Can you believe it’s already Week 4? In a typical year, we don’t know who teams really are until at least a month into the NFL season. Because this is 2020, and we didn’t have a regular offseason or preseason, we may continue to see seismic shifts well into the fall. Injuries have already taken a toll. Knock on wood that the league continues to avoid coronavirus surges that plagued the NBA and MLB seasons. By January, we should know not only who the best teams are, but also who has managed to stay healthy and well for the longest time.
Week 3 brought a few surprising results but fortunately no more major injuries to the league’s superstars. Despite everything that has happened, we are settling into a sense of normalcy with this NFL season, and it is highlighted even more by the haves and the have-nots.
32. New York Jets (0-3, Last week: 32)
Three interceptions thrown (two of which were returned for touchdowns), two sacks allowed (one of which was a safety), and only seven points scored. The Jets’ offensive misadventures continued in Indianapolis Sunday. Adding insult to injury, rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton missed almost all of the game after injuring his shoulder.
Next week: vs. Denver (0-3)
31. New York Giants (0-3, Last week: 28)
There is some bad football being played in New York/New Jersey right now. The G-Men have scored fewer points in each game so far: 16 in Week 1, 13 in Week 2, and only nine against San Francisco this weekend. Without Saquon Barkley in the lineup, Joe Judge’s offense doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Next week: at Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
30. Atlanta Falcons (0-3, Last week: 31)
Another week, another blown double-digit lead for the Falcons, this time to the Bears. And this one may put Dan Quinn out of a job, which would be the first head-coaching change of the young season. The one silver lining to be found is that Todd Gurley finally looked like a solid complementary piece to Calvin Ridley and the rest of the passing offense. Is it too little, too late?
Next week: at Green Bay (3-0)
t29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1, Last week: 29)
Cincinnati didn’t lose! Well, they didn’t win either, but Joe Burrow, Tyler Boyd, and Carl Lawson did their part to force overtime and then sneak out of Philly with a draw. Joe Mixon had a rough day on the ground, averaging less than three yards per carry, which will obviously not get the job done.
Next week: vs. Jacksonville (1-2)
t29. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1, Last week: 27)
See what we did there? A tie at 29 is only befitting the first tie of 2020, and the Eagles’ frustrating, confusing season continues. Philadelphia recorded eight sacks, gained more yardage than Cincinnati, and held the edge in time of possession. But they were minus-two in turnovers, and that made all the difference.
Next week: at San Francisco (2-1)
27. Denver Broncos (0-3, Last week: 24)
Nothing has gone according to plan in Denver this year. With Von Miller, Drew Lock, and Courtland Sutton out, Sunday’s 28-10 loss is probably going to be par for the course for a while longer. At least Bradley Chubb has returned from last season’s knee injury…and the lowly Jets are up next.
Next week: at New York Jets (0-3)
26. Minnesota Vikings (0-3, Last week: 23)
Minnesota has won a playoff game in two of the last three years, but the playoffs seem like a pipe dream after an 0-3 start to this season. Only six teams have qualified for the postseason after starting 0-3 in the last 40 years, so the odds are certainly against the Vikings. Sunday’s loss to Tennessee was Minnesota’s best game to this point, but they still squandered a lead late in the fourth quarter to blow it.
Next week: at Houston (0-3)
25. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2, Last week: 22)
Justin Herbert played alright, as did Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Rayshawn Jenkins. But “alright” couldn’t cut it against the Panthers. Three lost fumbles and two sacks allowed didn’t help the cause, either.
Next week: at Tampa Bay (2-1)
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2, Last week: 21)
The Jags returned to earth after two strong showings to start the season. Minshew Mania could not overpower Fitzmagic, and the host Jaguars laid an egg in primetime against the previously winless Dolphins. It certainly looks like Jacksonville’s front office has discovered a gem in undrafted rookie running back James Robinson, though.
Next week: at Cincinnati (0-2-1)
23. Washington Football Team (1-2, Last week: 19)
The overpowering pass rush Washington displayed in Week 1 may have been a product of Philadelphia’s tattered offensive line more than anything else. After eight sacks in the opener, the team total sits at 13 now. While that’s respectable and is second in the league, they have also given up 10 sacks on their own quarterback, Dwayne Haskins. With the Ravens and Rams next on deck, the pass rush must reignite, and Haskins’ blockers must improve.
Next week: vs. Baltimore (2-1)
22. Carolina Panthers (1-2, Last week: 30)
The Panthers gave Matt Rhule his first win as a head coach in the NFL Sunday against the Chargers. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though, as the team twice allowed 11-point leads to be sliced to one score. In fact, Los Angeles was deep into Carolina territory with a chance to win on their final drive until a fumble ended things with only five seconds left.
Next week: vs. Arizona (2-1)
21. Miami Dolphins (1-2, Last week: 25)
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed his first 12 pass attempts and 18 of 20 overall in a 31-13 trouncing of the Jaguars on Thursday night. The Dolphins showcased a nice offensive balance, but the real story was on defense. They put up four sacks on Gardner Minshew and forced him to check down all night because his receivers were blanketed downfield.
Next week: vs. Seattle (3-0)
20. Houston Texans (0-3, Last week: 20)
Houston is like Minnesota in that it has achieved a fair amount of success in recent years but now finds itself staring at a record of 0-3. Those two teams square off in Week 4, so one is bound to come out a little happier than they are now. For Houston to get off the schneid, they need to fix their running game (gaining under four yards per attempt) and shore up their run defense (allowing over five yards per attempt).
Next week: vs. Minnesota (0-3)
19. Detroit Lions (1-2, Last week: 26)
Did the Lions just save Matt Patricia’s job? Arizona had been red-hot after two weeks, but Detroit managed to pick off Kyler Murray three times without committing any turnovers of their own. Even though Romeo Okwara recorded the team’s only sack, Lions defenders were able to deflect six passes, and Murray struggled to get into a rhythm.
Next: vs. New Orleans (1-2)
18. Dallas Cowboys (1-2, Last week: 17)
The Cowboys’ three games have been decided by a total of nine points. A few plays here and there are the difference between 3-0 and 0-3. Alas, Dallas finds itself at 1-2, but the upcoming schedule is manageable: three consecutive home games followed by back-to-back road tilts against Washington and Philadelphia. They’ll need a healthy offensive line to turn things around.
Next week: vs. Cleveland (2-1)
17. Cleveland Browns (2-1, Last week: 18)
After taking their lumps in the opening game, Cleveland has steadied its hand by leaning on Nick Chubb and the running attack. Chubb has rushed for 232 yards and four touchdowns in the victories over Cincinnati and Washington. He’ll need to keep that mojo going with three road games in the next four.
Next week: at Dallas (1-2)
16. New Orleans Saints (1-2, Last week: 9)
Alvin Kamara is carrying the Saints’ offense on his back at the moment. While Kamara is arguably the best running back in the league, he and the rest of the offense need Michael Thomas back sooner than later. Of course, neither Kamara nor Thomas play on the defensive side, which yielded 37 points and 24 first downs to the Packers Sunday night.
Next week: at Detroit (1-2)
15. Las Vegas Raiders (2-1, Last week: 12)
Derek Carr had a decent game through the air, yet he lost two fumbles and could not make enough plays to keep his team in contention. At one point, the Raiders trailed by 23 in the fourth quarter. On the bright side, Maxx Crosby recorded his first two sacks of the season.
Next week: vs. Buffalo (3-0)
14. Chicago Bears (3-0, Last week: 16)
The good news: Chicago has started the season 3-0. The bad news: they needed a quarterback swap to do so, and the controversy has begun anew. Nick Foles will start against Indianapolis, but do the Bears open up to Mitch Trubisky again if Foles now falters?
Next week: vs. Indianapolis (2-1)
13. San Francisco 49ers (2-1, Last week: 15)
After dropping their first game to Arizona, injury-laden San Francisco has rebounded quite nicely by taking out the two atrocious New York teams. Without most of their star offensive players and the threat of a powerful run game, the 49ers asked backup quarterback Nick Mullens to win the game with his arm. He responded with 343 yards and completions to 10 different players.
Next week: vs. Philadelphia (0-2-1)
12. Los Angeles Rams (2-1, Last week: 5)
Much like Bills fans are currently experiencing, there are positives and negatives to be drawn from Sunday’s loss in Buffalo. Darrell Henderson and Cooper Kupp helped spur the second half comeback, but trailing 28-3 is something no team wants to deal with. With two NFC East opponents up next, the Rams have time to figure things out before getting back into NFC West play.
Next week: vs. New York Giants (0-3)
11. Arizona Cardinals (2-1, Last week: 7)
Last September, Arizona and Detroit opened the season playing to a 27-27 tie. Sunday, the 0-2 Lions beat the 2-0 Cardinals 26-23 in Glendale. All of this is to say that, while enjoyable, NFL football is almost entirely unpredictable. Arizona could be sitting at 5-1 when it hosts red-hot Seattle in late October. Or it could be 2-4–honestly, who knows?
Next week: at Carolina (1-2)
10. Tennessee Titans (3-0, Last week: 11)
Tennessee is one of only four undefeated teams in the AFC through three weeks. Ryan Tannehill has played exceptionally well, carrying the team despite a mediocre rushing offense (under four yards per carry as a team, two touchdowns) and a stagnant pass rush (only four sacks). With respect to the Broncos, Jaguars, and Vikings, the Titans’ upcoming schedule will be a true test.
Next week: vs. Pittsburgh (3-0)
9. Indianapolis Colts (2-1, Last week: 14)
Indianapolis has been stifling on defense in their last two games, holding the Vikings and Jets to one touchdown apiece (Minnesota also added a field goal) while piling up six interceptions and five sacks for good measure. Xavier Rhodes set the tone early with a pick-six on Sam Darnold in an eventual 36-7 blowout Sunday. Mo Alie-Cox had another big game in Jack Doyle’s absence at tight end.
Next week: at Chicago (3-0)
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1, Last week: 13)
Tom Brady threw for a trio of touchdowns, and Shaq Barrett notched two of the team’s six sacks. As a result, the Bucs were in control against Denver from the outset. Leonard Fournette regressed significantly after his explosion against Carolina last week.
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
7. New England Patriots (2-1, Last week: 6)
Whether with Tom Brady or Cam Newton at quarterback, a Bill Belichick-coached team has never lost to a Jon Gruden-coached team, whether he was in Oakland, Tampa Bay, or Las Vegas. That trend continued unabated Sunday, with a relatively easy 36-20 victory in Foxborough. Newton wasn’t great as a passer, but the dominant run offense and sticky pass defense were enough to earn the win.
Next week: at Kansas City (3-0)
6. Buffalo Bills (3-0, Last week: 8)
The optimistic Bills fans will celebrate holding a 28-3 lead and beating the Rams. Pessimistic (and perhaps realistic?) fans will admit that their team turned a 28-3 lead into a 32-28 deficit. Either way, Josh Allen once again played lights-out, and he threw or ran for all five of Buffalo’s touchdowns in the win.
Next week: at Las Vegas (2-1)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0, Last week: 10)
The three Watt brothers met on the field in Pittsburgh Sunday, where T.J. and Derek’s Steelers toppled J.J.’s Texans. T.J. notched one of his team’s five sacks on Deshaun Watson, which also helped keep Houston scoreless in the second half. James Conner and Eric Ebron took advantage of their opportunities on offense as well, scoring a touchdown apiece.
Next week: at Tennessee (3-0)
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1, Last week: 1)
Lamar Jackson did Lamar Jackson things on the ground Monday night. His shortcoming was through the air, where he only completed only 15 of his 28 attempts for 97 yards; he was also sacked four times. Baltimore has invested a lot in its defensive front, but they failed to affect Kansas City’s dynamic passing attack.
Next week: at Washington (1-2)
3. Green Bay Packers (3-0, Last week: 4)
Allen Lazard made fantasy owners very happy with his play against New Orleans. The former undrafted free agent wide receiver snared six of his eight targets for 146 yards and a score, including a 72-yard bomb that almost ended with a touchdown. Jaire Alexander was active on the back end, but the underneath coverage allowed Alvin Kamara to do whatever he wanted as a receiver.
Next week: vs. Atlanta (0-3)
2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0, Last week: 2)
Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf were the beneficiaries of Russell Wilson’s cooking against Dallas. The two receivers combined for 210 yards and four touchdowns, and Metcalf nearly had another before a premature celebration ended in a fumbled touchback. Defensively, the Seahawks are among the league leaders in forcing turnovers through three games. Everything is working so far.
Next week: at Miami (1-2)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0, Last week: 3)
Patrick Mahomes continues to share the wealth. With such a plethora of offensive weapons, even guys like Anthony Sherman and *checks notes* Eric Fisher can catch touchdown passes. Chris Jones remains a force inside, corralling Lamar Jackson for two of the Chiefs’ four sacks. We never should have doubted Andy Reid’s team in our previous rankings.
Next week: vs. New England (2-1)