We’ll still see plenty of movement in the NFL power rankings early in the season, but the first two weeks gave a better idea of where each team stands in 2019. The Week 3 power rankings include the Cowboys continuing to move up and the Falcons jumping back closer to the top five.
1. New England Patriots (2-0) | Last week: 1
The past concerns about playing in Miami were a non-issue, as the Patriots made their 43-0 win over the Dolphins look like a college tune-up game. New England made sure they got new star receiver Antonio Brown involved early, and he caught an early touchdown on a back-shoulder fade from Tom Brady—but it appeared that Brown, who was underthrown on another potential touchdown later in the game, might have already been throwing his hands out in frustration at least a couple of times. Perhaps it was something else, but things aren’t going to work out if AB is already showing that he won’t hesitate to show frustration with Brady. I know it was the Dolphins, but again, this Patriots defense looks like one of the best groups they’ve ever had. The team will have to now adjust to not having starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (on IR with turf toe and will miss at least eight weeks), but the upcoming schedule is not a huge challenge.
2. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) | Last week: 2
After being limited to six points in the first half, the Rams broke out for 21 second-half points in a 27-9 victory over the Saints. It helped that New Orleans dealt with a significant injury to their starting quarterback, but Los Angeles dominated the game, and they were probably determined to make a statement after all the talk about how they shouldn’t have been in the Super Bowl last season. Also, on that fumble recovery that was blown dead and would’ve been a touchdown for the Saints (leading to more outcry), it should have been a roughing the passer penalty that would’ve allowed the Rams to keep the ball anyway, but of course no one talks about that. The Rams didn’t play the starters in the preseason, so the passing game might have gotten into a rhythm in the second half that carries into Week 3 and beyond. Todd Gurley had 19 touches and scored in the win, but he almost looks miserable on the field—hopefully I’m just reading things wrong and he’s feeling OK.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) | Last week: 3
Patrick Mahomes threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 28-10 win versus the Raiders—278 of those yards and all four touchdowns came in the second quarter alone, as he hit Demarcus Robinson (44 yards and 39 yards), Mecole Hardman (42 yards), and Travis Kelce (27 yards) for long scores. And it could have been an even bigger game, but Mahomes actually missed some throws for more would-be long gains. Kansas City’s offense is pretty much unstoppable, and the defense showed promising signs with a few sacks and two interceptions in Week 2.
4. Dallas Cowboys (2-0) | Last week: 6 (+2)
Dallas is off to a 2-0 start, and they’re a great bet to get to 3-0 as massive favorites over Miami this Sunday. Dak Prescott is playing as well as anyone in the league through two weeks, as his passes have been right on the money in an offense that appears to be transitioning into a top passing attack that will also have a strong running game with Ezekiel Elliott—I see why Zeke held out, as his value likely would’ve gone down this year with the way the Cowboys are throwing the ball. Let’s see if the defense can have a shutdown effort against the Dolphins this week.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) | Last week: 5
The Eagles could be a few spots lower than this given all the injuries they’re dealing with right now—among them, starting receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are expected to miss the next two games—but they showed fight in Atlanta on Sunday night. I hesitantly and briefly checked social media to see the fan reaction (which can be relentless) to Nelson Agholor being unable to come up with a potential go-ahead touchdown late in the game, and it was good to see him receiving overwhelming support; I was shocked by it considering the past criticism Agholor has gotten through, but a Super Bowl hero that plays hard and does dirty work that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet should get some slack. Philadelphia needs to get their pass rush going.
6. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) | Last week: 10 (+4)
I moved the Falcons down several spots last week because of the offensive line concerns, but the unit held up well against the Eagles after a very poor showing in Week 1 at Minnesota. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones (who has caught a touchdown in six consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL) delivered with the game on the line, and the defense played with energy and got after Carson Wentz all night. Matty Ice (five interceptions) has made some poor decisions through two games, but he’s getting them out of the way and should learn from them—look for him to cut down on the turnovers and get hot soon. After Drew Brees’ injury, Atlanta looks like the clear favorite in the NFC South.
7. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) | Last week: 9 (+2)
The Seahawks are traditionally slow starters, but they’re off to a 2-0 start after close wins over the Bengals (at home) and Steelers (at Heinz Field), and they’ll be favored to start the season 4-0 as they face the Saints at CenturyLink Field and the Cardinals on the road to end the month. Rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf has quickly emerged as a trusted target to come up with throws down the field from Russell Wilson, and he helps make the offense a complete group.
8. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) | Last week: 15 (+7)
You can often create impressive stats like this by using arbitrary numbers, but Lamar Jackson became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 270 yards and rush for 120 yards in a game, and it’s indicative of the way he’s playing right now. Despite him not having to use his legs in Week 1, the rushing has always been there, as Jackson has top-tier speed and acceleration; but it’s his passing that’s been the most impressive part about his game this year. The former Heisman Trophy winner is dropping dimes to all areas of the field, including outside the numbers (83.3% completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, one touchdown), which was his concern coming out of Louisville. The Ravens are giving up just 1.8 yards per carry this season, but it’ll be interesting to see how Jackson and the defense fare when they take on tougher opponents, which will happen this Sunday at Arrowhead.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) | Last week: 7 (-2)
Coming off a tough loss, LA has a chance to bounce back for a nice run here, with three of their next four games at home, and the only road game coming against the struggling Dolphins. Philip Rivers is a great quarterback, but he is sometimes so aggressive late in games that it leads to critical turnovers. After Keenan Allen made a sensational touchdown catch in double coverage to open the season, Rivers again trusted Allen with the game on the line in Week 2, but it led to an interception into double coverage when the Chargers could have tied the Colts with a field goal. Rivers and the Chargers are shorthanded, though, which likely led to him pressing.
10. Tennessee Titans (1-1) | Last week: 8 (-2)
This area of three teams sandwiching the No. 10 spot might be the most difficult to rank, as they could all be a bit lower than this. They’ll get the benefit of the doubt at 1-1 ahead of some 2-0 teams that are playing well. The Titans need to do a better job of protecting Marcus Mariota in third down situations in particular, as that’s where the team is struggling to keep drives alive. Tennessee’s run defense is giving up 5.0 yards per carry partly because they gave up a chunk play to Jordan Wilkins, and they’ll look to get that sorted out on a short week versus a run-heavy Jaguars team.
11. Chicago Bears (1-1) | Last week: 11
Many pundits would have been hitting the panic button on the Bears if they would have dropped to 0-2, but—while it wasn’t pretty—the Broncos had won 17 of their last 18 home openers, so it’s a big win by Chicago. Matt Nagy decided David Montgomery (19 touches) should get more touches after working in a heavy rotation in the season opener, and that’ll likely be the plan on offense moving forward. Mitchell Trubisky must get better for the Bears to remain a playoff team in what looks like a more competitive NFC North, but I’d like to see Nagy get receiver Anthony Miller more involved on offense; the 2018 second-round pick has just one reception for two yards this year.
12. Green Bay Packers (2-0) | Last week: 18 (+6)
Disagreements that we don’t see happen all the time, but the FOX broadcast happened to catch Aaron Rodgers talking in an animated fashion to first-year head coach Matt LaFleur after a play late in the second half. I’m still concerned about how this new offense will mesh, but it helps that Green Bay committed to the running game (32 carries, including 23 for 116 yards and a touchdown for Aaron Jones) against a potent Minnesota defense. They gave up a long touchdown run to Dalvin Cook, but the Packers defense is off to an excellent start, and their play has led to two wins over NFC North foes to open the season.
13. Buffalo Bills (2-0) | Last week: 17 (+4)
The Bills had three players rush for touchdowns (Frank Gore, Devin Singletary, and Josh Allen), but the passing attack has showed promising signs through two games, with Allen throwing the ball well to his new weapons in particular. Allen has three straight games with a touchdown pass and a touchdown run, making him the first player since Cam Newton in 2013 to accomplish that. Defensively, I fully expect Sean McDermott’s defense to be one of the better groups in the league, but they’ll be presented with bigger challenges than the Jets and Giants moving forward.
14. New Orleans Saints (1-1) | Last week: 4 (-10)
The Saints have the biggest drop in this week’s power rankings, and it might not be low enough. I really like Teddy Bridgewater and think he will play well, but losing future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for several weeks is a huge blow to New Orleans. The defense and running game will be tasked with stepping up to pick up the slack during Brees’ absence to remain within striking distance for a potential division title or wild card spot.
15. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) | Last week: 16 (+1)
The Colts have been through a couple of tight games to open their season, and they’ve done well to emerge 1-1. The recipe for success is running the ball behind a powerful offensive line and avoiding mistakes on both sides of the ball. It’s only been two games, but the Colts are tied for first in the league in fewest penalties, which shows how well they’re coached by Frank Reich and his staff. Indy should be competitive in every game, and they have a couple of home contests coming up versus the Falcons and Raiders.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) | Last week: 12 (-4)
The quarterback injuries have been terrible, and the Steelers are also without a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger; but unlike Brees, he’s done for the entire season with an elbow injury. However, Mason Rudolph is a good young quarterback that probably should’ve went a round or two earlier than the third round in last year’s draft—and the Steelers clearly think he can get the job done after dealing their 2020 first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick to boost the backend of their defense. Pittsburgh should not be counted out after two games.
17. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) | Last week: 20 (+3)
The 49ers have a case for being at least a few spots higher than this, but I don’t want to crown them yet after wins over the Buccaneers and Bengals. That said, they haven’t played at home, yet they are 2-0 after two weeks (for the first time since 2012). Second-round rookie receiver Deeobo Samuel is stepping up in a receiving corps that is helping complement an exceptional running game (even without Tevin Coleman in the lineup) and an All-Pro tight end in George Kittle navigating the field as a receiving threat and paving the way as a run blocker. One reason San Francisco remains down at No. 17 is the loss of left tackle Joe Staley for a couple of months with a broken leg.
18. Oakland Raiders (1-1) | Last week: 13 (-5)
As ugly as the second quarter was on defense for the Raiders, things like that are probably going to happen to a lot of teams against the Chiefs this season—and Oakland shut out Kansas City for the other three quarters, as the defense did a good job of getting off the field. After an awesome game in Week 1, Derek Carr looked like he might have been pressing slightly to keep up with the Chiefs. This Sunday at Minnesota will be a huge test for Jon Gruden’s offense. Remember, the Raiders don’t play at home again until November, which is just brutal.
19. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) | Last week: 14 (-5)
Kirk Cousins undoubtedly tried to do too much late in the game for the Vikings in their 21-16 loss at Lambeau Field, as he threw the ball up while rolling out and fading away into double coverage to the corner of the end zone. It was first-and-goal with Minnesota having a chance to take the lead, and the pass probably would’ve been intercepted even if it was single coverage—it just wasn’t there and should’ve been thrown away. Mike Zimmer is going to want to run the ball even more now, which might be a good thing for a team that’s built to play great defense and run the ball, especially with a healthy Dalvin Cook looking like a star through two games. And on the replay review offensive pass interference that wiped out a touchdown, it’s just another example of the rule change being a bad idea.
20. Houston Texans (1-1) | Last week: 19 (-1)
The Texans are a couple of inches away from being 0-2, but their defense came up big by limiting Jacksonville to 12 points and holding tight for the two-point conversion at the end of the game. With Jadeveon Clowney in Seattle, veteran outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has stepped back up for Houston and has three sacks and an interception through two games—J.J. Watt should get on the board with some sacks soon, too, as he got more pressure against the Jags after he was quiet in Week 1. The Texans are another team that can be at least a few spots higher in the power rankings, and they’d likely make a sizable jump with a win over the Chargers this week.
21. Detroit Lions (1-0-1) | Last week: 25 (+4)
Week 2 was a very good sign for Matt Patricia and the Lions, as the team responded from last week’s disappointing tie against the Cardinals by shutting down the Chargers and making timely plays in a 13-10 victory. The release of veteran running back C.J. Anderson was a bit of a surprise, but Detroit has the explosive Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic in the mix behind Kerryon Johnson, who has the potential to be one of the best running backs in football. Going on the road to face an Eagles team coming off a loss is a nice early-season opportunity for the Lions in the NFC.
22. Cleveland Browns (1-1) | Last week: 23 (+1)
I think even the Dolphins would have had a great shot at beating the Jets on Monday night, so not too much stock should be put in Cleveland taking care of business. Now at 1-1, the Browns get another primetime game—this time at home—as they host the Rams to start a difficult run throughout the rest of this month and through October. At least Odell Beckham Jr. stopped wearing the watch on the field and let his play do the talking instead of a fashion statement.
23. Denver Broncos (0-2) | Last week: 22 (-1)
The Broncos have struggled the past few years and missed the playoffs from 2006-2010, so it was surprising to hear this 0-2 start is their first 0-2 start since 1999. However, despite losing the first two games, I am more optimistic about the Broncos than I was in the past couple of seasons. They’re losing, but they don’t look as bad as they’ve looked in previous years—also, Denver could easily be 1-1 if not for the iffy roughing the passer call against Bradley Chubb last Sunday. Getting a win this weekend against the Packers would be huge before the Broncos return home to face a Jaguars team they’ll be favored over.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) | Last week: 30 (+6)
Tampa Bay established the ground game and Jameis Winston mostly avoided mistakes as they came up with a 20-14 win over Carolina last Thursday when they clearly looked like the better team. It’s still probably unwise to trust Winston, but Tampa looks like they have an all-around team that takes pressure off the quarterback. The Week 1 loss for the Bucs wasn’t on the defense, and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has done an outstanding job with that side of the ball to this point.
25. Carolina Panthers (0-2) | Last week: 21 (-4)
There’s a case for the Panthers being as low as No. 30 in the power rankings. Aside from the Week 17 win in which New Orleans rested starters last season, the Panthers haven’t won a game since Week 9 of last year (November 4). Cam Newton has shown he can be up-and-down in terms of attitude, and he’s certainly frustrated that he’s dealing with a foot injury, but he must step up as a leader of the team. Things could will get even uglier if Carolina loses to Arizona this week.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) | Last week: 24 (-2)
Garnder Minshew played well in his first NFL start, and it looks like he’ll do a solid job with the offense during Nick Foles’ absence—but it’ll be on the defense to keep them in games. Jalen Ramsey has to be traded at this point, and I’ve maintained it should have happened earlier—his personality clearly isn’t a fit with Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin. There’s a chance they come out flat with the Ramsey rumors swirling, but perhaps something that’ll get the Jaguars going is trying to stop Derrick Henry after he did whatever he wanted against them—including the epic 99-yard touchdown run—in their last matchup on Thursday night in 2018.
27. New York Giants (0-2) | Last week: 26 (-1)
Dealing with a depleted supporting cast and playing with a defense that’s struggled to open the year, there probably wasn’t much Eli Manning could have done to avoid getting benched after an 0-2 start. But it was time for the Giants to go with rookie Daniel Jones if they feel he’s ready to play. Jones was basically made fun of by the negative Twitter mob that never watched a second of him at Duke, so it’d be perfect if he plays well and quickly silences all the critics. Don’t be surprised if he delivers a spark and the Giants quickly move up the power rankings.
28. Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1) | Last week: 29 (+1)
They’re not putting up earth-shattering offensive numbers through two games, but the early return for Kliff Kingsbury as the Cardinals head coach looks pretty positive. Kyler Murray isn’t having much trouble moving the ball through the air, and the offense just needs to get off to faster starts. But the defense is what’s really surprising me about Arizona, as they are doing a fine job against the run, which I thought would be a major issue after how poor they were there last season under a defensive-minded head coach.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) | Last week: 28 (-1)
After a promising Week 1 start for the Bengals, they were demolished at home by the Niners. It happens, and at least Cincinnati is still operating the passing offense at a high level, as Andy Dalton looks comfortable in Zac Taylor’s scheme. The defense has given up five touchdown passes through (tied for third most in the league) and four touchdown runs (tied for most in the league) through two weeks.
30. Washington Redskins (0-2) | Last week: 31 (+1)
Case Keenum and the offense have been doing a fine job despite the running game being unable to get much going, but the defense is where the Redskins are struggling after two games. Washington is allowing an absurd 64% conversion rate on third downs, and Jay Gruden is in a tough spot with the lack of scuccess on the other side of the ball. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform against the Bears this Monday night.
31. New York Jets (0-2) | Last week: 27 (-4)
The bottom two teams in the power rankings are unfortunately easy choices, as the Jets are locked in at No. 31 with Sam Darnold unable to play due to mono and Trevor Siemian suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Luke Falk can play within the offense and do a good job, but there probably isn’t enough help around him for Adam Gase’s offense to put up consistent point totals. The upcoming schedule is insanely difficult, as New York plays New England, Philadelphia, Dallas, and New England again. It would be a major boost if they can get Darnold back after their Week 4 bye.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-2) | Last week: 32
The Dolphins have been outscored 102-10 this season, and they just took away more talent from the roster after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick for a first-round pick. Miami is set up for a bright future with all the draft picks they have, but they actually need to hit on the picks. This season really looks like it’s going to be unfair to the fans.