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2023 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Three NFC teams again top the Week 3 NFL power rankings, with the conference holding a surprising advantage (6-0 record) and playing better football overall than the AFC.


1. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) | Last week: 1

Christian McCaffrey didn’t come off the field in Week 2, playing every offensive snap (totaling 136 yards and a touchdown) in the rivalry game win at the Rams. Look for San Francisco to manage CMC’s workload a little more, particularly on a short week facing the Giants on Thursday night. I like the way former Falcons second-round pick Isaiah Oliver played last week, including his interception of Matthew Stafford.


2. Dallas Cowboys (2-0) | Last week: 2

The Dallas defense forced four turnovers and Micah Parsons recorded two sacks in a blowout of the Jets. It was a methodical approach offensively for Dallas, but CeeDee Lamb had a monster game with 11 receptions for 143 yards—and Dak Prescott has looked very comfortable through two games.


3. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) | Last week: 3

D’Andre Swift had a career night in last Thursday night’s win over the Vikings, taking advantage of huge holes opened by the offensive line to run for 175 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. DeVonta Smith also starred, catching four passes for 131 yards and a touchdown while effortlessly roasting the Minnesota defense. Second-year defensive tackle Jordan Davis has been awesome through two games, generating interior pressure while also stuffing the run.


4. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) | Last week: 6 (+2)

Mainstream sports media is just now realizing the Ravens added a ton of juice on offense this offseason and have much more upside in the passing game? Odell Beckham Jr. left with an ankle injury for Baltimore, but dynamic veteran Nelson Agholor emerged with five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown­—displaying the immense depth Lamar Jackson has to work with on the outside. Jadeveon Clowney and Geno Stone stepped up on defense in the win at Cincinnati to improve to 2-0.


5. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) | Last week: 5

While the Chiefs have not looked like themselves through two September games, they got immediate contributions from Travis Kelce and Chris Jones in their 2023 debuts—helping secure a hard-fought, sloppy win against the Jaguars. Despite the offense being off, Patrick Mahomes still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Kansas City defense is a scrappy group that made it difficult for Jacksonville to get into the end zone.


6. Buffalo Bills (1-1) | Last week: 9 (+3)

The Bills blew out the Raiders in the home opener and looked much more like the team most of us expected heading into the season. Josh Allen bounced back from the rough Week 1, combining efficiency and playmaking outside the pocket—including a great grab by Gabe Davis on a pass to the end zone off a scramble. And the Buffalo defense became the first team since at least 1950 to hold the reigning NFL leading rusher to negative yardage.


7. Detroit Lions (1-1) | Last week: 4 (-3)

The overtime loss to the Seahawks was tough enough for the Lions, but they’re now dealing with notable injuries to the squad:


  • S C.J. Gardner-Johnson (pec, potentially out for season)
  • DE James Houston (ankle, out 6-8 weeks)
  • RB David Montgomery (thigh, day-to-day but could miss games)
  • OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee, likely to miss time)


Sunday against the 2-0 Falcons will be a good test for a banged-up team looking to show they are among the NFC’s elite.


8. Miami Dolphins (2-0) | Last week: 8

With the Patriots doing a solid job of taking on the passing attack of the Dolphins, Raheem Mostert went off for 18 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday night. On the other side of the ball, Vic Fangio’s defense was much better against the run after getting gashed in Week 1.


9. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) | Last week: 7 (-2)

Trevor Lawrence was sacked four times, and the Jaguars struggled on third downs and in scoring territory, settling for three field goals in the 17-9 loss to the Chiefs. However, the Jacksonville defense has shown good signs; Andre Cisco had a nice interception of Patrick Mahomes down the field, and former first-rounder K’Lavon Chaisson got home for a sack in Week 2.


10. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) | Last week: 22 (+12)

Tre Brown recorded a sack and a pick-six (ending Jared Goff’s interception-less streak at 383—third longest in history) to help spark 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime for the Seahawks—ended on a touchdown from Geno Smith to Tyler Lockett—to beat the Lions and avoid an 0-2 hole. The defense has been concerning through two games, but guys like rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon should get better with playing experience.


11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) | Last week: 18 (+7)

Pittsburgh offense is still finding its footing, but the defense displayed its major upside by starting and ending the Monday night win over the Browns with touchdowns—first a pick-six by Alex Highsmith and then a scoop-and-score by T.J. Watt after Highsmith forced a sack fumble. I think George Pickens needs double-digit targets every week, but the Steelers offense will be at its best if it can get Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren going to help set up play-action.


12. New Orleans Saints (2-0) | Last week: 15 (+3)

The Saints are this high in the power rankings in part because I have been very impressed by the defense—particularly the play of cornerback trio of Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adeebo, and Alontae Taylor. The offense is a work in progress but has shown some positive signs, and they have one more game this Sunday at Green Bay before running back Alvin Kamara is back.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) | Last week: 16 (+3)

It was awesome to see Shaq Barrett seal the Buccaneers’ home opener win against the Bears with a pick-six, dedicated to his late daughter. Barrett’s play capped off a second consecutive promising outing by the Tampa Bay defense, which is pairing nicely with Baker Mayfield taking care of the ball while also hitting on some chunk plays (Mike Evans had six receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown in Week 2).


14. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) | Last week: 11 (-3)

No team has ever stared consecutive seasons 0-2 and made the playoffs both years, and the Bengals are playing with fire by another slow start this season. Joe Burrow (calf) is obviously still not at 100%, and he and the offense have not gotten into a rhythm through two games—nor has the Cincy defense started at a top-tier level. I believe the Bengals can and will flip the switch, but it’s a deep league with no easy weeks.


15. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) | Last week: 23 (+8)

The Falcons scored 13 fourth-quarter points to come back and beat the Packers, with No. 8 pick Bijan Robinson (172 total yards) again starring while helping Atlanta get into position for a go-ahead field goal by Younghoe Koo. Arthur Smith’s club could be higher than this, but I still want to see a little more from young starting quarterback Desmond Ridder.


16. Tennessee Titans (1-1) | Last week: 25 (+9)

Week 2 was a correction for the Titans, who fed Derrick Henry 25 carries while Ryan Tannehill played efficiently by going 20/24 with no turnovers. This Sunday at Cleveland should be a defensive battle, and Deshaun Watson will likely give Tennessee opportunities to make plays and turn the ball over.


17. Green Bay Packers (1-1) | Last week: 14 (-3)

Green Bay was eventually worn down by Atlanta, and the offense felt shorthanded without the explosiveness of running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Christian Watson, both dealing with hamstring issues. Still, the Packers should be encouraged by the early play of quarterback Jordan Love, who is taking care of the ball and threw three touchdowns—two to rookie Jayden Reed—in the loss.


18. Washington Commanders (2-0) | Last week: 24 (+6)

Second-year running back Brian Robinson Jr. (20 touches for 129 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2) has been the centerpiece of the Commanders offense under Eric Bieniemy so far, and the run game should open more things up for Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson moving forward. The defense was boosted by the return of defensive end Chase Young, getting home for seven sacks in the crazy 35-33 shootout win where they were helped by a non-PI call on a two-point conversion.


19. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) | Last week: 12 (-7)

Same story, different week and year. The Chargers have lost their two games by a combined five points, with opportunities to win both weeks. They’re too talented to not get on track, and I think Justin Herbert needs to connect with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on deep balls versus a vulnerable Vikings defense this week.


20. New England Patriots (0-2) | Last week: 17 (-3)

Officiating against the Patriots has been very questionable dating back to last season in my opinion, as they’ve had a lot of bad luck there that’s arguably cost them games. Right now, the offense is too inconsistent, with pass protection having a lot to do with that, putting them behind the sticks too often. New England’s defense allowed the big run play at the end, but they’ve looked good—and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez is looking like a future star. Expect a heavy dose of Rhamondre Stevenson and strong defense at New York while looking to avoid 0-3.


21. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) | Last week: 21

I like what I’ve seen from the Rams through two games, and it starts with the offensive line improvement—a group that added guard Steve Avila in the second round—giving Matthew Stafford more time to distribute the ball even without Cooper Kupp (hamstring) in the lineup. Puka Nacua has set the NFL record for most receptions (25) through two games, and running back Kyren Williams has scored two touchdowns in each of the first two games with Cam Akers appearing to be on his way out of LA after an up-and-down relationship.


22. New York Jets (1-1) | Last week: 13 (-9)

Zach Wilson did not play as bad as the stat sheet (three interceptions) might indicate, as he didn’t have much of a chance facing the vaunted Cowboys defense. More concerning might be the vibes after the loss at Dallas, with Breece Hall voicing his displeasure over four carries and Sauce Gardner deactivating his X account—coming less than a week after the huge Week 1 win against Buffalo!


23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) | Last week: 19 (-4)

Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota passing game have been excellent despite the 0-2 start, but the run game has been unable to get anything going with starter Alexander Mattison. Mattison shared that people sent him racist and disrespectful messages after the game, which is a total disgrace. As Mattison said, they are people underneath the helmets. Your fantasy team is almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Back to on the field, the Vikings defense was very disappointing last Thursday night—playing some type of umbrella coverage that DeVonta Smith was able to zoom right by on multiple occasions.


24. Las Vegas Raiders (1-1) | Last week: 20 (-4)

The Raiders came out like gangbusters in Week 2, capping off a stellar 75-yard opening drive ending with a screen pass touchdown to Davante Adams. But the Bills shut them down after that. Vegas is not going to have much success if they can’t run the ball, so I expect Josh McDaniels to attempt to remedy that this Sunday night against the Steelers.


25. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) | Last week: 29 (+4)

Hopefully Anthony Richardson is feeling OK after leaving Week 2 due to a concussion suffered on his second of two early touchdown runs in the win over the Texans. He’s been fantastic through one-plus games, and the Colts must be totally thrilled with him as their franchise quarterback. Zack Moss provided a boost at running back in the win, rushing 18 times for 88 yads and a touchdown; and Gardner Minshew operated effectively in relief of Richardson. Indy’s defense got home for six sacks to help make up for allowing big yardage through the air.


26. New York Giants (1-1) | Last week: 27 (+1)

Especially when you look at the upcoming schedule, starting tomorrow night versus the 49ers, the Giants really avoided disaster by coming back from their 20-0 halftime deficit to the less talented Cardinals to avoid an 0-2 start. Daniel Jones flipped the switch, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns while adding 59 rushing yards and a score on the ground—and Saquon Barkley scored twice. However, Barkley is now dealing with an ankle injury that’s expected to keep him out for at least Week 3, so players on both sides of the ball must step up.


27. Cleveland Browns (1-1) | Last week: 10 (-17)

Nick Chubb’s season-ending knee injury is one of the most heartbreaking developments I can remember, as he is not only an elite player but an elite person and leader. The Cleveland defense has a ton of upside under Jim Schwartz and can potentially carry the Browns, but the Chubb loss is extremely impactful—particularly with Deshaun Watson simply looking bad since he’s returned to action in 2022. I thought rookie offensive tackle Dawand Jones was a real bright spot for Cleveland on Monday night with the way he held up—at least relatively—facing T.J. Watt in his first career start.


28. Denver Broncos (0-2) | Last week: 26 (-2)

The Broncos certainly have beef after Courtland Sutton was interfered with on the two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game late versus the Commanders, and we might be looking at Denver differently if they were 1-1—but starting 0-2 with the Dolphins up next is pretty brutal. As for the good news, Russell Wilson is looking like himself again, headlined by a beautiful couple of deep balls to rookie receiver Marvin Mims Jr.


29. Carolina Panthers (0-2) | Last week: 28 (-1)

The spacing of the routes in Carolina’s offense looked way off at times in Monday night’s loss to the Saints, and I’m not optimistic that Bryce Young is being put in the best position to have success to begin his NFL career. Linebacker Shaq Thompson is sadly expected to be out for the year due to a fractured fibula, and cornerback Jaycee Horn is already out for an extended period due to his hamstring injury—so Carolina’s exciting pieces on defense have taken a hit.


30. Arizona Cardinals (0-2) | Last week: 31 (+1)

Say what you want about Jonathan Gannon, but the first-year head coach has his team playing as hard as anyone in the league and has immediately established an identity. Again, the talent might make it difficult to ultimately close out and win games, but the Cardinals have shown they aren’t going to roll over.


31. Houston Texans (0-2) | Last week: 32 (+1)

C.J. Stroud is flashing his ability as a passer early, but the ideal gameplan for Houston does not include him throwing the ball 47 times while Dameon Pierce musters just 31 rushing yards on 15 carries. The run game was supposed to be a strength for the Texans, and they’ll struggle to win games until they can get it going.


32. Chicago Bears (0-2) | Last week: 30 (-2)

The Bears haven’t won a game since Elon Musk purchased Twitter in October 2022. Justin Fields is a tremendous leader and has dual threat upside, but he’s not pulling the trigger on (or not seeing) wide open players and is holding onto the ball too long. Chicago as a team isn’t in a good enough position talent wise to not play well on either side of the ball and expect to have success.