NFL Power Rankings: Week Three
Garrett Hartley’s job is in jeopardy thanks to a brutal start.
A new number one team has emerged as the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their dominating defense, have risen to the top spot. It’ll be very interesting to see how they play once Ben Roethlisberger returns from his suspension. The big headlines of the week: New Orleans lose in OT due to Garrett Hartley’s missed field goal, and the Bears upset the Packers to stay undefeated and take the top spot in the NFC North thanks to Brian Urlacher and Lance Brigg forcing a fumble on James Jones in the 4th quarter (of course, the Packers didn’t exactly help themselves with all those penalties, either).
Matchups of the Week: Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Pickup of the Week: Peyton Hillis RB, Cleveland Browns
Start of the Week: Michael Vick vs. Washington Redskins
Biggest Jump: The Chicago Bears jumped seven spots from 13th to sixth after beating the Packers on Monday night. The Seahawks also jumped seven spots from 26th to 19th after Leon Washington’s two return TDs.
Biggest Drop: The San Diego Chargers slid six spots from 12th to 18th after losing to the Seahawks.
Legend: Rank, (last week’s rank), team, record
1. (4) Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-0: Despite the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is still serving his suspension, the Steelers are one of three teams still undefeated. Their real test will come this weekend against Baltimore. Look for both defenses to come up big, so it’s a shaky start for any offensive players besides Rashard Mendenhall.
2. (1) New Orleans Saints, 2-1: The Saints suffered a huge loss to a division rival at home. They could have won if Garrett Hartley made the game-winning FG as he had in the playoffs, but he failed from 29 yards out in OT. With the Saints hosting the Panthers Sunday, expect decent numbers for Drew Brees and Pierre Thomas.
3. (3) Indianapolis Colts, 2-1: What a breakout game by Austin Collie, pulling in 12 receptions for 171 yards and two TDs. Dallas Clark had a mediocre game compared to what his Fantasy owners are used to, but he should bounce back against the Jaguars on Sunday.
4. (2) Green Bay Packers, 2-1: The Packers could have won this game and would have if it weren’t for their 18 penalties. I saw three personal fouls or defensive passing interference penalties called on the Packers during the Bears’ last two drives in which they scored their last six points to take the win. Aaron Rodgers did well, but Brandon Jackson, who was expected to take over for the injured Ryan Grant, is now splitting carries with John Kuhn, and Kuhn outperformed Jackson on Monday.
5. (10) Atlanta Falcons, 2-1: The last two weeks, Matt Ryan and the Falcons have shown the league that they are one of the toughest teams to beat this year. Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal in OT against the Saints helped the Falcons soar up the rankings this week.
6. (13) Chicago Bears, 3-0: Besides the 18 Packer penalties, it was the Bears’ defense that earned them a win Monday. Julius Peppers had the blocked field goal and clearly dominated in every part of his game; his addition has helped Chicago become a better defensive team this season. The Bears travel to New York play a desperate Giants’ squad Sunday night, so remaining undefeated may be tough. But I expect them to get the running game going more with Matt Forte against a weak Giant run defense.
7. (5) New York Jets, 2-1: Mark Sanchez proved himself as a quarterback again in Week Three with three more TDs, however, can he do it again against the Bills? Buffalo’s pass defense is mediocre at best, so my guess is he can. However, you never know with Sanchez, and that’s why he has to continue his development if he wants clear everyone’s doubts away. LaDainian Tomlinson is proving himself the starter over Shonn Greene, while Dustin Keller remains Sanchez’s top target.
8. (8) Baltimore Ravens, 2-1: With Ray Rice not at 100 per cent, Joe Flacco will need to rely even more on Anquan Boldin against the Steelers. Bolquin had a huge game on Sunday with eight receptions for 142 yards and three TDs. The Ravens did give up 144 yards on the ground to Peyton Hillis, but this week will have a chance to prove that their defense is in fact better than the Steel Curtain.
9. (6) Houston Texans, 2-1: The Texans’ defense wasn’t up to snuff against the Cowboys while turnovers torpedoed any chance of Houston going to 3-0. Andre Johnson is a little banged up, however, he says he is good go to for Sunday’s game against the Raiders where I see Arian Foster taking over against a sub par Raider run D to help Houston move to 3-1.
10. (9) New England Patriots, 2-1: The Tom Brady and Randy Moss connection struck twice on Sunday in the end zone. With Laurence Maroney now in Denver, BenJarvus Green-Ellis seems to have emerged as the best RB option on this team after getting 16 carries for 98 yards and one touchdown. The two rookie tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, already have great chemistry with Brady, but I see Wes Welker going big in Monday night’s game, although he will be facing a tough Dolphin pass defense.
11. (7) Miami Dolphins, 2-1: The Dolphins lost a close game in Miami on Sunday, as Chad Henne threw for 363 yards and two TDs. The Jets’ defense held Miami’s running game to 3.7 yards per carry, but Brandon Marshall took over with a huge game. He should continue his roll against a weak Patriot pass defense on Monday night.
12. (11) Cincinnati Bengals, 2-1: With a game against Cleveland next up, Cedric Benson has a chance to eclipse 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. Carson Palmer continues to struggle as he tries to find a way to get the ball to all his offensive weapons.
13. (14) Philadelphia Eagles, 2-1: The second Michael Vick era has begun and on Sunday, he accounted for all four touchdowns that the Eagles scored. In the anticipated bloodbath of a game against the Redskins this week, Vick should combine with DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy to rack up the TDs on Sunday against the NFL’s worst defense.
14. (16) Tennessee Titans, 2-1: The Giants were able to hold Chris Johnson to only 3.9 yards per carry, but on 32 carries, Johnson trekked for 125 yards and two TDs. In Week Four, Denver should watch out since the star on this team could go the distance multiple times, but the Broncos and their strong rush defense will be ready.
15. (17) Dallas Cowboys, 1-2: The Cowboys got their first win of the season as Tony Romo found Roy Williams for two TDs and 117 yards. I never thought I’d see Williams have a game like this, but I don’t expect it to repeat many times with Miles Austin across from him, and Dez Bryant moving up and playing great.
16. (20) Kansas City Chiefs, 3-0: The most surprising of the remaining undefeated teams has an incredible duo behind the offensive line with Thomas Jones, who uses his power running to tire the defense, and Jamaal Charles, who uses his speed and agility to burst into the secondary. Too bad Matt Cassel’s three TD-game was most likely a fluke.
17. (18) Minnesota Vikings, 1-2: The Vikings also got their first win on Sunday, and all credit should be given to Adrian Peterson and the defense. Brett Favre is really missing Sidney Rice as he continues to struggle, throwing two more interceptions. Minnesota heads into its bye week at a good time, with a win and some down time to figure out its troubles.
18. (12) San Diego Chargers, 1-2: Looking at the Chargers’ schedule for the first three weeks, I’d expect to see them at 3-0, but Leon Washington spoiled their chance at another win. In Week Four, they are playing the struggling Arizona Cardinals at home and should bounce back fine with Philip Rivers at the helm. It’s looking very promising that rookie Ryan Mathews will be back this week and he’ll have a great chance to finally get his first big game against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL.
19. (26) Seattle Seahawks, 2-1: Leon Washington only had one carry for zero yards on Sunday, but he did have a 101-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter and then a 99-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to seal the Seahwaks’ second win of the season. They have their next game against the Rams; Justin Forsett has a chance to have a big game in this one since the Rams are 25th in opponent’s rushing yards, giving up 133.7 yards per game.
20. (15) Washington Redskins, 1-2: In Week Four, Donovan McNabb is traveling back to Philly where he faces his old team for the first time in his career. He keeps dialing up Santana Moss, who looks like he’s headed for one of his biggest seasons, as well as Chris Cooley. Each of the receivers were targeted eight times on Sunday.
21. (24) Arizona Cardinals, 2-1: A win is a win, even if the Cardinals almost lost multiple times. Arizona will need to call in a new QB very soon, but Beanie Wells made his season debut and got 14 carries for 75 yards as he emerges as the top back as he continues to get healthier. Derek Anderson’s poor play is bound to hurt Larry Fitzgerald along with Steve Breaston, who had surgery on his knee this week and will be out for the next two-to-three weeks.
22. (21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-1: The Bucs have a bye this week which is a good time to prepare for their next two games against the Bengals and Saints, a stretch during which their 2-1 record could quickly become 2-3. LeGarrette Blount made his NFL debut on Sunday. He got the team’s only TD and he managed to avoid punching anyone, therefore, I deem his debut a success.
23. (22) Denver Broncos, 1-2: With Knowshon Moreno out, the Broncos’ running game struggled big time, even against the Colts, who aren’t exactly known for their strong rush defense. At least we know Kyle Orton can somewhat handle himself if he has to keep throwing, as he racked up 476 yards in the air. Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney came up big with 169 and 140 receiving yards, respectively.
24. (19) New York Giants, 1-2: At least Steve Smith finally had his first big game of the season. The Giants are struggling to win, and playing the Bears on Sunday may not help. Look for Eli Manning to have a big game and to possibly connect with Hakeem Nicks again.
25. (23) San Francisco 49ers, 0-3: The 49ers were the favourites to win the NFC West and still can, but I think they need a new quarterback as Alex Smith is not the franchise QB they are looking for. However, Frank Gore is the franchise RB they want, as even when he has trouble running with 43 yards on 15 carries, he excels in receiving, leading the team with nine receptions for 102 yards. Unfortunately, San Francisco may still be looking for win No. 1 after Week Four as it must travel to Atlanta to play the red hot Falcons.
26. (30) St. Louis Rams, 1-2: There you go, Sam Bradford — win number one of many for your career. As Bradford improves, look for an increase in Steven Jackson’s numbers as long as Jackson stays healthy; he’s currently dealing with a groin injury and had to miss practice Wednesday.
27. (27) Oakland Raiders, 1-2: I really like Darren McFadden, he is having a breakout season and has finally taken over as the full-time starter for the Raiders after three years. They could have had a win but weren’t able to grab it in Arizona. However, they could earn their second win at home against Houston, but McFadden could struggle against one of the best rush defenses in the NFL.
28. (25) Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-2: Maurice Jones-Drew is off to a bad start, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. However, with the Colts’ poor rush defense up next, MJD could have his biggest game of the season depending on how the Colts’ defense plays and on how the Jaguars’ O-line does. Hell, even David Garrard could be a decent QB2 this week, although you should note that Jacksonville has added Trent Edwards, so if Garrard keeps struggling, he may find himself on the bench soon.
29. (29) Carolina Panthers, 0-3: Jimmy Clausen had a tough game, but it was his first career start. And while going to play in the Superdome will be cool, this week will be an even harder game for the youngster. If the Panthers get their running back duo fired up and playing well then Clausen will have an easier time.
30. (28) Detroit Lions, 0-3: Jahvid Best, who was responsible for five of Detroit’s TDs in the first two weeks, suffered a turf toe injury which will hurt this team greatly as Shaun Hill struggles for a win. Kevin Smith may be back for his debut this season with Best injured.
31. (31) Cleveland Browns, 0-3: The Browns have been in all their games, but just haven’t been able to pull off a win yet. Peyton Hillis looks to be the new starter after rushing for 144 yards and a TD against Baltimore’s defense. Cleveland’s next chance for its first win is against the Bengals, and it will be a tall order considering Cincy has won eight straight within the division.
32. (32) Buffalo Bills, 0-3: Marshawn Lynch is on the trading block, and Trent Edwards has been picked up off waivers by the Jags. C.J. Spiller had a big game with his first two career TDs, but this team is clearly in the rebuilding stages.