NFL Power Rankings: Re-Shuffling All 32 Teams Following Week Three
One of the best things about doing weekly power rankings for the NFL is the way you get to see how a team's performance fluctuates from the start of the season all the way to the end.
For some, there won't be much movement since they will play at or near where we expected them to be. Others will rise or fall further than anyone could have imagined, likely for a variety of reasons.
Since we are only three weeks into this particular NFL season, there aren't many teams making huge moves one way or the other. You can't overreact to less than a handful of games, though you can make some subtle observations.
Here is how the power rankings stack up after a wild, wacky and crazy Week 3 in the NFL.
1. Houston Texans (3-0)
After dominating the Denver Broncos for the better part of three quarters before holding on to a 31-25 win, the Texans have proven themselves to be one of the elite teams in the NFL.
There were some questions I had about them after their first two wins—mainly that they were against Miami and Jacksonville—they proved they are the most physical, fundamental and consistent team in the league after three weeks.
2. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
It was controversial, but the Ravens did what they had to do in order to defeat the Patriots. The defense is showing some holes, but the offense have put up 75 points in the Ravens' two wins.
3. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Every playoff team in the NFL is going to lose at least one game that no one sees coming. The 49ers' happened to come in Minnesota. They can't be punished too much after two impressive wins against Green Bay and Detroit to start the season.
4. New York Giants (2-1)
People like to say that Eli Manning just plays better in the fourth quarter. He didn't need to after the Giants destroyed Carolina on Thursday night.
5. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
I always start my expectations for the Falcons coming into a season low, because they have a habit of playing down to a lot of competition.
Through three games this season, the Falcons have managed to take care of business against Kansas City, Denver and San Diego. With Carolina waiting in the wings, a 4-0 start could give the Falcons a three-game lead in the NFC South at the end of September.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Controversial losses aside, this is still one of the best teams in the NFL. Everyone will look at their 1-2 mark with a grain of salt.
The Packers haven't looked nearly as good this season as they did in 2011, yet they are still getting the job done against quality opponents.
Take away the San Francisco game, because the 49ers played close to perfect, and this team is sitting right where we thought they would be.
7. New England Patriots (1-2)
The Patriots' offense was done after just scoring 18 points against Arizona and Wes Welker being phased out of the game plan.
So in true New England fashion, they put up 30 points and Welker had 142 yards on eight catches against Baltimore. Disastrous officiating and stupid defensive lapses in the final seconds cost them the game, but the team will be fine.
8. Chicago Bears (2-1)
I came into the season expecting big things from the Bears because I am a sucker. So far, they have actually played closer to where I thought they would, albeit against teams like Indianapolis and St. Louis.
The game against the Packers is the one outlier, though it could be a game that tells us far more about where the Bears are at right now than anything they did in Week 1 or Week 3.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
A second-half meltdown against the Ravens aside, the Bengals are starting to find their groove on offense, with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green looking like the dynamic quarterback-wide receiver combination everyone expected based on last season.
An easy schedule that includes Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland over the next three weeks could push the Bengals to 5-1 heading into a showdown with Pittsburgh in Week 7.
10. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
I'm sure many people out in the desert will take umbrage at this ranking, but I implore you to not start printing the playoff tickets after three weeks. It is a long season and many things can change over the next 13 weeks.
The offense is averaging 263 yards per game and you can run the ball on them right up the middle. The best part of this team is the secondary, which is very good, and they are a much more physical team than we thought they would be.
I don't trust Kevin Kolb. I don't know why anyone would decide to trust Kolb after two games, but you have to overreact in the NFL. I put the Cardinals in the top 10, but I don't think they are one of the 10 best teams in the league.
But in the NFL, you never know what could happen.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
The Steelers get a lot of leeway because of their past as a team that can come from the ashes to put together a long, sustained run, but the game against Oakland was a strong case against this team doing anything this season.
12. San Diego Chargers (2-1)
No team drives you more nuts than the Chargers. I think they want to be great, they just seem to be missing a few pieces mentally and physically to get there.
13. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
14. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
At least the Seahawks aren't taking any blame for the way the end of Monday's game played out, because that defense was outstanding against a really good Packers offense.
As long as the Seahawks' defense can continue to keep them in games and not force the offense to score a lot of points, this team will at least be competitive and fun to watch.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
If you want to look at a team playing much worse than its record, I implore you to stop by Philadelphia and watch the Eagles.
Everyone is praising the Cardinals for the way they played the Eagles in Week 3, and deservedly so, but Philadelphia is a mess. Between turnovers and lack of protection up front, this team should be 0-3.
16. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Christian Ponder might not be the bust everyone thought he would be when he was drafted. There is a long way to go for both him and the team to prove they are in this, but right now, all looks well with the Vikings.
17. New York Jets (2-1)
For the first time in history, people actually feel sorry for Rex Ryan since he has to build a defense without Darrelle Revis. It doesn't help that his offense has some combination of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow playing quarterback.
18. Denver Broncos (1-2)
I want to think the Broncos are better. I want to think they are a real playoff team, not just one who can get in because they play in a bad division.
Peyton Manning is not the same quarterback, no matter how many people want to convince you of that. His arm has lost some velocity, which makes it easier to attack him and the offense he runs.
19. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Okay, Bills. If you want to prove this 2-1 start isn't a fluke, let's see how you handle a three-game stretch against New England, Arizona and San Francisco. If that's not enough, take care of business against Tennessee, then come out of the bye against Houston and New England.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2)
This team, which looked so improved last year, has no defense and now Matthew Stafford is dealing with a leg injury.
21. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Everything that could go wrong for the Panthers this season has, yet there are so many playmakers on offense that I am waiting to see them hit their stride.
22. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
As if the Saints didn't have enough to worry about, they had an 18-point lead at home against Kansas City and blew it. It is time to start wondering if the defensive deficiencies will be too much to overcome.
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23. Washington Redskins (1-2)
You really want to see the Redskins win because Robert Griffin III is so much fun to watch, yet nothing that happens when he doesn't have the ball makes this team worth watching.
The Redskins did invest a lot of money in the offense this offseason, which is a move that is paying off quickly. However, injuries and poor performances on the other side of the ball will prevent them from making the leap to postseason contenders this year.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Does anyone on this team still have a pulse? Josh Freeman has taken 300 steps back from his breakout 2010 season. He looks lost whenever he steps under center, so the Buccaneers have to figure out a way to circumvent that.
25. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Looking at the Raiders, Carson Palmer is a mess, they rank 31st in rushing, 23rd in yards allowed per game and 26th in points allowed per game.
Other than that, the Silver and Black appear to be fine. At least they had a nice comeback win against Pittsburgh in Week 3 to get off the schneid.
26. Kanas City Chiefs (1-2)
If Jamaal Charles can get back to being his old, elite self once again, the Chiefs' offense could start to open things up. I am not expecting 230 yards every week, but he needs to average at least 4.5 yards per carry to set up Matt Cassel.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Good for the Jaguars for finding a way to take advantage of a botch in coverage against the Colts. It's not exactly a marquee win, but Blaine Gabbert made a great throw to give the team the lead and Maurice Jones-Drew ran for over 100 yards.
Given the expectations in Jacksonville right now, that is going to have to be enough for you.
28. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
At least the Dolphins can take solace in knowing they can run the ball and stop the run. Everything involving the passing game, both offensively and defensively, is where things fall apart.
29. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
I may be underrating the Rams a little bit, though I don't think they are going to start winning the close games they have lost.
Despite the presence of Jeff Fisher, this is still a rebuilding effort that is going to take time. It is nice to see Sam Bradford get back to looking like a good starting quarterback, but his performance against the Bears was not inspiring.
30. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Colts could be sitting pretty if not for a defensive blunder against Jacksonville. They are still heading in the right direction, though like the Rams, it is going to be a process.
Andrew Luck is doing a lot of good things and some bad things, which is exactly what you expect from a rookie. I will be much more interested to see where this team is right back at the end of the season instead of September.
31. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Of the 32 teams in the NFL, the Titans have the worst scoring differential through three weeks at minus-46. They did get a gift win from the Lions, who could have tried to tie the game, but a "miscommunication" wound up handing the Titans the win.
Jake Locker had a great game, which is good for his confidence and development, though I don't know how much of that really was him and how much was Detroit's lackluster defense.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
A lot of teams tend to lose big in early games, then find ways to at least make contests closer. Not the 2012 Cleveland Browns.
They started the season losing by one point to Philadelphia, then by seven to Cincinnati and now 10 to Buffalo.
Now, the Browns get to deal with the Ravens in Week 4. Poor Cleveland. The football team is a mess. The Indians aren't going anywhere anytime soon. It's a sad time for northern Ohio professional sports.
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