Week 3 NFL power rankings

Three weeks into the season, the Arizona Cardinals are 3-0 and the New Orleans Saints are 0-3, just as everyone predicted.

Six members of last week’s top ten lost during a crazy weekend of football. After their shocking loss to Minnesota, San Francisco gives way to Atlanta and Houston at the top of the rankings. I put Atlanta over Houston based on their better strength of schedule as well as spectacular play by Matt Ryan, although these teams are essentially 1a. and 1b. Because no other teams want to separate themselves from the pack, I had a hard time coming up with rankings outside of the top six.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Finally, let me echo the sentiment of the majority of fans. The NFL is ruining the integrity of what was once the crown jewel of American sports. The fact that the most popular sports league in the country, one that rakes in billions of dollars, cannot offer its referees a contract comparable to the other three major sports is ridiculous. The replacement officials are incompetent and unqualified to perform their job. And as many feared would happen, a highly controversial and probably incorrect call determined the outcome of Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game. The fact that such a preposterous and unlikely play transpired during the tenure of the replacement officials is karma. Goodell and the owners clearly do not care about the quality of their product, as long as the money continues to come in. Through all the negativity though, the parity we have seen thus far will hopefully be a bright spot as the season continues.

Team Rank Previous Rank Record Thoughts

Atlanta Falcons

1

3

3-0

Atlanta has looked dominant so far this year. With another three TD passes, Matt Ryan leads all quarterbacks with a 114.0 passer rating.

 

Houston Texans

2

2

3-0

Though their competition has hardly been top-tier, Houston has taken care of business. If the first three weeks have shown us anything, other than the incompetence of replacement refs, it’s that you cannot take any opponent for granted. Regardless, we’ll learn a lot about this team during their showdown with the Packers Oct. 14.

 

 

 

San Francisco

3

1

2-1

After two impressive wins against NFC rivals Green Bay and Detroit, a matchup against lowly Minnesota was certainly a potential trap game. But could the lack of a consistent passing attack be the demise of the 49ers in what has become an offensive league?

Baltimore Ravens

4

7

2-1

The game against New England was perhaps exhibit A in the failed experiment of replacement officials. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and Joe Flacco has to be feeling confident after racking up 382 passing yards.

 

New York Giants

5

10

2-1

The Giants are the major beneficiaries of the mass exodus of teams from the top ten. Amazingly, New York always seems to fly under the radar, even coming off of a Super Bowl win. Do not be surprised if they’re at the top of the NFC at the end of the season.

 

Arizona Cardinals

6

13

3-0

Like the Giants, the Cardinals make a big jump in the rankings thanks to the poor play of last week’s top ten. I’m still not sold on this team’s ability to finish better than 9-7, but a 27-6 win over the Eagles is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 

 

New England Patriots

7

6

1-2

Amazingly, the Patriots have a losing record for the first time since 2003. The refs certainly didn’t help their cause, but after giving up 503 yards of total offense to Baltimore, the revamped defense took a step back.

 

Chicago Bears

8

15

2-1

The Bears haven’t shown much so far, beating the lowly Colts and Rams while looking terrible against the Packers. Yet, they are still 2-1, and the defense has looked stout.

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

9

14

2-1

Like the Bears, the Cowboys have yet to live up to their high expectations. Still, the win against the Giants in week 1 lingers in my mind.

 

Seattle Seahawks

10

17

2-1

Tainted win aside, Seattle is in the books at 2-1, after beating the Super Bowl favorite Green Bay. Their defense is as good as anyone’s, but the offense and Russell Wilson need to improve quickly.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

11

5

2-1

Two more Michael Vick turnovers led to a terrible outing by Philadelphia against Arizona. The Eagles are lucky that they’re not 0-3, and if Vick continues to turn the ball over, he’ll find himself replaced by rookie Nick Foles.

Green Bay Packers

12

4

1-2

Wow. Green Bay must dislike the replacement refs more than anyone after the Monday night debacle. Controversial loss aside, it’s concerning that a team that ranked third in total offense a year ago has looked anything but potent through three games in 2012 (ranking 31st).

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

13

8

1-2

A tough loss at Oakland leaves the disappointing Steelers at 1-2. Still, Ben Roethlisberger has been solid, and the return of Rashard Mendenhall in the coming weeks will give a boost to their underwhelming run game.

 

 

Cincinnati Bengals

14

21

2-1

Two straight games of 30+ points has Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati offense feeling good ahead of three very winnable games. The Bengals could very well be in first place on the night of their divisional showdown with Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

Denver Broncos

15

12

1-2

Back-to-back six-point losses against this week’s top two teams show that Denver will be competitive. But needing to climb out of double-digit holes in the fourth quarter is not a formula for success, even with a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

 

San Diego Chargers

16

9

2-1

A 27-3 home drubbing against the mighty Falcons again shows the unreliability of Norv Turner's team. The Chargers cannot be trusted as a serious contender.

New York Jets

17

19

2-1

Needing OT to beat the Dolphins is not a good sign, especially with matchups against the 49ers and Texans looming. What’s worse, “Revis Island” will not be a factor, as the pro-bowl CB is out for the season.

Detroit Lions

18

11

1-2

Paging the 2011 Detroit Lions! A team that looked like it was ready to be elite for years to come has yet to take the next step.

 

 

Minnesota Vikings

19

29

2-1

An unforeseen win over San Francisco again proves that any team can win any given week. Holding Frank Gore to only 63 yards, and picking off the usually mistake-free Alex Smith capped a dominant defensive performance.

 

Buffalo Bills

20

20

2-1

An always interesting matchup with the Patriots awaits us next week. For now, the Bills will enjoy first place in the AFC East.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

21

24

1-2

A much-needed win over the Saints gives the Chiefs momentum ahead of their divisional matchup with San Diego. I was high on this team at the beginning of the year, and with the AFC West up for grabs, Matt Cassel must step up.

 

Carolina Panthers

22

16

1-2

Cam Newton was dreadful in a 36-7 loss to the Giants throwing three interceptions. Unfortunately, the defense wasn’t much better, giving up 405 yards of total offense.

 

Washington Redskins

23

18

1-2

Alfred Morris and RGIII have combined to form a deadly rushing attack. The Redskins could certainly stick around in a difficult NFC East.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24

22

1-2

After putting up 34 points the week before against the Giants, the Bucs’ offense was stuffed by Dallas. Like the week before, Schiano and his team refused to quit, even as the other team was in victory formation.

 

Oakland Raiders

25

28

1-2

A big win over Pittsburgh is just what the doctor ordered for a team that was competitive a year ago. It doesn’t seem like anyone wants to run away with the AFC West, so look for the Raiders to stay in the hunt till the end.

 

 

St. Louis Rams

26

23

1-2

The Rams’ anemic offense was stuffed by a strong Bears’ defense. Bradford still has a ways to go in his development.

Tennessee Titans

27

30

1-2

The Titans finally got a win in a shootout with Detroit. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to win many games if the defense continues to give up 30+ points a game.

 

New Orleans Saints

28

25

0-3

The magic surrounding the Saints during their Super Bowl-winning season seems to have disappeared, perhaps because of the scandal that has surrounded this organization. But, because Drew Brees is still around, I’m not going to bury New Orleans just yet.

Miami Dolphins

29

26

1-2

A tough loss to the Jets in OT stings for a team that needs to win those types of games. Ryan Tannehill has yet to prove his worth as a top ten draft pick.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

30

32

1-2

Jacksonville is probably going to lose double-digit games this year. But their one bright spot, Maurice-Jones Drew, is averaging over five yards a carry.

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

31

27

1-2

It’ll be interesting to watch the best QB in the league, Aaron Rodgers, oppose the QB of the future, Andrew Luck, as Indianapolis hosts Green Bay next Sunday.

 

Cleveland Browns

32

31

0-3

Cleveland’s early-season numbers are uglier than their uniforms. Things won’t get any better with road games against Baltimore and the New York Giants.

 

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