Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. There are new faces at the top and the bottom after an eventful Week 3. As always, these will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
No. 32: New York Jets (-1)
In 2021, it is incredibly hard to go 60 minutes without scoring. The Jets did so. They have not scored a touchdown since the fourth quarter of Week 1, nearly nine full quarters of action. While the Jets cannot move the ball on offense, the defense is passable. It would look significantly better if Zach Wilson did not have seven interceptions. Wilson, as a whole, has been dreadful. He has mixed in a handful of nice throws, but these have come in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. The Jets are the worst team in the NFL, which is saying a lot considering the next team on the list is also horrendous.
No. 31: Jacksonville Jaguars (+1)
If not for special teams, the Jaguars would still be in last place. The offense is underwhelming as Trevor Lawrence continues to make friends with the opposing defensive backs. James Robinson had a nice return to form, but a running back can carry a team only so far. Defensively, the Jaguars traded one of their best players in C.J. Henderson. Great job! Jamal Agnew is the only bright spot on this otherwise miserable team. Agnew has had two spectacular return touchdowns, the only highlights of Jacksonville’s season. This team sucks. Urban Meyer sucks as an NFL head coach.
No. 30: New York Giants (-4)
This is unfortunate. Blake Martinez is out for the season. The offensive line still has issues. The wide receiver corps still has issues. Azeez Ojulari flashed in his first real NFL action, so at least the Giants have one exciting young player. New York was not necessarily awful against the Falcons last week, but they did end up losing to a terrible Atlanta team. Daniel Jones looked O.K., and Saquon Barkley had a nice rushing touchdown, but there is little excitement from this team. In the first two weeks, the defense was gashed by Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke. In Week 3, the offense did not do enough to beat Atlanta.
No. 29: Atlanta Falcons (+0)
This team would be significantly better if Matt Ryan was not playing as if he was a bottom 10 quarterback. The weapons around Ryan are pretty good. Calvin Ridley has been solid when he touched the ball, and Kyle Pitts is a force. However, Ryan has been such a catastrophe that none of this matters. The offensive line has even fared well, but again, Ryan has been pitiful. Defensively, the Falcons played well for 60 minutes against the Giants. Isaiah Oliver graded out spectacularly, and Grady Jarrett was a force on the interior per usual. The Falcons were able to eke out a victory after a last-second field goal, but fans should have zero faith in Matt Ryan.
No. 28: Chicago Bears (-4)
Chicago must have grabbed the wrong offensive line on Sunday. Instead of five grown men, their offensive line resembled five traffic cones. All five linemen were terrible, but their terrible performance was no match for how bad Matt Nagy‘s game plan was. Despite the confluence of Justin Fields and the bad offensive line, Nagy continues to put Fields out to slaughter. To his credit, Fields matched the poor play from his line. There was little he could do to save himself from Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. It was a rough day at the office for everyone involved in the offense. Defensively, Chicago was not bad.
No. 27: Philadelphia Eagles (+0)
What a pathetic performance. After two strong weeks from Jalen Hurts, he came crashing down to Earth. He had an ugly interception early, and he even threw a pick-six later in the game. There were some highlights from the night, but Hurts and the offense as a whole looked bland. Defensively, the secondary was barbecue chicken. The pass rush was not terrible, but it can only do so much to protect an egregious back seven. Darius Slay should’ve retired 10 years ago, and the rest of the secondary is abysmal. Philadelphia has some talented pieces on offense, but they continue to be gashed with the injury bug. Philadelphia had two offensive linemen land on the Week 2 team of the week. Neither finished Week 3 healthy.
No. 26: Houston Texans (+2)
Houston still has the worst roster in the NFL, but they are not as poorly coached as the teams below them. Unlike those other teams, Houston is somewhat inspiring to watch. The front seven performed admirably against Carolina. Brandin Cooks has proven that he is quarterback-proof. Even Davis Mills had some moments against a stingy Carolina defense. As a whole, this team is terrible, but it is not as terrible as the teams from 27 to 32.
No. 25: Detroit Lions (+5)
While the final scoreline was misleading, it is not a knock against Detroit. They went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league and gave Baltimore their best punch. The offense is limited, but they were able to string together strong drives in the second half. The secondary was torched by Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown, but Brown had several key drops. As a whole, Detroit has a lot to look forward to in the coming years. They are not talented enough to win right now, but they could be a factor in three years.
No. 24: Washington Football Team (-3)
While Washington did score 21 points, and they did not have the worst loss of Week 3, they looked terrible. If not for a miraculous kickoff recovery by the kicker himself, Dustin Hopkins, Washington likely would’ve only scored 14 points in the entire game. The defense looked like elephant dung for four quarters. Josh Allen had his way despite being pressured on a significant portion of snaps. Washington’s linebacker corps and secondary were terrible. The defensive line did get some pressure, but they could not finish the pressure or force Allen into any particularly tough throws.
No. 23: Pittsburgh Steelers (-9)
Pittsburgh is without several key pieces on offense and defense. Diontae Johnson, Devin Bush, and T.J. Watt are not fully healthy. Ben Roethlisberger has forgotten how to play football at a high level. The usually solid Pittsburgh offensive line has been dreadful. Minkah Fitzpatrick has also forgotten how to play football. Despite this, the Pittsburgh Najee Harrises are still relatively competitive. Defensively, they didn’t have the worst game against Cincinnati, but without Watt, they were unable to generate the usual pressure. Cameron Heyward is still one of the best players in the NFL, but getting pressure on the quarterback is not a one-man job.
No. 22: Miami Dolphins (+0)
Jacoby Brissett played like a league-average quarterback on Sunday. However, it was not enough to overcome the Las Vegas Raiders. Defensively, Miami made the play of the day with an Elandon Roberts interception return for a touchdown. Despite this, the Dolphins folded under duress from Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense. Offensively, Miami had some questionable play calls including a screen that led to a unique safety. Miami will need better play from both sides of the bar to escape from their 1-2 hole.
No. 21: Indianapolis Colts (+2)
Indianapolis is quite unfortunate to be winless. They have run into three teams that are better than they are. Carson Wentz has done nothing but exaggerate the gap between Indianapolis and the top teams in the league. While he hasn’t been quite the catastrophe that he was in his last year in Philadelphia, he has been far from a bright spot on Indianapolis. Indianapolis is not without its shining stars with the likes of Michael Pittman breaking out this season, but they have been unable to beat Seattle, Los Angeles, or Tennessee. This is a tough group of teams, but the Colts are behind the eight ball with three straight losses.
No. 20: New England Patriots (-10)
Patriots were thoroughly outplayed by the New Orleans Saints. The offense was stagnant, and the defense bent under immense pressure. Moving forward, New England should have a solid floor of a team, but as long as Josh McDaniels is the offensive coordinator and Mac Jones is under center, the Patriots have a limited offensive ceiling. Stephon Gilmore will be returning in a few weeks, but an elite defense only can carry a limited offense so far.
No. 19: Cincinnati Bengals (+6)
Cincinnati had a well-rounded victory against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Joe Burrow was PFF’s highest-graded quarterback of the week, edging out Lamar Jackson. Joe Mixon had another solid day, and the receiving corps was productive once again. Ja’Marr Chase continued his sensational rookie campaign by catching a pair of touchdowns. The offensive line held up just enough to snap Pittsburgh’s NFL-long sack streak. Defensively, Logan Wilson flashed with a pair of interceptions. Both safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell played well in the victory.
No. 18: Seattle Seahawks (-9)
The Russell Wilson show rolled on as D.K. Metcalf finally got in on the action. Tyler Lockett came crashing back down to Earth, however. Chris Carson even had a solid game. However, the rest of the team struggled. The offensive was inconsistent, and the defense cannot stop a bloody nose. Bobby Wagner had a solid day, but Minnesota gashed the rest of the defense. Jason Myers even missed a field goal. As a whole, this was a catastrophic loss for Seattle as both the Rams and Cardinals remain undefeated. Seattle has an upward climb to make the playoffs, but if there is any team that can do it, it is Seattle.
Just kidding, this defense is a horror show.
No. 17: Dallas Cowboys (+1)
Dallas had a dominant win over the Eagles. Dak Prescott looked great. Both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard were able to get solid runs off an otherwise stingy Philadelphia run defense. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb looked solid as well. The offensive line has yet to miss a beat despite missing La’el Collins. Defensively, Trevon Diggs was terrific. Micah Parsons did Micah Parsons things, and the Dan Quinn-led defense seems to have turned a corner. With an elite offense and a potentially elite defense, Dallas is poised to fly up the rankings. They just need to beat a team other than the Eagles by 20 points.
No. 16: Minnesota Vikings (+4)
Minnesota is a strange one-win team. On one hand, they were probably the better team against both Cincinnati and Arizona, but they lost the games on unfortunate plays in the final minute. On the other hand, they whacked a solid Seattle team. Minnesota’s offense is firing on all cylinders even without Dalvin Cook. Kirk Cousins is playing like a fringe MVP candidate, and the duo of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson has been electric. Defensively, there are plenty of flaws, but there are talented pieces. Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks are among the best players at their positions in the league, and Mike Zimmer can cover up some defensive warts.
No. 15: Carolina Panthers (+4)
Carolina leads the NFL in yards allowed per game, rush yards allowed per game, pass yards allowed per game, and points allowed per game. While they have not played the stiffest of competitions, any stretch of playing this well on defense must be applauded. They have a tough draw against Dallas next week, but the defense might be up to the task. Jaycee Horn is out for the remainder of the season, but the Panthers did require C.J. Henderson in a trade with the dreadful Jaguars. Offensively, Sam Darnold has been playing very well. Christian McCaffrey will be out for several weeks, but running backs have a limited value in the modern NFL. D.J. Moore has been at a Pro Bowl level, and the offensive line has been passable. Shaq Thompson has played at an elite level in the linebacker room.
No. 14: Denver Broncos (+1)
Go back to the top of these rankings. Denver has beaten the No.32, No.31, and No.30 teams in these rankings. While this could be a cause for concern, Denver has looked terrific in these games. They are not letting bad teams hang around. This is a good sign, and Denver has taken advantage of it. Justin Simmons is back to being Justin Simmons. Von Miller is back to being elite Von Miller. The Denver offense has been very strong despite now missing two of his key wide receivers. Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick have taken turns as being the go-to option in the offense, and both have ceilings of being terrific wide receivers. The offensive wine has been solid as well.
No. 13: New Orleans Saints (+4)
For the first time in many years, the Saints have an inconsistent offense and a really strong defense. Jameis Winston seems to spin a wheel before each throw. Sometimes, he unleashes brilliantly. Other times, he hits defenders in the hands. In Foxboro, he had more good throws than bad throws. Offensively, New Orleans will miss Terron Armstead for several weeks with injury, and Michael Thomas has still not returned. On defense, New Orleans has been spectacular. Demario Davis is in the running for an All-Pro spot, and the secondary has been lock-down for the most part.
No.12: San Francisco 49ers (+0)
While the 49ers did lose on a 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, there were some underlying causes to the loss. Jimmy Garoppolo, despite his moxie on the final drive, did not play particularly well. San Francisco has sustained mass injuries at the running back position, and it is undermined their ability to run the football unless they put Trey Lance on the field. Speaking of Lance, Kyle Shanahan must have a vendetta against Lance, as he has barely played in three games. Brandon Aiyuk ended his vendetta with Shanahan, finally scoring a touchdown. Deebo Samuel has been one of the best players in the NFL, and Trent Williams has been the best offensive lineman in the NFL by a country mile. On defense, the 49ers continued to sustain injuries at the cornerback position, losing the backup to the backup in Josh Norman.
No. 11: Los Angeles Chargers (+5)
The Chargers walked into Arrowhead and stole a key game from the Chiefs. While they did not have the perfect game, they did enough to capitalize on Kansas City’s mistakes. Justin Herbert was spectacular in the victory. Mike Williams joined Herbert on this spectacular echelon of football performance. Defensively, the Chargers did just enough to keep the Chiefs at bay. Asante Samuel hauled in his second NFL interception, and Joey Bosa registered 10 pressures against the “rebuilt” Chiefs offensive line.
No. 10: Las Vegas Raiders (+3)
While the Raiders are 3-0, they’ve had a rocky road to get to this point. Daniel Carlson has been critical in the Raiders being an undefeated team rather than a one-win team. Derek Carr continues to have a strong season, but he did flinch with a pick-six to Miami. Henry Ruggs had a solid day against Miami’s stout secondary, and Maxx Crosby continues to feast on opposing offensive lines. The Cinderella shoe still fits for Las Vegas, but time may be running out soon as they face the Chargers next week. If they win, it could be a huge step up in the division as Denver has a tough game against Baltimore.
No. 9: Tennessee Titans (-1)
It pays to have an identity in the modern NFL. Tennessee knows exactly what they want to do for each play. They have a well-defined offensive game plan, and they have the talent to back it up. Defensively, Tennessee has made significant strides. Harold Landry had 10 pressures, and Tennessee has a whole decimated the Indianapolis offensive line. While it may not be an elite defense, it is trending towards average. With a bombastic offense like Tennessee has, an average defense could put them in a position to win the AFC.
No. 8: Arizona Cardinals (+3)
Arizona looked good on offense and good on defense. However, the special teams were not good enough. Rondale Moore muffed a punt, and the Cardinals surrendered the longest play in NFL history on a missed field goal. While Kyler Murray has looked like an MVP candidate and Chandler Jones looks like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, there is something slightly offputting with the Cardinals so far this season. Whether it be a key interception by Murray or a key defensive collapse by the defense, Arizona has not necessarily played like the No.8 team all season. They looked great against Tennessee before squeaking by Minnesota before playing poorly for a half against Jacksonville. This is a weird team.
No.7: Baltimore Ravens (+0)
Don’t let the final score affect your opinion here. While Baltimore needed a miraculous 66-yard field goal from Justin Tucker to win the game, they were the better team on Sunday by a significant margin. Lamar Jackson had perhaps the best passing game of his career, lofting six big-time throws past the Detroit secondary. However, Marquise Brown dropped two of these passes. Had either been caught, the Ravens would not have needed a miracle field goal from Tucker. Baltimore is rounding in the form as a passing offense, but they still cannot tackle a statue.
No. 6: Cleveland Browns (-1)
It was unfair. Myles Garrett had a once-in-a-lifetime day against a horrific Chicago offensive line. Jadeveon Clowney got in on the action with a pair of sacks in his own right. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was PFF‘s defensive player of the week, earning a 93 overall grade. Offensively, Kareem Hunt carried the torch for much of the afternoon. The return of Odell Beckham was a welcome sight as the former All-Pro had a vintage performance. Baker Mayfield did usual Baker Mayfield things on the path to victory.
No. 5: Buffalo Bills (+1)
One week after perhaps the most uninspiring 35-point win in the history of football, Buffalo whacked Washington by 22. Josh Allen returned to the near MVP form that he flashed in 2020. Despite being under immense pressure from Washington‘s defensive line throughout much of the game, Allen and the offense were phenomenal. Defensively, Buffalo had a well-rounded effort from the likes of Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano. Buffalo is a scary team moving forward as they are beginning to round into form.
No. 4: Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
There is no need to panic. The Chiefs have been undone by horrendous turnover luck in the last two weeks. Without a Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble or four catastrophic turnovers against the Chargers, the Chiefs are likely 3-0 and solidified as the best team in the NFL. Defensively, there are plenty of concerns, but when the offense is firing on all cylinders, it does not matter. Chris Jones will continue to do Chris Jones things. Tyrann Mathieu will continue to do Honey Badger things. Step away from the ledge, Chiefs fans.
No. 3: Green Bay Packers (+0)
It was business as usual for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Despite the chaos around them, including Green Bay being down to its No.3 left tackle, Green Bay still won when it mattered. With Kevin King out due to illness, Green Bay his defense took 17 million steps up. Eric Stokes had a strong performance, and Jaire Alexander nabbed an interception. Defensively, without King, the Packers have one of the most talented groups in the NFL. With King, Green Bay might have the worst defense in NFL history; King is that catastrophic. Otherwise, the Packers have nothing to worry about on offense or defense. With both Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari coming back soon, the Packers could be the juggernaut they were in 2020 once again.
No. 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
Similar to Kansas City, there is no need to sound the alarm. The Buccaneers have been ravaged with injuries in the secondary, and a Covid situation with Antonio Brown undermined the wide receiver room. Tom Brady was still pretty solid against the Rams, but the Bruce Arians game plan of not running the football seemed to catch up to Tampa. They were unable to establish anything on the ground, and Brady ended up leading the team in rushing yards. The offensive line did not play particularly well against Aaron Donald and co., and the Bucs were soundly beaten. This does not mean you need to sell all of your Tampa Bay stock, but maybe you should allocate some to the Rams.
No. 1: Los Angeles Rams (+3)
As of right now, the Rams are the best team in the NFL. Matthew Stafford looked infallible against Tampa Bay. Sony Michel was able to force missed tackles, and the receiver corps did enough. Cooper Kupp is playing like he is the best receiver in the NFL. Austin Corbett had a stellar game on the offensive line. On defense, Aaron Donald is the best player in the NFL. Behind him, Jalen Ramsey continues to play at an All-Pro level. The linebacker corps has not been as bad as it could have been. The Rams had a terrific all-around victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions.
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