NFL Power Rankings: 2008 Week 3

Updated: September 19, 2008, 12:12 PM ET
ESPN.com
Week:

The relative lack of movement atop the latest ESPN.com NFL power rankings sets up a pair of blockbuster showdowns on the field for Week 3.

The Dallas Cowboys, who survived a seesaw, home battle with the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, remain the kings of the hill this week. And for the second consecutive polling, our experts deem the Pittsburgh Steelers the second-best team in the league -- even though the Steelers barely edged the host Cleveland Browns.

But the top of the standings could be in a for a shakeup next week. Sunday the Cowboys visit the Green Bay Packers, who rank fourth this week. Earlier in the day, the No. 2 Steelers will visit the Eagles, who rank No. 5 this week despite the "Monday Night Football" loss at Dallas.

In the middle of the logjam atop the power rankings are the New York Giants, up two spots to No. 3. In Week 2, the defending Super Bowl champions dismantled the St. Louis Rams, who for the second consecutive week anchor the bottom of the rankings.

The Giants replace the shell-shocked San Diego Chargers, this week's biggest tumblers. Victim of a last-minute winning score for the second consecutive week, the Chargers fell 10 places from No. 3 to No. 13 overall. The New Orleans Saints -- who could not hold a fourth-quarter lead against the Washington Redskins in Week 2 -- and the Jacksonville Jaguars -- who squandered a fourth-quarter lead over the Buffalo Bills at home -- also took big hits. The Saints (from No. 4 to No. 12) and Jags (from No. 10 to No. 18) each fell eight spots.

ESPN.com's Power Rankings
The rankings were determined by a poll of ESPN.com's NFL staff: writers John Clayton, Jeffri Chadiha, Tim Graham, Matt Mosley, James Walker, Kevin Seifert, Paul Kuharsky, Pat Yasinskas, Bill Williamson, and Mike Sando; and Scouts Inc. Insiders Jeremy Green and Matt Williamson.

• Watch: Countdown Daily

• FB Today: Jeremy Green

• Blog Network: How we voted

• SportsNation: Rank 'em

We've called upon some of our voting members to provide team-by-team commentary. Thus, for your reading pleasure, you'll have:

• Tim Graham on the AFC East
• James Walker on the AFC North
• Paul Kuharsky on the AFC South
• Bill Williamson on the AFC West

• Matt Mosley on the NFC East
• Kevin Seifert on the NFC North
• Pat Yasinskas on the NFC South
• Mike Sando on the NFC West

The Saints could impress our voters again if they manage to upset the host Denver Broncos on Sunday. Fueled by a high-powered offense featuring quarterback Jay Cutler and receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, Denver made the biggest gain in the power rankings this week. The Broncos leaped eight places from No. 19 to No. 11 overall, thanks in part to a dubious fumble ruling in the last minutes of their 39-38 victory over the Chargers.

The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in rarified air this week -- at No. 14, they make a rare appearance in the top half of the rankings. Apparently their home romp over the lowly Miami Dolphins -- who rate 30th this week -- was enough to vault the Cardinals seven spots in the rankings. The Cardinals' legitimacy will be tested as they visit the Washington Redskins in Week 3.

Other notes from the latest rankings: Hurricane Ike had a slight effect on the power rankings. The storm postponed the scheduled Baltimore Ravens Houston Texans matchup. While the inactive Texans remained ranked No. 24 overall, the equally dormant Ravens moved up from No. 22 to No. 20.

The New England Patriots, playing their first regular-season game in ages without quarterback Tom Brady at the ready, beat the New York Jets in Week 2. The Patriots, our perennial leaders in the weekly rankings, moved up three spots from No. 9 to No. 6. The Brett Favre-led Jets, who whiffed on their chance to make a statement in the supposedly wide-open AFC East, only fell from No. 14 to No. 16 in the eyes of our esteemed experts.

(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week.)

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