We’re three games into the NFL season and we are already figuring out who the contenders are, and who is already looking towards 2020.
Instead of doing a 1-32, I prefer to rank teams by tiers…..
So let’s begin.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Patrick Mahomes hasn’t taken a step back from his MVP performance last year, and the only way the Chiefs lose games this season will strictly be on their defense.
2. New England Patriots (3-0)
We might as well fast forward to the playoffs and put these two teams in the AFC Championship. Mahomes v. Brady. The Patriots have an edge with their defense however, only allowing a league best 17 points.
3. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
The Rams haven’t looked dominant in any game this season, but they’re winning. Todd Gurley’s ineffectiveness is a cause of concern, but the best WR trio (Kupp, Cooks, Woods) will get this offense far this season. The Aaron Donald led defense isn’t bad either.
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
The Cowboys are here, momentarily, but I don’t expect them to stay. They’ve played against Washington, Miami, and the Eli Manning Giants, who are all in the bottom of the league. They have a tough game coming up against New Orleans, who seems to be clicking with Bridgewater. Dak has looked great, but we’ll wait until their opponents are a little stronger.
5. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Lamar Jackson has silenced all of his critics. Being called a “runningback playing quarterback,” he has lit up opposing defenses not just with his legs, but with his arms as well. A tough loss to Kansas City definitely hurts, but expect the Ravens to be near the top of the AFC. They’ve got three straight divisional games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati ahead.
6. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
They lost a tough one to New Orleans, but Russell Wilson keeps this team near the top. They seemingly always play close games, but if they can figure out how to better protect Wilson, they’ll be contending for the Superbowl come January.
7. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
Not too many people, myself included, thought the Niners would be 3-0 this season. Their opponents haven’t been the best (Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh) but the defense has been solid, and the running game has been effective. Jimmy G hasn’t had to be great to win games so far, but as they run into tougher opponents, his play will need to be elevated.
8. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Aaron Rodgers is 23rd in passing yards, and 17th in passing touchdowns, and somehow the Packers are 3-0 and in first place in the NFC North. The defense has been elevated to an elite level, allowing only 35 points this season; second best in the league. Once Rodgers catches fire in coach LaFluer’s new system, the Packers will be extremely scary.
9. Buffalo Bills (3-0)
I want the Bills to be great. The NFL fans want someone to finally challenge the Patriots. With games against the Jets, Giants, and Bengals, the Bills haven’t had much competition, but will play New England this week in my game of the week. Josh Allen has looked fairly good, and comfortable. Getting Devin Singletary back this week will be key if they stand a chance against Tom and the Patriots.
10. Chicago Bears (2-1)
The Bears rank 26th in PPG and 29th in YPG, but are 2-1 because of their stout defense, who have allowed the third fewest points this season. Trubisky finally looked good last week against Washington, but has a tough test this week against Minnesota. He doesn’t need to be great to win games, but he has to do two things: 1. Not turn the ball over and 2. Capitalize of turnovers.
11. Houston Texans (2-1)
The Texans lost a heartbreaker week one to Drew Brees, but have been solid against the Chargers and Jaguars. Deshaun Watson hasn’t been great, but he’s been efficient and has a top ten running game. The defense will decide how far the Texas go.
12. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Kirk Cousins has been awful this year, ranking near the bottom in every passing category, but is benefiting from a great running game led by Dalvin Cook, and a defense that has allowed the fifth fewest points. They have a tough test this week on the road against the Rival Bears, and this game will show who is challenging the Packers for the division lead.
13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
All of their games thus far have been close, however, Jacoby Brissett has been very, very good. Would Andrew Luck have this team in better shape? Maybe. The Colts have to keep Luck in their past, and if they keep playing this way, they’ll likely be in contention to make the playoffs. If Adam Vinatieri wouldn’t have had these early season struggles, they likely sit at 3-0.
14. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)
I am not buying into the Lions being good. Their defense isn’t great. Their offense isn’t great, and if Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside knew how to catch a ball, they lose this last week. They tied a bad Cardinals team week one, and beat a struggling Chargers team by three points. They’ll get sent down to the bottom of the NFC North very soon, with matchups against Kansas City, Green Bay, and Minnesota the next three weeks.
15. New Orleans Saints (2-1)
The cause for concern I have with the Saints is that their running game has been fairly ineffective. With Bridgewater still building rapport with the team, Alvin Kamara needs to take it up a notch. The defense has looked bad, giving up the 7th most points in the league, and they won’t make it to the playoffs unless the defense figures it out.
Outside Looking In
16. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
The Eagles should be sitting at 2-1 at the very least, and could be 3-0 if not for some awful drops by both Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Missing DeSean Jackson with a foot injury is concerning, as he looked explosive. Alshon Jeffery is also out and likely doesn’t play tomorrow against Green Bay. The running game has also been fairly ineffective and this offense will need Jeffery and Jackson back to compete.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
For some reason, The Chargers seem to struggle out of the gate every season, but seem to figure it out later. They are fifth in yards per game, but are not capitalizing on that and putting the ball in the end zone. There are reports that Melvin Gordon will be ending his holdout soon, and that could get the offense back on track. Thomas Davis is doing a good job in leading the defense early this season.
18. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
I really like the look of the Panthers offense with Kyle Allen. Granted, he did play Arizona, but the Panthers offense just looked lost with Cam Newton this season. Allen was efficient and effective, but will need to get some off the pressure off of Christian McCaffery, who has 81% of the teams rushing attempts. If the Panthers can get someone else involved in the running game, they likely can win the weak NFC South, and need momentum before Brees comes back.
19. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
They’re struggling and lost Keanu Neal for the season, which won’t make things any better. Matt Ryan can only do so much. Unless the running game and defense improve, they likely miss the playoffs again this year.
20. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
The offense has been atrocious. Much of it has been on Baker Mayfield, but Freddie Kitchens playcalling hasn’t been any better. The defense has played well the past two weeks, and if the offense figures it out, they could possibly make a run.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
All hope seemed lost when Nick Foles went down early in the season, but Minshew Mania has taken over. Gardner Minshew, the rookie quarterback with an electric personality has taken over and has looked good at times, but Leonard Fournette and the rest of the running game is absolutely atrocious. The defense needs to get back to their “Sacksonville” type play of last year.
22. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
They shellacked the Browns in week one, but haven’t looked good since. The defense has been solid, but the offense with Marcus Mariota hasn’t been great. Derrick Henry needs help, and it may be time to give Ryan Tannehill a look in this offense.
Down and Out
23. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Derek Carr has, for the most part, survived without Antonio Brown, but the Raiders aren’t going anywhere with a non-existent run defense, and lack of running game. With a true #1 receiver, this offense may not be that bad. Unfortunately, Carr isn’t going to succeed with a receiving core of Tyrell Williams, Dwayne Harris, and Hunter Renfrow.
24. New York Giants(1-2)
Daniel Jones looks like he was worth a top pick; but now without Saquon Barkley for the near future, and a horrible defense, it will be tough for Jones to grind out wins for the Giants, especially with a tough stretch of games against Minnesota, Washington, and New England.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
The Bucs need to be a pass-heavy offense to succeed, and unfortunately, Jameis Winston isn’t good enough for that, and is too inaccurate. Ronald Jones has ran the ball better than Peyton Barber, so a switch in the twos production this week against the Rams could be beneficial. Unfortunately however, they just won’t be competitive.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
I still have some faith in Mason Rudolph to keep this team competitive. Outside of Juju, he just doesn’t have the receiver help necessary, for him to thrive, and James Conner is averaging under 3.0 YPC so far. They have Cincinnati next, and it’s a must-win for Rudolph, but he will need help from his defense, who did get bolstered with the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick.
27. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)
Kyler Murray is really fun to watch, but the offense looks confusing at times, and the pass defense is bad. The offense is young, with Murray and Christian Kirk looking promising for the future. If the Cardinals can get some pieces for Murray on offense, and get him some help up front, they could contest in a few years.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)
The defense is awful and Andy Dalton is passing the ball too much. With a solid draft class next spring, the Bengals likely will draft someone to replace Dalton, and build up their defense. The Bengals will struggled to win north of five games this season.
29. Denver Broncos (0-3)
The offense is anemic with Joe Flacco, and their defense isn’t good enough to keep this team in contention. They have no identity on offense, and can only look to next year with a healthy Drew Lock.
30. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Case Keenum has looked okay at times, but isn’t getting results. The defense is bad, like really bad, and if they don’t win this week against the Giants, Dwayne Haskins likely takes over against New England, and then Miami. Haskins probably needs more time to develop, but their season is all but over, and might as well see what Haskins has to offer.
31. New York Jets (0-3)
The defense isn’t bad, but Le’Veon Bell is the only offensive player on the Jets worth anything. Sam Darnold could potentially return in week five against the Eagles, but even then the offense looks like it will struggle. Le’Veon Bell still has yet to find the end zone on the ground, but has the lone Jets touchdown through the air.
Tanking and Irrelevant
32. Miami Dolphins (0-3)
They’re stockpiling draft selections, clearing cap space, and losing every week. They made a few plays against the Cowboys this past week, and they’ll likely win a game or two on accident; but the defense is tough to watch.