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NFL power rankings: Ravens prove they're still a contender, while Saints and Steelers take a tumble

C.J. Doon, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

9. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0; No. 17)

10. San Francisco 49ers (2-0; No. 11)

11. Denver Broncos (2-0; No. 14)

12. Arizona Cardinals (2-0; No. 12)

13. New Orleans Saints (1-1; No. 5)

Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been a punch-line for years thanks to some big swings and misses in the draft, but there’s no doubting his ability to get his team ready to play. A 2-0 start against Baltimore and Pittsburgh is impressive, especially with quarterback Derek Carr looking like a potential MVP candidate. What’s more, the defense might be able to keep Las Vegas competitive in what’s shaping up to be a brutal AFC West. There’s just the question of whether the Raiders can keep it up after a disappointing finish in 2020.

 

That same question applies to the Cardinals, who escaped with a win over the Vikings thanks to a missed 37-yard field goal in the final seconds. Quarterback Kyler Murray has been electric through two games, but Arizona is putting a lot on his shoulders. The defense needs to be better for the Cardinals to jump into the second tier of contenders.

Perhaps the most intriguing team to emerge through two weeks is the Broncos, who are riding steady play from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a ferocious defense to a 2-0 start. We know coach Vic Fangio has the pieces to build a dominant defense, but if the offense continues to move the ball efficiently behind Bridgewater and some talented playmakers, Denver might be a tough out in the wild-card round.

For the Saints, a bad game from enigmatic quarterback Jameis Winston was bound to happen. More concerning is the absence of nine starters because of injuries/suspension and eight assistant coaches because of COVID-19, all while the team is displaced because of Hurricane Ida. This week’s game at New England should tell us if New Orleans can hang around this season or if Week 1′s blowout win over the Packers was just a fluke.

Wild cards

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