By Angelo Inglisa.
Now, for as awesome as Week 1 was, Week 2 was dull. For whatever reason, the most interesting game out of the AFC North was Ravens-Browns, with the Browns choking away a 20-0 lead. Steelers-Bengals was an absolute slopfest in the rain, which took away the two most exciting players in said game, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green. The Giants and the Saints combined for 101 points last year, but this year ended in a defensive struggle. The 4:00 games provided plenty of intrigue, with the Seahawks looking vulnerable and a pair of Peyton Manning replacements squaring off. Now, before we witness rookie Jacoby Brissett start for the Patriots tonight, here are my Week 3 Power Rankings.
Biggest Riser: New York Jets (19->13)
Biggest Fallers: Oakland Raiders (9->14), Buffalo Bills (23->28)
1.) New England Patriots (+/-0)
Jimmy Garoppolo has done an amazing job filling in for Tom Brady, but now that duty falls on Jacoby Brissett, a rookie out of NC State. Gronk is still not in the lineup, meaning that Thursday Belichick is going to come up with one heck of a game plan.
2.) Arizona Cardinals (+2)
A week after taking the Brady-less Pats for granted, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals made a statement against up and comer Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. Compared to Winston’s four interceptions, Carson Palmer had a tidy 300 yards and 3 TDs.
3.) Carolina Panthers (+/-0)
The offense struggled with turnovers, leaving the defense short fields to play. Cam Newton was still superhuman, generating a whopping 46 points even after losing Jonathan Stewart. However, Fozzy Whittaker did perform admirably in Stewart’s absence.
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers (+3)
DeAngelo Williams is going to make Mike Tomlin’s job hard once Le’Veon Bell comes back. The 33-year-old back has been scorching defenses these past two weeks, totaling 237 yards on the ground to go with two touchdowns. Even when Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown struggle, it looks like the running game won’t.
5.) Green Bay Packers (-3)
They get dinged for losing and making Sam Bradford look decent. However, the Vikes’ D is no joke, and as the first team to play in US Bank Stadium, there was a lot of pressure on the Vikings to win, but look for the Packers to bounce back next week against the Lions.
6.) Denver Broncos (+2)
Despite losing a couple of starters in free agency and having Aqib Talib’s off-field antics publicized, the D has yet to slow down after a historic playoff run. Von Miller feasted on a porous Colts offensive line, and as a unit had two TDs. Look out, AFC West
7.) Cincinnati Bengals (-1)
It was a road game against an in-division rival and fellow contender (in the rain, no less), but the Bengals game plan was dreadful. The Steelers happily let Gio Bernard catch all of Dalton’s short passes and keep AJ Green off the scoreboard. The run defense was decimated by DeAngelo Williams, maybe showing the weakness of this once dominant defense.
8.) Seattle Seahawks (-3)
I keep wondering when Pete Carroll is going to tap my shoulder and offer me the starting RT spot. Seriously, the Hawks’ O-Line makes the Colts’ look like that vaunted Dallas line. Russell Wilson is desperately looking for another competent offensive player, but alas, none are to be found.
9.) Minnesota Vikings (+1)
You probably could’ve talked me into them being higher than the Bengals and Seahawks if AP didn’t get seriously injured. Sam Bradford followed the rules of force feeding Stefon Diggs, and that defense beat the Packers offense into submission. Watch out, NFC. Mike Zimmer is coming.
10.) Houston Texans (+1)
Honestly, getting a read on the Texans is near impossible. The trio of Nuk Hopkins, Will Fuller and Lamar Miller make the offense near impossible to guard, but Brock Osweiler has looked awfully average and the defense has yet to be tested by a good offense (Sorry, Chief fans). This team could easily choke away games to their AFC South brethren, but they could also sweep the division. This week’s Patriots game will go a long way in labelling them.
11.) New York Giants (+1)
Good news: The defensive acquisitions are making their money's worth, holding the Saints and Cowboys to less than 20 points. Bad news: Their offense couldn’t muster a touchdown against the Saints sad excuse for a defense. McAdoo was supposed to make this team an offensive juggernaut, yet the results have yet to be seen.
12.) Baltimore Ravens (+1)
No team should ever be down 20 to the Browns after not even one quarter, but luckily, the Ravens rallied. Flacco got solid games out of glass cannon Dennis Pitta, who had a 100 receiving yards, and Steve Smith, who had several solid catches towards the end of the game. The big story with the Ravens is their lack of any running game, as Forsett and West have both disappointed so far.
13.) New York Jets (+6)
While the scoreboard said 31, consider this: Take away the 2 deep throws by Tyrod Taylor and the fumble returned for a score, the Bills only mustered 10 points. The Jets kept the Bills from generating any kind of rhythm on offense, and the offense could not be stopped. Ryan Fitzpatrick needs more games like that, and less games like Week 1.
14.) Oakland Raiders (-5)
Alright Oakland, here is your comeuppance for making everyone believe that you’d have a great defense. One week of giving up 34 points to the Saints, they gave up another 35 points to the Falcons. There’s a missing poster hanging in NFL Stadiums for Khalil Mack, who has been stifled by opposing offenses. Oakland is starting to feel like the same old Raiders.
15.) Indianapolis Colts (+/-0)
Luckily for the Colts, they don’t see the Broncos again. But the fact that the Colts haven’t found any consistency on the o-line and that their ENTIRE secondary has been purged due to injuries makes me think that Indy may end up with a top 10 pick. Not even Andrew Luck on his best day can save this team from that fate; he needs others to produce.
16.) Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
Last week’s loss to the Texans confirms the issues the Chiefs have: lack of consistency. The defense is a mix of very old veterans and raw prospects, while the offense has a relatively low ceiling. Andy Reid needs to figure out a way to maximize his offense sans Jamaal Charles, as the Jets look like the exact team that can come into Arrowhead and beat KC.
17.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
One week after Jameis Winston exploded on the Falcons underrated secondary, the second-year QB came crashing down against an angry Cardinals team, serving up four INTs. The defense was also destroyed in this game, sacrificing 400 yards and 40 points. Luckily for the Bucs, they’re a young team that can afford to make these mistakes.
18.) Washington Redskins (-1)
Is it time to panic for Washington fans? Kirk Cousins hasn’t looked good so far, and the lack of running game is putting a larger burden on his shoulders. The defense still is an issue, forcing only one turnover and not being able to stifle the rookie backfield duo. With the upstart Giants up next, Cousins is in a whole heap of trouble.
19.) Philadelphia Eagles (+5)
Carson Wentz is currently the man in Philly. The former NDSU QB was efficient and made a lot of tough throws despite getting pounded by an improved Bears front seven. Now here the Eagles sit, 2-0, with only the Giants looking like any threat to the team that houses the best defense in the NFC East.
20.) Jacksonville Jaguars (-2)
Well, I hopped all over the Jacksonville bandwagon this offseason, and the bandwagon is currently in a ditch. One week after pushing the Packers to the brink, the Jaguars got beaten like a rented mule by the toothless Chargers. How does an offense with Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns only score 14 points against a defense with only 1 reputable player? Ask Gus Bradley.
21.) Detroit Lions (-1)
Jim Bob Cooter didn’t eat his Wheaties last Sunday. For the first time since he took over the OC job, the Lions failed to put up 20 points and lost to a mediocre at best Titans team. Losing Ameer Abdullah really put a dent in a resurgent Lions running game, forcing them to become more one dimensional. With a trip to Green Bay on the horizon, the Lions need to adjust fast.
22.) Atlanta Falcons (+3)
The offense erupted against a suddenly shaky Raiders secondary, and the defense slowed the Raiders offense enough to secure the win. Matt Ryan had himself another solid game, with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman complimenting each other very well. This is what Atlanta needs to do week in and week out to be respectable this year.
23.) New Orleans Saints (-2)
The Saints defense was not a hot dumpster fire, so there’s that. I think that the big issue is the lack of any balance on offense. Brees dropped back to pass 46 times, compare to 13 total rushes. Mark Ingram is not a bad back, let him run!
24.) Miami Dolphins (-2)
Adam Gase’s strategy was certainly interesting. After falling behind 31-7 to the Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo led Pats, Ryan Tannehill looked awfully comfortable operating in a hurry up offense, as he’s flashed in the past. With the Browns on deck, now would be a great time to experiment with it for a full game.
25.) Dallas Cowboys (+1)
Until I see more consistency out of the offense, the Cowboys will have a hard time moving up these rankings. Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant finally got acquainted, 4th overall pick Ezekiel Elliott is still struggling, this week with holding on to the ball. The fact that Dak hasn’t thrown a TD yet is a little concerning, but his lack of any kind of turnover is just as impressive.
26.) Los Angeles Rams (+2)
They move up slightly solely for beating a team in the running for the Super Bowl. The Rams D looked great after getting torched by Chip Kelly’s offense, holding Russell Wilson to only 3 points. Yet here we are, Week 3, and the Rams still don’t have a touchdown. Todd Gurley has been stuck facing 8 in the box every snap, and until the Rams develop some kind of passing game, he’ll continue to be lucky to muster 3 YPC.
27.) San Diego Chargers (+3)
Is San Diego better than we think? While they did choke away a 27-10 lead against the Chiefs Week 1, the offense still looked good despite losing Keenan Allen. This week they lost Danny Woodhead, but still hung 38 on an improving Jaguars defense while also stifling Blake Bortles. With the Chiefs and Raiders looking pretty flawed, this could be the year the Chargers find themselves out of the basement.
28.) Buffalo Bills (-5)
Rex Ryan is starting to burn on that seat of his. Only two weeks into the season, he panic fired OC Greg Roman, the man responsible for making the Bills offense competent last year. Rex understands nothing about the flashy side of the ball, which is evident, since he wants to force the ball into the hands of injured WR Sammy Watkins. Things could start getting even uglier in Buffalo.
29.) Tennessee Titans (+2)
Until they don’t play offense like a Pop Warner team, I am not buying Mike Mularkey stock. The defense played great for the second week in a row, but this time the offense came through, with Mariota delivering a strike to Andre “Zombie” Johnson for the win. The offense still lacks a credible playmaker, and the defense can’t keep teams to 15 points every week. It’s as simple as that.
30.) San Francisco 49ers (-3)
The Niners, despite what the final score showed, put up one heck of a fight against the reigning NFC Champs. Unfortunately, the talent isn’t there for them to compete with elite teams in the NFL, as the running game was shut down by the intimidating Carolina front seven, and Gabbert had his standard two INTs. If Chip Kelly keeps this up, maybe he won’t end up being the next coach at USC.
31.) Chicago Bears (-2)
The Bears are looking pretty pitiful right about now. The offense has only scored 28 points through 2 games, Jay Cutler is likely out for several weeks, and the defense was made fools of by a guy who is hardly a year removed from beating on FCS teams. Other sports analyst remark about how good John Fox’s teams are Year Two, but they are currently trending in the wrong direction.
32.) Cleveland Browns (+/-0)
The best thing you can say about the Browns is how well the offense moved the ball against the Ravens, even if they did squander away points, as is tradition. But with the team down two QBs and starting third round pick Cody Kessler this Sunday, can the offense build off last week? Unfortunately, after losing Corey Coleman to a broken hand in practice, it appears like that isn’t going to happen.