NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 4
If there's one thing you can expect in the National Football League, it's the unexpected.
There were plenty of games in Week 3 that followed the script. Everyone and their mother expected the undefeated New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys to make short work of the winless New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Sure enough, that's just what happened.
But just as there is every week in the NFL, there were surprises as well. Despite the loss of superstar quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints handled the Seahawks in Seattle. In his first start for the New York Giants, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones led the G-Men to a wild comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers remained unbeaten after surviving close calls against AFC North teams.
After yet another wild week of pro football, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have come together to sift through the blowouts, close calls and upsets to slot all 32 teams from worst to first.
There wasn't much movement at the top or bottom, but the middle was thrown into a blender—again.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-3)
Last Week: 32
Week 3 Result: Lost at Dallas 31-6
Well, the Dolphins finally made the switch to Josh Rosen at quarterback.
It worked about as well as everything else Miami has tried in a season in which Miami has now been outscored 133-16.
Seriously. That's a real stat.
Rosen wasn't good against the Cowboys, completing just 18 of 39 passes for 200 yards. But it's not like the second-year pro has a lot of help. Miami's offensive line and skill-position talent—much like everything else on this dumpster fire of a football team—is among the worst in the NFL.
On November 3, the Dolphins will host the Jets.
You may want to get your affairs in order before that "game." The sheer weight of the awful that afternoon may rip a hole in the fabric of the universe, bringing about the extinction of existence itself.
31. New York Jets (0-3)
Last Week: 29
Week 3 Result: Lost at New England 30-14
Normally, NFL teams don't like having the bye week early in the season.
But the first three weeks of the 2019 campaign have been anything but normal for the Jets. Sam Darnold has been sidelined by a bout of mononucleosis. First-round pick Quinnen Williams and big offseason acquisition on defense C.J. Mosley have missed the last two games with injuries.
Those two games haven't been pretty. Against the Patriots on Sunday, third-string quarterback Luke Falk and the offense generated just 105 yards. The Jets averaged 1.8 yards per carry, had just six first downs and didn't score a point offensively.
When the Jets return in Week 5, Darnold, Williams and Mosley will hopefully be back on the field.
This is not a good enough team to dig out of an 0-3 hole and make any sort of a run at the playoffs.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)
Last Week: 30
Week 3 Result: Lost at Buffalo 21-17
In 2018, the Cincinnati Bengals fielded the worst defense in the NFL in terms of yardage allowed.
Somehow, that defense has managed to become even worse in 2019.
In Week 2, the Bengals allowed a staggering 571 yards of offense in a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Sunday in Buffalo, things weren't quite that bad—the Bengals "only" gave up 416 yards to the Bills. But after erasing a 14-0 deficit to take a three-point lead, the Bengals just couldn't get one more stop to seal the deal.
The hiring of head coach Zac Taylor was supposed to signify a new era in Cincinnati. But the 2019 Bengals look an awful lot like the 2018 iteration did under Marvin Lewis. The offense is inconsistent. The defense is consistent, all right—just consistently terrible.
And just like last year, the Bungles are headed nowhere fast.
29. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Last Week: 26
Week 3 Result: Lost at Minnesota 34-14
The Oakland Raiders looked really impressive in a home win over the Denver Broncos in Week 1. But since then, impressive has turned into depressing.
The Raiders were dominated Sunday in Minnesota from start to finish in a manner that the stats don't really indicate. Twenty minutes into the contest it was 21-0.
This isn't to say that there weren't bright spots. There was one large one—tight end Darren Waller continued his early-season roll, reeling in 13 of 14 targets for 134 yards.
But outside that big outing, most of Oakland's stats were of the garbage-time variety, the Raiders pass rush (much like last year) was invisible, and three of Minnesota's first four drives culminated in touchdowns.
The 2019 Raiders may well be better than last year's four-win mess of a ballclub.
But there's still a ways to go before anyone's going to call Oakland a good team.
28. Denver Broncos (0-3)
Last Week: 28
Week 3 Result: Lost at Green Bay 27-16
The Broncos acquired veteran Joe Flacco in the offseason in the hopes that the former Super Bowl MVP could provide at least a temporary solution for the team's long-running issues at quarterback.
The Broncos lost in Green Bay on Sunday despite the team doing just about everything one might think they'd need to do to stay in a game. The Denver defense allowed just 312 yards of total offense, and tailback Phillip Lindsay had a huge outing—130 total yards and two touchdowns.
Sure enough, Denver was in the game—until Flacco fumbled deep in Broncos territory in the second quarter and essentially gifted the Packers a touchdown. The Broncos trailed from that moment on.
Maybe another loss has a silver lining. Maybe the Broncos need to well and truly crater to get a high enough draft pick to target a quarterback of the future.
Using veteran retreads isn’t getting them anywhere.
"The NFL has been tracking sacks since 1982," Gagnon said, "and the Broncos are the first team since then to start a season with zero sacks and zero takeaways in their first three games. The Vic Fangio era is off to a horrendous start."
27. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)
Last Week: 25
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Carolina 38-20
It was hardly a secret that there were going to be growing pains with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019. There's a new quarterback in Kyler Murray and a new offense in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid scheme. It was going to take a little while to work the kinks out.
Well, Sunday's loss to the winless Carolina Panthers at home was certainly painful.
Blame for the loss can't all be placed on Murray—he didn't single-handedly allow eight sacks or give up four touchdown passes to Kyle Allen. But the first overall pick in this year's draft did his part too, throwing a pair of costly interceptions.
A disturbing pattern has revealed itself with these Cardinals the last two weeks—they've stayed in games for a while before fading down the stretch.
If that continues to be the case, it's going to be another long season in the Valley of the Sun.
26. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Last Week: 27
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Chicago 31-15
There haven't been many positives for the Washington Redskins in 2019. The offense has been one-dimensional and inconsistent. The defense has been consistently bad, allowing over 30 points in all three games.
The countdown has started on Case Keenum's time as the starting quarterback. Jay Gruden's days as head coach may well be numbered too.
But there has been at least one bright spot.
By virtue of his six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Monday's loss to the Chicago Bears, wide receiver Terry McLaurin became the first player in NFL history with at least five receptions and a touchdown in each of his first three games, per ESPN (via Eleven Warriors' Dan Hope).
McLaurin averaged 20 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdowns last year while catching balls from Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State.
With the Redskins winless and Keenum coming off a five-turnover game, it may not be long until McLaurin is catching passes from Haskins in the pros.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
Last Week: 20
Week 3 Result: Lost at San Francisco 24-20
Things just keep getting better and better for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a week where more than one young quarterback shined in his first NFL start, second-year pro Mason Rudolph struggled mightily in his—14 completions in 27 attempts, 174 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.
Rudolph wasn't the only Steeler who didn't play well, though. The Pittsburgh defense allowed 168 yards on the ground. The Pittsburgh ground game was stuck in neutral, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry.
And despite notching five takeaways, the Steelers just couldn't pull out a win, falling to 0-3 on the season.
"The Steelers are so much worse than their record, which is a tough thing to do when you're winless," Gagnon said. "They were completely dominated Sunday for the second time this season, and it wasn't just about the quarterback situation. The defense can't get off the field, they lack playmakers, the offensive line is getting too old, and James Conner has disappeared. The 49ers did everything in their power to hand Sunday's game to the Steelers, but Pittsburgh refused to accept. This team is mediocre at best."
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Last Week: 22
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. New York Giants 32-31
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had extra time to get ready for a rookie quarterback making his first career start in Week 3. It showed in the first half—the Buccaneers dominated the New York Giants and led 28-10 at the break.
Then it all fell apart.
In the second half, Tampa's offense sputtered, managing just three points. The defense spent the second 30 minutes making Daniel Jones look like Daniel Marino. And when Matt Gay's field-goal attempt squeaked wide right as time expired, the Buccaneers completed a massive collapse inside a stadium in Tampa that sounded like it was populated mostly by Giants fans.
It's not going to get any easier from here, either. Given that the Buccaneers couldn't handle a winless Giants team at home, the odds of Tampa getting a win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next week or the Superdome the week after are not good.
Especially since the New Orleans Saints appear to be the only team in the NFC South with any real interest in winning football games.
23. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Last Week: 17
Week 3 Result: Lost at Jacksonville 20-7
The further we get from Tennessee's Week 1 blowout of the Browns, the more that 43-13 drubbing looks to be more an indictment of how bad the Browns were than how good the Titans are.
Because since that game, "good" and the Titans haven't intersected once.
Not all the blame for Thursday's loss can be laid at the feet of quarterback Marcus Mariota—not in a game during which he was sacked nine times and pressured 49 (approximately) others.
But Mariota has thrown just four touchdown passes and is averaging fewer than 240 passing yards per game, and as a result the Titans are a one-dimensional mess offensively.
Davenport thinks a change under center has to be considered, even if head coach Mike Vrabel has said he's not considering one.
"Tennessee's season is at a tipping point," he said, "but all isn't lost yet. The Titans play just one 2018 playoff team over their next six, although there are a few fringe contenders on the slate. Mariota's hearing footsteps and has forgotten there are wide receivers on his team. Vrabel needs to reconsider starting Ryan Tannehill in Week 4—because the Titans aren't going anywhere with Mariota."
22. New York Giants (1-2)
Last Week: 31
Week 3 Result: Won at Tampa Bay 32-31
The New York sports media should have quite the field day this week—because Daniel Jones fever is at about 350 degrees in the Big Apple.
All the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft did in his first career start was pass for 336 yards and two touchdowns, run for two more scores and lead the G-Men back from a 28-10 halftime deficit to notch New York's first win of the year.
Other than that, he was just OK.
As great as Jones' debut was, New York's first win of the season came at a potentially staggering cost. Saquon Barkley spent the better part of the afternoon watching the action on crutches after injuring his ankle, and with early reports indicating Barkley has a high ankle sprain, the second overall pick in 2018 will likely be out a while.
That's a huge loss going forward, but for now at least Big Blue can bask in victory—for once.
21. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Last Week: 18
Week 3 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 27-24
It wasn't bad enough that the Atlanta Falcons have been pulling a Jekyll and Hyde act—the team looked awful in a Week 1 loss to Minnesota but bounced back with an impressive Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Falcons one-upped that pingpong act in Week 3—by going Jekyll and Hyde in the same game. The Falcons took the first half off, spotting the Indianapolis Colts a 20-3 lead. But in the second half, Atlanta looked like the Super Bowl team of a few years ago, storming back to within three before eventually coming up short.
The whole thing left Davenport dizzy—and a little nauseous.
"When the Saints lost Drew Brees," he said, "I speculated that it opened the door for the Falcons to seize control of the NFC South. So what did they do with the opportunity? They laid a big fat falcon's egg in the first half against the Colts, that's what. It's next to impossible to have any long-term confidence in a team that's this inconsistent."
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Last Week: 17
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Tennessee 20-7
All hail King Gardner the Second, lord of Duval County.
Since taking over at quarterback for the injured Nick Foles, rookie Gardner Minshew II has captured the hearts of Jaguars fans. There's the glorious mustache. The outfits. The endorsement offer from an adult entertainment website.
Oh, and the fact that Minshew has completed almost 74 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and one interception while posting a passer rating of over 110.
However, while Minshew played well against the Tennessee Titans, it was the defense that carried the day. After a slow start to the year, the Jaguars "Sacksonville" D-Line made Marcus Mariota miserable all night long, piling up nine sacks in the win.
Were it not for a missed two-point conversion against the Texans in Week 2, these Jaguars could easily be 2-1 and in the driver's seat in a topsy-turvy AFC South.
19. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Last Week: 23
Week 3 Result: Won at Arizona 38-20
The 2019 season has been a hot mess for the Carolina Panthers. First came a pair of losses at home to open the year. Then there was an aggravation of Cam Newton's foot injury that placed the team's MVP quarterback back on the shelf.
With youngster Kyle Allen starting for the Panthers on Sunday in Arizona, not much was expected from Carolina in Week 3.
The problem is that no one told that to Allen.
Playing in just the third game of his professional career, Allen played light-years better than Newton had over the first two games of the season, lighting up the Cardinals for 261 yards and four touchdowns on the way to a decisive victory.
It's not yet known if Newton's foot will be sufficiently healed in time for next week's trip to Houston, but if it isn't and Allen goes out there and lights up the Texans, we could be in for the most unlikely of quarterback controversies.
Stranger things have happened—we guess.
18. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Last Week: 19
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 20-13
Remember all those good old days when everyone gushed about how good the Browns were going to be?
Those were simpler times.
Now, after dropping to 1-2 following a seven-point loss to the Rams on Sunday night, the Browns are 1-2 and about to head into a brutal four-game stretch against teams that are a combined 10-2 this season. Three of Cleveland's next four opponents made the postseason last year, highlighted by a trip to Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots.
Given how badly the Browns have struggled offensively, it's not hard to imagine the Browns coming out of this mess of a month at 1-6 and all but out of postseason contention.
"Yes, the Browns are freeeee...free fallin'," Sobleski quipped. "The Browns are simply not a good football team right now. They play undisciplined football. Their first-time head coach, Freddie Kitchens, looks in over his head. A draw on 4th-and-9?! C'mon, man. And the supposed franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield, has regressed. Basically, Cleveland returned to its typical underwhelming status."
17. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)
Last Week: 21
Week 3 Result: Won at Philadelphia 27-24
Maybe it's time we started paying attention to the Detroit Lions.
After stunning the Eagles 27-24 in Philadelphia, the Lions remain unbeaten and sit just half a game back of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Were it not for a late collapse in Arizona in Week 1, the Lions would be sitting at a perfect 3-0.
The Detroit Lions.
Detroit didn't exactly pile up the style points in the win. Matthew Stafford barely broke 200 passing yards, and the Lions averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. But the Lions defense forced a pair of turnovers, and Detroit got a special teams score on the first kickoff return touchdown of the 2019 season.
"I'm still not sure how good the Lions are," Davenport said, "but Sunday's win over the Eagles is Detroit's second straight over a team that made the playoffs in 2018. We won't have to wait long to find out, though—the Lions host the Kansas City Chiefs next week and then head to Lambeau to face the Packers."
"Maybe, the Lions are actually...good? Well, they're certainly better than expected with a 2-0-1 record," Sobleski added. "Back-to-back victories over quality opponents in the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles signal a highly competitive roster. If not for a second-half collapse against the Arizona Cardinals to open the season, the question mark regarding how good Detroit is would have turned into a declarative statement."
16. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
Last Week: 12
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Houston 27-20
The Los Angeles Chargers seemingly excel at a number of things that no NFL team wants to excel at.
The Chargers pile up injuries like it's nobody's business. The 2019 season has been no different—Los Angeles is already on its third strong safety this season.
The Chargers also excel at slow starts to the season. Last year, the Chargers started 1-2. The year before that, they went 0-for-September. The year before that, it was 1-4 over the first five. In 2015, the Chargers again dropped two of their first three.
Well, after blowing a 17-7 lead at the break against the visiting Texans, here we go again. The Chargers are 1-2 and already two off the pace in the AFC West.
Luckily for L.A., the schedule over the next few weeks has more cake than a Hostess outlet store. Next week, the Chargers face the hapless Dolphins, followed by the woeful Broncos and the reeling Steelers.
That's three winless teams in a row for those of you scoring at home.
15. Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Last Week: 15
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Cincinnati 21-17
The Bills are undefeated.
That's not generally a phrase that's accurate past, say, Week 1 or so. But after coming back to defeat the Bengals on Sunday, the Bills are 3-0 and tied with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East.
It was far from a flawless victory. The Bills squandered a 14-0 lead—in a game they forced four turnovers. Despite over 400 yards of total offense and 175 yards on the ground, the Bills managed just 21 points.
"The Bills are a nice story," Davenport said, "and that defense and rushing attack are going to keep the Bills in ballgames—and maybe even contention for a wild-card spot. But there's quite a bit of difference between taking on teams (the Jets, Giants and Bengals) who are a combined 1-8 to start the year and taking on the defending Super Bowl champions. If Buffalo can hang with New England next week, I'll take them seriously as a potential playoff contender. But for now, I'm still skeptical."
14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Last Week: 8
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 27-24
The Philadelphia Eagles are in trouble.
In fairness, there are reasons outside the Eagles control why the team has struggled of late—chief among them a wide receiver corps that has been decimated by injuries.
But the Eagles have been forced to continue throwing the ball because the run game has been inconsistent—at best. The Eagles have defended the run well but struggled against the pass.
And whether it's a turnover or a special teams letdown (both of which happened in Philadelphia on Sunday), the Eagles are coming up short at crucial moments in games.
With the Cowboys rolling along at 3-0, the Eagles are already two back of first place in the NFC East. And with the Packers, Vikings and Cowboys all on the schedule over the next month, the Eagles could find themselves in a hole too deep to dig out of by the season's halfway point.
"So far, the Eagles lost two straight games and their only victory came courtesy of a second-half comeback," Sobleski wrote. "In fact, the Eagles have trailed at halftime in all three contests, which is the first time that's happened since the 2016 campaign, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank. The Eagles entered this season as arguably the NFL's deepest team, but they're being tested by numerous injuries, and it shows in the squad's quality of play."
13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Last Week: 13
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Atlanta 27-24
When Andrew Luck stunned the NFL by announcing his retirement, most people assumed that the Colts were finished as playoff contenders.
As it turns out, maybe not.
The Colts have been one of the grittier teams in the league over the first few weeks of the season. Every game has been a closely contested affair. And for the second time in as many weeks, Indy held on and won.
The most impressive thing about the win over the Falcons wasn't Marlon Mack and the ground game—it managed just 79 yards and 3.3 yards per carry. It wasn't the defense either—the Colts gave up almost 400 yards and nearly squandered a 17-point halftime lead.
No, the star in Week 3 was quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who posted his first 300-yard passing game of the year and threw two touchdown passes without a turnover.
These might not be the Colts we expected, but they aren't going away in the AFC South.
12. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
Last Week: 16
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Pittsburgh 24-20
The San Francisco 49ers tried very hard to hand this game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's not all that often that a team commits five turnovers (three fumbles and two interceptions) and pulls out a win.
On some level, as Sobleski pointed out, the victory was quite the gut check for head coach Kyle Shanahan and the Niners.
"The 49ers are easily the league's biggest surprise 3-0 team," he said. "Their latest victory showed how a good squad overcomes adversity. The 49ers committed five turnovers and handed the Pittsburgh Steelers a three-turnover advantage. Despite the mistakes, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led three second-half touchdown drives to secure the 24-20 victory. If San Francisco cleans up its play, then Kyles Shanahan's squad can be even better."
The 49ers need to tighten things up over the bye week. San Francisco's three wins came against teams that are a combined 1-8 to start the year. Five turnovers in a game against the likes of the division rival Rams isn't going to get it done.
11. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Last Week: 14
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Oakland 34-14
The Minnesota Vikings we saw Sunday are the team everyone expected to be a legit Super Bowl contender last year.
Granted, the team's Week 3 opponent was rather ungood, but the Vikings performed well in just about every phase of the game. Dalvin Cook continued his red-hot start to the season, rushing for 110 yards and a score. Kirk Cousins didn't post big numbers, but he was efficient and took care of the football. The Minnesota defense piled up four sacks and gave up just 302 yards of offense.
The question now is whether the Vikings can do it consistently. They looked great in pounding the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 but came out flat in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers and fell behind 21-0.
The Vikings had all kinds of trouble with their rivals in Chicago last year—coming out strong at Soldier Field in Week 4 would go a long way toward allaying concerns about whether Minnesota is the real deal and ready to contend in the NFC North.
10. Chicago Bears (2-1)
Last Week: 11
Week 3 Result: Won at Washington 31-15
Heading into Week 3, the Bears desperately needed a "get right" game on offense. The defense had been its usually stout self over the first two games, but the offense was averaging fewer than 10 points per game.
For a half at least, Chicago got it.
In the first 30 minutes of Monday's win over Washington, Trubisky was essentially perfect—20 completions in 23 attempts for 173 yards and three scores, including a beautiful throw to Taylor Gabriel (who caught all three scores) just before the half that helped give the Bears a 28-0 lead.
Still, even on a night when the first half went so well, there was cause for concern.
The same offense that looked so explosive in the first half went dormant in the second. The defense that was dominant early let the Redskins drive up and down the field until Danny Trevathan forced a Case Keenum fumble that essentially sealed the win.
Throw in star defensive end Akiem Hicks's leaving late with a knee injury, and there's reason to be nervous ahead of next week's huge home tilt with the rival Vikings.
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Last Week: 10
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. New Orleans 33-27
The Seattle Seahawks may have bigger problems than we thought.
It's not exactly panic time in the Pacific Northwest after Sunday's loss to the Saints. But there are genuine causes for concern. The final score doesn't reflect the extent to which the Seahawks were dominated by a Saints team led by its backup quarterback.
Add in that the Seattle's two victories came against the winless Bengals and Steelers, and Gagnon is not convinced the 2019 Seahawks are all that good.
"No way the Seahawks are a top-12 team right now," he wrote. "They beat the Bengals by just one point at home, and Cincinnati has struggled in two losses outside of that. They beat the Steelers by just two points without Ben Roethlisberger, and Pittsburgh has been a mess in two losses outside of that. And on Sunday, they were dominated at home by a Saints team that was traveling for a second consecutive week and missing its Hall of Fame quarterback. That's hugely problematic."
We won't have to wait all that long to find out if Gagnon is right—after traveling to Arizona in Week 4, the Seahawks play host to the unbeaten Rams in a game with huge ramifications in the NFC West.
8. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Last Week: 6
Week 3 Result: Lost at Kansas City 33-28
There's no shame in losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. And in piling up over 450 yards of total offense, the Ravens continued humming on that side of the ball.
Well, sort of.
You see, that number is a tad misleading. The Ravens racked up quite a bit of that yardage late while trying to storm back from a 30-13 deficit. Part of the reason for that deficit was the fact that Lamar Jackson had his shakiest outing of the season as a passer—22-of-43 for 267 yards and a passer rating of 70.6.
It was a reminder both that Jackson remains a work in progress as a passer and that in today's NFL—even when a team runs for over 200 yards—at some point the quarterback is going to have to make plays with his arm.
Jackson came up short in that regard Sunday, but the Ravens still look like the best team in the AFC North.
7. Houston Texans (2-1)
Last Week: 9
Week 3 Result: Won at Los Angeles Chargers 27-20
The Houston Texans are becoming one of the more difficult teams to figure out. Most of the way Sunday against the Chargers, the Texans trailed. For much of the game, they didn't look especially good.
But when the dust settled, the Texans had secured a seven-point, come-from-behind win—for one prevailing reason.
Deshaun Watson refused to let Houston lose.
The Texans quarterback was outstanding against Los Angeles, completing 25 of 34 attempts for 351 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Watson led three straight drives in the second half that resulted in touchdowns.
According to Davenport, there may have been an even more important development Sunday.
"Houston's beleaguered offensive line gave up just two sacks and six quarterback hits against the Chargers," he said. "If Houston gets better about protecting its star signal-caller, this offense has the weapons to be pretty scary."
"If not for a Wil Lutz miracle kick in Week 1, the Texans would be 3-0," Gagnon chimed in. "But you get the feeling they haven't come close to hitting their stride. There's so much talent there, and I think they'll build off a dramatic start to the season."
6. New Orleans Saints (2-1)
Last Week: 10
Week 3 Result: Won at Seattle 33-27
Reports of the demise of the New Orleans Saints may have been greatly exaggerated.
After Drew Brees injured his hand in last week's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, more than a few people wrote off the Saints as Super Bowl contenders. It wasn't unreasonable—losing a Hall of Fame quarterback is a massive blow and then some.
But after downing the Seattle Seahawks in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated—in a true team effort that included a defensive touchdown and special teams score, no less—the Teddy Bridgewater-led Saints are right back in the driver's seat in the NFC South.
"The Saints showed they're still one of the NFC's best teams without Drew Brees," Sobleski wrote. "Sunday's 33-27 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field was the weekend's most impressive. The formula is rather simple to keep the team rolling until Brees returns: Play fundamentally sound defense, get the ball into Alvin Kamara's hands, and let Teddy Bridgewater play efficient football within the scheme."
5. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Last Week: 5
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Denver 27-16
We don't mean to alarm anyone, but it's possible that we're in the midst of an alien invasion in which extraterrestrial doppelgangers are replacing earth's citizenry—starting with the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers don't look like the team we've come to know over the past several years. For the third week in a row to start the season, Aaron Rodgers' stats were very un-Rodgers like—235 passing yards and a single touchdown.
This Green Bay team isn't winning with Rodgers standing on his head every week. No, these Packers are getting it done with a defense that forced three turnovers and got to Denver quarterback Joe Flacco six times.
Interstellar joking aside, the play of the Green Bay defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 season. Three games in, it's safe to say those performances weren't a fluke. These Packer sackers (you can use that…you're welcome) are the real deal.
And so are the Green and Gold.
"It's downright scary that they've yet to find a groove on offense," Gagnon said, "because they're 3-0 anyway and the defense is elite. They've got seven takeaways in their last two games, and there's a lot of room to grow."
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
Last Week: 4
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Miami 31-6
Everything the Cowboys did in Week 3 comes with a bit of a caveat, in that it happened against the withered husk of what used to be the Dolphins. And the Cowboys actually let the Dolphins hang around in the first half.
But football games have two halves, and the Cowboys peeled off three unanswered second-half touchdowns to pummel the Dolphins and move to 3-0 on the season.
The win showed just how dangerous this Dallas team can be offensively. On a day when Dak Prescott's numbers were down a bit relative to the last two games, the ground game went bonkers—both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard topped 100 rushing yards and the Cowboys averaged just shy of seven yards per carry.
"Not for nothing," Davenport said, "but the Cowboys may well be the most complete team in the NFC. They can run the ball. They can throw the ball. And the defense is stout. Of Dallas' next six games, only a Week 5 home tilt with the Packers looks like a real challenge. Not only is Dallas the class of the NFC East, but the Cowboys will be in the thick of the race for home-field advantage in the NFC."
3. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
Last Week: 3
Week 3 Result: Won at Cleveland 20-13
The Rams are one of the more enigmatic front-runners in the NFL. Last year's offensive juggernaut has given way to a much less explosive scheme. In Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, the Rams ran for just 90 yards on 24 carries and Jared Goff had an up-and-down game throwing the ball that included a pair of interceptions.
But Los Angeles also keeps right on winning—mostly because of Aaron Donald and the defense.
The Rams surrendered just 270 yards of total offense to the Browns and harassed Baker Mayfield with regularity, racking up three sacks and pressuring him on countless other occasions. L.A. used a similar recipe to throttle the New Orleans Saints the week before.
"Sometimes the truest measure of a dangerous team is the ease with which that team can change up what they do," Davenport said. "The Rams have gone from a grip-and-rip downfield passing attack in 2018 to a team more focused on controlling tempo and playing defense in 2019. And the wins just keep on coming."
2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Last Week: 2
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Baltimore 33-28
Patrick Mahomes is rather good at the whole throwing the football thing.
Sunday's marquee matchup featured a pair of undefeated teams in the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens and two of the game's most exciting young signal-callers in Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
The reigning NFL MVP didn't disappoint, shredding a solid Ravens defense for 374 yards and three scores while posting a passer rating of 132.0.
Mind you, this was without Kansas City's best wide receiver (Tyreek Hill) and starting tailback (Damien Williams) on the field.
Last year, Mahomes became just the second player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in the same season. In 2019, he's not only on a pace to repeat that feat, but if Mahomes keeps chewing up yardage at this clip, he'll also become the league's first 6,000-yard quarterback.
We're not about to bet against him.
1. New England Patriots (3-0)
Last Week: 1
Week 3 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 30-14
It was a tumultuous week for the Patriots, filled with the sort of off-field distractions that are anathema to Bill Belichick.
But after releasing Antonio Brown earlier in the week, the Patriots on Sunday did what they do best: got back to the business of winning.
Granted, the victory came against an overmatched team that managed just 105 total yards, but the Patriots continued to play lights-out defense—New York's two scores came on a muffed punt and a Jarrett Stidham pick-six.
There was a minor concern for the Patriots in the game, with Julian Edelman going down late in the first half with a chest injury. However, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the injury isn't serious.
The Patriots will play their first opponent that has won a game in 2019 on Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills.
It's a series the Pats lead 15-3 since 2010, because of course they do.