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Week 3 NFL Power Rankings: Let's be optimistic

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Falcons, Broncos surge in Power Rankings as Cowboys tumble (1:00)

The Broncos rolled over the Cowboys on Sunday, sending the teams in opposite directions in the NFL Power Rankings. But it's the unbeaten Falcons in the pole position after two weeks. (1:00)

From the new No. 1 Atlanta Falcons all the way down to the New York Jets, there's at least one reason for all 32 teams to be optimistic.

Here's a rundown of our Week 3 Power Rankings as determined by ESPN's power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- through rose-colored glasses.

Methodology note: These rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. Coming off a win doesn't guarantee a jump, and coming off a loss doesn't guarantee a fall.

ESPN Stats & Information's John McTigue contributed the following information.

Previous rankings: Week 2 | Preseason

1. Atlanta Falcons

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 7

Falcons fans can drop any concerns about Steve Sarkisian running the offense. FPI has the Falcons as the second-rated offense so far this season, and Matt Ryan is averaging nearly 10 yards per pass attempt. The Falcons are just the fourth Super Bowl loser to start the next season 2-0.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 3

The Chiefs were expected to be a playoff team at the start of the season, but Kareem Hunt might have Chiefs fans aiming even higher. Hunt's five scrimmage touchdowns are tied for second most by a player through his first two NFL games.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 1

Le'Veon Bell might be off to a slow start, but the other Steeler B's aren't. Ben Roethlisberger has completed 21 passes for 16 yards per catch to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant this season. Pittsburgh is off to a 2-0 start for the second straight year.

4. New England Patriots

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 4

Tom Brady reminded everyone in Week 2 that he is still, in fact, Tom Brady, and that alone is reason for optimism. But another reason for optimism is the Patriots' stable of running backs, who have combined for a league-best 385 yards from scrimmage this season. James White, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead are all producing early on.

5. Oakland Raiders

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 6

The Raiders have two wins, have yet to turn the ball over and have the best point differential through two games (plus-35). If the Raiders keep that up, there will be plenty more dancing for Marshawn Lynch this season.

6. Green Bay Packers

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 2

Green Bay fans should be used to this kind of start, as the Packers have now opened five of the past six seasons 1-1. Considering they've made the playoffs in eight straight seasons, an early loss is nothing to worry about.

7. Denver Broncos

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 15

Everyone knew the defense would be good this season, but Trevor Siemian has thrown for six touchdowns, and C.J. Anderson is second in the NFL in rushing. If the offense keeps producing, the Broncos will be right back in the mix atop the AFC standings.

8. Dallas Cowboys

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 5

Ezekiel Elliott was bound to have a bad game at some point in his NFL career, and at least it came on the road against a special Broncos defense. Last season, Elliott started a streak of four straight 130-yard rushing games in Week 3, so he could just be warming up.

9. Seattle Seahawks

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 8

The Seahawks have scored just one touchdown through two games, but the offense could be getting a spark from rookie running back Chris Carson, who has seemingly taken over the top spot. Carson is averaging 2.6 yards per rush after contact this season, second best in the NFL.

10. Baltimore Ravens

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 14

Some might argue that two wins over the dregs of Ohio are nothing to write home about, but eight interceptions, eight sacks and 10 points allowed certainly are. Only the 2006 Ravens allowed fewer points in the franchise's first two games of the season (six).

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 record: 1-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 13

Jameis Winston didn't turn over the ball in Tampa Bay's opening game, which marked the first time in his three-year career that he didn't turn it over in the season opener. The Bucs have 15 straight games ahead, but if turnovers are limited, there's no reason they can't make a run at the playoffs.

12. Detroit Lions

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 10

Matthew Stafford is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes (six) and is off to the second 2-0 start of his career. That would be reason enough to be optimistic, but the defense is tied for the second-most takeaways, giving Detroit excitement on both sides of the ball.

13. Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 2-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 11

If you're worried about Cam Newton and the offense despite the 2-0 start, don't be. The offense will come around, and this is only the third defense in the past 30 years to allow six or fewer points through the first two games of the season.

14. Tennessee Titans

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 16

Derrick Henry provided a big spark in the second half Sunday and could find himself more involved going forward. A backfield featuring the 2014 and 2015 Heisman winners could be tough to handle for opposing defenses.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 9

How many Eagles quarterbacks have thrown for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in each of the first two games of the season? Four. Ron Jaworski (1982), Randall Cunningham (1994), Donovan McNabb (2006) and Carson Wentz (2017). Wentz does not appear to be primed for a "sophomore slump."

16. Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 12

Sam Bradford's injury is concerning, but the Vikings have to feel good about Dalvin Cook. He's averaging 5.6 yards per rush and has the most rushing yards (191) by any Vikings player in his first two career games, topping Adrian Peterson by 22.

17. Washington Redskins

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 24

Washington can be a force when its rushing attack gets going. Over the past three seasons, the Redskins are 15-2-1 when rushing for at least 90 yards as a team (3-13 when they don't). The 229 rushing yards Sunday against the Rams were Washington's second most in that span.

18. Miami Dolphins

2017 record: 1-0
Week 2 ranking: No. 23

Jay Cutler completed 73 percent of his passes and threw zero interceptions in his debut with the Dolphins. He might not have racked up yardage, but he also didn't make the big mistake. With Jay Ajayi continuing to power through defenses, Cutler playing it safe might be all Miami needs.

19. New York Giants

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 17

The offense is struggling right now, but if the Giants can fix their protection issues, Eli Manning could get going quickly. Manning is completing 77 percent of his passes when he isn't pressured this season, and that's without the help of Odell Beckham Jr. at 100 percent. Just give it (and Eli) time.

20. Houston Texans

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 26

Deshaun Watson's rushing ability could be enough to keep the Texans' offense moving as he develops his passing skills. The rookie has scrambled for a league-high 82 yards so far this season, including a game-changing 49-yard score Thursday night.

21. Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 20

Carson Palmer had three completions on passes thrown 20 or more yards in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win after starting the season 2-of-8 on such passes. If that fourth quarter is a sign of things to come for Palmer and not an aberration, the Cardinals' offense will be just fine.

22. Los Angeles Rams

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 18

Jared Goff is showing big improvement in his second season. Sure, he has only two passing touchdowns so far, but he's averaging 9.8 yards per attempt, up 4.5 yards from his 2016 average. That's currently the fourth-best rate in the NFL.

23. New Orleans Saints

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 19

The bad news is the defense in New Orleans has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. The good news is that Drew Brees still has it at 38 years old, and as long as he keeps slinging it, the Saints could have a fighting chance. Brees has thrown the most passes without a pick (82) so far this season.

24. Los Angeles Chargers

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 22

Maybe the best news for the Chargers is that it would be statistically improbable to keep losing this many close games. The Chargers are 1-10 in games decided by seven or fewer points the past two seasons, and more wins are bound to come from those situations.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 21

A 22-point win was followed by a 21-point loss for Jacksonville. The good news is if the Jags can get stability at quarterback, the team could really be going somewhere. Leonard Fournette is second in rushes and grinding out yards, and the pass defense has yielded the fourth-best opponent Total QBR.

26. Buffalo Bills

2017 record: 1-1
Week 2 ranking: No. 27

Three teams have played twice this season and allowed one or fewer touchdowns: the Panthers, the Ravens and the Bills. The offense might lack some firepower, but the defense doesn't.

27. Chicago Bears

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 28

The good news for Chicago is that Mitchell Trubisky doesn't have to deal with the Bears' issues with dropped passes (league-leading seven) or Jordan Howard's slow start (2.7 yards per rush). He can continue to learn from the bench while the Bears develop and get healthy.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 25

The Bills fired their offensive coordinator following an 0-2 start last season and then averaged 31.0 PPG in their next four games (all wins). The firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese could kick-start Cincinnati's offense in a similar fashion.

29. Cleveland Browns

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 30

Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are a combined 37-4 against the Browns in their careers, so an 0-2 start against those veterans with a rookie quarterback at the helm isn't that surprising. Cleveland's next three games are against the Colts, Bengals and Jets, who are a combined 0-6, so wins or even a win streak could be right around the corner.

30. Indianapolis Colts

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 31

Jacoby Brissett joined the Colts on Sept. 2 and seemed like a vast improvement over Scott Tolzien despite losing in Week 2. The good news is if Brissett can win one or two games, Andrew Luck could be healthy in time to face the entire AFC South slate. With no one currently better than 1-1, the division is very much up for grabs.

31. San Francisco 49ers

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 29

The offense is still searching for its first touchdown of the season. But the defense has shown a lot of improvement. The 49ers allowed the most points last season, but currently rank 10th in points allowed per game.

32. New York Jets

2017 record: 0-2
Week 2 ranking: No. 32

For an offense that some thought could be among the worst all time, the Jets are scoring some points. They've averaged 16.0 points per game so far, which is the same as the 2-0 Panthers and better than teams such as the Seahawks, Texans and Bengals. And hey, the Jets are currently the highest-scoring team in New York, topping both the Bills and Giants.