A month into the 2011 season, the 3-1 Ravens have established themselves as one of the early favorites to play in the Super Bowl in February. They manhandled the two teams that played in last season’s AFC championship -- the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets -- and lead the NFL with an impressive plus-62 point differential.
The first-place Ravens are one of six AFC teams with a 3-1 record as they enter their bye week, and their active roster will be deeper if Ben Grubbs, Lee Evans and Jimmy Smith are ready to return after it.
So where do the Ravens rank in the NFL’s balance of power? Only one team tops them in my monthly power rankings (which come with the usual disclaimer that they shouldn’t be taken too seriously). So who's better?
1. Packers (previous rank -- 1): I’m sure there won’t be too much argument with me putting the defending champs ahead of the Ravens, especially with the way that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have scored at will so far.
2. Ravens (6): Though the Ravens should have won in Week 2, the loss doesn’t look as bad with the Titans sitting at 3-1. Baltimore dominated in its other three games, which were all over at halftime.
3. Patriots (2): The Ravens may have to go through the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl, but if they played in Week 5, I'd bet on the Ravens (and I’d pray to God that Cam Cameron would run the ball).
6. Texans (10): It took a season-threatening injury to Colts QB Peyton Manning for the Texans to become the frontrunners in the AFC South. They will still have to hold off the surprising Titans to win the division.
7. Buccaneers (15): Like the Lions, the Buccaneers have looked smart after recent drafts. I like Josh Freeman a lot. He’s got some Ben Roethlisberger in him, but without the neck beard and a busted-up schnoz.
11. Titans (20): A lot of talk has rightfully centered on Matt Hasselbeck, but their defense has been pretty good.
12. Redskins (28): Only the Ravens and Titans have allowed fewer points than the Haynesworth-less Redskins.
14. Steelers (3): They might survive without James Harrison, but they can’t if they lose Roethlisberger.
16. 49ers (26): Those Harbaugh brothers know a thing or two about quickly turning around football teams.
17. Eagles (4): Sunday’s game in Buffalo isn’t a must-win, but the Eagles should probably start doing it soon.
18. Raiders (27): Their schedule is unforgiving, but if they beat the Chargers twice, they will have a chance.
19. Bears (13): Monday night’s game in Detroit could be a pivotal game in Chicago’s season.
20. Jets (8): Ditto for Rex Ryan’s Jets against the Pats on Sunday.
22. Cardinals (25): Their three losses have been of the stomach-punching variety.
29. Colts (14): They haven’t looked bad the past two weeks. I wish I could say the same for Curtis Painter’s hair.
30. Chiefs (19): The Chiefs have been outscored 49-126, yet they somehow have a win to their name…
31. Vikings (18): That’s because the Vikings can’t hold a lead. They’ve come from ahead to lose four games.
32. Dolphins (23): When Jake Delhomme has no interest in quarterbacking your team, you know things are bad.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun