Just as things truly began to take shape, the whole league is turned on it’s head once again. If you’ve been following along so far, you’ll know I’m not prone to overreaction, but perhaps it’s time for a shakeup throughout the middle of these rankings. With enough evidence finally on file to get an idea of how these teams really match up, and who’s genuinely vying for a spot in the big show, let’s get into our Week Three NFL Power Rankings.
(1) Los Angeles Rams 1
There you have it. Los Angeles is finally a contender again, and they’re much more than that. Arguably the most complete and deep roster in the NFL, the Rams are ready to win a Super Bowl. It’s a long season, with plenty of time for movement here, but this team has earned a spot atop this list more than anyone.
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1
Paper, meet scissors. For the first two weeks of this year, as well as the end of last season, Tampa Bay looked unbeatable. With a killer offense and splashy turnover-forcing defense, their weaknesses are few and far between, but when they lose the option of running the football there’s room to force errors.
(3) Buffalo Bills 1
Buffalo are trending in the right direction, and Josh Allen has shown he can play at the calibre he did in 2020. The offensive line gelled, allowing no sacks against a ferocious Washington pass rush, and Allen’s five total TDs included two to veteran FA addition Emmanuel Sanders. Aside from one incredible run and one special teams gaffe, the Bills played a perfect game.
(4) Green Bay Packers 2
Aaron Rodgers. What more is there to say? San Francisco played a great game, and their defense is still arguably one of the best in the league, but any time on the clock at all is time enough for the reigning MVP to make a comeback. DaVante Adams may be ‘built different’, but he’s not inhuman; Green Bay should probably double check for a concussion.
(5) Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett is one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL bar none, and Cleveland can beat anyone when they get that kind of pressure. Consistency will be the key going forward for one of the best teams in the AFC.
(6-3) Kansas City Chiefs 3
I’m aware this is a big drop, but allow me to justify it. Mahomes didn’t have as bad a game as you might think, but his offense allowed four turnovers to put the Chiefs dead last in the AFC West through three weeks. This KC defense fell apart at every opportunity, with the pass rush entirely absent and secondary full of holes. Every team around them looked far better, in all phases of the game.
(7) Arizona Cardinals
This game taught us nothing new. Jacksonville is incapable of being competitive, and Arizona has a great defensive line with a quality offense. Punch, counter-punch, and the rest is history. Murray and friends remain a solid team with plenty of growing still to do.
(8) Dallas Cowboys 2
A good game for one team doesn’t mean a good game for prime time, as Dallas dominated the outmatched Eagles. It was over by the half, and we only really kept watching because of the Manning cast, but Dak looked as good as ever. Dallas are the undisputed best team in the NFC East, but are they strong enough for the rest of the NFC playoffs? Great game by the other Diggs.
(9) Baltimore Ravens
Tucker may be the greatest kicker of all time. The offense didn’t make it work all game, and Lamar was ineffective, but one play was all it took to get them into emergency record-breaking field goal range. It’s amazing to think that if not for Tucker’s legendary leg, the Ravens are 1-2 and sitting in last in the division.
(10) Los Angeles Chargers 1
Was this game the upset of the week? The Chargers put on a show as Justin Herbert out-duelled Patrick Mahomes in what should have been a game pushed to prime time. Joey Bosa is a nightmare but Derwin James separating his shoulder in the second quarter and returning to play was a prime example of the grit this team holds. This team has what it takes to compete, but we still need a little more consistency. Big things are coming if they can just keep trending upwards.
(11) San Francisco 49ers 3
Look. Jimmy G is good enough, and maybe the Trey Lance ‘one play in ten’ thing works, but unless they can rely on a passer to bring them back into games from behind and trust their roster top bury bad teams and eliminate the thing good teams do best, they’re going to remain on the fringe of the NFC contenders. That being said, this was a hard loss against a great offense, but based on their three-game trend they aren’t as good as their division suggests they should be.
(12) Tennessee Titans 1
By putting pressure on an injured Wentz with consistency, the defense didn’t have to do much to put this one away. Mistakes from the offense made things far closer than they should have been, but Tennessee won’t stay down for long.
(13) New Orleans Saints 5
Jameis Winston remains the man we saw in Tampa, for good or for ill, with high highs and low lows. Perfect in week one, terrible in week two, and now back to stardom again against a tough Patriots’ secondary, perhaps the upcoming return of Michael Thomas (post-week six) can provide him with an outlet for his do-or-die playstyle.
(14) Las Vegas Raiders 7
Big jump, but I’m finally buying in to them, seeing as they beat good to decent teams in a variety of ways. In what wasn’t supposed to be as good a game as it was, Vegas brought us yet another thrilling OT victory. Carr wasn’t as good as he’s been recently, but he did enough to win when it mattered, and moved the Raiders to 3-0 and a joint lead in their division. Side note: the defense works as a system without any real stars, which bodes well for the long term success of this franchise.
(15) Seattle Seahawks 1
Seattle proves that not only do they crumble in the second half of the season, they crumble in the second half of games too. Their passing game stalled out, and even though Minnesota didn’t do much to counter these Seahawk deep threats, they didn’t have to. It’s quite definitive now; Seattle deserves to be last in this division.
(16) Pittsburgh Steelers 4
It’s now a complete mystery as to how this team beat Buffalo but, only two weeks removed from that ‘Statement Win’, they look flushed; According to the standings, they’re the worst team in the AFC North. They’re not as bad as that, but if Roethlisberger can’t get the ball into the hands of his playmakers with space to move, they’re going to be in for a long season (and a short winter).
(17) Carolina Panthers 3
This team has potential but they can’t compete from the blue tent, losing Christian McCaffrey, Jaycee Horn, and more on Thursday Night Football. Sam Darnold was quietly efficient once again, but was losing his favourite TE on Monday morning worth getting C.J. Henderson to bolster the secondary? It could pay dividends for the team when Horn returns, but there’s a chance that doesn’t happen until 2022.
(18) Minnesota Vikings 4
Beating Seattle like they did was a big upset, but is it sustainable? Minnesota’s defense is far from impressive but, with an offense that can score at will when healthy, they need to know if they can rely on shootout wins to make the playoffs. Based on history alone, they can’t.
(19) Indianapolis Colts 4
Turns out, Carson Wentz without mobility is just a below-average 1990’s QB. Poor protection, combined with decent coverage by the opposing secondary, meant that unless he was releasing the ball in under two seconds, he was taking hits. Perhaps it’s best to let him actually rehab before returning, and just deal with a backup until they can guarantee a fully-capable QB under-centre.
(20) Denver Broncos 3
It’s hard to get a shutout in the NFL, but with this defense against the Jets’ offense featuring a struggling and helpless rookie QB, it’s harder not to. As a whole, this was a good game by the somehow-tied-leaders of the AFC West, but their opponents are a combined 0-9. Don’t put too much stock in that 3-0 record just yet.
(21) New England Patriots 5
Mac Jones remains hard to study due to limited responsibility, despite another 51 pass attempts on Sunday, but what we did see was unimpressive. That does, however, make him the best of his class so far, which is disappointing from a set of rookie QBs we thought we’d be seeing more from. The Patriots have given him the tools he needs, so when do they take the brakes off?
(22) Cincinnati Bengals 2
Rarely does a defense allow 38 completions for 318 yards and it go down as a positive, but that’s exactly what this was. The secondary made the most of what Pittsburgh threw at them, and Burrow clearly took a long, hard look at himself after last week’s absolute meltdown. We saw maturity and growth on a single-game basis as he was efficient in limited attempts, now let’s hope he can put it together from week to week.
(23) Washington Football Team 6
Well, this secondary is clearly in need of work, and the offense remains a QB short of being great, but Fitzpatrick isn’t that QB either. Shy of a fortunate bounce on a kickoff and a single unguardable snap from Antonio Gibson, this team had no positives to speak of. How many games can Heinicke win before Washington’s actual starting quarterback returns to try and elevate the team once more?
(24) Miami Dolphins 5
Jacoby Brissett was better than expected, but looked afraid to unleash the ball downfield. Ultimately they fell short, but do we really believe that Tua Tagovailoa would have played a stronger, more ambitious four quarters? Perhaps not, but at least with Tua there’s still potential for growth.
(25) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are their own worst enemy, showing off in a prime time game rife with ample drops, penalties, miscommunications, and misses. Though he flashed again from time to time, on Monday Night Football it hurt to watch Hurts.
(26) Chicago Bears
We could laugh and joke that maybe starting Dalton was the right answer after all, but that would simply be dishonest. Justin Fields gives the Bears added mobility, and a ton of traits that aren’t quite put together just yet, but running a Dalton offense with a different QB is foolish and stubborn. By not adapting their game to their personnel, Nagy and co. equalled just one net yard as a passing offense, passing for 68 and losing 67 of them to nine allowed sacks.
(27) Houston Texans
Yeah, the Texans lost to Carolina, quite comfortably, but Davis Mills is still better than anyone expected him to be in his first start. He’s still a big step down from Tyrod Taylor at this time, but when the QB1 returns from the IR, will he have lost yet another starting job to a promising young rookie? Time will tell, but as someone who sympathises with Taylor, lets imagine he’s got another great set of games in his near future.
(28) Atlanta Falcons 2
This win was unimpressive, and exactly the kind of play that will steer them to a mid-round pick and no playoffs. Atlanta may not be as bad as we thought, but they lack direction and don’t seem to have a plan yet. Still, they trend in the right direction even though it doesn’t seem intentional.
(29) New York Giants 1
It’s hard to keep defending a team that seems like winning is the bottom of a long list of chores. Did New York have a good offseason? Yes. Is Daniel Jones playing as good as ever? Yes. But still, they punt from Atlanta’s own 39-yard line and give every opportunity they can to their opposition. The only easy fix is to hand play-calling to someone else.
(30) Detroit Lions 2
There’s no tougher loss than giving up a 4th-and-19 from Baltimore’s own 16 to set up a record-breaking game-winning field goal, but holding the Ravens close like that is a huge win, even if it doesn’t count on the scoreboard. Detroit are still one of the worst teams in the league, but they make up one of the most dangerous trap games for every contender on their schedule.
(31) New York Jets 2
If the Jets knew how to score negative points, they surely would have done it by now. We knew that New York was going to be one of the toughest places to rebuild, and Robert Saleh couldn’t do it right away, but the distinct lack of fight in this team is worrisome. One has to feel for Zach Wilson, drafted into tough situation to try and start a career.
(32) Jacksonville Jaguars 1
Jacksonville are losing, but they’re doing it in style! The flea-flicker turned pick-6 is exactly the kind of play-calling that will win you college games. Just college games. Urban Meyer needs to start either shedding talent and making this into an official rebuild or do something to protect his young QB and give him time to develop. We could watch that 109-yard field goal return TD all day though.