NFL Rankings: 1-32 (After Week 3)
It's time for me to update my NFL power rankings based off each team's performance through their first three games. There have been some significant surprises across the league, with teams who have started the year much better or much worse than most people anticipated. My rankings here will be based solely on prior performance, not on where I expect the teams to end up by the end of the season. Therefore, my list will take into account a combination of current records, head-to-head matchups, competitiveness in losses, and overall quality of each team as they stand heading into week 4.
I will include the change that each team experienced from my preseason rankings as well, color coded as green for teams that have moved up, red for teams that have moved down, and gray for teams that have not changed in ranking.
1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0) - UP 4
Week 3 Result: W, 34-24 vs. Buccaneers
The Rams have been humming on both sides of the ball under new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Crazily, this has been Stafford's first ever 3-0 start to the season due the ineptitude of his former team. Los Angeles beat the defending Super Bowl champs soundly last week and, therefore, have the best win of all the undefeated teams. I'm very comfortable in declaring the Rams the premier team in the NFL at this moment.
2. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) - UP 19
Week 3 Result: W, 31-28 vs. Dolphins
Las Vegas has played three solid teams so far and have handled all three. They've had two good wins against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and Derek Carr has been fantastic so far, leading the league in passing yards by over 100 yards. Their last two wins came without starting running back Josh Jacobs, and he will provide a big boost to the running game when he returns.
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) - UP 8
Week 3 Result: W, 31-19 at Jaguars
The Cardinals would have been #1 (probably) if I had made a rankings list after week 1 of the season. They were dominant on the road against the Titans on both offense and defense. Their last two games have been less impressive, but wins in the NFL speak for themselves. Kyler Murray has so many weapons to utilize and their defense is anchored by the pass rush duo of Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. Arizona could climb even higher as the season progresses.
4. Carolina Panthers (3-0) - UP 18
Week 3 Result: W, 24-9 at Texans
I'd say that the Panthers have been the biggest surprise so far, outside of maybe the Raiders. While they have beaten two rather weak teams, their win over the Saints in week 2 was one of the most impressive performances from any team thus far. Sam Darnold's play is proof that the Jets are where quarterbacks go to die, and you have to be happy to see him finding success with another franchise. Carolina holds the early lead over their division foes in the NFC South.
5. Buffalo Bills (2-1) - DN 2
Week 3 Result: W, 43-21 vs. Washington
After Buffalo dropped their first game at home against the Steelers, they've looked red hot since, winning their last two by a combined score of 78-21. I think Josh Allen has finally settled in this year and I expect them to continue putting up a lot of points from here on out. I think they'll only be trending up from here.
6. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) - No Change (NC)
Week 3 Result: W, 19-17 at Lions
Baltimore blew their first game in Vegas, but followed it up with an excellent win at home against the Chiefs. They narrowly survived a trip to Detroit in week 3, but good teams find a way to win. Even if it takes a literal record-breaking field goal as time expires. Lamar Jackson is always going to give his team a chance to win and the Ravens are still in a great position to take the AFC North.
7. Cleveland Browns (2-1) - UP 2
Week 3 Result: W, 26-6 vs Bears
Speaking of the AFC North, the Browns have looked very stellar to start the season as well. They had a chance to knock off Kansas City in week 1 but fell just short. While they've temporarily lost Jarvis Landry, the return of O'Dell Beckham, Jr. has already provided a boost to their passing game. Cleveland can run the ball on anyone, and their pass rush is fierce, taking some pressure off the secondary. I see their division as a two-horse race despite a three-way tie for first place currently.
8. New Orleans Saints (2-1) - UP 5
Week 3 Result: W, 28-13 at Patriots
The Saints were another team with an absolutely insane week 1 performance, destroying the Packers 38-3 in a neutral site. However, they followed that up with an absolute dud of a performance against the Panthers. They rebounded nicely in week 3 to stymie the Patriots on the road and will likely go as far as Jameis Winston can take them, which will be dependent upon his decision making and ability to take care of the football.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) - DN 7
Week 3 Result: L, 24-34 at Rams
The Bucs really haven't looked all that impressive to me so far. They nearly lost their season opener to Dallas, and their week 2 game against the lowly Falcons would have been much closer if they had not managed two pick sixes in the final 8 minutes of the game. Tampa got pummeled by the Rams in week 3, so it will be interesting to see how they respond when Tom Brady returns to New England on this Sunday night.
10. Green Bay Packers (2-1) - DN 6
Week 3 Result: W, 30-28 at 49ers
The Packers looked awful in their week 1 loss as discussed previously, but Aaron Rodgers and company have rebounded very nicely, cruising to win against the Lions in week 2 and mounting a game winning drive in 37 seconds to defeat the 49ers on Monday night. I think Green Bay has figured everything out now and will continue to rise up my rankings as they season goes along, but I couldn't put them higher than #10 right now due to their week 1 performance.
11. Tennessee Titans (2-1) - DN 3
Week 3 Result: W, 25-16 vs. Titans
Similarly to the Packers, Tennessee put together an abysmal performance in their season opener, but have turned things around in their last two games. I was surprised that they managed to win in Seattle in week 2, and their week 3 victory over the Colts is more impressive that Indy's record and position on this list would indicate. I think the Titans are the heavy favorites to win the AFC South right now as long as Julio Jones and A.J. Brown can remain healthy.
12. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) - UP 12
Week 3 Result: W, 41-21 vs. Eagles
The Cowboys have managed their 2-1 record despite seemingly losing most of their key defensive players to injuries already. They were also on the brink of a big upset in Tampa until Tom Brady led a game winning drive at the end. Dallas's offense seems to be getting into a bit of a groove and they have some very winnable games upcoming in the next several weeks.
13. Denver Broncos (3-0) - UP 10
Week 3 Result: W, 26-0 vs. Jets
Denver slides in here as my lowest ranked undefeated team by quite a long shot. And here's why: their wins have come against the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets. These are (spoiler alert) the three worst teams in my rankings. The Broncos have a tough four game stretch coming up where they can prove to me how good they really are before I move them up further than this.
14. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) - UP 1
Week 3 Result: L, 28-30 vs. Packers
As alluded to in the Packers section of this article, the 49ers are a mere 37 seconds away from being undefeated. Their wins so far aren't all that impressive to me, nearly blowing a big lead late to the Lions in week 1 and only putting up 17 points against the Eagles in week 2, but a win against Green Bay would have propelled them much further up my rankings. Instead, they'll sit at 14.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1) - UP 2
Week 3 Result: W, 30-24 at Chiefs
Justin Herbert is really good, and I think he's going to win a lot of games in L.A. The Chargers could very easily by 3-0 but lost on a game-winning field goal to the Cowboys two weeks ago. But they had a major bounce back game by knocking off the Chiefs in Kansas City. This has to be the most impressive win of Herbert's young career and was a real eye-opener to many across the league.
16. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) - DN 15
Week 3 Result: L, 24-30 vs. Chargers
And now we get to the Chiefs. Yes, I have the Chiefs all they way down at 16, which was hard for me to do. Kansas City hasn't necessarily played poorly at all this season, I just think they get every other team's best game week in and week out. I would definitely consider them the best one-win team in the NFL, and they'll work their way back up my rankings as the season progresses.
17. Miami Dolphins (1-2) - UP 1
Week 3 Result: L, 28-31 at Raiders
After starting out strong against the Patriots, Miami has faltered the last two weeks. Original starter Tua Tagovailoa injured his ribs early in their 35-point loss to the Bills in week 2 and will likely miss at least a couple more weeks. However, backup Jacoby Brissett is experienced and nearly stole a victory in Las Vegas in week 3. I think quarterback play is the biggest question mark for the Dolphins even with a healthy Tua, so it's hard for me to predict which direction Miami will trend later on.
18. New England Patriots (1-2) - DN 2
Week 3 Result: L, 13-28 vs. Saints
The Patriots sandwiched an excellent game against the Jets (which isn't saying much) with two mediocre performances against the Dolphins and Saints. New England really should have won the former game if not for a couple costly turnovers, but really looked unimpressive at home against New Orleans. Mac Jones hasn't been great but he hasn't been terrible either so far. I expect the team to grow as he does.
19. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) - NC
Week 3 Result: W, 30-17 vs. Seahawks
Minnesota suffered two close losses in the first two weeks of the season. A field goal ended their overtime game at Cincinnati, and they had a chance to do the same to the Cardinals but missed. They looked much better in their home opener against the Seahawks and won decisively. The Vikings are one of those teams that could be either legitimate playoff contenders or fall off completely by the end of the season, and I'm not sure which it will ultimately be.
20. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) - DN 13
Week 3 Result: L, 17-30 at Vikings
It's shocking that Seattle only has one win so far, and they need to figure things out quickly as they have back-to-back divisional games up next on the schedule. They've already fallen to the bottom of the NFC West, and it could turn to panic mode if they go winless in their next two. It's still very early, but Russell Wilson and company have some work to do to stay in the divisional race.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) - UP 6
Week 3 Result: W, 24-10 at Steelers
Is the Joe Burrow effect real? Cincinnati is above .500 for the first time since the beginning of the 2018 season, and their wins over the Vikings and Steelers cannot be taken lightly. I don't know if the Bengals will sustain this success, but their fans actually have something to be excited for for the first time in quite a while.
22. Houston Texans (1-2) - UP 10
Week 3 Result: L, 9-24 vs. Panthers
The Texans came out strong to open the season and could actually potentially be 2-1 or better had Tyrod Taylor not gotten injured in week 2. With Davis Mills starting, one would think that they don't have much of a chance to win many football games. It doesn't sound like either Taylor or Deshaun Watson will be playing for some time, so I would think Houston will be falling from here on out.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) - DN 9
Week 3 Result: L, 10-24 vs. Bengals
The Steelers got a very impressive week 1 win in Buffalo in a game that they lost nearly across the board in the box score. Since that victory, they've lost to the Raiders and the Bengals. Pittsburgh just has no offense, and it feels like Ben Roethlisberger needs to go. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff plays out the quarterback situation. I don't know if they'd be willing to replace Big Ben, or if there's even a better option to sub in. But Roethlisberger's time in Pittsburgh could be on its last leg.
24. Washington Football Team (1-2) - DN 12
Week 3 Result: L, 21-43 at Bills
I was quite high on Washington coming into the season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick got hurt in week 1. While Taylor Heinicke has been a serviceable backup, its the defensive side of the ball that has been most curious. They allowed 29 to the Giants and then 43 to the Bills, basically unheard of numbers compared to last season. They'll have a potential get-right game next against the Falcons to figure things out before a brutal stretch thereafter.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) - UP 3
Week 3 Result: L, 21-41 at Cowboys
Philly looked really good in week 1, but it's clear now that that was only due to their opponent in that game. Since then, they've fallen to the 49ers and Cowboys, two pretty good teams but I would have liked to see the Eagles maybe split those two games. I have to believe now that the future is less optimistic now in Philadelphia than it was a couple weeks ago.
26. Chicago Bears (1-2) - DN 6
Week 3 Result: L, 6-26 at Browns
The Bears, like always, have no quarterback. And that greatly limits their ceiling. It also lowers their floor, which makes it a lose-lose situation. Justin Fields has been awful throwing the ball in his first appearances and Chicago was lucky to hold on for victory against the Bengals. Even with Andy Dalton, I don't really like Chicago's chances at vying for the postseason.
27. Indianapolis Colts (0-3) - DN 17
Week 3 Result: L, 16-25 at Titans
Indianapolis might be the biggest disappointment so far to the young season. They've had a tough opening schedule and they have been competitive in every game, but losing two home games to start the season is rough. They've dealt with a lot of injuries already which has probably played a pretty big factor in their troubles, but the Colts have to figure out how to score touchdowns in the red zone if they're going to win games consistently. Their next game against the Dolphins may be a must-win.
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-2) - DN 2
Week 3 Result: W, 17-14 at Giants
The Falcons actually won a game, but that game was against the Giants, who are evidently even worse than they are. I think the city of Atlanta is cursed, and their football team is a good representation of that. They actually have a good chance of getting at least one more win in their next two times out, but the wins will probably come few and far between from there on.
29. Detroit Lions (0-3) - UP 1
Week 3 Result: L, 17-19 vs. Ravens
Speaking of curses, my goodness. The Lions looked like they were about to notch their first win of the season against a good Ravens team. That is, until Justin Tucker kicked an NFL record 66-yard field goal to beat them as time expired. The reactions of Lions fans in the stadium were hilarious, as they all knew what was about to happen before the kick occurred. The Lions are truly innovative in finding new ways to lose.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) - DN 1
Week 3 Result: L, 19-31 vs. Cardinals
The Urban Meyer experiment is off to a very shaky start. After losing to the Broncos in week 2, Meyer stated that it feels like he is playing against Alabama every week. Those are not words of a very confident man if you ask me. I'm not going to say Urban will be packing up at the end of the season (or before), but it certainly seems that the NFL has been a much tougher transition than he was expecting.
31. New York Giants (0-3) - DN 6
Week 3 Result: L, 14-17 vs. Falcons
The state of New York will be representing the final two spots here, with the Giants just beating out their cross-city rivals. The Giants actually should have won their second game against Washington, but an offside penalty on a game-winning field goal miss allowed for a re-kick and a make, leading to a loss for New York. When you're as bad as the Giants, you can't give away games like that. It feels like Daniel Jones could be the next Sam Darnold and go find success with another franchise soon.
32. New York Jets (0-3) - DN 1
Week 3 Result: L, 0-26 at Broncos
Here we have it, the worst team in the NFL through three games. It's easy to achieve a status like that when your quarterback throws seven interceptions through three games, and that's exactly what Zach Wilson has done. At this point, it's easy to assume that getting drafted to the Jets is the metaphorical kiss of death for quarterbacks. It's going to be another long season for Jets fans. I feel terribly for them.
Let me know in the comments what you think of your team's position on my list and where you agree or disagree with me in my first official ranking of the NFL season.
Written by Nick Swatson
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.