Week three in the NFL told us something that we should have expected. We clearly don’t know where most of the league is at and where they will be by the end of the season. Obviously, analysts have their expectations and are pretty confident. But, there is a long way to go this season.
The biggest movement occurred with the Bills moving up 10 spots from 26 to 16 following their win over the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins took the biggest tumble, dropping 12 spots to 27 after nearly getting shut out by the Jets.
Let’s get to the rankings.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (No Change)
The Chiefs kept it rolling on the road against as tough an 0-2 team that there is. They were held in check offensively, but the defense came up big, picking off Rivers three times. Then, with little time remaining, rookie Kareem Hunt broke through with a 69 yard touchdown run. They are the most balanced team in the league right now.
2. Atlanta Falcons (No Change)
The Falcons barely got out with a win over the Lions. However, Atlanta put up 30 on Detroit with three picks from Matt Ryan. Imagine what happens without those. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is picking up right where Shanahan left off. Plus, the defense is only getting better.
3. New England Patriots (+1)
The Patriots needed a game winning drive by Tom Brady and the offense to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That was almost their second loss in Foxborough in this young season. The defense couldn’t get to DeShaun Watson, and when they did, he made plays outside the pocket. The offensive line also struggled to keep Brady upright. They may need to keep winning shootouts early on this season.
4. Detroit Lions (+5)
The Lions jump five spots due to them being about 10 inches from beating the Falcons and going 3-0. The offense looks outstanding with Matt Stafford at the helm. Their running back duo is also producing, which helps keep teams off balance. The defense also got opportunistic in that game, picking off Matt Ryan thrice.
5. Tennessee Titans (+5)
Talk about a statement win. The Titans ran all over the Seattle defense on Sunday, and the floodgates burst when DeMarco Murray took one 75 yards for a score. Marcus Mariota continues to play smart and not turn the ball over. If they can control the clock and dominate Seattle’s defense, other teams need to pay attention.
6. Oakland Raiders (-3)
The Raiders just laid an egg on Sunday night. The Redskins dominated them in every facet of the game minus special teams. Oakland looked lost on offense, and their defense never seemed to get off the field when they needed to. The offense should recover, but the secondary is a position to watch going forward.
7. Green Bay Packers (-1)
The Packers drop a spot due to the fact that they had to use some Aaron Rodgers magic to complete the comeback against the Bengals. The offensive line looks awful without David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. However, the defense stepped up big, especially Josh Jones and Kenny Clark. They are young and improving. But, injuries for this team are a thing to watch.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (+4)
A great story unfolded in the midst of the Eagles 27-24 win over the Giants. Kicker Jake Elliott made a 61 yarder as time expired. He spent time on Cincinnati’s practice squad and made his Eagles debut in week two. He’s made quite the impact so far. Along with that, Carson Wentz continues to impress and the offense is performing better. Their only weakness lies in the secondary, which got carved up by Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
9. Dallas Cowboys (+2)
The Cowboys shrugged off their sluggish start on Monday and bounced back to win convincingly in Arizona. Dak Prescott played outstanding, moving through the pocket and making throws on the run. Also, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is having a stellar year so far.
10. Minnesota Vikings (+7)
Who called that Case Keenum game, huh? If the Vikings can protect Keenum going forward, they have the weapons to separate in open space. Stefon Diggs is quickly becoming a top receiver, and Adam Thielen is a great second guy. The defense is a great unit. As long as the quarterback position remains alright, the Vikings are a playoff threat.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (-6)
The offensive issues finally reached their breaking point against the Bears. Le’Veon Bell had a better game, but the passing game faltered in the face of pressure. The defense couldn’t contain the newest two headed monster at running back. They can be a legit title contender, but they have to clean it up.
12. Washington Redskins (+8)
The Redskins showed up big on Sunday night against Oakland. The secondary held Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to a combined two catches for 13 yards. They also owned the best line in the league all night long. More performances like that will go a long way in their quest to get back to the playoffs.
13. Denver Broncos (-6)
Welcome back to earth, Trevor Siemian. Siemian threw two picks on Sunday, and the Broncos looked mortal. The defense didn’t contain Tyrod Taylor enough to win. A big penalty did cost them a chance, but they just got outplayed. If this is the team we’ll see down the stretch, the playoffs are a big question mark.
14. Seattle Seahawks (-6)
Speaking of mortal, boy did the Seahawks look as vulnerable as they’ve been since 2011. The offense was shut down until garbage time, and the defense was gashed by the running game. The good news? We often see slow starts from this Seattle team. They have time to fix some issues. One issue that won’t go away though is the offensive line.
15. Los Angeles Rams (+6)
The Rams continue to put up points at will. The 49ers were their latest victim. Jared Goff looks significantly better than last season, plus Todd Gurley looks like he did in his rookie season. It may be tough for teams to keep up with them going forward.
16. Buffalo Bills (+10)
Bad on me for not believing the Bills had any shot against Denver. The Bills continue to play excellent defense. Jerry Hughes is still very good off the edge. Rookie Tre’Davious White is playing so well at corner. The offense played smart, and Tyrod Taylor looked very good against a tough Broncos defense.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (+6)
When that defensive line is on, they are real tough to handle. Calais Campbell continues to be a force, and young defenders Dante Fowler and Myles Jack are improving this season. They can grind it out with Leonard Fournette at running back. But, this isn’t a playoff team until Blake Bortles can play like he did Sunday consistently.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5)
The running game is certainly not where the Bucs would like it to be. Maybe that changes with Doug Martin set to return, but it’s clear that Jameis Winston feels the pressure to do it all when the running game goes dormant. The other pressing issue resides with the pass rush. Gerald McCoy needs some help from guys like Noah Spence. They are also banged up in the secondary.
19. New Orleans Saints (+5)
The Saints made a statement on Sunday against Carolina. They made Cam Newton look like a lost rookie out there, and the offense poured it on against a tough Panthers defense. Rookie running back Alvin Kamara only gets better by the week. Plus, now wide receiver Willie Snead returns.
20. Carolina Panthers (-4)
This team is 2-1 but boy do they have holes. Right now, the offense is atrocious. The worst part is that in addition to Greg Olsen being out, Kelvin Benjamin is banged up. The offensive line and secondary are two major holes on this team. The good news is that Christian McCaffrey is what everyone thought he would be.
21. Baltimore Ravens (-7)
The Ravens put in quite possibly the worst offensive showing of the season. Joe Flacco looked like a high school quarterback, and he didn’t have much time to throw against the Jags front. They still have a solid defense, but until they find something offensively, this just isn’t a playoff team.
22. Chicago Bears (+5)
This is how the Bears need to win games. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for an excellent day, and that helped out quarterback Mike Glennon. The defense won the battle up front, and they put the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. As long as they talk with Marcus Cooper about the end of the half play, they are a solid bunch moving forward.
23. Houston Texans (-1)
A couple big positives for Houston despite losing in Foxborough. The first is that the big three on the defensive line is back. Jadeveon Clowny, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus ripped through the offensive line and made life difficult for Tom Brady. The other? Rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson put in a solid game. He made a couple real nice plays outside the pocket, and his touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin was an excellent throw to the back shoulder. All they need is some help along the line (get Duane Brown back!).
24. Arizona Cardinals (+1)
The Cardinals looked in complete control through nearly two quarters. However, a missed field goal shifted the momentum in the second quarter. After that, it was all Dallas. Carson Palmer is playing fine without David Johnson, but it’s tough to be one dimensional. The defense also missed some opportunities to get Dallas off of the field.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (-7)
The Chargers just can’t find a way to win games at the end. It’s a real shame too. Philip Rivers turned in a rough performance, and that was really the issue in this game. The defense held the Chiefs to just 17 points through 58 minutes, and then one bad play call led to a Kareem Hunt touchdown. They aren’t completely done, but their backs are firmly against the wall.
26. New York Giants (-7)
The good news is that the offense finally found some traction. The bad news is that they couldn’t finish off the Eagles. Having the lead with under two minutes to go and allowing two field goal just cannot happen. Add clock management to the issues with this team.
27. Miami Dolphins (-12)
The Dolphins dropped the furthest this week for a reason. They nearly got shut out by the Jets. They couldn’t find any semblance of a running game, as Jay Ajayi carried the ball 11 times for 16 yards. Jay Cutler also turned in a clunker, and the defense made Josh McCown look very good. Time to wipe that from the memory banks.
28. New York Jets (+4)
They upset the Dolphins in dominating fashion, but the issues still exist. They are still a bottom feeding team. The defense did look good against the Dolphins, but that might be the most complete team game you’ll see from the Jets.
29. Indianapolis Colts (+2)
Jacoby Brissett put in a dominating performance and T.Y. Hilton finally broke onto the scene in a win over the Browns. The defense didn’t allow DeShone Kizer to even complete 50 percent of his passes. Malik Hooker also picked another pass off. However, they didn’t run the ball well and that was one of their easiest games.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (No Change)
The Bengals did look significantly better on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton had more time and found AJ Green consistently. Rookie Joe Mixon played well in his first game with a significant workload. Rookie defensive end Carl Lawson toasted Kyle Murphy all game long. However, they could finish the job with the game in hand at halftime.
31. San Francisco 49ers (-2)
We certainly saw more from Kyle Shanahan’s offense this week, and it was about time for a breakout game from Pierre Garcon. However, not many expected a complete defensive breakdown. The front four was basically neutralized all game, and they couldn’t stop Todd Gurley.
32. Cleveland Browns (-4)
They are still young and they still need work. The front seven looked good stopping the run. Joe Schobert is developing nicely into a middle linebacker. However, the secondary is still mediocre, and DeShone Kizer is still learning the offense.
Follow or get at Jake Schyvinck on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to discuss his rankings.