The NFL is fascinating. It’s an 8-8 league, even though there are now 17 games. In reality, there are usually somewhere between 7-10 good teams, a few terrible teams, and the rest are simply mediocre. A 17-game sample is small in statistics. And seven or eight examples create even more chaos. The middle of the NFL power rankings is exactly that: chaos.
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32) Carolina Panthers (32)
With the Panthers’ win against the Houston Texans, there are officially no more winless teams in the NFL. However, they remain at the bottom of the NFL power rankings, considering we’ve seen more from the Cardinals so far, even though they also only have one win.
31) New York Giants (31)
The Giants and Jets game was one of the worst offensive contests in recent memory. At one point, the teams had no third-down conversions and had punted a combined 15 times.
In over four quarters of play in a modern NFL game, the Giants’ passing attack managed negative net yards for the game. Including sacks, the Giants passed for -9 yards.
The fact that they were in this game at all is evidence of how atrocious this game was in general.
30) Arizona Cardinals (28)
The Cardinals kept things tight against Baltimore for as long as they could. However, a bad Josh Dobbs interception led to a quick Ravens score to put Baltimore up by two scores. A quick three-and-out and a field goal from the Ravens gave Baltimore an insurmountable three-score lead in the fourth quarter.
29) New England Patriots (29)
The Patriots kept things close against Miami for about 40 minutes, but the Dolphins offense was too much for New England to get stops against continuously. But in reality, if not for a few Dolphins turnovers, this game might have gotten out of hand.
28) Chicago Bears (30)
The Bears looked dominant against the Raiders without having to stress the defense vertically. Rookie QB Tyson Bagent wasn’t aggressive, but he was efficient. Their offense might be able to replicate that effectiveness against an underwhelming Chargers defense, but can the defense keep up their end of the bargain?
27) Las Vegas Raiders (27)
The Raiders are currently 23rd in offensive EPA and 27th in defensive EPA. Unfortunately, whatever talent is on the roster is anchored by what appears to be some of the worst game management in the league by their head coach.
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However, getting Jimmy Garoppolo back after missing two games with a concussion should help the Raiders offense compete against the Lions defense.
26) Green Bay Packers (23)
The Packers offense was lifeless through most of two quarters against the Vikings. They managed zero first downs through their first four possessions before going on a 14-play, 73-yard drive to kick a field goal before the half.
At 2-5, the Packers must seriously consider what direction to go at the deadline.
25) Washington Commanders (25)
Sam Howell diced up the Eagles’ defensive backfield on Sunday, but he came up short when it mattered most late in the game. Although he’s certainly not to blame for the loss, his late-game performance is very much a part of his game.
But in the end, A.J. Brown’s dominance and the Commanders’ unbelievably poor secondary was the catalyst in Washington’s loss. The miscommunications they continuously go through in the secondary are inexcusable, yet they continue to happen.
24) Denver Broncos (26)
The Broncos allowed 70 points to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. They allowed only nine points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, whom they hadn’t beaten since Barack Obama was still in office. A shoutout is in order for the Broncos defense because they legitimately made life difficult for Mahomes and the Chiefs passing attack.
23) Los Angeles Chargers (22)
Although the Chargers’ loss to the Titans looks bad considering what we’ve seen from Tennessee in 2023, their three other losses have come against the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Dolphins. However, their two wins against the Vikings and Raiders came by just one score.
22) Indianapolis Colts (18)
The Colts are a well-coached team, but they are clearly understaffed on both sides of the ball. Their secondary struggled to keep things in front of them against the Saints and were bludgeoned over the head by Taysom Hill on the ground.
But a future with Steichen appears bright, even if Year 1 gets a bit ugly from time to time because of the injury to Anthony Richardson.
Who are the Chargers? Can they scratch their way back to .500 with the Bears and Jets coming up in consecutive weeks?
21) Los Angeles Rams (17)
The Rams have been competitive so far in 2023 despite having one of the youngest rosters in recent memory. However, they ran into a Cowboys buzzsaw in all three phases of the game. Matthew Stafford got banged up early on, and he eventually left the game.
20) Tennessee Titans (24)
Will Levis had himself an impressive debut, and DeAndre Hopkins shoved his way to an incredibly impressive performance, scoring three touchdowns while being the rookie quarterback’s top target.
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The Titans leaned on Derrick Henry and the run game, but their defense was also opportunistic. They sacked Falcons quarterbacks six times, and Desmond Ridder lost another fumble. But Levis brought an explosiveness to this passing attack that hasn’t existed all season, and it will be something to monitor moving forward.
19) Houston Texans (15)
The Texans defense did everything they could to put their roster in a position to get over the .500 hump, but a slow game with only nine possessions benefitted the Panthers, and the Texans offense simply could not do enough outside of two drives.
The Panthers defense had their number – seven of the Texans’ nine drives ended with one first down or fewer.
18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16)
The Buccaneers have a talented roster, but their offense can’t get off the ground. They’re almost completely dependent on Baker Mayfield being Superman on third downs. They’re unable to run the ball, but they struggle through the air on early downs as well.
And despite all of that, they still were a split-second decision away from toppling the Bills on a Hail Mary pass.
17) Atlanta Falcons (14)
The Falcons defense has performed well thus far, but the pass rush and secondary had a tough day against Tennessee. Ridder turned the ball over on a fumble again against Tennessee while also being sacked five times before leaving the game after being evaluated for a concussion.
16) New York Jets (21)
Congratulations are due to the Jets for somehow accomplishing a 4-3 record after losing Aaron Rodgers early in the first game of the season.
But the Jets offense was horrendous in an ugly-weather game in New Jersey against their stadium-mates. They managed to negate the Giants’ passing attack completely, but the Jets offense managed only two third-down conversions and 12 first downs in total on 17 offensive drives.
15) Minnesota Vikings (20)
If there were ever an example of winning the battle while losing the war, the Vikings’ win against their division rivals might be it. They thoroughly outplayed the Packers. Their defense has been playing inspired football recently, and the passing attack hasn’t missed a beat since losing Justin Jefferson.
But Kirk Cousins suffered what looked to be a serious injury to his lower leg on a non-contact play. The replay did not look good, and the result of that injury could make the Vikings sellers at the deadline, even with a winning record.
14) Pittsburgh Steelers (13)
Losing Kenny Pickett right before halftime was the proverbial death blow for the Pittsburgh Steelers against Jacksonville. The Jaguars defense has been outstanding all season so far, and even with Pickett on the field and healthy, the Pittsburgh offense was not looking particularly explosive against Jacksonville.
The Steelers know how to win ugly games, but Mitch Trubisky was unable to take care of the football in relief of Pickett. Although he made some plays outside of structure, he looked uncomfortable on a down-by-down basis.
13) New Orleans Saints (19)
Rashid Shaheed is officially a problem for opposing defenses. Every week, we see No. 22 streaking down the field wide open. His presence opened up the Saints’ passing attack. Hill was a big part of the game plan today, rushing the ball nine times and scoring twice on the ground.
Interestingly enough, the Saints’ calling card, the run defense, struggled a bit today against Shane Steichen’s run scheme. But in the end, they were able to do enough to sneak away with an 11-point win against Indianapolis.
12) Cleveland Browns (9)
The Browns are a good, and maybe even great, football team. But they need their $230 million quarterback to get healthy and back on the field. He doesn’t even necessarily need to be good when he returns. He simply needs to be better than PJ Walker. And if that’s an issue, Cleveland has a lot to think about.
11) Seattle Seahawks (12)
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Seattle Seahawks found a way to beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Geno Smith struggled against a potent Cleveland defense but made the necessary plays late in the game to drive Seattle down the field, trailing by three points.
10) San Francisco 49ers (5)
The 49ers’ young quarterback is falling apart. Brock Purdy got a taste of adversity a few games ago, and it became his best friend over the past few games. The once impossibly efficient San Francisco offense has stalled out, and their once sturdy defense has shown cracks that we didn’t know existed before their three-game skid.
9) Cincinnati Bengals (11)
It might be safe to say that Joe Burrow is back. The 49ers defense managed only four incompletions over Burrow’s 32 attempts. While Cincinnati always seemed to have the upper hand on San Francisco throughout the game, it wasn’t until a few Purdy turnovers that the Bengals took control of the game.
8) Buffalo Bills (10)
The Bills won a one-score game against the Buccaneers, but the game was not as close as the final score.
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But at the same time, they literally almost lost it, too. Things can spiral quickly in the NFL, and the Bills almost fell apart late in this game. If Chris Godwin gets his head around a split second faster, we’re talking about one of the greatest collapses of our time.
7) Detroit Lions (8)
The Lions were embarrassed by Baltimore a week ago, but the NFL finds a way to humble even the best in the league. In the end, Baltimore was better that day, and sometimes a team is a bad matchup for another.
They need to get back on track against Las Vegas to get everyone back on the bandwagon.
6) Jacksonville Jaguars (7)
The Jaguars were all about Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson’s offense a season ago. Adding Calvin Ridley to the mix was supposed to take them to the next level. But it’s been the Jaguars defense that has led them to 6-2.
Lawrence has been good in 2023, but there are still confusing instances, like his red-zone interception, that have kept him from elevating his standing among the league’s greatest passers.
5) Dallas Cowboys (6)
The Dallas Cowboys were firing on all cylinders from the jump against the Rams. They dominated the game on offense, defense, and special teams.
But it was how the Cowboys offense was operating that will have Cowboys fans excited about the coming weeks. Although the Cowboys’ offensive line struggled early on, the offense showed more schematic life than before the bye.
4) Miami Dolphins (4)
The Miami Dolphins got a shot in the arm with Jalen Ramsey’s return. Their underwhelming defense allowed multiple first downs on only two of the Patriots’ 11 offensive drives. They forced six three-and-outs on the day.
Offensively, the Dolphins moved the ball with relative ease despite losing more offensive linemen throughout the course of the game. They punted three times and turned the ball over twice. They scored touchdowns on four of their five other drives while kicking a field goal on the fifth.
3) Kansas City Chiefs (1)
Any given Sunday, anything can happen. It’s an incredibly rare thing to see the Chiefs lose a football game the way they did. In fact, their Denver loss was the first road divisional loss in Patrick Mahomes’ career. He didn’t play particularly well, but the Broncos defense deserves a lot of credit for making his life difficult for 60 minutes.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (2)
The Eagles always seem to find a way to underperform against the Washington Commanders. Washington beat them a season ago and has played them tightly twice in 2023.
But A.J. Brown has established himself as the top receiver in the NFL not named Justin Jefferson or Tyreek Hill. His six consecutive 125-yard games is an NFL record, and one of his touchdown receptions was an outrageous feat of strength, hands, and athleticism.
1) Baltimore Ravens (3)
Baltimore fell into the same trap as many teams have so far against Arizona. They started off slow. But unlike other teams who have played the Cardinals, Baltimore’s defense didn’t allow Arizona an inch and gave a struggling offense some nice field position to put the game away.
The Ravens overtake the top spot in the power rankings because their defense has been endlessly persistent, and their passing attack has improved by leaps and bounds. They may still be volatile, but they deserve the top spot in their current form.
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