Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season was definitively the most captivating collection of games that have been played thus far.
To give you an idea as to just how close the majority of the games were this week, three contests went to overtime while eight of the 13 games prior to Sunday's Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots were decided by seven points or less.
In the matchups before bye weeks start, Week 3 is one of the most pivotal times for teams that have serious questions surrounding their personnel.
Once Week 4 ends, most teams will be one quarter of the way done with the 2012 campaign. The time for NFL teams to turn it up is coming, but some teams already got a jumpstart on that.
Here you can find teams that won statement games in Week 3, as well as power rankings for the entire league.
1. Houston Texans (3-0)
The Houston Texans were led to a victory over the Denver Broncos by a player not named Arian Foster. It was Matt Schaub instead, who threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns as the Texans sweated it out against Peyton Manning and Co.
Schaub has a number of scary weapons to go to on offense, but the Texans are going to pride themselves on their running game in 2012.
You can't quite call it a ground-and-pound strategy because the passing game is great as well, but the combination of Foster and Ben Tate is going to give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares.
Houston's defense is one of the best in the league no matter how you look at it. Teams can't get the ground game going, which leads to problems in the passing game.
The Texans can run the ball with the best, and when that characteristic is coupled with a fierce defense, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the league.
2. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
This Atlanta Falcons' offense has been one of the best in the league early on, but it can get even better if the running game picks it up.
So far, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers haven't been able to complement each other like Mike Smith surely wants them too. Turner is lacking the acceleration that once made him so great, and Rodgers is suffering from that—among other things.
In spite of the lackluster running game, the Falcons have scored 94 points in three games. Matt Ryan has three top-tier players at his disposal in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, as well as effective secondary guys.
The Falcons went on the road and beat down a good San Diego Chargers team by a score of 27-3 on Sunday, further solidifying the belief that they have what it takes to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Letting up three points to a respectable Chargers offense is something to be proud of, and the Falcons definitely are.
3. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
The Baltimore Ravens once again showed why they are the trendy pick to make a deep playoff run in the AFC come January.
After falling behind to the New England Patriots early, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith led the team back to pull out a last-second win on a 27-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
Despite leading for just under two minutes the entire game, the Ravens were able to exact revenge on the team that shattered their Super Bowl dream last season.
What makes the Ravens so scary is the perfect balance that John Harbaugh has on the offensive end. Ray Rice does the dirty work on the ground, while Smith, Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta rip opponents up in the passing game.
Even though the defense was disappointing tonight, it is still one of the best and most feared groups in the entire NFL. As long as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are around to lead their younger charges into battle, the Ravens won't be letting up 30 points many more times.
4. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Green Bay should be 2-1. While they didn't play particularly well against the Seahawks, they did, in the estimation of many, do enough to win.
While it can't be all smiles in Green Bay it's hard to bump them too far down the list. They are coming off a 15-1 season and Aaron Rodgers is a much better quarterback than he has played through the early going. Things are going to turn around and the Packers are still good enough to beat almost any team in the league. However, a loss to New Orleans this weekend and they could plummet in next weeks rankings.
5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
It would be naive to think that the Arizona Cardinals aren't the most surprising team in the league after three games.
Despite posting a 2-0 record by beating the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, Ken Whisenhunt's team didn't dominate against any opponent—until Sunday's thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles were predicted to be one of the top teams in the NFC, but the Cardinals took it to them and came away with a 27-6 victory.
Arizona forced three fumbles against the Eagles, two at the expense of Michael Vick, and its front seven look to be some of the best in the conference.
It's too early to claim the Cardinals as a contender, but don't be surprised if things continue to shape up nicely out in the desert.
6. New York Giants (2-1)
Eli Manning and the New York Giants put on a show on the road against the Carolina Panthers by putting a 36-7 whooping on Ron Rivera's team.
The Panthers are no juggernaut, but nobody expected their offense to look that anemic against the supposedly subpar Giants defenders.
Tom Coughlin's defensive line didn't get nearly enough pressure on Tony Romo and Josh Freeman in the first two games, but Jason Pierre-Paul and his running mates made up for that on Thursday Night Football.
Manning's offense is one of the best in the league, and the Giants are proving to be one of the deeper teams in the NFL thanks to Andre Brown and Ramses Barden.
Even after injuries to their starting linebacker, wide receiver and offensive lineman, the Giants put up a 36 spot on a defense that looks to be more hapless than previously thought.
Coughlin is definitely happier about his team's defensive performance, though, as a few cores guys and a band of backups shut down a Carolina offense that was supposed to be hard to stop.
7. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
The San Francisco 49ers suffered a tough loss to the Minnesota Vikings (yeah, you read that right) on Sunday on the road. Fortunately for 49ers fans, it's hard to envision an NFL where the best defense in football gives up 24-plus points in back-to-back weeks.
That means the New York Jets should beware next week.
8. Chicago Bears (2-1)
Despite Jay Cutler forgetting how to play quarterback at the drop of a hat, the Chicago Bears find themselves at 2-1 with the lone defeat coming against the Green Bay Packers.
Remember last year that the Bears were the consensus dark-horse favorite to tear in up in the playoffs before Cutler went down with a thumb injury and Matt Forte got ground into a pulp.
9. New England Patriots (1-2)
The New England Patriots' loss to the Arizona Cardinals is definitely one that you could label as a fluky perfect storm of injuries and lucky bounces, but Bill Belichick's most recent loss to the Baltimore Ravens is concerning.
Tom Brady and Co. have the offense to score with anyone in the NFL, but the offense faltered down the stretch resulting in a disheartening loss.
Still, the Patriots are a top-10 team in the league when they aren't at their best.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
Up until Week 3, the Philadelphia Eagles had been winning ugly. The most recent loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the definition of an ugly loss.
Mike Vick needs to step his play up before the Eagles rapidly become a punch line in the NFC East.
11. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys haven't been dominating their opponents, but wins against the defending Super Bowl champions and a sneaky Tampa Bay Buccaneers team don't look too shabby on a resume.
Which of the following stats is more meaningful for the Cowboys: That the offense was only able to score 16 points against the Bucs while the New York Giants' offense managed 41, or that the Giants' defense let up 34 points to the Bucs while the Cowboys conceded just 10?
12. San Diego Chargers (2-1)
Just when you thought that Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers figured out how to win early in the season, they rip the rug right out from under you.
Philip Rivers' offense scored 60 points in the first two games but couldn't even get into the end zone against the Atlanta Falcons at home and lost by 24 points.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Week 3 marks the second Pittsburgh Steelers loss that has been decided in the fourth quarter. Mike Tomlin can't be happy that his team has been outscored 30-13 in the final quarter this season.
This week's loss wasn't Ben Roethlisberger's fault, and this once vaunted Steelers defense is proving to be one of the more overrated.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
The Cincinnati Bengals' offense racked up nearly 500 yards of offense on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was against the Washington Redskins who have surrendered 101 points in three games.
A.J. Green is among the top pass catchers in the league, and while Andy Dalton needs to work on his decision making, the two should make up one of the more prolific quarterback-wide receiver duos in the NFL this season.
15. New York Jets (2-1)
The New York Jets' defense continues to show why it is one of the best in football, but Mark Sanchez needs to pick up the pieces in his crumbling offense.
Rex Ryan's team scored more points in the first three quarters of the opening game against the Buffalo Bills than it has in eight quarters since then.
Also, keep an eye on Darrelle Revis' knee injury, as losing him would be a crippling blow to the Jets' secondary.
16. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Ryan Fitzpatrick obviously wasn't pleased with his Week 1 performance against the New York Jets. Since that ugly loss, Fitzpatrick has connected on nearly 60 percent of his passes while throwing for five touchdowns and zero interceptions (via B/R's Chris Trapasso).
The defense hasn't been the powerhouse that many predicted it to be, but 31 points in two games isn't a bad start.
17. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
The stingy Seattle defense, and the help of a replacement official or two have the Seahawks with a winning record through the early part of the season.
While you could make a case that the Seahawks belong in the upper tier of NFL teams, you have to treat their record with a bit of caution. With a rookie QB and an offense that sputters at times, it's hard to believe the Seahawks are legit, especially after catching a huge break in one of their two wins.
If Seattle keeps findings ways to win, regardless of the method, you'll have to push them up the rankings.
18. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
There is simply no way the Minnesota Vikings win more than one game in a 10-game series against the San Francisco 49ers, but Christian Ponder made sure his team got its one lucky win on Sunday.
Ponder and the running game made the best defense in the league look like it was on the other end of the spectrum. Now, the Vikings have a huge opportunity to start 3-1 with the Detroit Lions up next, but it's hard to believe that this team is for real.
19. Denver Broncos (1-2)
After losing a tough one to the Atlanta Falcons last Monday night, John Fox's team was once again unable to put together a successful comeback.
Peyton Manning should be the least of this team's concerns. His arm looked pretty darn good while throwing for 330 yards and two scores, but the defense's inability to shut down opposing offenses these last two games is a bad sign.
20. Washington Redskins (1-2)
Robert Griffin III assumed the heir to the Washington Redskins' throne thanks to a stellar performance in Week 1, but he has since regressed through the air.
His legs will always separate him from the mean in the NFL, but it could be a disappointing first season for the phenom now that his defense has been plagued with season-ending injuries to Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo.
21. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
The Oakland Raiders got a huge win in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and have been relatively impressive on certain occasions this season.
They need to be more consistent if they are going to challenge the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos in the competitive AFC West.
22. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers had a brutal night on Thursday against the New York Giants. There's no doubt that Newton is one of the premier athletes in all of professional sports, but he needs to work on his attitude if he is to lead this team to success.
Also, the defense could use some work.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
NFC East opponents have triumphed over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on two occasions this season, but that isn't indicative of the Bucs play because the NFC East is very talented.
It has been up and down on both ends of the ball for Greg Schiano's boys, as they scored 34 points in Week 2, but could manage just 10 in Week 3. On the bright side, the Bucs only gave up 16 points this Sunday.
24. Detroit Lions (1-2)
The Detroit Lions are one of the most confusing teams in the NFL because of their enigmatic tendencies on the offensive side of the ball—outside of Calvin Johnson, you just never know you're going to get.
Defensively, the Lions have struggled all year, but the Minnesota Vikings come to town in Week 4 so Matthew Stafford should be able to get them out front.
25. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Tennessee Titans did not score one touchdown that was less than 61 yards on Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Here are the five touchdowns that Mike Munchak's team scored on Sunday in order: 65-yard punt return touchdown, a 61-yard touchdown reception, 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, 71-yard receiving touchdown and a 72-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
They still almost lost the game in overtime. That is clearly not the blueprint of a successful football team.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Miami Dolphins' offense is modest with Reggie Bush in the lineup, and proved to be anemic when he left the game against the New York Jets with an apparent knee injury.
Even though they are laden with shortcomings in the wrong places, the Dolphins very well could have (and probably should have) been 2-1 with the Arizona Cardinals on the slate next.
The Dolphins' faithful are cursing Dan Carpenter's right foot.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
The Jacksonville Jaguars participated in an exciting—and won. No, you're not too tired to read, Blaine Gabbert struck gold with an 80-yard catch-and-run to Cecil Shorts to give his team a 22-17 lead with under a minute left.
Now, if only the Jags could play the Indianapolis Colts every week.
28. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Indianapolis Colts' loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was one of the more heartbreaking that the NFL has seen this season.
After Andrew Luck orchestrated a drive that resulted in the go-ahead field goal from Adam Vinatieri, the Colts' defense promptly returned the favor on the next play from scrimmage—an 80-yard touchdown reception by Cecil Shorts.
If the Colts' defense could step up, Luck would be getting a lot more praise than he is right now.
29. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
When will better times arrive for the St. Louis Rams?
Over the first two weeks, the Rams' offense was surprisingly adept, averaging 27 points. That all changed in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, as Sam Bradford's offense managed a paltry 160 yards from scrimmage.
Another long season in St. Louis awaits.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
The Kansas City Chiefs' defense is really bad. Really, really bad. It can't stop anybody on defense, so look for the Chiefs to finish below .500 unless they average 30 points per game or more.
On the bright side, the defense is better than the next team on this list.
31. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
There are few words in the English language that can truly describe how embarrassing the Saints' defense has been this season.
This Sean Payton-less season has been a farce so far, with the Saints losing three games to teams that finished with below-.500 records in 2011.
Drew Brees and the offense are still there, but 102 points allowed through three games is simply unacceptable.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Brandon Weeden doesn't look so incompetent anymore, but make no mistake about it, this Cleveland Browns team is one of the worst in the NFL—if not the worst.
Trent Richardson was invisible in Week 3 against the 24th-ranked rush defense, and didn't make Jim Brown proud.
The state of the Browns is bleak at best and miserable at worst.
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