Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the season.
New England Patriots (3-0)- Previous rank: 4- The Patriots are, without question, the best team in the NFL. I don’t know why it’s taken me three weeks to see this, but New England has proven that it’s not just Tom Brady that makes them so good. It’s Bill Belichick on the sidelines. Obviously Tom Brady is amazing, but whenever he calls it quits, the Pats will be just fine. Did I mention they had a short week to prepare with a rookie QB making his first start?
Denver Broncos (3-0)- Previous rank: 2- I really like Trevor Siemian. That’s hard to say for me because he plays for Denver, but this kid just continues to improve every week. He played a nearly flawless game against Cincinnati. Denver has developed a well-balanced offensive attack with Siemian and C.J. Anderson running the ball. Oh, by the way: they still have by far the scariest defense in the league. I think they’re better right now than they ever were last year.
Minnesota Vikings (3-0)- Previous rank: 7- So much for all the panic in Minnesota. All they’ve done is start 3-0 without Teddy Bridgewater, and they won this game against the defending NFC champion Panthers without Adrian Peterson. Sam Bradford has established himself as a valuable starting quarterback. As long as he continues to play at a high level and stays healthy, some team out there is going to sign him to a big contract after this season.
Green Bay Packers (2-1)- Previous rank: 6- Aaron Rodgers appears to have found his groove once again after throwing four touchdown passes in the first half against Detroit. The defense performed admirably considering all the injuries they have. Even though the Packers let Detroit get back into the game, they still picked up a good win in their home opener.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1)- Previous rank: 10- Seattle appears to have found its offense after two lackluster performances in the last two weeks. Seahawks fans better hope and pray that Russell Wilson’s knee injury isn’t serious. Christine Michael did well on the ground taking the place of Thomas Rawls, but the health of the franchise QB is really all that matters at this point.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)- Previous rank: 22- Nobody has been more impressive through three games than Carson Wentz. The guy is just an animal. Remember when I said I wasn’t quite sure how to gauge this team? How does a 34-3 win over Pittsburgh sound? Pretty darn good. I’d say the Eagles are legit, and they are certainly in contention for the division title.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)- Previous rank: 1- The Steelers were just plain bad this week. Big Ben was bad, the running game was bad, the defense was bad, and everything was just bad. No positives after this game against Philadelphia. Le’Veon Bell gets back from suspension next week, and it’ll be interesting to see what this offense looks like upon his return.
Carolina Panthers (1-2)- Previous rank: 3- I doubt this is how Cam Newton and the Panthers were hoping to start. They have three straight games in the division starting next week with Atlanta. In theory, these should be very winnable games for Carolina.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)- Previous rank: 13- Kansas City finally shook off their tendency to start slow by jumping out to a 17-0 lead over the Jets and never looking back. The defense was outstanding, forcing Fitzmagic to throw six interceptions, and they got a couple of fumbles too. Alex Smith was confident and composed in the pocket, and he got some help from Spencer Ware in the run game. Although Chiefs fans (myself included) would love to see Jamaal Charles on Sunday night against the Steelers, this game was a major confidence-builder for Kansas City, specifically on offense. Let’s see if they can keep it going next week at Pittsburgh.
New York Giants (2-1)- Previous rank: 9- The Giants had an opportunity to make a statement win in the division and they failed to capitalize. Overall, it wasn’t a bad game for New York, except for the part where the net fought back against OBJ. Eli has to limit interceptions, but I expect the Giants to shake off this loss. They need to if they want to compete on the road next week against Minnesota.
Dallas Cowboys (2–1)- Previous rank: 16- Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot led the way for Dallas en route to a 31-17 victory over the hapless Chicago Bears on Sunday night. Prescott was almost perfect in the game, and Elliot finally got it going with 140 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys are at San Francisco next week which is another very winnable game. How many more wins before the QB controversy talk starts?
Houston Texans (2-1)– Previous rank: 11- Bill O’Brien just went to school, and I doubt Bill Belichick will give him a passing grade either. This game should’ve been a slam dunk for Houston. Instead it turned into a clinic on how to gameplan on short notice with a rookie quarterback. The Texans are at home against Tennessee next week which should allow them to put this game in the rearview mirror.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)- Previous rank: 8- Another game in which Cincinnati was in it late, but another game in which they couldn’t complete the comeback. The weird thing about this game is that the Bengals were dominating on the ground and then they suddenly stopped feeding Jeremy Hill for no apparent reason. Get that man the ball.
Oakland Raiders (2-1)- Previous rank: 14- Oakland bounced back from last week’s loss to Atlanta with a decent win over Tennessee. It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done. For the first time this season Oakland’s defense didn’t give up 500 yards, which is a win I guess. This was also the first game in which Derek Carr wasn’t shredding the opposing defense, but he’s still in the conversation as a top 10 quarterback in the league.
Arizona Cardinals (1-2)- Previous rank: 5- It looked like the Cardinals were back to form when they dismantled Tampa Bay last week. Then this week happened. A complete collapse against the Bills leaves Cardinals fans (and me) wondering what the heck is going on with this team. Carson Palmer threw four interceptions, and Arizona’s D struggled mightily against a Buffalo team who just lost their offensive coordinator last week. Too many questions, not enough answers in Glendale.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1)- Previous rank: 17- As long as Devonta Freeman is in the backfield, the Falcons’ offense should continue to find success. Tevin Coleman stole the spotlight Monday night with three rushing TDs, but Freeman is the real workhorse in Atlanta’s backfield. Granted, Freeman’s 152 yards came against a decimated and already bad Saints run D. Without all the pressure on him, Matt Ryan played pretty well, and suddenly the Falcons find themselves atop the NFC South three weeks into the season. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Baltimore Ravens (3-0)- Previous rank: 20- I keep doubting the Ravens, but all they do is win games. Let’s keep this in perspective though: the three wins have come against Buffalo, Cleveland, and Jacksonville. There’s only one win so far between those three teams. Let’s see a win against a competitive opponent before we get too excited.
Washington Redskins (1-2)- Previous rank: 19- The Josh Norman vs. Odell Beckham saga continued on Sunday, but more importantly, the Redskins rallied for a big-time win on the road in the division. Had Washington lost this game, they would have been staring at an 0-3 record. Now they’re sitting at 1-2 with the Browns coming to town next week. Kirk Cousins finally settled in and made plays he knows he can make. The Redskins should be able to shake this slow start to the season after a solid road win over New York.
Indianapolis Colts (1–2)- Previous rank: 18- The Colts finally got a win, but they had to come from behind against San Diego to get it. Andrew Luck was far from perfect, but he made some big throws when he needed to in order to secure a victory for Indianapolis. Frank Gore was effective rushing the ball, but it was against a poor Chargers front. Some consistency would be nice.
New York Jets (1-2)- Previous rank: 12- The Jets fell flat in this game. There’s no other way to put it. The offense had eight turnovers, and they never really had a chance to get going in the game. Overall, an extremely disappointing performance from a team that can play much better.
New Orleans Saints (0-3)- Previous rank: 15- The Saints fell to 0-3 on Monday night against the Falcons. Injuries, specifically on defense, have really hurt the Saints early in the season. Drew Brees did all he could throwing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns, but New Orleans’s defense has to get better in order for the Saints to enter the win column.
Los Angeles Rams (2–1)- Previous rank: 23- Remember when everyone was freaking out after the Rams were utterly demolished on Monday Night Football to open the season? All the Rams have done since then is win two straight games against Seattle and Tampa Bay. More importantly, Los Angeles finally scored a touchdown! With how the Cardinals have looked, who’s to say they can’t go on the road and make it three straight against Arizona next week?
Buffalo Bills (1-2)- Previous rank: 31 – After the controversial firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Bills responded by winning convincingly against the Arizona Cardinals. Buffalo controlled this game from the outset, and they looked like a completely different team on both sides of the ball. Rex Ryan may have flipped the script in this game, but one win doesn’t take him off the hot seat even if it came against a team that went to the NFC championship game last year.
Miami Dolphins (1-2)- Previous rank: 24- With the passing of Jose Fernandez, the only way this past Sunday could have been any worse for the city of Miami is if the Dolphins had lost to Cleveland. Luckily, they escaped with a win and can forget about this game. If Miami can limit turnovers they should have more success as the season continues. This is obviously a tough time for Miami with the passing of a young man with a bright future in Major League Baseball. My thoughts are with the Marlins, Jose’s family, and the entire city of Miami.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1–2)- Previous rank: 25- Jameis Winston redeemed himself of last week’s atrocious game by throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns against Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it was not enough to secure a victory for Tampa Bay. With Doug Martin out, Charles Sims made his first career start, and he did a decent job against a talented Rams front. This was very much a winnable game for Tampa Bay, and with the Broncos rolling into to town next week, a 1-3 start is very possible.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)- Previous rank: 21- My AFC South pick has gotten off to the worst start possible this season. I knew the running game was going to be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Bortles is struggling, and the defense doesn’t look like it has improved that much. If the Jags don’t start winning soon I’m not sure if Gus Bradley will survive the season.
Tennessee Titans (1-2)- Previous rank: 26- DeMarco Murray finally found some consistent lanes rushing the football, but Marcus Mariota relapsed with two interceptions and no touchdowns. The Titans are at Houston next week. I will be interested to see how that game goes for the guys from Nashville.
San Diego Chargers (1–2)- Previous rank: 28- Even without Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen, Philip Rivers still managed to make plays in the passing game for San Diego. If you think about it, the Chargers could be 3-0 right now. Instead, they’re 1-2 with the Saints in San Diego next week. Hopefully Joey Bosa will be healthy enough to play.
Detroit Lions (1-2)- Previous rank: 29- The final score doesn’t really tell the whole story of the game against Green Bay. The Lions fell behind 31-3 at halftime before slowly clawing their way back into the game. Even when they cut the lead to seven, it never really felt like they had a chance to win. Stafford had a big day, but it came against an injury-riddled secondary. At least they made it somewhat interesting towards the end.
San Francisco 49ers (1-2)- Previous rank: 27- San Francisco was thoroughly dominated for most of this game, but they didn’t quit which is always a plus. They’ve got the Cowboys at home next week so they’ll need to bounce back quickly.
Chicago Bears (0-3)- Previous rank: 30- Oh dear, things are not good in Chicago. To be fair, Brian Hoyer played a pretty good game on Sunday night. He lost a fumble, but he did throw for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, any time you’re asking Brian Hoyer to attempt 49 passes, you’ve got bigger problems. The Bears need to win next weekend against Detroit, otherwise things will get very ugly.
Cleveland Browns(0-3)- Previous rank: 32- Cleveland, you were so close! How close were you? 47 yards! But more importantly, why on earth would you elect to defend first in overtime? I don’t care if your offense was tired, get out there and get a win! On the bright side, Terrelle Pryor was an absolute beast in this game. With the Browns luck, that probably means he will get hurt next week, but until then I’ll keep my fingers crossed.