Tuesday, June 18, 2024

NFL power rankings: Rams overtake Buccaneers at No. 1; 49ers, Chiefs, Steelers fall big for Week 4

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Week 3 in the NFL caused more critical shakeup in Sporting News’ weekly power rankings. There’s a new No. 1 team, the one that beat the old No. 1 team. There’s another team that also played in Super Bowl 55 that finds itself far down in the top 10.

In between the sliding Buccaneers and falling Chiefs are many of their familiar closest contenders. Then there are three surprising 3-0 teams — the Raiders, Broncos and Panthers — who keep strengthening their resumes.

The league’s unpredictability has created an interesting hierarchy early, especially when considering what teams in the muddled middle are starting to resemble some of the bottom-feeders. Here’s how all 32 teams stack up against each other going into Week 4: 

MORE: Biggest winners and losers from NFL’s Week 3

NFL power rankings

1. Los Angeles Rams 3-0 (previous rank: 5)

The Rams took down the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers well at home to remind everyone they are very dangerous with Matthew Stafford under Sean McVay. But still having a strong defensive backbone with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey may be the ultimate key.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1 (1)

The Buccaneers have their glaring weakness now in their secondary that continues to be depleted by injuries. Everything else is looking great for Tampa Bay but Tom Brady will need to keep delivering in shootouts against the better teams for a while.

3. Cleveland Browns 2-1 (4)

The Browns’ defense needed that game against the Bears to flex a little to support the offense that keeps getting it done in different ways around Baker Mayfield. They are the early best team in the AFC with the Chiefs, to whom they barely lost in Week 1, stubbing their toes.

MORE: How Aaron Rodgers, Packers stunned 49ers in 37 seconds

4. Arizona Cardinals 3-0 (6)

The Cardinals didn’t have the cleanest offense with Kyler Murray and their special teams also had some issues in Jacksonville. But they continue to prove they are a complete team with the way Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt and the rest of the defense can play when needed.

5. Buffalo Bills 2-1 (7)

The Bills needed a monster get-well game from Josh Allen after they already had their traditional running game and defense performing at a new high level. Now they’re right there with the Browns as the Chiefs have provided a bit of an AFC opening for stealing the top seed.

6. Green Bay Packers 2-1 (11)

Aaron Rodgers told everyone not to panic (again) after that Week 1 debacle against the Saints in Jacksonville. He got everyone settled against the Lions in Week 2 and got the Packers into their usual balanced and explosive selves to outlast the 49ers. The Pack is back to being a threat to win the NFC.

(Getty Images)

7. San Francisco 49ers 2-1 (2)

The 49ers fell into third place in the NFC West with their first loss as they failed to keep pace with the Rams and Cardinals. They are still a surefire playoff team in some form as they are fully loaded back healthy in key spots for the offense and staying scrappy defensively despite secondary injuries.

8. Baltimore Ravens 2-1 (8)

The Ravens don’t get style points for Justin Tucker helping them escape Detroit with a win. But given how things started with heartbreak against the Raiders, two late comeback wins vs. the Chiefs and Lions are satisfying. The defense might have turned the corner, too, to adjust to its injuries.

9. Los Angeles Chargers 2-1 (14)

The Chargers looking good overall with McVay disciple Brandon Staley shouldn’t surprise anyone. They have young gun QB Justin Herbert operating well in a skilled new-look offense and the defense is making enough big plays as it should. They are the Chiefs’ true challengers in the AFC West over the undefeated Raiders and Broncos.

MORE: Which 2020 NFL playoff teams are in trouble after Week 3?

10. Kansas City Chiefs 1-2 (3)

The Chiefs have gotten away with poor defense once against the Browns, but that plus an uncharacteristic glut of turnovers has them under .500 for the first time with Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City will be fine long term, but Cleveland and Buffalo will keep putting pressure near the top.

11. Tennessee Titans 2-1 (13)

The Titans’ loss against the Cardinals doesn’t look as bad with strong rebounds against the Seahawks and Colts. They are still feeling their way around a new offense but the question marks will remain for the defense.

12. Las Vegas Raiders 3-0 (15)

The Raiders are on a crazy ride worthy of their Las Vegas residency. What happens with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr is always a gamble, but they don’t care about win probability or any of that tangible football statistical stuff. Coming up blackjack against the Chargers will be much harder next week.

(Getty Images)

13. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (12)

The Cowboys don’t need to worry about Washington or the Giants being threats in the NFC East. So they need to focus on taking care of the Eagles to prove they’re back as the division favorites with the Dak Prescott advantage.

14. New Orleans Saints 2-1 (16)

The Saints went marching into New England with their specific game plan of playing good defense, running the ball and getting a few timely good plays from Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. It may not be sustainable to get into the playoffs behind the Buccaneers in the South, but Sean Payton is doing what he needs to do to try to win games.

15. Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (19)

Jalen Hurts has played well but the offense will continue to have some inconsistency while the defense looks reliable again. The Eagles can have a big early moment under Nick Sirianni in Dallas.

MORE: How Matt Nagy, Bears set up Justin Fields to fail in starting debut

16. Seattle Seahawks 1-2 (9)

The Seahawks cannot play defense the way they would like for Pete Carroll with plenty of holes on every level. Even with Russell Wilson and the offense humming at a higher level, there’s another big challenge to finish above .500. It didn’t take long to see they’ve gone from first to worst in the mighty NFC West.

17. Carolina Panthers 3-0 (20)

The Panthers took care of business against the Jets and Texans, with a most impressive win over the pretty good Saints in between. They have big challenges ahead with Christian McCaffrey and Jaycee Horn out with the Cowboys and Eagles next.

18. Denver Broncos 3-0 (21)

The Broncos didn’t need much from Teddy Bridgewater to take care of the winless Jets, following their comfortable wins against the winless Giants and winless Jaguars. Denver is playing well overall and gets a nice real test vs. Baltimore next week.

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19. Cincinnati Bengals 2-1 (23)

How about Joe Burrow to Ja”Marr Chase? How about that improved defense? The Bengals have plenty of potential as a budding young team that will continue to surprise in big spots before true contention in 2022.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2 (10)

The Steelers were fortunate to upset the Bills in Week 1. Their offense looked anemic against the Raiders and Bengals back-to-back at home, even with some flashes from rookie running back Najee Harris, because Ben Roethlisberger is playing quarterback like a broken clock tower.

21. New England Patriots 1-2 (17)

The Patriots have done their best to hide Mac Jones with the defense and running game. But when those fall apart, the rookie can unravel. The caretaking vs. playmaking won’t work over the long haul this season.

MORE: NFL rookie QB grades for Week 3

22. Washington Football Team 1-2 (18)

Washington’s defense has looked bad despite all of its talent. The offense is doing its best with Taylor Heinicke but it’s far from ideal to try to win shootouts.

23. Minnesota Vikings 1-2 (26)

The Vikings recovered from two close losses to good teams (Bengals, Cardinals) on the road to rout another quality team (Seahawks) at home. Kirk Cousins is playing well again with plenty of help from the running game.

24. Chicago Bears 1-2 (22)

The Bears’ quarterback optimism with Andy Dalton and Justin Fields has been quickly dashed with bad offensive line play, play-calling and lacking execution. David Montgomery and the wide receivers weren’t wasted so much last season.

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25. Miami Dolphins 1-2 (24)

The Dolphins found their offense with Jacoby Brissett, with a good mix of running and shorter passing, with Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) on the shelf. Unfortunately, they still have not found their defensive mojo with Brian Flores, especially against the run but also against the pass.

26. Atlanta Falcons 1-2 (31)

Congratulations to Arthur Smith as the Falcons got enough diverse offense and gritty defense to get their first win, even though the Giants are a low bar. With Washington and the Jets at home, the Falcons have a fair shot to get above .500 before their bye.

27. Indianapolis Colts 0-3 (25)

The Colts aren’t getting what they expected offensively to lift Carson Wentz. Their defense has gone into the tank, too. Frank Reich can already write this season off.

28. Houston Texans 1-2 (27)

The Texans are trying their best to be competitive with David Culley and Tim Kelly, but the offense wasn’t meant to operate without both Tyrod Taylor and Deshaun Watson. The defense is doing its best despite severe talent limitations around Zach Cunningham.

29. Detroit Lions 0-3 (28)

The Lions are showing some pride and heart with Dan Campbell. They fought hard against the 49ers and Ravens at home with nothing to show for it. The positives are the offensive line and running game to offset a feisty but overmatched defense.

30. New York Giants 0-3 (29)

The Giants thought Daniel Jones and the offense had turned the corner in the first two games with the defense being the bigger letdown. Then came the low-scoring disappointment against the Falcons’ defense. It’s been total bust over boom for Joe Judge’s team where it counts.

(Getty Images)

31. New York Jets 0-3 (30)

Zach Wilson and the new-look offense has run into three tough schemed and talent-rich defenses in Carolina, New England and Denver. The Jets finally get some breaks there with Tennessee and Atlanta next before a bye to reassess.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-3 (32)

Trevor Lawrence is getting better every week but still makes some bad rookie throws. At least he’s getting more help from James Robinson and the running game. As for the defense, ugh. The early biggest highlight of the Urben Meyer era just came from special teams.

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