Early thoughts on AFCN Power Rankings


The AFC North is off to a slow start in Week 1, which will certainly impact ESPN.com's Power Rankings this week.

As one of the four voters on the 2010 panel, I have a pretty good feel for the Power Rankings' process. So here are some early projections on how things could shake out:

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

Last week: No. 18

Result: Beat the Atlanta Falcons, 15-9

Skinny: Although it was an ugly game, Pittsburgh proved it can win without Ben Roethlisberger. Quarterback Dennis Dixon was shaky at times, but Pittsburgh's defense is elite when everyone is healthy. This was a hard-fought win over Atlanta, and I will be moving the Steelers up several spots in my ballot. I expect the rest of the panel to do the same.

Projected range: No. 13-16

Next week's opponent: at Tennessee Titans (1-0)

Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Last week: No. 12

Result: Lost to the New England Patriots, 38-24

Skinny: There is no shame in losing to the Patriots in their home opener. But it was the way the Bengals lost -- getting beat in every phase of the game -- that's concerning. Cincinnati already has a reputation as a team that cannot sustain success. This opening performance did not change that perception.

Projected range: No. 15-18

Next week's opponent: Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns (0-1)

Last week: No. 29

Result: Lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-14

Skinny: If Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay was any indication, it could be a long season in Cleveland. Browns coach Eric Mangini stresses smart football. But that didn't translate on the field as Cleveland turned the football over three times and made mistake after mistake against Tampa. Although I don't believe the Browns are the worst team in the NFL, I wouldn't be surprised if they receive some last-place votes after losing to the Buccaneers.

Projected range: No. 29-32

Next week's opponent: Kansas City Chiefs