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NFL power rankings, Week 3: Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints climbing the board

This week's power rankings celebrates the little guys, unexpected surprises of the young season.

Al Messerschmidt

Two games. Every team in the league now has two regular season games on paper, and we can start trying to make sense of the results. There are no surprises at the top of this week's power rankings. Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and a few others are playing about like we expected when we previewed the 2013 NFL season.

Go a little further down the list if you want surprises. New Orleans is 2-0 despite a defense that's not supposed to be very good. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is outplaying some his 2012 draft classmates, including reigning Rookie of the Year RGIII.

Let's sort out the early season in power rankings form. I look forward to reading your angry comments below.

1. Denver Broncos

LW: 2

Denver is weathering injuries and suspensions rather nicely. All the Broncos have done so far is beat the defending champions and stroll through an extended preseason bout with the Giants, that just happened  to be the most hyped game of the season so far. That's the thing about hype. Sometimes, it's way off the mark, e.g. Manning Bowl III. But occasionally, it's justified, e.g. the 2013 Broncos. In four more weeks, they'll have Von Miller back too.

2. Seattle Seahawks

LW: 3

I think we've got a lock on the loudest (yes, that's verified now) and most physical game of the season ... at least until Week 14 when the Seahawks and 49ers get a rematch in San Francisco.

3: San Francisco 49ers

LW: 1

Right now, the Seahawks have an edge over the 49ers on the heels of Sunday night's one-sided win. Both are the class of the NFC, by a notch or two.

4. Houston Texans

LW: 5

Two weeks, two game-winners on the final play. Even when Houston isn't playing as well as it can, the team still finds a way to win. Will the Texans get better as the season goes along? They'll have to by Week 5, when the Seahawks pay a visit.

5. New England Patriots

LW: 4

A win's a win, right? That's what was implied in the write-up about the Texans, so I'm logically bound to offer that same standard here. Stupid logic. New England struggled to beat two teams with a rookie quarterback destined to compete for the bottom two spots in the AFC East. I still think Tom Brady gets his receivers on the same page, but there's no guarantee.

6. Green Bay Packers

LW: 6

This looks pretty much like the Packers team we expected it to be. Dom Capers' defense looks better, too. The Packers are going to be the good team that nobody really talks about unless something happens to them.

7. New Orleans Saints

LW: 8

We'll get a better sense of the Saints in October when they travel to Chicago and New England for back-to-back road games. For now, there's reason to be optimistic about the defense.

8. Chicago Bears

LW: 9

Fun fact of the week that may only interest football fans poring over power rankings: Brandon Marshall did not lead the Bears in receptions during last week's win over the Vikings. Matt Forte led the team with 11 catches. Marshall had seven, as did Martellus Bennett, who added two touchdowns.

9. Atlanta Falcons

LW: 7

The Falcons don't have a running game to speak of right now. That's probably keeping Mike Smith up at night, sweating over the idea of throwing more than two passes per game more than 15 yards down the field. No, wait, it's probably the injury to Kroy Biermann keeping him up at night, right when his defense was starting to play well.

10. Cincinnati Bengals

LW: 11

The new kings of the AFC North? Maybe. But beating the Steelers isn't what it used to be. Two of Cincinnati's next three games are against the Packers and Patriots.

11. Baltimore Ravens

LW: 10

The World Champs overcame a 6-0 deficit at the half to beat the Cleveland Browns. So there's that.

12. Miami Dolphins

LW: 16

Miami beat the Browns, too. Last week, Ryan Tannehill and Co. beat a bona fide playoff contender in Indianapolis. Tannehill's stat line matches up nicely with Andrew Luck's through two weeks.

13. Kansas City Chiefs

LW: 19

The Chiefs are undefeated. Checkdowns are fun again, and Alex Smith is giving good enough a great reputation. Thursday's game in Philadelphia will be a good test for this group. If this team doesn't get distracted by friendly strippers tailgating the game, it could focus on one of those AFC Wild Card spots.

14. Indianapolis Colts

LW: 12

Jim Irsay has tweeted twice since the Colts lost to the Dolphins on Sunday. Neither message mentioned the game. That's not a good sign.

15. Dallas Cowboys

LW: 13

Bill Callahan's calling the plays now. You never would've know that during Sunday's game, because it was the same confused Cowboys offense. Dallas ran the ball just 16 times. When the Cowboys do pass, they aren't throwing it very far. Tony Romo is averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. That number would be a career low, by more than a yard, if it holds. When Tim Ryan's criticizing Dallas' offense, there's a problem.

16. Detroit Lions

LW: 14

Matthew Stafford's playing better so far this season, and Reggie Bush avoided a serious injury. That's something. Right now, it just doesn't look like Detroit's going to compete with the Packers and Bears for the NFC North. But it's still early.

17. Tennessee Titans

LW: 22

Tennessee's free agent moves are paying big dividends already. Bernard Pollard has helped transform a passing defense that led the league in yards allowed last year. On the other side of the ball, Operation Conceal Jake Locker is paying off thanks mostly to a fortified offensive line making Chris Johnson the center of the offense. The Titans should be fun to watch this season as a potential spoiler in the AFC playoff race.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

LW: 17

Chip Kelly had the NFL world confused and excited after his Week 1 win. Totally not cool of the Chargers to reveal just how bad Philadelphia's defense is.


19. Washington Redskins

LW: 15

Dropping Washington four spots somehow doesn't feel like enough. Dan Snyder may welcome the nickname debate if RGIII can't shake off the rust soon.

20. St. Louis Rams

LW: 18

St. Louis has the league's youngest team, and it showed in a mistake-filled loss to the Falcons last week. The coaching decisions didn't help. It's going to be another up and down season for the Rams. At least St. Louis is on pace to repeat as the NFL's most penalized team.

21. San Diego Chargers

LW: 28

Mike McCoy's team took the Texans down to the wire, before ultimately losing. They bounced back in Week 2 with a win over the Eagles. That's a positive start for a team still likely to struggle as injuries take a toll on an already thin roster.

22. Arizona Cardinals

LW: 26

Why didn't the Cardinals just make Patrick Peterson the quarterback last year?

23. New York Jets

LW: 27

I've had my fun at the expense of the Jets, but Rex Ryan's team made the Patriots work for a win at Foxborough last week. Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson escaped what could have been a serious injury. The Jets still have the kind of defense capable of keeping games close.

24. New York Giants

LW: 21

The good news is that Tom Coughlin's Giants overcame an 0-2 start in 2007 to win the Super Bowl. The bad news: These are not those Giants.


25. Minnesota Vikings

LW: 24

The Vikings took the Bears down to the wire thanks to a strong effort by the defense. However, as long as teams can keep Adrian Peterson contained, relatively speaking, Minnesota won't win many football games.

26. Buffalo Bills

LW: 29

Breaking in rookie quarterbacks with a dink and dunk passing game looks like it's the norm again. The Bills are using it to EJ Manuel's advantage. Mario Williams has a leg up on the Comeback Player of the Year award.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers

LW: 23

Watching this team makes me feel old. Time to start thinking about next year in Pittsburgh.

At least the Pirates are good this year.

28. Carolina Panthers

LW: 20

The award for the most poorly coached team in the league goes to the Carolina Panthers and Ron Rivera. Cam Newton is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. That's right, Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula are slowly trying to turn Newton into Joey Harrington. Carolina has a bye in Week 4. It's fair to wonder if Rivera will be back for Week 5.

29. Oakland Raiders

LW: 31

Sure, Terrelle Pryor is exciting, something for the fan base to rally around, finally. But is Al Davis' last draft pick good enough to get the team a new stadium? That would be impressive.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LW: 25

Greg Schiano spent last Thursday denying allegations of vote fraud. (Florida really has to do something about it's election system). The day before, the official NFL website borrowed a page from Chris Christie's playbook, wrapping Schiano in Bon Jovi lyrics. But they couldn't pull off the play action pass of public relations. The Bucs found new ways to lose this week. Josh Freeman isn't doing anything to help his own cause. Neither is Schiano, whose now on Darrelle Revis' bad side. Mutiny ahead?

31. Cleveland Browns

LW: 30

Barkevious Mingo sacked Joe Flacco on the first snap of his NFL career. Not a bad start. This defense is good. Good enough to make you forget that Jason Campbell might be the starting quarterback this week?

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

LW: 32

A crowd of fans, approximately six, gathered outside the stadium to urge Jacksonville to sign Tim Tebow. It's sad. But the Jaguars really are that bad this season. Not bad enough to take on that distraction though.

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