Mike Blewitt’s NFL Power Rankings: Week 3
The champs suffer their first setback in 2009, the Jets back up the trash talk, and the bottom of our power rankings sadly stay very much the same. The Giants and Cowboys matched up for an epic battle to open up the new palace in Dallas and the much-hyped Eagles-Saints matchup was a dud as we run down the list from No. 1 to No. 32…
1. New York Giants (2-0) – With a banged-up roster, opening up the new state-of-the-art stadium in Dallas was a formidable task. Considering they were playing their second straight divisional opponent, the last-second win and harassment on Tony Romo is that much more impressive.
2. New Orleans Saints (2-0) – The Saints opened the season with more points (93 in two weeks) than any team since the 1968 Oakland Raiders. For them to drop 48 of those on Philadelphia’s defense was flat-out shocking. Even if the bubble bursts and their defense doesn’t hold up for the whole year, we have to give the Saints a ton of credit for this start.
3. New York Jets (2-0) – The Jets pulled off the signature win of 2009 so far but will it mean as much in the long run if the Pats continue to scuffle along? They are a re-energized organization with a talented rookie QB (Mark Sanchez), a confident rookie head coach (Rex Ryan) and a stifling defense that has yet to allow this season.
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) –None of us expected to see the Ravens get burned for over 400 yards passing in San Diego but it’s still a big win. Their defense is likely to tighten up and their balanced offense is really playing well to start the year.
5. Indianapolis Colts (2-0) – Another week, another win for the ho-hum Colts who just never seem to lose their stride. Noteworthy stat: Peyton Manning did all of his damage in less than 15 minutes of offensive possession.
6. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) – Beware NFC, The Matt Ryan-Tony Gonzalez combo already appears to be lethal. They have beaten two of last year’s playoff teams to start the season, the only team in the NFL to do so.
7. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) – I will keep mentioning that they were my dark horse pick in the NFC until they start to lose games and that possibility vanishes. That’s fair, right? Frank Gore…wow…
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – If kicker Jeff Reed hits just ONE of the two shanks they at least have a shot in OT; instead Cutler drives the Bears to victory in Chicago. The Steelers probably don’t deserve much of a downgrade for that loss but the fact is they are just not as powerful with Polamalu on the sidelines.
9. Minnesota Vikings (2-0) – Minnesota is just plugging along…and thanking the NFL for the Browns-Lions combo to open the season. They will have to start proving themselves next week against the Niners.
10. San Diego Chargers (1-1) – The Ravens dared Philip Rivers to beat them and he nearly did. It was a tight battle with the Ravens that came down to the last few seconds so expect the Chargers to remain in the Top 10 for most of the year.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) – Things may very well change for the better in the weeks to come as McNabb heals and Vick is creatively worked into the offense. But, the defense got annihilated by the Saints who capitalized on four Philly turnovers.
12. New England Patriots (1-1) – The Pats are really one boneheaded fumble in Week 1 away from being 0-2. They always seem to manage a rally but the Jets exploited a not-yet 100% Tom Brady and an offensive line that looked shaky under the onslaught of blitzes.
13. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) – Matt Hasselbeck is injured again and the run defense in Seattle was apparently not on the plane to San Francisco as they let up 256 yards on the ground. They host the Bears next week in a battle for two teams looking to gain back some lost respect from their recent past.
14. Houston Texans (1-1) – Do I think the Texans are this good? Not at all but it was impressive to go down to Tennessee and slice up that defense for over 400 yards of offense. Based on the quality of that win, they have seen a huge bump in their ranking this week.
15. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) – Kurt Warner set an NFL single-game record for completion percentage, at 92.3 percent (24-26 passes completed) as the Cardinals cruised past the listless Jaguars. He was even pulled to avoid injury as they had built up a 31-3 lead in Jacksonville.
16. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – Eleven penalties and six sacks allowed is not going to win you many football games so it’s back to basics for the Packers. Protecting Aaron Rodgers needs to be a bigger priority as they have a ton of potential with him under center.
17. Denver Broncos (2-0) – Another team that is thanking the scheduling gods for the Cincinnati/Cleveland combo to start the year. Oakland this week could have them looking at 3-0 and in control of the division. It’s shocking just to write that.
18. Tennessee Titans (0-2) – I just can’t see knocking last year’s 13-win team all the way down the ladder. They need to play better, they will play better but two three-point losses do not signify that all is lost.
19. Chicago Bears (1-1) – A big win for the Bears as Jay Cutler rallied them to victory after some key mistakes (namely missed field goals) by Pittsburgh. I will hold off a week from completely jumping on the bandwagon and see how they fare in Seattle.
20. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – Handing four turnovers to the Giants can essentially guarantee you a loss, and there are no moral victories for keeping it close despite said errors. The ‘Boys will need to play a lot better to sniff anywhere near the playoffs.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) — The NFL is great because of the parity in this league and the relative unpredictability of its games. No one outside of the Bengals themselves saw an upset coming in Lambeau, yet here they are at 1-1 with a new outlook on the season.
22. Miami Dolphins (0-2) – The Fish went to Atlanta and dropped one at home to Indy which are both respectable losses. Unfortunately, you don’t want to rack those up right out of the gate. Next stop: San Diego.
23. Washington Redskins (1-1) – I’m pretty sure the six-point loss to the Giants was considerably more impressive than the two-point win over the Rams. It seems as if the Redskins’ collective allergy to the end zone is thriving just like all of last season.
24. Oakland Raiders (1-1) – By all accounts, it was a miracle that the Raiders were able to pull off a win after being outgained by nearly 250 yards (Commitment to Excellence!!!). JaMarcus Russell looked abysmal until the final drive, which brought them to victory.
25. Buffalo Bills (1-1) – Something tells me even the Bills are thinking they should be 2-0 but they managed to shake off last week’s last minute debacle and took care of business versus Tampa, despite another dropped pass/potential TD by T.O.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – Which is a more pertinent question: A. Are the Jaguars fans actually happy that the games are going to be blacked out? B. How many press conference meltdowns will we see out of Jack Del Rio this season?
27. Carolina Panthers (0-2) – Philly and Atlanta were not an easy way to get the season going but until they win a game or two, they will be flirting with the cellar dwellers. Going to Dallas next week will be a difficult way to end the skid.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – Dallas and Buffalo don’t appear to be lighting the football world on fire yet the Bucs have yielded 67 points so far in two games. Playing the top team (New York Giants) in the rankings next week is probably not what the doctor ordered for rookie head coach Raheem Morris.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) – The offense started to click for the Chiefs but it did not result in many points against Oakland. Now, they travel to Philly to see if they can sustain any offensive momentum.
30. Cleveland Browns (0-2) – The Browns were outgained 449-200 by the Broncos and lost the turnover battle 3 to 1. That reads like a perfect recipe to losing football games.
31. St. Louis Rams (0-2) – The Rams’ are finally on the board for the season. Seven points in two games…even their statistician is bored to tears watching them play, there’s nothing to track.
32. Detroit Lions (0-2) – The Lions led 10-7 at the half, but the second half resulted in some terribly familiar results. Before Jason Hanson’s field goal with 2:35 left, the Lions’ previous drives ended with three punts, a fumble and an interception.