Power Rankings – Week 3: Saints fall / Colts improve

Power Rankings – Week 3: Saints fall / Colts improve
Reading Time: 13 minutes.

Week two was riddled with injuries, it always sucks watching some of the brightest stars in the league go down. The NFL is going to get shaken up over the next few weeks but let’s see where the teams stand as they enter week three.

32. New York Jets (0-2)

Previous rank: 32

The Jets were dissected on the ground by San Francisco. Jerick McKinnon converting a 3rd and 31 with a 55 yard run tells you all you need to know about the direction of this New York team. Another big loss and continued issues in both trenches. If this keeps up it’ll be a long season for Jets fans.

31. Carolina Panthers (0-2) – ▲3

Previous rank: 28

The Panthers couldn’t take care of the football and it resulted in a big loss against the Buccaneers. Bridegwater threw two bad picks and they also lost two fumbles on the day as well. The offence looked static for a lot of the game and failed to keep up with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. To make matters worse, their all-pro back Christian McCaffery will be on the sideline for two to six weeks with a high ankle sprain. Just how much can the offence rely on Bridgewater over that stretch?

30. New York Giants (0-2) – ▲1

Previous rank: 29

Saquon Barkley is out for the season after tearing his ACL against the Bears. In a week that was riddled with big injuries, this one hit particularly hard. Defensively the Giants tightened the screws after a poor first half. They shut the Bears out in the third and fourth and performed well; forcing a punt, two interceptions and a missed field goal on Chicago’s last four possessions. They nearly pulled off the comeback but seemed to shoot themselves in the foot at the end. A pass interference penalty by Golden Tate at the end of their potential game winning drive denied them any hope of redemption. They weren’t completely lost against Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears but it will be increasingly difficult for them to compete this season without their star running back.

29. Miami Dolphins (0-2) – ▼2

Previous rank: 31

The Dolphins’ receivers performed well against Buffalo’s secondary. Tight end Mike Gesicki was 23 yards short of equaling Steffon Diggs’ performance and wide receiver Isaiah Ford averaged 10.9 yards on his seven catches. The main problem with Miami aren’t them or Fitzpatrick but with their defence. They allowed 524 yards of total offence and are currently third worst in the NFL in yards allowed per game. They let their opponents drive down the field with ease and don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with them. I don’t think it’s time for Tua just yet but if things don’t get better I’d want to see him on the field by the season’s halfway mark. Who knows he might just add an offensive spark similar to what Justin Herbert gave the Chargers this week.

28. Detroit Lions (0-2) – ▲2

Previous rank: 26

The Lions lost their 11th straight game on Sunday against the Packers. After having a 14-3 lead in the second quarter they failed to keep momentum and was outscored 39-7 the rest of the game. This doesn’t bode well for Matt Praticia who might be the first head coach firing of the 2020 season. Something needs to change in Detroit.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) – ▼3

Previous rank: 30

Both sides of the ball had their moments against the Browns but just couldn’t get in rhythm at the same time. The Bengals were only down by a score in the third quarter when they forced a turnover on the goal-line. But three plays later the offensive line allowed Myles Garrett to strip the ball from Joe Burrow’s hands. This provided Chubb the opportunity to finish what he started by rushing the ball in and extending their lead to 15 points. The young quarterback looked more confident in week two but there simply aren’t enough pieces around him. They might have their guy at quarterback but if they continue to perform like this, he might have to get used to losing for a little longer.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) – ▲2

Previous rank: 24

The quarterback woes continued for Philadelphia as Carson Wentz threw a pair of interceptions and finished with a QBR of 38.1 against the Rams. The blame doesn’t lie with the offensive line either as they performed better this week. They didn’t allow a sack all game, compared to the eight times Wentz was brought down in week one. A lot of the team’s success rests on Wentz’s shoulder and, with the way he’s been performing, it’s not looking great. Defensively there wasn’t much more to rave about either. Goff consistently found holes in the Eagles’ secondary and the Rams ground game saw six different players have 10+ rushing yards.

25. Washington Football Team (1-1) – ▲3

Previous rank: 22

Washington was brought back to reality in week two. After shocking Wentz and the Eagles on opening weekend, they couldn’t do the same to Murray’s Cardinals who appeared to run all over them. It was a gruelling 30-15 loss that has made the Football Team look more like the team everyone predicted them to be before the season started. The offensive line let through four sacks and the rest of their offence turned the ball over twice on two fumbles. 

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) – ▼1

Previous rank: 25

Jacksonville was competitive against Tennessee. Although they didn’t come away with the win they still fought until the end and narrowly missed out on victory. Although a lot of the blame lies on Minshew’s shoulders, especially for that poorly thrown pass at the end that resulted in a defensive lineman batting it in the air for an interception, he was also a big reason why the game was so close. Eight of his pass catches had three or more receptions on the day and he totalled three touchdowns in the tight three point loss. The Jaguars looked decent for a team that’s supposedly inexperienced and rebuilding. They won’t compete this year but will keep games close, which should bring some excitement to Jacksonville fans.

23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) – ▲8

Previous rank: 14

Steffon Diggs had more receiving yards for the Bills than the entire Vikings receiving core in the second week of the season. If the loss wasn’t bad enough, that’s sure to kick Minnesota fans while they’re down. Kirk Cousins had an awful three interception game and just couldn’t seem to get anything going offensively. They’ve also conceded a safety in back-to-back games which just seems remarkably shoddy. Defensively they let Philip Rivers have a steady game and Jonathon Taylor ripped them for 101 yards. A team that was highly-rated before the season begun looks in trouble after two games. I know it’s early but they’ve got a lot of work to do if they want to compete for a wildcard spot this season.

22. Atlanta Falcons (0-2) – ▲3

Previous rank: 19

Oh Atlanta… The football Gods have not been kind to you. After putting together a convincing 29-10 first half performance the Falcons simply fell apart. A series of mental errors on defence including bad penalties and blown coverages allowed Dallas to climb back and eventually win the game on a last-second field goal. I’m not even going to go into that onside kick. It’s a strange loss for Atlanta because they seemed to perform well on offence. They didn’t allow a sack until late in the fourth quarter and Matt Ryan threw for 7.6 yards per attempt and four touchdowns. All the pieces seem to be there but they just can’t seem to turn it into wins. The coals under Dan Quinn’s seat are getting hotter and hotter by the week.

21. Denver Broncos (0-2)

Previous rank: 21

The Broncos fall to 0-2 and are due to be without Drew Lock for the next two to six weeks. Back-up Jeff Driskel took his first snaps of the game in the first quarter and helped keep the score close but it wasn’t enough. The Broncos’ offensive line failed to protect either quarterback as they conceded seven sacks on the day. Playing against a defence like this is always going to be tough but the Broncos need to do a better job of maintaining the pocket if they want their back-up to have success whilst Lock is out. It’s not a great start to their 2020 campaign but, if they can get healthy, Denver should be a stronger team as the season progresses.

20. Cleveland Browns (1-1) – ▼7

Previous rank: 27

The past two weeks has typified exactly how I expect the Browns’ season to pan out. They will take control of games against weaker opponents and show their potential but will shrink against Super-Bowl contenders. Coming off a beating to Baltimore, Mayfield and company had something to prove against another divisional rival. They looked composed on both sides of the ball and managed to come away with the victory. The connection between the former number one overall pick and OBJ is looking stronger so hopefully that flourishes as the year goes on.

19. Chicago Bears (2-0) – ▼1

Previous rank: 20

The Bears should have performed better against a weak Giants team. They had a successful first half but failed to keep their foot on the gas, seeming to slam on the brakes instead. New York would have likely pulled off the comeback win if it wasn’t for an offensive pass interference call on their potential game winning drive. Mitchell Trubisky and Company need to perform better or they will get exposed against the better teams on their schedule.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) – ▼1

Previous rank: 19

The Chargers were on the verge of pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the seasons this week. With the Chiefs coming to town they played phoenonamly, especially on defence. The defensive line put Mahomes under pressure all day long and practically shut down his Super Bowl winning offence. However there’s only so long you can hold off the former MVP as he mounted an incredible 11 point comeback to beat LA in overtime. On the other side of the ball Justin Herbert seemed to bring new life to this Chargers’ offence in his pro debut. He spread the ball around with ease as Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry all averaged over 13 yards per reception and had at least four catches each. Despite the loss I think Herbert has done enough to secure himself the starting role; this team looked completely rejuvenated with him under centre. I’m excited to see what they do from here.

17. Houston Texans (0-2)

Previous rank: 17

I feel bad for Houston fans, who had to watch their team go up against two of the best teams in the entire league to open up the season. Coming off a loss to the Chiefs on opening night, Watson and the Texans had to go up against a Ravens’ team who had just demolished the Browns. I’m not selling all of my stock on the Texans just yet as they’ve got some weaker opponents ahead of them. They will look better when they’re not going up against the best of the best.

16. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0)

Previous rank: 16

The Raiders cut the ribbon on their new stadium with a ten point win against a NFC contender. Derek Carr had all day to throw against the Saints on Monday Night Football. However on occasion he took that phrase too literally and suffered a few coverage sacks because of his lack of ability to release the football on time. Overall though Gruden’s team played well. They moved the ball down the field with reasonable consistency and played well enough on defence to slow down an aged Drew Brees. They’re not quite there yet but it’s a good start to the season.

15. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) – ▼7

Previous rank: 22

This was a great bounceback game for the Colts who struggled in week one. The win was largely led by their defence, who held Kirk Cousins to 114 yards through the air and picked him off three times. Philip Rivers did enough to make sure his team’s defensive efforts didn’t go to waste and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor had a nice 101 rushing yards with a touchdown. It’s a shame about Paris Campbell who was one of many big name injuries in week two. He was carted off the field with a knee injury in the first quarter.

14. Tennessee Titans (2-0) – ▲3

Previous rank: 11

Tennessee fans will be annoyed that they dropped three places after going 2-0 but hear me out. The Titans defence had a bit of a rollercoaster game against their divisional rival. They stepped up when they needed to with interceptions on Jacksonville’s first and last drives of the day, but still allowed 480 yards of offence as Minshew and the Jaguars kept the score close. Tennessee was kept afloat by solid performances from both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. They also did a good job of taking care of the football, finishing the game with zero turnovers. It’ll be interesting to see how this team develops as the season progresses but they’re looking solid so far. The other teams that leapfrogged them, Patriots, Bills and Cowboys, just looked better in week two.

13. New England Patriots (1-1) – ▼2

Previous rank: 15

Cam Newton and Company went toe-to-toe against a Super-Bowl calibre team in week two. Although they didn’t come out on top, they showed their potential to cause problems this year. Cam Newton looked improved in the passing game and had a similar performance on the ground to last week. They will be an interesting team to watch as the season develops.

12. Buffalo Bills (2-0) – ▼1

Previous rank: 13

Josh Allen had a nice four touchdown day, despite the occasional poor throw, and he did a good job of connecting with his new target Steffon Diggs. The ex-Viking finished with eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. The rest of the offence also performed well. Devin Singletary averaged 5.6 yards per carry and their offensive line provided plenty of breathing space and time. Defensively they brought consistent pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick but he still did a good job of finding holes in their secondary. It’s a unit that will improve as the season progresses and they’re already in a good position. Let’s see how they perform against a strong Rams team next week.

11. New Orleans Saints (1-1) – ▲6

Previous rank: 5

Drew Brees didn’t look great on Monday and he definitely missed his number one receiver Michael Thomas. It just seemed like the Saints couldn’t get going on offence when it mattered most. An awful interception towards the end of the second quarter allowed the Raiders to put together a field goal drive and go into the half with things tied up. They also failed to capitalise on a Derek Carr fumble that could’ve seen them tie the game up at 24-24 in the fourth. Instead the Raiders got the ball back and extended their lead to 31-17. Defensively the secondary played well but they had to rely on coverage sacks along the defensive line to put pressure on Carr.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

Previous rank: 10

Leonard Fournette is starting to look like a great pick-up for Tampa Bay as they put together a convincing win against Carolina. He averaged 8.6 yards on his 12 carries and also ran in for two touchdowns. Tom Brady looked a lot more comfortable under centre, despite that one bad interception. He spread the ball around nicely and helped star receiver Mike Evans have a nice 104 yard, one touchdown performance. On defence they took the ball away four times from a struggling Panthers’ offence. Aside from the occasional big passing play from Teddy Bridgewater they looked strong all-round; holding McCaffery to 3.3 yards per carry. This team is starting to gel together and, when it does, they will certainly be one to look out for in the NFC.

9. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – ▼3

Previous rank: 12

Wow. The Cowboys pulled off what seemed to be the impossible against the Falcons. With just under three minutes left on the clock they came back from a nine point deficit to rip the heart out of Atlanta and left the game victorious. It was a great effort from Dak who threw for 450 yards and totalled four touchdowns, three on the ground and one through the air. Rookie CeeDee Lamb led the team in receiving yards with 106 and Amari Cooper had 100 for himself. When this team is clicking they are a huge threat and proved that they can be resilient too.

8. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – ▲1

Previous rank: 7

This was a bittersweet victory for the 49ers who lost Jimmy Garoppollo, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, and Raheem Moestart to injury whilst beating the Jets 31-13. When healthy this team can return to their Super-Bowl form but it’ll be much harder to do with all of these key players sidelined. Jerry McKinnon and Tevin Coleman should be able to hold the fort whilst Moestart heals up but their pass rush will look a lot different next week without two of their big names on defence.

7. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) – ▼2

Previous rank: 9

LA kept the momentum going in week two as they took down a surprisingly weak Eagles side. Goff passed the ball with ease as only seven of his 20 pass attempts missed his receivers. His three touchdown game was a big reason why they dominated Philadelphia 37-19. Aaron Donald and the rest of his defensive line didn’t sack Wentz once but the Eagles’ quarterback still couldn’t get anything going against a Rams’ secondary that picked him off twice.

6. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – ▼2

Previous rank: 8

Week one wasn’t a fluke. Granted week two was against a weaker team but the Cardinals impressed nonetheless. Murray got the job done in both phases of offence as he had a pair of touchdowns on the ground and threw for one for one as well. The MVP sleeper could jump into the conversation if he continues this extraordinary form. 12 of Washington’s 15 points came in garbage time as the Cardinals outscored them 27-3 over the first three quarters.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) – ▼1

Previous rank: 6

Image from steelers.com

Pittsburgh’s defensive line had another dominant day against the pass, they put Lock, and his replacement Jeff Driskel, under pressure all game. Running back James Conner had a much better performance in week 2 as he averaged 6.6 yards per carry and also had a touchdown on the day. That’s not to say they had a perfect game though as they still had two turnovers and allowed an inferior Broncos side to hang around until the very end. If they can tighten the screws, by getting a bit more disciplined and performing better defensively against the run, this Steelers team could be a serious contender down the stretch.

4. Green Bay Packers (2-0)

Previous rank: 4

Image from packers.com

The two-headed Aaron dragon reared its head again this week. This time it was running back Jones who had a monster day for Green Bay. He totalled 236 yards of total offence with three scores against a struggling Detroit defence. After trailing by 11 points at the start of the second quarter they went on to put 39 points on the Lions whilst only conceding a touchdown. This Packers’ team is showing everyone why they were 13-3 last season and they seem like they have the potential to do it again.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) – ▲1

Previous rank: 2

Image from chiefs.com

Poor tackling, an under-performing offensive line and momentum-stuffing penalties wasn’t going to stop Patrick Mahomes and Harrison Butker. They came back from a 17-6 deficit to seal the game in overtime. Despite the win, it wasn’t a great day out for the Chiefs who looked shaken-up by a significantly worse Chargers team. They allowed Justin Herbert to shine in his NFL debut and were overwhelmed by LA’s defence for three quarters.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) – ▼1

Previous rank: 3

Image from Seahawks.com

Russel Wilson had a pick six early but his performance from then onwards was nothing short of excellent. Five touchdowns on the day as well as completing 21/28 of his passes for 288 yards is a nice statline to continue his MVP race. Defensively the Hawks showed their grit and will to win games with a goal line stand at the end of the fourth. Jamal Adams stood out again as he totalled 10 tackles and a sack. P.S. what a touchdown catch by David Moore in the third quarter… Wow.

1. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

Previous rank: 1

Image from baltimoreravens.com

The Baltimore Ravens proved again how they’re the best team in the NFL with a confident win over the Texans. Their ground game was superb as Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards both had great performances. Lamar Jackson did seem a little more pressured than usual but if there’s one quarterback in the NFL who could handle escaping out the pocket it’s him. Defensively the Ravens also had a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and a sweet diving interception courtesy of Marcus Peters.

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