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Power Rankings, Week 2: Eagles, Saints soar; Redskins sink

So much to get to in this week's Power Rankings, starting with what to make of the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, who played two completely different halves Monday night.

Then there was the crazy second bill of that prime-time doubleheader. Where do you put the Houston Texans, who struggled to stop Philip Rivers in San Diego? The San Diego Chargers' 28-7 lead, followed by a furious Houston rally, flung these PRs into a two-hour state of flux.

Yes, Daniel, there is a clear No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the NFL right now. Too bad it's pretty much a can of Vienna sausages when it comes to Nos. 4-15. But then, that's part of the deal when ranking teams after only a week of action. So how much should we overreact to a win or a loss? You'll see that Chip Kelly's Eagles tied another NFC team as our biggest mover, but don't confuse jumping spots with completely buying in. Meanwhile, the Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings took sizable dips after getting cleanly beaten in divisional games.

As for the rest, take a look. Would love your thoughts ... @HarrisonNFL is the place. (I might have to make your tweet part of the picks column Thursday, so beware.)

But enough with all that. Let's get going, "1-to-32" style ...

(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from the most recent Power Rankings.)

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Week 1 | Preseason | Mid-summer

All the people who hated on this space last week because I said the 49ers were still the best team in football can go do one thing: Cover Anquan Boldin.

Peyton Manning joined some pretty weird company the other night. The list of fellas who've thrown seven touchdowns in a game includes a former CFLer, a journeyman, some Hall of Famers, and the oldest man to play in the modern era of pro football. Of the group, Manning is most like one of the Hall of Famers: Y.A. Tittle. The former 49ers quarterback from the 1950s hit the seven-touchdown mark as a 36-year-old trying to deliver an NFL Championship for the contending New York Giants 51 years ago. The 37-year-old Manning is similarly trying to get the Broncos over the championship hump. They're the only guys to throw seven touchdowns without giving up an interception.

Tough ballgame down there in Carolina, as was to be expected. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch alike found out how improved that Panthers defense is.

The message here: Don't panic. Over half the teams in the league would've fallen to the Panthers on Sunday; Wilson, who was 14-of-18 passing for 198 yards and a touchdown in the second half, was a big reason they didn't.

Truthfully, this spot feels a little high for the Texans, but who deserves it more? Certainly not the New England Patriots, who, like the Texans, survived a close call on the road. The Chicago Bears (offensive line) and New Orleans Saints (front seven) have slightly bigger holes than Houston. So for right now, Gary Kubiak's group climbs into the top five.

While we're here and on the subject, there's something to be said for coming back from 21 points down on the road. Poor start, clutch finish for the Houston Texans.

After losses by the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, New England moves to fifth. Was Sunday's victory over the Buffalo Bills the most impressive win of the Bill Belichick era? Maybe not. But it was a win in the AFC East on the road with new personnel at the skill positions. That was a heck of a game, Shane Vereen ... 159 yards on 21 total touches.

Chicago survived a tough home game with a little help from Rey Maualuga's kuckleheadedness. Now, if Maualuga hadn't committed that late personal foul to give the Bears a fresh set of downs with which to run out the clock, would the Bengals necessarily have taken the ensuing possession down the field? No. It did essentially seal the deal, though.

 We predicted that 
 Tim Jennings or 
 Charles Tillman would make a play to win this one late, and on Sunday, Jennings pulled a Peanut Tillman, stripping 
 Mohamed Sanu to ultimately set up 
 Brandon Marshall's go-ahead touchdown. It wasn't the prettiest win, but you know ... 

The defense performed in spots -- the most important spots -- versus the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, we're talking about Rob Ryan's injury-depleted defense -- you know, the group that allowed 454 points last year (most in the NFC) and finished last in 18 subcategories.

On Sunday, the key stat for New Orleans didn't have anything to do with Drew Brees. No, it was the 3-for-12 conversion rate that Ryan's defense allowed Atlanta on third and fourth downs.

That last set of downs is going to sit with fans awhile, just like the crucial four downs of last year's loss in New Orleans did. On Sunday, Matt Ryan had nowhere to go with that football. At least this time, the Falcons weren't coming in undefeated. Well, they were, but they weren't exactly 8-0.

While we're going into some numbers, it's worth noting that Falcons coach Mike Smith is now 2-7 versus the Saints' Sean Payton. On the bright side, Steven Jackson looked pretty effective, accumulating 122 yards with 16 touches overall.

Green Bay went to San Francisco and gave the best team in the NFL all it could handle in its own place. And the run defense did its job -- but the safeties did not. This is still a top-10 team, however. Aaron Rodgers still looks like the best quarterback in the league, while receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb appear to be healthy; each gained more than 100 yards.

If Mike McCarthy continues to commit to the run game like he did on Sunday, the Packers will be tough to stop come January ... even if they are 0-1 in September.

Tough to push Cincinnati down too far after a close road loss, but we have to consider head-to-head battles (and how poorly the starters played in the third preseason game in Dallas) this early in the season. And we also have to look at quarterback. Fairly or not, most league observers feel the Bengals' shot comes down to quarterback. Andy Dalton did not play poorly on Sunday, and A.J. Green sure as heck didn't do him any favors by dropping a perfectly thrown ball that then fluttered right into the hands of Charles Tillman, the second pick of the day for the Bears defender.

Tillman's first pick, which came on a telegraphed throw by the Bengals' third-year quarterback, led to a scoring drive for the Bears. It might have been early (in the first quarter), but they all count. So did the eight penalties committed by Cincinnati in a sloppy defeat.

Barely beating the Oakland Raiders -- at home, no less -- means the Colts stay put. But hey babe, a win is a win.

Amazingly, Andrew Luck continues to shock people -- mostly defenders -- with how quick he is. Is it because he's thought of as a thrower? Is it because he's white? Just asking. Luck had another touchdown scamper in the win after picking up five rushing touchdowns last year.

Important NFC East win for the Cowboys against a decent New York Giants team. Now that we got that out of the way ... is there any wide receiver in a Dallas uniform who knows what a sight adjustment is? Is there any team that hangs its quarterback out to dry more than Dallas? I swear, if Jerry Rice decided to come back and play for the Cowboys, he'd forget what a hot route is the moment he donned his blue-and-white No. 80.

Where to put the Super Bowl champs after one week? Things looked good in the first half against the Denver Broncos on Thursday; then the secondary took a dump in the second -- and the pass rush didn't manage to dump Peyton Manning enough.

Let's wait and see with this team. Ravens fans think I hate their club, but this writer is fully aware that Baltimore lost four of five games down the stretch last season before winning it all.

If you're wondering why the Dolphins don't move up after a win, the reasons are pretty cut-and-dried. The Mediocre Express ( Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas) ran 18 times for 17 yards, while the Dolphins as a team incurred 10 penalties. The defense looked pretty good, but even ardent 'Fins fans will admit that getting outgained by a subpar Cleveland Browns team does not merit a boost here.

Big jump in the Power Rankings for the Eagles. So it was Phi Slamma Jamma offense in the first half of Monday's win over the Redskins, half-court clock-eatin' offense for much of the second, all dictated by the game situation.

So many bright spots to point out here, yet two under-the-radar things shone through: Trent Cole looks good at linebacker on that Eagles defense. The other? Effort. Kelly has this football team playing for him; just consider how Jason Avant sold out to convert a third down late in the game. Playing hard never gets old, even as Kelly continues to reinvent offensive football.

Nice comeback at home for these pesky Rams, who are now 1-0 in the NFC West after going 4-1-1 in the division last year. Kicker Greg Zuerlein delivered this sucker, making his shots from 36, 25, 38 and 48 yards out, that last kick going for the win.

Not interested in a kicker? Fine; consider end Robert Quinn, who had three sacks and two forced fumbles. He should be huge for this Ram defense. That said, Jeff Fisher's group will be playing some close games, and having a kicker like Zuerlein could be the difference between making the playoffs or going 7-9.

All those people who hee-hee'd over the Reggie Bush acquisition can shut it now. The still-explosive Bush might have been the difference against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, putting up nearly 200 yards from scrimmage while giving the Lions a punch not seen since Jahvid Best went off on a Monday night two years ago. Let's hope Bush can stay healthy. Speaking of "healthy," that's one way to currently describe Calvin Johnson's complements, which was a rarity last season. Nate Burleson caught six balls for 78 yards on Sunday.

I don't want to be an alarmist here, but the lasting image from Monday night's loss to the Eagles was not of the Redskins' comeback attempt, their gassed defense, or even of Philly running plays at will in the first half. Nope, it was of Robert Griffin III consistently tossing the ball off his back foot.

Forget a lack of explosiveness on scrambles; Griffin just wasn't driving the ball at all, that is, he wasn't shifting his weight to his plant foot. I noticed it in the first quarter, and then the ESPN broadcast began driving it home. It's Week 1, no doubt, but that's still disconcerting.

I hope David Wilson likes playing World of Warcraft, because if he puts two more balls on the carpet next week, he'll have plenty of time on his hands.

That was a heck of an effort by the Giants to overcome six turnovers and force the issue late. Still, don't think the injuries in the secondary and to Jason Pierre-Paul weren't noticeable.

Vikings fans don't want to hear it, because it's old hat -- er, old horned helmet -- but Christian Ponder remains the linchpin to this club's postseason hopes. The third-year quarterback threw three picks on Sunday and fumbled. Next week won't be any easier, with the Soldier Field takeaway machines on the docket. The Chicago Bears have forced 24 turnovers in their past nine home games -- that's almost three per outing. Wouldn't be a bad idea to give Adrian Peterson more than 18 carries this time, either.

By the way, did you know that there is no concrete evidence that shows real Vikings actually wore horned helmets? We aim to educate in the Power Rankings.

So Ron Rivera and Co. dropped the home opener to the Seattle Seahawks. What did we learn? a) The defense -- which played ball until the bitter end versus everyone's preseason Super Bowl winners -- is much better. b) That new-look-but-still-somewhat-conventional offense we heard about all summer looks pedestrian. c) Much like Cincinnati and Minnesota, the Panthers will go as far as the quarterback -- in this case, Cam Newton -- takes them this year, with a subpar receiving corps.

Talk about an uneventful blowout win -- did you know it's the only 28-2 victory to date in the history of the NFL? On Sunday, the Chiefs' defense held the Jacksonville Jaguars to 2.5 yards per play. Kansas City also recorded six sacks, including three by the relatively unknown -- but relatively awesome -- Justin Houston. Nice start, Andy Reid. Now let's get the passing game going, as 5 yards per attempt won't cut it when it's time to go to Denver.

Of all the victories on opening Sunday, it would be difficult to say that any was more important to an organization than the Titans' road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Heading into the season, questions -- about Mike Munchak, about whether Jake Locker is the guy at quarterback, about the offseason Band-Aids put on the NFL's worst scoring defense -- had swirled around the Titans. So what did they do? They walked into Pittsburgh and got a win. Well, after kick returner Darius Reynaud walked backwards into the end zone for the safety of the millennium. Hey, Tennessee recovered.

It might seem unfair to drop the Chargers two spots after such a close loss, but here we are. The club has to be moved down for blowing another game, carrying over an ugly habit from 2012. During the first half on Monday, Chargers fans were thinking, "This is awesome. Philip Rivers is playing great ... just hope it doesn't turn out anything like last year's Broncos game." Midway through the third quarter, those Chargers fans were thinking, "This is a good game, but man, it's starting to feel like that loss to Denver last year ... nah, we got this one." Then, after Brian Cushing's pick-six in the fourth quarter: "This is the freaking Broncos game." As for the members of the Chargers' coaching staff, what were they thinking in the second half?

"Who's Ryan Mathews again?"

There's a black cloud hovering over Heinz Field, and it sure isn't carrying a bunch of Terrible Towels. All the black shirts in the stands on Sunday afternoon drove home worried and stayed worried. One rough loss was followed by another with the news that center Maurkice Pouncey will be gone for the season after suffering a knee injury. The organization was excited that David DeCastro, the top draft pick who missed much of his rookie season in 2012, was back on the interior of the offensive line; now, though, that unit won't be at full strength in 2013, either. This franchise always fights back; let's see how Six-burgh responds.

Disappointing to see the strength of this football team -- the defense -- fail to hold the line late in St. Louis on Sunday. Fans have to be encouraged, however, by the play of quarterback Carson Palmer, who might not have been perfect but averaged 8 yards per attempt behind a shaky offensive line, finding Larry Fitzgerald for two scores. I still think Bruce Arians was the right hire for this football team.

OK, so it was another loss for the Bills. I get it; it sucks. Yet, no fan of the team from upstate New York can frown too hard. EJ Manuel looked solid overall despite some inconsistency in his play. The rookie quarterback lost his first start because the Bills' secondary couldn't stop Tom Brady at the very end -- joining a pantheon of NFL secondaries that could say the same over the past 12 years. Buffalo's defensive backfield was also missing two of its best players. At some point, this depleted unit should get Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd back. The world is not ending.

Thank you, Lavonte David. Perhaps lost in the MetLife madness on Sunday was this stat: Kellen Winslow caught seven balls for 79 yards and a touchdown. The Jets need to keep Winslow on the field and out of the trainer's room. Oh, and before we forget ... thank you, Lavonte David.

Ugh. There's no more painful number in pro football than the "0-1" sitting next to the Buccaneers in the standings right now. Enron didn't have numbers that painful.

 Josh Freeman did his job in moving the team into position for the go-ahead field goal 
 against the Jets, but otherwise, he was once again underwhelming, finishing 15-of-31 for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

Somebody in Cleveland got their hands on Cameron Wake -- that is to say, some fan caught him getting on the Dolphins' team bus, nabbing a handshake and an iPhoto. Other than that, Brandon Weeden had to wonder if anyone was blocking. When he did have time against Miami, he often held the ball too long; he also couldn't seem to find anyone not named Jordan Cameron. It's back to the drawing board for the Browns, who were expected by many to surprise the Dolphins at home.

You read that right; for the first time in a long time, the Raiders aren't residing at No. 32. Meanwhile, it was a mixed bag of nuts against the Indianapolis Colts out there for Terrelle Pryor. He ran all over the damn field (112 yards rushing) and made a nice read on fourth-and-9 to keep the Raiders' last-gasp drive alive. Then came the pick to lose the game. It happens. Pryor might still not completely know what he's doing out there, but he showed a heckuva lot more than Blaine Gabbert did in Jacksonville. And thus, you have Oakland up a spot after a loss.

This tweet came across the desk, and I felt it was worth regurgitating. It's nice to see a good player use social media the right way. Let's give Gus Bradley more than a week, everybody.

"I believe in this team and staff. We understand today isn't acceptable and we will improve and continue to work hard to get better."

-- Cecil  Shorts III, @CecilShortsIII

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter _@HarrisonNFL_.

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