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Matt Vensel's Monday morning NFL power rankings

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. Houston Texans: Their defense had as many touchdowns (two) as the Tennessee offense Sunday, and during their first 4-0 start in team history, the Texans have outscored opponents, 126-56.

2. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were tested by Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, and survived and rallied to stay unbeaten after the Panthers couldn’t convert on a late 3rd and 1.

3. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers bounced back from that loss to the Minnesota Vikings by crushing the New York Jets, who had 100 fewer total yards (145) than the 49ers had rushing yards.

4. Baltimore Ravens: It wasn’t pretty Thursday night, but the Ravens held off the Cleveland Browns. How about that offense? The Ravens rank second in total offense and fifth in scoring.

5. Green Bay Packers: With four passing touchdowns Sunday, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense got its groove back to avoid a potentially back-breaking loss to the New Orleans Saints.

6. Arizona Cardinals: Somehow, Miami Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill was able to do move the ball against them with ease after Tom Brady and Michael Vick couldn’t. And somehow, Kevin Kolb rallied them to a comeback victory. Maybe it's a fluke, but the undefeated Cardinals are the NFL’s biggest surprise so far.

7. New England Patriots: The Buffalo Bills had the Patriots on the ropes, but the Patriots rallied from 14 points down to blow them out. This win could already be the turning point in that division.

8. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles won Sunday despite more questionable play calls from Andy Reid and a late failed field goal try from the Giants. Michael Vick is starting to pick up some steam.

9. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers got it done with defense on Sunday, taking the ball away from the Kansas City Chiefs six times. Norv Turner’s team is actually playing well early for once.

10. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have quietly won three straight games after losing to the Ravens in the season opener. A.J. Green is averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game.

11. Dallas Cowboys: I think we’re going to learn a little about the Dallas Cowboys tonight. They play the Chicago Bears, who are also 2-1. The Dallas offense must avoid crippling mistakes.

On the rise: Denver Broncos. The Broncos got a pretty brutal stretch to start the season, but they played their most complete game in Sunday's 37-6 win over the Oakland Raiders. Up next for Peyton Manning and the Broncos is a trip to Gillette Stadium.

Free-falling: Detroit Lions. Surprise, surprise. A talented team that can’t keep its composure off the field can’t keep it on the field, either. They aren’t cooked yet, but they are getting there fast.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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