With three weeks already the books, this year, like any other, has had its share of surprises. Sure the hapless Bears, Saints, Jaguars, and Browns are winless, while the consistently excellent Patriots, Steelers, and Broncos sit near the top, but who, before the season, would have predicted the Cardinals and Panthers would be 1-2? The first three weeks have also continued an alarming trend, which has developed over the past couple of seasons: the devaluation of the running back position. Key injuries to studs like Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles have yet to be reflected in the record book, nor has the inconsistent play of Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. While there’s still a lot of football to be played, it is important to note that 0-3 teams have a 2% chance of making the playoffs versus 77% for 3-0 teams, so 3 weeks is a large enough sample size to get a good idea of where teams stand. Thus, it is a good time to create this year’s first WUVA NFL power rankings.
1. New England Patriots (Record: 3-0)
- Even without Tom Brady and Jimmy Garappolo, the Patriots were able to snag an impressive victory in a shutout over the Texans despite Jacoby Brissett throwing for just 103 yards. What’s concerning: both Garappolo and Brissett are questionable for Week 4’s matchup. Even Belichick’s magical touch might not be able to save them if Julian Edelman has to play QB.
2. Denver Broncos (3-0)
- The Manning-less Broncos look even more dominant than they did last year. Trevor Siemian looked like a stud with 4 TDs against the Bengals. They look like a championship team right now.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-0)
- The loss of Adrian Peterson hurts, but both Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon have thrived sharing RB duties in the past. Picking off Cam Newton 3 times is also a good way to take pressure off of the offense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
- Perhaps the surprise team of the year, the Eagles have been rolling due to the play of rookie Carson Wentz and a stout defense. The question now is whether or not Wentz can keep it up.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-1)
- Things got dicey today against a bad Lions team, and Rodgers struggled after a huge first half with 4 TDs. They have a BYE next week to figure things out.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
- They were simply overpowered by the Eagles in all three phases of the game. Ben Roethlisberger clearly misses having Martavis Bryant and Le’veon Bell to give him some help.
7. Baltimore Ravens (3-0)
- It hasn’t been pretty but they are 3-0 after facing three mediocre teams. Next week is their first real test against a solid Raiders team.
8. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
- Carolina is only 1-2 but they’ve played two of the toughest defenses in the league. They will get back on track next week against a porous Atlanta defense.
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
- They finally looked like a playoff team against a bad 49ers team, but that loss to the Rams last week is still too hard to ignore. On the bright side, Christine Michael looked like a lead back this week for the first time this season.
10. Oakland Raiders (2-1)
- This is a dangerous team. The Carr-Murray-Cooper combination is as good as any QB-RB-WR group in the league. They will definitely be at least .500 this year.
11. Houston Texans (2-1)
- An ugly loss to the Patriots may have Texans fans re-evaluating the signing of Brock Osweiler. Two pieces of good news: Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins might be the best 1-2 combo in the league, and the AFC South is looking like the NFL equivalent of the minor leagues this year.
12. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
- Carson Palmer looked his age in a Week 3 head-scratcher against the Bills. He is this week’s Goat of the Week after an awful game where he went 26-50 with 4 interceptions.
13. New York Giants (2-1)
- Eli Manning entered Week 3 as the NFL’s most accurate passer, but regressed to his normal tendencies with a late game pick in the 4th quarter against the Redskins to seal the Giants loss.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)
- Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are both more than capable of filling the void as Jamaal Charles’ replacements. The question is whether or not Alex Smith is good enough to make the Chiefs real contenders.
15. Washington Redskins (1-2)
- They avoided a catastrophic 0-3 start with a win against an undisciplined Giants team. It came at a steep cost however, as 4 Redskins starters had to leave with injuries. On the bright side, Kirk Cousins looked sharp and is beginning to play like a man should during a contract year.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
- Day-time Andy Dalton has not looked good this year, and it is not even November yet. This may be Dalton’s last chance with the Bengals, and the same can be said for head coach Marvin Lewis.
17. New York Jets (1-2)
- The Jets may regret giving Fitzpatrick an extension in the offseason after a 6-interception performance against the Chiefs. On the bright side, Matt Forte is playing like he was back in his prime.
18. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
- Dak Prescott has avoided making big mistakes and led the Cowboys to a victory in a huge rivalry game against Washington last week, and continued his strong play against the Bears this week.
19. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
- Matt Ryan looked like his former self after a 300-yard day against the Raiders in Week 2. RB tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman really carried the load this week vs. the Saints.
20. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
- Like the Redskins they avoided a disastrous 0-3 start with a nail biter victory against the Chargers. Another surprise: Frank Gore has outplayed Andrew Luck this year.
21. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
- A win against the Browns should not count as a full win, in my opinion. They are destined to spend eternity in mediocrity.
22. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
- Without Keenan Allen, the Chargers will have trouble reaching 4 wins and will waste another year of Phillip Rivers’ prime. Important alert for fantasy football players: if Travis Benjamin is still unowned in your league, pick him up.
23. Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
- After a 9-6 win against Seattle they beat Tampa Bay in a shootout this week. If Todd Gurley plays like he did today, the Rams will be tough to beat.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
- Jameis Winston has shown flashes of promise but can’t seem to play consistently enough to make the Buccaneers relevant. On the other hand, Mike Evans is in the middle of a breakout season.
25. Detroit Lions (1-2)
- They turned a blowout into a close game against the Packers. If Matt Stafford plays consistently enough they could be a mediocre team this year.
26. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
- Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem has served as a nice distraction for a forgettable team. At least Carlos Hyde looks promising.
27. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
- They might be the most forgettable team in football. Rumor has it they were trying out high schoolers this week to play WR.
28. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
- They are the only team with an elite QB that can’t seem to win games. This week’s game against the Falcons was a shootout.
29. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
- What’s that thing that Chris Berman says? No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Their game against Arizona may go down as the surprise game of the year, or it may go down as the game where the Bills finally started playing to their potential. The question on everyone’s mind: Will ex-Hokie Tyrod Taylor throw for 2,000 yards this year?
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
- After looking good in 2015 with the play of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns, the Jags offense has regressed this season. A couple of more games like this and the Jaguars might have to go back to the drawing board.
31. Chicago Bears (0-3)
- There was a time when Jay Cutler was considered a top ten QB, but that time is no longer. He has raw talent, but he can’t seem to translate it into wins. He was recently called “the worst quarterback in the league,” by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
- How did Cody Kessler’s first drive as a Brown go? Delay of game, handoff, fumbled snap, strip-sack fumble. The recent news leak that the Browns fired some scouts who liked Carson Wentz in the draft only adds insult to injury.