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2012 NFL Power Rankings: Arizona Cardinals Move Into Top 3

Texans, Falcons, Cardinals round out the very top of this week's rankings

Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

This is the third installment of the weekly NFL power rankings from members of the SB Nation Arizona staff. Check back in seven days from now to see where your team stands following their most recent showing.

1) Houston Texans (3-0) - Facing their first real test in the form of the Denver Broncos, Matt Schuab rose to the challenge, throwing for four touchdowns and 290 yards on 17-of-30 passing. If Houston can keep up with the vertical chops they showed in Week 3, then there's no doubt that this is the most complete team in the NFL. Previous Ranking: 3

2) Atlanta Falcons (3-0) -Sure, the Chargers obviously aren't anywhere near the NFL's elite. But when you consider that Atlanta traveled across the country on a short week and still won by 24, the victory seems all the more impressive. Previous Ranking: 2

3) Arizona Cardinals (3-0) - The Cardinals publicly humiliated an Eagles team that beat the Ravens. Oh, you say the Ravens beat the Patriots? That's so last week (and try doing it in Foxboro). Previous Ranking: 10

4) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) - The Ravens are a one-point loss away from joining the undefeated club. This offense is one of the NFL's finest. And the defense, well, you already know them. Previous Ranking: 5

5) San Francisco 49ers (2-1) - So the 49ers are human after all. The Vikings showed that if you're aggressive and get on them early, San Francisco can be defeated. Previous Ranking: 1

6) New York Giants (2-1) - If Ramses Barden can build on Thursday's breakout performance (nine catchers, 138 yards), I don't see how anyone is stopping this passing attack. Previous Ranking: 13

7) Green Bay Packers (1-2) - Oddly enough, this team could be even better after Monday night's controversial loss. The "us against the officials/the world" mentality can be a potent motivator. Previous Ranking: 4

8) New England Patriots (1-2) - Getting WR Brandon Lloyd involved finally was huge but they'll need a more consistent run game to hang with Aaron Hernandez out. Previous Ranking: 8

9) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) - Should probably be a bit lower after that spanking they received Sunday but this defense is still a top-5 unit in the league. Previous Ranking: 9

10) Chicago Bears (2-1) - A reeling Rams offense is the perfect pick-me-up following a dreadful divisional loss. Then again, the Bears offense didn't look much better. Previous Ranking: 15

11) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) - Sure, you might say that Seahawks didn't deserve that win but their defense (268 total yards allowed, eight sacks) begs to differ. Previous Ranking: 19

12) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) - The Cowboys quietly bounced back Sunday to win their home opener. Yes, it was sloppy, but sometimes the ability to persevere through sloppiness can be a good thing, right? Right..? Previous Ranking: 12

13) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) - The Bengals must have heard me call them the Buccaneers of 2012 because their offense has exploded since then. I should have known better to bet against A.J. Green. Previous Ranking: 18

14) San Diego Chargers (2-1) - The Chargers get their first real challenge and what do they do? Crash and burn. No wonder they can't sell out that stadium. Previous Ranking: 8

15) Denver Broncos (1-2) - Despite Peyton still being clearly out of sync with his wide receivers, the Broncos are two late third down stops from possibly being 3-0 against three 2011-2012 playoff teams. Previous Ranking: 7

16) New York Jets (2-1) - This could be the last time you see the Jets above .500 all season. Darrelle Revis' ACL injury will be the beginning of their demise unless Rex Ryan can pull a rabbit out of his hat. Previous Ranking: 16

17) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) - Pittsburgh's 34-31 loss to the Raiders was a very Steelers-esk thing to do. But with their early season blunder out of the way, expect this team to go streaking out of the bye. Previous Ranking: 14

18) Detroit Lions (1-2) - It's mildly concerning that the Lions couldn't win a shootout Sunday considering that's what they're built to do. Previous Ranking: 11

19) Minnesota Vikings (2-1) - Don't look now but Christian Ponder and company are tied for the NFC North lead. And with the defense playing better than expected, they could continue to turn some heads. Previous Ranking: 26

20) Buffalo Bills (2-1) - Buffalo has got it done against two mediocre teams the past two games. They could be more competitive than expected against New England this week if Fred Jackson is able to power through. Previous Ranking: 22

21) Washington Redskins (1-2) - Man, what happened to all that Week One magic? This defense has some glaring holes with their unfortunate number of early injuries and it's asking a lot of a rookie quarterback to put of 30+ points every week to remain in the game. But if anyone could do it, Robert Griffin the III seems like just the man for the job. Previous Ranking: 21

22) Carolina Panthers (1-2) - Hey, remember that time that every NFL Network analyst predicted that the Panthers were going to beat the Giants? True story. Previous Ranking: 17

23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) - The Buccaneers' defense will keep them in games but either Josh Freeman (10-28, 110 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT Sunday) or Doug Martin (19 carries, 53 yards) are going to need to step up. Previous Ranking: 20

24) Tennessee Titans (1-2) - Who are you are what did you do with Jake Locker? The second-year signal caller had 378 yards through the air Sunday while also leading his team in rushing with 35. Chris're fired. Previous Ranking: 29

25) Miami Dolphins (1-2) - No, not Reggie! Just when he was finally meeting his true potential, Bush went down with a knee injury Sunday. The Dolphins hung in their valiantly but Ryan Tannehill has to be praying his running back makes a speedy recovery. Previous Ranking: 27

26) Oakland Raiders (1-2) - The Raiders are officially the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the NFL after their win over the Steelers. Good to see Darren McFadden get on track but this defense isn't as opportunistic as it seemed Sunday. Previous Ranking: 32

27) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) - The Saints porous run defense was just the jump start that Jamaal Charles needed. Winning in the Superdome isn't easy no matter how bad the Saints are so give this team credit. Previous Ranking: 30

28) St. Louis Rams (1-2) - Only producing 160 yards of total offense isn't going to cut it. Playing the Bears defense is no excuse either. I mean come on, Andrew Luck put up 318 total yards himself against the same unit in his first career start. Previous Ranking: 24

29) New Orleans Saints (0-3) - It ain't easy being Brees-y. Especially when you're sitting at 0-3 and essentially already eliminated from the NFC wild card race. Previous Ranking: 23

30) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) - The Jags are one Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts 80-yard touchdown connection away from being the worst team in the NFL. But sometimes being lucky is better than being good. Previous Ranking: 31

31) Indianapolis Colts (1-2) - Andrew Luck had his best game as a pro Sunday (313 yards, two TDs, one INT). Why did that awful, awful man Blaine Gabbert go and have to spoil it with that aforementioned Hail Mary? Previous Ranking: 25

32) Cleveland Browns (0-3) - Barring a major upset, it's looking like this team is going to go at least 0-6. The Colts in Week 7 could cure the win drought in Cleveland though. Previous Ranking: 28