 2 TDs. Martz followed that up with getting him the ball 15, 13, & 14 times in the next 3 weeks for a combined 142 yards. Then he remembered Forte was on the team and got him the ball 24 times again for 188 yards and 2 TDs, then the next 3 weeks of 11, 15, 17 touches for 185 yards.  When your QB is Jay Cutler, you want him making as few decisions as possible, because for every brilliant pass, and I mean brilliant, there are some of the worst decisions in NFL history. So their best bet is to take advantage of Forte’s receiving ability and get him the ball. In the end, it won’t matter much as Lovie won’t be around to see many more Bears’ games unless he buys a ticket.

18. Houston Texans (4-4)

All jokes aside, OK not all jokes aside, have you heard the one about the NFL defense giving up 400 yards per game on average? And 300 per game passing, even factoring in teams quarterbacked by Bruce Gradkowski and Matt Cassell? That’s precisely what the Texans have done. To put it into perspective, the winless Lions gave up 6470 total yards of offense in 2008. The Texans are on pace to give up 6392, one blowout puts them into the unfathomable 6500 range.  No QB is as frustrating to watch as Matt Schaub. Poised for a breakout year to vault himself into the top 10 of quarterbacks, he has responded with a 10/7 TD/Int ratio through 8 games.  Andre Johnson could play QB and throw more TDs to himself in 8 games than Schaub, even slowed by an ankle injury.  I’d be remiss not to mention Arian Foster, who leads the league in rushing, TDs, and is 2nd to Jamaal Charles in YPC. The Texans are a team that’s fun to watch, unless you are a season ticket holder who is forced to witness the football equivalent of Lindsay Lohan in person 8 times a year; a lot of promise, some flash, but generally utter disappointment and an overall dirty feeling.

17. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

It took 8 weeks, but it seems that the Vikings are finally playing together as team, all against Brad Childress. Childress is Clark Griswold. Generally good natured, and usually things work out alright in spite of him. Right now though, he’s the Clark just found out that he didn’t get a Christmas bonus and is doing his best to destroy everything.  Favre has never had much use for him, Randy Moss doesn’t like his choice of catering, and now the rest of the team is anonymously coming out against him.  Aside from that, the Vikings are talented. Their defense is playing a lot better than people realize and with Sid Rice coming back, their offense will be almost fully re-assembled from last year’s team that was a throw away from the Super Bowl. Also in their favor is that they have 5 easily winnable games left: Bears, Redskins, Bills, Bears, & Lions. If they can find a way to win at home against the Packers this week, they could easily finish 9-7, which might be just enough to qualify.


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