NFL Week 3 Power Rankings: Dolphins closing in on Bills, Packers back in Top 5
After three weeks of the regular season there are just two teams that are going into next week with a perfect 3-0 record. Parity has prevailed and there are some surprising teams that the top of our Week 3 Power Rankings.
1) Buffalo Bills 2-1, last week 1
For as good as the Bills were starting the season, I don’t think anyone thought Josh Allen and Buffalo were going to go undefeated. For the first time this year, we saw the Bills looking like they had some loose ends to tie up. The offensive line had trouble with Melvin Ingram and the Dolphins pass rushers, leading to a turnover deep in BUF territory early in the game. When you see Allen make a couple of uncharacteristic errors at the end of each half that kept points off the board, you know even the Bills are capable of having an off day.
2) Miami Dolphins 3-0, last week 6
Who would have thought the the Dolphins would be 3-0 after playing two playoff teams from last year and Lamar Jackson in the opening weeks of the season? Can one player really make all the difference like Tyreek Hill is doing in South Beach? While he does deserve a heap of the credit for the Fins offensive resurgence, holding the Bills to just 19 points tells you all you need to know about how sound Miami is on both sides of the ball. It’s early, but the Dolphins look like the best team in the league, although their second spot on this ranking would suggest otherwise.
3) Los Angeles Rams 2-1, last week 4
After giving up almost 60 points though the first two games of the season, the Rams’ defense finally gave a performance worthy of a team bidding for back to back Super Bowls. They held a struggling Cardinals team to just 12 points, which came in handy because the offense only posted 20 points. Stafford and the Rams offense still looks incomplete. They are missing a second play maker to ease some of the load off of Cooper Kupp’s shoulders. The good news is the reigning champs are 2-1 despite their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball.
4) Green Bay Packers 2-1, last week 7
We were all set for a shootout between two of the best gun slingers of this generation on Sunday afternoon as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady went toe-to-toe for maybe the last time ever. Rodgers and the Packers looked like they were on the way to a blow out win until Aaron Jones fumbled at the goal line in the second quarter. Green Bay’s offense looked unstoppable before the turnover, but then flatlined for the remainder of the game. Luckily for the Packers, their defense was able to keep Tom Brady and the Bucs out of the end zone until there was just 14 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The defense had one last bit of business to sort after giving up the late TD, needing a stop on the two point conversion and it was De’Vondre Campbell who made the game saving deflection on the Brady pass.
5) Kansas City Chiefs 2-1, last week 3
The Chiefs offense didn’t show up as expected in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, but it was the special teams that really put Andy Reid’s side behind the eight ball at Lucas Oil Stadium. An early KC muffed punt gave a Colts team that has difficulty scoring touchdowns the advantage almost from the get go. A failed fake field goal kept, and a missed field goal in the fourth quarter allowed the Colts to win it in the final minute with a Jelani Woods 12 yard TD catch with 24 seconds to go.
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1, last week 2
Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers proved two things. The Bucs defense can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. The second proof to come out of their Week 3 loss is that the offense is nowhere near where they need to be. Until the O line can figure out how to protect Tom Brady, don’t expect the fireworks we are used to seeing from Brady’s Bucs. There’s no need to go throwing tablets just yet in Tampa, they lost their first game to a very capable Packers squad on Sunday. There are some concerns on the offensive end, but if anyone is capable of turning things around, it’s the seven-time Super Bowl champ.
7) Baltimore Ravens 2-1, last week 8
Two things are certain in Baltimore. First, Lamar Jackson is still one of the best quarterbacks, and biggest difference makers in the league. Second, the Ravens secondary needs a whole lot of help. If they don’t get better, Jackson will be left having to win games all on his own, which he is capable of doing but it’s a lot to ask week in and week out, even for the Ravens’ superstar.
8) Philadelphia Eagles, 3-0, last week 10
They love an underdog in Philly, but if the Eagles keep playing the way they have to start the season, then Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia will kick that label sooner than even head coach Nick Sirianni would have imagined. Hurts is averaging over 300 yards a game and has four TDs to just one interception. The Eagles D gave up 35 points to the Lions in the opener, but in the last two games have allowed just 15 points combined. Are we sold on Philly just yet? Perhaps not as much as we are with the Dolphins, but there are some winnable games coming up for Sirriani’s crew over the next few weeks. Get back to me in mid October.
9) Denver Broncos 2-1, last week 12
The Russell Wilson era has not started out the way most people in the Mile High City have imagined. The new look offense has been frustratingly stagnant in the first three weeks of the season and you could even hear some boo birds ring out in Denver on Sunday night’s game against he Niners. They are averaging just over 12 points a game, but the Broncs are 2-1, and if not for two goal line fumbles against the Seahawks in Week 1, we would be talking about the Broncos being one of the few undefeated teams in the league.
10) Cincinnati Bengals 1-2, last week 11
The defending AFC Champs finally got their first win of the season, and Joe Cool’s call for calm came to fruition on Sunday. Burrow looked like the quarterback that we grew accustomed to seeing last season passing for 275 yards and 3 TDs while the defense forced four turnovers. There is a lot of football left, and the Bengals shouldn’t be too shaken up from an 0-2 start, nor should they be too ecstatic about beating the Jets.
11) Los Angeles Chargers 1-2, last week 5
Justin Herbert came into Week 3 nursing a fractured rib cartilage he suffered in last week’s game agains the Chiefs. The Chargers QB1 was shot up with pain killers before the game and may have had an excuse for an off day, but it looked as though the entire team was suffering like Herbert on Sunday. On a day where Herbert was hurting and needed the running game to step up, LA totaled just 26 yards on the ground.
12) Dallas Cowboys 2-1 , last week 19
It seemed like Dallas was headed towards disaster when Dak Prescott went down in the late stages of the season opener agains the Bucs, but Cooper Rush has revitalized this Cowboys offense. Mike McCarthy’s team isn’t just surviving without their QB1, they are thriving. The defense knows they carry the brunt of the responsibility but Micah Parson’s and company have been up to the task in the last two games. They have given up a total of 30 points had sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times in the last two games.
13) San Francisco 49ers 1-2, last week 9
The Jimmy G hype was short lived in San Fran after the Niners were defeated in a stinker of a Sunday night game from Denver. When Trey Lance broke his ankle, the feeling of devastation for the youngster was meet with hope for Niners Nation as San Fran’s QB2 has proven he can win games in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. Again it was the defense that kept San Fran in the game, but 10 points isn’t going to cut it. Especially when your quarterback gifts the other team two points by running out of bounds for a safety.
14) Minnesota Vikings 2-1, last week 13
It’s hard to tell which Vikings team you’re going to get on a week-to-week basis, or even on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Kirk Cousins bounced back from throwing three picks against the Eagles by tossing two TDs a totaling 260 yards against the Lions. Dalvin Cook and the Vikes run game went for over 120 yards, but Cook did go down with a shoulder injury which will be something to watch for in the weeks to come.
15) Cleveland Browns 2-1, last week 17
Thursday Night’s AFC North showdown had big implications on the Browns season, not in terms of playoff standings or divisional rivalries. If the Browns lost at home after blowing a 13 point lead in the last two minutes against the Jets two Sunday’s ago Cleveland start to the season could have taken an ugly turn south in a hurry.
16) New York Giants 2-1, last week 15
It was the dream start for the New York Giants who began their season beating two of the top teams in the AFC last year. In a snap of the fingers all of the hope and excitement around this team got thrown into the flames with a loss to division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Losing is always brings unwated pressure, but losing in New York is can make those two wins seem like ages ago. How the Giants respond next week will tell us a lot about this team.
17) Jacksonville Jaguars 2-1, last week 24
Are the Jacksonville Jaguars for real? The last two weeks would certainly suggest that Doug Pederson has Jacksonville not just moving in the right direction, but it would appear they are closer to their destination than anyone might have thought. After blowing out the Colts last week, Trevor Lawrence and the Jags put up 38 points against a wounded Justin Herbert and a the Chargers. Lawrence had 3 TDs and James Robinson added 100 rushing yards and a TD as the AFC South leaders sent a warning shot to the rest of the AFC.
18) Chicago Bears 2-1, last week 22
If the Bears are going to win games this season, it looks like it’s going to have to be handcrafted by the defense. Justin Fields isn’t posting numbers fit for a starting QB in the NFL. It’s not all his fault, the O line doesn’t give him the protection he needs, but he threw for just 106 yards and two interceptions. Khalil Herbert needed a monster game on the ground, and the Bears defense had to come up with a late interception in the fourth quarter to keep the Texans from winning their first game of the season.
19) Indianapolis Colts, 1-1-1, last week 30
One of the more shocking scores from Sunday was the Colts comeback win on the Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps more shocking was the way that Indy started the seasons, tying the Texans in Week 1, and getting crushed by the Jags last year. Which Indianapolis team is the real Colts side we will see the rest of the year? One game isn’t going to erase the doubts created after the first two weeks of the season, but a win agains the Chiefs is always a welcomed sight for a struggling team.
20) Tennessee Titans 1-2, last week 28
Last year’s one seed in the AFC desperately needed a win against another winless team in the Las Vegas Raiders. Derrick Henry has yet to really take off on the ground this year, but added 58 receiving yards to his 85 rushing yards. The Titans went up 24-10 at half, but a team that is so used to having such a strong running game can usually close out a team in the second half by just feeding Henry. The Raiders crept back into the game and Tennessee was lucky not to have a replay of their Week 1 loss to the Giants.
21) Las Vegas Raiders 0-3, last week 16
It was a battle of early desperation between the Raiders and the Titans from Tennessee as both teams came into the game winless in their first two tries. Las Vegas crumbled in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Cardinals, and this week dug themselves into a hole from the opening quarter. Derek Carr had 303 yards and two touchdowns, but Vegas has a real problem putting a complete 60 minutes of football together. Plus they are in a division in which they can not afford to spot anyone games this early in the season. The may be 0-3 but I find it so hard to believe this team won’t bounce back, they are too talented.
22) New England Patriots 1-2, last week 14
Stopping the Baltimore Ravens offense is not an easy task. So far no one has been able to do it this season, all you can hope for is to keep pace with them until the fourth quarter. New England was unable to do that even with Mac Jones in the game, but the former Alabama man was injured on the Pats last offensive play of the game and there are trembles around Foxborough that the injury could be serious.
23) New Orleans Saints 1-2, last week 20
The Saints are developing a terrible habit of having to try to claw their way back into games following slow starts to their early season games. They were able to do so in Week 1 against the Falcons, but the Bucs made sure to sentence the Saints before they could look to make a late comeback. Jameis Winston and New Orleans failed to scored in the opening three quarters against the Panthers, and the Panthers held off a late game surge from the Saints in the final quarter for their first win of the season.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2, last week 21
It wasn’t going to be a breeze for Pittsburgh in their first year without Ben Roethlisberter. The defense is going to have to hold up more than their end of the bargain this year, and without T.J. Watt that task becomes nearly impossible. Mitch Trubisky will automatically be the one to come under fire with rookie Kenny Pickett on the bench. His stats haven’t been great over the first three games, and at the moment he might just be playing place holder until Pittsburgh feels Pickett is ready to take over. Maybe Watt will make his return at the same time Pickett is ready to debut. That would certainly create some buzz in Pittsburgh, but until then there is not too much to be excited about.
25) Arizona Cardinals 1-2, last week 18
The Cardinals have one win after three weeks, but when you look at their season up until now, they have only played one quarter of good football. It came in the fourth quarter against the Raiders on the second Sunday of the season. Without that miraculous comeback last week, the Cardinals are a winless team with a real problem scoring touchdowns when in striking distance.
26) Detroit Lions 1-2 last week 26
The Lions are a team to keep an eye on this season. They may not be in the contender conversation just yet, but they seem to always get themselves into high scoring, high drama games late in the fourth. While the stress may bring about some premature gray hairs for Detroit fans, you can’t deny that it’s been fun to watch them. Unfortunately for the Lions the final 8 minutes weren’t as enjoyable as the first 52 minutes, when Dan Campbell’s men gave up two touchdowns to drop to 1-2 on the season.
27) Carolina Panthers 1-2, last week 29
For the first time this year, the Panthers didn’t start off a game by shooting themselves in the foot with early turnovers. In fact, it was Carolina who got a defensive score to take a 7-0 first quarter lead. The defense forced three turnovers and Mayfield connected with Laviska Shenault on a 67 yard bomb to seal the win for the Panthers in the fourth quarter. Mayfield still doesn’t look comfortable in Carolina, but you can always bet on him connecting on a bomb that goes the distance. The first win of the season should take some pressure the Panthers shoulders.
28) Washington Commanders 1-2, last week 25
Scoring points was not a concern of the Washington Commanders in the first two games of the season, but it took them 58 minutes to find the end zone against the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington didn’t even enter Philadelphia’s half of the field until there was a minute remaining in the third quarter, by that time the Eagles were up 24-0 and stopped the Commanders at the one yard line to keep Washington scoreless until deep into the fourth quarter.
29) New York Jets 1-2, last week 27
The miraculous fourth quarter comeback over the Browns last week might have momentarily masked the harsh reality for the New York Jets. Joe Burrow and the Bengals were quick to remind them that they are still the defending conference champions, and the Jets are still the Jets.
30) Atlanta Falcons 1-2, last week 32
I’m not sure if we should count a 1-2 team as one of the surprises of the season, but I, like a lot of people, wrote the Falcons off way too soon after seeing their franchise quarterback leave town and management fail to find his replacement. Marcus Mariotta and Cordarrelle Patterson are making this Falcons team competitive and on Sunday they got a well deserved first win of the season against a Seahawks team that is looking more likely to finish lower than the Falcons on the Power Rankings as the season goes on.
31) Seattle Seahawks 1-2, last week 23
The excitement was short lived in Seattle after a Week 1 win over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. Seattle is another one of those teams (like the Falcons who beat them on Sunday) that hasn’t done a proper job replacing their franchise QB that shipped out this offseason, and it shows. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too critical toward Geno Smith, because Wilson’s former back up is having a nice start to his season. He had 325 yards and two touchdowns but Seattle has only scored 10 second half points this season.
32) Houston Texans 0-2-1, last week 31
Davis Mills and the Texas are a young team, and young teams make a whole lot of mistakes as we saw in the late stages of Sunday’s game against the Bears. You can understand Lovie Smith was looking to do late in the game with the score tied at 20-20 giving his second year QB a chance to take matters into his own hands and come out with a late winner. Unfortunately a Mills pick deep in Houston territory led to a game winning Bears field goal.