Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) and running back Kenjon Barner (34) celebrate a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Here’s a look at the 2016 NFL Power Rankings Week 4 with the Philadelphia Eagles climbing into the top five.
Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Eagles are on the rise in the 2016 NFL Power Rankings for Week 4.
After opening the season with wins against the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears, the Eagles were still a team looking to prove they deserve to be in the conversation of contenders as many argued the team had yet to be truly tested. With the way Philadelphia looked against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, it’s easy to assume this team has turned all doubters into strong believers as this team could even be in the conversation of being the best in the NFC.
The Eagles’ defense has looked phenomenal throughout the month of September and the fact they prevented the Steelers from scoring a single touchdown shows just how talented this squad really is. It won’t be easy, but if the defense can play at this high level on a weekly basis, Philadelphia could turn out to be one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Sep 25, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) intercepts a pass and runs for a touchdown during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
32. Cleveland Browns (32)
For the second-straight week, the Cleveland Browns found themselves in a game they were capable of winning. And just like last weekend, the Browns fell just shy of picking up their first win of the season.
What’s even more frustrating about this loss is Cleveland was in the perfect position to win Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, but Cody Parkey missed a 46-yard field goal right before the end of regulation. So instead of leaving Miami with a huge road win, Cleveland gave up a touchdown on the third drive of overtime to prevent the team from earning their first win of the 2016 season.
This year has already been a rough one for the Browns when considering the injuries at quarterback to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. Not to mention the wide receiver department took a major hit as well after Corey Coleman—who caught two touchdowns in Week 2—suffered a broken hand to keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
It’s still way too early in the season to make any assumptions, but this already looks like the same Browns team everybody is used to seeing. Once again, it looks like it’s going to be a disappointing year for Cleveland football.
Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) celebrates his third quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
31. Chicago Bears (31)
The only positive takeaway from Sunday’s game with the Chicago Bears is Zach Miller gave fantasy owners a wonderful surprise with two touchdown catches while playing in the national spotlight on Sunday Night Football.
With that being said, nobody was giving the Bears much of a chance against the Dallas Cowboy considering how terrible this team looked last Monday. In fact, one of the biggest regrets by the NFL has to be scheduling Chicago for back-to-back primetime games in a three-week span to start the season.
This team is never going to get anywhere with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. And Chicago’s defense had zero answers when it came to shutting down all of the weapons on Dallas’ offense. As bad as it sounds, the Bears are playing at a disappointing level where it’s tough to imagine them winning more than two or three games all season.
It’s amazing how quickly this team has fallen over the years and Alshon Jeffery‘s talent is being put to waste by being stuck on this squad. Don’t be surprised if the Bears remain at the bottom of this list for a majority of the season with the way this team has been playing so far.
Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) scrambles from pressure against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco, 37-18. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
30. San Francisco 49ers (29)
One week after putting up a dogfight against the Carolina Panthers and nearly pulling off a shocking upset, the San Francisco 49ers fell back down to earth with a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They now fall to 1-2 on the season.
Not many people were giving the 49ers much of a chance in Week 3. Playing in front of a hostile environment is one thing as the Seahawks have one of the strongest fan bases in the league, but San Francisco was the unfortunate victims of playing a team coming off a frustrating loss.
Don’t be fooled by the two touchdowns recorded by Carlos Hyde. They didn’t even come until the fourth quarter when the game was already over. The 49ers showed some life over the first two games as you had to wonder if they had what it takes to compete in the NFC West.
If Sunday was an example of how quality this team really is, chances are San Francisco is heading towards another disappointing season. So much for this team coming out strong against the Seahawks like they did against the Panthers and putting up a strong fight, right?
Sep 18, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) fourth quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
29. New Orleans Saints (30) (Play Monday Night)
The argument can be made that no team is feeling more frustration over the first two weeks of the season than the New Orleans Saints when considering how close both losses were.
After letting the Oakland Raiders steal one in the home opener, the Saints fell to the New York Giants 16-13 in Week 2. With a Monday night matchup at home against the Atlanta Falcons, this may be just what New Orleans needs to finally earn that first win of 2016.
With Drew Brees having two wide receivers on the rise in Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, this Saints’ offense is always capable of scoring more than 30 points per game. Of course, the toughest task will be finding a way to shutdown Julio Jones and the Falcons offense.
Jones has always proven to be one of the best players at his position. When looking at this matchup against New Orleans, it’s safe to say the Saints’ defense is going to have their hands full when it comes to shutting down the Falcons wideout.
If they fail to contain Jones, the Saints could be heading into Week 4 still looking for that first win of 2016.
Sep 25, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) reacts after a play in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at EverBank Field. Baltimore Ravens won 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (28)
For the second time in three games, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost by single digits after falling 19-17 to the Baltimore Ravens. The loss drops the Jaguars to 0-3 on the season. If the team keeps playing at this disappointing level, it’s hard not to wonder if Gus Bradley is going to keep his job.
When looking at all of the weapons on offense for the Jaguars, there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t be putting up big numbers on a weekly basis. Blake Bortles has dream options for most quarterbacks with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas. Yet for some reason, these players just can’t seem to get clicking on offense.
Nothing against the defense of the Ravens, but Bortles should have better results than 24-of-38 passing for 194 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Bradley has been head coach of this team for four years now and the fact that he’s never won more than five games shows he may not be the right fit for the Jags.
There’s still plenty of time to turn things around. But if Jacksonville continues playing at this poor level, they’re going to be out of the hunt in the AFC South before even hitting the halfway mark of the 2016 season.
Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) celebrates a touchdown catch during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
27. Detroit Lions (24)
If only the defense of the Detroit Lions showed up in the first half against the Green Bay Packers, their Week 3 game could have seen a completely different outcome.
The Lions have a history of struggling at Lambeau Field, and it appeared they were going to be in for another rough outing after watching the Packers jump out to a 31-3 lead. As impressive as it was to see Detroit only lose this game 34-27, it’s just more frustrating for the Lions to think how big this win would have been in the division.
On a positive note, one of the few bright spots for this team was the surprise emergence of Marvin Jones. The wideout joined the Lions in the offseason after spending the last three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Jones had the best performance of his career against the Packers, catching six passes for 205 yards with two touchdowns.
Even if it was only one game, Matthew Stafford has to be pleased with type of game from Jones. Now that Calvin Johnson is enjoying retirement, Stafford is going to need all of the help he can get in the passing game if Detroit is going to have any chance of competing in the NFC North. With a 1-2 record, the Lions better turn things around fast with the way the Packers and Minnesota Vikings are looking.
Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Chris Conte (23) is congratulated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Daryl Smith (51) after he recoved the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)
It’s only been one game, but it’s easy to see how much the Tampa Bay Buccaneers miss Doug Martin on offense.
Nobody wants to be the team that allows an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league in 2015 to score four touchdowns. But that’s exactly what happened to the Buccaneers during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. The sad thing is Tampa Bay was in the perfect position to win at the end of the game before Jameis Winston wasted a perfect opportunity to throw the game-winning pass by getting tackled as time expired.
After the first game of the season, there was finally excitement surrounding the Buccaneers as a team to keep an eye on in the NFC. Following Sunday’s loss, it’s clear this team still has plenty to work on before they can join that conversation.
It’s amazing to see Winston go from four touchdowns opening weekend to costly turnovers the following two games. He may be young, but Tampa Bay had to have hoped Winston would be making better decisions by now as the leader for this offense.
Then again, it doesn’t help Winston much when the defense allowed the Rams to score all those points when Tampa Bay’s offense puts up 32 points.
Sep 25, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) celebrates as he scores the game winning touchdown to defeat the Cleveland Browns 34-24 in overtime at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
25. Miami Dolphins (26)
After starting the season with two losses by single digits, the Miami Dolphins should be thankful for escaping Week 3 with a win over the Browns. Frankly, they were dangerous close to blowing this one.
Thanks to a late missed field goal by Cleveland, Miami was able to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime on an 11-yard run by Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins appeared to be in control of the game with an 11-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but that obviously didn’t work out as expected.
One of the main things that stood out in this game was the strong performance by Jarvis Landry. The former LSU star recorded his second-straight game of over 100 receiving yards (7-120-1 vs the Browns). He seems to be picking up right where he left off after a big year in 2015.
Don’t be fooled by Miami’s record. This team seems to be very underrated, even with a 1-2 record. As long as Landry can continue this type of success in the passing game, the Dolphins will be just fine when it comes to competing with the rest of the teams in the AFC.
Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium. The Raiders won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
24. Tennessee Titans (20)
The good news for the Tennessee Titans is DeMarco Murray is turning into a great offseason pickup after the running back finished with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries during Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. The bad news for the Titans is Marcus Mariota needs to work on his turnovers if this team is going to have any chance at making a playoff run.
Sunday was a game to forget for Mariota after the former Oregon star recorded three turnovers as Tennessee went on to lose to Oakland, 17-10. Even in the fourth quarter, the Titans found themselves in position to tie up the game before failing to convert from the Oakland 12-yard line in the game’s final minute.
There’s no question this offense is a major upgrade for Mariota when compared to what he worked with at this time last year. But the pressure falls on his shoulders when it comes to leading the Titans. It’s only been three games and Mariota’s turnovers are a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, Tennessee will be heading towards another disappointing season with even more questions surrounding Mariota at quarterback.
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin (12) can not come up with a catch against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (21) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats San Diego 26-22. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
23. San Diego Chargers (19)
As if the injury bug wasn’t already annoying to deal with, the San Diego Chargers have to be kicking themselves at 1-2 knowing they could easily be 3-0 heading into Week 4. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the team can do about this disappointing start. But it’s still frustrating for the Chargers to think about.
San Diego appeared to be in complete control of this game before letting T.Y Hilton break loose for a 63-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to play. That big play ended up being the game winner for the Colts. Between this game and the opening weekend loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers have nobody to blame but themselves for being in this current position as they prepare for another tough matchup against the Saints in Week 4.
Philip Rivers has always made this team a contender in the AFC. The one thing San Diego can hope for is this poor start will motivate the quarterback to take his game to the next level. When it comes to being competitive, Rivers ranks near the top of the list, hating losing more than anything.
There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, but the Chargers need to figure out a way to avoid blowing fourth-quarter leads if they have any intention of making a postseason run.
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) reacts to scoring the winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats San Diego 26-22. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
22. Indianapolis Colts (22)
Speaking of Hilton and the Colts, this team has to be beyond thankful for avoiding an 0-3 start after that thrilling win over the Chargers. Everyone knew there were plenty of concerns with Indianapolis heading into the regular season (especially on defense). However, nobody could have predicted them to look like this after three weeks. After two losses to the Lions and Denver Broncos, the last thing the Colts wanted to see happen is miss out on an opportunity to trim the AFC South race down after the Houston Texans fell to the New England Patriots.
Andrew Luck (24-of-37 for 331 yards with a touchdown and an interception) could have played a little better when considering his lone touchdown pass didn’t even come until end of the game. But at least the Colts were productive in the ground game. Any time Frank Gore rushes for 82 yards with a touchdown on 21 carries should be considered a good day. Let’s hope the veteran running back can find a way to display these numbers on a weekly basis.
Indianapolis has gotten off to slow starts before, but maybe this team deserves a little slack with the type of opponents they’ve had to face. Once Luck finds a way to get rolling on offense, this team should be able to return to an elite level.
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws an interception under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard (96) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
21. New York Jets (15)
For a player that spent most of the offseason fighting for a hefty contract, Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been making a strong case as the New York Jets have every reason in the world to be frustrated with their quarterback after his Week 3 performance. Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe what Fitzpatrick did against the Kansas City Chiefs as the quarterback set a career high with six interceptions in the 24-3 loss. It’s easy to understand a player having a poor performance every once in a while. But a game like this from Fitzpatrick is completely unacceptable.
Despite falling just short of the postseason, the Jets made a statement last year by proving they’re talented enough to compete with the rest of the AFC. A road win against a playoff-caliber team like the Chiefs would have been amazing for this team. Now the main concern is whether Fitzpatrick even deserves to be the starter.
With only three touchdowns on the season, New York should be thankful for not rewarding Fitzpatrick with that long-term deal he wanted so badly. For a team loaded with talent on offense, it’s time for Fitzpatrick to turn things around and prove he’s worthy of the starting job before the Jets find themselves in a deeper hole.
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) reacts after a touchdown during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
20. Buffalo Bills (27)
Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can change in one week for the Buffalo Bills? For a team many expected to struggle after the surprise firing of former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Bills ended up being one of the biggest Week 3 surprises thanks to their impressive win over the Arizona Cardinals.
At the beginning of the week, this matchup seemed like the ultimate trap game for Arizona as Buffalo was coming off a Week 2 game against New York they easily could have won. In fact, each of the Bills losses this year came by six points, which may have given them a little more motivation to win against the Cardinals on Sunday.
From the defense picking off Carson Palmer four times to LeSean McCoy‘s two touchdowns to go with 110 rushing yards on 17 carries, this was a much-needed win for Buffalo to get out of their early-season funk. If they can play like this against a team with the talent level of Arizona, why should’t they be able to do the same against some of the other contenders in the NFL?
Rex Ryan also has to be relieved over his hot seat cooling down after this big win. Now the challenge becomes making sure his team plays like this on a weekly basis.
Sep 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme (83) is congratulated by wide receiver Julio Jones (11) after catching a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Falcons defeated the Raiders 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
19. Atlanta Falcons (17) (Play Monday Night)
The Atlanta Falcons are feeling confident heading into their Week 3 matchup against the New Orleans Saints after an impressive road win last weekend against the Oakland Raiders. Based on the talent level from both teams, this Monday night matchup has the potential to turn into quite the shootout between these NFC South rivals.
Jones has established a reputation for being one of the league’s top wide receivers. But the offseason addition of Mohamed Sanu has made the Falcons even more dangerous in the passing game. Monday’s game looks like a dream matchup for these two speedy wide receivers as the Saints’ defense has never been anything to brag about. This game becomes even more meaningful after the Carolina Panthers dropped to 1-2 on the season.
Atlanta was the laughing stock of the league last year when they failed to make the playoffs. They now have the perfect opportunity to get back into the driver’s seat. New Orleans is never an easy environment to play in, but Matt Ryan has pulled off some impressive performances over the years in this rivalry. Expect Ryan and company to come out firing in what should be an entertaining way to end Week 3.
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (95) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 31-18. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
18. Arizona Cardinals (8)
What on earth has happened to the Arizona Cardinals this year? After struggling in the preseason, it seemed like this team would find a way to turn things around once the meaningful games got underway.
Instead, the Cardinals are quickly becoming one of the biggest disappointments of 2016—and it’s only been three weeks. It was one thing to lose opening weekend the way they did to the New England Patriots. But there’s no excuse for what took place on Sunday against the Bills.
Not only did Arizona allow Buffalo to jump out to a 17-0 lead, but the Cardinals didn’t even score their first points of the game until there was a minute left in the first half. For a team loaded with all sorts of talent on both sides of the football, this team looks like anything but a contender, and if Carson Palmer—who threw four interceptions against the Bills—doesn’t start playing better soon, he’s going to risk losing his starting job at quarterback.
For whatever reason, Arizona just hasn’t been the same team since their embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship last January. It’s amazing how fast a team can go from being one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl during the preseason to sitting in this position heading into Week 4 where the Cardinals look more like pretenders.
Even though it’s only been three weeks, the Washington Redskins found themselves in a must-win situation against the New York Giants. Not only would the Redskins have fallen to 0-3 on the season, but they would be facing a tough uphill battle when looking at how the rest of the NFC East is playing at the moment.
While the defense still appears to be a work in progress, the main factor from this game for the Redskins is Kirk Cousins (21 of 35 for 296 yards with two touchdowns) didn’t make the turnover mistakes in the end zone like the previous two weeks. As for the poor clock management by Cousins at the end of the first half, that’s a different story.
Now that Washington has that first win of the season under their belt, the main thing will be keeping that momentum going into Week 4 as they have a favorable matchup against the Browns. Despite all of the success from the other three teams in the division, the Redskins know the division race is still wide open with plenty of football left to play.
Whether that happens or not will fall on the shoulders of Cousins, but at least the quarterback came up big for this team against the Giants.
Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) is congratulated by quarterback Case Keenum (17) after he scored a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
16. Los Angeles Rams (25)
Who would have thought after three weeks of NFL football, the Los Angeles Rams would technically be the ones in first place in the NFC West? Even though the game was much closer than it should have been, the Rams’ offense finally got things clicking against the Buccaneers. And the team overall managed to score a total of five touchdowns. Los Angeles was the lone team in the NFL without a touchdown heading into Week 3, but Sunday was the perfect example of how talented this team can really be.
Not only did Todd Gurley (85 rushing yards with two touchdowns) finally find the holes on offense, but Tavon Austin finally found a groove after catching five passes for 82 yards—including a key 43-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. After failing to record a single catch in the preseason along with numerous drops the previous two weeks, this is the style of play Los Angeles has been waiting to see from Austin. If he can find a way to just be consistent on offense, there’s every reason to believe this team is capable of competing in the NFC.
The defense was the main reason behind this team’s success in 2015, but the offense is going to be the difference-maker for this squad.
Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Shane Vereen (34) celebrates with Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
15. New York Giants (14)
First off, Odell Beckham Jr. needs to figure out a better way of controlling his emotions on the sidelines as the wideout was the unfortunate victim of having a net fall on him following a helmet slam.
With that out of the way, this is going to be one of those games where the New York Giants look back on out of frustration. Simply, they should have come up on the winning end. Eli Manning helped the offense jump out to a quick 14-3 lead in the first quarter before battling back-and-forth with the Redskins and eventually losing in the fourth quarter.
New York seemed like they were going to win this game on a field goal until Manning threw that costly interception during the team’s final drive of the game. Even if this was only one game, when looking at how the NFC East is shaping up, every division matchup looks like it’s going to be important throughout the regular season. And the Giants missed out on the perfect opportunity to stick it to the Redskins.
On another note, how good has the addition of Sterling Shepard (five catches for 73 yards with a touchdown) been for the passing game? If he continues playing like this, New York is going to have one heck of a trio at wideout.
Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders strong safety T.J. Carrie (38) celebrates after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
14. Oakland Raiders (18)
It may not have been the most impressive victory, but the Oakland Raiders deserve credit for holding on against the Titans in what turned out to be a very tough road matchup.
Raiders fans haven’t been this excited about their team in a long time as this team finally seems ready to take the next step of becoming contenders in the AFC. Michael Crabtree (eight catches for 102 yards) continues to shine in the passing game as the wideout is a huge threat playing alongside Amari Cooper. But the only way this team is going to reach the next level is with solid play from Derek Carr at quarterback.
After an impressive 2015 season, Carr seems capable of being a top-10 quarterback—especially with the weapons he has in the passing game. His numbers against Tennessee (21-of-35 for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception) may not be impressive, but Carr does have this team sitting at 2-1 heading into Week 4.
Of course, Oakland still has a long way to go when considering they play in one of the toughest division in football. The AFC West could end up with two or three teams in the playoffs. And the Raiders hope they can finally be one of those teams come December and January.
Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to pass under pressure against the Denver Broncos during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Broncos won 29-17. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
13. Cincinnati Bengals (10)
After starting off the game on a hot note by rushing down the throats of the Denver Broncos, the Cincinnati Bengals appeared to be on their way to a big Week 3 win against the defending Super Bowl champions. Instead, the Bengals failed to show up in the second half and lost their second game of 2016.
Cincinnati isn’t going to win many games where Andy Dalton fails to throw a single touchdown. But the biggest surprise from this game was how the defense allowed Trevor Siemian to throw four touchdowns. While Jeremy Hill‘s two touchdowns on 97 rushing yards was solid for the ground game, it’s not as meaningful if the Bengals fail to come up on the winning end.
In defense of the Bengals, this team has not had the easiest of schedules to start off the year by facing three tough AFC teams with winning records from a year ago. Still, the only way Cincinnati is going to have any shot at making a deep run in the playoffs is by beating those kinds of teams. As impressive as their opening weekend win against the Jets was, the true tests have been the last two weeks against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Broncos—both of which resulted in losses.
Sep 25, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Kyle Arrington (24) and inside linebacker Zach Orr (54) run after intercepting the ball during the second half of a football game against the Jacksonville Jaguarsat EverBank Field. The Baltimore Ravens won 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
12. Baltimore Ravens (16)
When it comes to the most underrated undefeated teams, the argument can be made the Baltimore Ravens are on the top of that list. Nobody expected this start.
After Mike Wallace carried the passing game over the first two games, it was Steve Smith who came up big against the Jaguars on Sunday after the wideout caught eight passes for 87 yards. While this game ended up being closer than the Ravens would have preferred, they still have to be pleased with holding on for this road win.
Nothing against Baltimore, but this team still has a long way to go when it comes to proving they deserve to be in the conversation of contenders when looking at the favorable schedule to start the season. The three opponents for the Ravens have one win combined after three weeks. The true test will be how this team matches up against the Steelers and Bengals.
If the Ravens can continue playing this well, it would make the division race in the AFC North even more entertaining. Also, the defense deserves credit for not allowing more than 20 points in a game so far during this young 2016 season.
Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) heads for the bench after a New England Patriots touchdown during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
11. Houston Texans (4)
The Houston Texans couldn’t have asked for a better gift in Week 3 by playing the New England Patriots without Tom Brady in the lineup. Instead, the Texans ended up being one of the biggest disappointments of Week 3. Not because they failed to take advantage of playing against a third-string quarterback, but because they were shutout in the process.
In a game that could have been considered a possible playoff preview, Houston just failed to show up on both sides of the football against New England as they suffered their first loss of the season. The Texans came up big with a huge statement win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. But this loss to the Patriots hurts from the perspective of proving they deserve to be contenders with the rest of the teams from the AFC.
If that’s going to happen, it’s up to Brock Osweiler to step it up at quarterback for this offense. The Texans are paying their quarterback a ton of money for a reason. These are the games he needs to come up big for his teammates instead of throwing for just 196 yards with an interception like he did against the Patriots.
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs after a catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (6)
The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to be the team that brought the defense of the Philadelphia Eagles back down to earth, mainly because of their high-powered offense led by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. Instead, the Steelers failed to score a single touchdown against the Eagles in what turned out to be one of the biggest surprise outcomes from Sunday.
It’s one thing to lose a close game. However, nobody expected the Steelers’ offense to struggles as much as they did in this one. There was so much hype surrounding this offense at the beginning of the season when it came to the possibility of setting numerous records, but this loss proves this team is capable of being contained on offense.
Not even the 12 catches for 140 yards by Brown seemed to matter for Pittsburgh as this performance turned out to be a waste for this offense. The good thing is there’s no reason for the Steelers to hit the panic button as this was just a tough loss against an Eagles team that appears to be on the rise. On a positive note for Steelers fans, at least the Bengals lost, helping out in the division.
Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) dives for the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
9. Dallas Cowboys (11)
Cards on the table, there’s no reason why the Dallas Cowboys should have worried about Sunday’s game against the Bears when considering how much more talented this team is. Once again, Dak Prescott looked like a veteran running the offense as the rookie quarterback recorded his first career touchdown pass to Dez Bryant in the 31-17 win over the Bears. As impressive as Prescott’s numbers have been over the first three games, the one thing that sticks out the most is how the rookie has yet to make a single turnover.
Normally, Dallas has a history of struggling with Tony Romo out of the lineup. But Prescott has helped this team keep remain calm each week. If the offensive line of the Cowboys continues to give Prescott this type of protection, the sky is going to be the limit for this team.
Who would have thought a fourth-round pick would be the main reason behind the 2-1 start for the Cowboys? Dallas seems to be rolling on offense heading into Week 4 and it’s scary to think a big part of their success is due to two rookies. All of a sudden, the future appears to be bright for this offense of the Cowboys.
Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin (2) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 37-18. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
8. Seattle Seahawks (9)
Will the Seattle Seahawks rely on Trevone Boykin in Week 4? With Russell Wilson continuing to deal with injuries, the Seahawks may have to turn to Boykin next weekend. Still, Wilson has always been the type of quarterback that is willing to do whatever it takes to be on the football field. As long as he gets permission to go, it’s safe to say he’ll be the starter for the Seahawks.
After a surprise loss to the Rams in which the offense failed to score a single touchdown, a matchup against the 49ers was just what the Seahawks needed to finally get the ball rolling on offense. Over the first two games of the season, Seattle’s offense seemed to be in a funk. But Sunday’s game was the perfect example of how dangerous they can be.
As impressive as Doug Baldwin (eight catches for 164 yards with a touchdown) and Jimmy Graham (six catches for 100 yards with a touchdown), the most exciting thing for this Seattle squad is the emergence of Christine Michael at running back. He still has a long way to go when it comes to being on the same level as Marshawn Lynch, but Michael has shined so far this season and came up huge for the Seahawks against the 49ers with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) argues a no call in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 22-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
7. Carolina Panthers (3)
The Carolina Panthers knew they were facing a tough task against the Minnesota Vikings when considering how tough their defense is, but Cam Newton and company didn’t expect these results at the end of the day.
No matter how hard they tried, the Panthers were no match for the Vikings’ defense as they fell to the defending NFC North champions, 22-10. Everyone knew this game would come down to which defense performed better. But for Newton to throw three interceptions in the loss caught Carolina completely off guard.
Is there a reason for concern over the Panthers? This team has suffered two tough losses against teams that will most likely be playing in January. Still, there’s every reason for this team to be frustrated over Sunday’s game against Minnesota when they knew playing at home was supposed to give them the upper hand in this matchup.
Carolina has played some amazing football at home prior to Sunday. However, this is the last thing the team wanted to see happen against a strong NFC contender. If the Panthers don’t turn things around soon, they could be fighting for a Wild Card spot in a few months instead of sitting on top of the division like last year.
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) runs the ball during the second half against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
6. Kansas City Chiefs (12)
Forget all of the concerns surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs following last weekend’s loss to the Texans as this team proved they’re going to be just fine and should still be considered one of the top contenders in the AFC.
While the Chiefs knew they were at an advantage playing at Arrowhead Stadium against the Jets, no one on this team could have predicted the defense would end the game with six interceptions on Fitzpatrick. Those types of poor performances are almost unheard of at the NFL level. Any fantasy football team with the Chiefs’ defense racked up a ton of points over the weekend.
Kansas City is the type of team that will go as far as their defense will take them. If they can shut down an offense loaded with weapons like the Jets, they seem capable of beating anybody. The offense still has a few areas in need of improvement, but as long as Alex Smith is healthy enough to call the shots under center, the Chiefs have nothing to worry about.
The defense may not play this well on a weekly basis, but this was the bounce-back game Kansas City needed to help get over that loss to the Texans.
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) leads the huddle in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
5. Philadelphia Eagles (13)
Nobody believed in the Philadelphia Eagles over the first two games. Many thought this team wasn’t truly tested with games against the Browns and Bears. After laying the hammer down on the Steelers during their 31-point victory, the Eagles not only turned their doubters into believers—now they’re starting to be in discussion as the team to beat in the NFC.
Obviously, this team still has a long way to go. Even still, it’s tough not to get excited about Philadelphia when looking at how well this team has come together. Not only has the defense allowed just 27 points all season, but Carson Wentz looks like anything but a rookie running this offense.
It’s amazing to think how the original plan was to rest Wentz during his first season and that the only reason why he begun the year as the starter was due to Sam Bradford‘s trade to the Minnesota Vikings. Sunday’s game was a huge statement win for this team as they manhandled one of the top offenses the NFL has in the Steelers.
If they can prevent Pittsburgh from scoring a touchdown, just imagine what could be in store for this team throughout the rest of the season.
Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to pass in the third quarter during the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
4. Green Bay Packers (7)
Every time someone doubts Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, they seem to bounce back with a strong performance. Lucky for the Packers, the team has a strong history with solid performances against the Lions at Lambeau Field. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday.
Even though it ended up closer than originally expected, the fact that Rodgers had four touchdowns in the first half shows just how much the Packers were clicking on offense in this one. Jordy Nelson led the way for Green Bay in the passing game with six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Eddie Lacy came up big in the ground game, breaking the 100-yard mark for the first time this season.
Last weekend’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a tough pill to swallow for the Packers. But there was never a reason to be concerned over this squad. Sunday’s win against Detroit is the perfect example of just how dangerous Green Bay can be. This team just needs to focus on playing at an elite level for an entire game instead of only one half.
To go from scoring 31 points in the first half to only three in the second half isn’t the best way to win games. The Packers know that, but it still results in an impressive victory.
Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
3. Minnesota Vikings (5)
Which team made the biggest statement in Week 3? After their impressive win over the Carolina Panthers on the road, how can the Minnesota Vikings not take home the honors for this one?
The Vikings have made adjustments before without Adrian Peterson, but nobody expected this team to go on the road and defeat the defending NFC champions. Minnesota was already coming off a huge statement win against Green Bay. This victory, though, shows just how high in the top-tier this team can be.
Mike Zimmer‘s defense has been phenomenal so far in 2016. Even though they still have a long way to go, the Vikings should be considered one of the top teams to beat in the conference. The Panthers have almost been unstoppable on offense while playing at home over their last couple of games. Thus, the Vikings 22-10 win was easily one of the biggest surprises of Week 3.
On top of a stellar performance by the defense, Sam Bradford deserves plenty of credit once again. For a quarterback that was forced to make a quick adjustment following a trade from the Eagles, Bradford is taking advantage of playing on a talented team like the Vikings and is flourishing so far.
Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) celebrates the touchdown by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Broncos won 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
2. Denver Broncos (2)
Over his first two games as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Trevor Siemian was doing just what the team needed him to do on offense without displaying any standout performances. After Sunday’s win against the Bengals, it’s safe to say the Broncos are feeling much better over their decision to have Siemian at quarterback.
Siemian came up huge for Denver during his first career road start after completing 23-of-35 passes for 312 yards with four touchdowns against Cincinnati. The defense has always been the main reason behind the Broncos’ success. But nobody expected this type of performance from Siemian in Week 3.
Hopefully, this is the type of game Siemian needed to boost his confidence moving forward as he’ll play a key role in the success of this Broncos squad. Denver’s offense is loaded with plenty of weapons between Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but the quarterback position was the main concern heading into the regular season.
Now that Siemian has a strong performance like this under his belt, the true test will be whether he can keep it going by staying consistent. If Siemian manages to do so, the Broncos may have one of the best overall teams in football.
Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) celebrates with quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 27-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
1. New England Patriots (1)
Without Tom Brady for the first four games, many expected the New England Patriots to win two games at most when considering the brutal schedule. Against all odds, the Patriots are 3-0 with two impressive wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans, which means this team is going to be extremely dangerous once Brady returns from suspension.
The fact that New England defeated one of the best teams in Houston with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback shows just how much of a genius Josh McDaniels is as an offensive coordinator. It’s only a matter of time before he lands another head coaching job. While the quarterback’s Week 4 status is in jeopardy due to a thumb injury, the Patriots are proving they can win with any player at quarterback.
Plus, the team only has to survive one more game against the Bills before Brady returns.
What New England has done over the first three weeks of the regular season is simply amazing, What’s even more crazy is this team hasn’t even come close to hitting their true potential. Once Brady and Rob Gronkowski return to their dominant ways, this Patriots’ offense is going to hit a whole new level of playing.