Rick Gosselin's Week 3 NFL rankings: It's Showdown Time at the Top
Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 48th season reporting on the NFL in 2020. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 38 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 3:
1. Kansas City Chiefs. (Previous rank: 1) The Chiefs charted only two 58-yard field goal in the first 916 games in franchise history, both by Nick Lowery in the 1980s. But Harrison Butker kicked two in the same game last weekend against the Chargers. The second was a game-winner in overtime.
2. Baltimore Ravens. (2) The game of the year occurs Monday night when the Chiefs visit the Ravens. Baltimore was the top playoff seed in the AFC last season with a 14-2 record and Kansas City the Super Bowl champion with a 12-4 mark. Both teams are 2-0 this season. Baltimore leads the NFL with five defensive takeaways and the Chiefs have yet to commit a turnover. Lamar Jackson of the Ravens was the NFL MVP last season and Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs the Super Bowl MVP. Something has to give.
3. Seattle Seahawks. (4) Remember the Super Bowl days of Seattle’s Legion of Boom? Those days are a memory as the Seahawks rank last in the NFL in defense this week. But QB Russell Wilson remains a nightmare for opponents. His league-leading nine TD passes have the Seahawks off to a 2-0 start.
4. Green Bay Packers. (5) The Packers have been an Aaron Rodgers-driven offense for the last 12 seasons. But his backfield mate Aaron Jones leads the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 234 yards and shares the league-lead in touchdowns with four. Jones is averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
5. Arizona Cardinals. (6) The Cardinals finished in the bottom 10 in scoring defense last season, allowing an average of 27.6 per games. That defensive generosity led to a 5-10-1 finish. But this season the Cardinals rank in the Top 3 in scoring defense, allowing only 17.5 points per game, on the way to a 2-0 start.
6. Buffalo Bills. (7) Josh Allen posted his first career 300-yard passing game in the opener of his third season in 2020. He upped the ante with his first 400-yard passing game in the second week of the 2020 season at Miami. Allen has thrown six touchdown passes and rushed for another for the 2-0 Bills.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers. (8) The Steelers lead the AFC with 10 sacks on defense. They collected seven last weekend against the Broncos, extending their league-best streak of games with at least one sack to 59. The next longest streak is a mere 20 games by the Cowboys.
8. New Orleans Saints. (3) In the 14 years coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees have been together, the Saints have led the NFL in offense seven times and led the NFC in two other seasons. Which is why it’s so strange to see the Saints at 21st in the NFL in offense this week. Is age catching up with the 41-year-old Brees?
9. Tennessee Titans. (9) The Titans are one of only three teams that has not committed an offensive turnover this season, joining Green Bay and Kansas City. That’s one of the perks of having Ryan Tannehill as your quarterback. He doesn’t turn the ball over. Counting the playoffs, Tannehill has now thrown 115 consecutive passes without an interception.
10. Las Vegas Raiders. (17) Derek Carr completed passes on Monday night to 11 different receivers -- five different wideouts, three tight ends, two halfbacks and a fullback. Tight end Darren Waller had a 100-yard game as the Raiders christened Allegiant Stadium with a victory over the Saints.
11. Los Angeles Rams. (11) TE Tyler Higbee already has as many touchdown catches through two weeks (three) as he did all of last season when he finished third on the Rams with 69 receptions.
12. Dallas Cowboys. (13) Rookie CeeDee Lamb registered his first career 100-yard receiving day in his second NFL game. He joined a Pro Bowl fraternity of A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Amari Cooper -- all of whom posted their first 100-yard days in their second NFL games as well.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (14) Tom Brady lost track of his Pro Bowl weapons Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the opener, completing only three passes for 13 yards to the two of them in a loss to New Orleans. But Brady found Evans in the second game against Carolina, completing seven passes for 104 yards and a touchdown to him. He still hasn’t found Gronkowski, who went catch-less against the Panthers. Maybe it’s his turn next week at Denver.
14. New England Patriots. (15) Cam Newton has thrown only one touchdown passes in his first two starts as quarterback of the Patriots. But he shares the league lead with his four rushing touchdowns.
15. San Francisco 49ers. (10) It was an expensive trip to New Jersey for the 49ers, who won the game against the Giants but lost two key performers off their 2019 NFC champions with injuries – QB Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle sprain) and DE Nick Bosa (ACL).
16. Chicago Bears. (16) Mitch Trubisky is still the quarterback of the Bears and Chicago still can’t throw the football, ranking 29th in the NFL this week. But the Bears are 2-0 and all quarterbacks look better when they aren’t losing.
17. Los Angeles Chargers. (18) There have been 121 quarterbacks in the salary-cap era (since 1994) who made their NFL starting debuts as rookies. Justin Herbert became only the 12th of that group to pass for 300 yards in his debut with the Chargers. The sixth overall pick of the 2020 draft, Hebert threw for 311 yards in a losing cause to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars. (20) QB Gardner Minshew must not have received the memo that the Jaguars were supposed to be tanking this season for the right to draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. Minshew has thrown three TD passes in each of the first two games to help the Jaguars off to a 1-1 start.
19. Indianapolis Colts. (23) Jonathan Taylor won the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in college football each of the last two years at Wisconsin. Sundays apparently are no different for Taylor than Saturdays. In his first NFL start, Taylor rushed for the first 100-yard game of his career for the Colts. He rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown in a victory over the Vikings.
20. Cleveland Browns. (32) Bad move to run all those Baker Mayfield television commercials leading up to the 2020 season and after the first week. But after his 2-TD pass performance in Week 2 in a victory over Cincinnati, let those commercials roll.
21. Washington. (19) Washington ranks rank 31st in the NFL in rushing. This franchise misses Adrian Peterson already. Washington FC has rushed for only 197 yards through two weeks. Peterson, who led Washington in rushing in 2019, has 134 yards rushing as a backup with Detroit this season.
22. Minnesota Vikings. (12) QB Kirk Cousins has been sacked in the end zone for a safety each of the first two weeks of the season. It’s not that unusual. Mason Rudolph of the Steelers was sacked on consecutive weekends last season, and Baker Mayfield of the Browns also was sacked twice for safeties in 2020. What’s unusual is that Cousins has 14 games left to add to his total.
23. Philadelphia Eagles. (21) The winless Eagles have a battered offensive line and a struggling quarterback, two maladies that are generally tied together. Carson Wentz has thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (two), lost a fumble and been sacked a league-high eight times. The Eagles lead the NFL in offensive giveaways with six.
24. Houston Texans. (22) The Texans are one of only two teams still without a defensive takeaway after two weeks. That’s 127 opportunities for the Texans – 71 runs and 56 passes – without taking the ball away a single time.
25. Atlanta Falcons. (24) Only two wideouts have collected 100 yards receiving each of the first two weeks of the season and they are both in the NFC South, Calvin Ridley of the Falcons and Robby Anderson of the Panthers. Ridley has caught 16 passes for 239 yards and has twice as many receiving touchdowns (4) as anyone else in the league.
26. Carolina Panthers. (27) The Panthers led the NFC with 53 sacks last season. But Carolina is the only team in the NFL still without a sack through the first two weekends of this season.
27. Cincinnati Bengals. (28) Joe Burrow never threw 50 passes in a game at LSU. He’s already hit the 60-mark in a game with the Bengals. There was only one 60-pass game in the NFL all of last season – a 68-pass day by Jared Goff in a September Rams-Buccaneers game.
28. New York Giants. (25) The Giants are one of only two teams that have not scored a touchdown on the ground yet this season. The Steelers are the other. Going forward, it will be even more difficult for the Giants to reach the end zone by rush with the loss of Pro Bowl HB Saquon Barkley with a season-ending knee injury.
29. Denver Broncos. (26) The 49ers and Giants weren’t the only teams that took huge injury hits over the weekend. The Broncos lost QB Drew Lock with a sprained shoulder and Pro Bowl WR Courtland Sutton with a torn ACL. Lock will miss at least two weeks and Sutton is gone for the season.
30. Miami Dolphins. (30) The month of September has not been kind to the Bill Belichick coaching tree. The four coaches hired as NFL head coaches directly off his staff are now 0-8 on the season. Bill O’Brien at Houston, Matt Patricia at Detroit, Brian Flores at Miami and the Joe Judge at the Giants have all opened the 2020 season 0-2.
31. Detroit Lions. (29) The Lions have now lost 11 consecutive games, the longest current losing streak in the NFL. And Detroit will be the underdog the next two weeks at Arizona and home against New Orleans before its bye. The clock is ticking on coach Matt Patricia, who is now 9-24-1 in his three seasons on the job.
32. New York Jets. (31) The Jets rank last in the NFL in offense, which explains their winless start. The Jets have scored only two field goals in the first half of games, which delivered halftime 21-3 deficits against each of their first two opponents, the Bills and 49ers.