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Week 2: Patriots, Texans shoot up

There's no tougher week for the NFL Power Ranker (that would be me) than Week 2, when you're tasked with taking just one slim weekend of results and projecting where each team belongs, from No. 1 to 32. The volatility factor can make for some sudden, dizzying movements in either direction, as teams like the plummeting Bengals, 49ers and Eagles learned, as did the fast-rising Patriots, Texans, Steelers and Seahawks.

All in all, there were some pretty interesting developments in Week 1. Did you notice the following?

• In the NFC standings, there are two 1-0 teams and two 0-1 teams in all four divisions. In fact, had either Oakland or Denver been able to win on the road last week, all eight of the NFL's divisions would feature that same perfect balance between the 1-0's and the 0-1's.

• Seven of last year's 12 playoff teams lost in Week 1, meaning we're probably well on our way to swapping out half of the teams from last season's playoff field to this year's. The Jets, Bengals, Colts and Chargers all went down to defeat in the AFC, while the Cowboys, Eagles, and Vikings lost in the NFC.

• And some 2009 streakers will not be repeating their feats. The Colts (14-0), Vikings (6-0) and Broncos (6-0) opened last season on a combined 26-0 run. But this time around, they're all 0-1. Now on to this week's rankings ...

(As always, send comments to siwriters@simail.com.)

NFL Power Rankings, Week 2
1New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
For some reason, Saints head coach Sean Payton was under the mistaken impression that folks would be down on his defending Super Bowl champion team for winning ugly in last Thursday night's opener against Minnesota. But no apologies were necessary, because it was an excellent sign to see New Orleans win with defense, toughing out a low-scoring affair. That blueprint for victory will come in very handy this season with the entire league gunning for the Saints.
 
2Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 2
Ravens-Jets on Monday night really was the most lopsided one-point game I can ever recall. I guess Baltimore could have lost, but I never once thought it would. The best news for the Ravens is they prevailed in a game in which Ray Rice and the running game was absolutely no factor, and there are not going to be too many instances this year where No. 27 will have limited impact on the stat sheet.
 
3Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 4
Strange game for the Packers at Philly. Green Bay scored all 27 of its points in the middle two quarters, looking like the juggernaut I thought it would be. But the Pack didn't start or end particularly well, and it was a bit disturbing to see Aaron Rodgers take three sacks, throw two picks and muster only 188 yards passing. This week's home opener against Buffalo should be more characteristic of Green Bay, but it's already apparent the Packers can win even without firing on all cylinders.
 
4New England Patriots
Last Week: 10
I get the feeling even the Patriots didn't know what to expect from the Patriots last week against Cincinnati. But nobody in the league scored more than New England in Week 1 and the return of that kind of firepower from Tom Brady and Co. is a very ominous development for the rest of the NFL.
 
5Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 3
I quite properly gushed over Houston's big win in my Snap Judgments on Sunday, but sorry, I'm not going to overreact and drop Indy below the Texans based on Week 1 alone. Not when the Colts have won 12 games or more seven consecutive years but happened to lose on the road to a division foe that has been gunning for them and treated this game like it was the franchise's version of the Super Bowl. However, if little brother Eli and his Giants can put big brother Peyton and his Colts in an 0-2 hole for the first time since 1998 (Peyton's rookie year), then it'll be time for unrestrained panic in the heartland.
 
6Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 6
This goes against everything John Madden ever taught us about No. 4, but I didn't think Brett Favre looked like he was having too much fun last week against the Saints. Did you? Aren't the words "fun'' and "Favre'' now all but interchangeable thanks to the past 20 years or so of NFL telecasts? I'm still not convinced Favre's heart is 100 percent committed to the 2010 Vikings, and that could be an issue down the road.
 
7Houston Texans
Last Week: 16
I've been tough on the Texans over their lack of big-game backbone in recent years, and I even thought it was time to bring the curtain down on the Gary Kubiak era after Houston's dismal 5-7 start last year. But what a difference a running game can make when it comes to finishing out games and allowing the Texans to win the kind of showdown matchup they faced against the mighty Colts. Now let's see how Houston handles success. This week's game at Washington is a tricky one.
 
8New York Jets
Last Week: 5
I'm being completely serious when I say the Jets would be in better shape in the extreme short term with UFL quarterback Jeff Garcia starting for them right now. Mark Sanchez might be the future, but at present he's overmatched and losing confidence by the second. I still can't get over New York totaling a measly six first downs against the Ravens. The last time the Jets were that anemic, Lou Holtz had just resigned as their head coach -- in December 1976.
 
9San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 7
Nobody likes to dig themselves an early season hole quite like the Chargers, the team that can't stand prosperity. I have an editor (and you know who you are) who told me the Chiefs would be fired up and primed to upset San Diego in their Monday-night opener, and it happened just like he said. I guess he didn't inform the Chargers, because they looked quite surprised by the whole turn of events. (And if you're wondering why Kansas City isn't ranked ahead of San Diego this week, go get your own set of power rankings).
 
10Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 8
Other than looking sloppy, disorganized and undisciplined in that loss to Washington, the Cowboys are in fine shape heading into their Week 2 home opener against the Bears. What must it be like to be Alex Barron and living in Dallas this week?
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