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Week 2 power rankings: AFC North

9/15/2009

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

ESPN.com released its Week 2 power rankings Tuesday with minimal changes in the AFC North.

This year we streamlined the process to four voters: ESPN.com senior writers Jeff Chadiha and John Clayton, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky.

Here is where AFC North teams currently rank:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Power ranking: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Walker’s take: For the second straight week, the Steelers were the unanimous choice atop the power rankings. They had a hard-fought victory over the Tennessee Titans last week, making Pittsburgh an easy choice. Other top teams like the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers were not impressive against lesser teams in Week 1, which makes you wonder whether the Steelers have created some early distance over these other favorites in the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens

Power ranking: No. 10

Last week: No. 10

Walker’s take: Baltimore’s position in the power rankings remains unchanged after putting up 38 points against the Kansas City Chiefs. The panel wasn’t impressed as Baltimore was a huge favorite entering the game and did what was expected. The Tennessee Titans (0-1) are the only team ahead of the Ravens with a losing record at No. 9. AFC South representative Kuharsky rated the Titans an amazing No. 4 while rating the Ravens No. 9. Sando from the NFC West rated Baltimore No. 11, which to me is too low. Many Ravens fans feel their team deserves better. A big game on the road against the San Diego Chargers (1-0) could earn a better ranking for Baltimore next week.

Cincinnati Bengals

Power ranking: No. 26

Last week: No. 24

Walker’s take: A lot of Bengals fans also were upset with Cincinnati’s No. 24 ranking last week. But the Bengals didn’t do themselves any favors following Sunday’s 12-7 loss to the Denver Broncos. Sure, the Broncos won on a fluke play. But the Bengals can’t drop passes, get costly penalties or botch field goals to put themselves in that position. Do I think Cincinnati is the seventh-worst team in the NFL? No, I do not. But if the Bengals (0-1) want respect, they will have to play better and earn it on the football field. No one will just give it to them.

Cleveland Browns

Power ranking: No. 28

Last week: No. 28

Walker’s take: The Browns played with good energy but were simply worn out by a much better team in Week 1. Cleveland allowed 24 unanswered points in the second half to the Minnesota Vikings in its home opener. When the Vikings went to their playmakers, the Browns had no one on their sideline to counter, which could be the story of their season. With little game-breaking talent, Cleveland needs to play efficient, mistake-free football nearly every week to win games.