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NFL power rankings: Who is ahead of the Ravens?

A month into the 2011 season, the 3-1

Ravens

have established themselves as one of the early favorites to play in the

Super Bowl

in February. They manhandled the two teams that played in last season’s

AFC

championship -- the

Pittsburgh Steelers

and the

New York Jets

-- and lead the

NFL

with an impressive plus-62 point differential.

The first-place Ravens are one of six AFC teams with a 3-1 record as they enter their bye week, and their active roster will be deeper if

Ben Grubbs

,

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Lee Evans
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and

Jimmy Smith

are ready to return after it.

So where do the Ravens rank in the NFL’s balance of power? Only one team tops them in my monthly power rankings (which come with the usual disclaimer that they shouldn’t be taken too seriously). So who's better?

1. Packers

(previous rank -- 1):

I’m sure there won’t be too much argument with me putting the defending champs ahead of the Ravens, especially with the way that

Aaron Rodgers

and the Packers have scored at will so far.

2. Ravens (6):

Though the Ravens should have won in Week 2, the loss doesn’t look as bad with the

Titans

sitting at 3-1. Baltimore dominated in its other three games, which were all over at halftime.

3. Patriots

(2)

: The Ravens may have to go through the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl, but if they played in Week 5, I'd bet on the Ravens (and I’d pray to God that

Cam Cameron

would run the ball).

4. Lions

(9):

The roar has been restored in Detroit thanks to strong drafts and a healthy

Matthew Stafford

.

5. Saints

(5):

After losing to the Packers in Week 1, the Saints have reeled off three straight victories, including wins over the

Bears

and

Texans

. I think this team is only going to get better.

6. Texans (10):

It took a season-threatening injury to

Colts

QB

Peyton Manning

for the Texans to become the frontrunners in the

AFC South

. They will still have to hold off the surprising Titans to win the division.

7. Buccaneers

(15)

: Like the Lions, the Buccaneers have looked smart after recent drafts. I like

Josh Freeman

a lot. He’s got some

Ben Roethlisberger

in him, but without the neck beard and a busted-up schnoz.

8. Chargers

(11):

Typically slow starters, the Chargers will probably run away with the

AFC West

(their only semi-serious challengers are the

Raiders

). They will be a tough out in the playoffs.

9. Bills

(29):

I wouldn’t mind if

Ryan Fitzpatrick

and the Bills kept their glass slippers, but I’m not 100 percent sold.

10. Giants

(17)

: Shredded secondary be damned, the Giants are tied with the

Redskins

atop the

NFC East

.

11. Titans (20):

A lot of talk has rightfully centered on

Matt Hasselbeck

, but their defense has been pretty good.

12. Redskins (28):

Only the Ravens and Titans have allowed fewer points than the Haynesworth-less Redskins.

13. Falcons

(7):

The Falcons have a bunch of weapons on offense, but

Michael Turner

should be the primary one.

14. Steelers (3):

They might survive without

James Harrison

, but they can’t if they lose Roethlisberger.

15. Cowboys

(12):

If not for some poor decisions by

Tony Romo

, this team could be undefeated right now.

16. 49ers

(26):

Those Harbaugh brothers know a thing or two about quickly turning around football teams.

17. Eagles

(4):

Sunday’s game in Buffalo isn’t a must-win, but the Eagles should probably start doing it soon.

18. Raiders (27):

Their schedule is unforgiving, but if they beat the Chargers twice, they will have a chance.

19. Bears (13):

Monday night’s game in Detroit could be a pivotal game in Chicago’s season.

20. Jets (8):

Ditto for

Rex Ryan

’s Jets against the Pats on Sunday.

21. Browns

(21):

Their two victories have come against winless teams (the Colts and

Dolphins

).

22. Cardinals

(25):

Their three losses have been of the stomach-punching variety.

23. Panthers

(30):

Cam Newton

’s passing prowess at the pro level is maybe the season’s biggest surprise.

24. Seahawks

(24):

A bad team that should be in the thick of things in the awful

NFC West

in December.

25. Bengals

(32):

Andy Dalton

and

A.J. Green

have looked good replacing

Carson Palmer

and

Chad Ochocinco

.

26. Broncos

(22):

Just play

Tim Tebow

already. What else do they have to lose?

27.  Jaguars

(31):

They have 39 points so far. Maybe they shouldn’t have kicked

David Garrard

to the curb.

28. Rams

(16):

If you were the Rams and you finished last, would you take

Andrew Luck

first overall?

29. Colts (14):

They haven’t looked bad the past two weeks. I wish I could say the same for

Curtis Painter

’s hair.

30. Chiefs

(19):

The Chiefs have been outscored 49-126, yet they somehow have a win to their name…

31. Vikings

(18):

That’s because the Vikings can’t hold a lead. They’ve come from ahead to lose four games.

32. Dolphins (23):

When

Jake Delhomme

has no interest in quarterbacking your team, you know things are bad.

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