ESPN NFL Power Rankings – Week 3

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Sep 14, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Jeremy Ross (12) runs after making a catch during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina defeated Detroit 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

23. Minnesota Vikings 

Tough “home” opener for the Vikes against the Patriots. Defenders have a better shot of putting their hands on a receiver without a flag being thrown than Matt Cassel does of evading pressure right now. 

22. Cleveland Browns

Beautiful comeback for the Brownies. This team, which needed a win oh so badly, did not let up for a second straight week. Unlike in the narrow Week 1 loss to the Steelers, though, Cleveland was not forced to mount a huge rally against the Saints, partially due to a defensive effort that did not simply hand Drew Brees opportunities. Also worth mentioning: the Browns‘ commitment to the run, which showed through in the form of 30 carries from Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell.

21. Dallas Cowboys

So much for the cursed road blues theory. Maybe that was something reserved for the years of Don Meredith, Craig Morton, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Steve Pelluer, Troy Aikman … actually, that pretty much covers it.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers 

Do you realize the Steelers have been outscored 50-9 since halftime of Week 1? Let’s put the controversy over the big hits aside. That didn’t lose the game for the Steelers in Baltimore. Pittsburgh was consistently defeated up front while the safeties and linebackers were dominated in coverage.

19. Detroit Lions 

Looks like we’re dealing with the same old Detroit Lions … well, at least after two weeks. Jim Caldwell‘s club purred in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, ultimately posting a turnover differential of minus-three. Whether you’re the Lions of 2014 or 1935 — the championship-winning group that allowed a scant nine points per game — you can’t win that way. Matthew Stafforddropped back 52 times and failed to reach 300 passing yards.