Another week of NFL action is in the books. The Chiefs reasserted their dominance atop the league, Nick Foles reemerged as a starting quarterback and New York is really bad at football this year (well, outside of Buffalo of course).
It was also another week where the storylines of the real world clearly reached locker rooms across the league. With the news of the chargers in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder breaking during the week, it drew a lot of reaction from athletes across all sports on social media. Players from the Washington Football Team took it a step further on Sunday with a very clear message.
Social justice continues to be a hot topic across the NFL and really every sport. I am proud of the players for making this small gesture. Breonna Taylor deserves much better than what she got.
On the football side of things, there were fewer surprising results this week. Consequentially, there is a whole lot less movement in this week’s rankings, particularly now that we have three games of work to evaluate each team off of. Let’s dive in.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 34-20 at Baltimore
Clearly, I was very wrong about who the best team in the NFL was after Week 2. Kansas City smacked Baltimore in prime time to remind everyone they are still the defending champs. Patrick Mahomes was on fire, becoming the fastest player to reach 10,000 career passing yards. While Mahomes will deservedly receive most of the praise, the Chiefs defense deserves a ton of recognition for how it contained Lamar Jackson. The reigning MVP got loose on a couple of runs, but it was by far one of his most disappointing performances of his young career. KC’s defense sacked Jackson four times and forced a fumble in the process. There is a long season ahead of us still, but at this point, the Chiefs are still the team to beat.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 3-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 38-31 vs. Dallas
Russell Wilson is on fire. He set an NFL record with 14 touchdown passes through the first three weeks of the season. He will certainly be earning at least one MVP vote this year if he stays healthy. Ignoring his statistical dominance, his value to the Seahawks is immeasurable. The Seattle secondary looks like one of the worst in the league, giving up 80 more passing yards per game than any other team in the NFL. The defense is strong against the run, but the back end needs to sure things up to have a shot at a title.
3. Green Bay Packers: 3-0 (Last Week: 4)
Won 37-30 at New Orleans
The NFC might just run through Green Bay once again when the regular season wraps up. Holding off the Saints in convincing fashion is another notch in Aaron Rodgers’ belt. For all those who doubted the Packers’ offseason choices of drafting his successor, the move might have just worked in the best way possible. Rodgers is humming along in his second season under Matt LaFleur. Aaron Jones is on fire. Even in Davante Adams’ absence was not enough to slow down this unit.
4. Baltimore Ravens: 2-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 34-20 vs. Kansas City
Well that was short lived. The Chiefs grounded the high-flying Ravens offense in an AFC heavyweight fight. Lamar Jackson mustered just 97 yards passing, the fewest of his career. Baltimore did come up with 158 yards rushing, but managed just one offensive touchdown. John Harbaugh also had no answer for Patrick Mahomes, who racked up five total touchdowns. This Ravens team was built to compete with the Chiefs to win the AFC. So far, it seems like that plan is still a major work in progress.
5. Buffalo Bills: 3-0 (Last Week: 5)
Won 35-32 vs. Los Angeles
No one circle the wagons (after almost completely blowing the game) like the Buffalo Bills! After leading 28-3, Buffalo inexplicably went down 32-28, before Josh Allen engineered a game-winning drive. If it was not for Russell Wilson, there is a very good chance Allen would be atop the early season MVP rankings. He has been sensational and proved it against much competition on Sunday. Beating up on the Jets and Dolphins is one thing. Topping the previously undefeated Rams shows the Bills mean business.
6. New England Patriots: 2-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 36-20 vs. Las Vegas
New England looked pretty formidable facing a Las Vegas squad coming off the high of knocking off New Orleans. It was thanks to the run game, and this time Cam Newton got some help. Sony Michel went over the century mark. Rex Burkhead scored three touchdowns. Even J.J. Taylor added 43 yards on a surprising 11 carries. Defensively, the Patriots recovered well from Week 2 against Russell Wilson. They held Darren Waller in check and forced three fumbles. New England has a chance to make a real statement in Week 4 with a visit to Arrowhead up next.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-0 (Last Week: 10)
Won 28-21 vs. Houston
It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Steelers just keep winning. Pittsburgh shut out Houston in the second half to close out its toughest yet. James Conner rushed for over 100 yards once again. Ben Roethlisberger took care of the football as well. The defense got after Deshaun Watson, sacking him five times. The Texans have struggled so far this year, but this was a playoff team just a year ago. This win sets up a battle of unbeaten teams when the Steelers take on the Titans in Week 4.
8. New Orleans Saints: 1-2 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 37-30 vs. Green Bay
Last week, it was the Saints offense that was cause for concern. Week 3, it was the defense that came up short. New Orleans has not looked the part of the Super Bowl contender we all expected entering the season. The Saints have had a tough schedule so far, but when you are gunning for a championship with a future Hall of Fame quarterback, you don’t get a pass for a tough schedule. A win against the Lions is a must.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-1 (Last Week: 11)
Won 28-10 at Denver
The competition was not great, but Tampa handled Denver with relative ease. Tom Brady played clean, efficient football with three touchdowns to lead the offense, but it is the defense who deserves the most credit. The Buccaneers racked up six sacks, two interceptions and a safety. They also limited Melvin Gordon and the rest of the rushing game to just 42 yards at three yards per carry. This is a brand of football the Bucs will find success with, even against better competition than the banged up Broncos.
10. Los Angeles Rams: 2-1 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 35-32 at Buffalo
Los Angeles nearly pulled off one of greatest comebacks in recent memory, but could not finish the job. It is hard to know which side of this loss to focus on. The Rams came out flat and got blown out in the first half. However, they rallied to make it a game and came very closing to winning. Unfortunately, the defense could not close it out. While it seems like L.A. has rebounded from last year’s debacle, it is going to need to play better to early in games to keep pace with Seattle.
11. Arizona Cardinals: 2-1 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 26-23 vs. Detroit
That had to be unexpected. Arizona was the up-and-coming club heading into Week 3. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins looked unstoppable. The defense finally could make enough plays to be competitive. Instead, Murray made way too many mistakes as the Cardinals lost to a team who entered on an 11-game losing streak. His three interceptions were the biggest difference in the game. The Lions have been awful in the fourth quarter of games, but Kliff Kingsbury’s team did not get points on the board. This is still a young team with a lot to learn. Arizona does not have much margin for era as one of three NFC West squads sitting at 2-1.
12. Tennessee Titans: 3-0 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-30 at Minnesota
Another week, another questionable victory for Tennessee. Derrick Henry put the offense on his back with 117 yards and two touchdowns as Ryan Tannehill struggled. He did not have a touchdown pass and threw his first interception of the year. It took six Stephen Gostkowski field goals, including the game-winner with under two minutes to play, to dispatch the winless Vikings. The Titans defense has not been the fearsome unit we got used to seeing last year either. Mike Vrabel needs to get that side of the ball figured out with the Steelers up next.
13. San Francisco 49ers: 2-1 (Last Week: 13)
Won 36-9 at New York
Who needs healthy players? It might help to play the two worst teams in the NFL right now in back-to-back weeks, but this was still an impressive showing from the 49ers. Nick Mullens played about as well as he could have in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo. The run game struggled a bit, but it got to be a bit predictable late in the game with San Francisco leading by multiple possessions the whole way. Defensively, three forced turnovers always makes it easier to win. Hopefully, a few of these injured players can return in Week 4 against the Eagles, but this team seems capable of hanging around even with its backups playing.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 2-1 (Last Week: 17)
Won 36-7 vs. New York
Even if it was against the lowly Jets, this was an impressive showing from the Colts. The defense has stepped up each of the past two weeks following a brutal season opener. Xavier Rhodes came up with a pick-six as the defense intercepted Sam Darnold three times in the contest. Philip Rivers really did not have to do much to ensure a win in this one, but he finally took care of the football. Indy faces an undefeated Chicago team changing quarterbacks in Week 4. This cupcake schedule to open the season makes me very skeptical of how good this team really is at this point.
15. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-1 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 36-20 at New England
Losing to the Patriots is not shocking, but I expected more from the Raiders after the performance we saw out of them in Week 2. Darren Waller disappeared and Derek Carr was nowhere near as productive. Even Josh Jacobs had a bit of a shaky game. The defense had no answer for the Pats ground game either, giving up 250 yards rushing. Las Vegas deserves some credit for containing Cam Newton, something teams have struggled to do so far, but that is not enough when it comes to facing the Patriots. Shutting down the primary option won’t be enough when playing most teams. Jon Gruden has a lot of work to do to get back on track in Week 4.
16. Dallas Cowboys: 1-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 38-31 at Seattle
Losing close to good teams is not going to cut it for the Cowboys. There were plenty of positives for Dallas, at it scored 31 points and watched Dak Prescott spread the ball around. However, the decision to let Byron Jones leave in free agency has come back to haunt the front office. Russell Wilson has been shredding every secondary he has faced, but this was disappointing. It is clear that the Cowboys are a good team, but it has also become clear that they are not a great team. Expectations were much higher for Dallas entering the season than where they are right now.
17. Chicago Bears: 3-0 (Last Week 21)
Won 30-26 at Atlanta
Nick Foles came to the rescue. He had some help from the team known for blowing late-game leads, but his three touchdowns in relief of Mitch Trubisky sealed the deal. Chicago is easily the most shocking 3-0 team at this stage in the season, but the Bears have not faced great competition either. If not for two fourth-quarter meltdowns and an injury to Saquon Barkley, Chicago could easily be 0-3. None of that matters to Matt Nagy, who will be focused on building momentum. This team seems comfortable winning tight games. The Bears might just have a chance at earning a playoff spot.
18. Houston Texans: 0-3 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 28-21 at Pittsburgh
Houston was very much in this game in the first half, leading by four at the break. Then the Texans offense disappeared, failing to score after halftime. The whole team managed a woeful 29 yards rushing at 1.9 yards per attempt. On the flip side, Houston could not stop the Pittsburgh running game. Sitting at 0-3, the trade for David Johnson looks like the worst move of the offseason. The franchise desperately needs to hire a general manager to save Bill O’Brien the coach from Bill O’Brien the general manager. Houston’s schedule finally gets a little easier as they face the also winless Vikings. Desperation to earn the first win of the season for two 2019 playoff teams makes that game one worth watching.
19. Cleveland Browns: 2-1 (Last Week: 19)
Won 34-20 vs. Washington
By now, you have no doubt heard that this is the first time the Browns are above .500 since 2014. That level of futility is truly mind boggling, but Cleveland has to hope it is finally on the right path. Baker Mayfield took care of the ball against an underrated Washington defense. Nick Chubb looked like a franchise running back as well with 108 yards and two touchdowns. The truth is, it was the defense that stepped up with five forced turnovers. It certainly made the offense’s day a lot easier. Beating the teams with the worst two records in the league a year ago does not create believers, but it is important for the Browns to win the games they are supposed to.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-2 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 21-16 at Los Angeles
Hey rookie, welcome to the NFL. Justin Herbert had a much rougher second start. After taking the Chiefs to the wire, the Chargers could not find a way to edge the Panthers. Los Angeles kept it close the whole way, but the team’s four turnovers made it difficult to get any momentum going. The defense is more than good enough to contend with the best teams in the NFL. Now the offense needs to catch up. Unfortunately, the Chargers draw a really tough matchup against the Buccaneers next.
21. Miami Dolphins: 1-2 (Last Week: 27)
Won 31-13 at Jacksonville
Brian Flores is a heck of a coach. This team came close to knocking off the Bills a week ago and now notch their first win of the year with a complete performance against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick was incredibly efficient, completing 18 of 20 passes and adding two touchdowns. This team is young at a number of key positions, but it is clear that Flores is building each week and this team continues to look better as a result.
22. Atlanta Falcons: 0-3 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 30-26 vs. Chicago
No lead is safe for the Atlanta Falcons. The Bears outscored them 20-0 in the fourth quarter as the Falcons blew another late-game lead in spectacular fashion. Even after falling behind, Matt Ryan had a chance to engineer a game-winning drive, but threw an interception almost immediately. With another devastating result, it is looking like Atlanta made a mistake in hanging onto Dan Quinn. With the Packers up next, the Falcons’ road to their first win is only going to get harder. This is around the spot in the rankings where I think there is a clear drop off, but it is hard to know which one of the these disappointing teams is really worse than the other.
23. Minnesota Vikings: 0-3 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 31-30 vs. Tennessee
I don’t care if they gave Mike Zimmer an extension before the season or that Kirk Cousins is under contract through 2022. No one’s job is safe in Minnesota right now. Cousins is tied for the league lead in interceptions and the Vikings are allowing more points per game than anyone but the Falcons. For all the Vikings fans out there wondering if drafting a quarterback is possible in the 2021 draft, there is a way out of Cousins’ contract after the 2021 season that would save the team $35 million in cap space. Finding a young quarterback to learn behind him before turning the offense over to the theoretical draft pick seems extremely possible at this stage.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: 0-2-1 (Last Week: 20)
Tied 23-23 vs. Cincinnati
I held off for the first two weeks, but now it is time to panic. Carson Wentz struggled again, with two more interceptions on Sunday. He is tied with Kirk Cousins for the most interceptions in the NFL with six through the first three weeks. The rebuilt secondary also could not slow down Joe Burrow. Give the the Eagles credit for shutting down the run as Joe Mixon averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. However, this team had clear playoff aspirations for this year. Thanks to a very weak NFC East, that is still a possibility, but Philly needs to hit the reset button after a lackluster start to the season.
25. Detroit Lions: 1-2 (Last Week: 28)
Won 26-23 at Arizona
Ending the losing streak is huge for Matt Patricia and the Lions. Detroit finally closed out a game, outscoring Arizona 6-0 in the fourth quarter to pick up its first win since Matthew Stafford’s injury in 2019. Stafford played well and took care of the football. Adrian Peterson continues to be the most reliable option in the backfield. The talent is there for the Lions to be a competitive team. Hopefully, this allows them to flip their mentality and starting building something positive after ending this streak.
26. Carolina Panthers: 1-2 (Last Week: 29)
Won 21-16 at Los Angeles
Matt Rhule earns his first NFL win with a gritty performance on the road. Carolina’s defense really stepped up after a disappointing first two weeks. The Panthers forced four turnovers. That coupled with Teddy Bridgewater finally getting back to ball control offense was enough for Carolina to pick up the win. Considering they managed it without their offensive superstar Christian McCaffrey, this is a good sign for how this team can cope while he is out.
27. Denver Broncos: 0-3 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 28-10 vs. Tampa Bay
Turns out Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton make a big difference for this offense. The combination of Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien struggled to produce consistently. Driskel was also under siege, taking five sacks and losing 45 yards in the process. Even with all the injuries, Denver has to be disappointed with how it played against Tampa. Rushing for only 42 yards and failing to generate a turnover is the opposite of how you beat Tom Brady. Vic Fangio has a really tough task ahead of him.
28. Washington: 1-2 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 34-20 at Cleveland
Reminder: Washington is still a rebuilding team. The defense played better than the scoreline would indicate. Dwayne Haskins and the offense turned it over five times. There are only so many change-of-possession situations a team can hope to survive in a given game. Ron Rivera says he remains committed to developing Haskins, who has just edged out Sam Darnold for the worst QBR in the league through three weeks. The offense needs to change course to help him improve. Only Jeff Driskel has a worse completion percentage this year. This is going to be an uphill climb.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-2-1 (Last Week: 30)
Tie 23-23 at Philadelphia
Cincinnati draws closer still to the first win of the Joe Burrow era, but it was put on hold once again after the defense gave up a late touchdown to spoil it. Burrow seems to be settling in well though as the starter with another sharp performance. Zac Taylor was much more committed to running the ball, even if Joe Mixon struggled to do so efficiently. However, the offensive line is clearly to blame for that. Philly is solid defensively, but 2.9 yards per carry and eight sacks allowed is pushing it. There is progress, but tons of room for improvement.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-2 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 31-13 vs. Miami
Time to kill the early season hype around the Jaguars. This was a poor showing in every sense of the word. Ryan Fitzpatrick tore up the defense and the Minshew magic never really kicked in. Gardner Minshew threw an interception and never found the end zone. Expectations are low for this team in 2020, but this was not the type of performance anyone expected from Jacksonville.
31. New York Giants: 0-3 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 36-9 vs. San Francisco
The loss of Saquon Barkley hit this offense hard. Daniel Jones had one of the worst games of his young career. He had some moderate success running the ball, but got no help from his running backs. Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis combined for just 17 yards on 10 carries. Considering this 49ers team is the most injury riddled in the league at this stage, this is a major disappointment for the Giants.
32. New York Jets: 0-3 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 36-7 at Indianapolis
Jets players continue to defend Adam Gase after another dismal performance, but it is getting harder to ignore the critics. Sam Darnold had one of the worst games of his career, with three interceptions and a poor completion percentage. Defensively, the New York continues to excel at the stopping the run. Unfortunately, it also has shown a pattern of allowing big plays. Philip Rivers averaged 10.3 yards per attempt against the secondary. The tank of Trevor Lawrence campaign seems to be gaining steam. A loss to the Broncos on Thursday night could very well be the end of Gase’s tenure as head coach.