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NFL power rankings, Week 4: Cardinals, Chargers climbing fast

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The third week of the 2014 NFL season featured a few blowouts, a couple of barn burners, an upset or two sprinkled in for good measure and thankfully, some fun. SB Nation's weekly power rankings take stock of where things stand as we approach the quarter pole.

Week 3 for the 2014 NFL season is in the books and it was another wild one. The Seahawks leap back into the top spot and move in front of the team they beat this week, the Broncos, last week's No. 1 team. Peyton Manning led a ballsy game-tying touchdown drive (capped with a two-point conversion) in the final minute of regulation, but Russell Wilson had the last laugh, helping carry Seattle 80 yards downfield in overtime to defeat Denver. Both teams looked strong on defense throughout the game, and both offenses refused to fold. There are certainly other teams nipping at the heels of the two squads in these power rankings, but for now, they remain the top dogs.

Right behind them: A consistently suffocating Bengals defense held a struggling Titans group to seven points, and Cincy cruised to a blowout victory. Meantime, the Cardinals used a 17-0 second-half run to defeat the Niners at home, putting the NFC West on notice that they are no fluke. Both Cincinnati's and Arizona's identities are centered around their physical, tough, intimidating defenses, but both are proving they can get it done on offense as well -- Arizona even with its backup quarterback, Drew Stanton.

Philly moved to 3-0 after winning a wild one over Washington, leaning on Chip Kelly's brilliant offense to carry the day. The Eagles are now second in the NFL in scoring with 33.7 points per game, second in passing yards with over 310 per game, and it doesn't even feel like they've hit their stride.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers showed their win over Seattle last week wasn't an anomaly. Rivers is playing at quite possibly the highest level of his entire career, and this San Diego defense is no joke. The Chargers can rush the passer, and that's caused havoc for opposing quarterbacks the past two weeks.

The AFC North remains a division to reckon with. The Ravens and Steelers both got big road wins, and it's possible no team was as impressive as Pittsburgh this week, who went down to Carolina and dominated one of the best defenses in the NFL. I have the feeling Carolina will bounce back since its defense is too strong, but the Steelers made sure to let the league know that their offensive performance in Week 2 against the Ravens was a fluke.

As a refresher, these power rankings are an attempt to assign a numerical order for which teams are the "best" in the NFL. What could go wrong? Weight goes both to the current level of play and the legitimate outlook for the rest of the season, and talent, depth and major injury situations are factors.

The hope is that these aren't just simply regurgitated standings -- though obviously each team's record comes into play -- but a gauge for the overall quality for each team. With that in mind, let's look at some implications from Week 3.

Here are this week's rankings, with more thoughts after the table.

RANK TEAM BLOG
1 Seattle Seahawks, 2-1 (Last Week: 2) Field Gulls
2 Denver Broncos, 2-1 (Last Week: 1) Mile High Report
3 Cincinnati Bengals, 3-0 (Last Week: 3) Cincy Jungle
4 Arizona Cardinals, 3-0 (Last Week: 8) Revenge of the Birds
5 Philadelphia Eagles, 3-0 (Last Week: 6) Bleeding Green Nation
6 San Diego Chargers. 2-1 (Last Week: 10) Bolts from the Blue
7 Baltimore Ravens, 2-1 (Last Week: 12) Baltimore Beatdown
8 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2-1 (Last Week: 18) Behind the Steel Curtain
9 Carolina Panthers, 2-1 (Last Week: 4) Cat Scratch Reader
10 New England Patriots, 2-1 (Last Week: 9) Pats Pulpit
11 Chicago Bears, 2-1 (Last Week: 11) Windy City Gridiron
12 Detroit Lions, 2-1 (Last Week: 19) Pride of Detroit
13 Atlanta Falcons, 2-1 (Last Week: 15) The Falcoholic
14 San Francisco 49ers, 1-2 (Last Week: 5) Niners Nation
15 New Orleans Saints, 1-2 (Last Week: 16) Canal Street Chronicles
16 Green Bay Packers, 1-2 (Last Week: 7) Acme Packing Company
17 Buffalo Bills, 2-1 (Last Week: 13) Buffalo Rumblings
18 Indianapolis Colts, 1-2 (Last Week: 17) Stampede Blue
19 Houston Texans, 2-1 (Last Week: 14) Battle Red Blog
20 Kansas City Chiefs, 1-2 (Last Week: 24) Arrowhead Pride
21 Dallas Cowboys, 2-1 (Last Week: 25) Blogging the Boys
22 Cleveland Browns, 1-2 (Last Week: 23) Dawgs by Nature
23 New York Jets, 1-2 (Last Week: 21) Gang Green Nation
24 Miami Dolphins, 1-2 (Last Week: 22) The Phinsider
25 Washington, 1-2 (Last Week: 27) Hogs Haven
26 Minnesota Vikings, 1-2 (Last Week: 20) Daily Norseman
27 New York Giants, 1-2 (Last Week: 29) Big Blue View
28 Tennessee Titans, 1-2 (Last Week: 26) Music City Miracles
29 St. Louis Rams, 1-2 (Last Week: 28) Turf Show Times
30 Oakland Raiders, 0-3 (Last Week: 32) Silver and Black Pride
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0-3 (Last Week: 30) Bucs Nation
32 Jacksonville Jaguars, 0-3 (Last Week: 31) Big Cat Country

The Bears put on another solid offensive showing against a strong defensive front, beating Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. The Lions impressed as well by beating their division opponent, the Packers. Don't look now, but this Detroit defense might be a lot better than it's getting credit for. The Falcons absolutely destroyed a hapless Buccaneers team on Thursday Night Football and nobody is playing more explosively on offense right now than Matt Ryan and that Atlanta group. The Saints got themselves into the win column against the Vikings, who continue to struggle, and the Cowboys launched a gutsy comeback to beat the Rams on the road.

The Niners lost their second in a row, and some issues in the pass defense have emerged. In the meantime, the Packers continue to struggle on offense -- supposed to be their greatest strength -- and fell to 1-2.

In the AFC, the Bills lost for the first time this year, as did the Texans, but the Colts got into the win column by blowing out the Jags. The Chiefs exorcised a few demons by beating the Dolphins.

Washington and St. Louis are learning a lot about their backup quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins and Austin Davis have been making strong cases for themselves in relief of injured starters, breathing new life into their respective teams. Both lost this week, but the future look promising enough for both to make things interesting.

Speaking of promising futures, big changes are on the horizon for a few teams going forward. Last-ranked Jacksonville and Gus Bradley have reversed course and named Blake Bortles their starter for Week 4, and a struggling Minnesota team will lean on rookie Teddy Bridgewater after Matt Cassel broke his foot.

Exciting stuff on tap for this week.