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Bucs stay comfortably atop the national power rankings

Headed into a huge Week 3 matchup, can the Buccaneers stay as the top dog?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an easy way to keep your spot as No. 1 on any power rankings list: Pummel a divisional rival and look good doing it.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were far from flawless in their Week 2 tilt against the Atlanta Falcons, their 48-25 victory assured that would be ranked No. 1 by ESPN, NFL.com, CBS Sports, USA Today, and Yahoo. The consensus across SB Nation is the same.

Their next opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, snagged Top 5 spots, but it’s tough to move the needle too much when the Bucs won by more than 20 while the Rams needed a Carson Wentz injury to stamp down a late Colts rally for a 27-24 win.

The Bucs and Rams, who are both undefeated, might give us a playoff preview. The teams have split their last two meetings, and they’ve both been a little of the rails. In 2019, the Buccaneers won a 55-40 shootout, while the Rams edged by last year to the tune of 27-24. This might be Tampa’s greatest challenge to its No. 1 spot this season.

Meanwhile, around the NFC South, the Carolina Panthers threw a wrench into the Jameis Winston’s MVP tour with a convincing 26-7 defeat of the New Orleans Saints. The win bumped the Panthers up in the rankings as they sit undefeated going into a Thursday Night Football date with the Houston Texans. A strong defense and a rejuvenated Sam Darnold might have the Bucs keeping a close eye on the Matt Rhule-led squad throughout the year.

The Saints, meanwhile, dropped in the rankings from the previous week. We’ll learn a lot more about them when they take on another difficult opponent in the New England Patriots on the road. The Pats come in at 19th this week.

Finally, the Falcons dropped throughout the power rankings after their frustrating defeat, which saw them come back within 3 points after trailing by 18 — only to lose by 23 following two pick sixes from Mike Edwards. Atlanta has offensive talent, and Matt Ryan clearly has some bite left in him, but serious issues in the trenches and in the secondary will likely continue to nag them in what will likely be a lost season.