Now that we’re three games deep into the NFL regular season, it’s fair to say that it’s time for a Power Ranking to figure out which teams have taken charge and which teams might as well go back to the drawing board. Some teams are separating themselves from the pack (for better or worse), while others are still in that awkward middle ground. We’ll try and clear things up with our “expert” opinions.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers 3-0 – That’s right. No QB, no problem. Their defense is playing at an all-world level, averaging 11 points per game against Atlanta, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay. Add a potent rushing attack with Mendenhall and you have a scary team that will only get better with the addition of Roethlisberger (sp?) in a couple weeks. I hate to say it, but be afraid, NFL. Not that most people aren’t already a little scared of Ben anyway…
2. Indianapolis Colts 2-1 – With Peyton in charge, the Colts are a steady team that will be sure to take 11-13 wins. They seem just fine after a week 1 loss to Houston.
3. Atlanta Falcons 2-1 – After a difficult Week 1 OT loss to Pittsburgh, Atlanta has showed its mettle with an overpowering win against Arizona and an OT win against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in Week 3. The next two games are very serviceable, with match-ups against 0-3 SF and 0-3 Cleveland. They’ll be 4-1 in 2 weeks.
4. New Orleans 2-1 – The Saints are fine, for now. Despite losing this past weekend in OT, they should be fine with Drew Brees at the helm. But the last place rushing attack has to be of concern. However, don’t panic yet: their next four games are against Carolina, Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland – all very winnable. Expect to see them at 6-1.
5. Chicago Bears 3-0 – The Bears are the last unbeaten in the NFC, and have impressive W’s against Dallas and Green Bay. All three games, including a Week 1 win against Detroit, were hotly contested and decided by a single score, so don’t get too high on them, yet. But a fantastic start for Chicago, nonetheless.
6. New York Jets 2-1 – The HBO stars got off on the wrong foot against Baltimore in Week 1, but have since righted the ship with victories over division rivals New England and Miami. Marky Mark is looking solid at QB, with 6 touchdowns over the last two weeks (He will be starting for my 0-3 fantasy team next week). Look for another big day this Sunday when they take on the lowly Bills of Buffalo (can someone please get the city of Buffalo a decent professional sports team?).
7. Green Bay Packers 2-1 – The Packers came in with the most hype this season, and rightfully so. Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback, and the defense, spearheaded by Clay Matthews Jr and Charles Woodson, is one of the best in the league. But the loss of Ryan Grant in Week 1 is nothing to scoff at, and could spell some trouble down the road.
8. New England Patriots 2-1 – I am not going to lie – this team confuses me. Tom Brady is back, that is for sure, but the lack of a decent running game isn’t what frightens me. Any team that gives up 30 points to the Bills has to be concerned about their defense (again, I don’t mean to harp on the Bills, but they are flat out bad). Their next four games should unveil a lot about the Pats, as they are against Miami, Baltimore, San Diego, and Minnesota.
9. Cincinnati Bengals 2-1 – They’re good, but are they great? A win against Baltimore in Week 2 was quite impressive, but I am not completely sold on them. Their schedule should clear things up. After two winnable games against Cleveland and Tampa Bay and then a Bye in Week 6, the Bengals get Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, then a lighter game against Buffalo (this is getting rude), before taking on the Jets, Saints and Steelers. Enjoy the times now, Cincy, as rough roads are ahead.
10. Baltimore Ravens 2-1 – Baltimore also received a lot of hype prior to the start of the season, and they have a nice W against the Jets from Week 1. But they have yet to completely dominate a team so far on their schedule. I know it’s a young season, but I am a little alarmed when you can only beat the Browns by 7 and you get gashed by Peyton Hillis. This Sunday, the Ravens take on the Big Ben-less Steelers in what should be a bruising game. Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin reaped on Cleveland’s secondary last week, but I doubt they’ll have the same ease this week. Should be a fun one.
11. Kansas City Chiefs 3-0 – The Chiefs are the NFL’s biggest surprise of the season so far. With a young roster that is full of potential, the window seemed to be a few years away for this team. Instead, they beat the Chargers and Browns in two close games to start the season before completely embarrassing the 49ers in Week 3, 31-10. Their rushing attack fuels the offense, with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles splitting carries. Jones gets more carries, but Charles averages 7.0 ypc! Their defense has been stout so far, ranking 6th in rushing D. A week 4 bye comes at the perfect time, allowing the young Chiefs ample time to study up for Peyton and Co. as they take on the Colts in Week 5.
12. Houston Texans 2-1 – The Texans got rockin’ to start the season, as they beat the bully Colts in Week 1. Week two brought a memorable comeback OT win in Washington. Week 3 brought a forgettable loss to the Cowboys. Week 4-17? Tune in to find out. This team is entertaining, and on the cusp of the elite teams in the NFL. Schaub is for real.
The Question Marks – These teams are middling their way through the first few weeks, and need a few more games to warrant any decent analysis. They could go up, down, or stay in this mediocre stage at any point in the season. Conclusion: To be determined.
13. Tennessee Titans 2-1 – Chris Johnson = Good. Vince Young = ?
15. Philadelphia Eagles 2-1 – Is Michael Vick as good as he looks? Or are the Lions and Jaguars defenses (and an unprepared Green Bay D in Week 1) just that bad? TBD.
16. Miami Dolphins 2-1 – I honestly have no idea what to think of these guys. I want to believe in them, but they need a few more big W’s until it’s official.
17. Seattle Seahawks 2-1 – Are they for real or a mirage? Pete Carroll’s definitely having some fun.
18. Minnesota Vikings 1-2 – Brett should’ve spent more time in training camp and less time playing mudfootball in Wrangler Jeans. Just sayin’.
19. San Diego Chargers 1-2 – Wake up! Sign Jackson before it’s too late. Hit the panic button in San Diego.
20. Arizona Cardinals 2-1 – Beat up 2 really bad teams. Got beat up by good team. That makes me a non-believer.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1 – See above.
22. New York Giants 1-2 – What a mess. This could get ugly.
23. St. Louis Rams 1-2 – They should be good in a few more years. Right now, they’re inexperienced but decent enough to get some wins like in Week 3 when they beat up the Skins’.
24. Washington Redskins 1-2 – Uh oh. Week 1 – ugly W against Dallas. Week 2 – Tough loss against Houston. Week 3 – Got roughed up in L against St. Louis. Week 4 – Circus at Philly as #5 returns to his old home. Should be entertaining, but can the Redskins compete or are they sinking fast? Time will tell.
The Bottom of the Barrel (not worthy of rankings, or analysis, yet):
Cleveland Browns 0-3 – They play hard, but this isn’t going to get any prettier, with their next 4 games coming against the Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, and Saints. Oh, dear.
Detroit Lions 0-3
Denver Broncos 1-2
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-2
San Francisco 49ers 0-3
Carolina Panthers 0-3
Buffalo Bills 0-3