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NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Eagles fly into top three; Bengals fall out of top 10

NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Eagles fly into top three; Bengals fall out of top 10

Week 2 brought us epic drama.

The Dolphins, Jets and Cardinals all authored heroic comebacks. The Falcons nearly dug out of a 28-3 (there’s that score again) hole against the defending champs. Aaron Rodgers got back on track … while Trey Lance is once again left to wait for next year. Then there are the Bills, who used another prime-time platform to show the football world no one is currently their equal.

The latest NFL Power Rankings reflect the continuing game of musical chairs across the league. Let’s dive in.

Previous rank: No. 1

Monday night’s 41-7 pasting of the Titans was another loud message to the NFL that the measuring stick for all teams can be found in Western New York. Josh Allen threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters of work, while Stefon Diggs piled up 12 catches for 148 yards and three scores … also in just three quarters of work. Throw in a Matt Milano pick-six and a wall of blue surrounding Derrick Henry every time the Titans back touched the ball, and, well, this was as pure a distillation of dominance as we might see all season. Two weeks in, and the Bills exist in a class of their own.

Previous rank: No. 10

The Eagles have hit the ground running. Nick Sirianni’s team dominated on both sides of the ball in a 24-7 win over the Vikings at raucous Lincoln Financial Field. Jalen Hurts again looked the part of a star on the rise, throwing for 333 yards while accounting for three total touchdowns. The star of the other side of the ball was cornerback Darius Slay, who will continue to intercept passes in Kirk Cousins’ nightmares for the next several evenings. The Eagles are a team without an obvious weakness right now — and upcoming matchups against the Commanders and Jaguars provide a recipe for more good times.

Previous rank: No. 8

Aaron Rodgers still owns the Bears, and Matt LaFleur is still undefeated (10-0) coming off a loss as Packers head coach. Rodgers shook off the disappointments of Week 1 with an efficient performance against Chicago that included two touchdown passes and just six incompletions in 25 attempts. The ever-underrated Aaron Jones was close to unstoppable (8.8 yards per carry), and the defense stepped up with a goal-line stand against Justin Fields that short-circuited an attempt by the Bears to add some drama into this one-sided rivalry. The Packers need to clean up some things (they’re up to four fumbles in two weeks), but this is not a team to worry about.

Previous rank: No. 4

Jalen Ramsey: He’s got that dog in him. The superstar cornerback high-pointed a Marcus Mariota heave to the end zone in the final minutes on Sunday, snagging the interception that sealed a too-close-for-comfort 31-27 win over the frisky Falcons at SoFi. Los Angeles opened up a 28-3 lead over Atlanta in the third quarter before some complacent play, coupled with a massive special teams gaffe, opened the door for the potential of a stunning upset. Ramsey slammed that door shut, but the Rams need to be sharper after an uninspiring first two weeks of their title defense. 

Previous rank: No. 5

The Chargers showed once again they have the talent to hang with any team in football. But getting over the hump? To graduate from good team to conference superpower? They’re not there yet. An opportunity for an Arrowhead upset disappeared when Jaylen Watson stepped in front of a Justin Herbert pass in the fourth quarter and took it 99 yards the other way for the decisive score. It was a painful Thursday night for the Bolts quarterback in more ways than one: Herbert gutted through the game’s waning minutes with an injury later diagnosed as a rib cartilage tear. Yes, he threw a post-injury laser to convert a fourth down and eventually added a TD pass, but Brandon Staley leaving the most important figure in the organization on the field in that state was still not a great look.

Previous rank: No. 13

Members of TuAnon! Step out of the shadows of the dark web and be counted! Your hero has delivered! Tua Tagovailoa put up an historic performance on Sunday in Baltimore, throwing for 469 yards and six touchdowns in an epic comeback victory over the Ravens. Tua was unconscious in the game’s fourth quarter, throwing four of his scores in the final period, including the game-winner to Jaylen Waddle with less than a minute to play. This was the proof-of-concept game for first-year coach Mike McDaniel, who has an offense that can deliver in a shootout. Tua will need to stack quality games to prove he’s the guy, but this was nothing less than a clarion call to the believers.

Previous rank: No. 11

The decision to not trade Jimmy Garoppolo just saved the 49ers’ season. Trey Lance’s second pro campaign is over after he suffered a broken ankle in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks, a stunning turn of events that returns Jimmy G to the starting role he lost to Lance in the offseason. Garoppolo is a pro, and he showed it by taking over without notice on Sunday and leading the offense with a steady hand for the final three quarters. In other words, it was your typical Garoppolo performance. He has less upside than Lance (the theoretical idea of Lance, anyway), but he gives you a safer baseline. For a Super Bowl-ready team like the Niners, he might actually work out better than a healthy Lance would have.

Previous rank: No. 6

The conversation this week was supposed to be about Lamar Jackson, and how the dominant start to his 2022 has put him in the driver’s seat for a second league MVP. Instead, the story out of Baltimore centers on the total collapse of Mike Macdonald’s defense in a stunning 42-38 loss to the Dolphins. Jackson’s 79-yard touchdown run put the Ravens ahead 35-14 late in the third quarter, but Baltimore surrendered touchdown drives of 75, 59, 64 and 68 yards in the final 15 minutes, watching helplessly as Tua Tagovailoa morphed into a southpaw version of peak Dan Marino. “Never did you think we were going to have that many balls thrown over our head,” John Harbaugh said of his undermanned secondary. “That just can’t happen. That’s not OK. I don’t care who’s back there.”

Previous rank: No. 7

Eight days after an impressive season-opening win over the Packers, the Vikings went to Philadelphia and got humbled by an Eagles team that was superior in every facet of the game. Minnesota’s defensive game plan almost seemed tailored to make Jalen Hurts as comfortable as possible, while Kirk Cousins labored through yet another disastrous prime-time performance. Cousins was pressured constantly and routinely threw the ball up for grabs, resulting in three interceptions. Even Justin Jefferson had a rough night: The prodigious young wideout was held to just 48 yards and was largely erased when covered by Darius Slay, who had two picks while in Jefferson’s orbit. An ugly night all around.

Previous rank: No. 9

The Bengals continue to scuffle on offense — an issue you can trace back to January. The primary culprit remains the offensive line, which has four new starters but continues to let down Joe Burrow, who was sacked six times in a 20-17 loss to the Cowboys. Despite the struggles up front, Burrow led a fourth-quarter comeback that pulled Cincinnati even, and after a Dallas punt, the Bengals were set up with the ball and 2:13 remaining on the clock. This was the Bengals’ moment — but like we saw against the Steelers in Week 1, they let it slip away. Cincy went three-and-out, allowing Dallas to take over and march to the game-winning field goal. There’s something off in The Queen City.

Previous rank: No. 26

Are the Detroit Lions an offensive juggernaut? Maybe! Dan Campbell’s Grit Warriors found little resistance from the visiting Commanders in a 36-27 win at celebratory Ford Field, becoming the first Lions team since 1970 to score 35-plus in their first two games of the season. Jared Goff threw four touchdown passes on Sunday, and he’s getting plenty of help: Amon-Ra St. Brown (184 total yards, two touchdowns) is developing into a legit No. 1 wideout, while D’Andre Swift (87 total yards and a TD on just seven touches) looks like a running back prepping his application for The Superstar Club. Throw in a three-sack game for No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, and the feel-good Lions could be transitioning into the actually-good Lions. Behold the metamorphosis!

Previous rank: No. 16

A win is a win, but the vibes are not good in Denver right now. The Russell Wilson-led Broncos did the bare minimum on Sunday, squeaking by a bad Texans team despite an avalanche of penalties, more disturbing clock-management issues and continued red-zone incompetence. How bad did it get on Sunday? In the second half, fans at Mile High were counting down the play clock in unison in an effort to help (OK, mock) new head coach Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos look disorganized and out of sorts thus far — they are extremely fortunate to escape the season’s first two weeks with a win. Hackett has to get this thing calmed down before the natives revolt.

Previous rank: No. 23

Mac Jones’ 44-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor was a thing of beauty for a Patriots team that struggled enough during the summer and in Week 1 to make you wonder if they even had an explosive play in their bones. It’s proof of progress for the Belichicks, who managed two more scores (one greatly aided by a Steelers special teams gaffe) in a 17-14 win over the similarly offensively challenged Steelers at the Stadium Formerly Known As Heinz Field. Bonus points to an offensive line that bullied Pittsburgh’s front in the game’s final minutes and allowed the Pats to run out the clock on their first win. “We’re building an identity,” said defensive back Devin McCourty. “To come to Pittsburgh and gut out a win, you start to build who you are.”

Previous rank: No. 21

Break out the Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-Men! Big Blue is 2-0 for the first time since 2016, and it’s Don “Wink” Martindale’s side of the ball that deserves most of the credit. The Giants’ defense — identified as a talent-poor liability entering the season — has allowed just 36 points through two games. On Sunday, Martindale cooked up a scheme that flummoxed Baker Mayfield, who managed just 145 yards passing on 29 attempts. New York shut down the Carolina attack on a day in which Leonard Williams exited with an MCL sprain and first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux remained sidelined by a knee injury. The defense has another soft-schedule matchup on Monday against the Dak Prescott-free Cowboys.

Previous rank: No. 17

A “bury the ball” game in Buffalo. The Titans had their doors blown off by the host Bills on Monday Night Football, a 41-7 roasting that could have been a lot worse had Sean McDermott not called off the dogs after three quarters. Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions (including the game-icing pick-six) and Derrick Henry was held to 1.9 yards per carry on 13 rushes. The defense was completely mystified by Josh Allen, who threw four touchdowns and generally did whatever he wanted. In January, the Titans entered the postseason as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. In September, they’re winless and looking for answers.

Previous rank: No. 27

The Cowboys were left for dead by many (who, me?) after a grim Week 1 that included a non-competitive loss to the Bucs and Dak Prescott’s thumb injury. But America’s Team showed fight on Sunday. They jumped out to an early lead against the defending AFC champion Bengals, held off a Joe Burrow-led comeback, then got a 50-yard field goal from Brett Maher at the gun to secure a 20-17 victory at Jerrah World. Cooper Rush made several big-time throws in his first start in place of Prescott, the biggest a 10-yard connection to CeeDee Lamb that put Dallas in field-goal position in the final minute. Lamb also received some much-needed help from fellow wideout Noah Brown, who had receptions on all five of his targets for 91 yards and a touchdown. If the Rush-led offense can stay this competent, a strong Dallas defense will keep this team afloat.

Previous rank: No. 18

Sunday brought a reality check for the Seahawks. The offense was held scoreless by the 49ers, and the defense couldn’t get enough stops to keep things competitive in a 27-7 loss at Levi’s Stadium. The game featured little in the way of positives, aside from a tremendous special teams play — the blocked field-goal try returned for a touchdown by Mike Jackson — that briefly gave Seattle life in the second half. That was it, however: The running game couldn’t get going, DeeJay Dallas was the focal point of a trick play that should never be spoken of again, and Geno Smith hasn’t led the offense to a point since the second quarter of the opener. We’ll always have the Russ Bowl.

Previous rank: No. 32

This misery thing can go both ways, huh? That’s what countless Jets fans were thinking as they watched their eternally star-crossed team wipe away a 13-point deficit in the final 1:55 to stun the Browns, 31-30, in Cleveland. It was a huge day for Joe Flacco, who threw four touchdown passes, including the game-clincher to breakout rookie Garrett Wilson, but none of it would have been possible if not for the special teams. Brant Boyer’s unit had a fake-punt conversion to set up New York’s first touchdown, Greg Zuerlein booted a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Braden Mann executed a perfect onside kick to set up the winning score. A miracle victory like this can have a galvanizing effect for a franchise that’s spent years in the wilderness — let’s see if the momentum carries into Sunday’s matchup against a desperate Bengals team.

Previous rank: No. 15

Are the Colts a bad team? It’s fair to wonder after Sunday’s listless 24-0 loss to the Jaguars. Indy was well set up to gain a measure of revenge after last season’s catastrophic Week 18 loss to the Jags, but the Colts instead appeared more lost than they ever were with Carson Wentz at the controls. Matt Ryan has done nothing to elevate this offense in two weeks, and he’s not getting much help from an underperforming offensive line and a thin wide receiver group that was without Michael Pittman Jr. The soft nature of the AFC South should provide some runaway to get things sorted out, but a tie with the Texans and non-competitive loss to the Jaguars is as ominous as it gets.

Previous rank: No. 24

Carson Wentz did his part after a quiet first half, but the Commanders won’t win many games by asking their quarterback to be a do-everything savior. Wentz got very little support from the running game (anemic for two weeks running), but the real culprit in Sunday’s loss to Detroit was a defense that allowed a relaxed Jared Goff to throw four touchdown passes without a pick and the Lions’ running game to rumble for 191 yards. Wentz and the offense did their best to make things interesting after the Commanders fell behind 22-0 at halftime, but the defense proved incapable of getting a big stop to shift the game’s momentum. Get well soon, Chase Young.

Previous rank: No. 31

Now that’s the version of Trevor Lawrence the Jaguars are looking for. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick played smart and efficient football in his second start of the season, avoiding the mistakes of last week’s loss in Washington and letting the Jacksonville defense do the rest in a 24-0 win over the sagging Colts. Lawrence had completions to seven different receivers, including two passing scores to Christian Kirk. Credit Doug Pederson for cooking up a sound game plan that gave Lawrence good looks and open receivers as Jacksonville built up a 17-0 lead at the half. Embarrassing a supposedly superior division rival should be all the evidence the Jags need that the AFC South is there for the taking.

Previous rank: No. 25

Justin Fields nearly made it a game with his doomed fourth-and-goal stretch on Sunday night, but when the dust settled on a 27-7 loss, it was clear the dynamic of the Packers-Bears “rivalry” remains unchanged. Chicago was outclassed, particularly on defense in the run game. The Packers piled up 203 rushing yards, with Aaron Jones averaging nearly 9.0 yards per attempt. David Montgomery delivered a stellar statistical performance of his own, but what’s up with the Bears’ passing game? Fields had just 11 pass attempts all night, while nominal No. 1 wideout Darnell Mooney has 4 yards through two games. This team will need more monsoons to make a playoff push.

Previous rank: No. 29

If the Panthers offense we’ve seen in the first two weeks is what we’ll get for the entire season, a lot of changes are coming to Charlotte — and perhaps sooner than you think. Baker Mayfield has not proved himself to be a solution at quarterback thus far, leaving the door open for a potential Sam Darnold lineup return once he’s healthy. The Carolina defense has done its part, keeping mediocre Browns and Giants offenses from going wild, but the Panthers have now lost nine straight games dating back to last season. Matt Rhule’s seat is hot.

Previous rank: No. 28

It’s not too early to have serious concerns about the Texans’ offense. A week after Davis Mills and Co. disappeared in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Colts, Houston managed just 234 yards and three field goals in a 16-9 loss to the Broncos at Mile High. Mills also fumbled twice and averaged less than 5.0 yards per attempt in an uninspiring effort that included a four-and-out in the final minute. A bright spot for Houston? The defense, which repeatedly turned Denver away in the red zone and held Russell Wilson to just one touchdown pass. The Broncos were sloppy and begging to be picked off … but the Texans weren’t up for the challenge.

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