Coming off an exciting and nail-biting week three, the truths for teams begin to be revealed.
Some teams have exceeded their expectations and beat opponents which they were heavily favored against and some were on the opposite end of that statement.
Nothing is ever set in stone from week to week in the NFL, so who’s playing at the top of their game and who’s not.
Note: The movement (plus and minus) is based off of Dan Hansus’ NFL Week 3 Power Rankings due to the fact this is the first week of Woodward Sports NFL Power Rankings. So the movement might seem dramatic, but the rankings are where I think the teams belong.
The Dolphins took down the early season Super Bowl favorites, the Bills, in quite an exciting way. Miami became the only team in the AFC that remains undefeated which gives them this top spot. Even though the boxscore looks like Buffalo won the matchup, Miami shows that a few explosive plays can more than make up for it.
They face the Bengals next would should be another test for this offense to see if they can outscore the array of weapons the Bengals posses.
Even though Buffalo lost their top spot in the rankings, they still will continue to be one of the best teams in league. They had a chance to kick the game-winning field goal in the final seconds, but wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie failed to get out of bounds which ran the clock out. The lack of awareness causes them to drop a spot in the rankings.
This week Buffalo heads to Baltimore. The quarterback matchup of Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson is must watch football.
Philadelphia could very well be the best team in football. Jalen Hurts has been posting video game numbers while dominating the turf. Outside of their win against Minnesota they have yet to play a real playoff team, which is why they stick at three. They dominated the whole game against Washington, but the Commanders are struggling.
They’re the only undefeated team in the NFL and their test this week against the Jaguars will reveal two truths. Are the eagles the “world-beaters” they seem or is Jacksonville as good as they seem.
With all the credit Jalen Hurts has received, it seems like Lamar Jackson has been forgotten about. But that is not the case at all. Jackson is playing some of the best football of his career, they finally have running back J.K. Dobbins back in the fold and things are running smoothly.
They escaped the Patriots last week, but a much better opponent in Buffalo in week four will test their defense.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is coming off their first loss against the one opponent in their first five games, they should’ve demolished. The Chiefs looked out of sorts and there seemed to be some disagreement between Patrick Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Nonetheless They’re still at the top of their division and are back on the road to face the Buccaneers, who’ve struggled on scoring points this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The inability to score extremely hurt the Buccaneers on Sunday versus the Packers. The ball was turned over left and right all game during critical drives. The icing on the cake was the play clock running out on Tampas two-point conversion attempt to tie the game. They drop due to their lack of offensive prowess.
Expect the offense to clean things up as they’ll rely on their defense to contain Mahomes and the Chiefs this week.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford and the Rams come off their second win of the season against the Cardinals. They finally have the rush game working a little more and their defense looks in top form. But the pass game needs to be better for the personnel they have.
The Rams get a long weekend for their matchup in San Francisco on Monday night. Expect the Rams to stick in the top 10 if they can beat the 49ers.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay barely beat the Buccaneers this past week and Aaron Rodgers is still in the process of gelling with his receivers. The Buccaneers defense was able shut down the Packers run game, which is vital to this team at this early point in the season.
The Packers host the Patriots next. If the offense can get past New England’s defense that should help their next week ranking.
Minnesota roared back in the fourth quarter to beat the Lions this past week after a bad loss in Philadelphia. If Kirk Cousins can find Justin Jefferson more than he has in the past two weeks this team is dangerous. But if it weren’t for the Lions play-calling, costing them the game, Minnesota could very well be down in the ranking.
They’ll need to clean it up, but an easy matchup against the Saints in London, is a good time to do it.
The Jaguars throttled a beat up Justin Herbert last week. But hurt or not, this Jacksonville squad came to play. From what they’ve shown so far, this is not the “mess of a team” it was last year. Trevor Lawrence and the offense looks solid and their defense front has started out hot.
Jacksonville is set to face Philadelphia this week, which will be the hardest text they’ve had thus far.
Los Angeles Chargers
Despite their blowout loss to Jacksonville, the Chargers will get the benefit of the doubt in the rankings. Herbert was dealing with his rib injury and the team still has so much potential to be elite.
Thankfully they play Houston next, so they can win without putting too much stress on Herbert and their starters.
Cooper Rush continues to impress. So much so that that him as the starter no longer feels like a backup filling in. His connection with receivers Noah Brown and Ceedee Lamb have worked very well. But the defense and Micah Pasons is elite.
The Cowboys defense is definitely carrying the team, but it’s working. With the Commanders next, they Rush should very well go 4-0 as a starter.
Cincinnati finally got their first win against a rebuilding Jets team. They needed to get a win to sooth fans and probably themselves after their Super Bowl run last year. Joe Burrow was only sacked twice, so that somewhat of a step in the right direction.
But they face the undefeated Dolphins next. If the Bengals are the team they want to be and showed us last year, they’ll need to win this game.
The Cardinals at the 14 spot might be a little high, but with the potential and star power of this team, they could beat every team underneath them. Kyler Murray is good enough to pick this team up and get them rolling. They need to score, empty drives will continue to hamper this high-power offense.
But in-order for them to remain in the middle of the pack, they need to beat an average Carolina team this week.
Somehow this Denver team has been able to win while scoring three total touchdowns through their first three games. If it weren’t for this defense, this team would not have two wins. Nathaniel Hackett does not look ready to be a head coach yet, but the potential of Russell Wilson keeps them afloat.
Denver faces a the only 0-3 team in Las Vegas next. Despite their record the Raiders have weapons so this could prove to be somewhat of a test, but most likely a low-scoring affair.
New York Giants
If it weren’t for the Giants offense line, this could be Daniel Jones breakout year. They had a chance to beat the Cowboys on Monday night, but it’s hard to run an offense with 24 quarterback pressures. This is the best Giants team we’ve seen since Eli Manning, but they need to protect Jones better in-order for them to be that team.
New York has a very winnable game against Chicago on the docket next.
Cleveland survived Thursday night against Pittsburgh. This Browns team has so much talent, outside of the quarterback position, it’s confusing on how unorganized they seem. Nonetheless this team can win games with Jacoby Brissett. The loss to the Jets in week two was an anomaly, this far into the season.
They should have their second win in a row against Atlanta this week.
New England Patriots
Even though the Patriots had a chance to comeback against the Ravens, and failed to do so, the injury to Mac Jones is a killer. The team should be able to survive his absence for a short period of time, but expect them to drop further down the list the longer Jones is out.
The good thing is the Patriots defense is solid and they face Green Bay this week. The Patriots defense should be able to limit Rodgers attack, but if they can’t it’ll be a loss.
The reason the Steelers are this high is because of the potential that the coaching staff makes the change from Mitch Trubisky to Kenny Pickett. Trubisky so far has not been working out for a team with a solid reciting core, a good running back and a top of the line defense.
Pittsburgh heads back home to play the Jets. This game should reveal a lot of truths about both teams.
Detroit is an interesting case. On one hand the injuries to key players hampered their offense and defense immensely. But on the other hand, every team deals with injuries and they could not close out the game against Minnesota in the fourth quarter. No room for excuses, the coaching staff and players need better communication on playcalling.
The Lions host the Seahawks next. It should be a good time to let some of the injured starters recover, while still getting a win.
It’s surprising that this team has two wins through three games. But they’ve been able to beat some not so good teams. Chicago is heavily reliant on their defense and run game, which won’t be able to hold up the whole season.
Chicago has another average opponent next week against the Giants. This game is a toss up depending on New York’s offensive line.
Carolina is coming off their first win against the a “lost” New Orleans team. This might be a premature high rank for them, but Baker Mayfield looks like he’s beginning to become more comfortable with the offense and the scheme.
The Panthers have their word cut out for them against the Cardinals next. If they lose, they’ll drop down to a more realistic rank, but if they win expect them to stay around the low 20’s.
San Francisco 49ers
This low of a ranking might be a surprise, but so far the 49ers have lost their starting quarterback, lost to Chicago and Denver. Their defense is solid, but the offense has not been able to carry the weight. Jimmy Garoppolo’s safety/pick-six automatically drops them the spots as well.
They head back home to face the Rams on Monday Night Football. It’s going to be a tall task for San Francisco to win this matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas is a much better team than their rank, but they’ve yet to show it. They’re the only team with three losses and they somehow let the shell of a team in the Titans beat them. Derek Carr and Davante Adams have struggled to make any explosive plays since week one, but at least receiver Mack Hollins is breaking out.
The Raiders are set to face the Broncos next. This should be circled on their calendar as a must win game, because if not, the season could be all-but gone.
By a miracle the Colts were able to survive a Kansas City conundrum last week for their first win. Indianapolis were able to remain calm and take advantage of the Chiefs mistakes well. After a dreadful start to the season, this was a big win.
They welcome Tennessee at home for what will most likely be a close game. Indianapolis should take this one, but both teams outlook for the season are bleak, to say the least.
Atlanta also got their first win of the season against the Seattle Seahawks. But that isn’t saying too much. The fight in this Falcons team is prevalent, but the lack of talent on defense hurts them. Marcus Mariota continue to be a serviceable quarterback, but he lacks the vision to get every target involved.
The Falcons come back home to face the Browns on Sunday. In all honesty, even with Brissett starting, Cleveland should run away with this game, with a weak Atlanta defense.
While Tennessee still has a lot to figure out, they made the first step in the right direction. They beat the winless Raiders and the whole offense looked involved. Defensively the Titans are below-average, but to see Derrick Henry finally getting involved, gives hope for the team.
They will face Indianapolis, who is also coming off their first win, so we’ll see who wants it more. A bottom of the barrel AFC South matchup, sure to make one fanbase lose hope for the losing side.
New York Jets
Even though Joe Flacco is fourth in the NFL in passing yards, it has yet to translate to winning. But with Zach Wilson coming back, things could change for the better or for the worse. This team has all the young firepower any rebuilding franchise could hope for, but it’s still too early to expect them to compete for a playoff spot. They need to learn how to score off their offensive drives.
New York does have a (somewhat) winnable game against the disarrayed Steelers on the road this week. If the Jets can stop hurting themselves, this game is in reach.
Washington has the potential to be extremely explosive on offense with Carson Wentz, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson and others. But they’ve yet to put it fully together. The success of this team inadvertently lies on Wentz shoulders to carry the offense. Their defense has played well so far, but they need to score.
With Dallas on the horizon, there is a low chance that Wentz will have enough time to read the elite Cowboy’s defense.
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston continues to be a turnover machine on offense, which really hampers the potential of this team. Winston looks like he’s reverting to his days as a starter in Tampa Bay, but worse. He’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and a team can’t win like that.
At least they get to travel to London for their game against Minnesota on Sunday. But that’ll most likely be the only positive as Minnesota will most likely take advantage of the New Orleans.
Even though they’re without a win, Houston has been competitive. But when a team can’t barely skate by a nothing Chicago offense, theirs cause for concern. The expectations for this team going into the season were low, but they don’t have any buisness being considered a serious competitor this season.
The Texans host the Chargers next. Even though Los Angeles is down, they’re still highly explosive. Expect a blowout loss for Houston.
Geno Smith throwing for 300+ yards was unexpected. But, most likely that’ll be the best he plays all year. This Seattle team has zero defensive weapons and only a handful on offense. Theres not a game on their schedule that screams automatic win. They’ll compete all season, but expect them to stick in last place all season.
They head east to face an underrated Detroit Lions team that’ll surely dismantle Seattles defense.
Graphics Credit: Noah Wulbrecht