After two weeks, there’s much more movement in the NFL Power Rankings. Now that we have a better feel for game plans, depth charts, and surprises-in-the-making. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the NFL’s lay of the land:
Week Three 2017 NFL Power Rankings, Tier One: The Favorites
New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers
New England answered some of the questions surrounding their weak Week One performance. However, the top spot remains on shaky ground, as there isn’t a team who hasn’t shown some level of vulnerability through playing eight quarters.
The Falcons got the job done against Green Bay and looked much improved at home compared to Week One when they were in Chicago and almost lost to the Bears. The Packers took the football equivalent of what is known in the NBA as a “schedule loss.” Injuries to the offensive line, wide receiving corps, and most important defensive lineman (Mike Daniels) made a huge difference against Atlanta. The Packers going back to Atlanta for the NFC Championship still looks like the most likely outcome for the top of the NFC.
None of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown have played especially well through the first two weeks. However, the Steelers remain very dangerous because of those three and a confident defense.
Tier Two: Playoffs, Here We Come
Kansas City Chiefs
If Trevor Siemian can hover around average at quarterback for Denver, they could be a semi-dark horse candidate to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Broncos defensive front embarrassed the best offensive line in the NFL in Denver’s win over Dallas in Week Two. A steady hand behind center can elevate Denver to elite status. Siemian needs to do more to prove he’s up for the task, though.
There’s an argument to make that the Broncos gave the league the blueprint to stopping the Cowboys. On the other hand, nobody else in the league has a defense that can school the Dallas offensive line like the Broncos can. Something to watch going forward. But Dallas remains Tier Two.
Week 2 never happened. Week 2 never happened. Week 2 never happened. Week 2 never happened. Week 2 never happened. Week 2 never happened. pic.twitter.com/OWGfTWfgmE
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) September 21, 2017
Oakland remains steady in its spot here as a Week Two win against the Jets doesn’t move the needle one way or the other.
An interesting subplot to the Chiefs season (and maybe in all of football) is how – or if – the presence of Patrick Mahomes is affecting the play of Alex Smith … for the better. There’s a theory that Smith is throwing deep more and playing more aggressive because he feels like his job in on the line. All of the sudden the Chiefs have the NFL’s most explosive offense and Alex Smith can score from anywhere on the field. Here’s to hoping we get a full season of Alex Smith: Gunslinger.
Tier Three: On the Cusp
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Ravens continue to climb up the NFL Power Rankings, and should at least hold steady for another week, as they play Jacksonville in Week Three. They’ve been impressive. But at some point, their offense is going to have to produce more than 24 points.
Sam Bradford missed Week Two for the Vikings, so it’s tough to gauge where Minnesota is on offensive. They looked bad in a 26-9 loss to the Steelers. In Week One, Bradford led an offensive juggernaut. They’re probably land somewhere in the middle as the season progresses. That will be enough to keep the Vikings a favorite to land a Wild Card spot, but not enough to propel them into a top-two Tier.
While the rest of the NFL is basing their offense around the short passing game, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Carson Wentz buck the trend a little and chuck it around in Philadelphia. The Eagles were also dealt an additional win-by-division-association with Dallas’ loss.
Seattle takes a tumble down the rankings, even after a home win against the 49ers. Their offense (or lack of) was easily among the biggest surprises of the opening two weeks of football.
Carolina and Tampa Bay might not catch Atlanta this season, but second place in the NFC South is up for grabs. With that, hopes of playoff games. Until one separates from the other, the Panthers and Buccaneers will rank almost as equals.
The Titans and Lions both looked good in Week Two wins. Both have a fairly high floor, but their ceilings remain a bit of a mystery. They both get stuck right in the middle of the NFL Power Rankings until they prove more.
Tier Four: More Questions than Answers
New York Giants
Los Angeles Rams
Houston’s win against the Bengals in Week Two had to feel good for them, but until we know how low the Bengals can go, the Texans win is met with a skeptical eye.
Miami showed some reason to be intrigued this season. Mainly because Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, and DeVante Parker offer the bones of what could be a really good offense.
When does Eli Manning run out of room on the leash? The Giants offense hasn’t produced a fraction of was most thought they were capable of. If you hold your hand up to your ear, you can hear New York football fans wondering when Geno Smith will get his chance. Ladies and Gentlemen up is down and down is up.
The Rams appear above Washington here, even though Los Angeles lost to Washington in Week Two. Even though both are long shots, the Rams rank higher because of the better chance to sneak into the playoff conversation by virtue of a weaker division thus far.
Tier Five: The Best of the Bad
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Chargers
Washington Football Team
New Orleans just doesn’t have enough talent around Drew Brees to be competitive. Plus, they’ve got one of the league’s worst cap situations. Seasons of kicking the cap sheet can down the road have caught up with them and really limits their options. Having Brees though keeps them from tearing everything down and rebuilding. So they’re stuck as one of the NFL’s best bad teams. They’ll get in some shootouts and win a few surprising games this season, but they’re close to being a complete cross off as far as contenders for the playoffs.
A three-point win against the Colts was more reason to worry than celebrating the Arizona Cardinals. A couple seasons ago the Cardinals had one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Now there are few bright spots left. And all the wonder starts with the situation at quarterback.
The sun comes up. Sunday comes. The Chargers lose by two. The sun goes down. Time goes on.
Buffalo and Jacksonville both lost to move to 1-1. Neither team has much of an identity at this point, and that’s not a good thing. Lots of meh for the Jaguars and Bills.
Despite combining for 3 Super Bowl titles, both Drew Brees and Eli Manning remain winless headed into Week 3.
Blake Bortles won in Week 1. pic.twitter.com/45gZReZ7gL
— Blake Bortles Facts (@BortlesFacts) September 20, 2017
Speaking of team identity, Washington seems to have taken after the city in which it plays. A divisive front office and owner, a divisive quarterback, and a lackluster roster is quite fitting for such a polarizing city. Some might be higher on Washington, but they continue to be closer to the bottom of the league than the top in these NFL Power Rankings.
2017 Week Three NFL Power Rankings, Tier Six: You’re Just the Worst
San Francisco 49ers
New York Jets
Are the Bengals closer to the end of a road, or the beginning of another? Which is to ask: Has Cincinnati hit their rock bottom? If not, how much further do they have to go? Nothing good surrounding the Bengals right now.
Despite questions up and down the roster, the Chicago Bears have one of the best running back tandems in the league. Too bad they’ll rarely play with a lead, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are fantastic.
It should be safe to say at this point the Colts totally mismanaged Andrew Luck’s injury. Whether it’s the players, the general manager, or anyone else employed by the team, it seems like the organization is in a state of organized chaos. In that everyone is too focused on hanging onto their job(s) for another day that it’s impossible for anybody to get on the same page.
There isn’t much new to say about the Browns, 49ers, or Jets. The worst three teams continue to prove why they are such. The bottom three in the NFL Power Rankings doesn’t appear to change any time soon.
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