Come-from-behind wins, new records, blown calls, clutch performances. Week 3 had a bit of everything.
There are now five 3-0 and five 0-3 teams as we enter a Week 4 schedule offering a number of anticipated divisional matchups.
The stacked NFC West will be in the spotlight with the Cardinals visiting the Rams and 49ers hosting the Seahawks. There’s also an exciting AFC West battle between the unbeaten Raiders and surging Chargers.
Oh, and we’re thinking there could be some interest in watching Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski play against the Patriots for the first time in their Hall of Fame careers when Tampa travels to Foxboro.
Three weeks down and 15 to go as the jockeying for position continues.
THE NEW TEAM TO BEAT…FOR NOW:
1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0; Last week: 2)
After out-scoring Tom Brady’s Buccaneers on Sunday, the undefeated Rams get the edge — and their very own tier as the team to beat for the time being. The scariest part? The Matthew Stafford-Sean McVay partnership is only just getting started. – Sadler
DON’T LET ONE LOSS SCARE YOU OFF:
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1; Last week: 1)
3. Buffalo Bills (2-1; Last week: 9)
4. Green Bay Packers (2-1; Last week: 10)
5. Cleveland Browns (2-1; Last week: 6)
6. San Francisco 49ers (2-1; Last week: 4)
7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1; Last week: 5)
8. Dallas Cowboys (2-1; Last week: 14)
9. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1; Last week: 19)
After disastrous starts from Buffalo and Green Bay, it’s safe to say the Bills and Packers we’ve seen these past two week have been the ones to trust. All Aaron Rodgers needed was exactly 37 seconds to prove his Packers will be just fine (at least, on offence).
A statement defensive game from the Browns, courtesy of Myles Garrett’s 4.5 sacks against the Bears, leaves few questions about how complete a club Cleveland is, while the return of a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. brought another dose of star-power to what is a deep offensive group.
The Ravens, meanwhile, fall two spots from last week not because their win wasn’t plenty impressive — historic, actually, thanks to Justin Tucker’s incredible 66-yard game-winning field goal — but because of too many drops from should-be star receiver Marquise Brown and mistakes on defence that saw the Lions almost complete a wild comeback. (Not to mention, the fact that Tucker’s game-winner actually probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place due to a missed delay-of-game call.)
The Cowboys and Chargers are two of this week’s biggest risers, thanks to a pair of explosive offensive performances. Too often, we’ve seen the Chargers lose those tight games late in the most creative of ways, and it almost looked like we’d witness another Sunday against the Chiefs. L.A. has the talent, and they’re now showing signs of winning when it counts. – Sadler
WHAT’S UP WITH THE CHIEFS?
10. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2; Last week: 3)
Has the league caught up to the Chiefs? Have the champions from two seasons ago become complacent in Patrick Mahomes’ fourth year as KC’s starter? Or, are the team’s problems mostly on the other side of the ball? The Chiefs are allowing a league-worst 31.7 points against per game, the third-most rushing and total yards and the pass rush is struggling. As long as the core of the offence is intact we can’t dismiss the Chiefs. They’ve also played an extremely tough schedule thus far, beating the Browns before blowing back-to-back fourth-quarter leads against the Ravens and Chargers. – Johnston
HOW FOR REAL ARE THEY?
11. Arizona Cardinals (3-0; Last week: 7)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0; Last week: 12)
13. Carolina Panthers (3-0; Last week: 15)
14. Denver Broncos (3-0; Last week: 16)
This quartet of unbeaten teams has the same record as the Rams yet we don’t have the same confidence in them. Offensively, Arizona is leading the NFL scoring 34.3 points per game while the Raiders lead with 471 yards of offence per game, but both teams are susceptible to untimely mistakes and avoidable coaching gaffes. Both have the potential to break through into the upper tiers.
How will the Panthers stay afloat without Christian McCaffrey? Can Canadian Chubba Hubbard break through and become a new fantasy star? Carolina’s revamped defence has exceeded expectations – they also just acquired CJ Henderson from the Jags with rookie Jaycee Horn out. The Panthers and Broncos are allowing the fewest and second-fewest yards, respectively, but neither team has been challenged. Denver’s opponents are a combined 0-9 for example, so the jury is still out. – Johnston
FEELING CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC:
15. Tennessee Titans (2-1; Last week: 11)
16. New Orleans Saints (2-1; Last week: 17)
17. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1; Last week: 25)
18. Minnesota Vikings (1-2; Last week: 26)
Derrick Henry had just 58 rushing yards in Tennessee’s opening-week embarrassment, but two wins and a combined 295 yards later the back-to-back league rushing champ is once again where he belongs. The key to the Titans’ success is simple.
Now, if only New Orleans’ outlook was as easy to figure out. Jameis Winston’s every snap is constantly toeing the line between fortune and fiasco… and, apparently, fate.
Meanwhile, how about that Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase connection? If the LSU alumni can keep that chemistry up, watch out, AFC North. The Bengals could keep climbing. – Sadler
HOW WORRIED ARE WE?
19. Seattle Seahawks (1-2; Last week: 8)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2; Last week: 13)
21. Miami Dolphins (1-2; Last week: 22)
22. New England Patriots (1-2; Last week: 18)
23. Washington Football Team (1-2; Last week: 20)
24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2; Last week: 21)
Each team here is off to a slower start than they had anticipated. The Seahawks are in the best spot, largely because Russell Wilson is by far the most reliable QB of the bunch, however they’re behind the eight ball in the league’s deepest division.
The quality Steelers defence isn’t fully healthy with T.J. Watt banged up and it’s proving too much for the team to overcome. A Week 1 win over the Bills seems like an aberration at this point. The o-line isn’t blocking well for an immobile Big Ben and that won’t change anytime soon. Things could start getting really ugly in Pittsburgh, as their schedule doesn’t ease up until November. – Johnston
NOT MUCH SILVER LINING:
25. Indianapolis Colts (0-3: Last week: 23)
26. Atlanta Falcons (1-2; Last week: 29)
27. Chicago Bears (1-2; Last week: 24)
28. Detroit Lions (0-3; Last week: 30)
29. Houston Texans (1-2; Last week: 28)
30. New York Giants (0-3; Last week: 27)
31. New York Jets (0-3; Last week: 31)
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3; Last week: 32)
Of the eight teams in this bottom grouping, four had rookie quarterbacks at the helm in a Week 3 outing that didn’t bode well for any of them.
Sunday was supposed to mark the opening of a new chapter for the Chicago Bears, with rookie Justin Fields getting his first career NFL start following last week’s injury to Andy Dalton. Only, it felt like the same old story for the Bears, whose offence was down-right dreadful against the Browns. Playing behind a porous offensive line, Fields was sacked nine (!) times and head coach Matt Nagy’s play-calling did him absolutely zero favours. Questions of whether Fields was/is ready for the role of QB1 now feel more like, ‘Are the Bears ready for their QB1?’ And the answer, based on that outcome, is clearly no — at least, not with Nagy calling the shots. – Sadler