NFL power rankings always make people upset because we all want to believe our teams are better than they actually are, and Week 3 is no different. At least, we’re all still hoping our teams are good heading into next week. Unfortunately, that cannot be the case. After last week, I decided I needed to change the way I do these.
No more nuance or context of a small sample size. No more trying to gauge just how good or bad a team may be based on our preseason beliefs. Now, your record dictates your value in this league, even just two games in.
I hope you enjoy me taking your advice.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3
There is significant movement in these rankings. I’m going against my better judgment to give the people what they wanted — early rankings to reflect win-loss records. I’m a man of the people.
NFL Power Rankings | Tier 3: Winless teams
These teams fall into the category of zero-win teams. That means that Week 2’s Monday Night Football participants (both 0-1) fall in this tier, along with the Baltimore Ravens. The rankings will be updated after each game, though.
32) Jacksonville Jaguars
There’s not much to talk about here, unfortunately. The Jaguars are the worst team in the league, and they fall at No. 32 on our NFL power rankings. It’s well-deserved. They’ve struggled offensively in both games, lacking firepower or flow. Today, the team as a whole battled to keep things tight with Denver, but they lost Week 1 to the worst 1-1 team in the NFL.
31) Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s defense is pathetic. However, it’s been the abysmal play from Matt Ryan that’s hurt the team more than anything. He completed over 75% of his passes, but 3 of them ended up in the hands of the defense. In the fourth quarter alone, Ryan threw 2 pick-sixes.
It looks like it’s going to be a long season for the Falcons’ fan base. They might be in a battle with Jacksonville as the worst team in the NFL.
30) Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions lack one thing that helps most of the other teams in the NFL win football games, even when they’re less talented — receiving weapons. Last week, luck and soft coverages allowed the offense to look more explosive than they are. Jared Goff isn’t their future, but with the 2022 NFL Draft looking devoid of “can’t-miss” QB prospects, he might be there longer than some Lions fans hoped.
The Lions looked like they were going to make a game out of things against the Packers, but that ended in a hurry in the third quarter. A Jared Goff fumbled snap under center was an untimely turnover. He also lost the ball as he loaded up for a throw, almost surely due to the adverse conditions … and a combination of other factors.
29) New York Jets
The Jets are a bad football team, but they’re incredibly young. Their youth extends to their rookie quarterback, who Bill Belichick seems to always have success against. The Jets struggled immediately, with Zach Wilson throwing 2 interceptions on his first 2 pass attempts.
The struggles didn’t stop there for the rookie. He threw 2 more INTs throughout the game, further continuing the legend of Belichick vs. rookie QBs.
28) New York Giants
The Giants are 0-2, just as we all expected, given their first two games were against franchises more talented than their own. The Broncos dominated New York, but the Giants turned around and played a well-fought, entertaining game against Washington.
Daniel Jones had a big day against a good defense, but Kenny Golladay doesn’t seem comfortable yet. We saw offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and Golladay having a spirited conversation on the sideline during the game. Then, after the game, rookie receiver Kadarius Toney called the media “clowns.”
27) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts aren’t a terrible football team, but they do have a lot of issues. Their biggest to start the season has been their schedule. They’ve played two outstanding teams in the Seahawks and Rams. Their offensive line is struggling, but that’s not entirely their doing.
Carson Wentz keeps trying to make gravity-defying plays that his body can’t make. He actually injured himself releasing a pass as he was sacked late in the game. Jacob Eason took over for Wentz and immediately threw an interception to Jalen Ramsey.
The Colts’ coaching staff needs to have an intervention with Wentz. He has to start playing within himself for the first time in his career.
26) Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings might be the best winless team through two weeks. They had no issues moving the football until third down. Minnesota finished 2-10 on third downs for the game. Kirk Cousins put up solid numbers against the Cardinals, but Arizona’s defense struggled with miscommunications deep downfield.
Week 3 NFL Power Rankings | Tier 2: One-win teams
The one-win teams within our rankings are based on the team’s performance thus far and the difficulty of their upcoming schedule.
25) Houston Texans
The Houston Texans are not a talented group of players. They also seem to be scratching and clawing in their football games. They kept the game close against the Cleveland Browns, even after the loss of Tyrod Taylor, who’d played incredibly well to start the season.
Houston won’t win many games in 2021, but they’re battling better than expected. That should make fans feel good about the future when they do build a roster in Houston. I don’t expect this team to rise any higher than this in the NFL power rankings moving forward, but they deserved recognition for being better than the worst team in the league.
Thursday night was rough for the Texans’ offense. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills struggled when conditions weren’t ideal, and the run game was practically nonexistent. Mills actually looked better against a defense that’s excelled so far in 2021. But with only Brandin Cooks to really get the ball to, it was always going to be tough to succeed.
24) Chicago Bears
The Bears couldn’t produce on offense before Andy Dalton’s injury, and they couldn’t after his departure, either. Justin Fields didn’t look good. His interception under pressure was a rookie moment he’ll have to learn from.
Overall, the Bears’ defense looked fantastic against an offense people liked coming into the season with Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. Chicago’s defense forced 4 turnovers in their 20-17 win.
23) Miami Dolphins
Losing Tua Tagovailoa does not help their outlook, but it’s unknown how long the Dolphins will be without their quarterback. The offense struggled in multiple ways Sunday. They fumbled possessions away multiple times and couldn’t move the ball down the field.
This isn’t a bad dream, either. Miami’s offensive game plan was bad against the Patriots. If they can’t fix things schematically and things with Will Fuller aren’t sorted out, this could be what we see from them offensively moving forward.
22) Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team is 1-1. Honestly, they look about as average a team as they come. Their defense seems to be underperforming, given the amount of talent they have invested into it. Offensively, they’ve looked better than expected, but this team won’t get consistent quarterback play to compete in shootouts.
With the Buffalo Bills up next, there’s a good chance they’re 1-2 heading into Week 4.
21) Cincinnati Bengals
At one point in this game, Joe Burrow attempted 3 straight passes and was intercepted on each. It was a mix between horrific QB play and horrific offensive line play. They were gifted an interception from Justin Fields, who struggled mightily as a passer after Andy Dalton’s injury.
Trey Hendrickson made Cincinnati happy they signed him, notching 1.5 sacks on the day. Overall, neither offense was particularly impressive. Cincinnati must play better offensively if they want to beat their divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers next week.
If T.J. Watt can play, we’ll have to hope for Burrow’s survival. However, Cameron Heyward might be even more terrifying. The Bengals need to help this offensive line to win games and rise in the NFL power rankings.
20) Philadelphia Eagles
This team lost today, but they appear to be a scrappy bunch. The offense averaged 1.5 yards more per play than the 49ers, but they could only manage 3 points until late in the fourth quarter.
The passing attack needs to find more consistent production away from the line of scrimmage or downfield shots. The intermediate areas of the field have to become a viable option, or the offense won’t consistently score points.
Using a trick play in a 4th-and-goal situation is too cute, especially with an incredibly mobile quarterback at your disposal.
19) Pittsburgh Steelers
I tried to warn folks that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over Buffalo had more to do with Buffalo playing badly than the Steelers being a great team. Their lack of offensive line talent was evident once again, as they could only muster 2.8 yards per attempt on the ground in Week 2.
Losing T.J. Watt seemed to be the difference in the game for Pittsburgh’s defense. He was a menace early, but the pass rush was uncoordinated after his injury. Their defensive line gets a chance to tee off next week against Cincinnati.
18) New Orleans Saints
Some Saints fans were upset the team was ranked 10th in the NFL power rankings after their 38-3 drubbing of the Green Bay Packers. It’s what spawned the idea of your record being your worth here in Week 2.
That’s tough timing for the Saints because their offense laid a massive egg in Week 2, proving that the NFL is a fickle, fickle game. The Panthers have a lot of young talent on their roster, mostly on the defensive side. But they’re no world-beater, either.
17) Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a talented 1-1 team, but their secondary appears to be a fatal flaw with this defense. Far too often, we’ve watched big plays made downfield to wide-open receivers. It’s difficult to feel good about them moving forward if they can’t find good offensive tackle play.
Ryan Tannehill played okay given the circumstances, but there were a few times the defense made him visibly uncomfortable throughout the game. Even Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones may not be enough to overcome their defensive flaws.
16) New England Patriots
The Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, but they fumbled the ball 4 times throughout the contest. They didn’t have the same unlucky turnover run in Week 2, and they took care of business against a bad Jets team.
Jones was once again an efficient driver of the offense, completing passes in bulk and taking care of the football. If he continues that, this team will find ways to move the football well enough to put drives together and score points. The defense appears back to pre-2020 levels, even without Stephon Gilmore.
15) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ offense moved the ball at will against the Dallas Cowboys, but some costly turnovers proved to be the difference. Justin Herbert is supremely talented, but in Week 2, he threw an interception in the red zone and took a bad sack that made another red zone touchdown incredibly unlikely.
They were 1-4 in the red zone, making any win far more difficult to achieve.
14) Dallas Cowboys
Nothing that happened in the Dallas Cowboys game against the Los Angeles Chargers made sense. The referees were horrific on both sides. They made themselves the stars of the show instead of the product on the field.
Dak Prescott and Dallas’ offense struggled to put points on the board, but they didn’t have any issues moving the football. They averaged 7 net yards per play. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott are great talents at RB, but the defense still allows far too much movement.
One might argue the Cowboys should don the top of this tier in the NFL power rankings, given they lost in the final seconds against the reigning Super Bowl champions. However, their defense is bad enough not to have that much faith in them.
13) Green Bay Packers
The Packers will be fine. The entire team played horribly against the New Orleans Saints, and their 38-3 loss was jarring. However, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Saints by that same score, and we know how they ended up looking. Regardless, if Aaron Rodgers continues to struggle, hope will turn to skepticism.
Things were ugly for a while, but it appears Rodgers has finally warmed his arm up. The defense still appears to be a problem, but that was somewhat expected with the addition of Joe Barry. They’ll need to find some semblance of a pass rush if they want to contend with the Buccaneers in the NFC.
12) Seattle Seahawks
Like last season, Russell Wilson is playing at an MVP level to begin the NFL season. Today, he finished 22/29 for 343 yards and 2 TDs. He’s one of, if not the best downfield passer in the league.
Seattle’s defense struggled against Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, and A.J. Brown dropped what would have been a massive gain. The Seahawks’ offense will need to carry this team, but Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett all exist.
11) Baltimore Ravens
Injuries have riddled the Baltimore Ravens since the start of the 2021 NFL season. They keep losing running backs, but CB Marcus Peters might be their most significant loss. That is until OT Ronnie Stanley couldn’t play Sunday night against the Chiefs. Teams have trouble surviving without having a serviceable offensive tackle. Given what we saw from Alejandro Villanueva in Week 1, it appears Stanley is the only quality option there.
Baltimore was 25th in these rankings before beating the Chiefs, but since they won, I have the freedom to put them where I see fit in the 1-1 tier. Lamar Jackson made two horrible decisions that led to Tyrann Mathieu’s interceptions. However, he completed nearly 70% of his passes for over 9 yards per attempt. And, of course, he picked up 107 yards on the ground as well.
10) Cleveland Browns
The Browns are confounding. They went out and looked like a top-five team in the NFL going toe to toe against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. In Week 2, they struggled to put away a Houston Texans team that we thought had the best chance not to win a game all season (until we saw Jacksonville play in Week 1).
That’s the NFL. Week to week, we have absolutely no clue what’s about to happen. These are human beings placed together playing an athletic sport in a team environment. And human beings cannot be trusted to be consistent. The Browns sit at the top of the NFL power rankings for 1-1 teams for a good reason.
9) Buffalo Bills
The Bills must have been angry to start Week 2. They came out against the Dolphins and immediately started dominating. Even before Tua Tagovailoa’s injury, the Bills looked stout defensively. At the time of injury, Tua was only 1/4 for 13 yards.
Still, only allowing 3.1 net yards per play is an excellent mark for the Bills. In Week 1, NFL defenses averaged 5.69 net yards per play against. This week, Buffalo’s offense looked improved. They might be one of the elite teams in the NFL, but their 1-1 record precludes them from holding that placement for now.
8) Kansas City Chiefs
They’re one of the two best teams in the NFL. Their quarterback is quite literally built differently. He makes plays that nobody else in the game sees, and if they do, they cannot execute anywhere near his level. They also have Andy Reid, who is one of the top NFL coaches ever.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Patrick Mahomes is still looking down from his throne as the best quarterback in the league. It’s not even a close competition. But this defense has its flaws, and Clyde Edward-Helaire’s fumble ruined their final drive against the Ravens. The Chiefs averaged 8.3 net yards per play, but their defense must return to a serviceable level if they want to win the Super Bowl this season.
Don’t worry, Chiefs fans. If they take care of the Chargers next week, we’ll see them rise back up to their rightful level in the power rankings.
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