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Old 09-21-2004, 01:23 PM  
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Sporting News Week 2 power rankings

Week 3 NFL power rankings
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Depth might be the most important factor in winning NFL games. Seems like every other minute, the phone rings with an injury update on a key player. And it seems as if it's never good news. It's always worse than expected.

Just about every NFL team is dealing with a significant injury. Consider the Power Poll in a complete state of flux until we see how these teams cope with their pain.

RISING: The Falcons leaped 10 spots from No. 20 to No. 10 thanks to the Michael Vick-led 2-0 start, and the Jets hopped 8 places from 16th to 8th after another dominating offensive performance.

FALLING: The Rams fell all the way down to 20th in dropping 9 spots after their 4-17 loss in Atlanta, while Miami's free-fall continues as they fell 8 places to 29th.

NOTE: Rankings are updated by Tuesday midday every week.

Rank Team Last Week Rising/Falling High/Low Comment
1. Patriots (2-0)

1st SAME 1st/1st With one of the top defenses in the league plus Corey Dillon and Tom Brady, it seems the Patriots can't lose. They have a bye in Week 3.
2. Eagles (2-0)

2nd SAME 2nd/3rd The Eagles remain at the top of the NFC because they have the NFL's scariest combination Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens and a defense that gets them the ball back.
3. Seahawks (2-0)


(+3) 3rd/8th Although Seattle's offense was held down by the Bucs, the Seahawks' defense showed improved play. Seattle is the only 2-0 team that hasn't played at home.
4. Colts (1-1)


(+1) 4th/5th The Colts' offense has looked good scoring 55 points in the first two games. Indianapolis is built to outscore teams but must continue to run the ball. A beat-up secondary played well against Tennessee.
5. Vikings (1-1)


(+2) 5th/13th Despite having penalty and turnover problems Monday night in Philadelphia, the Vikings have a potent offense that can put up big numbers. They also have great depth on offense, especially at wide receiver and running back.
6. Panthers (1-1)


(-3) 2nd/6th After a disappointing loss to Green Bay, the Panthers bounced back, beating Kansas City on the road. And they did it without Pro Bowl players Steve Smith and Stephen Davis. The Panthers have good momentum going into their bye week, but they still have significant injuries.
7. Titans (1-1)


(-3) 4th/7th The Titans' defense was awful in Week 2 against Indianapolis, which swept the Titans last year. That home loss means the Titans probably are headed toward a wild card instead of the AFC South title.
8. Jets (2-0)


(+8) 8th/18th Curtis Martin rushed for a second consecutive 100-yard game, and Chad Pennington looked sharp, completing 22 of 29 passes with no turnovers. The Jets look like a strong playoff contender and will spend their bye week working on the defense.
9. Ravens (1-1)


(+3) 9th/12th The Ravens must improve in the passing game. If Kyle Boller and the offense can generate 14 points per game, the Ravens could go 12-4 this season. Plus, left tackle Jonathan Ogden is back, and so is the defense.
10. Falcons (2-0)


(+10) 10th/20th No matter what you call this offense, it's really The Michael Vick Show especially at home. The defense keeps finding ways to pressure the opposing quarterback, too. Vick must stay healthy and continue to beat the good teams.
11. Packers (1-1)


(-3) 8th/11th The Packers beat themselves in Week 2 against the Bears. It was a big blow. Good teams must win the games they're supposed to. This mental letdown could cost the team a home playoff game.
12. Jaguars (2-0)


(+6) 12th/22nd The Jaguars (2-0) play great defense and have just enough offense to win. They look a lot like the '03 Panthers to us. The Jags' defense has not allowed a touchdown since the first quarter of Week 1. Second-year quarterback Byron Leftwich improves every week.
13. Cowboys (1-1)


(+2) 11th/15th Dallas easily could be 0-2, but coach Bill Parcells' teams do not beat themselves. Expect to see more fake punts, flea-flickers and about 50 passes per game. Rookie Julius Jones was the only threat at running back, and he won't be out for too long.
14. Broncos (1-1)


(-5) 9th/14th The Jaguars might have exposed the truth about the Broncos' running game, which no longer has running back Clinton Portis or line coach Alex Gibbs. Quentin Griffin must prove he can be effective against the better NFL defenses.
15. Redskins (1-1)


(-1) 14th/15th The Redskins' play has been sloppy. Coach Joe Gibbs must improve ball-security issues. More games like the 20-14 loss to the Giants, and we'll surely hear some Dan Snyder soundbites.
16. Bengals (1-1)


(-3) 13th/16th The Bengals' offense wasn't explosive in Week 2. Second-year quarterback Carson Palmer will struggle until he has been in every scenario more than once. The running game and the protection must improve for him to succeed. Luckily, coach Marvin Lewis already has the defense humming.
17. Chiefs (0-2)


(-7) 5th/17th The Chiefs (0-2) are in big trouble. The defense has given up 61 points in two games, and the offense has looked sluggish. The offense must outscore opponents, and no TD passes by Trent Green spells trouble.
18. Steelers (1-1)


(-1) 17th/24th The Steelers never got their running game going Sunday against Baltimore. Although the defense allowed 23 points, coordinator Dick LeBeau's unit was aggressive and only allowed 98 yards passing. With Tommy Maddox out for at least six weeks, the Steelers will have to survive Ben Roethlisberger's rookie mistakes.
19. Raiders (1-1)


(+3) 19th/22nd The Raiders' running game has been ineffective, but the downfield passing game is as dangerous as ever. They are getting younger at wide receiver, and Norv Turner will throw the ball deep. Sooner or later, Justin Fargas must become the starting running back.
20. Rams (1-1)


(-9) 7th/20th Marshall Faulk is showing his age and has lost a step or two. The high-powered dream offense is gone, and 17 points a game won't cut it.
21. Saints (1-1)


(-2) 16th/21st The Saints are the most inconsistent team in the NFL. Although they beat the 49ers in Week 2, the game cost them RB Deuce McAllister (high ankle sprain) for four to five weeks. This team has a bad defense, and things could go south in a hurry.
22. Lions (2-0)


(+6) 22nd/28th Detroit has been a major surprise, going 2-0. Joey Harrington is better than ever but still might not be good enough to make this team a winner in the long run. The Lions are competitive, and "Harrington-to-Roy Williams" is something you might hear a lot this season; the two hooked up for two touchdowns Sunday.
23. Giants (1-1)


(+3) 23rd/27th The Giants, for the first time in a year or so, showed signs of life. The defense caused seven turnovers Sunday, Kurt Warner protected the ball and the offensive line began to play well. Coach Tom Coughlin has united the players by making himself the center of attention. They hate his silly and petty rules but still gave him the game ball. Tough love can be effective.
24. Browns (1-1)


(+1) 24th/26th The Browns' season took a big hit when Kellen Winslow broke his leg. Quarterback Jeff Garcia will be up and down all season, and a key injury on the offensive line could make things shaky.
25. Chargers (1-1)


(+5) 25th/32nd The Chargers can count on a great performance from LaDainian Tomlinson every week. The play of the defense must improve for it to matter, though. The QB questions start now, too. Why play Drew Brees in the final year of his contract? Why play Doug Flutie at all? Why not play Philip Rivers?
26. Bears (1-1)


(+3) 26th/29th New coach Lovie Smith promised he would beat the Packers, then went to Green Bay and did it. The Bears still have a rocky road ahead, but it should be a fun ride. Surprising Thomas Jones has made life easier, putting together back-to-back 100-yard games.
27. Bucs (0-2)


(-4) 21st/27th For the second consecutive week, Tampa's offense was offensive. Coach Jon Gruden benched quarterback Brad Johnson in favor of second-year man Chris Simms, but that didn't help much. The problems on offense are much deeper than at quarterback. The line can't open holes, and the running backs and wide receivers are slow. It's no wonder the unit hasn't scored a touchdown.
28. Bills (0-2)


(-4) 23rd/28th The '04 Bills look like the '03 version they can't protect Drew Bledsoe, but the defense is playing well. This is a franchise moving in the wrong direction.
29. Dolphins (0-2)


(-8) 17th/29th The defense remains good but is aging by the day, and the team lacks a running game and an NFL-caliber starting quarterback. This team is in emotional and physical trouble.
30. Texans (0-2)


(-3) 27th/30th The Texans must protect the ball. The team has seven turnovers in two games. There are real concerns with this offense, beyond the turnovers. The defense is good but not good enough to constantly dig out the offense and is giving up 27.5 points per game.
31. 49ers (0-2)


(+1) 30th/32nd The Niners have played two close games but have too many problems on both sides of the ball to keep that up. Eyebrows were raised around the league last week when GM Terry Donahue was given a contract extension through 2009. What has he done to deserve such security?
32. Cardinals (0-2)


(-1) 31st/32nd The Cardinals play hard but lack the talent to win. They're bad and getting worse, but it's not coach Dennis Green's fault. This is at least a two-year rebuilding
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