1. New England Patriots (3-0) Def. Jacksonville 51-17. Previously: 1
Tom Brady got his 400th (and 401st) touchdown in the rout we all expected. LeGarrette Blount’s return gives New England the new offensive weapon they desperately needed. Now the NFL gets the Patriots’ bye week it desperately needed.
2. Green Bay Packers (3-0) Def. Kansas City 38-28. Previously: 2
We’re only through Week 3 and Green Bay has already handled Seattle and Kansas City, albeit both at home. That’s an impressive resume for anyone, and Aaron Rodgers’ five touchdowns Monday night confirm Jordy Nelson’s absence isn’t slowing down the reigning NFL MVP.
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) Def. San Francisco 47-7. Previously: 3
The Cardinals now lead the NFL in point differential with +77 after just three games. Second place? New England, at +49. New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco aren’t exactly murderer’s row, but that’s still winning by over 25 points on average. With St. Louis and Detroit up next, the Cardinals might not slow down anytime soon.
4. Denver Broncos (3-0) Def. Detroit 24-12. Previously: 4
Peyton Manning seems to have found his groove, but the run game in Denver is still abysmal. They've accumulated 171 yards total and 2.6 yards per carry through three games. If they can keep Peyton hot and get the run game going, the defense that just held Detroit below 300 total offensive yards makes them a force to be reckoned with.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) Def. Baltimore 28-24. Previously: 6
Andy Dalton, clutch quarterback? Having A.J. Green on the other end of the receptions helps. The Bengals are cruising, and with Ben Roethlisberger’s injury they have a big chance to build a lead in the division over the Steelers in the weeks ahead.
6. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) Def. Chicago 26-0. Previously: 7
Nothing quite like the Bears to cure an ailing team. Nevertheless, it’s a little disconcerting that a team in the Seahawks position came out as flat in the first half as they did. The seriousness of Marshawn Lynch’s injury remains to be seen, but losing him just as they finally get Kam Chancellor back would be an obvious blow.
7. Buffalo Bills (2-1) Def. Miami 41-14. Previously: 10
Buffalo and Miami had a pretty even split of hype the past two years as trendy wild card picks below the eternal division champion Patriots. Not anymore. The Bills rebounded from a tough week against New England with a huge statement, and now the Dolphins are reeling.
8. Atlanta Falcons (3-0) Def. Dallas 39-28. Previously: 14
The Falcons were the first team to take advantage of injury-ravaged Dallas, but it took them awhile to do it. For now though, they seem to have mastered the art of “throw the ball to Julio Jones until anyone is able to cover him” and that could make them a serious force in the NFC.
9. Carolina Panthers (3-0) Def. New Orleans 27-22. Previously: 13
We know the Panthers win when Cam Newton gets no help, and on Sunday -- where Greg Olsen had eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns -- we saw what happens when Cam Newton gets some help. (The Panthers win!) So far this season, the Panthers win.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) Def. St. Louis 12-6. Previously: 8
Timing, eh? One day, when the Steelers play with a full squad, it will be exciting to see what this offense can do. And we’re not counting the first half against the Rams, where they had Ben Roethlisberger and managed nine points. Four to six weeks isn’t as bad as it could have been. The Steelers should hang around.
RELATED LINK: Eagles' Darren Sproles has just one speed--fast
11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) Lost to Green Bay 38-28. Previously: 9
Not that it would have been an easy task to shake out a worse one, but that was a better fourth quarter than last week for the Chiefs. So far this season, they appear to be what they’ve been for a couple years under Andy Reid: playoff contenders and a step below the Denvers and Green Bays of the world. Maybe no amount of Jeremy Maclin will change that.
12. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) Lost to Atlanta 39-28. Previously: 5
The long dark begins. And it actually began pretty well for the Cowboys, as Lance Dunbar dragged them to a 14-0 lead with 85 yards on his first three carries. Strangely, he finished the game with 87 yards. We knew it would be tough for Dallas. Brandon Weeden wasn’t terrifying, and Atlanta is looking more and more like one of the quality teams in the NFL. Don’t write Dallas out of the NFC Least yet.
13. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) Def. San Diego 31-14. Previously: 19
The more games the Vikings play, and especially the more games San Francisco plays, the weirder that week one loss to the 49ers looks. The Vikings took it to a solid San Diego team, wrapping the game up early enough and pressuring Philip Rivers so much that the Chargers took him out.
14. New York Jets (2-1) Lost to Philadelphia 24-17. Previously: 11
The Jets played their hand too strongly. Wary of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s inevitable turnovers they opted to run up the middle the first half. Which is not a wholly terrible plan when you have Chris Ivory. Of course, the Jets had Bilal Powell. And they ran up the middle all the way to a 24-0 deficit they couldn’t overcome. They even still got the Fitzpatrick turnovers. (It’s what inevitable means, Jets!)
15. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) Def. Tennessee 35-33. Previously: 12
They avoided disaster, but the middle of that game can’t be the reassurance Colts fans were hoping for against Tennessee. Turnovers continue to be a big problem. The good news is everyone in the division is 1-2, but this isn’t a team where the goal was to get to the playoffs. Presumably, for the Colts improving upon last season will eventually mean beating teams better than the Jets and the Titans.
16. San Diego Chargers (1-2) Lost to Minnesota 31-14. Previously: 15
This was an unusually bad loss for San Diego. The line couldn’t establish a running game and, more importantly, it couldn’t protect Philip Rivers as the Chargers were forced to air it out chasing the game.
17. St. Louis Rams (1-2) Lost to Pittsburgh 12-6. Previously: 16
Todd Gurley’s arrival did little to help this anemic offense. The Rams had a golden opportunity when Roethlisberger left the game but still couldn’t put a touchdown on the board. It’s not going to get any easier against Arizona next week.
18. Houston Texans (1-2) Def. Tampa Bay 19-9. Previously: 21
Houston kept pace with the Colts again, and this week that actually means a victory. Alfred Blue managing to run for 139 yards bodes well for Arian Foster’s opportunities once he returns, which could be as early as this week at Atlanta.
19. Oakland Raiders (2-1) Def. Cleveland 27-20. Previously: 22
Sure it’s Cleveland, but the Raiders are winning, and that’s more than a lot of the teams on this list can say. More importantly, it’s winning on the road, which Oakland hadn’t done in its previous 11 tries. Amari Cooper had his second straight 100 yard game.
20. New York Giants (1-2) Def. Washington 32-21. Previously: 23
The Giants finally managed to hold onto a fourth quarter lead. They better enjoy it, because they may not even get the opportunity against Buffalo next week.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) Def. New York Jets 24-17. Previously: 27
If you play two good halves, over three games, than that’s a third of good football per game? At any rate, it’s a third of three wins. Ryan Mathew’s success in New York raises questions about DeMarco Murray’s inability to get anything going the first two weeks.
22. Detroit Lions (0-3) Lost to Denver 24-12. Previously: 20
Another week, another greater than 2:1 pass to rush ratio for the Lions. They’ve played three good teams, and there are certainly teams in the NFL that have looked worse, but their next two opponents are Seattle and Arizona and this is already their worst start since 2010. Still, something tells me they won’t match the 2008 Lions.
23. Baltimore Ravens (0-3) Lost to Cincinnati 28-24. Previously: 25
That was a better effort from Baltimore, but not enough to avoid the worst start in franchise history, as the Ravens were the only NFL team never to have been 0-3. Were. The defense allowed 458 yards a week after allowing 493 against Oakland.
24. Miami Dolphins (1-2) Lost to Buffalo 41-14. Previously: 17
Last week you could at least compliment Ryan Tannehill, but not after three interceptions this week. This was an ugly statement about which team in the AFC East is the challenger to New England. Eventually maybe all the money the Dolphins gave Ndamukong Suh will net them a sack in return.
25. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) Lost to Arizona 47-7. Previously: 18
That really got out of hand fast. When two of Colin Kaepernick’s first four passes are touchdowns for the opposing team, it’s generally not going to be a good day in San Francisco. When two more of his throws are intercepted and he finishes with 67 yards through the air? We weren’t watching a comeback, or the team that ran all over Minnesota week one.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) Lost to New England 51-17. Previously: 24
There’s nothing like a trip to an angry Foxboro to put a damper on a promising first two games for Jacksonville. Was it an expected loss? Yes. But that’s not the way teams above the bottom of the pack lose, and it cemented Jacksonville’s status as a team that’s still struggling to climb its way up.
27. Cleveland Browns (1-2) Lost to Oakland 27-20. Previously: 28
The defense was supposed to be the bright spot, but it doesn’t hold much shine after letting Oakland have their way with them. Still, Cleveland held the Raiders to less yards and points than Baltimore, so maybe their status within the division has ticked up a spot.
28. Tennessee Titans (1-2) Lost to Indianapolis 35-33. Previously: 30
It wasn’t a pretty two point attempt that ended it, but this week showed a lot of fight from the Titans: the initial rally after falling behind 14-0, and coming back to have a chance to tie it after blowing their lead.
29. Washington Redskins (1-2) Lost to New York Giants 32-21. Previously: 26
Where was the run game? A week after Wahington exploded on the ground to beat St. Louis, the yards (and carries) were nowhere to be found. Matt Jones was held under 40 yards, and Alfred Morris below 20.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) Lost to Houston 19-9. Previously: 31
One for 12 on third down won’t win a lot of football games. Tampa Bay did well to capitalize on a turnover and steal the lead, but they’ve got to find some consistency within games if they hope to consistently win them.
31. New Orleans Saints (0-3) Lost to Carolina 27-22. Previously: 32
Consider Drew Brees is missing, and this game could have gone a lot worse than it did. The Saints problems are the Saints problems, and maybe it should be even more worrisome that Brees gone didn’t look an added problem.
32. Chicago Bears (0-3) Lost to Seattle 26-0. Previously: 29
Brandon Weeden, Luke McCown, and Jimmy Clausen all couldn’t look like NFL starters, and this is where the hammer dropped. Clausen looked like Clausen, the Bears looked like the Bears, and the Seahawks defense looked like a unit that deserved their moniker, allowing only 146 yards.