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Mason's Power Rankings: Pats up, Raiders rising

Did you know that an anagram of "Power Rankings" is "Rare Pigs Known"?

*The rankings incorporate offensive, defensive and special-teams metrics, with a focus on yardage per play, adjusted per-possession efficiency (including points per possession) and the rate at which teams gain and prevent first downs. Strength of schedule and error rates (penalties and giveaways) are also factored into the calculation. *

Possession data is adjusted to eliminate kneeldowns or other obvious scenarios where the offense is not attempting to advance the football.

1. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Last week: 1

Despite the poor quality of their opposition to date -- the Saints, Bears and 49ers are a combined 1-8 -- the Cardinals are throttling their opposition so thoroughly that they continue to maintain their spot atop the rankings. Arizona is the only team to rank in the top five in adjusted possession efficiency on offense (No. 3), defense (No. 4), yardage per play on offense (No. 2) and defense (no. 5) and first-down rate (No. 2 on offense, No. 1 on defense).

2. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
Last week: 4

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3. New England Patriots (3-0)
Last week: 7

The defense remains inefficient (30th in adjusted possession efficiency), but the Patriots have the second-highest point differential in the league and are first in adjusted possession efficiency on offense.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Last week: 6

The Steelers' defense has been average in the efficiency rankings, and will have to improve to keep them near the top while Michael Vick takes over the offense.

5. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Last week: 11

With an offense that has found some firepower the last two weeks, the Bills are third in the league in point differential and second in giveaway/takeaway margin.

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6. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Last week: 5

A combined 1-8 record for their opponents brings down their ranking a bit, as does an offense that continues to lag (26th in adjusted possession efficiency, 32nd in yardage per play, 30th in first-down rate). It will take more games like last Sunday's -- or better -- to move the Broncos up the offensive rankings, and, by extension, up the ladder in the power rankings.

7. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Last week: 2

A prolific, but inefficient performance led to their drop. The Chiefs' second-half burst impacted the Packers' defensive standing, and the Packers now rank 27th in adjusted defensive possession efficiency. As with the Broncos, the wild disparity between efficiency rankings on offense and defense leads to a lower-than-expected ranking.

8. Carolina Panthers (3-0)
Last week: 8

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  1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)* * Last week: 10**

10. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Last week: 3

11. New York Jets (2-1)
Last week: 13

12. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Last week: 17

The Seahawks are among the least mistake-prone teams (fifth in error rate) and their defense has now worked its way into the top 10 in adjusted possession efficiency and first-down rate.

13. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Last week: 15

14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Last week: 20

An outstanding defense (5th in adjusted possession efficiency, sixth in yardage per play allowed and fourth in first-down rate) is starting to compensate for an offense that ranks last in adjusted possession efficiency and 31st in yardage per play.

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15. Oakland Raiders (2-1)
Last week: 25

Oakland's 10-spot jump was fueled by a road win and an emerging offense that is fifth in yards per play and eighth in adjusted possession efficiency. Jack Del Rio's team averages 37 yards per possession, sixth-best in the league.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Last week: 9

17. New York Giants (1-2)
Last week: 28

A surprisingly efficient game at Washington's expense got the Giants out of the basement, and with the Cowboys lacking Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Giants are in the thick of the NFC East fight. But their defense ranks 32nd on a adjusted per-possession basis, allowing 44 net yards per series, and must improve.

18. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Last week: 21

19. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Last week: 24

Penalties and giveaways continue to hold back the Colts, who have the worst error rate in the league. But their offense is moving the football at a steady clip (10th in first-down rate). Perhaps they should run the football more often; they are sixth in yards per carry and third in first-down rate when keeping it on the ground, but rank 19th in rushing yardage.

20. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Last week: 18

21. Houston Texans (1-2)
Last week: 27

22. Washington Redskins (1-2)
Last week: 19

Being 31st in giveaway/takeaway margin doesn't help matters, and Washington has not made the most of a soft early schedule (opponents' combined record: 3-6).

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  1. Baltimore Ravens (0-3)* * Last week: 23**

24. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
* ast week: 12*

25. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Last week: 16

The ranking doesn't begin to describe the chaos that is Miami after three weeks.

26. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Last week: 29

27. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
Last week: 14

The biggest tumblers in this week's rankings (down 13 spots) the 49ers were never in the game at Arizona and now rank in the league's bottom four in yardage per play on offense and defense.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Last week: 32

Why did they rise? Because they mounted six potential scoring drives but only came up with nine points because Kyle Brindza missed three field-goal attempts, including misfires from 33 and 41 yards. Brindza also misfired on an extra point, to boot.* *

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Last week: 22

30. Detroit Lions (0-3)
Last week: 26

31. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Last week: 31

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32. Chicago Bears (0-3)
Last week: 30

They're 30th in adjusted offensive possession efficiency, 25th in adjusted defensive possession efficiency, 29th in error rate, 31st in offensive first-down rate, 30th in defensive first-down rate and 32nd in net points.

Even the weight of a rigorous schedule (their opponents are a combined 7-2) doesn't help John Fox's crew escape the cellar.

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