1. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
After soundly defeating the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football, San Francisco has looked to be the most complete team in the league thus far into the season. Their two-headed attack on offense paid off in spades once again, with Brock Purdy throwing two touchdowns and Christian McCaffrey adding another on the ground. The 49ers defense has somehow been even better than previous years, only allowing 150 total yards of offense and notching two sacks against New York. San Francisco’s schedule will only get tougher as the year drags on, but there’s no denying that Kyle Shanahan’s squad has turned into the team to beat in the NFL.
2. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The Dolphins' red-hot start to the season got another huge spark of momentum when they made history as the third NFL team to ever drop 70 or more points in the regular season in their matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Miami’s usual suspects unsurprisingly did their jobs, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa going 23/26 for 309 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The pleasant surprise of the day came from rookie running back De’Von Achane, who scored four total touchdowns and compiled 203 rushing yards in just his second start. Their defense was then left with the simple task of doing their job, which they did by forcing three Denver turnovers and surrendering a season-low 20 points. A win at Buffalo this week will be challenging but necessary for Miami to prove they’re serious contenders this year.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Fly Eagles fly to their second consecutive 3-0 start thanks to a Philadelphia team that hasn’t skipped a beat from last year. Philadelphia’s front seven feasted on the Buccaneers on Monday night for two turnovers and a safety. Rookie defensive lineman Jalen Carter is making teams instantly regret passing on him in the draft by becoming a game-changer overnight. What keeps the Eagles from the top of the list is the offense not quite performing up to their talent level just yet. The passing game isn’t clicking consistently, which was highlighted by quarterback Jalen Hurts throwing two interceptions against Tampa Bay. Thankfully, D’Andre Swift’s impact in the backfield has been the driving force in three straight victories. It’s scary to think of how dominant Philadelphia will be when everything is firing on all cylinders eventually.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)
Kansas City smashed any lingering concerns over offensive cohesion to bits in a drubbing of the Chicago Bears on primetime. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes shook off a sluggish first two games with a performance of 272 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs’ running back committee of Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire also reigned supreme thanks to four combined touchdowns. Chris Jones continued to prove his worth by contributing one of the defense’s three sacks against Chicago quarterback Justin Fields. A much-needed complete game on both sides of the ball paired with a relatively easy upcoming schedule should help to keep Kansas City rolling.
5. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Coming off a rout of the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2, Buffalo put up another display of force in a 37-3 win on the road against the Washington Commanders. Although quarterback Josh Allen threw and ran for a pair of touchdowns to keep the offense looking strong, the Bills’ defense ultimately took the spotlight. A showing that included nine sacks, four interceptions, and a recovered fumble makes the case for Buffalo’s defense possibly being the best in the NFL. This Sunday’s must-see matchup against the Miami Dolphins will be an early test to tell if Buffalo is up to the task of holding onto their AFC East crown for another year.
6. Cleveland Browns (2-1)
Many people considered the season-ending injury star running back Nick Chubb sustained last Monday to be a devastating blow to Cleveland’s season. However, a 27-3 victory over the Tennessee Titans proved that the Browns' defense could be doing most of the team’s heavy lifting from here on out. They not only held running back Derrick Henry to 20 rushing yards but surrendered only 94 offensive yards in the entire game. Myles Garrett’s three-and-a-half sacks on the day should also throw his name into the conversation for the Defensive Player of the Year. The offense under Deshuan Watson looks to be improving thanks to his two touchdown passes alongside running back Jerome Ford replacing Chubb’s presence. Defending their home turf against Baltimore on Sunday will go a long way in solidifying if the Browns are here to stay.
7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Baltimore’s home bout with Indianapolis on Sunday was nothing short of agonizing. Two costly fumbles, a missed 61-yard field goal, and some questionable missed calls by the officials led to a 22-19 loss in overtime. The Ravens’ defense was as outstanding as it’s been thus far by collecting five sacks and forcing a decisive safety in the second half. Despite quarterback Lamar Jackson scoring a pair of touchdowns on the ground, the passing game’s failure to launch let several opportunities to surge ahead slip away. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken must get his offense in rhythm with a matchup against Cleveland on the road coming up.
8. Detroit Lions (2-1)
Dan Campbell’s Lions were looking for redemption following a tough overtime loss in Week 2 and received just that in a solid all-around win against the Falcons. Quarterback Jared Goff accounted for the team’s two touchdowns, including a rushing touchdown to seal the game. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta look to be staples in the passing game by combining for almost 200 yards. Detroit’s defense stifled one of the league’s better offenses while also sacking quarterback Desmond Ridder seven times. The Lions once again flashed the tantalizing potential their squad boasts this season when everything is clicking. Can they take the next step in sitting alone in first place in their division with a win at Lambeau Field on Thursday?
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
The Seahawks' 37-27 victory against the Carolina Panthers proved to be a textbook example of the mantra that a win is a win at the end of the day. Seattle’s second win of the year came through strong play in the trenches on both sides. Running back Kenneth Walker III overcame a battered offensive line to rush for 97 yards and two touchdowns. A stout defensive line ensured Carolina could only muster 44 rushing yards across four rushers. Despite concerns over sloppy play and struggles in the secondary, an upcoming game against the Giants could help Seattle get its whole foot on the gas.
10. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
When it was announced last Thursday that Pro Bowl cornerback Trevon Diggs would be out for the season due to an ACL tear in practice, panic was certainly in the air amongst Cowboys nation. Even then, no one could’ve predicted what was in store against the so-called worst team in the league, as the Arizona Cardinals stunned Dallas, 28-16. Poor situational play-calling and a brutal interception with three minutes left to play handicapped the offense to just 16 points. The Cowboys' defense without Diggs buckled hard against a career backup quarterback in Joshua Dobbs. Some considered Dallas the best team in the NFL before Week 3, but with more key injuries on top of a grueling upcoming schedule, it may not be all sunshine and rainbows in Jerry’s World.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
In a time when the league flashes the importance of a high-flying offense, Pittsburgh’s method of winning harkens back to football’s hard-nosed roots. Their Sunday night contest against the Las Vegas Raiders confirmed that, as the Steelers ran off the strength of their juggernaut defense. An unstoppable defensive line made up for a deficient secondary by forcing three turnovers and four sacks. Kenny Pickett’s efficient play held off a late Raiders comeback attempt to win 23-18. The question remains for a team playing in a stacked AFC North and overall conference: how much can the defense compensate for the conservative offense?
12. Green Bay Packers (2-1)
By the time the fourth quarter had begun in their home opener last Sunday against New Orleans, the Packers looked dead in the water. Cue a thrilling 18-point comeback victory that gave Green Bay the win, but still leaves a lot of questions in the air. The defense’s excellent play remains a certainty through three weeks, mostly thanks to Rashan Gary looking to make himself a household name on defense. A major quandary still lies with quarterback Jordan Love, who appeared completely overmatched until eight minutes remained when he scored two crucial touchdowns. Improvement is hopefully coming soon once Aaron Jones and Christian Watson return from injury. Green Bay will need all hands on deck in a battle against Detroit on Thursday that could dictate NFC North supremacy.
13. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Atlanta’s strong start to the season turned into a tapering back to reality on Sunday against Detroit in a 20-6 loss. Despite Jessie Bates and the defense trying their best, the Falcons’ offense could do nothing for most of the game once the opposition homed in on the run. Running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier combined for 45 yards on the ground, and quarterback Desmond Ridder folded under constant pressure. Though the NFC South is still wide open for the taking, and their October schedule looks to be in their favor, Atlanta won’t break out of their perpetual rebuild by being one-dimensional.
14. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Those who predicted Indianapolis to be 2-1 to start the season should look into the Powerball as the team is exceeding their expectations, to say the least. Many will emphasize the contentious officiating in their showdown against Baltimore, yet it’s impressive to see the Colts show life without rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson. Backup Gardner Minshew performed well in his stead while running back Zack Moss and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. look to be excellent depth on the offense. The defense overcame shortcomings in run stoppage to capitalize on the Ravens’ errors to secure a surprising win. Although Indianapolis’ ceiling in 2023 remains in doubt, they are definitely a team to keep an eye on for now.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Speaking of teams surprising us all: The 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A near-universal pick to finish near the bottom of their division and conference, Tampa Bay has displayed through three games that they’re still holding their contention window open. The best representation of their strengths and drawbacks can be seen in their primetime game against Philadelphia on Monday night. The Buccaneers’ defense forced two interceptions and held the Eagles to mostly field goals up until the second half. In spite of their best efforts, their offense committed several turnovers of their own while being unable to budge until garbage time. Like many teams in the league, Tampa Bay has a chance to compete if their offense can elevate to the level of their stellar defense.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
A 19-16 win against the Los Angeles Rams doesn’t disguise the cold, hard truth that it’s time to hit the panic button in Cincinnati. The Bengals’ defense sacking Matthew Stafford six times, intercepting him twice, and completely shutting down the run was only good for a three-point victory due to one lone factor: offense. There’s a reason this squad was ranked dead last in points per game before Monday night, as Joe Burrow’s injury concerns have thrown their offense completely out of sync. Questionable coaching by Zac Taylor can also be added to the mix, mainly passing the ball 49 times with an injured quarterback under center. Cincinnati won’t be able to dig themselves out of a slow start like last year if they don’t let Burrow return to form properly.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
There is no such thing as an easy win when dealing with the Los Angeles Chargers. The team avoided falling into a 0-3 hole to start the year by scrapping out a 28-24 win on the road against the Vikings. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in an excellent performance, with star wideout Keenan Allen exploding for 215 yards alone. Nevertheless, the defense being gashed for almost five hundred yards, along with baffling decisions by head coach Brandon Staley, brought it down to the wire. Los Angeles should be careful not to let their personnel decisions and flailing defense chain them down to mediocrity, especially now that one of their best offensive weapons in Mike Williams going down for the season.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Duvall’s performance against Houston in Week 3 has raised some major red flags about this team going forward. Trevor Lawerence and the passing game struggled mightily for the second straight week against a Texans secondary missing several starters. Jacksonville’s defense was unable to generate pressure on one of the worst offensive lines in football while a rookie quarterback torched them for 300 yards. Poor special teams play, including a kick return touchdown, ensured momentum was never in their favor. Jacksonville must fix these issues immediately with an upcoming gauntlet of a schedule, starting with a London matchup against Atlanta.
19. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
After being flattened by Cleveland 27-3, it, unfortunately, appears that Tennessee is maintaining their 2022 form of being good but not good enough. A weakened offensive line hampered both running back Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, leading to 97 total yards of offense. An old rival in Deshaun Watson used their secondary to rebound to old form despite the line containing the run game well. The Titan's only hope of staying afloat is in the AFC South, not exactly holding the cream of the crop. A turnaround in Tennessee is needed quickly, with a brutal October slate about to kick off.
20. New England Patriots (1-2)
The 2023 New England Patriots, after three games played, can be summed up as a team of two halves. On one hand, they boast a stout defensive unit that can hold its own on most occasions. A group that has forced at least one turnover per game looks as dominating as always. Sadly, the other half contains the 10th-worst offense in the NFL. Mac Jones hasn’t been allowed to wake up from his sophomore slump, with tight end Hunter Henry being the only receiving option with more than a hundred yards. The duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson also hasn’t exactly turned the needle. Barely squeaking out a win against the Jets is one thing, but can they win on the road against a humiliated Cowboys team? This next week will show us a lot about who the Patriots really are this year.
21. New Orleans Saints (2-1)
Just like the team one spot above them in the rankings, the New Orleans Saints are a squad that can’t piece together solid play on both ends. Their defense completely shut down Green Bay for three quarters on Sunday to cruise to a 17-0 lead. A sudden shoulder injury to Derek Carr proved to be a blow that the team couldn’t recover from. The offense struggled mightily even with him under center, and all Jameis Winston could muster was five straight punts, along with a missed field goal to potentially win the game. Carr inevitably missing time will hurt this team’s chances greatly since their next matchup is against a Tampa Bay team competing for a division title.
22. Washington Commanders (2-1)
Playing against a serious contender in the Buffalo Bills this past week has opened the eyes of many to the limited upside of this year’s Commanders. They were walloped from start to end in a 34-point loss. Quarterback Sam Howell got to the worst of it by being sacked nine times and throwing four interceptions, including a pick-six. Ron Rivera’s defense generated zero pressure whilst falling flat in the secondary coverage. Mediocrity just doesn’t cut it in the NFC East, and that’ll be put on full display when they travel to Philadelphia on Sunday.
23. Los Angeles Rams (1-2)
Whatever hope Rams House collected through two solid performances to begin the season gave way to the reality that this team is still far past its heyday. Los Angeles couldn’t capitalize on a wounded Bengals squad due to giving up six sacks and quarterback Matthew Stafford’s two interceptions. The Rams appear to be far from irrelevant thanks to receivers Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, plus running back Kyren Williams looking like promising offensive weapons. There’s still only so far they can climb, considering their subpar offensive line and inexperienced defense.
24. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
There were always going to be concerns about the Vikings replicating their level of play last year in one-score contests. Even then, it’s hard to believe how lost Minnesota looks already. Last Sunday’s game against the Chargers played out almost exactly like their loss against the Eagles in Week 2. Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson's dominance statistically isn’t enough due to the perhaps the worst secondary in the NFL. They keep it close, yet costly turnovers all game long have them come up short. If they can’t corral the errors and deficiencies on defense, Minnesota may not have the chance to emerge from the NFC North basement.
25. Las Vegas Raiders (1-2)
It was going to take a lot of “what ifs” for the Raiders to have a chance at competing this year, and the results so far are pointing toward minimal change. Las Vegas let go of opportunities to pull ahead against Pittsburgh on Sunday night thanks to a stagnant offense. Jimmy Garoppolo’s three interceptions, Josh Jacobs’ continuing slump, and opting for a field goal down by eight overruled a spectacular showing by Davante Adams. A loss against the rival Chargers next Sunday afternoon will most likely leave this team under the six-to-seven-win category for another year.
26. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Cardinals’ players all season long talked about using people’s expectations of the team being the worst in the league to fuel an underdog mentality. Anyone who rolled their eyes at such probably didn’t expect to see Arizona gut-punch the Dallas Cowboys in a 28-16 upset. To be clear, a single victory doesn’t wipe away the squad’s lack of depth and defensive struggles. That doesn’t mean respect shouldn’t be given for the passion Jonathan Gannon has sparked in his players or the level of play we’ve seen out of journeyman Joshua Dobbs. Victory shouldn’t be expected against San Francisco, but it also shouldn’t be surprising if they stay in the fight.
27. Houston Texans (1-2)
Years of endlessly drifting from season to season may have finally paid off in Houston. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has looked excellent thus far, putting up 280 yards and two touchdowns against a supposedly superior Jacksonville team. Wide receivers Tank Dell and Nico Collins could be superb support pieces in the future. DeMeco Ryans finally got a solid effort out of the defense by punishing the Jaguars on turnovers and special teams. Even if it’s just for a week, hope is beginning to return to H-town.
28. New York Giants (1-2)
Only three weeks have gone by in the 2023 NFL Season, and some New York Giants fans are already wishing we were in February. A supposed playoff contender could be going back to hoping for a higher draft pick if they don’t fix some major holes soon. Giving a huge contract to Daniel Jones could prove to be a massive mistake, with the quarterback having twice as many turnovers as touchdowns so far. Saquon Barkley being out for at least three weeks is another significant loss for the offense. Another issue comes in the form of their defense, which has given up at least thirty points per game. With the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Bills being their next three opponents, New York better get a grip, or they’ll be out of the playoff picture quickly.
29. New York Jets (1-2)
Rarely can you pinpoint the exact moment a team’s season officially ends. Any chance the New York Jets had of competing this season vanished when Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles, and their performance since then has only confirmed it. The Jets’ defense did everything it could to keep the door open against New England last Sunday, but the offense under Zach Wilson just isn’t producing. Garrett Wilson has barely been utilized, and the running game has stalled under a beat-up offensive line. The only remaining hope is to acquire a veteran quarterback on the market, and even finding one that can make a true difference is a long shot. Here’s to hoping the defense can hold Kansas City in check on Sunday night.
30. Carolina Panthers (0-3)
The best course of action when it comes to the Carolina Panthers this season is to set your sights a few years down the road. There’s little surprise in the team struggling by this point in the season, but they at least fought hard in Seattle. Andy Dalton played his role well, while there’s hope that Adam Thielen can keep up this kind of production. The defensive line could boast the duo of Derrick Brown and Brian Burns terrorizing quarterbacks for years to come if contract talks go according to plan. However, the task of analyzing first-overall pick Bryce Young becomes challenging since he’s now recovering from an ankle injury. Regardless, Carolina remains a work in progress that’ll take time to build up.
31. Denver Broncos (0-3)
Every time you think things can’t get worse for the Denver Broncos, you’re wrong. The team shattered records for all the wrong reasons on Sunday, with Miami hanging 70 points on them. A supposedly stout defense gave up 726 total yards of offense and allowed Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to throw more touchdowns than incompletions. Russell Wilson was the least of the offense’s issues, with a nonexistent running game and three turnovers. Even after a complete regime change, Denver cannot stop upping itself in finding ways to baffle us all. The Broncos will look to remove the zero from the win column next week against the only team keeping them from the bottom spot.
32. Chicago Bears (0-3)
The 2023 NFL offseason was one filled with so much hope and excitement for the Chicago Bears. Following these first three games, the highlight of the season might be securing the first overall pick again now with the guise of having to start over. It is not an exaggeration to say that nothing is meshing together in Chicago whatsoever. Justin Fields has disappointed greatly with his field vision and pocket presence severely regressing. Moves to fix the offensive line haven’t worked, as Fields has already been sacked 10 times. Their prized offseason acquisition, D.J. Moore, has only had an impact in garbage time. The Bears’ defense is second only to the Giants in points given up per game, thanks to surrendering 41 unanswered to Kansas City last week. Sunday’s matchup against the 0-3 Denver Broncos can either be a much-needed wakeup call or keep the tanks rolling on in the windy city.