Just one week after it looked like the AFC was ready to take over as the superior conference with the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos and Bengals at the top, two of those teams lost. The Steelers in particular were especially disappointing, falling to the Eagles, 34-3.
That wasn’t the only upset of a wild Week 3, though. Several teams made jumps up the rankings, while others (I’m looking at you, Arizona) fell quite a bit. The season is still very young, but those teams sitting at 0-3 are running out of time to make a bid for the playoffs.
On the flip side, five teams are still undefeated and appear poised to reach the playoffs, as 75 percent of 3-0 teams do. Those teams are the Patriots, Broncos, Vikings, Eagles and Ravens. Without further ado, here are your power rankings heading into Week 4.
Chicago Bears (last week: 31)
The Bears are the worst team in the league, regardless of who’s starting at quarterback. The running game hasn’t gotten going in three weeks, Alshon Jeffery has been pedestrian, and the defense is filled with poor tacklers and would-be backups in the secondary if not for injuries. This team needs to be overhauled.
Cleveland Browns (last week: 32)
The Browns may not be good, but at least they fight their tails off. Cleveland should have beat the Dolphins if not for three (!!!) missed field goals by its kicker, Cody Parkey. In typical Browns fashion, though, they collapsed and lost in overtime to Miami.
Getty ImagesEric Espada
New Orleans Saints (last week: 28)
The Saints still have Drew Brees, but they also boast one of the worst defenses in football. With Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams out, their secondary is depleted. And it doesn’t help that Jairus Byrd can’t make an open-field tackle. The Saints have a long way to go to recover from this 0-3 start, and it seems unlikely the defense can fix itself in 2016.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsChuck Cook
Jacksonville Jaguars (last week: 27)
Perhaps we were all too quick to jump on the Jaguars bandwagon. Blake Bortles has regressed from last season and Allen Robinson has just 183 yards in three games. At least Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler Jr. have played as expected and lifted the defense to another level. They just need some help from their teammates.
San Francisco 49ers (last week: 26)
Blaine Gabbert is hanging on to the starting quarterback job by a thread, and that thread might be cut in the coming weeks. Colin Kaepernick isn’t fully healthy, but it will likely be his team when he is 100 percent. Until then, the 49ers aren’t a team that worries opponents on offense.
Detroit Lions (last week: 24)
Matthew Stafford has been just fine without Calvin Johnson, mainly thanks to Marvin Jones’ emergence. Unfortunately, they don’t have the slightest resemblance of a running game, and the defense has been gashed regularly. Stafford can only do so much by himself, which won’t be enough to get Detroit anywhere.
New York Jets (last week: 17)
With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Jets don’t always know what they’re going to get. He could throw four touchdowns or six interceptions like he did on Sunday, and that’s going to doom them in the coming weeks. Their schedule is only going to get tougher, so having two losses right now hurts their chances at a playoff berth. Fitzpatrick needs to be more consistent.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week: 20)
Jameis Winston has to cut down on the turnovers if the Buccaneers are going to contend in the NFC South. He looked great in Week 1 but has fallen off the past two games, which is concerning. And his lack of awareness on the final play of Sunday’s game was laughable. The running game needs to improve when Doug Martin gets back, too, because Charles Sims isn’t cutting it.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
Miami Dolphins (last week: 25)
Miami got its first win of the season over the Browns, who were led by a third-string quarterback. And to make matters worse, it took overtime for the Fins to come out on top. The Dolphins and Jets are close for owning the title of the worst team in the division, but at least the Jets have a decent win over the Bills. The Dolphins barely beat an undermanned Cleveland team.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Buffalo Bills (last week: 30)
What to make of the Bills? One week, they’re on the brink of firing Rex Ryan and the next they upset one of the top teams in the NFC. Where does this leave them? At 1-2 with Sammy Watkins still injured and a lack of talent on defense. Still, it’s impossible not to give them credit for utterly dominating the Cardinals at home.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SportsTimothy T. Ludwig
Washington Redskins (last week: 29)
After nearly beating the Cowboys, the Redskins returned to upset another division rival in the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins looked more like his 2015 self, but how long that will last remains to be seen. Putting Josh Norman on opposing No. 1 receivers will help the defense, but it won’t do anything for the team’s non-existent running game. At least on Sunday they were able to gain some yardage on the ground, which is a positive sign.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner
Tennessee Titans (last week: 23)
So far Mike Mularkey’s Exotic Smashmouth offense hasn’t worked as planned with the Titans sitting at 1-2. Sure, they’re toward the top in rushing yards per game, but that hasn’t gotten them very far. They don’t scare many teams across the league.
San Diego Chargers (last week: 18)
Philip Rivers hasn’t missed much of a beat without Keenan Allen or Danny Woodhead, but it’s undeniable the offense is less explosive without them. At least Melvin Gordon looks like the player he was in college, though the defense needs to play better. At 1-2, the Chargers are falling behind quickly in the AFC West.
Indianapolis Colts (last week: 21)
Like the Seahawks, the Colts have a putrid offensive line that has significantly hurt the team. Andrew Luck has milliseconds to read the defense, react and make throws, which isn’t ideal. And on the other side of the ball, a depleted secondary desperately needs reinforcements.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY SportsThomas J. Russo
Los Angeles Rams (last week: 22)
Which team leads the NFC West? It’s those same Rams who were blanked by the 49ers in Week 1. The defense has played extremely well thus far and while the offense is still far from explosive, Todd Gurley found some running lanes, which is promising. Still, they’re far from a threat to the Cardinals or Seahawks.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Houston Texans (last week: 8)
The Texans lost to a Jacoby Brissett-led Patriots team, which is far worse than the Cardinals falling to Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 1. This should have been a game Houston won, or at least remained competitive in. However, Brock Osweiler became the dink-and-dunk king and turnovers were a huge issue.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsWinslow Townson
New York Giants (last week: 11)
There’s no question the Giants suffered a disappointing loss against the Redskins, but divisional matchups are always expected to be tough in the NFC East. The defense came back down to earth, and Eli Manning committed too many turnovers. The running game will now be without Shane Vereen -- which certainly hurts -- but getting Rashad Jennings back will ease the burden.
Cincinnati Bengals (last week: 9)
Cincinnati’s defense was shredded by Trevor Siemian and the Broncos on Sunday, dropping the Bengals to 1-2. It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but they could easily be 0-3 had the Jets scored on their final drive in Week 1. Cincy has several issues to fix, particularly on defense.
Oakland Raiders (last week: 16)
The Raiders eked out a win over the Titans on Sunday to move to 2-1, but they should have beat Tennessee handily. Derek Carr has been impressive through three weeks and the ground game has also come to life. They remain contenders out West.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Carolina Panthers (last week: 6)
The Panthers have faced the Broncos, 49ers and Vikings this season. Those three teams have a combined record of 7-2. The offensive line doomed Cam Newton on Sunday, allowing eight sacks, but this is a matter of Carolina drawing a tough schedule to start the year.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Atlanta Falcons (last week: 19)
Not many would have thought the Falcons would be sitting at 2-1 with wins on the road against the Raiders and Saints. But Matt Ryan is playing lights out, and Atlanta's two-headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have added another dynamic to the offense. The Falcons showed they can win without a huge game from Julio Jones.
Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 15)
The Chiefs made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a Division III quarterback on Sunday, picking him off six times and forcing eight total turnovers. The offense is still a work in progress as Alex Smith has been unimpressive thus far, but the defense is littered with ball hawks.
Dallas Cowboys (last week: 13)
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have gotten better each and every week – statistically and mentally. Both players were near-perfect against the lowly Bears and the defense made stops when needed most. Dallas’ schedule is going to get considerably tougher in the coming weeks, so the Cowboys will likely falter a bit. But Tony Romo’s looming return helps.
Arizona Cardinals (last week: 5)
Welp, Arizona is undoubtedly the biggest mystery in the NFL. The Cardinals are impressive one week and get blown out by the Bills the next, so it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly they are. At the very least, the Cardinals have a great defense and an outstanding running back in David Johnson, but their reliance on deep passes is concerning.
Baltimore Ravens (last week: 14)
Fact: The Ravens are 3-0. Also fact: The Ravens have beat three teams with a combined record of 1-8. That’s not exactly impressive, but they are one of five teams with three wins right now. Up next, they’ll face the Raiders, Redskins and Giants in what should be three much bigger tests.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY SportsLogan Bowles
Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: 2)
The Steelers looked like one of the two best teams heading into their matchup with the Eagles. Yet, all they did was lay an egg and suffer their worst loss since 1989. There are still several question marks on defense, but Le’Veon Bell’s return should give the offense a spark after falling flat Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks (last week: 10)
Russell Wilson has an MCL sprain and is questionable for Week 4, but the Seahawks got back on track against the 49ers on Sunday. Seattle still has one of the most talented rosters in football when healthy, and the defense has been strong all season. It’s just a matter of time before the Seahawks get into a groove again.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY SportsTroy Wayrynen
Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 12)
The biggest surprise of the season has been the Eagles, without question. They’re 3-0 and dominated the Steelers on Sunday with a 34-3 victory. The defense is legit, Carson Wentz has been outstanding, and they’re deep at running back. Philadelphia is officially a contender.
Green Bay Packers (last week: 7)
The Packers beat the Lions, but it should have been by far more than seven points. Aaron Rodgers returned to form as an elite quarterback to the tune of four first-half touchdowns, but Mike McCarthy took his foot off the pedal with a big lead, as he typically does. Still, a win’s a win.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu
Minnesota Vikings (last week: 4)
The Vikings continued to roll without three of their best offensive players on Sunday, and they did so against the defending NFC champs. Sam Bradford has taken hold of the offense, and Minnesota’s defense is arguably the second best in the league.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
Denver Broncos (last week: 3)
Trevor Siemian had the game of his life on Sunday – and that goes back to his college days. Siemian lit up the Bengals defense with 312 yards and four touchdowns as the Broncos moved to 3-0. The defense has shut down each and every offense it’s come across dating back to last season, and Siemian’s play has been better than that of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler in 2015.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
New England Patriots (last week: 1)
At this point, it’s not completely ludicrous to say the Patriots could win with Julian Edelman at quarterback. Bill Belichick is only bolstering his legacy as an all-time great with each passing week, most recently beating the Texans with a third-string, rookie quarterback. New England has the best team in football, and will only get better when Tom Brady returns.