There’s a ton of movement in this week’s NFL power rankings, but things should start to level off after this week. Entering Week 4, the top four teams are the easiest to rank.
1. New England Patriots (3-0) | Last week: 1
While the Jets were undermanned and in a difficult position, the Patriots had another exceptional performance defensively, and their 105 total yards allowed were the fewest in the Bill Belichick era. This defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs last season, which is absurd. New England doesn’t need Antonio Brown, and it should be a relief for them to get rid of the headache despite the All-Pro wide receiver’s talent—current No. 3 receiver Phillip Dorsett had 26 straight targets to him completed before it was snapped on Sunday, so they’re good at the position with Tom Brady throwing passes. The Patriots also passed the Colts from last decade as the franchise with the most wins in a decade, and they look as good as ever in 2019.
2. Los Angeles Rams (3-0) | Last week: 2
There’s been some thought the last couple of weeks to move the Rams down to the No. 3 spot in the power rankings, as the offense has not yet clicked, and we are past the time to point toward the lack of live preseason reps as the issue. They have too good of a quarterback and supporting cast not to get rolling soon, though. One member of that supporting cast that is off to a fantastic start to the season is wide receiver Cooper Kupp—with 268 yards and two touchdowns through three games, he doesn’t look like someone coming off an ACL tear. LA’s defense didn’t allow the hyped Browns team to do much through the air last week.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) | Last week: 3
Second quarters have been favorable for the Chiefs, as they scored 28 points in the second quarter of Week 2 and followed it up with 23 points in the second quarter against the Ravens this past Sunday. These fast starts are keeping the pressure off of their own defense and on the opposing offense trying to keep up, but the defense remains a concern after Mark Ingram helped get Baltimore back into the game with over 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns. But the Chiefs did a nice job of containing Lamar Jackson as a passer throughout the game.
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-0) | Last week: 4
They’ve faced the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins, but the Cowboys have put up point totals of 35, 31, and 31 through three games—wide receiver Amari Cooper has been a big part of that, with a touchdown in every game and 238 yards and four touchdowns total this season. The value of Cooper and his quarterback Dak Prescott is going up every week. Sunday night this week is an intriguing matchup against a Saints team they shut down last season when Drew Brees was in the lineup. It’s early, but Dallas is at least two games up on every team in the NFC East.
5. Green Bay Packers (3-0) | Last week: 12 (+7)
I wasn’t sure about Green Bay’s offense entering the season, and that side of the ball still appears to be going through some things. But it’s the defense that has sparked this 3-0 start, and the group forced three turnovers in last Sunday’s win over the Broncos. Long-time followers on this site know we’ve been high on cornerback Jaire Alexander since the 2018 draft, and the second-year player might already be a top-three corner in football. Now Green Bay has a short week, and Thursday games can be tricky, but they’re in a good spot to improve to 4-0 as they host the Eagles at the tough-to-play Lambeau Field.
6. Buffalo Bills (3-0) | Last week: 13 (+7)
Josh Allen had another clutch fourth-quarter drive for the Bills, and the promising young quarterback already has four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives just 15 career starts. Stud cornerback Tre’Davious White had two interceptions in Buffalo’s win over the Bengals, including a game-sealing pick with 20 seconds remaining; White now has four fourth-quarter interceptions while his team is leading by one score since entering the league in 2017 (the most in the NFL). With a rising star on each side of the ball, a solid roster, and good coaching, the Bills look legit.
7. Chicago Bears (2-1) | Last week: 11 (+4)
Chicago’s offense was able to get on track against the Redskins, as Matt Nagy simplified things to make everything easier on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky while also utilizing promising rookie running back David Montgomery more. Week 4 against the Vikings should be a much tougher matchup after the Bears were held to point totals of 3 and 16 in the first two games of the year. Chicago won’t mind winning defensive battles—they’re 4-1 when scoring fewer than 20 points in a game since the start of last season—but it’d still be good to see the offense perform at a high level when facing a stingy defense.
8. New Orleans Saints (2-1) | Last week: 14 (+6)
You don’t want to overreact to one game, but that was quite the statement by the Saints in their first game without Drew Brees, as Teddy Bridgewater and the offense played well while the defense made key plays in an upset win at Seattle. A win this Sunday night against the Cowboys would be fantastic for the Saints, as—while it’s a one-week-at-a-time league—three of their next four games after this week come against teams that are currently below .500.
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) | Last week: 7 (-2)
It came in a losing effort and some of it was basically garbage-time statistics, but Russell Wilson became the first player since 1950 with over 400 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, over 50 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a game. He’s shown he can carry an offense on his shoulders, and it’s crazy that people have doubted that in the past. Still, it’s important for the Seahawks to have a strong running game, and Chris Carson must get his fumbling issues sorted out. A balanced offense will help take pressure off the defense, particularly in the young secondary.
10. Indianapolis Colts (2-1) | Last week: 15 (+5)
Retired superstar quarterback Andrew Luck was an awesome player, but Jacoby Brissett is more than holding his own as the Colts look to compete for a postseason berth in 2019. Passer rating isn’t close to a perfect stat, but Brissett became just the third quarterback in franchise history to have a 115.0+ rating in two of the first three weeks of the season, joining Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (who did it twice). Brissett is excelling on play-action passes set up by Marlon Mack and the offensive line performing well in the running game. And overall, Frank Reich has handled everything about as well as possible and gets his team to play smart football.
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) | Last week: 8 (-3)
As the starting quarterback for the Ravens, Lamar Jackson has lost just two games in the regular season (eight wins), and they both came in Arrowhead to the Chiefs. Jackson wasn’t as sharp throwing the ball in Week 3 as he was in the first two games of this season, but he and Mark Ingram (three touchdowns) led Baltimore to 22 second-half points once they got the offense going. This week versus the Browns is an opportunity for the passing attack to have a crisper showing, while the defense has an opportunity to bounce back against an offense that frankly isn’t the Chiefs as the team looks to make a statement in the AFC North.
12. Atlanta Falcons (1-2) | Last week: 6 (-7)
This area from about No. 12 to No. 19 might be the most complicated to rank in this week’s power rankings. The Falcons lost starting safety Keanu Neal for the season to a torn Achilles, as the bad injury luck from last season unfortunately continues; and the team is 1-2 with a schedule that looks more difficult on paper than the one New Orleans has. Now dealing with more injuries, maybe the Falcons shouldn’t be considered the clear NFC South favorites over the Saints. But this offense still has major potential, and I would think Matt Ryan will cut down on the turnovers and get hot soon.
13. Detroit Lions (2-0-1) | Last week: 21 (+8)
There’s been some talk that the Lions have been fortunate to face injured Chargers and Eagles teams in their two wins through three weeks, but the bottom line is they’re beating the teams in front of them. The running game has yet to get going with Kerryon Johnson and company, but the offensive line is doing a great job of protecting Matthew Stafford, who has not been sacked in the last two games. This Sunday will obviously be a test for Matt Patricia’s defense in their second season, so hopefully the unit has cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) in the lineup.
14. San Francisco 49ers (3-0) | Last week: 17 (+3)
The Niners are squarely among the challenging teams to rank at this point in the season, as they’re one of the NFL’s seven 3-0 teams, but the wins have been against two winless teams and a 1-2 team, and they just turned the ball over five times. The defense has some concerns in the secondary, but the group has made key stops or turnovers late in two of their wins. San Francisco would probably prefer to keep things rolling and not have the bye quite yet, but All-Pro tight end George Kittle hasn’t gotten going yet, and running back Tevin Coleman is expected to return after the bye; so Kyle Shanahan can get some things cooking while his team gets healthier with the extra time off—and they’ll look to get the turnovers sorted out.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) | Last week: 5 (-10)
The Eagles suffer the biggest drop in this week’s power rankings, but they’ve at least been in the game at the end of their back-to-back losses. The team might be a few plays away from being 3-0, but they’re also a couple of plays away from being 0-3, and the bottom line is the team needs to play more consistently throughout games. It won’t be easy with a trip to Lambeau Field on a short week, but look for the team to establish the running game with Jordan Howard, who has received just 25 carries through three games but is running hard and effectively when given the opportunity.
16. Houston Texans (2-1) | Last week: 20 (+4)
Deshaun Watson is playing really well for the Texans, and his 351 yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions) in Week 3 was one of the best games of his career to this point. Watson has the ability to lead a spread attack where he’s throwing the ball 30 or 40 times per game, but ideally Houston will be able to provide more of a threat on the ground moving forward, as Watson is one of the NFL’s best passers off play-action. The secondary is a concern, but the Texans have a good shot to improve to 3-1 this Sunday when they host Carolina.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) | Last week: 9 (-8)
Keenan Allen lit up that Texans secondary for a career-high 183 yards in a tough loss for the Chargers in Week 3. Numbers are certainly not everything, but Allen leads the league with 404 yards through three weeks, and he’s clearly one of the most underrated players in the league. It sounds like LA will get another star player back on the offensive side of the ball, as Melvin Gordon is reportedly going to report to the team sooner than expected—it makes sense for him to report this week, get back into the swing of things while not playing against a Dolphins team they shouldn’t need him to beat (and from his perspective, avoiding a game of injury as he looks for a long-term contract), then hit the field for a 2-2 team looking to make a run with him as a key member. Despite all the nonsense talk about how running backs don’t matter, the Chargers could really use Gordon late in close games like their two losses.
18. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) | Last week: 19 (+1)
The Vikings have taken care of business in their two home games this season, with an average margin of victory of 31-13 (a 28-12 win over Atlanta in Week 1 and a 34-14 win over Oakland in Week 3), but they’ll now play three of the next four on the road, which should give a better indication of where they stand this season. They could easily be a lot higher than this, but I’m interested to see how Dalvin Cook—the league’s leading rusher through Week 3—and Minnesota are able to run the ball versus Chicago’s elite defense this week. Cook looks healthy, explosive, and like a superstar player early in the season.
19. Tennessee Titans (1-2) | Last week: 10 (-9)
The Titans are in that mix of teams that could be higher than this ranking, and they have the second biggest drop in this week’s power rankings. The defense is a very good all-around unit that plays tough, but the corners need to improve and become more of a shutdown trio considering all the talent they possess. Marcus Mariota has been the target of much criticism from people that watched the Thursday night game last week, but he has basically no chance for success with the way the offensive line is playing. Mariota has been sacked 17 times through the first three weeks, which is the most a quarterback has been sacked through Week 3 since 2002 (David Carr). There were a couple of times where Mariota should have gotten rid of the ball, but no quarterback is going to have success under that type of constant pressure.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) | Last week: 16 (-4)
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a gamebreaking play on another long touchdown reception and the Steelers defense forced five turnovers, so they showed some of the flashes that we’re used to seeing from the franchise over the years. Minkah Fitzpatrick had a stellar debut for the Steelers, with an interception and a forced fumble against the Niners. There are no must-wins at this time of year, but Pittsburgh losing at home on Monday night to another 0-3 team within the division would be devastating. If they can win, they’ll then have an opportunity to get to within one game or a tie in the AFC North with an upcoming matchup with the Ravens in Week 5.
21. Oakland Raiders (1-2) | Last week: 18 (-3)
Jon Gruden and the Raiders were looking to start off their long (and unfair, a word that isn’t used lightly) road trip on a good note, but they weren’t very competitive at Minnesota in Week 3—I do not mean that the team did not play hard, but it was not competitive as in the game never really felt like it was in question. Look for Gruden to get first-round rookie Josh Jacobs and the running game going after it worked well when they built a lead in their Week 1 win.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) | Last week: 26 (+4)
The Jaguars could make a more sizable leap in the power rankings than this, but I don’t want to push them up too far after a home win on a short week. Jalen Ramsey apparently still wants a trade, and—while it didn’t affect them last week—it could be something that drains the team at some point, especially if the star corner is going to opt not to play moving forward. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew continues to play well, and it’s looking like he was a major steal in the sixth round of this year’s draft—he’ll help keep the offense and team competitive most weeks.
23. New York Giants (1-2) | Last week: 27 (+4)
Daniel Jones is the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game, and he did it in his first start to cap an 18-point comeback victory for the Giants. Yes, it was just one game, but I think all the genius critics that insisted Jones was one of the worst picks in NFL history and straight-up laughed at him, the Giants, and general manager Dave Gettleman will be made to look foolish over the next decade. Jones’ athleticism paired with his ability as a thrower from the pocket makes the Giants a threat every week and a team with a very bright future. I won’t be surprised if they climb up the power rankings in the coming weeks.
24. Cleveland Browns (1-2) | Last week: 22 (-2)
The defense of the Browns is dealing with multiple injuries, but they held up well against the Rams offense in a close Sunday night loss. It’s the offense that’s the issue, as head coach Freddie Kitchens admitted himself that he needs to be better, while notable players with sky-high preseason expectations like Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry must get better themselves. Despite all the hype, there was the potential for this team being bad again this season with all the personalities on the roster, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle things if they drop to 1-3 this week.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) | Last week: 24 (-1)
Stuck behind Von Miller and other first-round pass rushers over the last four seasons, Shaquil Barrett is becoming a star now that he’s in a top role with the Buccaneers. Barrett has eight sacks already through three games, and he’s been a big reason Todd Bowles has gotten the Tampa Bay defense to play well through three weeks. Late collapses happen, and we’ll see how the Bucs bounce back on defense against the Rams this Sunday. Offensively, Jameis Winston had his best showing of the year, so he’ll look to build on that.
26. Carolina Panthers (1-2) | Last week: 25 (-1)
Winning and playing well helps, but there seemed to be a new energy with Kyle Allen at quarterback for the Panthers, and it’s a good move for Carolina to not rush Cam Newton back and wait until the former MVP is 100% before putting him back into the lineup. Keep in mind Allen’s great performance (261 yards, four touchdowns) came against a subpar Cardinals defense, but the passing attack is probably in much better shape with Allen than a less-than-100% Newton. Containing Deshaun Watson this week should be a bigger test than facing rookie Kyler Murray in Week 3.
27. Denver Broncos (0-3) | Last week: 23 (-4)
The Broncos aren’t playing terribly, but they’re one of six 0-3 teams and are winless through the first three weeks for the first time since 1999. Lambeau Field was going to be a tough place to win, but I think Denver gave a glimpse of what they want to do on offense after 36 rushing attempts between Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, both of whom ran the ball well. Vic Fangio’s defense simply needs to shut down a rookie-quarterback-led Jaguars team this week as the first-year head coach looks to get in the win column.
28. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1) | Last week: 28
Arizona’s defense was adequate through two games, but they couldn’t contain the Panthers through the air or on the ground in their Week 3 loss. Kyler Murray is not used to losing like this after he won a bunch of games in high school and college, so I’m interested to see how he handles things if the Cardinals don’t pick up wins soon—but it certainly helps having leaders like Larry Fitzgerald on the roster. The offensive line is still struggling this season, and Murray hasn’t been able to get out of trouble with his legs as efficiently as he did at Oklahoma.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) | Last week: 29
The Bengals were shut out in the first half, but they were able to score 17 second-half points to take a late lead over the Bills and their top-notch defense before ultimately falling to drop to 0-3. Joe Mixon looked back to normal with 95 total yards and a touchdown and big receiver Auden Tate had a nice showing with 88 yards, so Zac Taylor’s offense has some of that balance he desires heading into a battle of desperate teams when Cincinnati faces Pittsburgh this Monday night.
30. Washington Redskins (0-3) | Last week: 30
Booger McFarland basically calling for Jay Gruden to be fired multiple times throughout the Monday Night Football broadcast was not right, and it was good to see the Redskins battle back and make it a bit of a game at the end after falling into a large hole. Case Keenum must cut down on the turnovers for the offense, but the Washington defense looks like the bigger concern right now. The Redskins have allowed 32, 31, and 31 points through three games.
31. New York Jets (0-3) | Last week: 31
The bye week comes at a good time for the Jets, as Adam Gase, Gregg Williams, and the coaching staff probably need to take a step back after a couple of ugly weeks. The hope is that quarterback Sam Darnold is ready to play when the team returns to action in Week 5, and that would be a major boost for an undermanned roster that’s really looked like they haven’t stood a chance the last two weeks.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-3) | Last week: 32
The Ravens, Patriots, and Cowboys could be three teams that make very deep playoff runs this year, but the Dolphins look like one of the worst teams in the history of sports based off the first three games: a 59-10 loss, a 43-0 loss, and a 31-6 loss. Miami will look to get some good things going this week ahead of their bye week, but it’s difficult to see them beating the Chargers.