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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Patriots plummet to No. 7

09.18.12 at 9:52 am ET
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For the third straight week, a new team climbs to the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The 49ers now have the throne as they come off two dominant performances against playoff teams. The Patriots’ reign at No. 1 didn’t last long and they drop to No. 7 after a shocking loss to the Cardinals at home.

Balance is the key attribute to the top three teams. The 49ers (1), Texans (2) and Falcons (3) all have great defenses to go along with a strong offense.

The Saints continue to march in the wrong direction and fall all the way to No. 18. Meanwhile, the 2-0 Eagles jump all the way to No. 5 after a huge win over the Ravens.

More change is in store for the teams in the top 10. Two of the powerhouses of the AFC, the Patriots and Ravens, will face off on Sunday night. One team will bounce back after suffering a loss in Week 2 while the other will fall a game below .500.

Check back here next Tuesday to see how all 32 teams rise and fall. Here are the rankings, with last week’s rank in parentheses:

Click here to listen to Mut, Merloni, and Zarbano discuss the NFL Power Rankings.

San Francisco 49ers 1. (2) 49ers (2-0) — It’s clear, the 49ers are the best team in the league. Jim Harbaugh‘s team doesn’t seem to have a weakness. The Niners have a strong run game, a formidable passing attack and an elite defense. Alex Smith has completed over 70 percent of his passes and has been protecting the ball well.

Houston Texans2. (4) Texans (2-0) — The Texans took care of business in Week 2 and improved to 2-0. It’s tough to gauge how good this team really is after Houston played two extremely weak opponents. It will be fun to watch the Texans against Peyton Manning and the Broncos next week.

3. (6) Falcons (2-0) — One of the most impressive performances of the week. The Falcons demonstrated that they are a complete, all-around team. Defensively, they can rush the passer and cause turnovers. On offense, Matt Ryan has weapons at running back and receiver.

Green Bay Packers4. (5) Packers (1-1) — Give props to the Packers for finding new ways to win games. Who would’ve thought that 20 carries to Cedric Benson and a fake field goal would be the major factors to lock down a win?

5. (15) Eagles (2-0) — It’s amazing the Eagles are 2-0 after turning the ball over nine times in their first two games. If Michael Vick continues to be careless with the ball, the interceptions will certainly catch up to the team.

6. (3) Ravens (1-1) — Ray Rice needs to touch the ball more, especially in the fourth quarter and in third-and-short situations. Rice is by far the most talented player on that offense and his unique ability needs to be utilized more.

New England Patriots 7. (1) Patriots (1-1) — Protection for Tom Brady is a legitimate concern for the Patriots. The star QB has been sacked five times and is being flushed out of the pocket too often. The high-octane offense can’t operate if Brady is not comfortable and doesn’t have time.

Denver Broncos 8. (7) Broncos (1-1) — The four turnovers in the first quarter showed that Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense still have a lot of room for improvement.

Pittsburgh Steelers 9. (13) Steelers (1-1) — Regardless of who suits up, the Steelers always seem to have a tough, physical defense. Troy Polamalu and James Harrison both missed Sunday’s game, but the defense still shut down the Jets.

10. (16) Chargers (2-0) — The Chargers defense has been the story over the past two weeks. In back-to-back games, San Diego’s D stifled both Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson.

Dallas Cowboys11. (8) Cowboys (1-1) — Inconsistency has defined the Cowboys for the last few years, and after Sunday’s loss it seems like they could be headed down that same road. Playoff-caliber teams string together solid performances.

Chicago Bears12. (9) Bears (1-1) — Jay Cutler‘s actions on Thursday night are completely unacceptable, especially since he’s ostensibly one of the leaders on that team. I’m sure Frank from Old School would agree, Cutler has to keep his composure on the field at all times. True leaders do.

13. (10) Giants (1-1) — The Giants defense, specifically the secondary, certainly hasn’t looked like the  stifling unit we’ve been accustomed to seeing. However, Eli Manning showed that he and the offense certainly are capable of picking up the slack.

Detroit Lions14. (11) Lions (1-1) — The lack of a running game makes the Lions offense very one dimensional and is probably one of the reasons Matthew Stafford has thrown four picks already this season. He threw 16 last year.

Carolina Panthers15. (23) Panthers (1-1) — Cam Newton and the Panthers had a huge bounce-back win against the Saints. This offense is at its best when the two-headed rushing attack of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams is averaging four yards per carry and opening up the passing game.

Arizona Cardinals16. (26) Cardinals (2-0) — The Cardinals defense certainly deserves credit for its performance Sunday against the Patriots. It made one of the best offenses in the league look flustered at many points during the game. Arizona’s D is physical and fast and proved it can stand up to any challenge.

New York Jets17. (12) Jets (1-1) — Mark Sanchez had a bad game, so that can only mean one thing: Jets fans calling for “Tebow Time.” It’s certainly going to be entertaining in New York all year.

New Orleans Saints18. (14) Saints (0-2) — The Saints defense has allowed 922 total yards and 75 points in just two games. The offense is out of sync as well. The suspension of Sean Payton is having a major impact on this team.

Seattle Seahawks19. (22) Seahawks (1-1) — The Seahawks can compete for a playoff spot if Russell Wilson‘s growing pains are held to a minimum. The defense and running game are strong enough to carry this team.

Buffalo Bills20. (19) Bills (1-1) — Similar to last year, the Bills will most likely be a Jekyll-and-Hyde team once again. You never know which Ryan Fitzpatrick you’re going to get.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers21. (24) Buccaneers (1-1) — I like the approach and mentality Greg Schiano is trying to establish in Tampa Bay. This is a young team that has lost a lot over the past two years and the new coach is trying a different approach to change the culture of losing in the locker room.

Cincinnati Bengals22. (18) Bengals (1-1) — There’s no excuse for allowing over 400 yards to the Browns offense. The Bengals D must play as well as it did in 2011 if the team wants a chance at returning to the playoffs.

Washington Redskins23. (17) Redskins (1-1) — The team announced on Monday that Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker will both miss the remainder of the season. This is a major blow to the Redskins defense and its front seven.

St. Louis Rams24. (28) Rams (1-1) — For a team that struggled to win games last year, the Rams have showed over their first two games that they will compete each week. St. Louis lost its first six games last year; Jeff Fisher has made his presence felt already.

Kansas City Chiefs25. (20) Chiefs (0-2) — Romeo Crennel is known for his defensive mind, but his D has allowed 75 points in two weeks. Next week KC will take on another team that has allowed 75 points already this season, the Saints.

26. (21) Titans (0-2) — Chris Johnson is averaging 1.1 yards per carry. He’s got 21 total rushing yards on 19 carries in two games. The Titans can not and will not be successful without their run game.

Minnesota Vikings27. (27) Vikings (1-1) — In a passing league, the Vikings’ aerial attack is lackluster. This team will struggle to put up points all year because of the lack of threats on the offensive side of the ball.

Miami Dolphins28. (30) Dolphins (1-1) — Reggie Bush is the most important player on the Dolphins offense. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill needs a strong running game to help him transition into the NFL.

Oakland Raiders 29. (25) Raiders (0-2) — The winless Raiders really should have taken advantage of their Week 2 matchup because their next three games are all against playoff teams (Steelers, Broncos, Falcons). Coach Dennis Allen has to find a way to ensure Darren McFadden has a bigger impact in the running game.

30. (32) Colts (1-1) — It’s always a great sign when your rookie quarterback leads a game-winning drive so early in the season. Last year the Colts staggered to an 0-13 start to the season. The win suggests there is hope in Indianapolis.

Cleveland Browns31. (31) Browns (0-2) — It doesn’t take a genius to know the Browns won’t win many games this year. Still, they should be excited about the performance of their two star rookies. Brandon Weeden had a great bounce-back game and Trent Richardson turned in his first 100-yard rushing game.

Jacksonville Jaguars32. (29) Jaguars (0-2) — Early reports are that Blaine Gabbert will play next week despite suffering a glute injury on Sunday. The Jags’ beaten-up offensive line is making things even tougher for Gabbert. In the Jaguars’ loss on Sunday to the Texans, they were 0-for-9 on third down and possessed the ball for just 16 minutes.

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or e-mail them to powerrankings@weei.com. You also can send comments via Twitter to @JoeytheFishWEEI.

Read More: Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, NFL Power Rankings Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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