This Monday night will deliver a showdown between the top two teams in the Week 3 NFL power rankings.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) | Last week: 1
The Chiefs were put on the ropes by the Chargers, so to escape with an overtime victory and a 2-0 start to the season is a good indication of the defending Super Bowl champions retaining their late-game magic from last year. Patrick Mahomes had a sensational throw on the run to Tyreek Hill at the end of the game, but Mahomes has not been outstanding overall to this point this season—Week 3 against the Ravens will be a great test for him and Kansas City.
2. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) | Last week: 2
Dating back to last regular season, the Ravens have not had any trouble with their opponents, mostly putting teams away early before coasting in the second half. This week against the Chiefs will be their biggest challenge (postseason aside) in a while, and it should be a lot of fun. I was thinking about putting the Ravens at No. 1, but I’ll keep them at No. 2 as we see things play out on Monday night.
3. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) | Last week: 3
Russell Wilson is playing on another level through the first two games, and he’s been nearly perfect. For as awesome as Wilson is, it’s surprising that he put up five touchdowns against the Patriots—New England played solid defense, but Wilson’s accuracy on the deep balls in particular made Seattle nearly impossible to defend through the air. We’ll see how the Seattle defense fares versus a potent Cowboys offense after giving up a bunch of big plays through two games.
4. Buffalo Bills (2-0) | Last week: 4
If Russell Wilson hasn’t been the best player in football over the first two weeks, it’s Josh Allen—and I’m not sure it hasn’t been Allen (though the competition for Wilson has been stronger after he faced the Patriots). Among all the franchise quarterbacks under 30, I’d say it’s Mahomes, Jackson, and Allen clearly above the rest as guys that can carry teams as superstar-level players. As for the Bills as a team, they have an aggressive mindset as shown late in their Week 2 win over Miami when they iced the game with a touchdown bomb to John Brown. The upcoming schedule for Buffalo is brutal, but they should be able to hang with anyone.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) | Last week: 6 (+1)
Ben Roethlisberger looks sharp and James Conner reassumed the bellcow role for Pittsburgh after missing much of Week 1 with an ankle injury. The offense is very deep and very good, and the defense might be the best in the league. Mike Tomlin’s squad will look to get off to a 3-0 start when they take on a desperate Texans team looking to get its first victory this Sunday.
6. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) | Last week: 13 (+7)
He was a little shaky early, but it was a great sign for Derek Carr and the Raiders that he settled in and played well in an upset win over the Saints for the first victory at the mind-blowing Allegiant Stadium. I have to say, Henry Ruggs III is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the league; he had only one catch in the Week 2 win, but he’s a willing blocker, a field stretcher, and he doesn’t seem to care about stats—he also wasn’t afraid to get in there and push the pile when Josh Jacobs was trying to punch it in by the goal line. I’ve said before how interesting the Raiders are because Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will be given time to build things the right way, and they have as good of a chance as anyone to build a Patriots-like organization with long-term success. Las Vegas probably going to be a problem for teams this season.
7. Green Bay Packers (2-0) | Last week: 7
The hamstring strain for Davante Adams is something to keep an eye on ahead of a huge matchup in New Orleans this Sunday night, but the Packers are rolling offensively to open the year. Aaron Jones isn’t playing as many snaps as some “workhorse” running backs might, but Matt LaFleur and the Packers are giving the dynamic weapon valuable touches both as a runner and receiver when he is on the field. I’m intrigued to see how Mike Pettine’s defense attacks Drew Brees this weekend.
8. New Orleans Saints (1-1) | Last week: 5 (-3)
The Saints have an injury to a star receiver to keep an eye on themselves, as Michael Thomas might push to play through his ankle sprain after missing last week. Drew Brees isn’t off to the type of start we’re used to seeing from him, and his arm strength has declined into his 40s compared to Tom Brady’s—but I don’t think there’s huge cause for concern over Brees’ play yet, as the future Hall of Famer can still put the ball right on the money to the short and intermediate parts of the field. The biggest concern for New Orleans might be the way the defense played in Vegas; veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins in particular had a rough night.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) | Last week: 8 (-1)
Brady’s aforementioned arm strength came into play on a laser of a back-shoulder touchdown throw to Mike Evans last Sunday against the Panthers. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said that Brady could have had 400 yads and three touchdowns if the receivers played better, so don’t let the numbers fool you for the six-time Super Bowl champion as he continues to adjust and acclimate to his new offense and teammates. The defense pitched a shutout in the first half of their Week 2 victory, and the unit remains a high-upside group.
10. Tennessee Titans (2-0) | Last week: 10
Derrick Henry couldn’t get a lot going on the ground against a Jaguars team he’s destroyed in the past, but the rushing attack helped allow Ryan Tannehill to throw for four touchdowns in a 33-30 win to improve to 2-0. Tennessee was able to get a couple of interceptions of Gardner Minshew, but it was a surprise that they allowed 30 points—the team will look to put in a stronger all-around showing when they travel to Minnesota this week.
11. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) | Last week: 12 (+1)
I picked the Rams to get to the postseason, and they could undoubtedly be higher than this in the power rankings with the way they’ve played through two games. The offense looks crisp with great tempo led by a comfortable Jared Goff, and the offensive line is moving people in the running game more than it did for most of last season. You can make an easy case for Los Angeles to be in the top five, as they have looked more like the team that went to the Super Bowl just a couple of seasons ago.
12. New England Patriots (1-1) | Last week: 11 (-1)
This 10-12 range could all be higher and closer to the top five of the power rankings. It’s tough to top his MVP campaign from 2015, but Cam Newton has looked about as good as ever early in his tenure with the Patriots—Julian Edelman recording a career-high in receiving yards with Newton at quarterback is pretty shocking, so that connection is off to a fantastic start. This week against the Raiders won’t be easy, but look for the New England defense to bounce back allowing five touchdowns to Russell Wilson.
13. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) | Last week: 15 (+2)
It might not be fair to classify any outcomes in the NFL as “luck”, but the Cowboys certainly had things go their way during their comeback win against the Falcons. The Dallas offense is extremely explosive and knows how to finish drives with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, but the performance of the defense versus Atlanta is concerning, and they’ll have their hands full as they go to Seattle for Week 3.
14. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) | Last week: 17 (+3)
I wasn’t sold on the Cardinals entering the season, but they look like a potential contender early—after a win over the 49ers in Week 1, it’s a promising sign that Arizona was able to take care of business against an undermatched Washington team in terms of talent. Kyler Murray has been unleashed through two games, using his rushing ability much more than he did as a rookie. The Cardinals can be scary with a wide-open offense where Murray can run around like a video-game player.
15. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) | Last week: 9 (-6)
You don’t want to overreact too much, but if I was re-picking the playoff teams after two weeks, the 49ers would be out. Super Bowl letdowns aren’t unfamiliar throughout history, and now on top of that San Francisco is dealing with numerous injuries headlined by the loss of star pass rusher Nick Bosa for the season due to a torn ACL. Ideally, the Niners will be able to stay out in front of the .500 mark in games they’re favored like this Sunday versus the Giants, as the divisional games will be tough.
16. Chicago Bears (2-0) | Last week: 16
The statistics don’t tell the whole story, but Mitchell Trubisky is doing a pretty nice job at quarterback for the Bears through two weeks—his playmaking ability was on display with his touchdown strike to Darnell Mooney last Sunday. If Trubisky can keep it up, let’s see what the narrative becomes after everyone seemingly proclaimed the former No. 2 overall pick was one of the worst quarterbacks in history this offseason (at least that’s what many made it seem like). Chicago’s defense will have its toughest test of the young season this week against the Falcons.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) | Last week: 19 (+2)
Justin Herbert was extremely impressive in his NFL debut, and it’s hard to imagine him playing much better after being told literally right before kickoff that he would be starting for the Chargers. It says a lot about Herbert’s ability and preparation that he played as well as he did versus the Chiefs in that situation. The formula—a strong running game and defense—for Los Angeles is working well to this point, but Herbert might be able to take the team to another level if he becomes the full-time starter over the steady-handed Tyrod Taylor.
18. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) | Last week: 20 (+2)
Strong bounce back by the Colts defense after the team was upset in the opener—that’s ideal for a team that can follow a similar path to the Chargers but with a better offensive line to power a rushing attack led by stud rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. For the Indy passing game, Mo Alie-Cox showed his potential as an athletic tight end after five receptions for 111 yards against the Vikings; Alie-Cox could have a sizable role moving forward as the team deals with receiver Parris Campbell’s knee injury forcing him out indefinitely.
19. Atlanta Falcons (0-2) | Last week: 14 (-5)
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Falcons became the first team since 1933 to lose a game in which they scored 39 points with zero turnovers. Teams were previously 440-0 in those instances. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Atlanta, but it’s good to hear that the locker room knows they all need to stick together and right the ship. There are things to work with, as the offense will again be among the league’s best; but the team needs to turn it on soon to avoid falling in a big hole like in 2019.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) | Last week: 18 (-2)
The Eagles are off to their first 0-2 start since 2015. As someone the observes the team closely, it really does not seem that Doug Pederson is thrilled with Carson Wentz. If things don’t turn around, a power struggle (which would almost no doubt be won by Howie Roseman, who has found a way to stick around with the franchise for years while others were canned) seems likely this offseason. There’s still a lot of football to be played, but Philadelphia won’t contend for another title until Wentz, who has 20 off-target throws including 15 with a clean pocket through two weeks, improves.
21. Houston Texans (0-2) | Last week: 21
Especially this early in the season, it felt inevitable that the Texans offense would have some trouble with the Ravens just as they did last year. Again, it’s going to take some time for the spread-the-wealth attack to get going, and Houston has another major challenge coming up this week against the Steelers. One positive takeaway is the play of J.J. Watt (two sacks on the elusive Lamar Jackson) early this season.
22. Cleveland Browns (1-1) | Last week: 32 (+10)
I don’t want to overreact to a win over the Bengals, but I was hard on the Browns last week, so I’ll give a ten-spot boost out of the basement and up to No. 22 ahead of Week 3. It’s easy to see the recipe for success in Cleveland is riding Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (ideally playing with a lead) while taking play-action shots to Odell Beckham Jr. deep and Jarvis Landry over the middle. That is the plan for Kevin Stefanski, and now it’s about executing it consistently every week.
23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) | Last week: 22 (-1)
I’m quite honestly not sure what to make of the Vikings, and they could be much lower than this based off their play—on both sides of the ball—through Week 2. I expect we’ll see a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook as Minnesota attempts to control a game and not fall behind early. The next five games for the Vikings come against the Titans, Texans, Seahawks, Falcons, and Packers—so four playoff teams from 2019 and one of the most explosive offenses in the league in the Falcons.
24. Denver Broncos (0-2) | Last week: 23 (-1)
A number of teams have been hit very hard by injuries in 2020, and the Broncos are squarely among the hardest hit squads. After losing Von Miller before the season, Denver is now without Courtland Sutton (ACL tear, out for the season) and Drew Lock (shoulder, out for at least a few weeks). Now the Broncos must contend with the Buccaneers this Sunday as they look to avoid 0-3, but the franchise is the only team in the league with a winning record against Tom Brady.
25. Washington Football Team (1-1) | Last week: 25
Washington again fell behind early, but they couldn’t stage a comeback like they did in Week 1. Ron Rivera and the defense will try to get off to faster starts to make things easier on the offense moving forward, but at least the offense showed some life in the second half of the Week 2 loss to Arizona. As Washington looks to compete for a postseason spot this year, this week against Cleveland is a prime opportunity to stay on the plus side of .500.
26. New York Giants (0-2) | Last week: 24 (-2)
The loss of Saquon Barkley for the year to a torn ACL is a massive blow to both the Giants offense and the team’s chances to push for an NFC East title. Daniel Jones has had about one quarter of his full complement of weapons early in his career, but it could be a growing experience for Jones to shoulder more of the load on offense as he did for part of last season. The Giants couldn’t complete a comeback win against the Bears, but Jones has shown that not much phases him—he has a similar cold late-game demeanor like Eli Manning did.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) | Last week: 28 (+1)
The 20s are difficult to rank at this point, particularly the No. 22-28 area, but the Jaguars are surpassing expectations this season. Gardner Minshew is the type of quarterback that seems like he will find a way to help his team stay in the game every week, and the Jags will face a very similar player in that regard when they play the Dolphins tomorrow night. Undrafted rookie running back James Robinson has been one of the best early-season stories from around the NFL with the way he’s taken the starting role for Jacksonville and run with it.
28. Miami Dolphins (0-2) | Last week: 29 (+1)
If Week 2 is an indication as a bounce back, the Dolphins are close to breaking through a bit. Miami was able to take the lead late over Buffalo after the lightning delay, and they cut it to a one possession game with an onside kick attempt at the end after falling behind. There are no must-wins this early, but a victory for the Dolphins to kickoff Week 3 would be huge as they look to avoid an 0-3 start.
29. Detroit Lions (0-2) | Last week: 26 (-3)
Matt Patricia is known to be in a playoffs-or-fired season, so this is about the worst start possible for him with an 0-2 start and a poor performance by the defense. The offense of the Lions could get a considerable boost with Kenny Golladay set to enter the lineup after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, and that side of the ball might need to do the heavy lifting for Detroit if they want to turn this thing around.
30. Carolina Panthers (0-2) | Last week: 27 (-3)
While Matt Rhule will get his team to play hard every week, no Christian McCaffrey hurts Carolina’s chances of picking up victories over the next few weeks. This Sunday against the Chargers feels like the type of game the Panthers might want to play with a chance to win at the end, so we’ll see if Rhule can get on the board for his first win as an NFL head coach.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) | Last week: 30 (-1)
The deep ball needs some work, and it’ll probably help as he gets more reps and better timing with A.J. Green and his other receivers, but overall Joe Burrow has played as advertised through his first two games. This is apparently the first time Burrow has ever lost two consecutive games as a starting quarterback, but he seems to have the mindset to understand it’s hard to have immediate success in the NFL when joining a team that just had the No. 1 pick. I’m interested to see how Burrow does versus an Eagles defense that hasn’t put much pressure on the quarterback to this point.
32. New York Jets (0-2) | Last week: 31 (-1)
It came down to the Bengals and Jets for the bottom of the power rankings, but the Jets are the pick considering all the injuries they are dealing with on offense. While he’s unsurprisingly getting a ton of criticism in New York, it’s good to hear the franchise wants to be patient with Adam Gase in just his second season as the team’s head coach.