By Chris Burke
September 25, 2013
The 3-0 Bears are leaning on their defense, which leads the NFL with 11 total takeaways.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
NFL Power Rankings
1 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 1
Peyton Manning has yet to throw an interception in three games, despite attempting 122 passes. The all-time record for consecutive passes without a pick? Tom Brady with 358.
2 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 2
The Seahawks can't even clear the bench without hammering people. Pete Carroll pulled starting QB Russell Wilson midway through the third quarter of Sunday's romp over Jacksonville. Backup Tarvaris Jackson then proceeded to post a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, while throwing for 129 yards and a TD.
3 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 6
The revitalized, Rob Ryan-led Saints defense has allowed just 38 points during the team's 3-0 start. That's a span of 180 game minutes. How long did it take the Saints to cough up 38 points in 2012? 56 minutes, 37 seconds. The Redskins hit the 40 mark on New Orleans in Week 1, with 3:23 left.
4 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 7
There were two plays in Sunday night's win that really revealed a new and improved Jay Cutler. Both involved the Steelers bringing heavy pressure from Cutler's blindside. On one, he stepped into the pocket and fired a Tebow-like jump pass; on the other he escaped and shoveled a pass to his safety valve. Old Cutler likely would have taken a couple sacks -- and probably fumbled at least once -- under similar circumstances.
5 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 11
The Dolphins will extend their NFL record for most Monday Night Football appearances with a Week 4 battle of unbeatens in New Orleans. That'll be Miami's 77th Monday nighter all-time, still slightly ahead of Dallas' 72. And the Dolphins will get their 78th MNF showcase on Nov. 11 at Tampa.
6 New England Patriots
Last Week: 8
In Bill Belichick's previous 13 seasons as the Patriots' head coach, his offense has finished outside the top 12 in points scored only once -- 2000, Belichick's first year. The Patriots' current rank in that statistical category? Twenty-two.
7 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 12
Ever wondered what Ric Flair would sound like as a homer NFL radio analyst? Well, you're in luck, because Bengals' color commentator Dave Lapham (a former Cincinnati player) absolutely lost his mind when Terence Newman scored on a fumble recovery late Sunday.
8 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 9
We're not going to advocate for many Week 3 Gatorade baths, but Andy Reid probably earned himself a little celebration with that triumphant return to Philadelphia.
9 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 5
Tough couple of days for return man Jeremy Ross. Sunday, he was the culprit on an early fumble, which Cincinnati recovered and turned into a touchdown. Monday, he was sent ... uh ... packing.
10 Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 13
Too bad the Orioles' final home game is on Sept. 29, because there would have been plenty of upcoming opportunities to squeeze in a few at Camden Yards without displacing the Ravens. Baltimore's football franchise has just one game (Week 6 vs. Green Bay) at M&T Bank Stadium between now and Nov. 10.
11 Houston Texans
Last Week: 3
Go figure. The Texans won in Weeks 1 and 2 despite having to overcome the comical kicking miscues of Randy Bullock, who opened the season 1-for-5 on field goals. Then last Sunday, when Bullock drilled all three FG attempts, Houston lost by 21.
12 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 14
It's kind of a shame that Rod Marinelli's name will, forever and ever and ever, be attached to the Lions' 0-16 season. Marinelli may have been a nightmare as a head coach, but he's a terrific defensive coach. The latest evidence: Marinelli's D-line stuffed St. Louis' run game in Week 3 and made Sam Bradford's life miserable.
13 Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 16
"It was a heavyweight fight and we just found a way to pull away at the end," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of his team's 27-7 win in San Francisco. If this was a heavyweight fight, it was the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon of football games. The Colts put a whoopin' on the defending NFC champs.
14 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 15
Here's the list of Titans who have a touchdown this season: Jackie Battle, Justin Hunter, Jake Locker, Delanie Walker, Kendall Wright and Alterraun Verner. Not pictured: Chris Johnson.
15 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 4
Until Sunday, Jim Harbaugh had not been below .500 since his 2008 Stanford team finished 5-7. And, frankly, if Harbaugh was that cranky during four straight winning seasons (two with Stanford, two with San Francisco), we all might want to give him a little space.
16 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 22
Since the Portsmouth Spartans morphed into the Detroit Lions in 1934, the franchise had scored just one road win over the Redskins before last Sunday -- a 17-7 victory in 1935, over the then Boston Redskins. Do you believe in omens? Detroit won the NFL championship that season.
17 Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 10
Not quite sure what to make of this ... but the Falcons have won five division titles in their history, and not one has come in an odd-numbered year. Further, Atlanta has eight total playoff berths in the past 20 years, and only 2011 bucked the trend. Hurry up and get here, 2014.
18 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 17
Heaven help the Rams if DeMarco Murray ever winds up playing for an NFC West rival. The Cowboys' back rolled to 175 yards rushing Sunday, the second highest total of his career, just behind a 253-yard effort in 2011. Against St. Louis.
19 New York Jets
Last Week: 25
The Jets really deserve to be one spot lower, in honor of the 20 penalties that they accumulated in Sunday's win over the Bills. They'll take 19, in honor of the number of dollars they'd accept in a trade for Mark Sanchez.
20 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 20
Has the Chargers' lightning bolt logo always looked so much like a (possibly mustachioed) frown? Or has it just tilted downward over San Diego's two heartbreaking losses this season?
21 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 21
Over the course of a 48-hour span starting Sunday, the Cardinals lost three linebackers (Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and Alex Okafor) to season-ending injuries. I'm not ready to blame anyone for this turn of bad luck, but if we find out later that John Skelton broke a mirror on his way out of town, it would not be a surprise.
22 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 18
EJ Manuel had one of those games Sunday that rookie QBs tend to have. Rather than gamble and make a mistake against the Jets' tough D, a hesitant Manuel took eight sacks. "It's not just the quarterback and I think we can all understand that," head coach Doug Marrone said. Maybe not, but chalk this one up as a lesson for Manuel.
23 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 30
What a difference a year makes. In Week 3 of the 2012 season, the Giants smoked the host Panthers by 29. Three hundred and sixty-seven days later, the Panthers drilled the Giants 38-0, a 67-point reversal from the teams' prior matchup. "I'm going to enjoy it," left tackle Jordan Gross said. "It was awesome."
24 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 31
Cleveland's win in Minnesota was like a study in the butterfly effect. Would it have happened if Trent Richardson had not been traded? Did the victory occur because Richardson was traded? Whatever the case, the Browns shut up a lot of folks in Week 3. Now, just imagine if they can pull off a 3-0 homestand, starting Sunday against Cincinnati.
25 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 23
Quick "Did You Know?" here, on the heels of Philadelphia's Thursday loss to K.C.: Chip Kelly lost his first Thursday appearance at Oregon, too -- a game which also happened to mark his debut as Oregon's head coach. Counting a Fiesta Bowl that happened to fall on that day, Kelly went 5-0 on Thursdays from there on out, winning those games by an average of 23.5 points.
26 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 26
TV history is littered with shows that stayed on the air too long or launched unfortunate spin-offs: Joey might be my personal gold standard for the latter; there are plenty of candidates for the former, including, I'm told, Dexter. The current Steelers, with an aging nucleus and an awful cap situation, are the NFL's version of that phenomenon. They're trying to do the same things with a roster unable to maintain.
27 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 27
Darren McFadden fired a touchdown pass in Sunday night's loss to Denver, the first of his career. That score gave McFadden one more TD toss than $11.5 million man Matt Flynn has thrown the past two seasons. Is there some reason Oakland did not test out Terrelle Pryor before paying for Flynn?
28 New York Giants
Last Week: 19
The Giants have turned the football over on 30 percent of their possessions so far this season. The teams that finished with the worst numbers in that category in 2012, the Chiefs (18.8 percent) and the Eagles (17.9), won a combined six games.
29 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 28
Aldrick Robinson insisted he caught a potential go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday, despite a review that overturned the play and evidence to the contrary. "It was a touchdown," he said, according to the Washington Post. "I had control of the ball the whole time." When things are going badly, as they are for Washington, those calls seem to go against you more often than not.
30 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 24
Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer made the throws he needed to down the stretch on Sunday. Minnesota's Christian Ponder did not. Again. Ponder took the blame for one of the most costly errors, a misfire in Greg Jennings' direction on 3rd-and-5. "I missed him. It was a bad throw," Ponder said. No kidding, said Vikings fans.
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 29
After a 19-for-41 showing against the Patriots, (benched Bucs QB) Josh Freeman's completion percentage sits at a dismal 45.7 -- same as Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert, and 0.8 percent below Tim Tebow's completion percentage in 2011 as Denver's starter.
32 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 32
That whole "Offensive Weapon" tag for Denard Robinson? May want to rethink it. Robinson fumbled in his only touch Sunday -- a run out of a Wildcat look -- and he has minus-1 yard rushing in three games.

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