NFL Power Rankings: Reappraising Each Team After Week 3
And you thought you had a good grasp on who's who in the NFL.
A wild Week 3 changed a great deal of how we viewed football's best. Top teams fell hard, decent teams earned major statement wins, and cellar-dwelling squads either injected a needle into the season or stepped closer to the light.
A couple of unlucky AFC contenders have emerged at 3-0, two 2012 playoff teams dropped to 0-3, and two recent Super Bowl champions are suffering slow, painful deaths.
Here's a look at the substantially changed power rankings after the third week.
1. Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
Relax, those 17 points surrendered to the Jacksonville Jaguars were all accrued with the game already out of hand. Seattle still boasts the league's highest scoring differential at plus-59 after compiling 45 points through a four-touchdown effort from Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are one of few teams that have yet to display a fatal flaw.
2. Denver Broncos (3-0)
People were actually worried that Peyton Manning was getting too old for this game. After compiling 374 yards and three touchdowns while completing a dazzling 32 of 37 passes, I think he's fine.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Do the Saints have a defense now? A year after brandishing the league's worst defense, they rank fifth in total yards allowed through three games and have yielded a 54.7 opposing completion percentage. If opponents can't pile up points against Drew Brees, the Saints are awfully dangerous.
4. Chicago Bears (3-0)
We might have to start questioning Chicago's usually stout defense after relinquishing 406 yards to a previously listless Ben Roethlisberger. Then again, the unit also engineered five turnovers and turned two into direct scores, and now the offense can actually score, too.
5. New England Patriots (3-0)
It was another no-frills effort from Tom Brady's passing attack, but 225 yards was more than plenty with New England's defense keeping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the end zone. The Patriots just needed to hold down the fort against weak opponents before Rob Gronkowski makes him imminent return.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
The Bengals avenged a close Week 1 loss to the Bears by defeating their division rivals. Limiting Aaron Rodgers to 5.7 yards per attempt alongside two interceptions solidifies their defense as the real deal.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
It's time to start taking the 3-0 Chiefs seriously. They befuddled Chip Kelly's high-powered offense, picking off Michael Vick twice while limiting him to 13 completions. Look at their schedule and tell me a 7-2 or 8-1 record isn't perfectly feasible heading into a major showdown with Denver.
8. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The Dolphins now have two wins against 2012 playoff squads, and the victory over the Indianapolis Colts looks more legit after the Colts crushed the San Francisco 49ers. With a 66.4 completion percentage and 827 passing yards to his credit, Ryan Tannehill looks like an above-average quarterback.
9. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Wow, who saw that coming? Not only did the Colts beat the 49ers, but they beat them by 20 points. They also crushed them at their own game, gaining 179 rushing yards and silencing San Francisco's passing attack.
10. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Green Bay similarly started last season 1-2 with tough losses to the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The Packers finished with the NFC North title around their waist at 11-5. There's no reason to panic after losing to a good Bengals squad.
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Ranked 28th in total yards, Baltimore still has major offensive deficiencies to address. But at least its defense and special teams unit stepped up to the plate in a 30-9 victory over the Houston Texans. Since allowing seven passing scores to Peyton Manning in Week 1, the Ravens have not allowed a single touchdown.
12. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
How far can they remain up the rankings after losing two games by at least 20 points? It's time to start worrying about a defense that looks awfully mortal and may get even worse with Aldon Smith taking an indefinite leave of absence, according to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.
13. Houston Texans (2-1)
Houston lost ugly to Baltimore, and neither of its wins were pretty. The San Diego Chargers held a 21-point lead while the Tennessee Titans sent the Texans to overtime. With a minus-12 point differential through three games, it's fair to wonder whether their grip on the AFC South is slipping.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
You don't need to love the Cowboys to accept that they can gently skip to an NFC East championship with eight or nine wins. While the rest of the division looked abysmal, the Cowboys stomped the St. Louis Rams. Through three games, Tony Romo leads the NFL with a 72.2 completion percentage.
15. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
It's time to admit that the Falcons are in trouble. Matt Ryan has the passing game gelling again, but he's not getting much help from his supporting cast. Losing Steven Jackson makes the offense one-dimensional, and the leaky defense ranks 26th with 296 passing yards allowed per game.
16. Detroit Lions (2-1)
Their first three opponents are a combined 1-8, so anyone who is not yet sold on the Lions is forgiven. Over their next six games, they play the Packers, Bengals and Cowboys in addition to facing the Bears twice, so we're going to find out quickly if they're for real.
17. Tennessee Titans (2-1)
After two subpar games, Jake Locker played well, going 23-of-37 with 299 passing yards and a game-winning touchdown pass to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds remaining. The Titans are an overtime loss away from starting the season at 3-0.
18. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
That's one way to erase the misery of an 0-2 start. The Panthers dominated the New York Giants more than an NFL team should be dominated, winning 38-0 with four touchdowns from Cam Newton. Only three teams have allowed fewer points than the Panthers this season, and they're all 3-0.
19. New York Jets (2-1)
The Jets... aren't awful. Geno Smith has a lowly 53.9 completion percentage and six interceptions, but he is also making deep plays with Stephen Hill. More impressively, rookies Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner have the defense looking top-notch yet again after a letdown 2012 campaign.
20. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
A fringe team like St. Louis can bolster its stock with a strong showing or plummet it with a poor one. While the Rams could easily climb up the rankings by improving to 2-2 with a win over San Francisco, the defense allowed 31 points for the second straight time on Sunday.
21. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Having allowed 1,022 passing yards this season, the Chargers possess the NFL's worst passing defense. This is not a good time to be horrible at stopping teams from throwing the ball.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
If only the Eagles can go back in time and freeze the universe after staring 1-0 with a promising win over Washington. Two more games have poked holes in the defense while reminding the world of Michael Vick's maddening inconsistency. But at 395 rushing yards, LeSean McCoy is almost 100 ahead of the next guy (Doug Martin with 297 yards).
23. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
We can say they would look so much better if they pulled off the upset against the Patriots, but what if the Bills didn't salvage a victory against the Panthers? They'd sit at 0-3 while Carolina would smell like roses. Regardless, it's never a good sign when your star running back compiles nine yards.
24. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Let this be our first reminder that, while Carson Palmer is an upgrade over last year's sorry bunch, he's not Arizona's savior. The veteran tossed two interceptions while the defense surrendered 342 yards and three touchdowns to Drew Brees. Safety Rashad Johnson lost the top of his middle finger, but fans will probably still utilize theirs just fine.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
The passing offense finally showed some life, but not before turning the ball over five times and continuing to come up empty in the rushing game. At least Antonio Brown collected his first 100-yard game since 2011.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Are we seeing the Ewing Theory in effect? In their first game without Trent Richardson, the Browns scored 31 points behind 321 yards from third-stringer Brian Hoyer. No matter who is throwing the ball in Cleveland, Jordan Cameron is an absolute stud at tight end.
27. Washington Redskins (0-3)
At least the Redskins kept it close during the first half. Washington only lost by seven to Detroit, but its defensive futility remained front and center while allowing 441 total yards. At least Robert Griffin III ran for a season-high 37 yards.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)
Greg Schiano continues to lose touch with his team after another futile offensive showing. Josh Freeman continued to regress, completing less than half of his passes on Sunday.
29. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
It's hard to credit the Raiders too much for beating the Jaguars, but it's hard to penalize them for getting decimated by the Denver Broncos. At least Terrelle Pryor had a decent game through the air on Monday night.
30. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
If you can't stop the Browns, whom can you stop? Some regression was expected, but Minnesota now looks like a contender to replace the struggling Christian Ponder with Teddy Bridgewater.
31. New York Giants (0-3)
It may be a grand overreaction after one game, but how can anybody give the Giants any benefit of the doubt after demonstrating the NFL's worst display of football this season? Allowing seven sacks and offering no wiggle room for the league's worst rushing unit, the offensive line is a major concern. Then again, so is the entire defense, which must have a restraining order out against it from all quarterbacks.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
They gave it their all, but everyone knew the Jaguars would get crushed by the Seahawks. Those garbage-time points weren't enough to lift Jacksonville from the league's nadir spot in total yards and points scored.
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