NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 3?
Two games in, who stands out as the best team in the NFL?
Each week throughout the season, a new power rankings article will be posted following the Sunday night game. Here, you will find an updated look at how every NFL team stacks up at that time.
Power rankings are not based on standings, though. They're based on a mixture of expectations, momentum, whom teams have beaten or lost to and each team's potential for the remainder of the season. In other words, they're completely subjective.
We'll start at the bottom and work our way up, No. 32 all the way to No. 1, to determine the best teams the NFL has to offer.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
This Week's Rank: 32
Last Week's Rank: 32
I want to bring good news to the diehard Jacksonville Jaguars fans, so I'll lead with this: Teddy Bridgewater.
The 2013 season came with no expectations for big wins or playoff races. For Gus Bradley, this season is about finding out who his leaders are and learning where to rebuild in the coming offseason. This is a redshirt year for Bradley and the Jaguars, so a loss to the Raiders isn't the end of the world.
There are solid foundation-style players here, but this is a team in need of a dramatic makeover. Bradley, Dave Caldwell and the Shahid Khan family are the right people to get the job done. It'll just take some time, some high draft picks and a little Teddy Bridgewater.
31. Carolina Panthers
This Week's Rank: 31
Last Week's Rank: 22
An old football coach of mine used to tell us that "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." He didn't believe in moral victories. For the Carolina Panthers, losing a close fight in Week 2 won't likely be filed away as a turning point.
Cam Newton played well against an opportunistic young defense, but his offensive line struggled while allowing 4.5 sacks to Mario Williams. And yet they were in the game late. A huge mistake by Luke Kuechly on a third-down, pass-interference call ultimately allowed the Buffalo Bills to get into position to score in the final seconds, and they did just that to earn a one-point victory.
There are enough athletes on this roster to turn things around, but the coaching in Carolina remains a question mark. This roster may very well be the foundation for a new coach in 2014.
30. Oakland Raiders
This Week's Rank: 30
Last Week's Rank: 31
I'm notorious for saying a win is a win, and it is. However, who you beat does affect your ranking here. Beating the Jacksonville Jaguars still shows up as a victory, but it's not enough of a win for the Oakland Raiders to make a major move up the board.
It's a confidence builder to win at home, no matter the opponent. The Raiders may find an offensive rhythm that works for them out of this game. They may also find a tough opponent waiting for them in Denver when they face the Broncos.
Enjoy the win, Raider Nation. It might be a while before you see another.
29. Cleveland Browns
This Week's Rank: 29
Last Week's Rank: 30
The Cleveland Browns fall to 0-2, with more questions left unanswered about this team.
The offensive play-calling has not maximized running back Trent Richardson, something it seemed like Norv Turner would focus on doing. Quarterback Brandon Weeden has made a few good plays, but he's still very inconsistent. Even the offensive line, which was supposed to be a strength, has seen the right side struggle in pass protection.
An 0-2 record accurately reflects the performance of this team, thus far, but there are bright spots. Barkevious Mingo and Jordan Cameron have both impressed. If the squeaky wheels can get some grease, the Browns can save this season.
28. Minnesota Vikings
This Week's Rank: 28
Last Week's Rank: 25
Christian Ponder giveth. Christian Ponder taketh away.
The Minnesota Vikings were in position to win in Week 2, but, once again, key mistakes by the third-year quarterback held them back. In a game where the team scored 30 points, Ponder's interception to Tim Jennings—which was returned for a touchdown—proved to be the difference.
Ponder can't take all the blame, though. The secondary in Minnesota continues to be an issue outside of Harrison Smith. If the cornerbacks can't clamp down in coverage, this will be a long season for the playoff team from 2012.
27. New York Jets
This Week's Rank: 27
Last Week's Rank: 28
For a while on Thursday night, it appeared that the New York Jets would beat the New England Patriots. That would have given them a 2-0 record heading into Week 3 and kept the hot seat under Rex Ryan a little cooler.
Alas, Geno Smith's turnovers cost this team in an ugly, gritty game. That will happen in a rookie quarterback's first year. It's not time to panic; instead, it's time to build around Smith. The expectations are not high for this team, but solid coaching from Ryan (especially on defense) and inspiring play from Smith will make this team fun to watch and pretty darn competitive.
26. Tennessee Titans
This Week's Rank: 26
Last Week's Rank: 29
The Tennessee Titans were so close to taking down a second straight marquee team, but the Houston Texans outlasted them.
You can blame Jake Locker for a missed pass to Kenny Britt. You can blame the defense, especially the secondary, for letting the Houston Texans make some amazing plays. Overall, though, we're seeing a Tennessee team that isn't quite ready to compete with the big boys for a full four quarters. That's not a knock on it, though.
This Titans defense is very tough, and that's showed in back-to-back weeks. Even Locker was solid at times Sunday, but too many mistakes and missed opportunities eventually added up. This is a better team than I expected, though. Much better.
25. Detroit Lions
This Week's Rank: 25
Last Week's Rank: 24
One week after a victory, the Detroit Lions fell to the Arizona Cardinals in a close game. Detroit, with so much talent, continues to play so poorly as a unit.
Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush couldn't keep up with the Carson Palmer-led Arizona offense. The Lions have been able to stay in games, but this week, they couldn't close it out on the road.
Penalties remain an issue for Jim Schwartz's team—and that shouldn't surprise you. Were it not for a two-yard completion on 4th-and-4, though, they might have been able to finish a game-winning drive. Mistakes on and off the field cost the Lions this week.
24. San Diego Chargers
This Week's Rank: 24
Last Week's Rank: 27
In Week 1, we saw the San Diego Chargers start hot, but eventually fizzle out toward the end of the game. That resulted in a loss to the Houston Texans. Week 2 looked to be more of the same.
Mike McCoy's offense came out hot, and the defense did a good job limiting what Chip Kelly's offense could do vertically. Then the second half started, and the Philadelphia Eagles started moving the ball and getting into a rhythm. The difference between last week and this one? The Chargers held on for the win.
Good teams learn how to win tough games. The Chargers might not yet be a good team, but they're certainly tougher than they were last year. McCoy has this team headed in the right direction.
23. Buffalo Bills
This Week's Rank: 23
Last Week's Rank: 26
The Buffalo Bills' first victory of the 2013 season was a credit to the rookies.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel deserves praise for the game-winning touchdown throw with two seconds left. Rookie wide receiver Robert Woods had a crucial two-point conversion catch. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso had an interception of Cam Newton in the red zone.
First-year players aren't supposed to make this many plays, but the draft class in Buffalo came through on Sunday.
22. Arizona Cardinals
This Week's Rank: 22
Last Week's Rank: 23
The Arizona Cardinals got in the win column in Week 2. The team deserves a ton of credit for containing the Detroit offense and for rising above injuries to get a victory.
The Cardinals were relying on guys like Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu, Andre Ellington and Kerry Taylor this week and still managed to win a tough game. Carson Palmer was protected much better, Rashard Mendenhall got going in the backfield, and the defense made plays when it needed to.
The NFC West will be tough to get wins in, but the Cardinals are a tough out for any team they face.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week's Rank: 21
Last Week's Rank: 21
Two straight weeks of heartbreaking losses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will test the team's confidence in head coach Greg Schiano. Can he save this season?
The Tampa defense looked rock solid for 55 minutes on Sunday night, but it left the door open for Drew Brees by playing conservative on offense. That was enough to swing the game in the Saints' favor.
Losing in the final seconds is never easy. Doing it two weeks in a row is brutal.
20. New York Giants
This Week's Rank: 20
Last Week's Rank: 20
That's the number of Eli Manning interceptions so far this season. They haven't all been his fault, of course, but too many have been. Those seven are part of his 151 career interceptions—the most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2004.
Manning will take his lumps for this, but the larger story is that Tom Coughlin's New York Giants are 0-2 heading into Week 3. The defense looks lost. The offensive line has struggled. Manning and his star wide receivers can't do it alone—and their overextension is what leads to the turnovers mentioned above.
There's still time to right this ship, but it has to happen now.
19. Washington Redskins
This Week's Rank: 19
Last Week's Rank: 17
The Washington Redskins don't look like the same team we saw in 2012, but they are. Almost without exception. This is the team we saw last season, the only exception being execution. Have defenses caught up to what Robert Griffin III can do at quarterback? Has offseason knee surgery led to a more timid RGIII? There are so many questions when watching this offense, and so far on the field, there have been few answers.
The good news is, the defense has two elite stars in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. The bad news is, the rest of the defense looks like a weakness—especially the secondary.
This could be a first-to-worst season in the NFC East for the Redskins if they don't find a way to unleash RGIII.
18. Dallas Cowboys
This Week's Rank: 18
Last Week's Rank: 15
The Dallas Cowboys made the drive up I-35 to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that will prove a lot about this team.
By losing a close game, the Cowboys showed that they have work to do. The interior offensive line is not good—Dontari Poe proved that all day. Other than Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, the wide receivers are questionable. The run game was a nonfactor all day. And the safeties, well, they're flat-out bad.
But there's enough good for Dallas to turn things around. And yes, every sportswriter says that several times each season about the Cowboys. But it's true. Jason Garrett may be coaching for his job, and he needs to get things pointing up this week.
17. Baltimore Ravens
This Week's Rank: 17
Last Week's Rank: 12
The defending Super Bowl champions are having some issues.
On offense, Jim Caldwell's play-calling has not been as innovative or as aggressive as we saw in the team's postseason run to a Super Bowl victory. Running back Ray Rice's limited role has been surprising. The lack of depth at wide receiver and tight end have been as big of a problem as many expected, too.
The defense saw a ton of turnover from the Super Bowl roster, but I expected it to eventually be better than the 2012 crew. So far, that hasn't happened. The pass rush looks solid, but the safety position has been a weakness. Whether it's Michael Huff or Matt Elam, this team can be picked apart.
A win is a win, though. The Ravens get to .500 with a close call against the Cleveland Browns that may have caused more questions than answered. And that's why they're falling in the power rankings.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
This Week's Rank: 16
Last Week's Rank: 16
Maybe I'm just stubborn, but I don't believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are as bad as their 0-2 record. Like the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, they hold a higher ranking than teams with one win due to the talent, experience and bullish belief that they'll turn things around.
That said, the Steelers have not looked good. They've kept both games relatively close, but these are not your father's Steelers. This team needs help on the offensive line, much better offensive play-calling and a youth movement on defense.
One more loss, and the Steelers will be falling fast.
15. St. Louis Rams
This Week's Rank: 15
Last Week's Rank: 13
Much like in the 2012 season, Jeff Fisher's St. Louis Rams are a gritty team to deal with. In Week 2, the outcome wasn't a positive one for the Rams, but the toughness they showed in fighting from behind against the Falcons is something to build on.
The pass rush of Robert Quinn and Chris Long is exceptional. If the safety play can improve—whether by scheme or personnel changes—the defense will be very tough to move the ball on.
The offense is good enough to make plays. As young players like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey assimilate to the NFL, there may be growing pains, but there will also be big plays. Fighting for four quarters, even in a loss, is a great showing from this team.
14. Indianapolis Colts
This Week's Rank: 14
Last Week's Rank: 11
Andrew Luck is human, after all.
With the Indianapolis Colts trailing the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter, it seemed like the table was set for another Luck comeback win. That is, until he threw a late interception that ended one drive and failed to pick up a first down on the team's final possession.
Luck isn't solely to blame—or praise—for the team's struggles on Sunday. The offensive line had a hard time stopping Cameron Wake and the Miami pass rush all day. The secondary couldn't keep Ryan Tannehill's passes out of his wide receivers' hands. Overall, the Indianapolis defense was mediocre for a second straight game.
Chuck Pagano has to work his magic, or the Colts will too often be relying on their superstar quarterback to bail them out.
13. Miami Dolphins
This Week's Rank: 13
Last Week's Rank: 18
Stand up if you had the Miami Dolphins starting the season 2-0. OK, now that everyone is sitting down, how about these Dolphins?
Ryan Tannehill's maturation in his second year has been encouraging. He's smarter with the ball, quicker with his reads and playing with more confidence overall. It helps that he's protected better and has more targets to get the ball out to, but we're seeing the type of quarterback Tannehill can become.
The defense deserves some credit, too. Brent Grimes and Cameron Wake continue to make big plays, while safety Reshad Jones makes my "All-Underrated Team" every time I write one up. As this team jells on both sides of the ball, it could be dangerous in a surprisingly open AFC East.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
This Week's Rank: 12
Last Week's Rank: 19
In Week 2, the Kansas City Chiefs matched their 2012 season win total. Andy Reid's influence on this team cannot be understated.
Alex Smith won't make big plays, but he won't make mistakes at quarterback, and that's what the Chiefs needed. The defense is good enough to keep them in games, and Jamaal Charles is explosive enough on offense to give them some exciting moments. The key is for Smith to manage the game, find openings and methodically push the ball upfield. And he does that well.
A win over the Dallas Cowboys will go a long way in building credibility for the Chiefs. A 2-0 record will, too. And one week after not moving up following a win over the Jaguars, the Chiefs shoot up the rankings with a quality win over Dallas.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
This Week's Rank: 11
Last Week's Rank: 10
Expectations for Chip Kelly's offense officially reached superhuman levels throughout the week, setting the Philadelphia Eagles up for a letdown in Week 2.
To be fair, Kelly's offense did look good. They weren't as fast as in the Monday night opener, but a short week of preparation and recovery usually contributes to less of a rhythm on offense.
That doesn't mean the team didn't have chances to create. Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson failed to connect on three plays that could have changed the course of the game. They did eventually connect for a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but the San Diego Chargers answered every Eagles punch to secure the win.
How Kelly's team bounces back will say a lot about his coaching ability. A loss was destined to happen, and Kelly will learn a lot about his players and his system in Week 3.
10. Houston Texans
This Week's Rank: 10
Last Week's Rank: 14
The Houston Texans do not start well, but boy do they know how to finish. And ultimately, that's what's most important. The final score shows that the team is 2-0 and, once again, leading in the AFC South. Same ol' Texans.
Sometimes, one play defines a season. If that's to be the case for the Texans this year, Arian Foster's tough, barreling run on a late two-point-conversion attempt is it. Foster was met by defenders at the line of scrimmage, but he lowered his head and churned his feet to pick up the tough yardage before stretching his arms to get the ball across the plain.
Foster's work ethic won the game on that play. It's one of those moments that can galvanize a team, something the Texans need after two rough starts. But the end result is all that matters, and they've won two and lost none.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
This Week's Rank: 9
Last Week's Rank: 9
You might expect the Cincinnati Bengals to move up the rankings with their first win of the season. Not so fast.
A win over the Pittsburgh Steelers might not hold the same importance that it used to. Add in the fact that the win was ugly, and you have the Bengals holding tight at No. 9 overall. That can all change as long as they keep winning.
The talent here is good, and the experience is too. The mix of Marvin Lewis' coaching staff and the athletic, young playmakers on the field is solid. If the Bengals can get hot, the AFC North will be theirs.
8. Atlanta Falcons
This Week's Rank: 8
Last Week's Rank: 8
Who are the Atlanta Falcons?
Are they the first-half juggernauts who jumped out to an impressive early lead on the St. Louis Rams? Or are they the second-half team that saw their lead fall away before holding on for a late win?
Figuring out who this team is will be the key for Mike Smith and the coaches this week. So will protecting Matt Ryan as the Falcons prepare for the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. There is no shortage of talent or ability in Atlanta, but there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency watching this team play. Maybe they're late bloomers this season, but the switch needs to go on for Smith, his staff and his players—and soon.
The Falcons aren't in panic mode—far from it—but this team is too good to have played six quarters of bad football so far this season.
7. New England Patriots
This Week's Rank: 7
Last Week's Rank: 4
The New England Patriots have a perfect 2-0 record after Week 2, but neither win was pretty. Power rankings aren't like division standings. Here, style points actually matter. The Patriots may go on to win every game (probably not), but their win-ugly mentality right now is hurting them. Their confidence is lower than usual, so their ranking suffers.
Tom Brady's frustration toward his receivers may motivate them to play better, but barring something unforeseen, this offense will be in trouble against good secondaries.
6. New Orleans Saints
This Week's Rank: 6
Last Week's Rank: 6
A win is a win, right?
The New Orleans Saints get no style points this week, but here they are at 2-0 atop the NFC South rankings. Not bad.
The credit has to go to Drew Brees for his late-game heroics, but the defense clamped down when it needed to. A little help from Greg Schiano's vanilla, conservative game plan contributed to the offense getting the ball back with just enough time.
And that's where Brees took over. These Saints look different—more confident, more aggressive. That's a scary truth for the NFC South.
5. Green Bay Packers
This Week's Rank: 5
Last Week's Rank: 5
Playing tough for four quarters isn't easy when you jump out to a huge first-half lead. And when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback, it's easy to feel like the game is in control. Until it isn't anymore.
The Packers were nearly perfect in the first half, but they, too easily, let the Washington Redskins back into the game in the second half. Packers fans will tell you the game was never that close, or that they weren't worried, but as an unbiased viewer, I was worried for Green Bay.
Any time you have a quarterback like Rodgers, you're going to win ballgames. Now the Packers have to prove that they can play enough defense to put away good teams.
4. Chicago Bears
This Week's Rank: 4
Last Week's Rank: 7
The 2-0 Chicago Bears sit atop the NFC North heading into Week 3. Now all they have to do is hold on to it.
Getting here wasn't pretty. In each week, the Bears had to fight until the final seconds ticked off the clock, but in each week, they managed a win. The Cincinnati Bengals helped them with a dumb penalty late in Week 1, and in Week 2, the Minnesota Vikings' secondary helped out, too.
Jay Cutler deserves some major credit, though. Through some struggles and mistakes, he kept his composure and led the team down the field for a score to win the game. That's a new-and-improved Cutler. If he can keep up this level of play, the Bears are going to be tough to beat.
3. San Francisco 49ers
This Week's Rank: 3
Last Week's Rank: 1
Against the Seahawks, it was clear that Jim Harbaugh's team struggled to adjust to the crowd noise, the Seattle pass rush and the running ability of Russell Wilson. In a game of excellent coaches and players, the Seahawks deserved the win.
Losing to the Seahawks in Seattle happens. It happened last season, actually. How the San Francisco 49ers recover is what matters. During the 2012 season, they were able to build off the loss and still win the division en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
There's a ton of talent on this roster, maybe the most in the league. To realize that potential, the 49ers must play more disciplined in tough games.
2. Denver Broncos
This Week's Rank: 2
Last Week's Rank: 2
The Denver Broncos just keep rolling.
John Fox's team is now 2-0 after dismantling Eli Manning and the New York Giants. In a game that featured the younger Manning throw four of his seven interceptions this season, it's easy to see why the Broncos won by an 18-point margin.
It's worth noting that Denver is winning without Von Miller. With the two toughest games of the first six games (the length of Miller's suspension) out of the way, the future looks bright for Peyton Manning and friends.
1. Seattle Seahawks
This Week's Rank: 1
Last Week's Rank: 3
If you beat the top team, you become the top team—especially when moving from No. 3 overall. The Seattle Seahawks earned this ranking with a solid beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers.
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch went to work on the 49ers defense—carving it up on the ground and forcing rare mistakes from the 49ers defense. Gap control and power got the job done for Seattle all night.
The Seahawks are always tough to beat at home, and they showed no lasting effects from a tough Week 1 road win. This Pete Carroll team is his best yet.
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