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NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Cardinals, Raiders rise; Seahawks slip

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Let's start with some Power Rankings history.

We enter Week 3 with four teams from the same division gobbling up real estate in the top 10. This has never happened in the history of any power rankings on any website*, and it speaks to the special state of the NFC West.

Will the Rams, 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals keep it up? Who's the most likely to fall off? We suggest you come back in the ensuing weeks to find out.

*maybe

Watch the NFL Power Rankings show with Dan and Matt "Money" Smith every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

NOTE: Up/down arrows reflect movement from the Week 2 Power Rankings.

Previous rank: No. 1

Tom Brady is a joy to watch right now. The 44-year-old quarterback has simply mastered his position: He reads the field beautifully, feels pocket pressure like a ninja, possesses flawless mechanics and -- this one is especially head-scratching -- exhibits physical skills that somehow seem sharper than ever. Brady is up to nine touchdowns in two weeks after a five-TD effort against the Falcons and is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down in his 21st season as a starter. Brady has long since eclipsed Peyton Manning in the Greatest QB Ever debate -- now he's coming for Manning's throne as the greatest free-agent signing in league history.

Previous rank: No. 2

As the Chiefs matriculated down the field in the final minutes of their Sunday night insta-classic against the Ravens, the only real drama seemed to be whether K.C. would go ahead on a Harrison Butker field goal or via some standard-issue greatness from Patrick Mahomes. Instead, Clyde Edwards-Helaire put the ball on the turf. The resulting turnover and ensuing failure of the defense to stop a fourth-and-1 Lamar Jackson carry at midfield sealed a crushing 36-35 loss. The game marked the first time the Chiefs were ever defeated in September with Mahomes under center. 

Previous rank: No. 7

Lamar Jackson reminded the football world on Sunday night there's nobody quite like him, and his utter uniqueness is what makes the Ravens capable of beating anyone. The former MVP willed his short-handed team to a thrilling 36-35 comeback win over the defending conference champion Chiefs, who were shut out 12-0 in the game's final quarter. Jackson seemed to do it all, but he did have some help: The defensive hero was rookie first-round pick Odafe Oweh, whose forced fumble and recovery late in the fourth quarter halted a seemingly preordained game-winning drive by Kansas City and set the stage for Baltimore's gutsy fourth-and-1 conversion to seal the game. The Ravens are in business.

Previous rank: No. 3

"I need a beer," Sean McVay joked as he headed off the podium following the Rams' 27-24 win over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. McVay's team triumphed on the road to improve to 2-0, but it wasn't pretty: The offense sputtered for stretches, and a colossal special teams miscue nearly swung the game in the opposite direction. But the growing mind-meld between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp produced the splash plays the Rams needed to survive and advance. Kupp (9/163/2) is the first Rams player since at least 1950 with 100-plus receiving yards and at least one touchdown in each of the team's first two games of the season. All-Pro campaigns may be brewing for both stars.

Previous rank: No. 6

The Bills took out a week of frustration on the poor Dolphins. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for three touchdowns, and the Buffalo defense was ruthlessly effective in a 35-0 win in Miami. The Bills sacked Tua Tagovailoa twice in the game's opening possession, then knocked the QB out of the game with another crunching hit on Miami's second series. The opening display of ferocity set the tone for a one-sided affair that reaffirmed Buffalo's standing as a conference superpower while prompting a reexamination of where the Dolphins actually belong in the AFC pecking order. The Bills remain the class of the AFC East: Come correct or prepare to be embarrassed. 

Previous rank: No. 12

Forget R-E-L-A-X. Halfway through Monday night's matchup against the Lions, it was time for the Packers to W-A-K-E-U-P. Of course, they did, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half en route to a 35-17 win. Aaron Rodgers got right after Week 1's stunning no-show in New Orleans, throwing four touchdown passes -- three to Aaron Jones (who had four touchdowns total). The defense also tightened up, shutting out Detroit in the second half while forcing a pair of turnovers. Packers World has been properly recalibrated, but another big test looms on Sunday night in San Francisco.

Previous rank: No. 9

We don't know how Trey Lance is developing behind the scenes in the eyes of the 49ers, but it's fair to wonder what Kyle Shanahan really thinks about Jimmy Garoppolo leading his offense. Is it similar to the thoughts that apparently danced through the head of Sean McVay as he watched Jared Goff a year ago? Garoppolo struggled mightily for stretches of a 17-11 win over the Eagles -- a game in which the Niners couldn't even produce a first down until the second quarter. It worked in Week 2 because the Eagles are a work-in-progress in their own right, but will this win-ugly version of KyleBall work when the competition stiffens? A Sunday night matchup against the Packers could provide some clarity.

Previous rank: No. 8

The Browns got a solid performance from Baker Mayfield and the now-customary game-icing touchdown run from Nick Chubb to beat a Texans team that continues to look friskier than expected. Houston QB Tyrod Taylor was dicing up his former team before suffering a hamstring injury that ended his day after two quarters (and which is likely to cost him considerable time, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero). The Browns were pretty much in control from that point onward, as Texans rookie Davis Webb delivered an uneven performance in relief. One subplot to watch: Jarvis Landry is week-to-week after suffering an MCL injury on the second snap of the game. With Odell Beckham's lingering absence threatening to turn into an Unsolved Mysteries episode, Cleveland is suddenly thin at wide receiver. Mayfield's lack of downfield passes underlined this issue against Houston.

Previous rank: No. 4

The Seahawks had a 30-16 lead over the Titans after Freddie Swain zipped into the end zone with his 68-yard touchdown with 13:06 to play in the fourth quarter. This one felt like it was over -- but no one told the Titans, who reeled off the game's final 17 points in a stunning 33-30 overtime win in Seattle. Before Sunday, the Seahawks were 52-0 when leading by at least 15 points at home. Seattle let the lead slip away because the offense stalled and the defense lost its handle on Derrick Henry, who ran wild in the second half. Said Jamal Adams after the game: "Sometimes s--- just happens, man," Adams said. "... They executed, we didn't."

Previous rank: No. 14

Sure, the Cardinals got a massive helping hand from the latest Vikings kicker to go down in infamy, but let's not lose sight of the big picture in Arizona: The Cardinals are fun, and Kyler Murray is going to be a major player in the MVP race this season as long as he can stay healthy. A November shoulder injury sunk both the QB and his team a season ago, but the first two weeks of a new season have served as a reminder of how dangerous this offense can be when Murray is at his best. Murray is getting more help, too: Rookie wideout Rondale Moore (7/114/1 vs. Minnesota) looks like the complement to DeAndre Hopkins the team never found in 2020.

Previous rank: No. 18

Impressive wins over the Ravens and Steelers to start the season is quite a statement of intent by Jon Gruden's Raiders. The offense -- led by Derek Carr and featuring big contributions from Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III and Hunter Renfrow -- has played up to its potential, but it's the defense that's been the true revelation thus far. It starts up front, where Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are blowing up game plans. Through two weeks, Crosby leads the NFL with 15 pressures, per Next Gen Stats, while Ngakoue has 11. We'll see if this is sustainable, but Gus Bradley might have the scheme and personnel to change how we look at this team.

Previous rank: No. 5

A big afternoon from the defense and a huge play on special teams paved the way for a Week 1 road upset of the Bills, but a home loss to the Raiders puts the focus back on an underwhelming offense. Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the star who can put the Steelers on his back; the 39-year-old veteran needs help to make this attack go and he's not getting enough of it from his offensive line or running game. Part of that responsibility falls on offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who's still trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Pittsburgh should remain competitive as long as the defense stays intact, but a serious Super Bowl run will be impossible without balance on the other side of the ball.

Previous rank: No. 11

The Chargers lost to the Cowboys because they couldn't get out of their own way. Los Angeles committed 12 penalties for 99 yards, with two of those infractions negating touchdowns. Some of the penalties could charitably be defined as borderline, but legitimate contenders find a way to rise above these challenges, and the Bolts aren't there -- at least not yet. Justin Herbert wasn't immune to mistakes, either. The second-year quarterback threw a pair of interceptions, but he also made a number of brilliant throws that keep the arrow up on his young career. "Justin Herbert was outstanding," Brandon Staley said after the game. "He was the best player on the field."

Previous rank: No. 15

Zach Wilson has become the latest highly touted Jets quarterback prospect to burn up spectacularly in the presence of Bill Belichick. New England intercepted Wilson four times on Sunday, dominating the rookie in a 25-6 win at the Meadowlands. While Wilson imploded, Mac Jones delivered another steady effort that should have the Patriots feeling extremely optimistic about their rookie passer. Jones wasn't electric, but he led the offense with confidence and showed poise that clearly eluded the QB taken 13 picks ahead of him on the other side of the field. If this is Jones' floor, the Pats are set up very well for the future.

Previous rank: No. 20

The Gritty & Gutty Effort Of The Week award belongs to the Titans, who stormed back from a 30-16 fourth-quarter deficit in Seattle to steal a 33-30 win in overtime. It was a big-time win against a premium opponent, made possible by a defense that tightened up when it mattered and a running back who's pretty much better than anybody else on the planet. Derrick Henry went off in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in the final two quarters -- doing it all behind an offensive line besieged by injuries. Henry's combination of size and speed remains breathtaking in action -- the acceleration away from cornerbacks he showed during his 60-yard scoring run shouldn't be physically possible. He is the Titans' ace in the hole. As long as he's on the field, they have a chance.

Previous rank: No. 25

Wins over the lowly Jets and a decimated Saints squad invite some doubts about the validity of their 2-0 start, but the Panthers certainly look like a team that has the ability to hang with the majority of the NFC. Sam Darnold has been efficient and mostly mistake-free behind a sturdy offensive line, while Christian McCaffrey has put the offense on his back in consecutive weeks. The defense has been the real revelation here; led by Shaq Thompson, Carolina continues to swarm the opposing quarterback and put offensive game plans in the blender. The schedule stays soft in Week 3: A Thursday night road trip to Houston to face third-string rookie QB Davis Mills. The Panthers have a chance to hit October with serious momentum.

Previous rank: No. 10

In Week 1, the Saints delivered a sublime performance that made you reconsider their ceiling in a post-Drew Brees world. On Sunday, they delivered a titanic dud that returns the team to the murky middle of the NFL. Dealing with a COVID-19 breakout and injuries at several key positions, the Saints were non-competitive in a 26-7 loss to the upstart Panthers. Jameis Winston threw two grisly interceptions that recalled his lowest moments in Tampa, while New Orleans' offense managed just 128 yards ... total. In Week 1, the Saints dropped a Bury The Ball Game on the Packers. On Monday, it was their turn to pick up the shovel.

Previous rank: No. 17

The Eagles dominated the 49ers for most of the first half on Sunday and still found themselves trailing as they headed to the tunnel. When the dust cleared on a 17-11 loss, Philadelphia was left to make peace with the opportunities wasted: Jalen Reagor stepping out of bounds prior to a long touchdown catch, a Quez Watkins 91-yard reception somehow producing zero points, a Derek Barnett unnecessary roughness penalty that whittled away precious time in the fourth quarter. The Eagles deserve credit for hanging tough with a talented San Francisco team, but that was also a winnable game they let slip away. The challenge to bounce back will be greater with Brandon Graham lost for the season with an Achilles injury. 

Washington Football Team

1-1

Previous rank: No. 22

The Washington Football Team may not have Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they still have hope in the form of Taylor Heinicke, who moved the offense with purpose in a 30-29 win over the Giants on Thursday Night Football. Washington was greatly aided by several huge miscues from New York, but Ron Rivera and Co. deserve credit for walking through the door the opponent held open for them. Heinicke wasn't perfect in the win, but he made enough big throws to make you think he can turn himself into Washington's season-long starter -- regardless of Fitzpatrick's health. "He's always ready for his moment," Terry McLaurin said of Heinicke. "I love the guy."

Previous rank: No. 13

Sunday's game won't be an easy one for the Dolphins to shake off. The Bills came into their building and delivered an embarrassing 35-0 whipping that wiped away any lingering optimism gained from the Week 1 win at Foxborough. Miami seemed overwhelmed by a more talented Buffalo roster. Tua Tagovailoa was lit up by the Bills' pass rushers three times in eight offensive snaps before his day ended with a cart ride to the locker room and the diagnosis of bruised ribs. Jacoby Brissett was unable to provide anything close to a Ryan Fitzpatrick-like spark, and Miami was left to ponder what the blowout loss means in the big picture. Did the Dolphins have a bad day ... or are the Bills really that much better? Either way, Brian Flores has a lot of work ahead of him.

Previous rank: No. 21

Carson Wentz sprained both ankles on one Aaron Donald takedown in Sunday's loss to the Rams, and that feels like something that could only happen to Carson Wentz in 2021. As colleague Gregg Rosenthal noted on Sunday's Around The NFL Podcast, the modern-day Wentz plays with a frantic energy that's almost unnerving. It's all stumbles and ducks and dives and flops and flips -- it's no surprise he struggles to stay healthy. If Wentz is unable to go in a pivotal Week 3 tilt against the Titans, the 0-2 Colts could be very much up against it with unproven Jacob Eason at QB. Eason failed to inspire in his limited work against Los Angeles.

Previous rank: No. 24

The line between 2-0 and 0-2 in the NFL can be painfully thin. The Vikings know that all too well. In Week 1, fortunes turned on a Dalvin Cook fumble in overtime. Sunday was even worse: Greg Joseph pushed a 37-yard field-goal attempt wide right as time expired to seal an excruciating 34-33 loss to the Cardinals. "It's a perfect surface," Zimmer lamented afterward. "I'm thinking, This should be an easy one here." Nothing is easy for Minnesota, of course, especially when it comes to kickers. It's a 17-game haul, which means there's still plenty of time for the Vikings to right their ship. But back-to-back heartbreakers like this can alter an entire season. Gut-check time has already arrived.

Previous rank: No. 23

It's happening again. The Bengals are struggling to protect Joe Burrow, and the feeling of impending disaster once more looms in the Queen City. Burrow was sacked four times by the Bears and hit on five other occasions in a 20-17 loss. Chicago's ferocious pass rush might help explain why Burrow was in such a giving mood -- the QB threw interceptions on three consecutive attempts in the second half, wiping away any chance at back-to-back victories to start the year. It's back to the drawing board for Zac Taylor, who should pray that T.J. Watt isn't on the field for the Steelers on Sunday.

Previous rank: No. 27

There are bad losses and there are Bad Losses. The Giants suffered one of the worst Week 2 defeats imaginable, a 30-29 setback to Washington that will be remembered by Big Blue fans for brutal mistakes and miscues at the most inopportune times. A C.J. Board hold that wiped away a 58-yard TD run by Daniel Jones. A Darius Slayton end-zone drop with no Washington defender within 20 yards. Finally, the pièce de résistance in this stew of misery: Dexter Lawrence's offsides penalty that gave Dustin Hopkins a second crack at the game-winning field goal. Hopkins didn't miss. The Giants didn't sleep.

Previous rank: No. 29

Tyrod Taylor was cooking up an upset special on Sunday in Cleveland. The journeyman QB completed his first 10 passes and scored a pair of early touchdowns against the heavily favored Browns. Then misfortune visited the star-crossed passer once again. Taylor pulled his hamstring in the final seconds of the first half -- the injury knocked him out of the game and led to a quick scratch from Thursday's Week 3 tilt against the Panthers. On Monday, Texans coach David Culley dismissed any thought that Deshaun Watson could re-enter the picture, so instead it will be rookie Davis Mills getting his first career start against a thriving Carolina defense in prime time. This doesn't feel promising.

Previous rank: No. 28

When the Falcons took over deep in their own territory with 13 minutes to play on Sunday against the Bucs, they had scored the game's last 15 points and were in position to take the lead. The next six possessions played out like this: three-and-out (punt), Bucs TD, Bucs pick-six, turnover on downs, TB turnover on downs, Bucs pick-six. From 28-25 to 48-25 in nine minutes of game time. Credit the Falcons for being more competitive than they were in Week 1, especially on the road against the defending champs, but early returns don't paint an optimistic picture in Atlanta.

Previous rank: No. 30

There will be better days for Zach Wilson ... because they can't get much worse. Wilson threw four interceptions in a 25-6 loss to the Patriots, becoming the latest Next Great Hope in green to be swallowed whole by Bill Belichick. Wilson was brutal from the start, throwing picks on his first two pass attempts while repeatedly making poor decisions in his downfield reads. It's a shame, too, because the Jets played an otherwise-solid game: New York ran the ball well, improved its pass protection from Week 1 in Carolina, and held Mac Jones and the Pats' attack mostly in place. Wilson's epic struggles were simply too much to overcome, and Robert Saleh can only hope his young QB learns from a very tough home debut.

Previous rank: No. 31

If you happen to be a Lions fan who fell asleep at halftime on Monday night, I suggest you close out this browser tab and steer clear of sports websites and any news-focused platforms for the next 48 hours. Remember life as it was before you drifted off to peaceful slumber: It was a world where Jared Goff outplayed Aaron Rodgers, where T.J. Hockenson couldn't be covered near the back pylon, where the worried groan of polite Midwesterners functioned as the soundtrack of Lambeau Field. Yes, the lovable underdog Lions were the kings of football on this night ... or at least the portion of the night in which you were physically conscious. Sweet dreams.

Previous rank: No. 32

The combination of Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence was supposed to bring excitement to Duval, but we're still waiting. The Broncos held the Jaguars attack to 189 yards of total offense in Sunday's 23-13 loss -- even last year's 1-15 outfit managed to clear that bar every week. Lawrence started fast and faded in his second game. The No. 1 overall pick registered 73 of his 118 passing yards on the opening drive that ended with a touchdown. You never want to peak in the first quarter.

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