Through the first three weeks of the season, the NFL has already seen a few surprises. In total, seven teams have been victorious in each contest. An eighth team is undefeated with a week one tie. As we head into the quarter pole of the season, it’s time to update the power rankings for the top ten teams through the first three weeks. Without further adieu, let’s jump in with the three teams who just missed out.
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Just Missed the Cut
Chicago Bears (2-1), New Orleans Saints (2-1), Detroit Lions (2-0-1)
The Lions are the only unbeaten team to miss the top-10 list. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked sharp and comfortable in Darrell Bevell’s offense. Detroit could be a contender for the division title. Chicago’s offense is the only thing holding it back. As a whole, the offense has been inconsistent. Defensively, Chicago is as good as it was last season. The Saints miss the cut due to the injury to Drew Brees. It’s Teddy Bridgewater time in New Orleans.
No. 10 – Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
On its own, the Colts have played fairly well thus far. Indianapolis lost an overtime thriller to open the season against the Chargers, coming back from a 15-point deficit. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has performed well, completing 71% of his passes, throwing for seven touchdowns to just one interception. Brissett has been the perfect complement to a near-dominant ground game for the Colts. The ground attack is averaging nearly 149.6 yards per game, with running back Marlon Mack dropping a per game average of 99.7 yards. If the defense can tighten things up against the pass, Indy becomes a real threat.
No. 9 – Houston Texans (2-1)
When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, the pressure fell on the Texans to take over the division. Through the first three games, Houston has looked equal parts contender and underachiever. A last-second field goal by Will Lutz resulted in the only blemish for the Texans. Dashaun Watson continues to be the engine of the offense. The offensive line has struggled, surrendering 12 sacks on Watson through three games. Houston’s defense has sacked the quarterback ten times thus far, but also rank tenth worst in passing yards allowed. If Watson stays healthy, the Texans are a playoff team.
No. 8 – Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Through three games, Lamar Jackson has shown tremendous growth. The second-year quarterback has thrown for 863 yards and seven touchdowns with zero interceptions. He’s also rushed for 172 yards on 27 carries, including one touchdown. Jackson has benefitted from an effective ground game and the addition of speedster Marquise Brown. The rookie receiver has added a new dimension to the offense with his deep route abilities. Tight end Mark Andrews has also become a favorite target for Jackson. Brown and Andrews are both over 200 yards receiving and have two touchdowns each. Defensively, the Ravens have received a boost from linebacker Matt Judon and his three sacks. The first test for the defense came last week against the Chiefs. Baltimore joined the list of NFL defenses who have failed to slow Kansas City’s offense. If Jackson continues to get better, the Ravens will be a scary team come playoff time.
No. 7 – Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Buffalo’s record is a surprise to everyone not in the Bills locker room. Quarterback Josh Allen is currently completing 65.86% of his passes, 12 points higher than the 52.8% in 2018. The ageless wonder, Frank Gore, leads the team in rushing with 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Allen is second on the list with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Buffalo’s defense has been a point of pride through three games. The unit has manufactured seven turnovers while surrendering a paltry 299 yards of total offense per game. Buffalo has a young team that is learning to win. They face the Patriots on Sunday. I respectable showing will go a long way to convincing the world that Buffalo is real.
No. 6 – San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
For the first time since 1998, the 49ers have started the season with a 3-0 record. Jimmy Garoppolo looks to be recovered from his knee injury in 2018 and is getting better with each game. The offense has had little issue with moving the football but needs to focus on limiting self-inflicted wounds. Through three games, the offense eight times, five of them coming against Pittsburgh. The 49ers turned the ball over five times against the Steelers but found a way to win the game. Thank the defense for the record. Robert Saleh’s are second-best in yards allowed with 850 total yards. The pass rush has been significantly better this season with the additions of Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has the offense clicking while his defense is turning into a force to be reckoned with. The 49ers look to be realizing the potential and hype that surrounded the 2018 team. The Rams may have a battle on their hands for the division crown.
No. 5 – Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
Dallas has looked impressive to start the season. They’ve also played three of the worst teams in the league. While the Giants are no longer winless, the Cowboys defeated New York with Eli Manning leading the way. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has reinvigorated the Dallas offense with his schemes and play calls. Dallas has incorporated more motion presnap and found additional ways to give Ezekiel Elliot a break from carrying the offense. The offense has led the way for the Cowboys, averaging 481 yards a game. The Dallas defense has yet to have an explosive offense but will be tested over the next two weeks with the Saints and Packers.
No. 4 – Green Bay Packers (3-0)
The Green Bay defense is much improved. Green Bay spent money in the offseason, luring free agents Za’Darius Smith (Edge/DL), Preston Smith (Edge/DL), and Adrian Amos (S). Combined with the 2018 and 2019 draft picks, the defense has been the primary focus for general manager Brian Gutekunst. An effective defense has helped to reenergize quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While the stats have not jumped off the charts, the scheme fits the personnel on the roster and will continue to get better as the players get comfortable in the system. The Packers have a pair of impressive victories over division rivals, Chicago and Minnesota. If Rodgers and the offense begin to get into gear, the NFC is available for the taking.
No. 3 – Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
The Rams are the best team in the NFC. Los Angeles has played two tough road games against the Panthers and Browns, winning both. In a rematch from last season’s conference championship game, the Rams effectively shut down the Saints and convincingly beat New Orleans. Offensively, Jared Goff has been inconsistent, throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions. Sean McVay’s offense has benefited from a stingy defense. The Rams defense has allowed just 16 points per game and the third least yards. Los Angeles’ defense has received an immediate return on investment, from Clay Matthews and his four sacks. If the defense can continue to shut down the ground game, the Rams will have a clear path toward a repeat Super Bowl visit.
No. 2 – Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
When will the Chiefs offense slow down? Kansas City’s offense is averaging north of 30 points per game. The unit is second in total offensive yards and leads the league with an average of 7.6 yards per game. Patrick Mahomes looks like a serious contender for the league MVP. The quarterback has thrown for 1,195 yards, 10 touchdowns, and completed 71.9% of his passes. Mahomes has yet to throw an interception. LeSean McCoy has found new life in Kansas City, averaging 5.4 yards per rush. Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce are the favorite targets with Watkins tied for the lead in touchdown receptions. Tied with Watkins is wide receiver, Demarcus Robinson. The defense has yet to be called upon in a high-pressure situation but has performed better than the 2018 incarnation.
No. 1 – New England Patriots (3-0)
The Patriots are an inevitability. Is there any surprise that the Patriots hold the top spot in our power rankings? For the last two decades, the Patriots have cemented themselves as the league’s premier franchise. After an impressive Super Bowl run last season, the 2019 Patriots look significantly better. New England’s defense leads the league in yards allowed by nearly 300 yards. The defense has also surrendered just 17 points, total, through the first three weeks. Stephon Gilmore is the best cornerback in the NFL. The defense seems to have carried over the momentum of their Super Bowl success against the Rams. On offense, Tom Brady is again dominant, averaging 303.7 yards passing a game while throwing for seven scores against zero interceptions. New England is the best team in the NFL. They are the most complete team and have the benefit of being led by the best head coach, Bill Belichick. Good luck everyone.