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Posted: Wednesday September 23, 2009 11:53AM; Updated: Wednesday September 23, 2009 12:01PM
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NFL POWER RANKINGS

NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

Story Highlights

Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints duke it out for top spot

New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals tie for biggest jump of 9 spots

St. Louis Rams crawl out of cellar and are replaced by Cleveland Browns

Feel that? That was the NFL landscape shifting beneath our feet. At least as far as SI.com's NFL Power Rankings go. Not only did our top three teams from last week -- New England, Pittsburgh and Green Bay -- all go down to their first defeat in Week 2, six of our top 10 clubs bit the dust, proving there's nothing quite so volatile as an NFL power ranking in September.

This week's rankings probably should be sponsored by Otis Elevators, because I've got teams hurtling up and down furiously, and I've even given a few of the bigger disappointments the shaft. To no surprise, the upstart Jets are one of the flavors of the week, with the Colts, 49ers, Vikings and Bengals making significant strides as well. You can spot the nose-divers easily enough. They were in my top 10 last week.

Change can be good. Invigorating even. But if this pace keeps up, we're going to look sillier than a list of Eric Mangini's team rules. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com)

NFL Power Rankings
1Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 4
It was a real debate on whether to elevate the Ravens or the Saints to the top spot this week. Both have featured dynamic offenses thus far, with defenses giving up about 25 points per game. But the Ravens get the nod, based on the quality of their Week 2 win. They won at San Diego against a healthy Philip Rivers. The Saints won at Philadelphia, with an injured Donovan McNabb playing spectator. And if you're wondering, I checked and the Ravens and Saints don't play this season. Unless it's in Miami in early February. Can I get a mulligan on my Super Bowl pick?
 
2New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 5
The Saints are averaging 46.5 points per game, which is more than a touchdown per game higher than the record-setting 2007 Patriots, who put up 36.8 points per game en route to a 589-point regular season. So, by my math, if the Saints average 35.5 points per game from here on out, they score 590 this season and break New England's two-year-old mark. Not that that's a necessity or anything. The last three teams to hold the one-season scoring mark didn't win the Super Bowl: 2007 Patriots, 1998 Vikings, 1983 Redskins.
 
3New York Giants
Last Week: 6
Circle Week 6 on your calendar, then pinpoint the Giants-Saints matchup at the Superdome. Why? Because my hunch is we'll be watching 5-0 New York versus 4-0 New Orleans in an early-season showdown for NFC supremacy. All that stands in the way of the Giants reaching that game undefeated are trips to Tampa Bay and Kansas City the next two weeks, followed by a home game against Oakland. See? Like I said, 5-0.
 
4New York Jets
Last Week: 13
Yeah, OK, I've bought into Jets mania. New York jumps up nine spots this week, tying it with Cincinnati for the biggest leap of the week. Now it's a New York-New York doubleheader at the No. 3 and 4 spots in our rankings, and you know that kind of convergence always sparks dreams of a Giants-Jets Super Bowl. But the next two weeks will tell us plenty more about young Mark Sanchez and his first-place team. New York plays host to the desperate Titans this week, and then travels to New Orleans in Week 4.
 
5Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 11
I swear it looked like Peyton Manning didn't even perspire in 85-degree Miami the other night. Suzy Kolber was sweatier. That's how little the Colts had the ball in a game that put the lie to the time-tested axioms that big rushing totals and dominating the clock leads to victory. Miami had the ball for 45:07 and ran for 239 yards, becoming the third team to lose this season among the six who have rushed for 200 yards-plus.
 
6Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 10
The Falcons took care of business at home to start the season, beating both Miami and Carolina. But four of their next five games are on the road, and it's a grinder of a stretch: at New England, at San Francisco, at Dallas and at New Orleans, sandwiched around a visit from Chicago. If Atlanta can keep its nose above .500 at 4-3 through Week 8, the second half of the season sets up for another run at the playoffs.
 
7Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 12
The Vikings are the league's only 2-0 team that has accomplished it on the road and you have to figure that bodes well. They didn't win their second road game of the season last year until Week 12, and they still managed to go 10-6 and win the NFC North. But road wins are no rarity so far this season. Visiting teams were 16-16 in the first two weeks, going 7-9 in Week 1 and 9-7 in Week 2.
 
8Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 2
Look, there's no shame in losing at Chicago. I read somewhere the Steelers are 1-12 there against the Bears, so they've had some practice at it over the years. And the trip to the Windy City wasn't a complete lost cause, because the Steelers rushing game looked considerably better than it had against the Titans, even getting a rare contribution from Rashard Mendenhall.
 
9New England Patriots
Last Week: 1
I'm trying to imagine what would happen if Patriots owner Robert Kraft asked head coach Bill Belichick to record one of those fire-up-the-fans voice-mail messages for New England's season ticket holders, like the one the Jets' Rex Ryan did for New York before the Patriots game? While he's at it, Kraft might as well ask Belichick to release a detailed New England injury report.
 
10Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 7
Without McNabb in the lineup, I'm not of a mind to downgrade the Eagles too severely for that blowout loss at home to the Saints. But the whole quarterback contingent in Philly is a fascinating sub-plot that might extend all season, and it's as if QB collector Jon Gruden has taken control of Andy Reid's body -- now there's an image -- and can't stockpile enough arms.
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