By Conor Perrett
In a topsy-turvy NFL weekend, the top two teams suffered their first losses of the year, while five previously winless teams recorded their first victories, and a 2021 laughingstock introduced itself as an early contender.
Let’s get to the rankings.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Coming in at No. 1 is one of the two undefeated teams. My reasoning for the Eagles is they look to be a more complete team and all their wins have been in controlled fashion.
Jalen Hurts is a legit MVP candidate right now and their offence is so smooth. The run game is rolling with Miles Sanders, while adding the read options with Hurts, it’s just too much for opposing defences. Their defence isn’t being left behind and is putting up numbers of their own as well. After shutting down Justin Jefferson and the Vikings last week, they came this week with an approach to destroy the Commanders offensive-line. They sacked Carson Wentz nine times in the end, leaving him with a bruise or two for the morning after.
Up next: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The next undefeated team on my list has started fast under a new Head Coach, Mike McDaniel, thanks to an explosive offence.
With Tua Tagovailoa and crew coming off another spectacular win, some could be wondering when their luck will run out. Buffalo out-gained Miami 497-212 on Sunday, ran 90 plays to the Dolphins’ 39 and possessed the ball for 40 of the 60 minutes. Only one other time in NFL history has a team done that yet still lost the game, the Jaguars back in 1996.
Though any win is a win in the NFL, and Miami’s offence with Hill and Waddle, are burning teams over the top leading to victories. The biggest question will remain the health of Tua on a short week as they travel to Cincinnati.
Up next: at Cincinnati, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Buffalo Bills (2-1)
The Bills have the only case across the whole league to have the best offence and defence. They should be fine even after a disappointing loss in Miami, but the injuries can be concerning. They finished the game with three backup offensive linemen on the field and without both starting safeties, one of which Micah Hyde being down for the year.
Josh Allen will put this team on his back and run them from game to game if he has to. They’re converting 61% of their third downs, no other team is above 50%, and still have their weapons intact. A wake up call on Sunday might be good for them, as a little motivation might be needed to host the Baltimore Ravens.
Up next: at Baltimore, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Lamar Jackson is simply doing Lamar Jacking things right now. He accounted for an absurd 85.9% of the Ravens’ total offence, so it is safe to say things are going fine on that side of the ball. It’s just their defence they would like a little more from.
They’re an extremely exciting team to watch and this week’s trip to Buffalo will be no different.
Up next: vs. Buffalo, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)
We knew things were going to look different for the Chiefs this year with a fairly big turnaround in personnel. So far, they are still looking like their usual selves and should probably still hold an undefeated record right now.
It was a weird situation, after a Nick Bolton sack on third down with just over five minutes remaining and the Chiefs up four. Chris Jones went back and forth in an exchange of words with Colts QB Matt Ryan, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct flag and a fresh set of downs for Indianapolis. The Colts would go on to score the winning touchdown on the drive and it will be a lesson to learn for the defensive superstar.
Anyway, the Chiefs should be fine. The offence is still great, even if their schedule is difficult.
Up next: at Tampa Bay, Monday 1:20 a.m. BST
- Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
The reigning Super Bowl Champs are maybe feeling that hangover, with a disappointing start to the season. The team ranks bang in the middle on offence and defence through EPA per drive metrics, as they try to find out what’s missing. The loss of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr might be at the centre of that, with Matthew Stafford not looking like his last year self, and new toy Allen Robinson lacking the spark they want and need out of him.
Up next: at San Francisco, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. BST
- Green Bay Packers (2-1)
A Week 1 disaster class always seems to be on the cards for the Packers but it doesn’t take them long to find a solution to their problems.
On their opening two drives on Sunday, the Packers scored 14 points and gained 146 yards.
Now they just have to find some consistency, as on the final nine drives they scored 0 points with a gain of 169 yards.
It was enough to hold off Tampa in the end, as things look on the rise with All-Pro left-tackle David Bakhtiari returning on a limited basis.
Up next: vs. New England, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Now it’s hard to make excuses for quarterbacks, especially when they are considered the GOAT, but on Sunday Tom Brady had to live without all three of his starting wide receivers. This caused him to travel an average of his passes a mere 5.62 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, his lowest average in his three-year tenure in Florida. Brady and the offence nearly pulled it off in the end and a miscommunication stopped them winning in the end.
At the start of the season a championship pedigree team can be let off the hook sometimes, and with Mike Evans back next week, they have more to play with.
Up next: vs. Kansas City, Monday 1:20 a.m. BST
- Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
After a rocky first two weeks to the season where the Bengals basically forgot to do what they’re best at, they returned to normal form against the Jets last week.
Burrow remembered he had that deep ball in his locker when he connected with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins for 56 and 45 yards touchdowns, respectively. After an off-season of focusing on the improvement of the offensive line, it left a lot to be desired, but it’s hard not to believe as the season goes on that they will improve.
The rock solid defence of last year is still there, ranking fifth in EPA per drive, which will be needed when they play Miami on prime time Thursday Night Football.
Up next: vs. Miami, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
Back in May during the draft the Jaguars were heavily criticised for not putting their eggs into the basket of protecting their biggest asset Trevor Lawrence. Well that’s been going fine as Lawrence has the lowest sack rate in the league, as he looks like his Clemson self again. All while their defence is performing better than expected as well.
Per DVOA Jacksonville joins the Bills and Eagles as the only teams in the league to have top-10 offences and defences.
Up next: at Philadelphia, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Denver Broncos (2-1)
The Denver Broncos have been at the centre of criticism this season with new head coach Nathaniel Hackett getting the most of it. The offence actually hasn’t been all bad with them moving the ball fine. The problems come when they get inside the redzone. Ranking 32nd in red zone offence, by converting on just 14.3% trips to touchdowns, it has led to a sluggish offence that is not to the high power of what we expected.
The same cannot be said for the defensive side, as they rank the complete opposite 1st in red zone defence by allowing touchdowns on just 25% of opponents trips.
The pillar of their defences is now there, and adjusting to new offences takes time. It will only be a matter of time before Russel Wilson finds his groove and Denver starts to reach the heights we expected before the season.
Up next: at Las Vegas, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST
- Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Cooper Rush. One of three undefeated quarterbacks in the league this season, something no one would have expected.
Rush has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 6.9 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, no interceptions. This outranks Prescott in every statistic we’ve seen from him so far. Can a change be on the cards? No.
Granted, Rush is doing a great job but he has one of the best defences helping him out right now, forcing the second highest pressure rate in the league. He is keeping them afloat but the minute Prescott is good to go, we can expect him back in the lineup.
Up next: vs. Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Cleveland Browns (2-1)
The Browns have quietly actually had one of the better offences in the league through three weeks, ranking 3rd in DVOA’s metrics. The rush attack has been at the centre of that with Nick Chubb looking even better this year than prior. Jacoby Brissett is being the steady-eddy they need from him, it’s just on the defence where things need to pick up.
After an unfortunate car crash this week, Myles Garrett might miss some time. So there is even more need for leaders in this secondary to help this unit up and perform to the levels they have in past years.
Up next: at Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
I have speculation over this Vikings side, as after a rock and roll performance in Week 1 versus the Packers, they haven’t lived up to those heights yet. Being manhandled by the Eagles on prime time wasn’t a good look and although they got the win against Detroit on Sunday, it could be said it was handed to them through a series of mistakes.
That being said the defence did step up and put on a good display against the run, and the depth of the receivers won them the game, as Justin Jefferson struggles to deal with the superstar stature.
Up next: vs. New Orleans (in London), Sunday 14:30 BST
- Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
LA is a tough team to rank, as they are dealing with maybe the most significant injuries in the league as a team.
- QB: Fractured rib cartilage
- All-Pro centre knee injury
- All-Pro LT out for season
- No.1 receiver has strained hamstring
- Top pass rusher has groin injury
- Top Cb not responding as expected from ankle surgery.
This is not exactly ideal going forward.
Up next: at Houston, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
By EPA per drop-back, Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance Sunday night was worse than all but one of his games in 2021. San Fran ranks last in play against man coverage, as ‘offensive genius’ Kyle Shannahan needs to start pulling some rabbits out of his top hat.
The good news is that the defence is awesome and better than ever. Let’s see what DeMeco Ryans has in store for Sean McVay this week
Up next: vs. Los Angeles Rams, Tuesday 1:15 A.M. BST
- Detroit Lions (1-2)
Detroit has exceeded expectations in all aspects and in another reality could have been looking at a 3-0 record with a favourable schedule on the horizon. But, nothing good can ever come for the city and with poor coaching last week, they swung and missed against divisional rival Vikings.
The injury bug is starting to catch up with them as well, by having six starters already on the NFI/PUP list. The offensive line is missing all three interior linemen, defensive captain Tracy Walker is down for the year with an Achilles and their brightest weapons Amon Ra St Brown and DeAndre Swift could be missing a few weeks. An early bye couldn’t come sooner for them, so they might need some grit for the next few.
Up next: vs. Seattle, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Titans were another team that went over a major overhaul this off-season as they looked to take a step towards a championship. Unfortunately that step seems to be backwards right now as the offence is sluggish, while the return of Derrick Henry hasn’t been the same. Titans rank 29th in EPA run and 27th with a scarce 3.5 yards per carry. The absence of left-tackle Taylor Lewan won’t help that, and when put together, it is a big concern for a side who look to run their opponents into the ground.
Up next: at Indianapolis, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- New York Giants (2-1)
It was fun while it lasted for the Boys in Blue, but it’s back down to reality now. After a surprising few wins to kick-start the season, an offence and defence that ranks 18 and 20 respectively, now fall down the pecking order. It is only a rebuilding year and things look good for the future as Saquon Barkley is looking like his old self. But Monday night showed there still a way to go before we see New York contending again.
Up next: vs. Chicago, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
The Cardinals have taken a major drop back for a side that through the first half of last year were potentially the best in the league. Their defence is a big cause of concern, ranking 31st in DVOA’s metrics, after finishing fifth last season. With stars on that side of the ball, you would think they shouldn’t be ranked that low, and if things continue that way against a shaky Carolina this week, pitchforks could start to come out for Kliff Kingsbury
Up next: at Carolina, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST
- Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1)
By DVOA this is the worst offence in the league. What’s happened? They had a top offensive line, young weapons in Micheal Pittman and Jonathon Taylor and former MVP in Matt Ryan. They did finally grab their first win of the season against a contender in Kansas City. But they needed some fortune to do that. At the end of the day they are still technically 0.500 and it’s still early enough to turn things around, but drastic improvements on offence needs to be made.
Up next: vs. Tennessee, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
The one bright spot Pittsburgh has right now is George Pickens. Najee Harris is down in every statistics to his rookie season, due to a poor offensive line that is being led questionably by Mitch Trubisky. The question being asked is when do you give the rookie Kenny Pickett his chance. It seems the coaching staff plans on giving him time but how long can you allow him when Trubisky keeps being Trubisky, and the players start publicly undermining you? Only time will tell.
Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m BST
- New Orleans Saints (1-2)
This team has started as we expected. A poor offence and above average defence to not be a difference maker. Jameis Winston currently leads the league in turnovers (nine) and unfortunately it’s not surprising. Much like Pittsburgh, the Saints can be hopeful about their rookie receiver Chris Olave, ranking seventh in the league with 268 receiving yards, but unless Sean Payton has a change of heart mid-season, which is completely unlikely, it’s looking like a dull year for the black and gold.
Up next: vs. Minnesota (in London), Sunday 14:30 a.m. BST
- Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Arthur Smith seemed to finally listen to fantasy owners, as they grabbed their first win of the season in a surprisingly underrated matchup at the Seahawks. Lumen Field is no easy place to win and much to the pleasure of Kyle Pitt’s fantasy owners he was at the centre of that. This Atlanta offence is performing above expectation ranking in the top 10 by DVOA. Mariota is playing well and if this defence can sort things out, they are a rising stock.
Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- New England Patriots (1-2)
Now if there’s any coach who I have more confidence in to overcome an injury to their starting quarterback; it is Bill Belichick. It just so happens I have witnessed Matt Patricia first hand, and this offence was already bad, but now it lacks Mac Jones. Granted it isn’t all bad, as the rushing attack ranks first in the league through the eyes on DVOA. But when you lose a QB it makes you even more one dimensional, and best believe opposing defences are going to stop that and force the ball in Brain Hoyer’s hands. How will he react to that? We’ll see.
Up next: at Green Bay, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST
- Chicago Bears (2-1)
Through three games, Justin Fields has been sacked an astounding 18.2 percent of the time. To put that in perspective, the difference between the Bears and the 31st-ranked team in sack rate this season is about the same as the difference between that team and the 21st-ranked team. Yet still this team just won and is 2-1! They ran the ball well and I’ll give a shout-out to Khalil Herbert going for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Somehow one of the Bears or Giants will be 3-1 this time next week.
Up next: at New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Washington Commanders (1-2)
Once Carlos Wentz’s career is said and done, what could have been will be the most asked question. A former No.2 pick, early on he was living up to that expectation and in the Eagles Super Bowl winning year, he was robbed of the MVP award. But since then he’s lucky he’s still starting in this league. In his return to Philadelphia on Sunday he was welcomed back with nine sacks against himself and with unpleasant words from Ron Rivera after, it’s looking like another one-stop ride for him.
Up next: at Dallas, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Carolina Panthers (1-2)
The Panthers’ passing offence has been woeful. Baker Mayfield ranks 32nd out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per drop-back, but they forced three turnovers, including a 44-yard fumble return touchdown by Marquis Haynes to get off the mark. Christian McCaffrey has remained healthy so far and is tied fifth for rushing yards through the first three weeks.
Up next: vs. Arizona, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST
- Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)
On paper, these Raiders shouldn’t be ranked as low as they are. But realistically if the draft was to be tomorrow, Las Vegas would be first up on the clock. It’s tough to think that the Raiders season might be over before it’s even started, when they could be 2-1 had two two-point conversions gone their way. But only four teams have ever made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3.
With a tough matchup against Denver, it’s as close as a must-win game as they come, as only one of those four teams, fell to 0-4 before making it back to the playoffs.
In a way it’s now or never for Josh McDaniel to figure out how to get the best of stars Davonte Adams and Chandler Jones before he’s planning for next season.
Up next: vs. Denver, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST
- Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Here’s something, the Seahawks are still looking for their first punt return yards of the season. The Seahawks defence ranks 32nd in defensive EPA per drive and has only forced five punts all season. Four of which have been touch-backs and one returned for 0 yards. Hopefully the 5.6% who own Seahawks defence/special teams in fantasy football can get what they’ve been waiting for.
Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- New York Jets (1-2)
After winning so many people over in the draft back in May, it’s only taken three weeks of playing on grass before they are back to the bottom of power rankings. They are one of two teams, Titans being the other, to rank bottom 10 of EPA per drive on offence (28th) and defence (27th). As Zach Wilson looks to make his return this week, finding out if he is the right man for the future is all that matters moving forward.
Up next: at Pittsburgh, Sunday 6 p.m. BST
- Houston Texans (0-2-1)
Through three games, the Houston Texans rank No. 2 in special teams DVOA. What an accomplishment for the worst team in the league. They have been competitive in games but do not look like winning anytime soon. An heavily injured Chargers may offer their best chance.
Up next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 6 p.m. BST