Other than the NFL.com experts I don’t rank teams almost only based on their record. I look at who they played and how they performed overall. That’s why the number one team isn’t one of the teams still unbeaten.
1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1):
Yeah, they are still the team to beat. Their running game is great and their defense is certainly near the top – that’s just tough to beat. I’m also pretty sure they’ll be able to defend that post – out-and-up concept from now on. The reason I have them in front of my number two is the quarterback play. But as the Chargers showed – you can beat them!
2. Arizona Cardinals (3-0):
I’m honest – I didn’t think the defense would perform this well without the services of Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington and Darnell Dockett, but they are right up there with the Seahawks D. Offensively there might be some room for improvement, but I think they have the weapons and one of the best offensive play-callers in Bruce Arians to win a lot of games. And that’s the thing – they find ways to win games.
3. Denver Broncos (2-1):
DeMarcus Ware is the Broncos’ MVP at this point and while it may not show up on the stat sheet just yet, the defense overall has improved. They played a solid game in Seattle and I don’t think you can blame them for losing against the Seahawks at home. That happens to almost everybody.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0):
Before I get to the good stuff – that backside pass to Dalton should have been a pick-six or least the cornerback should have killed Dalton the moment he touched the ball. Other than that the Bengals look solid on both sides of the ball. The don’t make a lot of mistakes on offense and the defense plays at an elite level right now, allowing just 11 points per game and having forced eight turnovers already.
5. San Diego Chargers (2-1):
Coming to a hostile environment in Buffalo and getting the job done the way they did is just impressive. Just like the win against the Seahawks last week. With an upgraded defense that brings back a healthy Melvin Ingram, first-round cornerback Jason Verrett and Cory Liuget playing at an All-Pro level in combination with Philip Rivers making a case for MVP, I really like this team’s chances.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0):
How are they still unbeaten? They’ve been behind at least ten points in all three games they played and had one phase of their game perform really badly (Foles, the secondary and last weak even their run game). But that’s the way it is and the reason they are up here. I didn’t want to put them any higher, because I don’t think they’ll beat any of the three top NFC West teams (which the Eagles have to face all).
7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1):
Nice road win against the Browns. It doesn’t seem to make a big difference who they hand the ball to because of that upgraded offensive line. Next up: Carolina – I see Steve Smith having 150 yards receiving and 2 TDs against his former team. Losing Dennis Pitta for the season is very tough and keeps me from ranking this team any higher, but they are contenders once again.
8. Atlanta Falcons (2-1):
Man, they whipped those Tampa Bay Buccaneers pretty good Thursday night. What I liked most about it is the fact it was a true team victory, having scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams (Yeah, Devin Hester is awesome). That beating they took in Cincinnati just hurts and keeps me from putting them in front a couple of other teams. If you only look at games one and three Matt Ryan has thrown six touchdowns and zero picks. By the way – Julio Jones is unreal.
9. New England Patriots (2-1):
The offense certainly doesn’t look very explosive. But how could they with a receiving core like that? After an ugly loss to the Dolphins in week one, they took care of business – destroying the Vikings and winning a close one against a bad Raider team. This team is well-coached and therefore they will always be in the mix.
10. San Francisco 49ers (1-2):
It might seem unfair to rank them above some teams with a better record and considering they were outscored 52-3 in the second half over the last two weeks, yet to me this is still one of the best teams in football. They were hurt by some (partly bad) calls and Brandon Marshall putting on a show against them, but like Patrick Willis said – they make no excuses. That’s why I think they’ll bounce back this week and finish games strong from now on.
11. Chicago Bears (2-1):
Two things stand out for this team – their strongly improved defensive line and the spectacular wide receiver play. If you want to know how much defenses fear Brandon Marshall just watch what the Jets tried to do to him putting big bodies on him just to slow him down. Even though Matt Forte hasn’t put up big numbers yet, you have to love his effort on a couple of third and short plays.
12. Buffalo Bills (2-1):
Not even the Bills defense could stop Philip Rivers and his offense. While the defense is certainly doing their job, the offense still lacks enough consistency. They clearly have a chance to make some noise in the AFC East, but E.J. Manuel has to step up.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1):
Thinking of the way they were dominated by the Ravens Thursday night a couple of the weeks ago, I’d like to rank them a little lower, but their ground game is just too impressive. Putting up 264 yards rushing against a run-stuffing Panther defense led by Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly is very hard to do.
14. New Orleans Saints (1-2):
To anyone wondering how the Saints dropped their first two games of the season – it certainly wasn’t because of their offense with Drew Brees completing 70 percent of his passes and a running game that averages 140 yards rushing a game. With that being said – the defense has struggled, giving up 24 points a game and only having created just one turnover so far.
15. Green Bay Packers (1-2):
That’s the worst I’ve seen the Packers offense look in quite a while. While Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy clearly underperform, that offensive line is a disaster – allowing nine sacks and not opening up any running room. Looking at the defensive side of the ball, they have shown some improvement, especially in the pass rush department. I still think Aaron Rodgers is the man and as long as they have him everything is possible, but he needs some help.
16. Indianapolis Colts (1-2):
The thing that keeps this team from being of the best and the reason they aren’t 3-0 right now is the absence of a dominant pass rusher a.k.a. Robert Mathis. Peyon Manning had all day to throw in week one and so did Nick Foles in the second half a week later. Good thing Andrew Luck and his offense put up over 500 yards en route to destroying one of the worst teams in the league. That should give them a little confidence. But you can’t blitz all the time to create pressure defensively.
17. Detroit Lions (2-1):
Did you know that the Lions defense is number one in yards allowed and number three in points allowed? Yep, that’s true. I don’t think a lot of people would have believed that before the season started. That being said, their high powered offense and vertical passing game has yet to show up and a big reason for that is the poor play of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
18. Carolina Panthers (2-1):
They looked terrible against the Steelers Sunday night. There really wasn’t a lot to like about the effort they put up other than Kelvin Benjamin racking up 115 yards receiving and a touchdown. Yet they are here at 2-1. I’m not sure what to make out of them, because their defense hasn’t looked as dominant as they did last year. So I’ll leave them somewhere in the middle of the pack.
19. Cleveland Browns (1-2):
Their statistics defensively make them look a lot worse than they actually are. This is still one of the better defenses in the league. And Brian Hoyer is playing pretty good as well. But not converting two field goals and allowing a big play through the air to set up the game winner certainly hurts.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-1):
We saw Sunday what they are capable of – coming back to win the game they were down 21-0 against the Rams. Still they just make too many mistakes to have me list them any higher. If they give the ball to DeMarco Murray 20 times a game and he doesn’t give it away they are in pretty good shape (Of course it helps when you get a superstar wide receiver like Dez Bryant wide open down the field with nobody else in the picture).
21. Houston Texans (2-1):
While the defense clearly has to do a better job against the run than they did against the Giants Sunday, the reason they aren’t ranked higher is the offense. The passing game is nearly not existent and while Alfred Blue did a solid job filling in as the lead back, he certainly isn’t Arian Foster. I still think they should reevaluate their QB situation and let’s hope the get Foster back soon.
22. New York Jets (1-2):
They run the ball pretty well and do a great job defending the run. That being said, I don’t think Geno Smith is the guy to lead this Jet team to the playoffs. He just doesn’t display the ability to read defenses properly and go through his progression. That’s the only reason they aren’t ranked any higher.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2):
Jamaal Charles is the Chiefs offense – that’s a fact. So I’m not completely down on the Chiefs for winning only one game pretty much without him. They held on pretty good against the Broncos and blew out the Dolphins. With Charles back they should be a different team.
24. Miami Dolphins (1-2):
Man, were those Dolphins fans’ hopes flying high after beating the Patriots in week one. Since then there hasn’t been much to cheer about after losing by 19 points two weeks in a row. The thing that should keep Phin fans happy are Lamar Miller’s 5.8 yards a carry.
25. Washington Redskins (1-2):
I’d really like to rank them higher because of the way they impress on both sides of the ball, with Kirk Cousins putting on a clinic over the last two weeks and a defense which just held LeSean McCoy to 22 yards on 19 carries, yet they have only won one game. But if Cousins keeps up the level he’s playing at right now they are dangerous.
26. New York Giants (1-2):
Huge game for Rashad Jennings running for 176 yards and it JPP shows flashes of what we’ve seen when he was a big part leading them to a World Championship. If Jennings keeps it up and gives that offense some balance (which was always their winning formula) there is hope.
27. Saint Louis Rams (1-2):
Losing a game you’re up 21-0 must be tough, just like watching your tight end shove your quarterback. You can’t tell me Austin Davis is the reason they are 1-2. Their defense right now is giving up 28.3 points a game while their offense only scores 18.7 points per contest – not good.
28. Minnesota Vikings (1-2):
They looked very impressive week one, since then they haven’t shown the ability to compete with a lot of teams. But hey, how would you do without Adrian Peterson? Teddy Bridgewater has to perform right now.
29. Tennessee Titans (1-2):
Another team which looked great week one and hasn’t done much from there on. I still don’t understand why coaches have put the ball in Jake Locker’s hands 100 times already while handing it to Shonne Greene and Bishop Sankey less than 50 times. Run the ball!
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3):
I don’t think Lovie Smith was able to enjoy Devin Hester’s 20th return touchdown and certainly nothing else in this game. For all the hype which was building around this team before the season, they have disappointed in a lot of ways.
31. Oakland Raiders (0-3):
The good thing: They competed with one of the top teams in the league until the very end of the game, with the defense showing they improved dramatically. Still they are scoring less points than any other team in football right now.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3):
Before the season started I really thought this team had some structure and could win six games or so. Now I’m sitting here looking at the team which is dead last in every major defensive category and can’t really perform on offense either. Blake Bortles – It’s your chance now to do something against this mess.