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Patriots-Ravens, Eagles-Cardinals highlight Week 3 matchups

After two weeks of football, we know so little. Thought you learned something in Week 1? Bet that changed in Week 2.

Media darlings like the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and New York Jets landed with loud thuds thanks to ugly offensive displays. Some who faced harsh questioning after the season's opening stanza -- the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants -- emerged looking even stronger after fighting and winning last week.

Sure, there were a few who began to solidify their standing based on two weeks of similar performances. (The lowly Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, and maybe even the New Orleans Saints, come to mind.) But mostly, through two weeks of action, it's fairly apparent that we don't know very much.

A whopping 20 teams are 1-1 -- average after two games. This makes the annual early-season conclusion-jumping exercise difficult. It's almost impossible to make dramatic statements after the first two weeks of the 2012 campaign, which is unthinkable in the hyperbolic world of the NFL.

Thankfully, teams are hurtling toward a third game ... and a bunch more after that. But this week, beginning Thursday night with an intriguing matchup between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, we'll focus on the third.

And maybe wisdom will come, particularly regarding five of the remaining six undefeateds. The unblemished Houston Texans face their first true test in old foe Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, while there are two matchups between 2-0 teams: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers. (The San Francisco 49ers are the only perfect team with a relatively manageable task, taking on the Minnesota Vikings -- which is a road game, after all.)

If the Cardinals take down the talented Eagles, who would argue they aren't for real? And if the Chargers do the same to the Falcons, won't we all admit this might really, finally, be their breakthrough year?

Here is your Week 3 primer, with games ranked in order of intrigue, from 1 to 16:

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet

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