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NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Model: Paola (Photo by Double G Media)

Model: Paola (Photo by Double G Media)


Week 2 has come and gone. Each week further into the season, we learn more and more about each team. However, it is still early and a lot of teams are not in their mid-season form quite yet. A lot of people say that “preseason goes through September” and that saying certainly has a point. As the season goes on, some teams/players will see their play decline, while others will begin to figure out their identity and start playing up to their expectations. These rankings aren’t just based on each team’s performance so far this season, but also the amount of talent each team has, as well as how well coached they are and how they play as a unit. Let it begin!

1. New England Patriots (last week’s ranking: 3) – The final score may not be the best indicator for the Patriots win over the Dolphins this week. The Patriots got out to a 24-3 by halftime. Jimmy Garappolo was firing on all cylinders before exiting the game with a shoulder injury. Even after he left, the offense managed to do just fine, with Jacoby Brissett leading the team to another ten points in the second half. The Pats were also able to run with ease against the Dolphins defensive front, piling up 161 yards on the ground. Defensively, they forced four turnovers throughout the game and held the ‘Fins to just ten points before the fourth quarter. The Dolphins scored a couple of touchdowns late to make the score look closer, but this game wasn’t close at all. The Patriots have the NFL’s best coaching staff and that’s all that seems to matter right now. They don’t need a quarterback or their best offensive playmaker (Rob Gronkowski) to win and that says a lot. They’ll face the Texans on Thursday in what should be a great prime-time matchup.

2. Denver Broncos (last week’s ranking: 4) – Do the Denver Broncos even need an offense? Their defense has proven time and time again that they are the NFL’s best. Their two defensive touchdowns ended up being the difference in this game (after going for a 2-pt conversion after the second touchdown). They shut down Andrew Luck and the Colts’ passing attack, holding them to just 170 passing yards. The defense also did a nice job containing Frank Gore, even if the Colts never really tried to establish the run. Unfortunately, they lost DeMarcus Ware with what appeared to be a broken forearm and he could be out a while. Their offense put up a respectable 19 points, with Trevor Siemian leading the way. He had a solid outing, just doing what the team needed from him, even if it wasn’t anything more. Their run game was effective as well. C.J. Anderson had a decent game, but Devontae Booker was the more impressive back in this one. Their offensive line did an excellent job opening up hole against the Colts’ front seven and they also kept Siemian clean in the pocket. With this defense still playing lights out football, they look primed for contention again. They’ll be in Cincinnati next week.

3. Arizona Cardinals (last week’s ranking: 5> – What a difference a week makes. The Cardinals went from a team that disappointed against a Brady-and-Gronk-less Patriots team in Week 1 to a team that absolutely dominated on both sides of the ball in Week 2. The Cards absolutely dismantled the Bucs in their 40-7 victory. The offense started slow, but came out firing in the second quarter, putting up 24 points in the frame. Carson Palmer tossed three touchdowns to three different receivers (Fitzgerald, Floyd, and Brown) in the quarter. Their run game was effective enough to keep the defense honest, as they managed over 100 yards on the ground. David Johnson was actually more effective catching passes out of the backfield, recording 98 receiving yards to go along with his 45 rushing yards. The defense was even more dominant, picking off Jameis Winston four times and also forcing a fumble. They also held the Bucs to a single score and held Winston to just 243 passing yards on a whopping 52 attempts. They managed three sacks as well. If the Cardinals can continue to play like this, they could be the NFL’s best team. They have a very talented and complete roster and an excellent coaching staff with Bruce Arians as the lead man. Next week, they’re in Buffalo in what could be another rout.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (last week’s ranking: 7) – Another week, another strong game for the Steelers. After defeating the divisional rival Bengals with relative ease, the Steelers are starting to look like one of the NFL’s better teams, which is no surprise considering the pedigree of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin. Under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, this offense has taken the next step. It doesn’t matter who plays, they can put up points. Guys named Xavier Grimble and Jesse James scored TD’s on Sunday. Not exactly big name players. Even with the league’s top receiver, Antonio Brown, not doing much in the game, this offense still put up 24 points on a good defense. This offense is making DeAngelo Williams look as good as he was when he was in his prime. In his 11th season, which is a long time to be an NFL running back, he is looking fresh and dominant. Just wait until Le’Veon Bell returns from his suspension. Bell is possibly the NFL’s best back and his return will make this offense even better. Their defense isn’t the most talented, but they play well enough as a unit to win. The front seven is still very young and has plenty of potential, it’s just the secondary is rather weak. Every team has flaws, however, and the Steelers are not letting theirs get the best of them. They’ll take on the Eagles next week in a battle for Pennsylvania.

5. Seattle Seahawks (last week’s ranking: 1) – It has become pretty clear that the Rams just have the Seahawks number. For some reason, no matter how much more talented the Seahawks are than the Rams, they can’t beat them. They’ve lost four of the last five meetings with them. The defense was not this issue in this game, as they held the Rams lowly offense to just nine points, but the offense couldn’t get anything going, managing just three points for the entirety of the game. Russell Wilson struggled, which is not too surprising considering he had little to no protection throughout the day and he was also battling an ankle injury. The Seahawks also lost top receiver Doug Baldwin during the game. The run game was a mixed bag, as Christine Michael did well, carrying the ball ten times for 60 yards, but Thomas Rawls, who started the game and left with a leg contusion, plodded to -7 (yes, -7!) yards on seven carries. This Seahawks team is still incredibly talented, especially on defense where they don’t appear to have any true weakness, but they’re dealing with some injuries and just aren’t playing as well as they should be. It’s still early in the season, however, and there is no doubt they will return to playing like a top team soon. They host the 49ers next Sunday.

6. Green Bay Packers (last week’s ranking: 2) – The Packers, similarly to the Seahawks, have struggled in their first two games this year. The offense hasn’t been as explosive as many people thought it would be with the return of Jordy Nelson. The Packers have a great offensive line, a good group of offensive weapons, and the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, but they haven’t played up to expectations. They haven’t been able to run the football effectively and their passing game just hasn’t been what they were hoping for. Their defense is pretty talented as well, but they had trouble stopping Sam Bradford and the Vikings passing attack Sunday night. Stefon Diggs was particularly tough for them to cover. He absolutely torched their secondary, but was mainly covered by Damarious Randall, who had a very good first week. The pass rush has been strong and they’ve done a good job stopping the run, especially this week against Adrian Peterson. They also haven’t given up too many points, either. This team has had some issues, and it’s mostly offensively, but if anyone can figure out how to fix their team’s problems, it’s Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. Next week, they host Detroit.

7. Carolina Panthers (last week’s ranking: 6) – In Week 2, the Panthers put up the most points by a team in the first two weeks this season, dropping a whopping 46 points on the 49ers. Cam Newton returned to form after a slow start against the Broncos (which isn’t surprising considering how good their defense is) and tossed for 353 yards and four TD’s against the Niners secondary. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen were both huge in this game, combining for 230 yards and three scores. Running back Jonathan Stewart, unfortunately, left this game early because of a hamstring injury and Fozzy Whittaker took over. It didn’t turn out too bad for Carolina, as Whittaker put up 100 yards on just 16 carries. The Panthers did turn the ball over four times, setting up the 49ers offense for 13 points, but when you score 46, that doesn’t really matter. The Panthers’ defense was strong in this game, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. The 49ers offense isn’t great, but they looked good in Week 1, so the Panthers had to take them seriously. Other than a couple long touchdowns, the Panthers didn’t allow the 49ers to do much of anything offensively. They shut down the Niners run game and harassed Blaine Gabbert throughout the game. The Panthers are still among the upper echelon of NFL teams and should continue to be so for the rest of the year. They’ll face the Vikings next week in what should be a great game.

8. Houston Texans (last week’s ranking: 11) – After being completely dominated by the Chiefs at home in the playoffs last season, the Houston Texans got their revenge this week. Beating the Chiefs 19-12, the Texans looked like a true playoff contender, at the very least. Their defense was fantastic in this one, holding the Chiefs to just four field goals and keeping them out of the end zone. They struggled a bit to contain the talented duo of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, but overall it was still a successful day for the defense. They were particularly strong against the pass, sacking Alex Smith four times and holding him to just 186 yards through the air. Once again, the Texans offense was a bit of a mixed bag. They tried their best to get Lamar Miller going, giving him 25 carries, but he mustered just 83 yards. The offensive line just hasn’t done a good enough job of run blocking so far this season. Brock Osweiler had an up-and-down day, throwing one touchdown to a pair of picks. He did a nice job getting the ball into the hands of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins as well as rookie sensation Will Fuller, but he hasn’t been able to spread the ball effectively. If Osweiler can improve his play over the next several weeks, the Texans will begin to be taken more seriously as title contenders. They’ve got a very tough matchup Thursday night against New England.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (last week’s ranking: 8) – The Chiefs were exploited a bit on Sunday against the Texans. Their offense is in the middle of an identity crisis. They’re very good at running the football and it seems they can do so no matter who is in at running back. Both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have been very good with star running back Jamaal Charles still recovering from last year’s torn ACL. They want to run the ball a lot, but if their defense has any struggles and they get down in games, they can’t come back because their passing game is inconsistent. Alex Smith isn’t great at throwing downfield and he doesn’t have the best group of weapons to work with. Spencer Ware has actually been the team’s best receiver through two games. When they get away from their ground-and-pound style of football, they are not very successful. It worked in Week 1 against the Chargers pathetic defense, but they won’t be able to do that against good teams with good defenses. Now, the Chiefs are very talented on the defensive side of the ball. They have a great front seven, but right now, they’re playing without their best player, Justin Houston. Houston is one of the league’s top pass rushers, but he’s currently on the PUP list, also recovering from a torn ACL. When he comes back, the Chiefs defense will get a major boost. They just need Alex Smith to become more of a threat as a passer to become true contenders. Next week they’ll face the Jets and it should be a great defensive battle.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (last week’s ranking: 9) – It feels like the Cincinnati Bengals are just stuck in purgatory. They’ll always be a good, balanced team that can win plenty of games, yet they can’t seem to beat legitimately good teams. They just don’t have enough “star power”. A.J. Green and Kevin Zeitler are the only players who would be considered among the best at their position. Most of their other players are just guys who are good, but not great. They’ll probably make the playoffs as a Wild Card team, but they just can’t seem to do anything more than that. They’ve got a pretty good offensive line and a good pair of running backs in Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Andy Dalton is a pretty good quarterback, but he has yet to win a playoff game. Their receivers aren’t great outside of A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert, who is currently injured. They struggled to put points on the board against the Steelers defense, which shouldn’t have been that difficult. Green didn’t do much of anything in the game and they couldn’t run the ball with any success. The defense is pretty much solid at every position, but no one truly stands out. They forced a couple of turnovers on Sunday, but they still allowed the Steelers to score 24 points. While the Steelers have a great offense, the Bengals could have made a huge statement by slowing them down. This team could certainly win enough games to reach the playoffs, but they likely won’t get very far until Andy Dalton takes the next step. They host Denver next week and that game will not be easy for them.

11. Minnesota Vikings (last week’s ranking: 12) – Despite losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the season with a torn ACL, the Vikes have gotten off to a good start this season. While Shaun Hill started the first game, newly acquired Sam Bradford started on Sunday night, and he played very well in his first game as a Viking. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson left the game with a torn meniscus. He is now out for the next three to four months, which is a huge blow to this team. How they deal with this injury could have a major impact on their season. The Vikings also had to place left tackle Matt Khalil on the injured reserve, which is another big loss for them, even though he wasn’t playing well in the first two games. The bright side for the Vikings? Stefon Diggs looked absolutely unstoppable, amassing 182 yards on nine catches and scoring a touchdown against the Packers. Bradford had a very efficient game and did an excellent job getting the ball in the hands of Diggs. The Vikings did struggle to run the ball for the second straight week, which is very surprising, since they have Peterson. The Vikes defense was excellent on Sunday against the Packers. They forced Aaron Rodgers into having one of the worst games of his career and they were able to hold the Packers to just 14 points. They also held the Pack to just 83 rushing yards in the game. Their defense looks like one of the NFL’s better groups and they have plenty of talent throughout. Even without Bridgewater, this team looks like it can make some noise with Bradford behind center. Next week, they take on the Panthers.

12. New York Giants (last week’s ranking: 15) – It’s time to start taking this Giants team seriously. Their defense has looked much improved since last season and it appears that all their big name additions are going to pay off. Holding Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense to just 13 points is quite impressive. They managed to shut down the Saints’ run game as well, holding them to just 41 yards on the ground. The Giants’ pass rush has been great, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback in each of their first two games. The additions of Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon have helped the Giants defensive line improve greatly, as well as the healthy return of Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants also improved at cornerback and it has made a difference. Adding Janoris Jenkins to their secondary, along with first round rookie Eli Apple, has helped the Giants slow down opposing receivers. Now that the Giants have a much better defense, they look like a real playoff team. The offense is the strength of this team, but it has actually not played very well in the first couple weeks of the season. Eli Manning has been throwing for plenty of yardage, but the touchdowns haven’t been there. The offense only managed nine points against a porous Saints defense on Sunday after only putting up 20 against the weak Cowboys defense as well. Manning has good weapons around him, but the offensive line isn’t great. Also, turnovers have been a problem as the G-Men fumbled three times against New Orleans. When the offense gets going, this team could be very good, especially if the defense can keep up this type of play. Next week’s game against the Redskins will be the Giants’ next test.

13. New York Jets (last week’s ranking: 16) – Even though the score looked close, the Jets dominated the Bills on Thursday night. The Jets were able to do anything they wanted offensively as Matt Forte ran for 100 yards and three TD’s and Ryan Fitzpatrick absolutely lit up the Bills secondary. This Jets offense is very similar to last year, with the exception of Matt Forte, who is an improvement over Chris Ivory. They’re pretty underrated on this side of the ball. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are a great duo at receiver. The offensive line can block effectively in both the run game and in pass protection. The only problem the Jets have faced is Fitzpatrick’s inability to come through in clutch situations. They also turn the ball over more than they’d like. Regardless, the Jets put up 37 points against the Bills’ pretty talented defense. The Jets defense may have allowed 24 points (the Bills had a defensive touchdown that brought them to 31), but it didn’t feel like they played that badly against the Bills’ struggling offense. They allowed a pair of long touchdowns and the Bills scored on a drive late in the game when it was pretty much out of their reach. The Jets played prevent defense on that drive allowing the Bills to get chunk plays underneath until they finally reached the end zone. The Jets defensive line may be the best in football and the rest of the defense feeds off of their excellent play. The one issue they face is the fact that Darrelle Revis has been getting burned downfield in their first two games. If he can stop that from happening, this Jets team is dangerous. The Jets play the Chiefs on Sunday in another great matchup for this weekend.

14. Oakland Raiders (last week’s ranking: 10) – Could every game for the Raiders be a shootout? Possibly. The Raiders can score with the best of them. Derek Carr leads this talented offense with the help of a great group of weapons. Latavius Murray is a very good, young running back, Amari Cooper is one of the league’s best young receivers, and Michael Crabtree is the veteran leader of the group. The offensive line is excellent as well. The Raiders’ problem is their defense. This was supposed to be an improved group, especially in the secondary, but they’ve been a massive disappointment so far this season. Sean Smith was supposed to come in and be the shut down corner he was in Kansas City, but he’s had a terrible first two games. The front seven is still a good group, but they struggled to contain the Falcons run game this past weekend. Allowing 69 points in the first two games is not a good look for the Raiders and if they don’t fix this, they’ll keep slipping down these rankings. They have a chance to redeem themselves next Sunday in Tennessee.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (last week’s ranking: 24) – The Eagles, with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz behind center, are off to a good start. They may be one of the more underrated teams in the league right now. The one problem? The teams they’ve beaten. These just aren’t impressive enough wins. They look good because they won handedly, but beating the Browns and Bears just aren’t big wins. This team has talent. The front seven is among the league’s best and the offense has been able to score points. Carson Wentz looks good, but it’s too early to crown him as the next great young quarterback. He’ll have to play like this for at least half a season to earn that kind of attention. The media is too quick to hype up young players like this, but the sample size is just too small. The offense for the Eagles still has work to do. They haven’t been great at running the football this season. The offensive line could be better and Ryan Mathews isn’t exactly a top running back. Their group of receivers is certainly an exciting, young group, but they’re unproven and inexperienced, like their quarterback. Another area that needs work is the secondary, which will not fare well against good teams. Their first real test of the season will be this week, when they host the Steelers.

16. Dallas Cowboys (last week’s ranking: 17) – The Dallas Cowboys are actually playing pretty well without starting quarterback Tony Romo. If the team can continue to play like this, they may have a shot at the playoffs. They’ve face two divisional foes so far: the Giants and the Redskins. They won this week against the Redskins and lost by just a point to the Giants in Week 1. The Cowboys offensive line is the best in the NFL and because of its effectiveness, the Cowboys offense always has a chance to sustain drives and put up points. They shouldn’t have any problems running the ball with Ezekiel Elliott running behind this line and rookie passer Dak Prescott consistently having time to throw. They have a talented offense around Prescott so scoring isn’t too much of a problem. Just imagine what they could do if they had a healthy Romo. The defense isn’t very talented, but it hasn’t been a problem in the first two games. They weren’t great this week, but they were good enough for them to win the game. They actually made the biggest play of the game, with Barry Church intercepting Kirk Cousins in the end zone, which not only stopped the ‘Skins from scoring, but gave the Cowboys the opportunity to go down the field and score the game winning touchdown. They play the Bears on Sunday night football next weekend.

17. Baltimore Ravens (last week’s ranking: 20) – Well, that was a close one. The Ravens played the Browns on Sunday and through the first quarter, this game was a stunner. The Browns lead 20-2 after the first frame, scoring three touchdowns against this tough Ravens defense. After the third touchdown, the Browns were kicking the extra point to go up 21-0. The Ravens had other plans, blocking the extra point and returning it to the end zone, getting two points for themselves. This play seemed to have swung the momentum of the game and the Ravens went on to shut down the Browns offense and outscore them 23-0 for the rest of the game. The Ravens defense in the first quarter was certainly concerning, but the way the turned the game around was impressive. After allowing an 85-yard touchdown run to Isaiah Crowell, they shut down the run. After getting lit up by Josh McCown early in the game, they started to make him uncomfortable, getting consistent pressure on him and doing a better job of taking away his receivers. The Ravens offense also came alive after a slow start. They never really got the run game going and Joe Flacco did throw a couple picks, but they did enough in the final three quarters to win this game. After a couple Flacco touchdowns to Mike Wallace and a few field goals from Justin Tucker, the Ravens were able to walk away with a victory. While beating the Browns is unimpressive, they did it while coming back from a horrible start. Next week, the Ravens go into Jacksonville to face the Jags.

18. Indianapolis Colts (last week’s ranking: 13) – There’s two words that can describe this Colts team: beat up. No team has as many injuries as this one. They’ve been without several starters in the first two weeks of the season, especially on defense. Vontae Davis and Henry Anderson are the two biggest injuries. Clayton Geathers, T.J. Green, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, Kendall Langford, Trent Cole, and Arthur Jones are all either starters or key role players who have missed time for this defense. If there was one play that could sum up this season for the Colts, it’s Darius Butler’s interception return against the Broncos this past Sunday. He picked off Trevor Siemian and was running toward the end zone. No one was going to catch him and he was going to return it for six. His hamstring had other plans as he collapsed during the return and left the game with a pulled hammy. This defense isn’t great when healthy, but they would be at least good enough to win games. The defense allowed just 19 points to the Broncos this week, but they were horrendous in Week 1 against the Lions. The offense for the Colts is very talented, but they struggled this week against the Broncos. Then again, who wouldn’t? Especially in Denver. Andrew Luck is still a great quarterback and he has lead less talented teams to the playoffs before, even after bad starts like this. Luck has a strong group of weapons around him, but unfortunately Donte Moncrief left this game and will be out the next four to six weeks. The offense line has actually been decent this year and while they couldn’t block Von Miller, but they tried to do so one-on-one. Probably not the best game plan. Miller’s strip sack of Luck that Denver returned for a score ended up being the game-changing play. Expect the Colts to bounce back against the Chargers next week if they can get healthier.

19. New Orleans Saints (last week’s ranking: 18) – It wasn’t so much the outcome of the Saints’ game against the Giants that was surprising, but the final score. It was a low scoring game between these teams. Most people expected a shootout with both teams being great offensively, but the final score was 16-13, with the Saints on the losing end. Drew Brees couldn’t really get anything going with the Giants pass rush all over him and with his receivers struggling to get open. The Saints struggled on the ground too, with stud running back Mark Ingram not being able to do much of anything. The offensive line was completely outplayed, but they have the potential to be better. This offense should still be one of the better ones in the NFL as they have plenty of talent on that side of the ball. The Saints defense is a big problem, but they played pretty well on Sunday afternoon. They gave up a lot of yards, especially through the air, but didn’t allow the Giants offense into the end zone at all. The defense has some talent, but overall as a unit, they just aren’t very good. The Saints are another team that should see plenty of shootouts. Monday night’s matchup against the Falcons should be no different.

20. Miami Dolphins (last week’s ranking: 23) – The Dolphins may have lost both games so far this season, but most people expected them to. They’ve played two of the best teams in the NFL: the Patriots and the Seahawks. These teams are both so talented and well coached; the Dolphins hardly had a chance. They did, however, hang around in both games, so the start to their season isn’t as bad as it seems. The Dolphins certainly have potential offensively; it’s just a matter of them actually living up to it. They have a talented and exciting group of receivers in Jarvis Landry, DaVante Parker, and Kenny Stills and their running back group has potential as well. Arian Foster has been so good in his career, but his biggest problem is that he can’t stay healthy. He may even miss next week’s game. Behind him, they still have the electric Jay Ajayi and the underrated rookie Kenyon Drake. These guys are unproven, but certainly exciting, young players. The offensive line is much improved, so they really just need Ryan Tannehill to take the next step and become a more consistent quarterback. Defensively, the Dolphins did not play well against New England, who was playing without Tom Brady or Gronk. They haven’t been able to stop the run well and their cornerback group is not great in coverage either. It’s mostly up to their pass rush to keep this defense from become one of the league’s worst. Behind Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and Mario Williams, this team can certainly get after the quarterback. No one is expecting a playoff season from the Dolphins, but just showing some improvement on both sides of the ball can go a long way with this young team. Next week they host the Browns.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (last week’s ranking: 14) – This was supposed to be the breakout year for the Jags. After such a great offseason, including big name free agents (Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara, Kelvin Beachum, Jared Odrick, Chris Ivory, and Tashaun Gipson) and an excellent draft (Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, and Sheldon Day). However, none of those players have yet to make a big impact for this team (some due to injuries) and it may take some time for the team to gel. Coaching could be another issue. Gus Bradley was a great defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, but despite having a pretty talented roster, this team just hasn’t played up to expectations. They kept it close with the Packers in Week 1, but against the Chargers, they looked like the pathetic Jags from recent years. Tackling was a major problem against the Chargers on Sunday. Philip Rivers was taking his check downs all day and the Chargers receivers and running backs were simply making the Jags defenders miss. Not a good start for this defense. The offense has been good the last couple years with Blake Bortles continuing to develop, but they’ve gotten off to a slow start this season. He’s got a great receiving core around him, including Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Rashad Greene, Julius Thomas, Mercedes Lewis, Marqise Lee, T.J. Yeldon, and Denard Robinson. The talent at the top, combined with their depth, allows Bortles plenty of options. The offensive line is solid as well. This offense should have no problem putting up points. The defense better improve or this team will continue to sink. They’ve got the Ravens lined up for next week.

22. Buffalo Bills (last week’s ranking: 19) – After a promising season in 2015, the start of 2016 just hasn’t panned out for the Bills. The defense appears to have taken a major step back, especially in the secondary. The only key loss on this side of the ball was Mario Williams leaving for Miami, so there’s no real explanation. Marcel Dareus has been suspended to start the season so that’s not helping. He may be their best defender. Jerry Hughes has played well, but left Thursday night’s game with an injury. The pass rush just hasn’t been there and the Bills talented corners are getting exposed. Stephon Gilmore had the worst game of his career on Thursday and Ronald Darby had a rough night as well, despite a few nice deflections. Unfortunately for the Bills, they are without their stud rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland, who was lost for the year with a torn ACL and their rookie first round pick, Shaq Lawson, is currently on the PUP list. Ragland won’t return, but Lawson could surely help when he comes back. The offense has been problematic as well. They made a couple big plays against the Jets, but outside of that, they couldn’t muster much offensively. The offensive line has been terrible. If it wasn’t for Tyrod Taylor being such a mobile quarterback, he would’ve been sacked at least five or six times on Thursday. They haven’t gotten the run game going, despite having a great running back in LeSean McCoy and the receivers have struggled to get open as well. Their top receiver, Sammy Watkins, has been battling a foot injury, which isn’t helping. The Bills are a team that appears to be in trouble. Their next game is at home against the very talented Arizona Cardinals.

23. Washington Redskins (last week’s ranking: 21) – The Redskins look like a team caught in limbo right now. They have yet to decide whether or not they believe in Kirk Cousins as their franchise quarterback. This season appears to be the deciding year and it’s not off to a good start for Cousins. His interception in the end zone on Sunday may have cost his team the game. He hasn’t played well at all, despite having a very talented receiving core around him. Granted, the run game in Washington is terrible and the offensive line isn’t great, but he produced with similar talent last year. The defense is a wreck right now. They can’t stop the run and they’ve been lit up by Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant. They signed Josh Norman to stop guys like that, but they haven’t made him “shadow” top receivers. Both guys took advantage of matchups with Bashaud Breeland on the other side. The ‘Skins just don’t have a good defense and their offense isn’t playing well. This team seems destined to fall flat after winning their division a year ago. Next week, they’ll be in the Meadowlands against the Giants.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week’s ranking: 22) – Well, that was short lived. The Bucs looked very good in Week 1, especially on offense. Week 2 was a completely different story. They were thoroughly dominated by the Cardinals. Losing 40-7 is never pretty and it can’t feel good. Jameis Winston was terrible in this game. Throwing four interceptions and fumbling once, he was a turnover machine. He was fantastic in their first game, but he needs to be more consistent to be taken seriously as a top tier quarterback. They also lost Doug Martin and he’s expected to be out for three weeks, which is a big blow to this offense. Charles Sims is good, but not as good as Martin. Mike Evans still made an impact, scoring the only touchdown of the game for the Bucs. The Bucs’ defense wasn’t great in this one or in their first game so that’ll probably be a problem all year. They have a young defense with some talent, but overall, it’s a weak group. The Bucs will win some games this year, but it’ll mostly be against weaker teams. Next week against the Rams could be another example.

25. Atlanta Falcons (last week’s ranking: 28) – The Falcons are another team with a talented offense, but little to no defense. They showed little resistance against the Raiders, allowing 28 points. They weren’t any better in the first game against the Bucs either. The Falcons defense is going to continue to get lit up until they add more talent. The lack the pass rush and coverage in the secondary to stop opposing quarterbacks. They are pretty good on the offensive end, though. Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback and with an improved receiving core around him, he can have a big year. Julio Jones has battled an ankle injury, but he’s still played as well as ever. Mohammad Sanu looks good as the number two receiver and Jacob Tamme is a decent tight end. Their offensive line has gotten better in recent years, especially in run blocking. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were able to run through wide open holes against the Raiders. They’re both also effective in the passing game. The Falcons are another team that’ll be plenty of shootouts, including this Thursday against the Saints.

26. Tennessee Titans (last week’s ranking: 27) – The Titans won in exciting fashion on Sunday, with Marcus Mariota throwing a game-winning touchdown to veteran receiver Andre Johnson with just 1:13 remaining in the game. Mariota had a strong fourth quarter throwing another touchdown to talented tight end Delanie Walker earlier in the frame. It took until that point for the Titans’ offense to come alive. Their offensive line is young and shaky, so their offense is bound to be inconsistent. On Sunday, the Titans were able to run the ball successfully, but against a better defensive front, they might struggle (like they did in Week 1 against the Vikings). The Lions lost their best defensive lineman, Ziggy Ansah in the second quarter, so that may have helped the Titans get their offense going. The Titans defense still needs a lot of pieces to become a more complete group, but they have a very good defensive line. They were successful at getting pressure on Matt Stafford, but they did struggle to stop the run. The Titans are going to be inconsistent on both sides of the ball. They may surprise people with some upsets and they can beat some weaker teams as well, but overall this is a team that needs more growth to become a playoff contender. Next week they host the Raiders.

27. Detroit Lions (last week’s ranking: 26) – After a wild, back-and-forth game in Week 1 against the Colts, the Lions were victim to a comeback by the Titans this week. The Lions were able to run the ball very well for the second straight week, but they couldn’t pass the ball as effectively as they did against the Colts’ battered secondary. They faced a bit more resistance this week and it hurt them significantly. Their offense couldn’t put up as many points without being able to air it out. Their defense was great, until the fourth quarter. They allowed two late touchdown passes by Marcus Mariota in the fourth quarter and lost the game. They weren’t particularly strong against the run this week, but they lost star edge rusher Ziggy Ansah. He’s an excellent pass rusher and run defender so losing him hurt significantly. If he misses an extended period of time, the Lions defense could be in trouble. The Lions still have a good offense and a decent defense, but they aren’t good enough on either side of the ball to win games with any type of consistency. They’ll face the Green Bay Packers next weekend.

28. San Diego Chargers (last week’s ranking: 29) – The Chargers completely dominated the Jags on Sunday and, this time, they didn’t allow a huge comeback. The Chargers’ talented secondary was able to handle to Jaguars’ great receivers. The Chargers’ offense was so good in this game, it allowed them to get a big lead early and force the Jaguars into becoming one-dimensional. The Chargers actually did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage in this game, which is the team’s biggest weakness. Their offensive line played well and allowed Melvin Gordon to run for 102 yards. Philip Rivers was given plenty of time to throw and was able to use the short passing game to get the ball in the hands of his receivers and allow them to make plays. They took advantage of the Jags poor tackling to make plays after the catch. The Bolts also did a great job containing the Jaguars run game, completely slowing down T.J. Yeldon. The Chargers should enjoy this win because they won’t have many dominant games like this. Next week, they’ll be in Indy against the Colts.

29. Los Angeles Rams (last week’s ranking: 31) – The Rams got a big win against the Seahawks this weekend, but it was an ugly one. Neither team found the end zone as the Rams won 9-3. The kickers got plenty of action, but they’re the only ones. This was certainly an impressive game for the Rams defense. Their secondary has played better than anticipated this season and moving Mark Barron to linebacker has helped significantly. The defensive line is what won this game for the Rams. Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn are both dominant and it showed on Sunday. They pressured Russell Wilson all game, forcing errant throws and not allowing him to break contain and run. They allowed a couple decent runs to Christine Michael, but other than that, they did a good job stopping the Seahawks run game. The Rams have little-to-no talent offensively outside of Todd Gurley, but if their defense can continue to play like this, it will keep them in games. Too bad this type of defensive production is unsustainable. It’s not often a team can get away with scoring just nine points in a win, so the Rams better find a way to put more points on the board. The Rams offense has been so bad, that they have yet to score a touchdown in two games. They’ll have a chance to find the end zone for the first time against the Bucs next week.

30. San Francisco 49ers (last week’s ranking: 30) – The 49ers surprising kept their game against the Panthers close on Sunday, until the fourth quarter at least. Let’s face it. This was a game this team was never really in. They had a couple turnovers that set up scores and they made a couple big plays on offense, but they could not slow down the Panthers passing attack or run game. The 49ers were helpless on defense and they looked nothing like how they did in their Week 1 matchup with the Rams. Then again, they were facing a whole different animal this week and they looked more like the team we expected to see this season. This defense will play well some weeks, but it won’t be a consistently good unit. The offense is not a strong unit either. Blaine Gabbert isn’t going to scare anyone and neither will their receivers. Torrey Smith is good for a few long touchdowns each year, but not much else. Carlos Hyde is a beast, but he has nothing around him. This team will be among the NFL’s bottom teams all year. They face the Seahawks next week.

31. Chicago Bears (last week’s ranking: 25) – This is not the start the Bears imagined to this season. They just haven’t been in either of their games this season, losing to both the Texans and Eagles by wide margins. They haven’t been able to get their run game going at all and no one outside of Alshon Jeffery has stepped up and made any plays. Their offensive line is pretty good, but they have a few new additions to the starting lineup and they have yet to gel as a group. Outside of these problems, Jay Cutler hasn’t played well and simply isn’t a good leader. Instead of making his teammates better, he seems to just drag the team down. Now he’s out with a thumb injury and Brian Hoyer is set to start for the next couple weeks. This offense just isn’t going anywhere. The defense doesn’t have much talent either. They have a good group of linebackers with Jerrell Freeman, Danny Travathan, and rookie Leonard Floyd. Floyd is a freak athlete and should develop into this team’s top pass rusher. Their current number one rusher is Parnell McPhee who is currently on the PUP list. Lamarr Houston was another good edge player they had who was just lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Bears a just not a good team right now and they should probably move on from Cutler and begin to rebuild. They’ll face Dallas on Sunday night.

32. Cleveland Browns (last week’s ranking: 32) – Let’s face it. The Cleveland Browns stink. They go up 20-0, get blocked on the extra point that would’ve made it 21-0, and the extra point is returned for a 2-pt conversion for the Ravens. Then it all goes wrong. They can’t manage another point for the rest of the game and allow the Ravens to come back and win 25-20. The Browns were able to stop the Ravens rushing attack, but that’s not saying much this season. They forced a couple turnovers early, but did make enough plays to win. They couldn’t stop Joe Flacco in the second half. They Browns lack the pass rush to make quarterbacks uncomfortable and they don’t have the talent at cornerback to cover receivers either. After a huge run by Isaiah Crowell, they couldn’t muster much on the ground and after lighting up the Ravens secondary in the first quarter, Josh McCown was terrible for the final three. Now it appears their top receiver, Corey Coleman, has broken his hand. It’s an unfortunate break for the rookie and for the Browns. He was already their most talented offensive player outside of left tackle Joe Thomas. The Browns quarterback woes have gone on for years, but they seem destined for the number one pick in next year’s draft. Hopefully they use it one a quarterback. Until then, they’ll be stuck in the cellar of the NFL. Next week, they’ll play the Dolphins in another game they’ll probably lose.

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