NFL Week 3 Power Rankings: Impressive Texans on the rise as Colts keep tumbling

NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

Just 25% of the league (eight teams) made it through Week 2 undefeated. At least two more of those thus-far flawless clubs will be saddled with a loss in Week 3, barring ties: New England hosts Houston; Pittsburgh visits Philadelphia.

Many of the teams expected to be contenders headed into the season still fit that bill after a couple of games, but it's becoming clear that the NFL’s beloved parity is very much alive and well again in 2016.

As such, there has been significant movement in the Power Rankings beyond the top three teams.

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  • 1
    1New England Patriots
    last week: 1
    record: 2–0
    One of these days someone is going to steal from around Bill Belichick’s neck the amulet that gives him all his powers. Until then, the Patriots will remain perennial Super Bowl frontrunners. Have to start Jimmy Garoppolo in Arizona? No problem. Untested rookie Jacoby Brissett on a short week against Houston? The odds would normally be stacked against New England if Garoppolo can’t go, but bet against Belichick at your own peril.

  • 2
    2Denver Broncos
    last week: 2
    record: 2–0
    Blocking Von Miller one-on-one is like when the Joker sends in a henchman to take on Batman in hand-to-hand combat. You know what’s going to happen. This could be the year that Miller challenges Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5.

  • 3
    3Pittsburgh Steelers
    last week: 3
    record: 2–0
    The Steelers haven’t held three straight opponents to under 20 points in a single season since 2011, when they finished with the league’s top-ranked defense. After two impressive showings against the Redskins and Bengals, they have a chance to stretch their current streak to three. 

  • 4
    4Carolina Panthers
    last week: 5
    record: 1–1
    Still waiting to see if last year’s version of the Panthers resurfaces in 2016—a tough loss to Denver and awild win over San Francisco do not tell us much. The best indication that Carolina might be about to take off? Its defense, which led the league by forcing 39 turnovers last season, has produced six takeaways already in 2016.

  • 5
    5Arizona Cardinals
    last week: 9
    record: 1–1
    It has been just two weeks, of course, but Larry Fitzgerald currently sits on pace for 112 receptions and 24 touchdowns this season. Those retirement rumors that popped up prior to Week 1 should be tucked away for a long while. Fitzgerald looks like he could play another decade.

  • 6
    6Houston Texans
    last week: 8
    record: 2–0
    The Texans are the clear class of the AFC South right now, which, granted, is like being the best swimmer in a pool full of dead fish. Their main challenge now is the same one Denver faced last season: How to get their quarterback to stop turning the ball over so much.

  • 7
    7Cincinnati Bengals
    last week: 4
    record: 1–1
    Cincinnati now has scored a touchdown on one of its six red-zone trips this season, a 16.7% conversion rate that’s worse than all but Houston (14.3%) and Los Angeles (forever forbidden from entering the red zone by an ancient NFL prophecy). Nowhere do the Bengals feel Tyler Eifert’s absence more than within 20 yards of the end zone.

  • 8
    8New York Giants
    last week: 12
    record: 2–0
    The Giants finished 1–8 in games decided by six points or fewer last season. They’re already 2–0 in 2016, with a 20–19 win over Dallas and a 16–13 victory over the Saints. NFL players will tell you that teams make their own luck, but the Giants were due to win a couple nail-biters.

  • 9
    9Minnesota Vikings
    last week: 16
    record: 2–0
    On the night the Vikings’ new stadium hosted its first regular season game, the home team featured Sam Bradford handing off to Matt Asiata, just as it did in a horrible nightmare GM Rick Spielman had a year ago. But, hey, whatever works. Bradford definitely counts as a step up from Shaun Hill.

  • 10
    10Green Bay Packers
    last week: 7
    record: 1–1
    Jordy Nelson may still be finding his footing after missing all of 2015, but thus far his return has not jump-started the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers is averaging 5.9 yards per pass attempt through two games, about right in line with Blaine Gabbert (5.8) and Case Keenum (5.7).

  • 11
    11New York Jets
    last week: 15
    record: 1–1
    Maybe the Jets figure that Matt Forte is a 30-year-old running back anyway so, hey, just run him until he falls apart—like that Seinfeld episode where Kramer tries to see how far he can drive on an empty tank of gas. Forte’s pace is still outlandish. His current 26 carries-per-game clip stretched over the full season would match Larry Johnson’s 2006 record.

  • 12
    12Seattle Seahawks
    last week: 6
    record: 1–1
    A combined 15 points in two games and now Thomas Rawls, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have joined Russell Wilson on the injury report. The Seahawks usually take a few weeks to get rolling, for whatever reason, but there is a growing list of reasons to be concerned.

  • 13
    13Kansas City Chiefs
    last week: 10
    record: 1–1
    The Chiefs now have played eight quarters and looked really good on offense in one of them, so the improvements have to come soon. They’re lucky to be 1–1 but also have the talent to take off at any point. Which direction will they head from here?

  • 14
    14Philadelphia Eagles
    last week: 20
    record: 2–0
    Perhaps the only thing more impressive than Carson Wentz’s start in Philadelphia has been Doug Pederson’s start in Philadelphia. Let’s not forget that the rookie quarterback everyone assumed would be overmatched has been put in this position to succeed by his first-year head coach.

  • 15
    15Oakland Raiders
    last week: 11
    Record: 1–1
    Thirty NFL defenses have allowed fewer than 850 yards through two weeks this season. The Saints have surrendered 903. And then there’s the Raiders ... they’re sitting at 1,035 after splitting with New Orleans and Atlanta. If they don’t patch things up on that side of the ball, the playoffs will have to wait another year.

  • 16
    16Baltimore Ravens
    last week: 14
    record: 2–0
    It doesn’t matter how the Ravens made it to 2–0, it just matters that they’re there. At least, that’s how the standings work. Power Rankings, on the other hand, must take into account that Cleveland was up 20–0 Sunday before a blocked extra point and a Josh McCown injury turned the tide.

  • 17
    17Dallas Cowboys
    last week: 21
    record: 1–1
    The Cowboys would have preferred an easier win in Washington on Sunday, but a) they’ll take it, and b) Alfred Morris scoring what would be the game-winning touchdown was about the best troll job Dallas had available shy of trading for RG3 and letting him kick the extra point.

  • 18
    18Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    last week: 13
    record: 1–1
    Tampa Bay may have ascended too high in the Power Rankings following a Week 1 win at Atlanta, so props to the Bucs for bringing us back level with a Week 2 implosion. Jameis Winston already has two four-interception games in 18 career starts.

  • 19
    19San Diego Chargers
    last week: 28
    record: 1–1
    Philip Rivers continues to play at a lofty level. And, for at least one more time before the 34-year-old hangs ’em up, it would be great to see what Rivers can do without evaporating dust people surrounding him on the roster. Injuries keep pummeling San Diego at a mind-boggling rate.

  • 20
    20Atlanta Falcons
    last week: 27
    record: 1–1
    “Good things happen to people who run” was how Matt Ryan explained Justin Hardy’s crucial tip-drill touchdown catch Sunday, a nod to Hardy’s hustle on the play. Coincidentally, that’s also Ryan’s reasoning for how Forrest Gump became a millionaire.

  • 21
    21Miami Dolphins
    last week: 18
    record: 0–2
    Let’s not write off Miami quite yet. The defense looked great for three quarters Week 1 in Seattle, and then the offense took off during the second half of a comeback effort in New England. Four of the Dolphins’ next five are at home, starting with the Browns on Sunday and including games against the Titans and Bills. Adam Gase’s club could be back in the playoff picture by Halloween.

  • 22
    los angeles Rams
    last week: 32
    record: 1–1
    Jeff Fisher took the Rams job to chew bubble gum and beat the Seahawks, and he’s all out of bubble gum. With Sunday’s 9–3 upset win, Fisher is now 5–4 vs. Seattle since taking over and 23–33–1 against everyone else.

  • 23
    23Tennessee Titans
    last week: 30
    record: 1–1
    Are the Titans going to finish ahead of nine NFL teams when all is said and done this season? Color me skeptical, but they rallied past the Lions (who beat the Colts) and played Minnesota relatively tough, and the bottom of the league is a trash heap right now. So, here we are.

  • 24
    24Detroit Lions
    last week: 17
    record: 1–1
    The Lions sure have made an art of dangling wins in front of their fans before folding. They’re like that dude in your friend group who unscrews the salt cap every time y’all go out to dinner. It was kind of amusing the first few times, but now it’s just tedious and predictable.

  • 25
    25Indianapolis Colts
    last week: 24
    record: 0–2
    With Houston out to a quick start and the AFC wild-card race sure to be contentious, the Colts’ season already is teetering on the brink. Unless they can pull it back, owner Jim Irsay will have a headache on his hands. Remember, he almost cleaned house before giving coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson contracts that ran through 2019.

  • 26
    26New Orleans Saints
    last week: 26
    record: 0–2
    The Saints limited the Giants’ offense to nine points Sunday (Janoris Jenkins also ran back a blocked field goal for the Giants’ only TD of the game), yet somehow lost anyway. There simply are not going to be many moments when the New Orleans defense rises to the occasion, so this was a huge missed opportunity.

  • 27
    27Washington Redskins
    last week: 23
    record: 0–2
    Kirk Cousins has not started the year well, but it’s funny how a player’s price tag can skew the discussion. Of course everything is going to look worse when Cousins is earning $19 million than it did when he was a $660,000 player. You wouldn’t go to Burger King very much if a Whopper suddenly cost $500.

  • 28
    28Buffalo Bills
    last week: 22
    record: 0–2
    The Bills allowed the Jets to put up 493 yards of offense and 37 points against them on Thursday night—and then fired their offensive coordinator. So who knows where they go from here. Granted, the offense hasn’t been great either—LeSean McCoy is sub-4.0 yards per carry, and Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas have more receiving yards than the hobbled Sammy Watkins.

  • 29
    29Chicago Bears
    last week: 26
    record: 0–2
    In John Fox's second season coaching the Panthers in 2003, Carolina finished 11–5 and reached the Super Bowl. Fox’s Broncos were 13–3 in 2012, his second year there. And in his second go-round with the Bears, Fox is 0–2, with an injured quarterback whose key highlight on Monday came when a teammate yelled at him.

  • 30
    30San Francisco 49ers
    last week: 29
    record: 1–1
    The 49ers led the defending conference champs twice Sunday, 3–0 and 10–7. They wound up turning the ball over three times, allowing 529 yards of offense and losing by 19 to the Panthers, thus running the full gamut of the Chip Kelly NFL experience to date.

  • 31
    31Jacksonville Jaguars
    last week: 19
    record: 0–2
    That was more than just a loss to the Chargers on Sunday. That was the type of performance that finishes the sentence “Well, the breaking point came when …” after a coach gets fired. If the Jaguars can’t knock off the Ravens or Colts, the coaching staff is going to be a jittery bunch when their Week 5 bye rolls around.

  • 32
    32Cleveland Browns
    last week: 31
    record: 0–2
    Browns quarterbacks continue to have all the durability of coloring book pages when my two-year-old decides he wants to tear something. Godspeed, Cody Kessler. Stay safe.

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