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Matt Vensel's Monday morning NFL power rankings

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Every Monday morning, the day after my favorite day of the week but still hours before that week’s slate of games officially wraps up with “Monday Night Football,” I will bring you my weekly premature NFL power rankings.

Why Monday? Because who wants to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for power rankings?

Why 11 teams? I don’t really have a good answer for that one. I’ve always liked odd numbers.

What am I basing them on? Who my gut tells me are the toughest teams to beat that week.

Why isn’t my team on the list!?!?! Take a deep breath and try not to take these too seriously.

1. San Francisco 49ers: With a pair of wins in showcase games against the Green Bay Packers then the Detroit Lions, the 49ers have showed many folks across the country that their stellar 2011 season was not a fluke.

2. Atlanta Falcons: They play Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” and it should be a fun one to watch. We’ll see if Matt Ryan and the offense picks up where it left off last weekend.

3. Green Bay Packers: After a tough loss to the 49ers, they thrashed the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. The offense looks a little out of sync, but how about that defense? Especially Clay Matthews III, who six sacks already.

4. Houston Texans: Quietly, the Texans are 2-0 with a plus-40 point differential -- which is the NFL's best so far -- after allowing just 17 total points in their first two games. The Broncos will give them a good test next week.

5. New England Patriots: What is up with the Patriots? They lost to the Arizona Cardinals. They benched Wes Welker. And Aaron Hernandez is out for a while. It was a strange Sunday in New England, but they’ll be fine.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: It hasn’t been pretty, but the Eagles have won two straight to open the season with last-minute touchdown drives. They are the first 2-0 team in 29 years with four turnovers in both victories.

7. Denver Broncos: The Broncos are going to be in the spotlight a lot this season. Peyton Manning stole the show last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Will he do it again Monday night against the Falcons?

8. San Diego Chargers: Like the Texans, the Bolts have also been flying under the national radar. (But so what?!? The Jets have Tim Tebow!) San Diego’s defense has been very stout so far, especially against the run.

9. Baltimore Ravens: I only dropped them three spots for their loss to the Eagles. I know there were a lot of mistakes Sunday, but let’s not overlook the fact that they went up against a pretty good team that was playing its home opener.

10. New York Giants: Wow, what a finish by Eli Manning and the Giants to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure, they shouldn’t have been in that jam in the first place, but you have to marvel at what Manning did to bring them back.

11. Seattle Seahawks: I’m sure a lot of people are just chalking their win Sunday up to the Dallas Cowboys being a fraudulent contender (again). But the Seahawks have a strong defense and are very tough to beat at home.

On the rise: Arizona Cardinals. I guess we have to take them seriously since they beat the Patriots to go to 2-0. Their defense looks legit, but Kevin Kolb beating Tom Brady? We don’t have to take that part seriously, do we?

Free-falling: New Orleans Saints. I knew they wouldn’t be the same team without Sean Payton, but losing to the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers, who combined for 11 wins in 2011? I did not see that coming. Why again did quarterback Drew Brees want to sign up for this?

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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