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Texans, Steelers, Fins join top six; Vikes and 'Boys in free fall (cont.)

NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 (cont.)
21Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 16
Can we all just leave Kurt Warner alone? The guy said he's done. He doesn't want to play. He wants to dance. How about we start believing him? Not everybody is Favre-ian. (Or is it Favre-ish?)
 
22Denver Broncos
Last Week: 28
The Broncos are in the midst of a very difficult week, preparing for a game while still absorbing the shock of receiver Kenny McKinley's apparent suicide. The Colts are their opponent, and Indy has fairly well owned Denver in the Peyton Manning era, going 7-2 and twice knocking the Mike Shanahan-coached Broncos out of the playoffs.
 
23Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17
It's in this neck of the rankings where there's another thorny knot of teams that's difficult to separate. The Seahawks beat the 49ers, but lost to the Broncos. The Broncos lost to the Jaguars, but beat the Seahawks. It's a real mess. So I'm sprinkling them from No. 22-25 and hoping it makes sense eventually.
 
24Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 22
With quarterback David Garrard getting sloppy with the football last week in San Diego, it's a great time for the Jaguars to crank up their Maurice Jones-Drew-led running game. Jacksonville ranks just 17th so far in rushing, with just 102.5 yards per game, no touchdowns, and a long gain of 18. The Jaguars can do better than that, and Jack Del Rio needs to start seeing it.
 
25San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 21
I actually came away from Monday night's home-opening, last-second loss to New Orleans thinking the 49ers still have a chance to be the division-winning team I predicted they'd be this season. I liked what I saw in crunchtime from Alex Smith, and that defense is capable of shutting teams down for large portions of the game. More than anything, I think it's spotty coaching that continues to hold San Francisco back at times.
 
26Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 6
I know. From sixth to 26th, maybe a record tumble in the long and distinguished annals of SI.com's NFL power rankings. (I'll have to check with Dr. Z.) But the Vikings aren't very good right now, especially on offense. A visit from the Lions is just what the doctor ordered, right? Maybe. But Minnesota should not be looking past anyone early this season.
 
27Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 24
I thought Matt Leinart got the quick hook in Arizona, but at least the Cardinals gave him parts of five seasons. The Raiders yanked Jason Campbell after just six quarters. It sounds like it's Bruce Gradkowski's team at this point, and I don't know what that portends for Oakland this year.
 
28Detroit Lions
Last Week: 28
Five touchdowns in his first two games, and the even more surprising thing about Lions rookie running back Jahvid Best might be he's a better receiver (14 catches for 170 yards) than he is a rusher (98 yards on 31 carries). It should be fun to watch his head-to-head matchup this week with another pretty good NFC North running back, Adrian Peterson.
 
29St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 30
Sam Bradford at least found himself a new go-to receiver in ex-Raven Mark Clayton. The two hooked up on a pair of touchdown passes last Sunday at Oakland. So when the former Sooner is throwing to the former Sooner, is that an Oklahoma drill?
 
30Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 26
Jimmy Clausen doesn't lack for confidence, and that's going to serve him well as the trial-by-fire portion of his rookie season begins in earnest against the visiting Bengals this week. With little left to lose, it'd be nice if the Panthers opened up their conservative offense and let the ex-Notre Dame quarterback show off his strong arm.
 
31Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 31
So far, the Chan Gailey coaching era is tracking a little too closely to the Dick Jauron coaching era. Especially at quarterback, where the Trent Edwards-to-Ryan Fitzpatrick tango is unfolding again. Bills fans are thinking: Been there, done that.
 
32Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 32
Now that Cleveland has lost to teams that went a combined 7-25 last year (the Bucs and Chiefs), it gets to face seven clubs in the next eight weeks that were a combined 26 games over .500 in 2009. Let me know how that works out for you, Brownies.
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