1 STEELERS (3-0, NO. 10 LAST WEEK).
Three sets of 2010 NFL Power Rankings, three different No. 1 teams. Pittsburgh, though, might be the one to stay on top for a while. The defense is absolutely punishing, and there are enough secondary weapons to get them through one more week minus Ben Roethlisberger — who’s going to make them even better.
2 COLTS (2-1, No. 5)
Indianapolis is back in the game after a disappointing loss in Week 1. Only the Patriots (90 points, 12 TDs) have done more offensively than the Colts (89, 11) so far this season.
3 JETS (2-1, NO. 6).
We’ve been high on Rex Ryan’s boys all season, and we’re even higher now that they have a true quality win under their belts. Their defense has quietly been almost Ravens-level.
4 RAVENS (2-1, NO. 7)
The AFC is pretty good, huh? Baltimore is potentially a fatally flawed team — would you trust that offense to move the ball in a big game? — but its defensive play is stunningly tough.
5 BEARS (3-0, No. 11).
It’s a six-slot bump, and No. 5 actually might not even be high enough for the sole unbeaten squad in the NFC. A Monday Night Football win over the Packers counts for that much.
6 PACKERS (2-1, NO. 1).
So much for that. Green Bay was our top choice a week ago; apparently the pressure was too much for them. And that doesn’t make us very happy. Packers, we’re officially in a fight.
7 FALCONS (2-1, No. 9).
Atlanta was stuck at No. 9 from preseason until last week, but they finally get a bump for knocking off New Orleans in OT. They’re somehow in the NFC South driver’s seat.
8 SAINTS (2-1, NO. 2).
A few good breaks, and New Orleans could have won Sunday’s game. But they didn’t. With Carolina and Arizona on the schedule, though, things look good for a 4-1 start.
9 CHIEFS (3-0, No. 14).
Kansas City enters the top 10 on the strength of its unexpected perfect start. Nobody saw this coming, but nobody sees it continuing, either — next up for the Chiefs is Indianapolis.
10 EAGLES (2-1, NO. 13)
We’re excited about the potential here, but far from sold. Once teams get a few weeks of tape on the “new” Michael Vick, he might not look as unstoppable. For now, though … wow.
11 DOLPHINS (2-1, No. 4).
Chad Henne (363 yards, two TDs, one INT) and Miami could have knocked off the Jets on Sunday night. We absolutely love the potential of this defensive unit, even if the offense is a bit slack.
12 TEXANS (2-1, NO. 3).
The best team in Texas? Probably. But they weren’t last week, and their ranking suffers for it. Like the Saints, a bounce back is on the way: Oakland and the Giants are ripe for beatings.
13 PATRIOTS (2-1, NO. 12).
New England is looking like the prototypical 9-7 team so far in 2010. They can find the end zone with the best of them, but the defense would have a tough time stopping BC High.
14 TITANS (2-1, NO. 20).
Tennessee is almost certainly the third-place team in the AFC South, but they’ve scored more points (78 to 77) and allowed fewer (42 to 78) than early-season riser Houston.
15 BENGALS (2-1, NO. 15).
The Bengals’ record is solid enough, but there is trouble none-too-far below the skin. An offense with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens should be a lot better than this one.
16 COWBOYS (1-2, NO. 18).
The hype’s been there for months. Finally, there’s a win to join it. Meanwhile, team legend Rayfield Wright is reportedly recovering after a weekend heart attack.
17 BUCCANEERS (2-1, NO. 17).
There’s a pretty decent chance the Bucs’ 2-1 start is a mirage. Their wins have come against the terrible Browns and Panthers, with a blowout loss to undefeated Pittsburgh.
18 SEAHAWKS (2-1, NO. 21).
Seattle’s offense has been surprisingly high-powered so far, and they’ve defended their home turf with a pair of victories. But the recruiting scandal can’t be too far off.
19 CHARGERS (1-2, NO. 8).
You know what this team could use? Decent special teams play, for one, and maybe a franchise running back who can carry a good portion of the load … someone like LT2.
20 VIKINGS (1-2, NO. 22).
Through three games, Brett Favre has a 60.4 passer rating (down from 107.2 last year), a 61.9 completion percentage (down from 68.4), two TD passes and six INTs. Ouch.
21 GIANTS (1-2, NO. 19).
It doesn’t get any easier for Big Blue on the heels of a two-game losing streak. They’re at Chicago under the lights this Sunday before a matinee at Houston on Oct. 10.
22 REDSKINS (1-2, No. 16).
Through no fault of Washington’s own, it might not be the worst team in the NFC East. We’d put money on them losing at least three of their next four outings, though.
23 CARDINALS (2-1, No. 29).
There aren’t a lot of teams that lost more than Arizona this offseason, when it shed Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin. It’s going to get ugly when they start playing good teams.
24 BRONCOS (1-2, NO. 23).
After manhandling Seattle in Week 2, Denver showed its true colors in Week 3. What you really care about: Tim Tebow has played in one game, running twice for two yards.
25 RAMS (1-2, NO. 30).
St. Louis dodged a bullet this week when it learned Steven Jackson’s groin injury was a strain, and not a tear as originally feared. He’s tops on the team with 214 rushing yards this year.
26 BILLS (0-3, NO. 32).
Buffalo is not a very good football team. But they actually showed some signs of life in Sunday’s surprisingly tight loss in Foxborough. C.J. Spiller will be a superstar … when he gets a new address.
27 RAIDERS (1-2, NO. 26).
The Chiefs’ rapid rise can’t annoy any group more than Oakland, which is suddenly all alone among the AFC West’s also-rans. They don’t meet until Nov. 7.
28 49ERS (0-3, No. 25).
The worst thing about the NFC West is that this positively atrocious-looking team could end up winning the division and making the playoffs. Quick, someone realign the Patriots.
29 JAGUARS (1-2, NO. 24).
Sometimes the truth doesn’t lie very far below the surface: Jacksonville, the only non-winning team in the AFC South, has scored 40 points this year while giving up a stunning 83.
30 LIONS (0-3, NO. 27).
What’s sad is that this could be a heck of a lot worse; the Lions’ bar is just that low these days. They’re at Lambeau?Field on Sunday, a place they haven’t scored a win since 1991.
31 BROWNS (0-3, NO. 28).
Cleveland might actually not be that bad of a football team: They’ve lost by three, two and seven points against some relatively?OK?opponents. The key word, though, is “lost.”
32 PANTHERS (0-3, NO. 31).
Carolina flat-out stinks this year. They’ve lost their last two by identical 20-7 scores, and don’t have a QB on the roster with a completion percentage better than 47.9. The only statistical bright spot is S Charles Godfrey’s career-best three INTs.