NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 4
Three weeks into the 2020 season, the NFL picture is becoming clear.
Just kidding. It's muddier than ever.
Mind you, not everything is a mystery. We know the Seattle Seahawks are an offensive powerhouse after Russell Wilson threw for five touchdowns for the second week in a row. We know the New York Jets are a dumpster fire after their blowout loss in Indianapolis. And the matter of the league's best team at this point in the season was settled on the field at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night...
In emphatic fashion.
However, for everything that's clear, there are two things that aren't. Are the 3-0 Chicago Bears really as good as their record? Are the winless Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles really this bad after making the playoffs in 2019?
And what is up with the juggernaut in Buffalo?
With Week 3 in the books, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have gathered in an effort to answer those questions by ranking all 32 teams from worst to first.
That first one is a no-brainer three weeks in….
J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!
32. New York Jets
Last Week: 32
Week 3 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 36-7
The New York Jets are well and truly terrible.
If there was any question who the worst team in the NFL was, the Jets appeared to answer it in emphatic fashion Sunday in getting blown out by the Colts.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was awful, throwing three interceptions—two of which were returned for touchdowns. He threw for just 168 yards, and the Jets managed only 3.8 yards per carry on the ground.
The defense didn't fare much better. At first glance, the 353 yards the Jets allowed don't appear to be so bad. But the Colts scored on their first two offensive possessions, and the Colts had reserves on the field much of the second half.
Something is going to have to give at MetLife Stadium on Thursday when the winless Broncos visit, but if the Jets can't get a win there, it may be a while before they do. Four of their following six games are against teams with a winning record.
It's not an exaggeration to say the rest of Darnold's 2020 season is essentially an audition for whether he'll be a Jet much longer.
31. New York Giants (0-3)
Last Week: 28
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 36-9
When Saquon Barkley went down with a season-ending ACL tear last week, it felt like the New York Giants had hit rock bottom.
Not even close.
It would be bad enough if the Giants lost by 27 points to a full-strength San Francisco 49ers team. But the Niners essentially fielded their JV team Sunday—San Francisco was short a fistful of starters, including the vast majority of their offensive skill-position talent and quarterback.
And the Giants still got waxed.
Without Barkley and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, the offense couldn't even muster 250 total yards and 10 points. The defense has been awful all season long. And with a trip to the West Coast coming up in Week 4 against an angry Rams team followed by a trip to Dallas, it's hard to imagine the result is going to change the next couple of weeks.
The Giants weren't a good team with Barkley.
Without him, they are genuinely awful.
"New York's football teams are the worst in the NFL," Gagnon said. "They're a combined 0-6, and they were outscored 72-16 Sunday by two teams that were far from 100 percent."
30. Denver Broncos (0-3)
Last Week: 25
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Tampa Bay 28-10
In the long and storied history of the Denver Broncos, the franchise has never started consecutive seasons 0-3.
It's not entirely Denver's fault that it was dominated in every facet of the game by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Denver was without quarterback Drew Lock. And wide receiver Courtland Sutton. And edge-rusher Von Miller. The latter two are out long-term.
September isn't even over yet, and the Broncos are done. Denver is staring down the barrel of a third 10-loss season in four years—another unprecedented occurrence since the AFL-NFL merger.
The question is not what the Broncos' plans are for 2020. It's going to be another long year. Now it's a matter of what Denver's next move will be after the season ends. Head coach Vic Fangio's future in Denver is cloudy at best. Depending on where Denver lands in the draft, Lock's may be as well.
Life comes at you fast in the NFL.
29. Atlanta Falcons (0-3)
Last Week: 27
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Chicago 30-26
The Atlanta Falcons are trapped in a waking nightmare.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Falcons raced out to a big lead Sunday—Atlanta led the Chicago Bears 26-10 in the second half. And for the second time in as many weeks, the Falcons couldn't hold it. The Bears peeled off 20 consecutive points to drop the stunned Falcons to 0-3.
After a second straight monumental collapse, the proverbial vultures have already started circling embattled Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. But he insisted to reporters that his only concern is getting his team ready for the Green Bay Packers next week:
"All I can do is be in front of the team. They need me to be the same guy on our best days and our worst days. Stand tall for them, bring the energy and the coaching and the focus that we need to go win.
"Anything past that does not help the team, so all I can focus on is us playing better and finishing better. So that's where my focus will be and remains to be."
Brave face aside, with each passing week, Quinn is getting closer to a pink slip.
And the Falcons are getting closer to a top-five draft pick.
"One stat sums up the depths of how far the Falcons have fallen in the last two weeks: According to ESPN's Field Yates, no team in the past 20 years blew multiple 15-point fourth-quarter leads in the same season, while Atlanta did just that in back-to-back games," Sobleski said. "Head coach Dan Quinn isn't sitting on the hot seat; he's standing on a pile of ashes."
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Last Week: 24
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Miami 31-13
Sports bettors and football fans were reminded of a couple of things Thursday night at TIAA Bank Field.
The first is that the Jacksonville Jaguars are not a good football team. The second is that, as a result, you never, ever lay points with the Jags.
The Jaguars weren't just defeated by the Dolphins in Week 3—they were embarrassed by a Miami team that was winless on the season. The Jacksonville defense was awful, providing no resistance on three straight touchdown drives to open the game. With top receiver DJ Chark Jr. on the shelf, Jacksonville had no downfield passing game to speak of. Gardner Minshew II averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt and didn't complete a 20 air-yard pass.
It wasn't all doom and gloom—rookie running back James Robinson tallied 129 total yards and scored twice.
But in Week 3, the Jags went back to looking like a team that could be in the mix for the first overall pick in 2021.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1)
Last Week: 30
Week 3 Result: Tied at Philadelphia 23-23
The good news for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals is that the team didn't lose Sunday in Philadelphia.
The bad news is the Bengals didn't win either.
There were reasons for optimism moving forward in Cincy's tie with the defending NFC East champions in Week 3, specifically the play of Cincinnati's rookie quarterback. In just his third NFL start, Burrow threw for over 300 yards for the second time with two scores and a passer rating north of 100. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd finally broke out, catching 10 passes for 125 yards.
But this was also a game the Bengals easily could have won. After holding the Eagles offense in check much of the day, Cincinnati couldn't get the late stop it needed to salt the game away.
The Bengals are getting better—but there's still a ways to go before they are good.
26. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Last Week: 31
Week 3 Result: Won at Los Angeles Chargers 21-16
When Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2, the general consensus was that it was going to be a long month-plus until he was able to return.
Instead, the Panthers notched their first win of the season with McCaffrey on the shelf.
Reserve tailback Mike Davis wasn't great on a per-carry basis, averaging just 3.5 yards. But the sixth-year veteran tallied 91 total yards on 21 touches and found the end zone.
Carolina's beleaguered defense also came up big in the game. The Panthers gave up plenty of yardage against the Chargers—436 in total. But Carolina forced four turnovers that led to 13 of the team's 21 points.
There won't be much time for celebrating, though. Next week the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals, and the undefeated Chicago Bears and defending champion Kansas City Chiefs loom large on the schedule in the weeks to come.
25. Houston Texans (0-3)
Last Week: 23
Week 3 Result: Lost at Pittsburgh 28-21
It's difficult to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start, but not impossible—the Houston Texans have accomplished the feat twice in recent years, including as recently as 2018.
However, making the postseason after an 0-3 start is nearly impossible. Since 1980, only six teams have started a campaign with three straight losses and gone on to make the playoffs.
Again, Houston was one of those teams. But that's the hole the Houston Texans find themselves in again after losing at Pittsburgh in Week 3.
The schedule-makers gave Houston a brutal start. The Texans opened at Kansas City and then hosted Baltimore before heading to Pittsburgh.
But the Texans didn't do themselves any favors Sunday. After racing out to a 14-3 lead, Houston was unable to do much offensively the rest of the way. For the game, the Texans had just 260 yards of total offense and allowed five more sacks of Deshaun Watson.
The schedule lightens up now—next week the Texans face the winless Vikings.
But at this point, it's going to be very difficult for Houston to play into January, even with a seventh playoff spot up for grabs in the AFC. At least one analyst believes that ship has already sailed.
"Stick a fork in the Texans," Sobleski said, "because their season is basically done. Teams that started 0-3 in the modern era have less than a 3 percent chance of making the postseason, per NBC Sports Philly's Dave Zangaro. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts are a combined 5-1 in the AFC South. A disappointing season in Houston will surely expand Bill O'Brien's power base if recent history is any indication."
24. Washington Football Team (1-2)
Last Week: 21
Week 3 Result: Lost at Cleveland 34-20
Over the past two weeks, we've seen glimmers of hope for the Washington Football Team. The defensive line has been as good as any in the NFL. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has taken better care of the football.
Most of that hope evaporated in a sloppy 14-point loss to the Browns in Cleveland. Washington lost rookie edge-rusher Chase Young and defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis to injuries. Haskins committed four of Washington's five turnovers in the game, throwing three picks and losing a fumble.
Washington might be a better football team under Ron Rivera than it was a season ago, but this remains a team that doesn't have enough talent to overcome a litany of mistakes.
Do five turnovers count as a litany? It feels like it should.
Unfortunately, things don't get any easier for Washington. Next week, the WFT hosts a Ravens team that will be favored by double digits. Then the 2-1 Rams come for a visit.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1)
Last Week: 20
Week 3 Result: Tied vs. Cincinnati 23-23
It's a good thing no fans were allowed at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. Had the house been packed with Philly fans during Sunday's dog of a performance against the winless Cincinnati Bengals, the boos would have set a Guinness World Record for noise level in a stadium.
Granted, the Eagles have been hit as hard by injuries as any team in the NFL. And while Philadelphia won the NFC East last season, it did so with just nine victories.
But still, this Eagles team came into 2020 with aspirations of a deep playoff run. Given how Philadelphia has played this season, that is most assuredly not going to happen.
The biggest concern for the Eagles (outside of their record) has to be the play of quarterback Carson Wentz. Against the Bengals, Wentz was 29-of-47 for just 225 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. That gives Wentz six picks this year, and his passer rating sits at a miserable 63.9.
22. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
Last Week: 19
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Tennessee 31-30
It is officially time to panic in the Twin Cities.
For a time Sunday, it appeared the Vikings were going to stop the bleeding from their awful start. They led the undefeated Tennessee Titans by double digits in the second half.
But Minnesota couldn't hold the lead, and when Kirk Cousins threw his second interception of the game to kill the last drive, the Vikings found themselves in an all-too-familiar spot this season—on the short end of the scoreboard.
Rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson had a big game, hauling in seven passes for 175 yards and a score. So did running back Dalvin Cook with 199 total yards and a touchdown. But that's precious little solace for a Vikings team that is watching its hopes of making it back to the playoffs circle the drain at ever-increasing speed.
"The Vikings are terrible defensively, which is a weird thing to say about a team coached by Mike Zimmer," Davenport said. "At the rate this season is disintegrating, the larger question may be whether we'll see Zimmer on the sidelines in 2021—which is an even weirder thing to say."
21. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
Last Week: 15
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Carolina 21-16
After Justin Herbert nearly led the Los Angeles Chargers to an upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, a lot of buzz surrounded the rookie signal-caller.
After watching the Chargers pitch and lurch their way to a loss against the previously winless Carolina Panthers, perhaps it's time to pump the brakes a tad.
Herbert didn't have a bad statistical outing—he threw for 330 yards and a score and had the Chargers in position for a game-winning touchdown. But he also committed two turnovers, and the Bolts aren't the kind of team that can go minus-four in that category and have any hopes of winning.
The reality is there are going to be growing pains with the young quarterback. But with veteran Tyrod Taylor expected to miss at least one more game, Herbert will have another chance to show that L.A.'s best chances of winning lie with a youth movement under center.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2)
Last Week: 29
Week 3 Result: Won at Arizona 26-23
It's been a while since the Detroit Lions tasted victory—336 days, to be precise.
Odds are the Lions aren't going anywhere in 2020. But if the team does make any sort of run at a playoff spot, Sunday's win in Arizona will be viewed as the day Detroit turned things around.
Offensively, the Lions didn't do a lot on the ground—just 90 yards on 27 carries. But with star receiver Kenny Golladay back in the fold, Matthew Stafford had his best game of the season throwing the ball: 270 passing yards, two scores and a passer rating of just under 120.
Defensively, the Lions were able to do something Arizona's first two opponents could not—contain quarterback Kyler Murray. The Lions limited Murray to 29 rushing yards and notched three interceptions that led to 10 points.
The long-term significance of the win is more likely than not minimal, but it had to feel good to get back in the win column.
19. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Last Week: 26
Week 3 Result: Won at Jacksonville 31-13
There's no question Ryan Fitzpatrick's days as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins are numbered. The 37-year-old journeyman is a placeholder for Tua Tagovailoa—nothing more.
But every now and again, "Fitzmagic" shows up, and it's fun to watch.
Fitzpatrick attempted only 20 passes in Thursday's win over the Jaguars. But he misfired on just two of those attempts, passing for 160 yards and two scores with a passer rating of over 130. He also carried the ball seven times for 38 yards and a score.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, dual threat.
This game shouldn't change the timetable for Tagovailoa's ascension to the starting role. The only real factor there should be the health of the fifth overall pick's surgically repaired hip.
But if nothing else, Fitzpatrick showed again against the Jaguars that as stopgap options under center go, you could do worse.
Fear the beard.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (2-1)
Last Week: 11
Week 3 Result: Lost at New England 36-20
The Las Vegas Raiders came into Sunday's matchup with the New England Patriots an undefeated team coming off a huge win over the New Orleans Saints.
They left Gillette Stadium a 2-1 team whose shortcomings had been laid bare for all to see.
Stopping the run has been an issue for the Raiders for some time now. If Sunday was any indication, it remains one—the Raiders surrendered 250 yards on the ground and a jaw-dropping 6.6 yards a carry.
Offensively, the Raiders played a relatively solid game. Las Vegas averaged 5.7 yards a carry in its own right, and Derek Carr threw for 261 yards and two scores without an interception.
But defensively, the Raiders couldn't stop the Patriots from doing what they wanted to on the ground. That defense is about to get tested again—the Raiders' next three games are home against Buffalo, at Kansas City and in Vegas against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"If the Raiders are 4-2 at the six-game mark," Davenport said, "I'll have a much easier time buying them as a wild-card contender. And if they can get through this gauntlet at even 3-3, it will say something about the improvement made in 2020. But Week 3 was a dose of cold water on the Raiders' prospects this year. They were blown off the line of scrimmage and beaten soundly."
17. Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
Last Week: 16
Week 3 Result: Lost at Seattle 38-31
The NFC East is rather a mess. And the Dallas Cowboys are in many ways a microcosm of said mess.
Offensively, the Cowboys are an excellent football team. Quarterback Dak Prescott put up video game numbers in Sunday's shootout loss to the Seattle Seahawks—472 passing yards and three scores. The Cowboys topped 500 yards of total offense and 30 points for the second week in a row.
But the Dallas defense was torn apart again in Week 3, surrendering 412 total yards to Seattle and five touchdowns to Russell Wilson. Dallas also continued to shoot itself in the foot, turning the ball over three times for the second game in a row.
The Dallas secondary has been hit hard by injuries. The pass rush outside of Aldon Smith has been spotty at best. And the mistakes keep piling up.
The Cowboys were supposed to turn a corner under new head coach Mike McCarthy.
But three weeks in, Dallas looks a lot like last year's yo-yo of a team—and that's not a good thing.
16. Cleveland Browns (2-1)
Last Week: 22
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Washington 34-20
As the Fox telecast mentioned more than once Sunday, entering Week 3 the Cleveland Browns had the longest active streak of not being above .500 in the NFL. It had been 84 weeks since the Browns headed into a week with more wins than losses.
That streak is over.
Admittedly, downing the Washington Football Team is not exactly a Herculean feat—especially on a day where the WFT turned it over five times.
But over the last two weeks, the Browns may have discovered a recipe for competing with some regularity.
Led by Nick Chubb and his 108 yards and two scores, the Browns ran the ball 37 times against Washington, as opposed to just 23 pass attempts from Baker Mayfield. Cleveland didn't turn the ball over and won the time of possession battle by over seven minutes.
If Cleveland can have that kind of success running the ball next week in Dallas, the Browns may be in business.
15. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Last Week: 14
Week 3 Result: Won at New York Giants 36-9
Someone forgot to tell the San Francisco 49ers they are toast.
The Niners started their Week 3 tilt in New York short their starting quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo). And their No. 1 running back (Raheem Mostert). And their No. 1 receiver (Deebo Samuel). And their star tight end (George Kittle). And their best cornerback (Richard Sherman). And their best edge-rusher (Nick Bosa).
So of course the injury-ravaged 49ers drilled the Giants by 27 points.
Playing in place of Garoppolo, Nick Mullens threw for 343 yards with a passer rating over 100. Fourth-string running back Jeff Wilson Jr. had 69 total yards and two scores. And the San Francisco defense allowed just 231 yards and forced three turnovers.
"Could they actually survive this rash of injuries? With that coaching staff, it's possible," Gagnon wrote. "They just destroyed both New York teams and look as though they're inspired to prove they have the depth to remain in contention despite so many personnel losses."
14. Chicago Bears (3-0)
Last Week: 18
Week 3 Result: Won at Atlanta 30-26
There is no doubt the Chicago Bears are the most surprising 3-0 team in the NFL.
For much of Sunday afternoon, it looked like the Bears were going to be exposed as paper tigers. Playing a winless Falcons team fresh off a historic collapse against the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears trailed 26-10 and made a change under center, subbing out Mitchell Trubisky in favor of Nick Foles.
All Foles did was complete 16 of 29 passes for 188 yards and three scores, leading the Bears all the way back for a win.
Given that Week 3 success, it appears the Bears are Team Foles now. Per ESPN's Jeff Dickerson, head coach Matt Nagy has already announced that Foles will start against the 2-1 Colts at Soldier Field on Sunday.
"We got up this morning and went through the tape, and at the end of it we decided that we're going to start Foles as a starter against Indianapolis," Nagy said.
However, despite Chicago's hot start and comeback win, one analyst doesn't think ong-term success is coming for the Bears no matter who is under center.
"The Bears could easily be 0-3," Gagnon said. "They get credit for finding ways to win every week, but their opponents have not been strong, and that model isn't sustainable. Chicago is a pretender."
13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Last Week: 17
Week 3 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 36-7
The Indianapolis Colts headed into the 2020 season with more than a little hype about their chances of making noise this season. Much of that hype died down after an uneven loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.
After emphatic wins over the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets, the hype is starting to build again.
There's an asterisk of sorts attached to the Colts' recent roll, in that it came against two teams that are a combined 0-6. The Jets absolutely look the part of the league's worst team.
But Philip Rivers is playing relatively well under center. Rookie Jonathan Taylor appears to have the chops to serve as the team's lead running back. The Colts have one of the NFL's best offensive lines. And Indy entered Week 3 leading the league in total defense.
"The sneaky-loaded Indianapolis defense has surrendered just 18 points and 27 first downs while registering six takeaways in back-to-back blowout victories," Gagnon said. "That could legitimately be a top-five unit this year, and the offense is balanced and reliable enough to keep the Colts moving. Indy is the clear front-runner in the AFC South."
12. Tennessee Titans (3-0)
Last Week: 12
Week 3 Result: Won at Minnesota 31-30
The Tennessee Titans are most assuredly not piling up style points three weeks into the regular season. Tennessee's beleaguered defense has given up 30 points in back-to-back weeks against two teams that have combined for all of one win this season.
But that win didn't come against the Titans, who moved to 3-0 after coming back to erase a 12-point second-half deficit and stun the reeling Vikings.
It wasn't a pretty win—Ryan Tannehill didn't throw a touchdown pass and posted a passer rating of less than 80. But after a relatively quiet start to the season, running back Derrick Henry rolled against Minnesota, racking up 119 rushing yards and finding the end zone twice.
It's hard to say how good these Titans are. Tennessee's opponents so far are a woeful 1-8 combined.
But next Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the Titans will get their first real litmus test of the 2020 season.
In Week 4, the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers come calling.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Last Week: 13
Week 3 Result: Won at Denver 28-10
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be putting things together.
Granted, it came against a Denver Broncos team that has been ravaged by injuries. But the Buccaneers played their best game of the season in Week 3.
Offensively, Tom Brady came up just short of his first 300-yard passing game with Tampa Bay. But it was his best showing throwing the ball—297 passing yards, three scores and a passer rating of over 115.
Defensively, Tampa put the clamps on the Broncos. Denver managed just 226 total yards, turned the ball over twice and surrendered half a dozen sacks and a safety.
Combined with the Saints' home loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Buccaneers are all alone in first place in the NFC South. It's going to take some work to stay there, though. Week 4's home tilt with the Los Angeles Chargers appears to be a winnable game, but following that come the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders—teams that are a combined 8-1 so far this year.
10. Arizona Cardinals (2-1)
Last Week: 7
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 26-23
After a pair of impressive victories to open the season, the Arizona Cardinals had worked their way into the top 10 of these power rankings.
If Week 3 was any indication, that may have been a touch premature.
In most statistical categories, the Cardinals were better than the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Arizona had more passing yards. And more rushing yards. Arizona was better on third down and got to Matthew Stafford for four sacks.
But there was one category where the Cardinals weren't better—turnovers. Kyler Murray played easily his sloppiest game of 2020, throwing three interceptions that led to 10 Lions points.
There's no shortage of talent in the desert on both sides of the ball.
But Sunday's misstep serves as a reminder that the Redbirds remain a work in progress.
"Murray certainly appears to be the real deal," Davenport said, "but Week 3 should serve as a reminder that turnovers will derail even the best quarterback. If he wants to take the Cardinals to the postseason, Murray has to take better care of the football."
9. Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
Last Week: 9
Week 3 Result: Lost at Buffalo 35-32
Week 3 was discouraging for the Los Angeles Rams. Then it was exhilarating. Then it was discouraging again.
After getting blasted for much of the game and falling behind 28-3, the Rams came roaring back—Los Angeles ripped off 29 unanswered points to take the lead with four minutes and change left in the game. But the lead didn't hold. Aided by a controversial pass interference call, the Bills drove the field and pulled out the win.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said that while the result was disappointing, he was impressed by his team's fight in the comeback.
"Disappointing end to a very resilient effort by our guys," McVay told reporters. "I love this football team. We're not going to make any excuses. We're going to use this as an opportunity to move forward."
The game marked the second week in a row that the Rams played at 1 p.m. ET on the East Coast—a feat they will repeat in two weeks against Washington. But before that comes a home tilt with the reeling New York Giants—and a probable return to the win column.
8. New Orleans Saints (1-2)
Last Week: 8
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Green Bay 37-30
The New Orleans Saints just might be in trouble.
Last year, the Saints lost three games all season long. Now, after falling to the Green Bay Packers in the Superdome, they have already suffered two losses in September and sit looking up at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the division.
And they have no one to blame but themselves.
There is more than one reason why the Saints are struggling. But the team isn't helping itself where penalties are concerned. Against the Packers, the Saints were flagged eight times for 83 yards—and that was the team's lowest total in penalty yardage this year.
The Saints remain a good football team, but if they don't get the edges smoothed away fairly soon, a promising season could get away from them.
"On paper, the Saints have the makings of a Super Bowl contender," Sobleski said. "Reality slapped the team in the face with a 1-2 start, though. Back-to-back convincing losses to the Raiders and Packers coupled with Drew Brees' decline push the Saints down the board even if they rebound against two easier opponents—the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers—before New Orleans' Week 6 bye."
7. New England Patriots (2-1)
Last Week: 10
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Las Vegas 36-20
For many people, the New England Patriots are the team they love to hate. Dominating the AFC East for two decades and winning six Super Bowls will do that.
When Tom Brady bolted for Tampa Bay, those people rejoiced. The evil empire was finally dead.
Or so they thought.
After nearly beating the Seahawks in Seattle last week, the Patriots got back to winning in Week 3, dispatching a Las Vegas Raiders team that entered Week 3 undefeated. And in doing so, the Patriots made it clear what the team's new identity was…
Pounding the rock.
Against the Raiders, the Patriots ran the ball 38 times against 28 pass attempts from Cam Newton. The team piled up 250 yards on the ground—almost 100 more than through the air. New England possessed the ball over 34 minutes as a result.
It's not necessarily going to work every week. But whenever possible, the Pats are going to grind out games on the ground and play defense.
It's going to be very interesting to see how that new philosophy plays out in Week 4 when the Pats visit Kansas City.
"Cam Newton is fitting in quite nicely in New England, isn't he? Discussions about whether he'd adapt to New England's strict culture and how his body would hold up after two consecutive season-ending injuries have faded," Sobleski said. "Newton may not be his old MVP self, but he's clearly returned to franchise quarterback status—which places the Patriots in the thick of things with a relatively impressive 2-1 start."
6. Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Last Week: 6
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Los Angeles Rams 35-32
The Buffalo Bills are the real deal, y'all.
Now, if you're the type who likes to rain on parades, the fact that Buffalo squandered a 28-3 lead Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams by allowing 29 unanswered points is cause for concern.
But the Bills also raced out to said 28-3 lead over a good Rams team in their first real test of the 2020 season. And when their backs were against the proverbial wall, the Bills answered the call, driving the length of the field for the game-winning score.
As he has all season long, Bills quarterback Josh Allen balled out against the Rams, topping 300 passing yards for the third time in as many games and throwing four more touchdowns. With rookie running back Zack Moss out, Devin Singletary racked up over 120 total yards.
All told, Gagnon was impressed the Bills gutted out a win in a game they would have lost in past years.
"The Bills generally cruised against inferior opponents in Weeks 1 and 2, and this was their first true challenge," he said. "It's discouraging that they blew a four-score lead, but it's even more encouraging that they built that lead and that they responded to adversity with a game-winning touchdown drive. This was a character-building performance for an evolving team."
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
Last Week: 5
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Houston 28-21
The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be back.
After missing the playoffs each of the past two seasons and suffering through a year of terrible quarterback play with Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf most of the 2019 campaign, the Steelers rose to 3-0 on the season with a comeback win over the Houston Texans.
In many ways, it was vintage Steelers football. Roethlisberger was efficient, passing for 237 yards and two scores and posting a passer rating over 100. Running back James Conner had a big day, tallying 149 total yards and punching in a score. And the Pittsburgh defense made Deshaun Watson miserable, sacking him five times and hitting him a dozen more.
Houston's record notwithstanding, this was the toughest opponent the Steelers have faced to date in 2020. Next week will bring an even stiffer test with a trip to Nashville to face the undefeated Tennessee Titans.
"Roethlisberger looks healthy," Davenport said. "After getting hurt in the opener, Conner has two straight 100-yard games. And the Pittsburgh defense looks as good as any in the NFL at pressuring the quarterback. It's hardly a surprise, but the Steelers are for real."
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Last Week: 1
Week 3 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 34-20
Monday's matchup in Baltimore between the Chiefs and Ravens was many things. It was maybe the biggest regular-season matchup we'll see this year. It was a chance for the Ravens to establish themselves as the class of the AFC and avenge last year's loss at Arrowhead.
It also wasn't close.
The Ravens defense—a unit that entered Week 3 allowing the fewest points per game in the league—was eviscerated by Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs piled up 517 yards of offense. Mahomes had 385 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Kansas City was 10-of-13 on third down. That's ridiculous.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense were offensive. Baltimore had 228 yards. Jackson had a career-low-in-a-start 97 yards through the air on 15-of-28 passing.
"One game is hardly cause for panic," Davenport said. "But seeing the Ravens get outclassed on both sides of the ball has to be a big concern for John Harbaugh. Mahomes and the Chiefs have now eluded Jackson three times, and given how this game went, it's hard to imagine a fourth meeting in the playoffs going much differently."
3. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Last Week: 4
Week 3 Result: Won at New Orleans 37-30
The Green Bay Packers were impressive over the first two weeks of the 2020 season, piling up 85 points. But that came against NFC North tomato cans in Minnesota and Detroit. In Week 3, the Packers had to travel to New Orleans to face the Saints.
And Green Bay kept right on rolling along.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued his hot start to the season against the Saints, amassing 283 passing yards and three scores with a passer rating just under 125. Running back Aaron Jones chipped in 86 total yards and a score. And with Davante Adams sidelined by injury, Allen Lazard stepped up in a big way—six grabs for 146 yards and a touchdown.
"So much for the Packers taking a step back in 2020," Davenport said. "The offense is humming along. The defense hasn't been great, but it's had its moments. And with all due respect to the 3-0 Bears, the NFC North looks like Green Bay's to lose this season. The more things change, the more they stay the same."
2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
Last Week: 3
Week 3 Result: Won vs. Dallas 38-31
Russell Wilson is pretty good at the whole "throwing a football" thing.
For the third time in as many games, Wilson made an NFL defense look ridiculous Sunday in Seattle, torching the Dallas Cowboys for 315 passing yards and five touchdowns. It was the second straight week that Wilson threw five scoring strikes. His 14 touchdown passes through three games set a new NFL record. He's completing over 76 percent of his attempts, has just one pick and has a gaudy passer rating of 139.0.
Other than that, he's just been OK.
Wilson's growing early MVP candidacy aside, though, at least one of the analysts here at Bleacher Report believes there could be some dark clouds on the horizon for the undefeated Seahawks.
"Wilson has been phenomenal in 2020," Davenport said. "But as great as he's been, Seattle's secondary has been equally gross. Through three games, the Seahawks have allowed over 1,300 passing yards through the air—including 461 to the Cowboys on Sunday. It hasn't come back to bite them yet, but having to win every game via shootout has a tendency to end badly in the playoffs."
"The Seahawks are counted among the elite squads, mainly because of Wilson's historic play through Seattle's first three games," Sobleski added. "But the team is holding on by a string and could very well regress thanks to the league's most pitiful pass defense. The 1,303 passing yards allowed through three weeks of play is the worst effort in NFL history, per NFL on CBS."
1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Last Week: 2
Week 3 Result: Won at Baltimore 34-20
It feels like we owe the Kansas City Chiefs an apology for dropping them out of the top spot after a lackluster effort in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Patrick Mahomes and Co. were anything but in handling the Ravens in Baltimore on Monday night.
Mahomes was surgically precise in dissecting the NFL's top scoring defense. He threw for 385 yards and four scores without an interception. Five different Chiefs caught at least four passes and topped 60 yards.
Defensively, the Chiefs shut down one of the most explosive offenses in the game. One of Baltimore's touchdowns came via a kick return. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson finished with all of 97 passing yards.
This felt like a statement game. A message sent not only to Kansas City's biggest challenger in the AFC but also to the rest of the NFL.
The Chiefs are the best team in the league. Hands down.