NFL Power Rankings

As the shift of power from the AFC to NFC continues, find out which two teams from the same division man the top spots in this week’s power rankings. Dave Ryan from New Era Scouting has updated his weekly power rankings.

1. Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
Previous Rank: 1
Pro Bowl-bound Marion Barber has been one of the best players in the NFL this season, and he shows no indication of slowing down any time soon. As long as Barber is barreling through defenders and finding ways to cross the goal line each week, the Cowboys should remain atop the league.
Next Game: vs. WAS (#17)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
Previous Rank: 5
Philly fans let out a collective sigh of relief when the news came back on tailback Brian Westbrook’s ankle injury, but he’s still expected to sit out this weekend against the Bears. That puts things on the arm of Donovan McNabb yet again, something the veteran signal caller will be able to handle. With a relatively soft schedule before their bye week, the Eagles should be fighting for the top spot in these rankings all season long.
Next Game: at CHI (#27)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Previous Rank: 2
There’s not much to be worried about on the defensive side of the ball, but the Steelers were non-existent on offense on Sunday, and that’s never a good thing. A Week Four spillover now that starter Willie Parker is banged up is far from impossible, even if Pittsburgh remains one of the best top-to-bottom squads in the league.
Next Game: vs. BAL (#24)

4. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Previous Rank: 6
Another week down and another impressive Denver victory for to marvel at. Averaging 38 points per game, the Broncos are riding the impressive Cutler-Marshall tandem to victory on offense and are playing good enough defense to keep this win steak alive. Arguably the most dangerous team in the AFC, the Broncos are not a team that anybody wants to mess with right now.
Next Game: at KC (#32)

5. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Previous Rank: 3
This bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Tony Dungy and his players. It might have taken a heartbreaking field goal to sink the Colts in Week Three, but this team still doesn’t look like the same squad everyone predicted to storm through the AFC before the season started. It bears noting that Peyton Manning holds a 6-3 career record with 25 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions in the game following his bye week, so look for the Colts to bounce back in a big way when they return to action.
Next Game: BYE

6. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Previous Rank: 7
After what has proven to be a very climactic season thus far, the Chargers looked outstanding in their win over the Jets on Monday night. Until their rushing attack gets back into a groove though, it’s going to take a near-flawless effort from Philip Rivers to win. Upcoming games against Miami and Oakland should help this team in a big way, making a 3-2 start a very likely scenario.
Next Game: at OAK (#29)

7. New York Giants (3-0)
Previous Rank: 8
You can’t fault the Giants for being 3-0, even if they still have yet to meet a team that would be considered a playoff contender. New York heads to its Week Four bye with plenty of confidence and a roster determined to prove their Super Bowl victory was not a fluke. We still may not see just how good this team really is until a three-week stretch beginning on Oct. 26, when the Giants face off against Pittsburgh, Dallas and then Philadelphia.
Next Game: BYE

8. New England Patriots (2-1)
Previous Rank: 4
The loss was inevitable, but nobody figured the Patriots would suffer it at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. New England heads into their bye week with plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the ball. This extra time will certainly help out quarterback Matt Cassel’s transition to starter, but other than that, this team still has plenty of questions to answer when Week Five rolls around.
Next Game: BYE

9. Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Previous Rank: 10
A tough loss on Sunday night to the Cowboys shouldn’t dampen their spirits much, and the Packers are still right in the thick of things in the NFC. Getting running backs Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson more involved with the offense needs to be a goal for Green Bay against a strong Tampa Bay defense this weekend.
Next Game: at TB (#18)

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Previous Rank: 11
Thanks to the leg of kicker Josh Scobee, the Jaguars narrowly squeaked by the Colts to grab their first win of the season Sunday. An 0-3 start would have severely crippled Jacksonville’s playoff hopes a mere three games into the year, so there’s room for plenty of optimism regarding this team’s chances. Getting their running game back to a dominant level was also a big plus for the Jags on Sunday, as Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor both finally appeared ready to duplicate their success from last season.
Next Game: vs. HOU (#23)

11. New Orleans Saints (1-2)
Previous Rank: 9
Losing two straight games is usually an area of concern this early on in a season, even for a team like the Saints, who have some very winnable games on the horizon. Injuries are starting to take a toll on New Orleans’ roster, and tight end Jeremy Shockey is the latest victim: he has been diagnosed with a sports hernia that could keep him out of up to six weeks of action. There’s still plenty of talent to make noise on offense with Reggie Bush on pace for a monster season, but the Saints are not headed in the right direction right now.
Next Game: vs. SF (#26)

12. Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
Previous Rank: 14
Having a quick trigger finger can sometimes be a virtue for NFL teams, and we saw that exemplified as the Vikings pulled the plug on quarterback Tavaris Jackson after only two games and immediately turned things around a week later. Newly entrenched starter Gus Frerotte is a journeyman, but he brings a consistent presence under center for the Vikings that they didn’t get with Jackson.
Next Game: at TEN (#14)

13. Carolina Panthers (2-1)
Previous Rank: 13
Even though their offensive line was a mess on Sunday in a loss to the Vikings, the Panthers were taken out of their game and were not able to run the ball whatsoever. Stud rookie Jonathan Stewart looked dominant in the fourth quarter the previous week, but he hardly saw the ball when it mattered this past weekend. Getting Stewart as many touches as possible will be beneficial for Carolina in the short-term, as he has the potential to break a game wide open with a single run.
Next Game: vs. ATL (#25)

14. Tennessee Titans (3-0)
Previous Rank: 15
Although quarterback Vince Young doesn’t feel he should have to earn his job back when he returns from his injury, the Titans would be best suited to leave things the way they are, regardless of Young’s health. Starter Kerry Collins has been solid in his time under center, and the deep threat his arm brings has helped the running game continue to churn out yardage.
Next Game: vs. MIN (#12)

15. Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Previous Rank: 17
Most people are surprised by the resurgence that has taken place so far this season in Buffalo, and things look promising for this team’s long term hopes. Trent Edwards is starting to get the due he undoubtedly had coming to him, while second-year Marshawn Lynch continues to teeter on the verge of becoming an elite running back. Two road games against NFC opponents are up next, leaving Dick Jauron’s crew with a chance to make a big impact on the league.
Next Game: at STL (#31)

16. New York Jets (1-2)
Previous Rank: 12
With an ideal stage to make a statement, the Jets flopped pretty badly on Monday night to suffer their second loss on the year. As the Dolphins breathe life, the Bills keep winning and the Patriots remain formidable, things are not going to be easy for Brett Favre and his new team in the AFC East. New York is just now entering the easiest portion of their 2008 schedule, so things need to look up soon if these guys want to sniff the playoffs.
Next Game: vs. ARI (#19)

17. Washington Redskins (2-1)
Previous Rank: 18
We knew it was going to be a dogfight in the NFC East this season, and with all four teams ranked in the top 20 in this week’s power rankings, it’s clear that it is the most difficult division in the league this year. Washington has bounced back nicely after an opening week defeat with two straight wins, but they’ll need a huge game out of tailback Clinton Portis in week four against the top-ranked Cowboys.
Next Game: at DAL (#1)

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Previous Rank: 21
Brian Griese started his second game in place of Jeff Garcia Sunday. The veteran quarterback threw a career-high 67 passes to lead the Bucs through the air to their second win of the year. Tampa’s pass-happy performance was a complete surprise and will not be a trend, even if the wiry Griese looks to be the right man for the job for the Bucs this season.
Next Game: vs. GB (#9)

19. Arizona Cardinals (2-1)
Previous Rank: 20
We already know about how dangerous the Cardinals can be on offense with two of the game’s top receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, but gaudy passing numbers won’t save this team if they cannot run the ball. Although Edgerrin James has been average this season, Arizona’s poor yard-per-carry average across the board still sticks out like a sore thumb.
Next Game: at NYJ (#16)

20. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Previous Rank: 16
In the current NFL, winning is obviously everything, and the Browns just aren’t getting it done to start the year. The answer is apparently going to result in a short leash for last season’s breakout star, quarterback Derek Anderson. With Brady Quinn waiting in the wings and set to see more action during the week, Anderson is once again in an all-out fight for his starting role.
Next Game: at CIN (#22)

21. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Previous Rank: 22
With the rash of injuries that hit the Seahawks so hard this year, it’s a blessing that their bye week comes so early on in the season. Seattle will be able to use the time off to help get a host of guys healthy again, which should greatly increase their chances in a weak division. The offense got a big boost as free-agent acquisition Julius Jones broke out for a great game on Sunday, giving the Seahawks a bit more balance on the offensive side of the ball.
Next Game: BYE

22. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)
Previous Rank: 23
Aside from a lackluster offensive line that gave Carson Palmer virtually no time to throw the ball, the Bengals made major strides even in a losing effort to the Giants in Week Three. Palmer finally got into a rhythm even with constant pressure, and his improved play could be the starting point for this team to eventually make it back to respectability.
Next Game: vs. CLE (#20)

23. Houston Texans (0-2)
Previous Rank: 19
The thought that Houston might take a leap towards a playoff berth appears to be short-lived as quarterback Matt Schaub and the offense have struggled to move the ball effectively. Texans fans should hope that surprise rookie Steve Slaton’s 100-yard performance on Sunday can be more of a trend. If Slaton and the Houston running attack can be consistent from week to week, it might just help open things up for Schaub and star receiver Andre Johnson to do some damage through the air.
Next Game: at JAX (#10)

24. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
Previous Rank: 25
Beating up on divisional-rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati has to be sweet for the Ravens to start the year, but this is the point where things should start to get interesting for Baltimore. The play of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has been nothing more than adequate so far, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Ravens have been winning despite his struggles. Flacco will need to have the best game of his career against the Steelers this weekend if the Ravens are planning on a full sweep of the division three games into the season.
Next Game: at PIT (#3)

25. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Previous Rank: 26
If their current trend indicates anything, then it seems that the Falcons will probably slip up and struggle against the Panthers this weekend. Big victories against bad defenses like Detroit and Kansas City are nice but are overshadowed a bit by a major struggle against Tampa Bay’s stout defensive unit. Carolina isn’t going to cut rookie quarterback Matt Ryan any breaks, and a repeat of their struggle against Tampa Bay might be imminent.
Next Game: at CAR (#13)

26. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Previous Rank: 29
It’s tough to make too much of San Francisco’s big win over the Detroit Lions this past weekend. Detroit’s defense had already been ripped to shreds by the Falcons and Packers in previous weeks, so what the 49ers did was surely not a new occurrence. The play of quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan remains sharp however, and Mike Martz’s new favorite signal caller could be in store for a breakout season.
Next Game: at NO (#11)

27. Chicago Bears (1-2)
Previous Rank: 24
After an upset win over the Colts in the season’s opening week, the Bears have dropped two straight games against two of the NFC’s best defensive units. Chicago won’t get any breaks Sunday either, as the Bears meet the Eagles and their No. 1 run defense. Rookie tailback Matt Forte continues to carry Chicago’s offense, but he’s on pace for nearly 400 carries and might need to see a reduced workload to avoid injury.
Next Game: vs. PHI (#2)

28. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Previous Rank: 30
It’s clear that the Dolphins are much improved this season, and their shellacking of the Patriots on Sunday drew great praise. Running back Ronnie Brown’s ability to line up at quarterback could be a vital tool for Miami’s offense in the future, but Brown can’t do it all by himself every week. The Dolphins are still a very young and inexperienced team, even if they aren’t quite the weekly pushover that they were last season.
Next Game: BYE

29. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Previous Rank: 28
The non-stop media craze about Lane Kiffin’s job as head coach is getting ridiculous to even the common fan, and it’s almost as if Al Davis is hoping that the Raiders continue losing to have a reason to fire Kiffin. Oakland’s offense looks downright horrible, with exception of a promising rushing attack featuring Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, but, at this point, there’s no saving this team from another bad campaign.
Next Game: vs. SD (#6)

30. Detroit Lions (0-3)
Previous Rank: 27
It’s never surprising to glance at the standings and see the Detroit Lions at 0-3, but it is ironic that this same team went 4-0 during the preseason. Matt Millen’s job security has been more important than anything the Lions have done on the field this season, and there’s actually a good chance he finds himself without a job if the team continues its horrible play. A stubborn refusal to leave quarterback Jon Kitna as the starter is sinking this franchise down even further, but don’t expect any changes by Detroit’s coaching staff during their week off.
Next Game: BYE

31. St. Louis Rams (0-3)
Previous Rank: 31
The league-wide quarterback benching phenomenon continues, as the Rams threw in the towel on Marc Bulger in favor of Trent Green for Sunday. Green’s health is obviously in question, but his new role does give the Rams a slight glimpse of hope to win a few games. St. Louis has easily been the worst team the league on paper, and another week of poor play will have this team leading the sweepstakes for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Next Game: vs. BUF (#15)

32. Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)
Previous Rank: 32
As the first half came to a close on Sunday, the Chiefs’ decision to start quarterback Tyler Thigpen looked like one of the worst moves in the history of football, as the second year player barely completed a pass. Thigpen improved as the game wore on, but the Chiefs were still stomped on by a mediocre Atlanta Falcons squad. Larry Johnson’s 121 rushing yards proved to be the lone bright spot for a team that looks to be extremely far away from picking up its first victory.
Next Game: vs. DEN (#4)

Questions, comments, concerns? Send me an e-mail to dave@newerscouting.com.

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