- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
You could argue this should be Chase Young, but Jerry Jeudy is about as slam dunk of a pick as it gets. He has the physical tools to play like Odell Beckham Jr. There is some aspect of his game that reminds me of Marvin Harrison. He plays faster than his raw speed will indicate and demonstrates incredible route-running ability. I don’t expect him to go first overall because of the position value, but he is the best pro prospect in this draft.
- Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
I can almost guarantee you Jeudy and Chase Young will be the top two prospects all the way through the draft. Unlike Jeudy, there is some possibility Young goes first overall based on his positional value. He is an excellent pass rusher, but he also does a nice job against the run. He excels at setting the edge and checks every box when it comes to physical skill. I’ve seen comparisons to Von Miller, and that is probably not far off.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
He is not going to be for everyone. Much like Kyler Murray a year ago, Tua Tagovailoa lacks the size of the prototypical NFL quarterback. However, his poise, touch and accuracy make him an NFL-ready passer who has athletic upside. He won’t be Patrick Mahomes, launching the ball 50-plus yards down field or firing in bullet passes, but he can run an offense efficiently and effectively. The thing to like most about him? Eight interceptions in 580 career passes so far. His decision making is impeccable and possibly even the best in the class.
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Despite not being a traditional college football power, Iowa produces NFL-ready talent every season. A.J. Epenesa is no exception. He has gotten off to a slower start this year, but he fits the mold of a great NFL defensive lineman. He is not an elite athlete, but Epenesa has good power and discipline. He uses his hands well to keep offensive linemen from locking him up. He forces a ton of fumbles as well. He needs to pick up the production though this year.
- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
He might not be as prolific at the college level as some of the other backs in this class, but he is the polished and versatile. DeAndre Swift is a complete back with good hands, above average vision and tons of college production. He spent the last two seasons splitting time with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Elijah Holyfield. Now, he gets the chance to be the feature back and he has taken it well. He is more elusive than fast, but he has enough speed to break off big plays. Swift features heavily in the passing game and does not have a ton of mileage on his legs either after splitting time throughout his college career.
- Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The more I watch Jeffrey Okudah, the more impressed I am by his skill. He just looks so natural as a lockdown corner. He is a great tackler in space and excels in bump-and-run coverage. Okudah will sometimes end up running the route for the receiver because his hips are so fluid and he has great eye discipline. He can be a little aggressive at times, which makes him susceptible to double moves, but he seems to have enough relative speed to make up for it in most cases. If he runs well at the combine, we could be talking about a top-five pick.
- Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
I know I am definitely higher on him than a lot of other people, but I have been really impressed with Jake Fromm. He goes up against great competition all the time and does an excellent job leading his team. He is a field general who commands the offense, he has NFL-caliber arm strength and he seems to be improving his accuracy. He might not be as flashy as some of the other quarterbacks in this class, but he feels like a rock solid prospect with a long pro career ahead of him.
- Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Jerry Jeudy is head and shoulders above everyone else in this class, and it is a very good receiver class. Tee Higgins is the best of the rest. He has an incredible catch radius, very reliable hands and runs his routes well. In my opinion, he has saved Trevor Lawrence’s rocky start from going completely off the rails. Higgins regularly wins jump balls and adjusts to make catches. The biggest knock is the lack of speed, but he feels a lot like fellow former Clemson receiver Mike Williams, just without the injury history.
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
If you are looking for the next great LSU defensive back, Grant Delpit is it. He is cut from the same cloth as Jamaal Adams, but excels more down field than in the opponents backfield. He is excellent at diagnosing plays and shows great closing speed. Deplit looks very comfortable in coverage as well. The concern that keeps cropping up on film is his tackling. He arrives at the right place at the right time, but doesn’t always complete the play. Tackling isn’t the most important skill needed as a versatile safety, but one he will need to work on to be worth a top-10 pick.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Had CeeDee Lamb come out last year, he probably would have been the top receiver off the board, ahead of teammate Marquis Brown. Instead, he comes out in a great receiver class and drops to WR3, which is impressive, because he is still the 10th player on my board. He runs really well and is not afraid to go across the middle. He shows excellent ability to make big plays after the catch and fights for extra yardage. He is not as dominant as Tee Higgins in the red zone, but he is much better at creating separation and giving a quarterback a nice window to hit.
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Now in his third year of facing future NFL talent playing in the SEC, Andrew Thomas is finally draft eligible and should be the first offensive lineman off the board. He is an excellent pass blocker with solid footwork. He does not get bullied too often and knows how to handle speed rushers. He is not one of those road grading linemen in the running game, but he understands how to seal the block to create a running lane. He has already faced Julian Okwara this year and fared well. He will get plenty more chances to show why he is the top tackle prospect this year.
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
There is not a more accomplished running back through his first two years in college football history than Jonathan Taylor. He has been a bellcow at Wisconsin posting over 2,000 yards from scrimmage each of the past two seasons. After signs early in his career that fumbling would be an issue, he has worked to cut down on them. Already this season, Taylor is showing his development as a receiver, with more catches through four games than he had in either of his previous two seasons. One major concern is the number of touches he has had in his college career. Durability has never been an issue, but he already has 690 carries in his college career. That starts to take a toll eventually.
- Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Derrick Brown is an athletic space-eater. He uses his hands well to attack offensive linemen and also disrupt passing lanes for opposing quarterbacks. Brown is surrounded by other future NFL talent on the Auburn defensive line, but he stands out as the best of them. He won’t be the type of pass rusher we’ve seen Aaron Donald turn into, but he can collapse a pocket very quickly with his interior pressure. He isn’t very agile or quick, playing as more of a nose tackle type, but he has enough speed to chase down the quarterback.
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
I know I made this comment about CeeDee Lamb, but in another draft, Travis Etienne would probably be the first player at his position to come off the board. He is an incredibly elusive runner who does a good job of keeping his legs churning for extra yards. He has game-breaking speed and can stop on a dime to make a defender miss. He also contributes consistently in the passing game, as he already has 10 catches this season. He finished seventh in the Heisman voting last year, which just goes to show the value he has for that Clemson team.
- Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
If there is someone in this class that could work their way into the top 10 with an impressive combine, that is Yetur Gross-Matos in my mind. He has shown great ability as a pass rusher over the past two years at Penn State. Gross-Matos has heavy hands that allow him to fight through blocks and turn linemen to close down openings. He is disruptive in the run game as well, shooting into the backfield to blow up plays. I expect him to work best as a down lineman in a 4-3 defense. If he can find a way to reach double-digit sacks this season, he could hear his name called very early come April.
- Laviska Sheault Jr., WR, Colorado
Heading into the season, I had very high expectations for Laviska Shenault Jr. He hasn’t quite lived up to them yet, but his raw talent should see him go in the first round regardless. He excels at beating receivers off the line and making plays downfield, which is impressive for a 6’2″, 220-pound receiver. He is almost like a running back after the catch, showing good vision and power with the ball in his hands. Colorado likes to use him as a wildcat quarterback sometimes, just to get the ball in his hands. He has had some minor injuries that have kept him off the field at times this year, but his tape is very impressive.
- Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Heading into the year, Walker Little was an exciting prospect who had to answer a couple questions about technique and agility. He never really got a chance to, suffering a season-ending knee injury in the season opener against Northwestern. Little has some solid tape from a year ago and has a massive frame that projects well to the next level. He is not as polished as Andrew Thomas, but he has a lot of upside. On the bright side for Little, the injury happened so early in the year that he may be able to do some drills by the time the combine rolls around to sure up his draft stock.
- Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs might be the best playmaker in all of college football. He is electric with the ball in his hands and there is already buzz about him potentially running a sub 4.3 40-yard dash at the combine. He can get lost in the shuffle with so many great receivers playing alongside him at Alabama, but he is who the Tide turns to when they need a big play. His hands are fine and there is definitely some injury concern with him. His status is up in the air for Bama’s next game against Texas A&M after suffering a leg injury. Creating separation won’t be a problem for Ruggs who could be a fine toy for offensive coordinators to deploy.
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
When it comes to Justin Herbert, the arm talent is there, but the more I watch him, the less sure I am about the rest of his game. He seems to fade a bit when Oregon faces top-tier opponents and has some small technical things he needs to clean up that affect his accuracy. While he probably has better physical tools than Tua Tagovailoa or Jake Fromm, he is not there on the mental side of things. He will need a bit of work before he is ready to be a starter in the NFL. With the right coaching though, he could be a Pro Bowl passer one day.
- Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Wisconsin, much like Iowa, does an excellent job of producing players ready to make the jump to the next level. Tyler Biadasz is definitely the top interior line prospect at the point in the draft process. He gets off the line well and does a really nice job finishing blocks. He has the power to run over smaller lineman and almost never gets pushed back thanks to a strong base and good technique.
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
I did say Iowa does a good job of producing NFL talent right? Tristan Wrifs is looking like one of the top tackle prospects in the upcoming draft, with a big frame and lots of experience playing in the Big 10. What holds him back from being higher up on this list is he plays right tackle instead of left. Now, Wirfs does have the size to slide over, but he is better as a run blocker than as a pass blocke and one of the biggest knocks has been his foot speed. He has the potential to be a plug and play type pick on the right side for a team looking for line help.
- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
As a converted safety, Isaiah Simmons is better in coverage than your average outside linebacker. He is fast and a good tackler in space. He shows a good ability to wreck havoc in the backfield as well either as a blitzing pass rusher or against the run. As the tight end position continues to evolve, the need for teams to find players capable of covering them. Simmons should be able to do that and then some.
- CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
And here starts the run on cornerbacks. I will admit I haven’t really made a full determination on the order of these next three players. It feels very close to me between them all. CJ Henderson has had moments of brilliance at Florida, but has battled through injuries this year. He has good size for an NFL corner. I want to see him on the field later this year matching up with the top talent to see if he can prove his worth.
- Kristian Fulton, DB, LSU
Much of what I said about Henderson applies to Kristian Fulton as well. He has faced great competition and shown flashes of potential. He thankfully hasn’t had the same injuries has Henderson, but I still want to see him prove himself late in the year.
- Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Teams have already picked up on the fact that throwing at Bryce Hall is a bad idea. He headlines an impressive Virginia defense fresh off a solid showing against Notre Dame. The secondary held Ian Book to just 165 yards passing and played better than that scoreline would indicate. With good size and speed, Hall has the physical tools to make an early impact at the next level.
Five teams made quarterback changes in Week 3. Four were predicated by injury. The one that wasn’t probably had the biggest impact of all. Daniel Jones, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk all made their first start of 2019 on Sunday. That is probably the order I would rank their performances as well. It was a wild week of NFL action and now we have seven* teams left undefeated (the Lions are 2-0-1 thanks to their Week 1 tie to Arizona.)
Not surprisingly, the Patriots remain at the top. Kansas City is right behind them. In fact, the top six teams did not move this week, but it feels like the gap between the top two is widening. There is a ton of uncertainty for teams 7-32. Parity continues to reign in the NFL. It is becoming harder to rank these teams every week, but here we go.
1. New England Patriots: 3-0 (Last Week: 1)
Looking at the Patriots schedule, we should probably just glue them down in the top spot until at least Week 8. New England’s next four games feature Buffalo, New York (Jets and Giants) and Washington. Assuming the Pats can escape Buffalo unscathed, it seems safe to guess they will start 7-0. The Patriots were barely bothered by the Jets, allowing just 105 yards of total offense. They won’t get to play Luke Falk every week, but this team is humming through easy and underperforming competition.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-0 (Last Week: 2)
The Chiefs defense let the Ravens back into the game late, but took a 23-6 lead into the half. They did allow 203 yards on the ground at 6.3 yards per clip. That is to be expected playing a team like Baltimore. However, it is cause for concern as Kansas City is allowing the sixth-most yards per game and a league-worst 6.2 yards per carry. Thankfully, the offense is good enough to make up for pretty much all of that with Patrick Mahomes leading the way. The offense is championship ready if the defense can ever catch up.
3. Los Angeles Rams: 3-0 (Last Week: 3)
This was not the type of performance you would expect from a team playing against a backup secondary. All four defensive backs for the Browns were unavailable on Sunday night, yet Jared Goff threw two interceptions and looked far from sharp. The running game struggled to get on track as well. The Rams emerged with another win, but this was another sluggish start for a supposedly prolific offense. Thankfully, the defense is playing well enough to lead the way. Los Angeles runs deep with defensive playmakers and that matters while the offense spins its wheels.
4. Green Bay Packers: 3-0 (Last Week: 4)
Green Bay has won three straight, and each game the offense has looked a little bit better. Aaron Rodgers is still not lighting the world on fire, but he doesn’t have to be. The defense is playing lights out right now, allowing 11.7 points per game and 12 sacks in three games. The offeseason signings of Preston and Za’Darius Smith is looking pretty good right about now. These are luxuries the Packers offense have not had in a long time, so the lack of offensive consistency is not hurting them. Yet. Things will get really tough with Philly and Dallas up next.
5. Dallas Cowboys: 3-0 (Last Week: 5)
Dallas demolished Miami 31-6 to move to 3-0. That doesn’t really tell the full story. The Cowboys defense lacked precision, allowing Josh Rosen to get into a rhythm a few times in the game. There is nothing to really panic about, but America’s team has not been tested yet. Dallas has faced New York, Washington and Miami, three of probably the five worst teams in the league. On the bright side, the Cowboys had two 100-yard rushers as Tony Pollard joined Ezekiel Elliott over the century mark on Sunday. If that formula works again in New Orleans, Dallas should be 4-0.
6. Baltimore Ravens: 2-1 (Last Week: 6)
Baltimore is close to contending. Lamar Jackson seems to reach another level in the fourth quarter of games, as he did yet again in Kansas City. It doesn’t make up for the lackluster three quarters that preceded it, especially because the Ravens lost, but it was fun to watch. The potential for this team to be great is there. They need to find just a bit more consistency on offense. Mark Andrews getting back to full strength will be a big help. The scary thing for the Ravens defense was this was a banged up Chiefs offense that hung 33 points and 503 yards of total offense on them. This could be a potential playoff matchup and Baltimore has work to do before then.
7. Houston Texans: 2-1 (Last Week: 8)
Are the Texans really the number seven team in the league? Beats me. Pretty much everything outside the top five is really hard to predict. Houston lost to New Orleans in a wild game to open the season. That was with Drew Brees under center as well. Since then, they have beaten a tough Jaguars team and outlasted the Chargers. The defense is solid and Deshaun Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Will Fuller has stepped up so far this season to complement DeAndre Hopkins. Someone has to win the AFC South and the Texans have to be the favorite to do so right now.
8. Minnesota Vikings: 2-1 (Last Week: 9)
Kirk Cousins took care of the ball, but honestly, he didn’t have to make a ton of plays after halftime. Cousins attempted just 21 passes as Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison tore apart the Raiders defense. In turn, Minnesota bottled up Josh Jacobs and held everyone other than Darren Waller in check. With four sacks, including a pair from Eric Wilson, this Vikings defense turned in another great performance, this time without the slow start. The offense still has room to improve, but this team is looking like a likely playoff participant.
9. Chicago Bears: 2-1 (Last Week 10)
For one half, the Bears were back! Unfortunately for Chicago, NFL games have two halves. Chicago played fine after halftime, but nowhere near the same level as it had in the first two quarters. Mitchell Trubisky looked better, but still has a lot to prove. He was still overwhelmingly average on the whole, throwing a terrible red zone interception and missing a couple of open receivers. It also helped to be playing against a terrible Washington defense. Still, this is the type of football the Bears won a lot of games playing last year. Trubisky did enough to power the offense after the defense put him in great position thanks to a ridiculous number of turnovers. It has been ugly, but Da Bears are 2-1.
10. New Orleans Saints: 2-1 (Last Week: 11)
Turns out that Teddy Bridgewater can still sling it. That may be exaggerating things slightly. He only threw for 177 yards, but he took care of the ball and fed New Orleans’ two best playmakers. You can make as much or as little of Seattle’s 20 fourth quarter points. The Saints lead 27-7 entering the final quarter, so I have a feeling they took their foot off the gas a little bit. Russell Wilson even threw a meaningless touchdown on the final play of the game. There is a ton of talent on this team even without Drew Brees.
11. Indianapolis Colts: 2-1 (Last Week: 15)
Andrew Luck who? I’m joking of course, but this was another solid showing from Indy. Jacoby Brissett is not putting up MVP-type numbers like his predecessor, but he is playing efficient, turnover-free football. Even with a couple injuries on defense, the Colts have enough playmakers to pick up a solid win over the Falcons. The concern now turns to T.Y. Hilton, who aggravated a quad injury on Sunday. If he is unable to go, that is a major blow to the offense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-2 (Last Week: 7)
Injuries certainly played a factor, but so did undisciplined play. The Eagles gave up a kick-return touchdown, lost two fumbles and allowed Carson Wentz to be sacked three times. Philly drops to 1-2, now tied with the Giants in the NFC East. Getting everyone back on the field will help, but this is a bad look for a team that had high hopes for the season. The one positive note, the run defense looks great. Only the Patriots are allowing fewer yards per carry through the first three weeks of the season. If the Eagles can clean up the mistakes, they should be able to bounce back.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-2 (Last Week: 12)
This loss was more excusable, but the Chargers are going to run out of passable defeats very quickly. Already two games behind the Chiefs, this team is already seeing hopes of winning the division fade. The offensive line needs to play better after giving up five sacks. If not for a superhuman effort from Keenan Allen, this could have been a blowout. There were some positives for Los Angeles, but the time for moral victories is long gone. Thankfully, the Chargers have a chance to get back on track with a trip to Miami up next.
14. San Francisco 49ers: 3-0 (Last Week: 17)
I will admit, I was definitely not among the people who predicted a 3-0 start for the 49ers. It was far from a convincing performance as Jimmy Garoppolo struggled again. His two interceptions to go with the team’s three fumbles shows the offense still has a ways to go. It also shows a lot of perseverance and resilience. Unfortunately, not every team is going to be breaking in a new quarterback. San Francisco will need to do a much better job taking care of the football if they want to keep this winning streak rolling.
15. Buffalo Bills: 3-0 (Last Week: 20)
The Buffalo Bills are 3-0! Granted it took a fourth-quarter comeback against the Bengals, but hey it’s still a win. Buffalo continues to ride its incredible defense and an offense that is just good enough to pull out close victories. Things get a lot harder this week though with a trip to New England on the horizon. Josh Allen is continuing to develop as a passer and this team probably isn’t really ready to join the playoff conversation, but they are playing some good football.
16. Detroit Lions: 2-0-1 (Last Week: 25)
Say hello to the undefeated Lions. That is not a sentence I figured I would be typing at this point in the season. Detroit survived tough tests from Los Angeles and Philadelphia. There is still a lot, and I mean a lot, of room for improvement. Overall though, this team is playing well in all three phases. Matt Stafford still hasn’t been great, but the Lions are finding ways to win. That will likely come to an end with the Chiefs next on the schedule, but Detroit is right in the thick of the NFC North conversation.
17. Seattle Seahawks: 2-1 (Last Week: 14)
That was pathetic. Russell Wilson’s late-game heroics made the scoreline respectable, but Seattle laid an egg on Sunday. It was the first home loss in September under Pete Carroll and it showcased a lot of the troubling themes we’ve seen so far from the Seahawks. The offense came out flat for the third straight week. Chris Carson lost the handle on the ball for the third time in as many weeks as well. The road to the playoffs is looking tougher with both San Francisco and Los Angeles sitting at 3-0. Wins against the Steelers and Bengals look less impressive given their combined 0-6 record as well. Time for Seattle to shake up the rust and step up.
18. Cleveland Browns: 1-2 (Last Week: 16)
A high-level look at the Cleveland Browns tells one very clear story: this team is not ready to compete for a title yet. The defense played about as well as you could have asked against the Rams, but the offense was totally lost. Baker Mayfield struggled to hit throws once again. Freddie Kitchens made some questionable decisions as a playcaller. This group will likely be good by the end of the year, but there is still a lot of growth needed to reach the playoffs. If the offense can clean up some of the mistakes, the defense is playing well enough to win a number of games down the stretch.
19. Atlanta Falcons: 1-2 (Last Week: 13)
Atlanta is one Nelson Agholor drop away from likely being 0-3. Keanu Neal had season-ending surgery for the second year in a row. The Falcons just got carved up by Jacoby Brissett. It has been a bumpy ride for this group, struggling through injuries and a total lack of a running game. Now the gameplan likely changed after falling behind early, but Atlanta needs to establish the run early and take some pressure off both Matt Ryan and the defense. Ryan played about as well as you could hope with a league-leading 92.8 QBR in Week 3 too. The good news is the Falcons are just one game back in the NFC South.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-2 (Last Week: 21)
Minshew Mania is sweeping through the state of Florida, having migrated down from Pullman, Washington. Gardner Minshew led the Jaguars to a pivotal divisional win. Well he guided the team while the defense battered Marcus Mariota. Sacksonville came up with an absurd nine sacks against Tennessee and took a lot of pressure off the offense. This team is still building offensively, but the defense is championship ready. If Minshew can take the next step, Jacksonville might just make some noise.
21. Carolina Panthers: 1-2 (Last Week: 26)
You no doubt heard about Daniel Jones, but lost in that story was the 2019 debut of Kyle Allen. Not too familiar with him? I can’t say I blame you. He signed with the Panthers last year as an undrafted free agent after a bizarre college career. He played relatively well in his lone start last season against the Saints in Week 17. Then he started this week for an injured Cam Newton and threw four touchdowns against the Cardinals. Arizona’s defense is terrible, but Kyle Allen is now 2-0 as a starter. Turns out Carolina has depth at quarterback.
22. Tennessee Titans: 1-2 (Last Week: 18)
Oh boy. Marcus Mariota was just sacked again as you read this. The Titans surrendered nine sacks in Jacksonville. Mariota did throw for 300 yards, but it feels like an empty stat when he managed to lead just one scoring drive. Derrick Henry managed a woeful 2.6 yards per carry. That win over Cleveland feels like a lifetime ago. Mike Vrabel needs to find a way to get this offense on track. The next four games will decide this season for Tennessee.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 0-3 (Last Week: 19)
Last week was maybe time to panic. Now it is time to panic. The Steelers are 0-3. Mason Rudolph was average at best in first start. James Connor continues to sputter. Here is the bright side of this, Minkah Fitzpatrick made an instant impact. He came up with two forced turnovers in San Francisco. The defense actually played fairly well, even if it wasn’t great against the run. Jimmy Garoppolo never looked comfortable. Pittsburgh only had one sack, but came up with five turnovers. That is about as much help as Rudolph could have asked for, and he couldn’t find a way to pull out the win. Pittsburgh needs to win against Cincinnati, otherwise there will be some rumbling about a full-scale rebuild.
24. Oakland Raiders: 1-2 (Last Week: 22)
What happened to the team that smacked around the Broncos Week 1? The Raiders got slammed by Minnesota, going down 21-7 very quickly. Derek Carr was unimpressive, Josh Jacobs was underutilized and Darren Waller is incredible. Waller had 13 catches for 134 yards as the true lone bright spot on this Raiders team. Oakland’s defense is not good enough to win games for an underwhelming offense. Jon Gruden’s team is in trouble with six straight contests against teams 2-1 or better coming up.
25. Denver Broncos: 0-3 (Last Week: 23)
Missing: Broncos defense. Last seen: 2018. What the hell happened to this team? Through three weeks, there is just one team who has yet to record a sack. Shockingly, it’s the one that has Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. This team’s identity for the last five years has been on defense. With three straight game without a sack or forced turnover, the fear of facing them is gone. Joe Flacco has been rough, but he hasn’t had much help. He suffered six more sacks on Sunday in Green Bay. This is looking more and more like a lost season.
26. New York Giants: 1-2 (Last Week: 31)
Holy Daniel Jones. That was a fun way to start his NFL career with the largest Giants comeback in the Super Bowl era. Let’s calm down on the “this validates the Giants’ pick” talk. It is way too early for that. It was an impressive start though against a Tampa team that had 10 days to prep for this. The bad news is that Saquon Barkley will miss four to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. There are some other major concerns too. Mike Evans shredded the secondary and Wayne Gallman did not do much in the wake of Barkley’s injury. An easy week against Washington is on tap, but Minnesota and New England follow.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-2 (Last Week: 24)
That was brutal. Tampa blew a massive second-half lead, then had a chance to win as time expired, but Matt Gay missed the game-winning field goal. It’s hard to put this totally on the kicker. He did make his first four kicks. The defense is a problem. Cam Newton missed probably a dozen open receivers in Week 2. Daniel Jones did not miss those open receivers. Anyone who thought this pass defense was fixed quickly realized they were wrong. The Bucs took a step forward last week, but this feels like two steps back.
28. Washington: 0-3 (Last Week: 27)
If you watched only the second half of Monday Night Football, you might have thought Washington had a solid game, despite the loss. If you watched only the first half, you might have seen a team challenging the Dolphins for the crown of worst in the league. Case Keenum had to the worst game of his pro career. Adrian Peterson was ineffective. Thankfully, Terry McLaurin looks like a steal for this team, making history as the first rookie receiver to start his career with at least five catches and a touchdown in his first three games. It is only a matter of time before Dwayne Haskins takes over, but given the offensive line woes, maybe it is best for now to leave Keenum under center.
29. New York Jets: 0-3 (Last Week: 29)
Defensively, the Jets are probably in the top 15 in the league. Unfortunately, New York’s offense might be the worst in the NFL. The Luke Falk-led offense managed a shocking 105 yards of total offense. Now this was an overmatched quarterback making his first career start after beginning the season on the practice squad against the defending Super Bowl champions. Things were bound to be bad. This might have been worse than expected. It is clear the return of Sam Darnold is not going to magically fix this offense. Adam Gase has a lot of work to do.
30. Arizona Cardinals: 0-2-1 (Last Week: 28)
There was a little bit of good in there, but a lot of bad. Arizona’s secondary got destroyed by a guy making his second career start and first one of the season. Kyler Murray had a game to forget even if he did rack up 69 yards rushing. I know this offense is predicated around throwing the ball all over with four receivers spread out, but more needs to be done to integrate David Johnson. He had all of 11 carries against Carolina and picked up just 3.4 yards per attempt. He is easily the best offensive player Arizona has right now. This rebuild was never supposed to be quick, but there needs to be some improvement in key areas.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-3 (Last Week: 30)
Somewhat surprising stat of the week. The NFL’s leader in passing yards after three weeks is obviously Patrick Mahomes. Second is Andy Dalton. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either. The Bengals nearly pulled off a comeback, but the offense made too many mistakes to account for what was actually a solid day from the defense. As he so often has, Dalton left Cincy fans with a bitter taste in their mouths by tossing a game-ending interception on the potential game-winning drive. The Bengals are rocketing toward a top-five pick and likely a new quarterback next season. The bigger issue might be finding an offensive line to ensure that new signal caller doesn’t get pummeled.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-3 (Last Week: 32)
Another week, another uninspiring loss for the Dolphins. Josh Rosen got the start this week in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it made little difference. Rosen had some flashes of decent play, but the Dolphins have neither the skill position players, nor the offensive line for that to matter. Make no mistake, this was Miami’s best showing yet, but that’s not really saying much. The conversation is quickly turning to what the Fins will do with their three first round draft picks. Which I will be talking about a little bit on the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast this week.
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The latest episode of my NFL Draft Podcast is out now! There is lots of stock up and stock down top about prospects from all over the country. As always, I preview the best games to watch this weekend so you know what to look for. Check it out now here on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Make sure you share, rate and subscribe!
Another week down and another batch of quarterbacks are on the shelf. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Sam Darnold join Nick Foles as Week 1 starters no longer in action. Brees and Darnold should be back in about a month or so. Roethlisberger is done for the year, turning things over to Mason Rudolph. It has been a season defined by injuries so far and that has definitely been reflected in these power rankings, with lots of movement.
Of course the results played a part as well. Pittsburgh dropped to 0-2, as did Carolina, Jacksonville and Denver, all teams who had some form of postseason hope entering the year. Cleveland bounced back, the Jets are on their third quarterback already and Miami continues to show that they are the worst team in the NFL. It is shaping up to be a two-team race in the AFC. Meanwhile, the NFC feels wide open as the Rams, Packers and Cowboys are all off to great starts. Alright enough chit chat, here are this week’s power rankings, starting with a familiar face at the top.
1. New England Patriots: 2-0 (Last Week: 1)
Just another day at the office for the defending champs. New England blew the doors off Miami, just as everyone expected. What might not have been expected was the level of scoring from the defense. The Patriots had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and shutout the Dolphins. It might have been a slow start, leading just 7-0 after one quarter, but the Pats have the deepest, most talented team in the league. The AFC looks like it will be a two-team race.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-0 (Last Week: 2)
Patrick Mahomes is well on his way to winning another MVP. He torched the Raiders during the second quarter with 278 yards and four touchdowns, in one quarter! The Chiefs did trail 10-0 in this game before Mahomes worked his magic. There have been positive signs from this Kansas City defense early in the season, but it will really matter more in December and January. The Chiefs seems poised for another deep playoff run well ahead of the rest of the AFC West.
3. Los Angeles Rams: 2-0 (Last Week: 4)
This is the same team that squeaked out a win against the Panthers a week ago. It was a dominant defensive performance from the Rams. People will point to Drew Brees being out, but Los Angeles intercepted Brees and bottled up the run while he was still in the game. The offense certainly took its time to get going, but at the end of the day, they turned in a solid performance. Todd Gurley found the end zone for the first time this season and Jared Goff stayed mistake free. This is a formula the Rams can win with.
4. Green Bay Packers: 2-0 (Last Week: 8)
Well the Packers certainly started a lot faster this time around. After managing 10 points in Chicago, Green Bay scored 21 in the first half alone. Things slowed down big time though in the second half, as the defense finally let Minnesota find the end zone and Aaron Rodgers seemed to become extremely frustrated with the offense. Aaron Jones showed up though with a monster day featuring 100-plus rushing yards and a touchdown. We have yet to see the Pack play a complete game, and yet they are 2-0.
5. Dallas Cowboys: 2-0 (Last Week: 10)
Dallas looked a little sluggish out of the gate against Washington. Also, if you guess Devin Smith would score the first touchdown of the game for the Cowboys, you should probably go play the lottery. It was Smith’s first catch since 2016 and evened the score at seven at that point. From then on out, Dak Prescott and the offense cruised, scoring just before half to take a lead it wouldn’t surrender the rest of the way. It was a big divisional win that puts Dallas in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. The Cowboys have a bye, I mean, play the Dolphins in Week 3.
6. Baltimore Ravens: 2-0 (Last Week: 11)
It was a lot tighter this time around, but Baltimore emerges unscathed. Lamar Jackson was unleashed on the Cardinals defense, throwing for 272 yards and rushing for 120 more. It was duel of dual-threat quarterbacks in what proved to be a very exciting contest. Mark Andrew is also looking like Jimmy Graham with the numbers he is putting up. With the rest of the AFC North struggling, the Ravens are in a great spot in the division. Things will go from zero to 60 real quick for Baltimore though as it has a trip to Arrowhead up next.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-1 (Last Week: 7)
I’m pinning a lot of this on injuries and an untimely drop from Nelson Agholor. If Agholor takes that to the house, Philly escapes Atlanta 2-0. On top of that, the Eagles were playing without Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert for the majority of the contest. Carson Wentz even missed some time after getting banged up. The secondary played better, even despite the incredible efforts of Julio Jones. Overall, it was a solid game from Philly. If they can get just a bit healthier, this team should be a dangerous one.
8. Houston Texans: 1-1 (Last Week: 13)
That was too close for comfort if you are a Texans fan. Houston made a goal line stand on a Jacksonville two-point conversion attempt to preserve its slim lead. The defense won the day for the Texans, sacking Gardner Minshew four times and containing Leonard Fournette. It was a rough showing from the offense as Deshaun Watson had his 16-game streak of at least one passing touchdown snapped. The last time he failed to toss one was also against the Jaguars. A win is a win, but this wasn’t a convincing one. The Texans move up a lot though because of losses, injuries and bad offensive play elsewhere.
9. Minnesota Vikings: 1-1 (Last Week: 6)
Minnesota blinked and found itself down 21-0. If you ignore the first 20 or so minutes, the Vikings would’ve won the game 16-0, outplaying the Packers the rest of the game. Dalvin Cook once again flashed his big-play ability. He set a new career high for rushing yards as well. The biggest problem was the slow start and the poor play of Kirk Cousins in crucial moments. He threw a late-game interception in the end zone costing Minnesota a chance at what would have been a massive road win in the division.
10. Chicago Bears: 1-1 (Last Week 9)
Defense wins championships and kicking finally won a game for the Chicago Bears. As Mitchell Trubisky and the offense stumbled through another outing, Eddy Peneiro kicked three field goals, including a 53-yard game-winner as time expired. It was an important win for Chicago as both Detroit and Green Bay won. The Bears struggled to establish the run though once again as Cordarrelle Patterson proved to be the most effective rusher. Trubisky also disappointed for the second straight week, throwing for just 120 yards.
11. New Orleans Saints: 1-1 (Last Week: 3)
Time to test that backup plan. Drew Brees is out for at least the next six weeks with a serious thumb injury. The Saints started slow again and could not find anyway back into the game with Brees on the sidelines. It didn’t help that the refs screwed them out a defensive touchdown either. Teddy Bridgewater struggled mightily in Brees’ place, posting a 10.8 QBR. Bridgewater got little help from the running game either, as Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray combined for just 50 yards on 18 carries. With Brees out, things could get pretty rough in NOLA.
12. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-1 (Last Week: 5)
Perhaps the close shave versus Indianapolis was a sign of things to come. In what was the most shocking result of the week, Los Angeles looked completely inept in Detroit. The offense ground to a halt after an early touchdown from Austin Ekeler, managing just three points the rest of the way. Defensively, the Chargers looked great, intercepting Matt Stafford twice, but they lost starting safety Adrian Phillips to injury More has to be expected of Philip Rivers going forward as this team has title aspirations.
13. Atlanta Falcons: 1-1 (Last Week: 15)
Julio Jones bailed out just about everyone in Atlanta with a clutch catch and run for the go-ahead touchdown late against Philadelphia. It wasn’t a great game for Matt Ryan, as he tossed three interceptions in the contest. He had just two all of last season. It was also another brutal game for Devonta Freeman, who averaged two yards per carry on 11 attempts. Credit the defense for pressuring Carson Wentz all game though. The Falcons knocked a lot of skill players out of this game and did just enough to hang on for a big early-season win.
14. Seattle Seahawks: 2-0 (Last Week: 16)
Another week, another tight win facing the AFC North. Seattle looked a lot better offensively in Pittsburgh despite two fumbles. The Seahawks were able to move the ball up and down the field, controlling the pace of play. It did just enough to hold off a late surge from the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers. Some increased pass rush would certainly be appreciated. Expect this to be the theme for Seattle all year, but winning close still counts.
15. Indianapolis Colts: 1-1 (Last Week: 18)
Indianapolis came very close to upending the Chargers a week ago in Los Angeles. It went on the road again to lock up a big win in the division. Jacoby Brissett was far from elite, but he did toss three touchdowns. This is a talented defense who has the potential to keep the offense in the game throughout. It is very interesting to examine this team because the expectations have dropped so much. The Colts seem to be determined to prove they are more than just Andrew Luck. They do need to figure out their kicking situation though, with Adam Vinatieri missing five kicks in two games.
16. Cleveland Browns: 1-1 (Last Week: 17)
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better for Cleveland in a 23-3 road win. Granted, the Jets were about as battered as they possibly could be and there are still some concerns about that Browns offensive line. Nick Chubb managed just 3.4 yards per attempt and Baker Mayfield tossed another interception as well. However, Odell Beckham Jr. reminded everyone why he is one of the league’s elite playmakers and Myles Garrett looked unstoppable at times with three sacks. With a short week before hosting the Rams, the Browns will need to take that next step in their progression to keep things close against a dominant defense.
17. San Francisco 49ers: 2-0 (Last Week: 19)
Where in the world did that come from? The 49ers demolished the Bengals after a solid win that looks even better with the Buccaneers beating the Panthers. There are some early signs of optimism as the San Francisco front seven finally is playing up to the potential that match all of the first round draft picks they have spent there. Matt Breida looked explosive as the Niners pounded the Cincy defense for 259 yards on the ground. On the flip side of that, they held the Bengals to just 25 yards on 19 carries. With the struggling Steelers up next, the 49ers have a real chance to start 3-0.
18. Tennessee Titans: 1-1 (Last Week: 12)
Oh right. This is still the Titans we are talking about. One week after dismantling the Browns on the road, the Titans returned home only to drop a divisional game against the Colts. The defense got after Jacoby Brissett all game, but had no answer for the Indy ground attack. Marcus Mariota managed just 154 yards passing and wasted another solid effort from Derrick Henry. These are the types of game Tennessee has to win in a wide open division with a quarterback in a contract year. If these are the results, Mariota is going to be costing himself some money in the offseason.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 0-2 (Last Week: 14)
It might be time to panic. Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury. Mason Rudolph played admirably in his place, but the Steelers came up short once again. The defense could not make enough plays and gave up over 400 yards of offense. That probably played a large roll in the team’s decision to trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick. It was another poor performance as well for James Connor as the Steelers continue to search for consistency. Without Roethlisberger, this team might spiral.
20. Buffalo Bills: 2-0 (Last Week: 24)
There is a 2-0 team in New York and Josh Allen won’t let you forget it. The Bills beat the Jets and Giants in successive weeks, a feat that is by no means considered difficult, but Buffalo is off to a fast start. The defense looks just as tough as it ever has and the infusion of talent at the skill positions seems to be making a big difference for Allen, who is playing well above the level we saw from him a season ago. The Bills face the reeling Bengals, fresh off a beatdown out west, with a chance to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-2 (Last Week: 22)
The Gardner Minshew era got off to a bit of a rocky start. The Jaguars defense of old showed up though, holding Deshaun Watson to just 159 yards passing. Unfortunately, they got gashed by the combo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. In a weird twist, Leonard Fournette completely failed to show up in the run game, but did contribute as a receiver. Holding Houston to 13 points is impressive, but when you consider Jacksonville managed just 12 points, this was a disappointing showing. Oh and to top that all off, Jalen Ramsey wants off the team.
22. Oakland Raiders: 1-1 (Last Week: 21)
This is about what we expected from the Raiders. Oakland started hot with a 10-0 lead, but never managed to score again. The Chiefs exploded for 28 points in that second quarter and Derek Carr completely fell apart with some terrible interceptions. The Raiders secondary got pulled apart at times downfield as the pass rush could not do enough to hide those deficiencies. Oakland is so much better than it was a year ago, but there is still a large gap between them and the true contenders in this division.
23. Denver Broncos: 0-2 (Last Week: 23)
Denver looked terrible offensively while facing a very good Chicago defense, thought it won the game in wild fashion with a late touchdown and two-point conversation, then actually had their hearts broken by a last second kick. It was an emotional roller coaster for the Broncos. The offense still has a long way to go. There were signs of life from the defense though after a terrible showing in Oakland. If Joe Flacco cannot find a way to start scoring more frequently leading this offense, there will be calls for Drew Lock to start as soon as he is healthy.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-1 (Last Week: 28)
It was rather ugly the whole way, but Tampa stuffed Christian McCaffrey inside the five-yard line to preserve a hard-fought victory. Jameis Winston was up and down, but turned in a much better performance than a week ago. Peyton Barber got going in the run game a bit and Chris Godwin flashed the ability so many raved about during the offseason. Tampa got a bit lucky that Cam Newton missed so many open receivers, but the front seven played well enough to pick up a big divisional win. Shockingly, the Buccaneers lead the NFC South after two weeks thanks to the 1-0 divisional record. With the struggling Giants on tap, the Bucs might be able to build some momentum.
25. Detroit Lions: 1-0-1 (Last Week: 29)
I still don’t know how the Lions won this game. This was the same secondary that got shredded last week by a rookie quarterback. Now, facing Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense, they held strong and surrendered just 10 points in a crucial win. Matt Stafford struggled yet again with a pair of interceptions, but made enough plays to lead two scoring drives. With a trip to Philly coming up, Detroit will probably need a bit more scoring to emerge with a technically undefeated record intact.
26. Carolina Panthers: 0-2 (Last Week: 20)
Whatever momentum the Panthers built in the second half of their game against the Rams was nowhere to be found on Thursday night. Cam Newton missed receivers all over the field and really struggled with accuracy all game. Carolina could have dominated Tampa if Newton had been able to hit on a couple of significant throws. Instead, the Bucs keyed on Christian McCaffrey and essentially shut him down. The defense also made Jameis Winston look like a competent quarterback. This is a really bad look for the Panthers who find themselves in a tough hole in what is looking like a competitive division.
27. Washington: 0-2 (Last Week: 25)
It was another strong start followed by a tough finish in the division for Washington. Despite the 0-2 record, there is a lot to like about how this team has performed so far. Terry McLaurin looked sharp for a second straight week and Case Keenum is playing like he did during his miracle run in Minnesota. The defense locked up Dallas in the first quarter, but could only keep Dak Prescott down for so long. If Washington can find a way to run the ball a bit more to take pressure off both Keenum and the defense, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some better results in the near future.
28. Arizona Cardinals: 0-1-1 (Last Week: 30)
The final score was not what Kliff Kingsbury would have hoped for, as he and Kyler Murray continue to seek their first NFL win, but there was a lot to like about how they played. The Murray-led offense took a little while to get going. Actually, it didn’t manage a touchdown until the fourth quarter once again, but the defense played just well enough to keep them in it and gave the Cardinals a chance to win in the final minutes. This was against a Ravens team that blew the doors off Miami 59-10 last week, so a six-point loss is a positive result for a rebuilding team. There is a lot to like about an Arizona team that should just keep getting better as the year rolls on.
29. New York Jets: 0-2 (Last Week: 26)
After another injury-ridden week, the Jets turned to Luke Falk at quarterback. It went about as well as you would have expected. Le’Veon Bell played extremely well considering the total lack of a passing threat. Falk actually steadied the ship by comparison Trevor Siemian, despite constantly being hounded by Myles Garrett. There are things to be positive about in New York. The defense intercepted Baker Mayfield and kept Nick Chubb in check. Unfortunately, the offense looked miserable again and the corners were woefully outmatched. With Falk looking like the prospective starter for the next few weeks, things might actually get worse.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-2 (Last Week: 27)
All that optimism surrounding the Bengals after Week 1 is gone. Cincinnati looked completely overwhelmed against San Francisco, consistently leaving receivers wide open, failing to bring down running backs and showing little ability to protect Andy Dalton. For as well as the 49ers played, the Bengals made it very easy on them and look just as lost any many expected them to be heading into the season. Things were always bound to be a little rocky with a rookie head coach, but this was an abysmal showing.
31. New York Giants: 0-2 (Last Week: 31)
Oh boy. If not for the Dolphins, the Giants would have a firm grasp on the last spot in these rankings. New York did a better job of getting Saquon Barkley the ball in Week 2, but Eli Manning showed why the team drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall. It is hard to put all the blame on Eli considering he has a rag-tag collection of receivers with Sterling Shepard unavailable, but he needs to play better if he is going to keep his job. This is going to be a long season in New York.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-2 (Last Week: 32)
In two games, the Dolphins have allowed 102 points and scored 10. Now Minkah Fitzpatrick is headed to Pittsburgh as well in exchange for a collection of draft picks. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen looked horrific against New England. The Patriots brought two interceptions back for touchdowns and sacked them a combined seven times. On the bright side, Miami held opposing running backs to just 3.6 yards per carry. Otherwise, this was absolutely pathetic. The Fins look like they would fit right in well in either the SEC East or ACC Coastal division, because they haven’t looked like a team worthy of being in the AFC East.
Brand new episode of the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast is here as Chris breaks down this week’s Studs and Sleepers. Check out which players have their draft stock rising and which players are seeing their stock slide. Also make sure you stay tuned for the game to watch this week. Subscribe now on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.