1. Denver Broncos (3-0) defeat Cincinnati 29-17. Previously: 2
We’ve seen the defense, and we saw enough of the running game over the first two weeks to make the Cincinnati Bengals focus on stopping C.J. Anderson at their own peril. Trevor Siemian tossed four touchdown passes, including a 55-yarder to Demaryius Thomas that sealed the win.
2. New England Patriots (3-0) defeat Houston 27-0. Previously: 3
Defeating Houston (and soundly) with their third stringer at quarterback was something, particularly after the way the Patriots looked to be on the ropes at the end of the Dolphins game after Garoppolo was injured. If neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can play this week, defeating the Bills with Julian Edelman at quarterback will be something else entirely.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-0) defeat Carolina 22-10. Previously: 6
This defense is for real. A week after handling Aaron Rodgers (who looked fine against Detroit) the Vikings sacked Cam Newton eight timesand managed to come back from a 10-point deficit while the offense gained just 211 yards on the day. The run game didn’t look any better with Adrian Peterson out though, and Stefon Diggs didn’t repeat his starring performance from a week earlier.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) defeat Pittsburgh 34-3. Previously: 16
Yeah, this is a really large jump, but the Eagles have earned it. Hanging the largest loss of the week on the reigning power rankings No. 1 is a far cry from looking good against Chicago and Cleveland. Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson have taken Philadelphia by storm, and the Eagles look a class above the rest of their division.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) defeat New York Jets 24-3. Previously: 10
Kansas City didn’t even need an offense to take the field against the Jets on Sunday. They had eight turnovers, two defensive scores, and limited an offense that had decimated the Bills a week earlier to three points. We’ll finally have a night game that’s appetizing when this defense tries to keep it up next Sunday against a Steelers offense desperate to show the game in Philadelphia was a fluke.
6. Green Bay Packers (2-1) defeat Detroit 34-27. Previously: 11
If the Packers spent the second half Sunday looking like they did the first half they would be even higher. Instead, this game had shades of their NFC Championship loss to the Seahawks two years ago. After Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the first half on their way to a 31-3 lead, the Packers just managed to run out the clock in the second half — just.
7. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) defeat San Francisco 37-18. Previously: 12
The Seahawks alleviated concerns that the first two weeks were something larger than the regular season opening malaise we’ve seen in Seattle the past few years. It looks like Russell Wilson will be OK, and it looks like Thomas Rawls might have some work to do to win the job back from Christine Michael (106 yards and two touchdowns Sunday).
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) lost to Philadelphia 34-3. Previously: 1
As good as the Steelers offense can look, that was how bad it looked in Week 3. Ben Roethlisberger was off, his receivers were dropping passes and Deangelo Williams couldn’t get going on the ground. Le’Veon Bell couldn’t get back any quicker.
9. Carolina Panthers (1-2) lost to Minnesota 22-10. Previously: 4
Protecting Cam Newton has to become an immediate priority for the Panthers. It sounds crazy that it wouldn’t be already, but evidence from the Broncos and Vikings games looks bad. After two great games, Kelvin Benjamin was shut out Sunday. The Panthers roasted a lot of good teams last season; through three games this year, they’ve lost to two of them.
10. Houston Texans (2-1) lost to New England 27-0. Previously: 7
A week after they seemed to turn a corner by beating the Chiefs, the Texans looked severely undermanned against the Patriots. In a game where neither team topped 300 yards, the Texans turned the ball over three times and took it from the Patriots zero. That’s how you get shutout. They need to bounce back at home against the Titans.
11. Atlanta Falcons (2-1) defeat New Orleans 45-32. Previously: 14
The Falcons can make a real statement at home against Carolina next week. The Saints certainly aren’t world-beaters, but that doesn’t make the Superdome an easy place to walk into and win. More importantly, welcome back to Devonta Freeman, who had his first truly great game since getting injured in 2015. Now if fantasy owners could just get those three Tevin Coleman touchdowns back.
12. Arizona Cardinals (1-2) lost to Buffalo 33-18. Previously: 5
That was an ugly performance, with perhaps nothing uglier than Carson Palmer’s stat line: 26-for-50, 287 yards, four interceptions (at least, until we get to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s). The Cardinals looked like a team that was playing at 10 a.m. while falling behind 17-0 and 30-7. The defense let LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor run all over them, and now they have to be ready for Todd Gurley, who introduced himself to the NFL by torching them in 2015.
13. Baltimore Ravens (3-0) defeat Jacksonville 19-17. Previously: 18
Yes, the Ravens are undefeated. Yes, their wins are over Buffalo, Cleveland and Jacksonville. If they take an impressive shellacking to the Raiders next week, you can bet they’ll reap the same rewards as Philadelphia. Until then, it’s still vaguely concerning that their MVP is Justin Tucker.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) lost to Denver 29-17. Previously: 8
The best encore to containing Antonio Brown isn’t letting Trevor Siemian drop bombs over your defenders all day. Struggles offensively can be expected against the Broncos, and the Bengals have had a very tough schedule to open the season. However, the Bengals are one missed field goal away from being 0-3.
15. Oakland Raiders (2-1) defeat Tennessee 17-10. Previously: 15
While the Oakland offense was a lot quieter than we’ve become used to in Tennessee, the defense finally showed up. When you aren’t setting records for yards allowed over the first weeks of a season, suddenly the offense doesn’t need to score so much.
16. New York Jets (1-2) lost to Kansas City 24-3. Previously: 9
Alright, we said we’d get to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s stat line and here it is: 20 for 44, 188 yards and six — count ’em — six interceptions. The Jets weren’t done there, and lost two fumbles to the Chiefs defense as well. This comes a week after the Jets offense took apart a Bills defense that then dominated the Cardinals’ normally explosive offense this week. Yeah, we don’t know what to make of the NFL either.
17. New York Giants (2-1) lost to Washington 29-27. Previously: 13
The Giants defense that had shown such improvement over the first two weeks let DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder loose for long touchdowns and let the game — and first place in the NFC East — slip away. Facing the Vikings in Week 4 will be a huge test for an offense that has put up yards but let turnovers keep them out of the end zone and — against Washington — out of the win column.
18. Buffalo Bills (1-2) defeat Arizona 33-18. Previously: 28
Was Greg Roman holding the Bills back from this kind of performance? Probably not. Everything’s not fine in Buffalo — they still had just 119 yards passing — but they were ready to play their game against the Cardinals and, more importantly, the players showed up for a coach under siege. That speaks well for Rex’s future in Buffalo. More wins will speak even better.
19. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) defeat Chicago 31-17. Previously: 21
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (30 carries for 140 yards) both took advantage of the hapless Bears to have the best game yet of their young careers. They should keep looking good on the road against a San Francisco team that has allowed at least 37 points this season any time they weren’t playing a team named the Rams.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2) lost to Green Bay 34-27. Previously: 19
Give the Lions credit for not shutting it down after Green Bay jumped out to a 31-3 lead. Give Marvin Jones Jr. credit for giving them a way to get back into the game. Six catches, 205 yards and two touchdowns later and there’s no doubt about who the No. 1 receiver in Detroit is right now.
21. Washington (1-2) defeat New York Giants 29-27. Previously: 23
Sunday was a must-win game for Washington to avoid slipping three games out of the division race they were ostensibly repeat favorites for and they came through. Kirk Cousins capped his best performance of 2016 (not a tall order) with two touchdown throws in the clutch. More of that is going to be needed. They have a great chance to return to .500 next week when Cleveland comes to town.
21. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) defeat San Diego 26-22. Previously: 20
T.Y. Hilton willed the Colts to victory on his big catch-and-run Sunday afternoon, and that’s what the Colts will need more of this season. They travel to Jacksonville next week with a chance to establish that the division hasn’t changed that much and knock the reeling Jaguars to 0-4.
23. San Diego Chargers (1-2) lost to Indianapolis 26-22. Previously: 17
Danny Woodhead’s absence didn’t transition into Melvin Gordon’s opportunity, as the latter had just 16 carries for 35 yards against the Colts. This game lacked the offensive fireworks many were expecting and, despite Philip Rivers throwing for 300 yards, it’s clear the injuries to offensive weapons are being felt in San Diego.
24. New Orleans Saints (0-3) lost to Atlanta 45-32. Previously: 24
A week after the Saints defense did enough to stop the Giants but the normally fearsome offense couldn’t deliver, it was the other way around against the Falcons. The Saints are still above several teams with a win because they’ve been competitive against Oakland and the Giants, but if they flounder again against San Diego next week, there won’t be a lot of wins left to find on that schedule.
25. Los Angeles Rams (2-1) defeat Tampa Bay 37-32. Previously: 30
The defense started the season in Week 2, and now the offense started playing in Week 3. Todd Gurley, with an unappealing 2.9 yards per carry in 2016, has to be looking forward to a matchup against the Cardinals, just beaten up on the ground by Buffalo, in Week 4. In Week 4 of 2015, Gurley got his first start in Arizona, and ran for 146 yards in the Rams’ victory.
26. Tennessee Titans (1-2) lost to Oakland 17-10. Previously: 25
It’s tempting to view the Titans as a sneaky team with a strong run game and a good defense. But they aren’t approaching games that way. Marcus Mariota is racketing up attempts — and turnovers — hardly the game manager approach the system in Tennessee seems to call out for.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) lost to Los Angeles 37-32. Previously: 22
Jameis Winston has had a game full of touchdown passes, one full of costly turnovers, and now he has one full of both. Four hundred and five yards and three scoring passes weren’t enough to overcome turnovers that put the Rams in position to score, something it’s clear Los Angeles needs help doing.
28. Miami Dolphins (1-2) defeat Cleveland 30-24 (OT). Previously: 26
Ryan Tannehill’s buckets of passing yards don’t do as much good when they’re matched with buckets of turnovers each week. Jarvis Landry is the Dolphins’ game plan on offense. Against Cleveland that was enough. Against the rest of the league … outlook not good.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) lost to Baltimore 19-17. Previously: 27
Chris Ivory taking the field did extremely little to help the Jaguars run game — the 12 carries for 14 yards kind of little. While Allen Robinson found the end zone twice, this expected-to-be-explosive offense had just 216 yards, and Blake Bortles’ interceptions gave Baltimore the win.
30. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) lost to Seattle 37-18. Previously: 29
After suffering through a blowout in week 2 that was probably closer than the final score, the Niners spent week 3 in a blowout that certainly was not. Through three games, Blaine Gabbert has hit the 200-yards passing mark just once, is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, and has a completion percentage down eight points from 2015.
31. Cleveland Browns (0-3) lost to Miami 30-24 (OT). Previously: 32
The Heartbreak Kid was at it again, as Cody Parkey and the Browns missed three field goals — including a 46-yarder as regulation was expiring — on their way to an overtime loss. This game may be remembered as Terrelle Pryor’s emergence as an NFL threat.
32. Chicago Bears (0-3) lost to Dallas 31-17. Previously: 31
The Bears, who couldn’t run the ball this season to begin with, now have added Jeremy Langford to the myriad of injuries suffered already by Jay Cutler and their defense. It doesn’t look like things will get better soon in Chicago.