There are some potential juggernauts led by the Bills at the top, but in a parity-filled league, there’ll be plenty of movement early in the 2022 NFL power rankings. Week 3 includes the Eagles continuing to climb further into the top five.
1. Buffalo Bills (2-0) | Last week: 1
Even without Gabe Davis (ankle), Josh Allen and the Bills threw all over the Titans to run away with a victory on Monday night. I don’t want to look too far ahead, but the Buffalo crowd can be a major factor in January—every week is critical for the Bills as they look to get the top seed in the AFC.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) | Last week: 2
Tempers flared and Mike Evans was ejected and then suspended a game for his hit on longtime archenemy Marshon Lattimore, but the Bucs were able to get a win at New Orleans—the first regular season victory over the Saints in the Tom Brady era. Again, Todd Bowles’ defense looks like perhaps the best in the league; they recorded six sacks, three interceptions (including a pick-six by Mike Edwards), and two forced fumbles in the heated divisional battle.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) | Last week: 5 (+2)
Perhaps rising all the way up to No. 3 is too high after just two games, but I was optimistic about the Eagles ahead of the season—I was tempted to make them as my NFC pick over the Bucs. Through two games, Philadelphia has the look of a legitimate Super Bowl contender, with third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts looking extremely comfortable in a high-powered offense. And Darius Slay had one of the best performances I can remember from a cornerback on Monday night, intercepting two passes and shutting down All-Pro Justin Jefferson.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) | Last week: 3 (-1)
Patrick Mahomes got away with a handful of risky throws, and I thought the Chiefs were bailed out by a couple of big calls—the illegal contact call on a pass that was intercepted and the overturned interception by Asante Samuel Jr.—but the bottom line is they got a key divisional win in the first exclusively game on Amazon Prime Video. Chiefs rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson’s clutch 99-yard pick-six might be looked back on as one of the plays of the year.
5. Green Bay Packers (1-1) | Last week: 9 (+4)
I’m giving the Packers a pass for Week 1 (again, remember they also struggled in the first game last season) and moving them back into the top five after unsurprisingly getting on track versus the Bears. Having Allen Lazard back was big for the offense, and Sammy Watkins got going a bit to help the passing attack complement the tremendous duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. I’m interested to see how the Green Bay defense plays at Tampa Bay (likely without both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin) this Sunday.
6. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) | Last week: 18 (+12)
Trey Lance’s season-ending ankle injury is disappointing, and his development as a passer—as someone that doesn’t have much experience at all dating back to college—would have been exciting for a Super Bowl hopeful this year. Everything (mainly his shoulder surgery that killed the trade market) that led to Jimmy Garoppolo remaining with the 49ers was very fortunate for them. The San Francisco roster is so talented that having a steady and proven presence like Jimmy G at quarterback leads to a big jump in the power rankings after they bounced back to handle the Seahawks on Sunday.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) | Last week: 4 (-3)
Give KC credit for getting the win, but I’m in agreement with the feeling that the Chargers “outplayed” the Chiefs last Thursday night. Justin Herbert gutted out a rib cartilage injury to bring his team within a field goal in the end, and he’ll hopefully be fine after the mini bye following a TNF game. Defensively, I’m encouraged by the way Los Angeles has played this season—headlined by second-year cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.—after the unit looked terrible at times in 2021.
8. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) | Last week: 10 (+2)
The Rams rise a couple of spots in the power rankings, but I am a bit concerned about their defense (and special teams), which nearly gave up the 28-3 lead to the Falcons. Jalen Ramsey ultimately ended it on a nice high-point interception, and we’ll see if that can give him a boost and get him going moving forward. Cooper Kupp and the offense should stay hot versus the Cardinals in Week 3.
9. Miami Dolphins (2-0) | Last week: 12 (+3)
Tua Tagovailoa isn’t getting enough praise for the way he’s played early in his career and for torching the Ravens for 469 yards and six touchdowns in the epic comeback victory (28 fourth-quarter points) to help the Dolphins get to 2-0. Maybe it’s because many called Tua a bust after 21 starts through two seasons (and, despite what you might hear, he played well behind a subpar offensive line). Anyway, now it’s about keeping it going, but Miami obviously has a potent offense with the speed they have.
10. New England Patriots (1-1) | Last week: 19 (+9)
The Patriots make a big leap in this week’s power rankings, getting a critical victory at Pittsburgh to avoid 0-2. Facing a tough Steelers defense in a gritty, throwback style game, Mac Jones and the offense did a nice job. They’ll have to continue building on the outing, but I’m no longer concerned about the New England offense, which is doing a better job of utilizing Nelson Agholor (six receptions, 110 yards, one spectacular touchdown) this season. And Bill Belichick has the defense cooking to begin the year—though Lamar Jackson will be a challenge this weekend.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) | Last week: 6 (-5)
Mitchell Trubisky and the Steelers know they need to get more going down field on offense, including to promising second-round rookie George Pickens. That would help open things up for Najee Harris and the run game. Defensively, Pittsburgh certainly appears to be in a better spot than last season, and star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has an interception in each game to kickoff 2022.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) | Last week: 7 (-5)
Remember, as was mentioned last week, teams that didn’t play in the preseason have struggled to begin the season. Hopefully that’s the main problem with the revamped Bengals offensive line not taking the step anticipated early this season (facing Pittsburgh and Dallas in back-to-back weeks didn’t make things easier). Joe Burrow is a very tough player, but it’s difficult not to be phased when you are hit as much as he’s been. Looking to avoid a Super Bowl hangover, Burrow and the Bengals must get on track this week against the Jets.
13. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) | Last week: 15 (+2)
The Cowboys could be higher (including over the Bengals, who they just beat—granted, it was at home) in the power rankings, but for now I give them a little bump to No. 13. Micah Parsons already has four sacks this season, and I’m feeling good about him as my Defensive Player of the Year pick as a guy I expected to record around 15-20 sacks. Cornerback Trevon Diggs made a big defensive stop with a tackle on third down late versus the Bengals, and those two lead a unit that can continue to carry Dallas while Dak Prescott is out.
14. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) | Last week: 11 (-3)
It was an issue last season and was a major issue against the Dolphins: the pass defense for Baltimore has really struggled at times. The Ravens allowed by far the most passing yards in the league last season (4,986), and they gave up huge plays to Miami when cornerback Marlon Humphrey was off the field in Week 2. Overall, it’s difficult to see this happening with past Ravens squads led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but we’ll see if first-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald can get this sorted out. On the positive side, Lamar Jackson, Rashod Bateman, Mark Andrews, and the passing attack look very good.
15. Detroit Lions (1-1) | Last week: 22 (+7)
Seeing how good the Eagles have played, the Lions’ Week 1 comeback effort looks even better than it did this time last week. Detroit, favored for the first time in 24 games, came out and looked like a dominant squad in their matchup with the Commanders. Jared Goff threw four touchdowns and no interceptions, and Amon-Ra St. Brown (184 total yards, two touchdowns) looks like a star, continuing his scorching end to his rookie campaign. My concern entering the season was the talent level on defense, but this offense can score points in bunches.
16. New Orleans Saints (1-1) | Last week: 17 (+1)
Jameis Winston is playing through four fractures in his back according to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, which is a pain tolerance thing but cannot be easy to play through. The Saints surprisingly ran the ball well on the Bucs, even without Alvin Kamara (ribs) in the lineup, so I’d look for them to keep that going more moving forward to play to their strong defense. New Orleans should also try to get Taysom Hill going more as a change-up option on offense.
17. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) | Last week: 23 (+6)
The Cardinals needed a win with the way they played in the season opener, and the Byron Murphy fumble returned for a touchdown in overtime versus the Raiders could be a springboard type of play moving forward. Kyler Murray basically put the team on his back in the fourth quarter, which included two two-point conversions to eventually force OT. Next up, Arizona will look to get a little redemption on their playoff loss to the Rams last season.
18. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) | Last week: 8 (-10)
His teams had gotten back-to-back wins against the Bears on MNF, but the Monday night woes continue for Kirk Cousins, who drops to 2-10 for his career in the timeslot. The approach Minnesota took defensively at Philadelphia was surprising, as their soft coverage was picked apart all night. Being back at home this week against the Lions should help in what’s an interesting early-season divisional matchup.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) | Last week: 28 (+9)
The Jaguars are somewhat quietly off to a solid and respectable start in the first year under Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson. They looked to be in control toward the end of Week 1 before ultimately losing, and they totally dominated the Colts in Week 2, with the defense notching its first shutout since 2018. Christian Kirk has been a big story early after his massive free-agent contract was widely criticized, but Pederson and company have been utilizing him as a great weapon all over the field.
20. New York Giants (2-0) | Last week: 25 (+5)
Brian Daboll is off to about as good of a start as you could expect for a Giants team that was in some ways looking ahead to 2023 to really be able to compete—they are one of six remaining unbeaten squads after two weeks, with a shot to go to 3-0 versus the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys on Monday night. The prowess of Dallas’ defense was outlined earlier, so this’ll be a major challenge for Daniel Jones and the Giants offense to conclude Week 3.
21. Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1) | Last week: 13 (-8)
Particularly in a game where Michael Pittman Jr. (quad) was inactive, ten touches for Jonathan Taylor is simply inexcusable for Frank Reich’s Colts, who were shutout at Jacksonville. Indy must have a good showing against the Chiefs this Sunday. Fortunately for the Colts (and the Titans), the AFC South looks like a division where a slow start is probably more likely to be overcome than it might be elsewhere.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (0-2) | Last week: 14 (-8)
It’s too early to panic for the Raiders, but starting 0-2 with an upcoming matchup with a fellow 0-2 Titans team that also made the postseason last year is a tough start in the vaunted AFC West. Right now, and again the Raiders are a team that didn’t play starters in the preseason, it almost feels like Las Vegas has a lack of identity.
23. Tennessee Titans (0-2) | Last week: 16 (-7)
Monday Night Football in Buffalo versus an awesome Bills team is a tough draw, but it’s still concerning that the Titans offensive line has struggled early this season. Losing Taylor Lewan early on Monday didn’t help, but there was no room for Derrick Henry—the engine of their offense and team—to run. More Henry and more Treylon Burks is a recipe for success in my opinion.
24. Denver Broncos (1-1) | Last week: 20 (-4)
The Broncos were able to get an ugly home victory while favored by around ten points against the Texans. Fans have seemingly already soured on both head coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson—the Wilson part being a bit shocking to me. Things will remain challenging when they host a resurgent Niners team this Sunday night, but Wilson has had success versus his former division rival throughout his career.
25. Washington Commanders (1-1) | Last week: 21 (-4)
Carson Wentz has thrown for 650 yards and seven touchdowns (three interceptions) through two games, and it’s not surprising that the Commanders are slinging the ball around with the talent they have on offense—including ultra-promising rookie Jahan Dotson, who has three touchdowns in two career games. But the Washington defense is in bad shape, and changes are already being talked about (within media, anyway). Players need to be bought in and locked in when they host the Eagles this Sunday.
26. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) | Last week: 24 (-2)
The Seahawks using a wildcat with all four running backs, with the play ending in an interception, was pretty funny; but I’m actually surprised Seattle didn’t try to run the ball more last week, with Rashaad Penny getting just six carries. The Seahawks also want to get DK Metcalf going, and I think he can catch fire after facing two difficult defenses the first two weeks.
27. Atlanta Falcons (0-2) | Last week: 27
The Falcons go to Seattle this Sunday, and it’s a critical early-season game for both squads as they look to surprise and make a push for an NFC wild-card spot. Atlanta showed heart in their comeback effort at the Rams, but the story on offense is the lack of receiving usage for tight end Kyle Pitts. Look for that to change quickly, but at least the Falcons are getting production and appear to have hit on top-ten pick Drake London (5/74 and 8/86/1 in his first two games) at receiver.
28. New York Jets (1-1) | Last week: 32 (+4)
Joe Flacco and the Jets bounced back with their backs against the wall—both entering the week and then down 13 with under two minutes remaining—in their upset win at Cleveland. It was the first time in 21 years that team came back from down 13+ points in the final two minutes to win. First-round rookie Garrett Wilson (8/102/2 including the game-winning touchdown) was a favorite target of Flacco in the comeback, and he and New York will look to keep it going against a Bengals team they upset last season.
29. Cleveland Browns (1-1) | Last week: 26 (-3)
It’s unfair to place blame on Nick Chubb for the Browns’ loss. He’s an unselfish player that declined a touchdown in the past to secure his team a victory. The bottom line is that Cleveland should have found a way to hold onto their lead, and they didn’t. It’s probably good for the Browns that they have a quick turnaround and play the rival Steelers on Thursday night—they have no choice but to quickly put Week 2 behind them.
30. Houston Texans (0-1-1) | Last week: 31 (+1)
The game didn’t end with a victory, but I think Lovie Smith has to be pleased with his team playing the style of game he wants and thinks they can win—a 16-9 loss at Denver which they led in the fourth quarter. After rookie Dameon Pierce (15 carries, 69 yards) took lead back duty as was expected entering the season, look for Houston to put more on his plate as the season progresses.
31. Chicago Bears (1-1) | Last week: 29 (-2)
The Bears were able to run the ball, which will be foundational under defensive head coach Matt Eberflus. But it’s difficult to win when quarterback Justin Fields is 7/11 for 70 yards and an interception passing. The Packers obviously controlled the game on Sunday night, but Chicago needs to open the passing attack more and get Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet involved on offense.
32. Carolina Panthers (0-2) | Last week: 20 (-12)
I entered this season optimistic about the Panthers, but I thought a 2-0 start (vs. Carolina, at the Giants) was possible—instead, they are one of four 0-2 teams with a challenging schedule coming up on paper. Their offseason quarterback acquisition Baker Mayfield might need to give the Panthers some type of huge jolt somehow.