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NFL Power Rankings: A New No. 1 Emerges in Week 3 Shakeup

The Dolphins are on the move in the latest order, while the Eagles and the Jaguars also jumped up the list.

A few minutes into a call I had this week with another person whose livelihood depends on the NFL (albeit in a different kind of way), we both arrived at the same conclusion: Boy, there are just a lot of mediocre teams out there right now. This felt especially true after I sat down to compile this week’s power rankings, which, when I have the winless Las Vegas Raiders in the top 26, the okay Minnesota Vikings in the top 10 and the 1-2 San Francisco 49ers as an obvious playoff contender after losing 11-10 to the Colorado Rock … sorry … Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football.

There’s myriad reasons for this of course. It’s a longer regular season and a shorter preseason. Everyone is either hurt, tired, too hot or playing in an offense run by former special teams and defensive coordinators. It’s tough sledding out there, which makes what the top-end teams have done all the more impressive.

This list will be completely different in a few weeks, because a few of these clubs will get in a groove and ascend. At least we hope so.

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1. Miami Dolphins (3–0)

Last week: Win vs. Buffalo, 21–19
Next week: at Cincinnati (Thursday)

If the Dolphins and Bills play another two times in subsequent weeks, does Buffalo win a best-of-three series? We can’t answer that, because that’s not how the NFL works. What we do know is that Miami is brilliantly coached. They backed off pressuring Josh Allen. They doubled down on protecting Tua Tagovailoa against Buffalo’s pass rush and didn’t allow the Bills to wreck their game plan. 

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures at the end of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 21-19.

2. Buffalo Bills (2–1)

Last week: Loss at Miami, 21-19
Next week: at Baltimore

Buffalo takes solace in this: They’re not cramping in Orchard Park. They kept the ball for more than 40 of 60 minutes. They, as Buffalo Rumblings noted this week, had a 51-play differential between themselves and the Dolphins, one of the largest margins in a loss in NFL history. They’ll be just fine. 

3. Philadelphia Eagles (3–0)

Last week: Win at Washington, 24–8
Next week: vs. Jacksonville

We were turned on to the sinister mind of Shane Steichen, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, last year. All he’s done since is refine the process. Teams are now trying to force Jalen Hurts to beat them with his arm. They are paying for it dearly. 

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) and quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrating their touchdown against the Washington Commanders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Landover, Md.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (2–1)

Last week: Loss at Indianapolis, 20-17 
Next week: at Tampa Bay

Apparently, Patrick Mahomes arguing with offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy on the sidelines is a sign of trouble, but Tom Brady and Bill O’Brien screaming at each other was just two dudes talkin’ ball. While there has been some smoke around the Mahomes-Bienemy pairing over the years, I’ve decided, after 48 hours of deliberation, it’s a big old nothing-burger. Gear up for the Chiefs’ midseason surge.

5. Green Bay Packers (2–1)

Last week: Win at Tampa Bay, 14-12
Next week: vs. New England

The Packers are one of the coolest teams in the NFL. As our Albert Breer noted, they’re essentially just allowing themselves to win in different ways. They know they’re going to smash the NFC North. They know they have the most talented QB in the NFL. So, why not chill and figure some stuff out along the way? 

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2–1)

Last week: Loss vs. Green Bay, 14-12
Next week: vs. Kansas City

Here’s an interesting question: the Buccaneers are so all in with Tom Brady. Are they going to, at some point, shock the NFL and flip an early-round pick to get him some help at wide receiver? Tampa held their nose and dealt with Antonio Brown last year because it kept Brady off the ground. Cole Beasley isn’t doing the same. 

7. Baltimore Ravens (2–1)

Last week: Win at New England, 37-26
Next week: vs. Buffalo

Those of us who predicted a Lamar Jackson MVP are feeling pretty good. Jackson is also one of the league leaders in average depth of target. He’s rushing for 100 yards a game and pushing the ball downfield. The NFL’s Shohei Ohtani. 

8. Los Angeles Rams (2–1)

Last week: Win at Arizona, 20-12
Next week: at San Francisco

The Rams are sixth in the NFL in play success rate. Silly goal-line gaffes and Matt Stafford trying to still work Allen Robinson into the fold are contributing to the relatively low scores. Like the Packers, the Rams don’t have to be beautiful now. They just have to understand themselves at season’s end. 

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9. Minnesota Vikings (2–1)

Last week: Win vs. Detroit, 28-24
Next week: at New Orleans

The Vikings haven’t been this flexible and aggressive offensively since Brett Favre was under center. There were moments when the Lions had an 89 and 93% chance, respectively, of winning that game and Kevin O’Connell dialed them back both times.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Jacksonville, 38-10
Next week: at Houston

Give up on the Chargers at 1-2? I’m not even close to ready. They have the 31st EPA in the NFL on the ground. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 32nd, and I’d bet they’ll be running the ball just fine come November. 

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (2–1)

Last week: Win at Los Angeles Chargers, 38–10
Next week: at Philadelphia

The Jaguars are controlling the line of scrimmage defensively and maximizing their talented QB offensively. Imagine what happens when Travis Etienne gets into the fold. The Doug Pederson bowl vs. Philadelphia is worth watching this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. celebrate after connecting on a touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (1–2)

Last week: Win at New York Jets, 27-12
Next week: vs. Miami (Thursday)

The Bengals shake off the weight of a potential 0-3 start by throttling poor Joe Flacco in East Rutherford. They leaned on last year’s formula: cover well enough to get their pass rushers into the backfield, and keep Joe Burrow upright long enough to make the ideal throw. 

13. Dallas Cowboys (2–1)

Last week: Win at New York Giants, 23-16 (Monday)
Next week: vs. Washington

The Cowboys gave up first downs on three of the Giants’ first four third-down attempts. After that? Nada on the next seven. Dan Quinn and Micah Parsons could end up being one of the best pass rush-coordinator duos of our time. 

14. San Francisco 49ers (1–2)

Last week: Loss at Denver, 11–10
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Rams

I would group the 49ers in with the Packers and Rams in terms of teams we’re not overly concerned about … yet. The major issue for them is obviously that Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford.

15. Detroit Lions (1–2)

Last week: Loss at Minnesota, 28-24
Next week: vs. Seattle

The Lions are second in the NFL in scoring, eighth in EPA per play, and 11th in EPA per dropback. Jared Goff, week in and week out, is a win-with starter. I’m more impressed by that than worried about Dan Campbell’s game management right now. 

16. Denver Broncos (2–1)

Last week: Win vs. San Francisco, 11-10
Next week: at Las Vegas

Cris Collinsworth proclaimed the Broncos’ offense fixed on their final touchdown drive against the 49ers. But the only real difference was that Russell Wilson was willing to leave the pocket again and pick up some first downs. Will that continue? 

17. New York Giants (2–1)

Last week: Loss vs. Dallas, 23-16 (Monday)
Next week: vs. Chicago

The Giants missed a massive opportunity to walk into a winnable Bears game at 3-0. It’s going to be hard to keep pace in this division for long, so banking a handful of wins would have been helpful. All that said, there was a distinct fight and observable competence from this team in frantic, end-of-game situations. 

18. Cleveland Browns (2–1)

Last week: Win vs. Pittsburgh, 29–17 (Thursday)
Next week: at Atlanta

The Browns continue to bang around the NFL’s bottom rung. After barely beating the Carolina Panthers and losing to the New York Jets, they beat the Mitch Trubisky-led (and T.J. Watt-missing) Steelers. Call us in late October when the meat of their schedule starts and they can’t just run over a few vulnerable teams. 

19. Tennessee Titans (1–2)

Last week: Win vs. Las Vegas, 24-22
Next week: at Indianapolis

Derrick Henry’s workmanlike performance was encouraging. While it lacked the home run hit, getting Henry more than four yards per carry and keeping him a threat in the passing game was critical for a Titans team staving off 0-3. 

20. New England Patriots (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Baltimore, 37-26
Next week: at Green Bay

While it’s unfair for us to keep expecting Bill Belichick to betroth us with brilliance, one has to wonder if New England can put on a Mike McCarthian performance with its own backup QB, when they couldn’t seem to develop much for their starter, Mac Jones, before Jones got hurt. 

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is helped off the field after suffering a leg injury with less than two minutes to play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.

21. Arizona Cardinals (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Los Angeles, Rams 20–12
Next week: at Carolina

Again, the Cardinals look disjointed offensively and offer up their lowest point total of the season. If Kliff Kingsbury isn’t going to consistently show an ability to bother the Rams, what ultimate advantage is he handing Arizona right now? 

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Browns, 29–17 (Thursday)
Next week: vs. New York Jets

Only six teams in the NFL have a less favorable outcome on average per passing snap than the Steelers. Still, Mike Tomlin says a change under center is a “definitive” no. While you wait, read up on why we liked Kenny Pickett this preseason

23. Chicago Bears (2–1)

Last week: Win vs. Houston, 23-20
Next week: at New York Giants

Justin Fields was 8 of 17, with two interceptions and 106 total passing yards in last week’s win over the Texans. But … when you’re running the ball for almost eight yards per attempt with your lead back, it doesn't really seem to matter. 

24. Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1)

Last week: Win vs. Kansas City, 20-17
Next week: vs. Tennessee

Gus Bradley contained Patrick Mahomes, almost exclusively, to throws from the line of scrimmage to the 10-yard line. They allowed Travis Kelce a mere 1.66 yards of average reception per route run. That’s a season-saving game plan. 

25. Atlanta Falcons (1–2)

Last week: Win at Seattle, 27-23
Next week: vs. Cleveland

Kyle Pitts averaged almost 18 yards per reception on eight targets despite almost no initial separation. Arthur Smith has heeded the call, and now cares about your fantasy football team again

26. Las Vegas Raiders (0–3)

Last week: Loss vs. Tennessee, 24-22
Next week: vs. Denver

We brought this up on the MMQB podcast this week: there are offenses that create a game plan around feeding their best players, and offenses that seem content in using their best players to open up the rest of the field. I’m not sure how tickled the Raiders would be long-term in simply using Davante Adams as a way to get to Mack Hollins (they both had 10 targets apiece on Sunday). 

Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker (37) peaks up a pass intended for Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium.

27. New Orleans Saints (1–2)

Last week: Loss at Carolina, 22-14
Next week: vs. Minnesota

Their loss to the Panthers made no statistical sense. That said, New Orleans can’t be taken seriously when they’re blanked for three quarters against Carolina, especially after getting a heroic performance from the rookie Chris Olave. 

28. Houston Texans (0-1-1)

Last week: Loss at Chicago, 23-20
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Dameon Peirce gets a season-high 20 touches and moves the ball more effectively than the rapidly-cooling Davis Mills. Silver linings? 

29. New York Jets (1–1)

Last week: Loss vs. Cincinnati, 27-12
Next week: at Pittsburgh

The Jets had a moment late in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals where it seemed they could mount another furious late comeback, but Joe Flacco’s lack of mobility in obvious passing situations puts him in a painfully disadvantageous situation. Zach Wilson time … soon. Then, we’ll see where the Jets’ rebuild is at.

30. Washington Commanders (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Philadelphia, 24-8
Next week: at Dallas

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and … Cooper Rush, obviously … are throwing the ball roughly 0.3 seconds faster per down than Carson Wentz is right now. The Commanders need to get the ball out of his hands faster, or else there will be more difficult outings like Sunday’s nine-sack horror show.

31. Carolina Panthers (1–2)

Last week: Win vs. New Orleans, 22–14
Next week: vs. Arizona

Cardinals, 49ers, Rams and Buccaneers are next on the schedule. Let’s wait a few weeks before we decide what Sunday’s end to the nine-game winning streak really means. 

32. Seattle Seahawks (1–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Atlanta, 27–23
Next week: at Detroit

We’re going to ask a version of this question 100 times this year, but it’s so fascinating. What does this franchise look like 365 days from now? 

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Jalen Hurts Determined to Dismiss His Doubters
How Mike McDaniel, Dolphins Survived the Bills
The Jaguars Could Be for Real
The 0–3 Raiders Might Be Wondering What Might Have Been
MMQB Awards for Week 3’s Best Performances