The NFL Power Rankings are still in their infancy this season after Week 2. Teams are skyrocketing up and tumbling down early on. But the rankings won’t take shape until about midway through the season when we learn what these 32 teams are and what they may be after 17 games.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 6 | Trying their best out there
The rosters in Tier 6 are unfortunate. Even the Indianapolis Colts, who were seen as a possible division favorite, are in trouble without Michael Pittman Jr. and Shaquille Leonard on the field. But they are the only non-rebuilding team in this tier.
32) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons’ defense looked disjointed against the LA attack early on. If it weren’t for Matthew Stafford’s weekly FIGJAM throw into a non-existent window, the Rams might have scored touchdowns on each of their first five offensive possessions.
But instead of giving up, the Falcons climbed back from a 31-10 deficit to make it a 31-25 game after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown.
31) Carolina Panthers
Matt Rhule might survive another few weeks, but there’s a good chance this team is 0-7 when they meet Atlanta in Week 8. With games against the Saints, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, and Buccaneers in consecutive weeks, it would take the James Webb Space Telescope to see where they can notch a win.
The offense was never going to be outstanding, but it’s been non-existent in the first two weeks of the season. Rhule fired Joe Brady before the end of Year 2, hiring Ben McAdoo as his replacement. In an age of offensive innovation, this never felt like a step in that direction.
30) Houston Texans
Once again, the Houston Texans fought hard to win a football game and came up slightly short. They nearly averaged as many yards on the ground as they did through the air. Davis Mills could only manage 4.7 yards per attempt in the passing attack against a strong Broncos defense. He was also sacked three times and fumbled twice.
The Texans were helped by poor coaching on the other side of the ball and the Broncos’ inability to score in the red zone or convert on third down. But this young Texans defense has played some stellar football over the first two weeks of the NFL season.
29) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are an outstanding example of us not knowing a darned thing until real football is played. Matt Ryan appeared to be an upgrade from Carson Wentz. However, Chris Ballard has done nothing to improve an already underwhelming receiving corps, and the offensive line has disintegrated over the past few seasons.
Hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator could be a fireable offense for Frank Reich, but injuries haven’t helped their defensive outcomes, either.
28) Chicago Bears
Make it 24 of the last 28 games that the Chicago Bears have fallen to the Green Bay Packers. Justin Fields had more rushing attempts than completions before the Bears got the ball back with a little more than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. That’s odd, considering the Bears trailed from the second quarter on.
But the Bears only managed 39 offensive plays to that same point in the game. They had more three-and-outs than not against Green Bay. They were 1 for 7 on third downs and only managed 11 first downs before the two-minute warning. Chicago took Sunday Night Football back to the 1950s, and they scored a 1950s amount of points in turn.
27) New York Jets
Honestly, nobody could have convinced me after Joe Flacco’s preseason performance and Week 1 outing that he’d win a game for the Jets before Zach Wilson returned from injury. Congratulations are in order, and a formal apology is necessary. Robert Saleh kept the receipts, and those papers have my name on them.
Garrett Wilson being good already shouldn’t surprise anyone. After a scary hit on the sideline on a play he showed off his disrespectful leaping ability, he returned to be the catalyst in the Jets’ comeback win against the Browns.
26) Jacksonville Jaguars
What the Jaguars did to the Colts today was disrespectful. Jacksonville’s last shutout victory was against Indianapolis in 2017, and they did it to them again on Sunday, putting up 24 points in the process.
Trevor Lawrence did not have a pretty game a week ago. In fact, it was incredibly disappointing to see some of the same struggles he had a season ago despite much better surroundings. Week 2, however, was completely different. The Gus Bradley defense did nothing to make him uncomfortable, and he finished 25 of 30 for 235 yards on the day.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 5 | Very fringe playoff hopefuls
Should we expect the Detroit Lions to make the playoffs? Absolutely not. The same can be said for the 2-0 New York Giants, although we must keep our eyes on them moving forward.
25) Washington Commanders
Maybe the Detroit Lions are better than we think. Maybe the Washington defense will find its way at some point this season, but Sunday was not that day. The Commanders allowed seven yards per play against Detroit and made Jared Goff look like it was 2018 and Sean McVay was calling plays.
Something’s gotta give. This defense underwhelmed a season ago and has continued that trend through two weeks. Their offense looks much improved from a season ago, but if they can’t stop anybody, they won’t find themselves rising in the NFL Power Rankings anytime soon.
24) Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are tired of losing. The question is, are they learning how to win? Things got a bit interesting when Washington got the game within eight in the fourth quarter, but Detroit answered on the next drive with a touchdown to make it a two-possession game once again.
Amon-Ra St. Brown – who can name all 16 receivers drafted ahead of him – continues to prove himself an NFL draft steal and No. 1 receiver the franchise found in the fourth round.
23) Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is still outstanding, and the Cowboys’ offense was nearly impossible to watch after the first two offensive drives. Dallas had no business being in this game, but that defense kept them in it, as did the Bengals’ offensive line.
And in the end, the defense made a stop on 3rd-and-3 to force a punt, and Cooper Rush moved the Cowboys 33 yards down the field for the game-winning field goal as time expired. It’s probably not a sustainable formula, but it got the job done against the Bengals in Week 2.
22) Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns’ defense must be better moving forward. That group of defensive backs, linebackers, and defensive ends can’t get picked apart by the corpse of Joe Flacco. Yes, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, and Breece Hall are a very talented bunch. But this was a Browns team that was going for it in 2022.
The rushing attack is outstanding. Nick Chubb once again averaged over five yards per carry, scoring three touchdowns on just 17 carries. Jacoby Brissett and Amari Cooper have little rapport with each other. But late in the game when he needed to make a play, Brissett made the mistake that lost the game.
21) New York Giants
The Giants’ offense doesn’t appear to be any better than it was a season ago, even with Brian Daboll taking over as the offensive architect. After blowing up the Titans on the ground a week ago, the Giants averaged just 3.1 yards per carry against the talented Panthers’ defense.
Daniel Jones hasn’t made some magical leap in his fourth season so far, which could make the Giants’ decision that much easier in the offseason.
20) Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks looked impressive on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. However, as we learned in Week 2, that could have been a product of Denver not being as good as we thought.
As with all Seahawks games, this one was drunk. Seattle tried one of the worst RB passes ever that ended in an interception. Geno Smith completed 24 of 30 passes, but the offense lacked explosiveness overall. The big plays they made were called back due to penalties. They couldn’t get the running game going against San Francisco, which was their offensive downfall.
19) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers game against the New England Patriots played out almost exactly like we believed it would. It was an old-school slugfest between two teams looking to run the ball, control the clock, and try to avoid mistakes on offense.
Minkah Fitzpatrick continued to assert himself. He undercut a Mac Jones pass for his second interception early this season. Defense isn’t Pittsburgh’s issue, but that is something we knew coming into the season. They have no explosiveness on offense. Their OL is a struggle, and Mitch Trubisky is simply treading water. He averaged 5.1 yards per attempt in Weeks 1 and 2.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 4 | Wait and see
We’re still not sure what to think about the teams in Tier 4. There is some talent on each roster, but it’ll take time before we know if it can come together for a playoff run.
18) Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders let the Chargers rub off on them in their Week 1 loss to the West Coast team. “Chargering” is a real thing, and the Raiders defined it today against the Arizona Cardinals. They thoroughly outplayed Arizona in the first half, but Kyler Murray and fourth down were a match made in heaven on Sunday.
Hunter Renfrow fumbled twice in three plays during the overtime period, with the second leading to the Cardinals’ scoop-and-score touchdown to seal the game.
17) Cincinnati Bengals
We thought the Cincinnati Bengals would be improved in 2022 after throwing assets at their offensive line. However, two games in, they’re 0-2, and the offensive line somehow may look worse than it did a season ago.
Granted, they’ve played two defensive fronts that can get after the QB. But they’ve also faced two teams that shouldn’t even be competing for the playoffs in 2022. Cincinnati must turn things around quickly against the New York Jets next week.
16) New England Patriots
The Patriots’ passing attack is devastating to watch. Mac Jones found a bit of fire with Nelson Agholor in Week 2, but it really looks like the only receiving option he truly trusts is Jakobi Meyers. The rushing attack still looks like it can be efficient, but they must find a way to find more consistent chunk yards.
We know New England will be well coached on the defensive side of the ball. They don’t field a ton of talent at cornerback, but the safety play is outstanding, and they have strong downhill run defenders at linebacker.
15) Tennessee Titans
Weird things happened in Week 1 of the NFL season, and seeing Tennessee lose to the hapless New York Giants offense was one of those things. The Titans allowed Saquon Barkley to make a few splash runs that sealed their fate.
Playing the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 could do wonders for their standing in the NFL Power Rankings if they win, but that’s asking a lot of a pass-rushing unit that lost their best – and only – competent outside rusher. Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry will have to play like superhumans to keep a talented secondary afloat.
14) Arizona Cardinals
Who are the Arizona Cardinals? Through eight quarters and an overtime period, I am more unsure about their identity than before the season started. It took heroic fourth down after heroic fourth down for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to sneak past the talented Raiders.
But their second-half resurgence is significant. Arizona could have packed things up when the game was 20-0 at halftime, but they continued to fight. Add in a little bit of luck, and you can finish off the comeback in dramatic fashion. Hopefully, next week’s game against the Rams provides a clearer picture of who they really are.
13) New Orleans Saints
For a while, it looked like the Saints were going to do what the Saints seem to always do against the Buccaneers. Then Marshon Lattimore got into it with Tom Brady and Playoff Lenny, and Mike Evans made sure both were ejected from the game.
After that, things spiraled for New Orleans. Jameis Winston had a flashback to 2019 Jameis, throwing three interceptions on three straight drives. New Orleans appears to be a talented team, but Winston needs to somehow remain on the field through his back injury, and he must take care of the ball.
12) Denver Broncos
It’s too early to bury the Broncos, but they haven’t looked good through two weeks of football. To say Nathaniel Hackett is having a rough go of it to start his head coaching career would be a bit of an understatement.
It was tough to get a feel for it during the game, but Russell Wilson only completed 14 of his 31 attempts. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams were good again as Denver’s 1-2 punch, but they may need to lean on them a bit more while the Broncos’ passing attack finds itself.
11) Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles struggled to put away the Detroit Lions a week ago. The defense struggled to stop the Lions’ rushing attack when they deployed even defensive fronts. It will be fascinating to see if rookie Jordan Davis gets more playing time against Minnesota.
A.J. Brown has already proved his worth to the Eagles’ offense. The offense still needs to evolve throughout the season. There needs to be more horizontal concepts to attack the middle of the field and make this offense completely well-rounded, not just in their run-pass splits, but in the passing attack itself.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 3 | The good rosters who have stumbled
The teams in Tier 3 are talented but have either faced outstanding opponents or have unexpectedly stumbled against “lesser” opponents in one of their two games.
10) San Francisco 49ers
Losing Trey Lance for the season is a terrible turn of events for his development as the 49ers’ franchise QB. However, this is exactly why Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch wanted to keep Jimmy Garoppolo around for another season.
We know this team can compete with Garoppolo at quarterback. Shanahan will get things going over the middle, and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will do work after the catch, as will George Kittle when healthy.
9) Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens don’t lose leads like that. Well, until Sunday against the Dolphins, that is. Baltimore has always played well with the lead during the Lamar Jackson era. Their ability to run the ball and chew clock has allowed them to keep leads, but that was not the case against Miami on Sunday.
Wink Martindale had his flaws and was sometimes aggressive to a fault. But his simplicity in coverage also worked to his advantage. Today, with replacements in on the defensive backfield, we saw multiple communication errors that killed Baltimore.
8) Los Angeles Rams
It didn’t ultimately hurt the Rams against the Falcons, but Matthew Stafford has to be a bit less arrogant with his arm. He made two big mistakes throwing the ball, but that’s been the give and take with Stafford his entire career.
As many games seem to do in the NFL these days, this game got very weird in the fourth quarter. The Rams’ rushing attack is still questionable. Darrell Henderson Jr. averaged 4.7 yards per carry, while Cam Akers could only manage 2.9 yards on average.
7) Green Bay Packers
The Packers did what we all thought they’d do against the Bears. They’ve dominated the series in the Aaron Rodgers era, and they did the same on Sunday Night. The Bears’ offense was invisible the entire night, but the Packers’ offense dominated the ball for the entire game.
It was total domination by a superior team for most of the four quarters. Green Bay’s battle against Tampa Bay next week will be one for NFL Power Rankings’ superiority. Can the Packers’ receiving corps do enough against a talented Buccaneers secondary?
6) Los Angeles Chargers
The second-best AFC West team are still the Chargers. They played reasonably well for most of their Thursday night game against Kansas City, but couldn’t get the job done when it mattered, which has been a staple of the Chargers since… forever.
Justin Herbert’s injury will be interesting to track. He’ll probably play through the broken ribs he suffered on Thursday, but it could negatively affect the MVP-hopeful’s game. He played well against the Chiefs without Keenan Allen, but the team lacks speed, so getting consistent downfield opportunities are unlikely.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 2 | Good teams who looked impressive
The teams in Tier 2 either took care of business against bad teams or won against another good roster.
5) Miami Dolphins
It doesn’t matter how good or bad you or I believe Tua Tagovailoa is. All he must do is protect the football. All he must do is take away those two or three boneheaded decisions he makes a game. If he just lets the offense operate, they’ll move the ball consistently. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle with the ball in their hands are as dangerous a duo as we’ve seen on the same roster.
Meanwhile, the defense looked unable to stop anything for most of the game. But a strong defensive performance in the fourth quarter and an incredible offensive effort made all the difference in the game.
Will Miami remain this high in the NFL Power Rankings? Only time will tell. Their offense proved today that they can be incredibly dangerous in spurts.
4) Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota looked dominant against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, with a schematic advantage on offense. Kevin O’Connell has brought much of the innovation they showed in LA a season ago, in which Cooper Kupp was getting advantageous looks.
The defensive front dominated Green Bay but has a much more difficult matchup against a very good Philadelphia offensive line. The Eagles were the most efficient running team in the league a season ago, and the Vikings ranked 29th in rushing EPA allowed. Keeping the Eagles’ offense in check would be an outstanding indicator of a Vikings’ defensive resurgence.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans hates Marshon Lattimore. We already knew this. But the depths of that hatred weren’t truly realized until today. The replay is clear. Evans was at full sprint before Lattimore even shoved Leonard Fournette back. He can’t help but put his hands on the Saints’ defensive back.
It might have won them the game today. There’s no guarantee that Lattimore could have made a difference on the Breshad Perriman touchdown, but his ejection definitely changed the course of the game. Once the Buccaneers get some of their pieces back on offense, there’s a chance they become a dominant force in the NFC.
NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Tier 1 | The Elite dominators
Through two weeks, only two teams have proven themselves to be the cream of the crop.
2) Kansas City Chiefs
It wasn’t always pretty against the Chargers. In fact, some would say that the Chargers outplayed them. But the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are different, and the Chargers couldn’t keep themselves from “Chargering” in the end.
Mahomes was efficient, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire finally provided us with a taste of what he was able to do at LSU. While the passing defense struggled throughout the day against Los Angeles, the defense did an outstanding job against the run.
1) Buffalo Bills
They won’t go 17-0. The offensive line isn’t dominant enough for the offense to consistently dominate opposing defenses. Josh Allen is a monster, but he’s still human… we think. And until we see an evolution in the backfield from one of these runners, it’s tough to trust the Bills’ run game.
There’s no faulting the defense. They have one of the deepest, most talented pass-rushing units in a long time. They’ve retooled the defensive interior and have two talented linebackers. Once Buffalo gets Tre’Davious White back healthy, they’ll have arguably the most talented secondary in the NFL.
Again, they’re not unbeatable. But they are incredibly talented.