There obviously are different kinds of losses in the NFL, and apparently the one suffered by the Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas in Week 3 was the kind that earned them some respect nationally.
That's the only conclusion one can reach when evaluating the seven outlets used for our power rankings roundup — Sports Illustrated, NFL.com, ESPN, CBS Sports, Pro Football Network, Yahoo Sports and USA Today — and finding out that three of them actually moved UP the Dolphins despite their 31-28 overtime loss.
With a 1-2 record, the Dolphins still land in the bottom third in the league in terms of ranking, with 21st being the most common placement.
Here's a roundup of the 2021 power rankings heading into Week 4, with the previous ranking in parentheses and the comments from each outlet:
Ranking: No. 25 (20)
Analysis: "If teams are what their record says they are—a favorite Bill Parcells cliché—then the Dolphins are … confusing? Instead of “haters gonna hate,” maybe it’s, “haters gonna make some good points?” Miami topped New England, was blown by Buffalo and nearly upended Las Vegas in a close defeat. They have talented players, like cornerback Xavien Howard, who we wrote about in September and who sealed that win in the opener. But they have a quarterback problem that started before Tua Tagovailoa injured his ribs. Tagovailoa is both talented and tough, but so far, if we’re being honest, he hasn’t looked like an elite NFL QB."
Ranking: No. 21 (22)
Analysis: The Dolphins fought to the bitter end in a 31-28 overtime loss to the Raiders, and they deserve credit for fighting back in a game that appeared to have slipped away when Vegas reeled off 25 unanswered points to take an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. A lot of the credit has to go to Jacoby Brissett, who has followed in the footsteps of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the rock-solid backup who will keep the Dolphins from disaster while Tua Tagovailoa recuperates from broken ribs. Not enough teams put the proper value on a No. 2 QB -- the Dolphins seem to get it. The schedule softens over the next month, but a Week 4 game against the winless Colts profiles close to a must-win."
Ranking: No. 23 (20)
Analysis on the team ranks at quarterback: "Tua Tagovailoa was six plays into his second game of the season before fracturing his ribs against the Buffalo Bills, so he never really got into any sort of rhythm. Jacoby Brissett has been somewhat conservative in his stead, particularly during the Dolphins' Week 3 loss to the Raiders; but he did flash some brilliance late in the contest. He led a game-tying drive with time running out in the fourth quarter and converted a critical fourtth-and-20 in overtime. His teammates have confidence in him and his number should rise as Brissett becomes more comfortable in the offense. Tagovailoa will miss at least the next two games."
Ranking: No. 21 (20)
Analysis: "They are 1-2 and playing for a stretch without their starting quarterback. This is a must-win this week against the Colts at home."
Ranking: No. 21 (23)
Analysis: "The Dolphins are a decently talented team struggling behind a poor offensive line and an even worse offensive game plan. The two-coordinator system doesn’t seem to be working, and even if the actual play-calling was better in Week 3, the scheme still doesn’t help them much. Seriously, it’s hard to accurately depict how inefficient this offense has been. Miami is averaging under 4 yards per play, which is 1.5+ yards below league average. In fact, no offense is worse on a per-play basis. Defensively, Miami’s coverage unit has been good, but they’ve struggled to get off the field on third downs. They’ve allowed a conversion on 61% of third downs, which ranks 31st in the league."
Ranking: No. 21 (22)
Analysis: "A lot of attention will be given to the offense (Jacoby Brissett averaged a meager 4.4 yards per attempt), but what about the defense? It couldn't hold a lead or get a stop in overtime. The Raiders had 497 yards. The Dolphins are supposed to be a good defensive team but that's questionable through three weeks."
Ranking: No. 21 (19)
Analysis: "They've generated a takeaway in a league-best 25 consecutive games but have won the turnover battle twice in their past four (three losses)."