NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Standings Heading into Week 4

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystSeptember 29, 2015

NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Standings Heading into Week 4

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The NFL has always been about the haves and the have nots. 

    After three weeks of play, it's quickly becoming obvious which teams around the NFL are legitimate contenders while others struggle to play quality football. 

    Seven teams remain undefeated with September coming to a close. On the flip side, four squads have yet to taste victory this season. 

    The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals clearly established themselves as the league's top three programs. Meanwhile, there are numerous teams already vying for the No. 1 overall pick, which could result in the addition of Cal quarterback Jared Goff. 

    Obviously, there is still plenty of time for some of these teams to falter or right the proverbial shipbarring a major injury to a key playerbut the league as a whole has fallen into place during the opening month. 

    To make sense of it all, eight Bleacher Report NFL writers—Gary Davenport, Mike Freeman, Brad Gagnon, Matt Miller, Ty Schalter, Mike Tanier, Sean Tomlinson and myself—determined which teams are the best and the worst after three weeks of play. 

    To build a consensus for Bleacher Report's power rankings, each team's rankings from individual writers were added together. The lowest totals proved to be the best units, while the highest totals naturally fell on the other side of the spectrum. If a rare tie occurred, the club with the highest single vote got the nod. Well, most cases were solved this way. 

    Something weird happened along the way, though. The Packers and Patriots have been so good, they received the same exact overall tally and the same number of first-place votes. As such, this week features a tie at the top of the rankings. 

    Click through the slideshow to find out where the rest of the teams fell in Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Standings as Week 4 approaches.

32. Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current Record: 0-3

    Highest Ranking: 29 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (5 voters)

    What's Good?: The Chicago Bears couldn't muster any offense with Jimmy Clausen behind center against the Seattle Seahawks. Instant offense is on the way, though, with Alshon Jeffery's imminent return to the lineup, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Jeffery is desperately needed after Eddie Royal became the only Bears wide receiver to register a catch Sunday. 

    What's Bad?: Without a legitimate threat at wide receiver or competent quarterback play, the Bears couldn't muster anything on offense this past weekend. Clausen couldn't push the ball downfield when he wasn't under pressure behind an underwhelming offensive line. And the team's running game only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Running the ball and strong defense kept the Bears in the game against the Seahawks for one half of play. To be competitive this season, they'll need more from their passing game. 

    What's Next?: While the Bears rank dead last in Bleacher Report's power rankings for the second straight week, this weekend's opponents, the Oakland Raiders, are surging. Quarterback Derek Carr is currently playing at a high level. No one seems capable of covering rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper. And the Raiders' defensive front continues to get better with each passing week. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 32

31. San Francisco 49ers

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 24 (Miller)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Gagnon, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: It's hard to identify anything good about the San Francisco 49ers after a 47-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. However, Carlos Hyde continues to run hard. Even after a meager 51-yard performance, the 49ers running back still ranks third behind the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson and Chicago Bears' Matt Forte with 262 rushing yards. 

    What's Bad?: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to regress. Kaepernick threw two interceptions that resulted in touchdowns by the Cardinals defense. He finished the contest with four interceptions. The quarterback took the blame for the loss, and 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula told reporters he hasn't considered replacing him, per the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami. But it might not be long before a change at quarterback becomes necessary. 

    What's Next?: The Green Bay Packers are one of the last teams the 49ers, who have allowed 90 points during their previous two contests, want to see. Tomsula's squad must now figure out a way to slow quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' plethora of offensive weapons. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 24

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 24 (Sobleski)

    Lowest Ranking: 30 (4 voters)

    What's Good?: Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny may struggle in coverage at times, but he still makes tackles in bunches. The team's defensive leader currently tops the NFL with 34 total tackles. With Posluszny in the middle, the Jaguars are quietly one of the better run defenses in the league. Jacksonville is 12th overall against opposing ground attacks, surrendering only 90.7 yards per game. 

    What's Bad?: Second-half adjustments have become a major sticking point with the Jaguars this season. Head coach Gus Bradley even admitted it's a major point of emphasis moving forward. 

    "I think adjustments need to be made throughout the game and at halftime," Bradley said, per First Coast News' Mike Kaye. "You've got to execute them in the second half."

    What's Next?: The Indianapolis Colts arguably made the best late-game adjustments during last week's slate of games. Andrew Luck's squad trailed by 13 points going into the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans. Indianapolis' offense scored 21 points in the final frame to garner the team's first victory. It would be concerning for the Jaguars if the Colts actually figured it out just before they play each other Sunday. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 28

29. New Orleans Saints

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Current Record: 0-3

    Highest Ranking: 24 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Miller, Sobleski)

    What's Good?: Clearly, the New Orleans Saints offense won't completely fall apart when Drew Brees isn't in the lineup. Backup Luke McCown finally got another chance, and he shined. McCown completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards. With Brees' situation still uncertain for the team's upcoming contest against the Dallas Cowboys, McCown is a legitimate option to start and provide stability at quarterback. 

    What's Bad?: Cornerback Brandon Browner, who was the team's top offseason signing, hasn't stabilized the Saints secondary. Instead, the 31-year-old defensive back has been a major disappointment and played worse with each passing week. The veteran even admitted he needs to improve his zone coverage, per's Christopher Dabe

    What's Next?: The Cowboys finally got their running game on track last week against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints, meanwhile, are still struggling to stop the run. New Orleans ranks 26th against opposing ground games. While the rest of the Cowboys offense remains in flux, the Saints better be prepared to stop Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden

    Last Week's Ranking: 29

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 20 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: After all of the grief given to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line, the unit played quite well in the one game no one would have expected. The Buccaneers didn't surrender a single sack to J.J. Watt and his Houston Texans. Pro Football Focus only registered two quarterback hits and one hurry by the Texans all afternoon. With young players such as Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith up front, this past week's performance is a major step in the right direction. 

    What's Bad?: In the Texans' previous two games before Sunday's meeting with the Buccaneers, running back Alfred Blue carried the ball 14 times for 48 yards. Against Tampa Bay, Blue managed 31 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers run defense is currently ranked 29th overall after surrendering 186 yards Sunday. 

    What's Next?: The undefeated Carolina Panthers come to town. Quarterback Cam Newton is playing as well as he ever has during his career, and it falls on the Buccaneers defense to slow Superman down because he's currently carrying Carolina's roster. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 30

27. Cleveland Browns

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 21 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Davenport)

    What's Good?: The Cleveland Browns offense seems to be discovering new weapons each week. Against the Tennessee Titans, speedy wide receiver Travis Benjamin emerged. Veteran tight end Gary Barnidge became quarterback Josh McCown's favorite target during the Oakland Raiders contest. Barnidge displayed his reliable hands Sunday when he set career highs with six receptions for 105 yards. 

    What's Bad?: Joe Haden is no longer one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. In fact, he's been one of the league's worst this season after surrendering touchdowns to Brandon Marshall and Dorial Green-Beckham in the Browns' first two games. He then proved incapable of handling rookie Amari Cooper on Sunday. To make matters worse, Haden also suffered a rib contusion early in the Raiders contest, per NFL Network's Rand Getlin.

    What's Next?: Haden's injury only adds to the problems Cleveland's defense has already experienced. The Browns are currently ranked 27th overall in total defense. A trip to sunny San Diego to face the Chargers and their fourth-ranked offense likely won't help the situation.

    Last Week's Ranking: 26

26. Washington Redskins

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 18 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 29 (Schalter, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: Jordan Reed continues to develop into one of the game's most dynamic tight ends. Reed caught six passes for 96 yards against the New York Giants. New York couldn't cover the tight end. Reed currently leads the team with 241 receiving yards, which is third among all tight ends. 

    What's Bad?: Kirk Cousins severely limits the Washington Redskins offense. It was never more clear than when he missed multiple throws against the Giants because of his limitations as a passer. Reed was open at least twice for touchdowns downfield, and the ball never arrived. Cousins' 6.68 yards per attempt is currently 24th-best among all starting quarterbacks. 

    What's Next?: Sunday's contest against the rival Philadelphia Eagles should prove to be interesting, because no one is exactly sure what to expect of the Eagles at this point. Philadelphia finally won last Sunday, but Chip Kelly's offense still isn't clicking. Washington's defense, meanwhile, is ranked second overall. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 23

25. Houston Texans

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 21 (Miller, Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 30 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: For the Houston Texans to be successful this season, the offense must be able to establish the run. It doesn't matter who is behind center as the starting quarterback, the scheme is built to run the ball. In the first two games, the Texans averaged only 79.5 rushing yards, but Alfred Blue finally broke through with a tremendous effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blue carried the ball 31 times for 139 yards, and the team more than doubled its season output with 186 rushing yards. 

    What's Bad?: The fact the Texans couldn't manage a single sack against rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers' shoddy offensive line should be somewhat concerning. The defense can cover up many of the team's offensive problems, but J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney only managed two quarterback hits and another hurry, according to Pro Football Focus. The effort should eventually prove to be an aberration, but the team's room for error is so minimal it can't afford a letdown from its defense. 

    What's Next?: After giving up 318 total yards to the Buccaneers, the Texans will now face a legit offense when they travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. Matt Ryan is currently the league's second-most prolific passer, and the Falcons average 411.7 yards per game, which ranks third overall. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 31

24. Tennessee Titans

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 17 (Tanier)

    Lowest Ranking: 29 (Sobleski)

    What's Good?: There are very few players around the league currently playing as well as Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey. The USC product dominated against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The fifth-year defender registered a sack, four quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. With his performance, no 3-4 defensive end currently holds a higher grade from the website

    What's Bad?: As one of the league's youngest teams, the Titans are still learning how to win. Through three quarters of play, Tennessee held a 27-14 lead over the Colts. Andrew Luck's squad needed 21 points in the final frame to secure a 35-33 victory. If the Titans had won, the team would be sitting alone in first place atop the AFC South. Instead, the group now has two weeks to lick its wounds. 

    What's Next?The Titans are one of two teamsalong with the New England Patriotsto receive a Week 4 bye. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 27

23. Miami Dolphins

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    Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 17 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Tanier)

    What's Good?: With DeVante Parker still trying to work his way into the lineup and Greg Jennings not playing as well as expected, Rishard Matthews' performance is key for the Miami Dolphins offense. Sure, Matthews caught a meaningless 46-yard touchdown pass when the game was already out of hand against the Buffalo Bills, but he's also the team's leading receiver through three weeks of play. His 262 receiving yards currently rank 13th in the league just behind the totals of Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. and Demaryius Thomas

    What's Bad?: Sunday's performance against the Buffalo Bills had more downs than ups for Ryan Tannehill. First, the quarterback set a new franchise record early in the contest with 157 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He then followed that up by throwing three interceptions during the remainder of the game. Of course, it's not entirely Tannehill's fault the Dolphins offense continues to play poorly. The offensive line is a disaster, as guards Jamil Douglas and Dallas Thomas continue to struggle. 

    What's Next?: If the Dolphins want to get their offense on track, it's unlikely to happen this weekend in London against the rival New York Jets. Tannehill will need to protect the ball against the Jets' talented secondary. New York's offense has its own issues, but the Jets defense is good enough to take over games. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 18

22. Detroit Lions

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Current Record: 0-3

    Highest Ranking: 18 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: Rashean Mathis apparently doesn't age like a normal human being. The 35-year-old cornerback continues to play at a very high level despite reaching an age when most NFL defensive backs would have retired long ago. Mathis currently leads his team in solo tackles and tackles for loss. He's also been on the field for 201 of 209 possible snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Father Time will eventually catch up with Mathis, but he'll have to wait for the moment. 

    What's Bad?: A lot can be construed as bad after an 0-3 start, but right tackle, in particular, continues to be a headache for the Detroit Lions. Pro Football Focus has deemed Cornelius Lucas and LaAdrian Waddle the culprits for a combined 15 quarterback hurries this season. Only the Baltimore Ravens have received worse play from the right tackle position. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is the one who has to deal with the repercussions. 

    What's Next?: With all of the Lions' troubles on offense to start the season, a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Monday night can easily prove to be disastrous. The entire Lions roster needs to play to its talent level to win this contest, because Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the team's numerous running backs are better than the 27th overall offense. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 21

21. St. Louis Rams

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    Billy Hurst/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 18 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 28 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: No one can stop St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Offensive linemen can only hope to contain him. And they continue to be unsuccessful doing so. Each and every week, this section could be dedicated to Donald. That's how good he is. Let's put into context just how dominant he's been this season. According to Pro Football Focus, no defensive player has played at a higher level through three games (and it's not even close). Donald is a constant disruptive force, who currently leads his team with five tackles for loss and is tied for second among all pass-rushers with 3.5 sacks. 

    What's Bad?: Quarterback Nick Foles can't seem to find his groove. After completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 297 yards and a touchdown to open the season against the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams' new starter hasn't thrown for 200 yards in either of the subsequent games. The offense only scored 16 points over the past two weeks while the team wastes a talented defense. 

    What's Next?: The Rams offense better find a way to get on track this weekend, because the Arizona Cardinals are the team's next opponent. Bruce Arians' squad has scored an NFL-best 77 more points than its opponents so far this season. In fact, Arizona posted scores of 48 and 47 points in back-to-back weeks. St. Louis' defense can only do so much. The Rams offense will need to show up to not be run out of University of Phoenix Stadium. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 20

20. Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Current Record: 0-3

    Highest Ranking: 7 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 28 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: Steve Smith Sr. remains the same defiant and scrappy wide receiver he's always been. He's not going to let a little thing like retirement after this season get in the way of his performance. Even at 36 years old, Smith is still one of the NFL's best wide receivers. The elder statesman is currently third in the league with 349 receiving yards after his 186-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He still talks a good game too. 

    What's Bad?: While the Baltimore Ravens can throw the ball all over the yard, the offense's inability to effectively run the ball this season is mind boggling. Last season, running back Justin Forsett experienced a breakthrough season with 1,266 rushing yards behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Under the direction of new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, Forsett's yards per carry dropped from 5.4 last season to 3.2 this season. Overall, the team is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry. 

    What's Next?: After a disappointing loss to one AFC North rival, the Ravens don't have much time to prepare for another. John Harbaugh's squad will meet the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

    Last Week's Ranking: 17

19. San Diego Chargers

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 13 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 22 (Miller)

    What's Good?: As well as some of the wide receivers around the league are playing, the San Diego Chargers' Keenan Allen is getting lost in the mix. Allen is currently sixth in the NFL with 315 receiving yards. Twice already this season, the Chargers' top target produced 133 or more receiving yards in a game. Sunday's effort against the Minnesota Vikings was particularly good, because the former third-round pick scored a pair of touchdowns. 

    What's Bad?: Two issues currently plague the Chargers. First, the offensive line is dealing with injuries. Left tackle King Dunlap is in the team's concussion protocol. Left guard Orlando Franklin suffered an ankle injury against the Minnesota Vikings. And right guard D.J. Fluker continues to deal with a lingering ankle problem. On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line isn't a MASH unit, but it's been hemorrhaging rushing yards. The Chargers are currently tied with the Chicago Bears as the fourth-worst team at stopping the run.  

    What's Next?: Well, the Cleveland Browns haven't been able to run the ball or stop the run through three weeks. Both the Browns and Chargers will try to jam the ball down the other's throat. Whichever team proves to be more successful will likely emerge as the victor. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 16

18. New York Giants

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 11 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 23 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: After trying to cover the uncoverable Julio Jones, New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara responded well against the Washington Redskins. The former first-round pick managed eight total tackles and three deflected passes during the Thursday night meeting between these two rivals. In fact, Amukamara is currently among Pro Football Focus' 10 best cover corners. 

    What's Bad?: The Giants remain one of the league's worst teams at applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The team's three sacks this season rank 29th overall. Pro Football Focus ranks New York dead last in pass-rushing proficiency. While the defense applied plenty of pressure on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins last week, only linebacker Jonathan Casillas actually registered a sack. The Giants desperately need their front four to apply more pressure on opponents. 

    What's Next?: The Giants won't simply see one of the best teams in applying pressure this weekend. They'll experience it. Big Blue travels across their home state to face the Buffalo Bills. All the Giants' underwhelming defensive line has to do is look across the field to see one of the best.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 22

17. Oakland Raiders

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 13 (Gagnon, Tanier)

    Lowest Ranking: 22 (Schalter, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: Too much was made of the fact the Oakland Raiders hadn't registered a sack before Sunday's contest against the Cleveland Browns. Sacks or no sacks, the Raiders still feature one of the league's better defensive fronts. But Khalil Mack put the entire conversation to rest with a pair of sacks against a talented Browns offensive line. Linebackers Malcolm Smith, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Neiron Ball registered sacks as well. 

    What's Bad?: The Raiders linebackers cannot cover tight ends. It doesn't matter if it's a former first-round pick in Tyler Eifert or a career backup in Gary Barnidge. So far, the lowest number of yards the Raiders surrendered to a tight end was 88, but the Baltimore Ravens' Crockett Gillmore still scored two touchdowns. Barnidge, meanwhile, set career highs Sunday with six receptions for 105 yards. The Chicago Bears' Martellus Bennett is up next. 

    What's Next?: As the Raiders continue to improve, the Bears are heading in the other direction. After only three games, the organization already appears resigned to its fate after trading away the NFL's career leading sack artist, Jared Allen, and former second-round pick Jon Bostic. To prove they're one of the league's better teams, the Raiders should win handily. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 25

16. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 12 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 22 (Davenport)

    What's Good?: Well, the Philadelphia Eagles offense still isn't clicking, but there are finally some signs of life after Week 3's performance against the New York Jets. The running game started to flow a little bit better with Ryan Mathews lining up next to quarterback Sam Bradford. Mathews carried the ball 25 times for 108 yards against a stingy Jets defense. Darren Sproles also added a touchdown plunge. DeMarco Murray may be struggling when he's on the field, but the Eagles have other options in their running game. 

    What's Bad?: Two major injuries will have a dramatic effect on both the Eagles offense and special teams. First, right guard Andrew Gardner suffered a season-ending foot injury against the Jets, per Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith. And kicker Cody Parkey tore all three groin muscles Sunday, according to the Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen. The offensive line's play was already a major concern before Gardner's injury, and the Eagles will need to find a new kicker for the rest of the season. 

    What's Next?: Despite the Eagles' poor start to the season, they're only one game behind the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys. With the Cowboys' current injury situation, a win this weekend against the rival Washington Redskins could place Philadelphia exactly where it wants to be after four weeks even with all of its current problems. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 19

15. New York Jets

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    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 12 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 23 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: While this should come as no surprise, the Jets secondary is really good. New York's defense currently ranks fourth overall against the pass and surrenders fewer than 200 yards per game through the air. Darrelle Revis continues to play at a high level, of course. Antonio Cromartie is still returning to form after a Week 1 knee injury. And Buster Skrine handles the slot. It's a good thing the defensive backs are playing as well as they are, because they're not receiving as much help as they'd like from the Jets' front seven. 

    What's Bad?: Even with all of the talent along the Jets' defensive front, the group is still not getting to the quarterback. The Jets are one of 12 teams with fewer than five sacks through the first three weeks of play. Pro Football Focus ranks them second worst in pass-rushing proficiency. Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams are extremely talented as 3-4 defensive ends, but the edge pressure in the defense is nearly non-existent. 

    What's Next?: London isn't exactly the ideal spot for an AFC East rivalry game, but, at the very least, the Jets don't have to make as long of a trip as the Miami Dolphins. Both teams will be up early with a 9:30 a.m. ET start. The international series comes on the heels of the Dolphins' embarrassing 41-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

    Last Week's Ranking: 12

14. Indianapolis Colts

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 9 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 17 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: If Andrew Luck isn't going to play to the level everyone expects of him, the Indianapolis Colts will need to rely far more heavily on their running attack. In previous seasons, this would have been impossible, but the ageless Frank Gore continues to play well even at 32 years old. Gore played his best game as a member of the Colts so far in Sunday's contest against the Tennessee Titans. The former member of the San Francisco 49ers averaged 6.1 yards per carry for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As long as the Colts find a way to keep Gore fresh, he can be a prominent fixture in the offense to take some pressure off Luck. 

    What's Bad?: Luck's regression as a passer is obvious. He continues to force plays and puts too much of the offense on his shoulders. The Colts quarterback currently leads the NFL with seven interceptions. No other quarterback has thrown more than five. Part of this falls on general manager Ryan Grigson for the talent (or lack thereof) he's placed around his franchise quarterback. The team's offensive line still isn't playing well, and it forces Luck into situations where he needs to consistently play at an elite level to succeed. 

    What's Next?: After managing their first win of the season with a comeback against the Titans, the Colts stay within their division to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are coming off a 51-17 throttling at the hands of the New England Patriots. This is a perfect time for the Colts to establish themselves as the AFC South's best team. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 14

13. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 3 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 24 (Tanier)

    What's Good?: The streak finally and mercifully came to an end Monday night. Jeremy Maclin became the first Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver to catch a touchdown pass in 21 games. Dwayne Bowe was the last Chiefs wide receiver to do so, and his last touchdown came during Week 14 of the 2013 season. It wasn't simply about a touchdown. Maclin played very well against the Green Bay Packers with eight receptions for 141 yards. The Chiefs finally have a true No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Alex Smith to target. 

    What's Bad?: The Chiefs offensive line has yet to completely jell, and it showed Monday. The Packers have a talented front, but it's inconsistent. Yet the Chiefs surrendered seven quarterback sacks and 18 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. Donald Stephenson particularly struggled. The newly minted left tackle gave up two sacks and multiple hurries.  

    What's Next?: After a season-opening win against the Houston Texans, the Chiefs faced a very difficult schedule so far. The team is much better than 1-2 overall, but it's fallen short against the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers. It doesn't get any easier this coming weekend when the team travels to Cincinnati to face the 3-0 Bengals. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 9

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Billy Hurst/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 8 (Gagnon, Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 20 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: Running back Le'Veon Bell didn't miss a beat after sitting out the first two games of the season because of a suspension. Granted, Bell only averaged 3.3 yards per carry, but that speaks more to the St. Louis Rams' talented defensive line than any rust. The running back, though, contributed in all facets of the offense. Bell finished second on the team with seven receptions for 70 yards. In fact, the Michigan State product managed 132 yards of total offense and a touchdown. 

    What's Bad?: If the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to remain competitive this season, Bell will be a very big part of the equation, because the organization can't rely on Ben Roethlisberger for the time being. The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback suffered an MCL injury and a bone bruise against the Rams, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. With Roethlisberger out of the lineup anywhere from four to six weeks, Michael Vick will take over as the Steelers' starting quarterback. 

    What's Next?: The Steelers don't have much time to make many adjustments with a new quarterback behind center. The Baltimore Ravens come to town for this week's Thursday night affair. The Ravens are 0-3 overall, but they've been in every contest against quality opponents. The timing of Roethlisberger's injury couldn't have been worse for Pittsburgh. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 8

11. Dallas Cowboys

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    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 8 (Miller)

    Lowest Ranking: 16 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: Joseph Randle finally looked like the running back many expected him to be when he took over for DeMarco Murray. The Oklahoma State product sliced through the Atlanta Falcons defense for 87 yards on only 14 carries and three touchdowns. The Cowboys averaged 6.0 yards per carry as a team. Dallas' talented offensive line can dominate, but the rest of the team must step up to win games. 

    What's Bad?: Despite building a 28-17 halftime lead against the Falcons, the Cowboys couldn't do much of anything in the second half of the Week 3 contest. Atlanta scored 22 points and left Dallas with an impressive 39-28 victory. The most disappointing aspect for the Cowboys was the team's inability to slow Falcons running back Devonta Freeman or wide receiver Julio Jones. The duo combined for 305 total yards. If Dallas plans to remain competitive without quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant in the lineup, the defense must play at a higher level.

    What's Next?: A trip to the Superdome could help the Cowboys get back on track. Drew Brees' status for Sunday's contest remains undecided. If without Brees, the New Orleans Saints offense won't be anywhere near as potent as the Falcons'. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 7

10. Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 8 (Davenport, Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 19 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: Don't look now, but Adrian Peterson appears ready to run all over the rest of the NFL. Peterson currently leads the league with 291 rushing yards, and he's gotten better each and every week. The future Hall of Fame running back averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the San Diego Chargers for 126 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Peterson playing well, it takes the pressure off second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who hasn't played as well as expected to start the season.  

    What's Bad?: Charles Johnson's status for Sunday's contest against the Denver Broncos remains uncertain after he suffered a rib injury during Week 3. One reason for Bridgewater's mediocre start is his wide receivers aren't playing at a high level right now, and Johnson's injury only compounds the problem. Mike Wallace leads the team with 12 receptions for 150 yards. Neither number qualifies him as a top-40 wide receiver. 

    What's Next?: After a surprising loss to the San Francisco 49ers to open the season and then two strong performances during the following two weeks, the Minnesota Vikings will show how good they really are Sunday. The Broncos claim the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, and quarterback Peyton Manning also continues to get better each week in Gary Kubiak's scheme. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 13

9. Carolina Panthers

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 7 (Davenport, Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 16 (Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has never played better in his career. When his organization needed him to rise to the occasion because of issues at wide receiver and left tackle, he's done so. While Newton's accuracy could improve, he stepped up last week against the rival New Orleans Saints to complete 64.5 percent of his passes for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The quarterback is also second on his team with 144 rushing yards, which includes a team-high two rushing scores. The Panthers need Newton to be Superman right now, and he has been. 

    What's Bad?: Someone must step up and serve as a consistent target for Newton. Ted Ginn Jr. is currently second on the team with 188 receiving yards, but he only has 10 catches through three games. Veteran tight end Greg Olsen remains the quarterback's security blanket, but the offense needs more from Devin Funchess, Philly Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Ed Dickson. Otherwise, this section could become quite repetitive throughout the season. 

    What's Next?: Even after a 3-0 start, the Panthers are merely trying to keep pace with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. A meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers comes at the right time since the Panthers will be favored to handle Lovie Smith's squad. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 15

8. Seattle Seahawks

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    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 6 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 13 (Sobleski)

    What's Good?: Kam Chancellor is back. Does anything more need to be said? Not only is Chancellor back in the lineup, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also figured out how to feature All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham finished the contest against the Chicago Bears with seven receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Seattle Seahawks finally solved their biggest problems. With Chancellor and Graham on the field and producing, the Seahawks will only get better during the rest of the season. 

    What's Bad?: One large problem continues to loom over the entire organization now that the previous issues with Chancellor and Graham were settled: The Seahawks offensive line is terrible. There simply isn't another way to describe Seattle's play in the trenches during the first three weeks. None of the team's starting five carry a positive grade from Pro Football Focus.

    In fact, four of the startersnot including veteran left tackle Russell Okungcurrently claim the four lowest grades on the Seahawks offense. This group needs to start playing to the level expected of it, or the Seahawks might not find their way out of mediocrity this season. 

    What's Next?: While the Seahawks continue to deal with their issues, those problems aren't nearly as bad as those found on the Detroit Lions. Monday's opponent remains winless with a quarterback playing poorly, a mediocre offensive line and an underwhelming defense. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 10

7. Buffalo Bills

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-1

    Highest Ranking: 6 (Sobleski)

    Lowest Ranking: 11 (Davenport, Miller)

    What's Good?: Not only does Tyrod Taylor look like the Buffalo Bills' long-term answer at quarterback, but he might have a running mate in rookie back Karlos Williams. The Bills obviously made the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for LeSean McCoy to feature him in the offense, but the first-year player has simply looked better during his limited chances. Williams currently leads the NFL with an average of 7.8 yards per carry. McCoy only averages 3.4 yards per carry. At worst, the Bills just might have the NFL's best one-two punch at running back.

    What's Bad?: The Bills absolutely dismantled the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Very little didn't go Buffalo's way. However, the right side of the line remains questionable. Seantrel Henderson didn't play well, and rookie right guard John Miller is currently dealing with a groin injury. 

    What's Next?: Rex Ryan's team bounced back after an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots during Week 2. The Dolphins didn't stand a chance. If the team is as good as Ryan claims it can be, it can't experience a letdown at home against the 1-2 New York Giants. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 11

6. Atlanta Falcons

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    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 4 (Miller)  

    Lowest Ranking: 10 (Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: As an offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan became known for his ability to manufacture a strong run game. The Atlanta Falcons' ability to run the ball was hit or miss through the team's first two games, though. Everything changed Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Devonta Freeman exploded for 141 and three touchdowns on 31 carries. With Tevin Coleman currently dealing with a rib injury, Freeman can take over as the Falcons' full-time lead back. After his performance, the Falcons improved to 13th overall in rushing offense. 

    What's Bad?: Paul Worrilow's tackle numbers often overshadow the fact he's a below-average middle linebacker. In fact, Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the worst starting inside linebacker in the NFL. Worrilow will fill the stat sheet, but it overlooks the fact he makes too many tackles downfield (instead of near the line of scrimmage) and can be a liability in coverage. 

    What's Next?: The 1-2 Houston Texans and J.J. Watt are coming to town. The Falcons continue to deal with an offensive line trying to establish continuity among its five starters. Watt and fellow pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney could prove to be a handful, but it's a good test for the NFL's third-ranked offense. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 6

5. Denver Broncos

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    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 4 (3 voters)  

    Lowest Ranking: 6 (3 voters)

    What's Good?: Peyton Manning's demise might have been exaggerated a bit over the first two weeks of the season, but any type of success the future Hall of Fame quarterback experiences this season will be directly tied to the performance of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. In successive weeks, Thomas caught seven, eight and then nine passes. He broke through with his first touchdown Sunday against the Detroit Lions. If given time behind the Denver Broncos' porous offensive line, Thomas will get open and Manning will find him. 

    What's Bad?: The Broncos' offensive line issues are real and they're not going away any time soon. The unit's dysfunctional play comes from a unique combination of youth at certain positions, aging veterans at others and a complete lack of continuity. However, the group as a whole played better against the Detroit Lions. This unit will be outmatched at times, but as it becomes more comfortable with the offense, it can still improve. No one should expect this group to morph into one of the league's best offensive lines, though. 

    What's Next?: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson regained his Hall of Fame form against the San Diego Chargers. Now, Peterson must face the NFL's No. 1 defense. The Broncos defense is better getting after quarterbacks and stopping the pass, but the unit still ranks sixth against the run as well.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 3

4. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 3 (Gagnon, Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 9 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green can be inconsistent with his effort and concentration catching the football, but he's as good as any wide receiver in the league when he's on his game. Green exploded against the Baltimore Ravens when he caught 10 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came in the final 6:37 of the game. His performance was so good, it overshadowed Steve Smith's 186 receiving yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens. Smith couldn't help but recognize his counterpart after the game for his fine play. 

    What's Bad?: After giving up 186 yards to Smith, the Bengals secondary should come into question. Adam Jones continues to play at a high level, but fellow cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and free safety Reggie Nelson haven't bee as good in coverage this season. In fact, Pro Football Focus graded both among the five worst players at their respective positions over the first three weeks. 

    What's Next?: The 1-2 Kansas City Chiefs are next on the docket, but Andy Reid's squad shouldn't be overlooked. Kansas City already played the undefeated Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers. Cincinnati is next. For the Bengals to keep their current win streak going, they must slow Kansas City's ferocious pass rush and talented running back Jamaal Charles

    Last Week's Ranking: 5

3. Arizona Cardinals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 3 (5 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 5 (Schalter, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: The numbers say the Arizona Cardinals are currently the NFL's best team. Their 77-point differential after the first three games is tied for the 12th-largest spread over the past 65 seasons, according to's Chase Stuart. Head coach Bruce Arians wants his team to operate at full throttle, and he won't ease back even if the Cardinals are leading 40-7 like they were Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. 

    What's Bad?: Very little has gone wrong for the Cardinals through the first three weeks, but there are areas where the team can improve. The play of the team's offensive tackles, in particular, needs to be better than it was against the 49ers. Officials called three penalties against left tackle Jared Veldheer, while right tackle Bobby Massie looked like a player who missed the first two games because of a suspension. 

    What's Next?: The Cardinals' second foray into NFC West play awaits. After walloping the 49ers, the St. Louis Rams are next. St. Louis can be a problematic matchup because of the play of its talented defensive line—no one has been able to even slow defensive tackle Aaron Donald this season—but its offense continues to sputter. Quarterback Nick Foles will now enter the No Fly Zone. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 4

1. (Tied) New England Patriots

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 1 (4 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 2 (4 voters)

    What's Good?: Multiple prolific offenses make the NFL exciting to watch each and every weekend, but none of them quite stack up to a New England Patriots offense led by the incomparable Tom Brady. The four-time Super Bowl winner currently leads the NFL with 1,112 passing yards (he's the only quarterback to eclipse 1,000 passing yards so far). Wide receiver Julian Edelman is second in the league with 30 receptions. Rob Gronkowski leads all tight ends in receiving yardage and touchdowns. As a result, the Patriots own the league's top offense by a wide margin (32 more yards per game than any other team to be exact). 

    What's Bad?: First-round picks are expected to produce at a relatively high level during their first season. It doesn't always happen, but those are the expectations placed upon talented young players. The Patriots spent the 32nd overall pick on defensive tackle Malcom Brown. The rookie from Texas was supposed to help fill the massive void left by Vince Wilfork. Instead, Brown is currently the worst rookie interior defender graded by Pro Football Focus

    What's Next?: The Patriots are one of two teamsalong with the Tennessee Titansto receive a Week 4 bye. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 2

1. (Tied) Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 1 (4 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 2 (4 voters)

    What's Good?: Opponents facing the Green Bay Packers must pick their poison. Even without Jordy Nelson, the Packers are absolutely loaded at the skill positions. Each week, a new player rises to the occasion. In Week 1, James Jones caught two touchdown passes. In Week 2, tight end Richard Rodgers posted an unexpected score. Most recently, Randall Cobb scored three times against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. Running back Eddie Lacy also has a rushing and receiving touchdown. With Aaron Rodgers orchestrating this offense, Green Bay is nearly impossible to stop. 

    What's Bad?: The only downfall of the Packers offense is its inconsistent offensive line, particularly the offensive tackles. Don Barclay's performance at right tackle during Bryan Bulaga's absence has been downright awful. Bulaga's return to the lineup from a knee injury has yet to be determined, though. And David Bakhtiari was called for another holding penalty during the Chiefs contest. Thankfully, Aaron Rodgers is one of the game's most mobile quarterbacks. Otherwise, the Packers offense might be grounded because of poor play from its offensive tackles. 

    What's Next?: For the most part, the Packers offense is rolling, and the team hosts one of the league's worst defenses Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers surrendered 90 points over the last two weeks against offenses led by Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. Aaron Rodgers should carve them up. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 1


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