NFL Power Rankings: Which Contenders Still Need to Improve?

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NFL Power Rankings: Which Contenders Still Need to Improve?
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With two weeks of NFL games in the books, our Week 3 power rankings are up and running. Within the top 10, it appears as if the contenders have begun to separate themselves from the pretenders.

The contenders still have work to do, however.

Here's what each top 10 team needs to work on moving forward: 

1. Patriots: Covering physical receivers

In back-to-back weeks, the Patriots have been hurt by tall, physical receivers. Brandon Marshall was first (seven catches, 139 yards) in Miami, and Vincent Jackson (10 catches, 172 yards) picked up right where he left off. Moving forward, the Patriots would like to be better in those matchups.  

2. Packers: Pass coverage from linebackers

Lost in the shuffle of the Packers giving up two straight 400-yard passing games is the inability of their linebackers to cover tight ends or running backs. Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and Pierre Thomas put up over 200 yards in Week 1, and DeAngelo Williams, Jimmy Stewart, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey matched the Saints in Week 2. With the Bears and Matt Forte on the schedule next, the Packers linebackers need to be better. 

3. Jets: Run production

For a team that predicates its offensive success on the running game, the Jets have struggled in that area in two games. They ranked 28th in the NFL with under 75 yards per game on the ground. Shonn Greene has been partly to blame, but the offensive line has been woeful to start the season. 

4. Eagles: Vick recognizing blitzes

In his second year as a starter of the Eagles, Michael Vick needs to be better at seeing blitzes at the line of scrimmage. His lack of awareness has gotten him hit far too many times in just two games. And wouldn't you know it, Vick was sitting on the sidelines by the end of the Week 2. If he is to finish this season intact, he needs to be better at seeing blitzes before they happen. 

5. Texans: Production outside Andre Johnson

There hasn't been much to nit-pick about the Texans through two games, but they'd do well to find some consistent production from someone other than Andre Johnson. He has almost three times as many targets (20) as the Texans second leading receiver (seven). Johnson is an elite NFL receiver, but even the great ones need help at times.   

6. Saints: Running game

The Saints drafted Mark Ingram and re-signed Pierre Thomas to provide the offense some balance, but so far there hasn't been much return on their investment. Ingram has struggled in the early goings, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The Saints need both Ingram and Thomas to give them more to return to their 2009 form.  

7. Ravens: Consistency

It's hard to understand how a team that dominated the AFC Champion Steelers in Week 1 could look so flat in the following week in losing to the Titans. There was obviously an emotional letdown. Consistency is so important throughout the course of a regular season, and the Ravens need to find it moving forward. 

8. Steelers: Protecting the quarterback

This has been a problem in Pittsburgh for a while now. Injuries have hurt the line, but they can't afford to continue to let Ben Roethlisberger get hit. Eventually that's going to bite them, and it almost did on a scary blow below the knees on Sunday.  

9. Atlanta Falcons: Passing defense

The Falcons secondary has really hurt them in the past three games. The Packers knocked them off the NFC's perch with an aerial attack, and both the Bears and Eagles have had success throwing the ball. For the Falcons to take the next step, they need to be better at the back end.  

10. Detroit Lions: Continue success 

 Very few teams have looked as good as the Lions through two weeks, but they need to continue that level of play moving forward. The schedule is about to get a lot tougher and no one is going to take the Lions lightly anymore. To make the playoffs, the Lions need to play as well as they have in the first two weeks for the rest of the season.  

 

Full Week 3 Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots (2-0) 17. New York Giants (1-1)
2. Green Bay Packers (2-0) 18. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
3. New York Jets (2-0)

19. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) 20. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
5. Houston Texans (2-0)  21. S t. Louis Rams (0-2)
6. New Orleans Saints (1-1)  22. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
7. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) 23. Carolina Panthers (0-2)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)   24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
9. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)  25. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
10. Detroit Lions (2-0) 26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
11. San Diego Chargers (1-1) 27. Denver Broncos (1-1) 
12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) 28. Miami Dolphins (0-2)  
13. Chicago Bears (1-1) 29. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
14. Buffalo Bills (2-0) 30. Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
15. Washington Redskins (2-0) 31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) 
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

32. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)

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