Week 3 power rankings: AFC North

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker


In one word, that was my reaction Tuesday when I first saw ESPN.com’s Week 3 power rankings.

It was a wild weekend that changed the perception of a lot of teams -- good and bad. That had a major impact on our four voters: Bloggers Mike Sando and Paul Kuharsky and ESPN.com senior writers Jeff Chadiha and John Clayton.

Here is how the AFC North teams fared:

Baltimore Ravens

Power ranking: No. 1

Last week: No. 10

Walker’s take: This is the biggest power rankings surprise that I can remember in a long time. The Ravens have been overlooked by this panel for weeks -- even months if you include the offseason -- so it was a shock to see this group suddenly believe Baltimore is the NFL’s best team. The fact the Ravens jumped nine spots in one week shows either they were terribly underrated to begin with, or the voters’ opinion of the San Diego Chargers is too inflated. Baltimore beat San Diego on the road last weekend, leading to the nearly unprecedented jump. Either way, Ravens fans cannot play the disrespect card for a long time in the AFC North blog following this surprise.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Power ranking: No. 6

Last week: No. 1

Walker’s take: The defending champs dropped five spots to No. 6 after their loss to the Chicago Bears. Newcomers such as the Ravens, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings all entered the top 5 at Pittsburgh's expense. With the Ravens on top, the AFC North has had a division team rated No. 1 in all three power rankings this season. The Steelers have a chance to get back into the win column Sunday with an interesting matchup on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals (1-0). That game will have a major impact on the division moving forward.

Cincinnati Bengals

Power ranking: No. 24

Last week: No. 26

Walker’s take: The Bengals jumped just two spots after a marquee road victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Cincinnati showed a lot of grit in that game to overcome some early mistakes and still get the win. But it didn't help the Bengals much in the rankings, according to this panel. I get the sense our group of voters still view Cincinnati's home loss to the Denver Broncos as a major blemish, despite the fact that the Broncos are now 2-0.

Cleveland Browns

Power ranking: No. 29

Last week: No. 28

Walker’s take: The Browns continue to stay with the dregs of the NFL after their second consecutive blowout defeat. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams are rated lower than Cleveland, and a strong case can be made that those teams are playing more competitive football. The Browns aren't showing much progress on offense or defense, and the team has been outscored 41-7 in the second half this season. It doesn’t appear things will get any better this week when the Browns travel to face the Ravens Sunday.