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Matt Vensel's Monday morning NFL power rankings

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Every Monday, 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. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were my pick to win the Super Bowl, and they made me feel good about that prediction with a dominant performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their offense should be scary good this season.

2. New England Patriots: Ho hum, just a 21-point win over the Tennessee Titans. We know they can score points, but the Patriots have to be very pleased with the contributions they got from three rookie defenders, including a touchdown by Dont'a Hightower.

3. San Francisco 49ers: There was a lot to like in the win over Green Bay. The defense agitated Aaron Rodgers and the offense got contributions from the wide receivers, including Randy Moss, who scored his first touchdown since the 2010 season.

4. Green Bay Packers: I still like them a lot. It just wasn’t their day.

5. Houston Texans: They smothered the Miami Dolphins, created four turnovers and Arian Foster did his thing. But the biggest plus was getting quarterback Matt Schaub back and getting him signed to a contract extension, too.

6. Baltimore Ravens: They play tonight at M&T Bank Stadium, of course, so I thought this was the right place to put them. To move them up, I need to see some semblance of a pass rush, few hiccups on offense, and, well, they need to beat the Bengals.

7. Denver Broncos: Denver had tons of adrenaline as Peyton Manning made his debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He didn’t look too rusty, especially not as the Broncos were scoring 24 points in the second half, including 17 in the fourth quarter.

8. Dallas Cowboys: Somehow, I almost forgot about these guys. Man, do I have a short memory. But they handed it to the defending champs Thursday, with their new secondary looking very good.

9. Washington Redskins: Golly, RGIII was impressive -- so impressive that he made me use the word “golly” for the first time in my career. The only rookie quarterback to win Sunday, Robert Griffin III threw for 320 yards and two touchdown.

10. Chicago Bears: Big win over the Indianapolis Colts. We’ll see what they can do against a quality team on Thursday night, when they play under the lights at Lambeau Field.

11. Detroit Lions: Hey, Matt Stafford, nice comeback, but thanks for killing my fantasy team.

On the rise: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In their first victory under new coach Greg Schiano, they smothered scrambling Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and gave rooking running back Doug Martin a heavy workload.

Free-falling: Buffalo Bills. Maybe the Bills have taken the New York Jets’ place as overhyped preseason pretenders, but the Jets laid the smack-down on them Sunday. Fred Jackson hurt his knee, too.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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