Rich 10 NFL rankings (Week 3)
Sean Clark ranks his top 10 teams heading into a crucial Week 3 of the NFL season.
Many aspects of Week 1 that many thought they learned in Week 1 was thrown out the window, such as the Buffalo Bills’ struggles, Derrick Henry’s regression and the Baltimore Ravens looking like they were on the decline with Lamar Jackson.
Week 2 gave us crazy shootouts in Arizona, Seattle and Baltimore as elite offenses went toe-to-toe, displaying the new emphasis of playmaking on offense.
With only seven 2-0 teams to make it out of Week 2, here are my top 10 NFL teams heading into Week 3.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Previous Ranking: 4
The LA Chargers gave their fans another heartbreaking loss on Sunday as penalties doomed their chances to win their home opener over the Dallas Cowboys. Brandon Staley’s unit committed 12 penalties for 99 yards, including two of them that took touchdowns off the board. To make matters worse, Justin Herbert threw two interceptions in Cowboys’ territory to lose even more points. While some of the blame can lie on poor officiating, the Chargers failed to capitalize on all their scoring chances, putting too much pressure on their defense that held Dak Prescott to 20 points. The Chargers will face their ultimate divisional litmus test as they head to Arrowhead Stadium and face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
9. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Previous Ranking: N/A
One knock against the Baltimore Ravens since Lamar Jackson took over as their starter midway through the 2018 season was their inability to play from behind. This concern became null and void this past Sunday night as they rallied from a 35-24 fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Chiefs 36-35. Despite two interceptions, Jackson finally got the better of Patrick Mahomes with 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns with 237 yards through the air. Jackson finally won after starting 0-3 vs Mahomes and the offense still leads the league in rushing even with their top-three running backs all out for the season. The Ravens will head to Detroit on Sunday for their first non-primetime game of the season.
8. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0)
Previous Ranking: N/A
Derek Carr has been often criticized for his play since his devastating leg injury in 2016. He has displayed inconsistent results and seemingly gets worse as the season goes along. While the latter critique will be once again judged this December, Carr has started this season on an absolute tear. He leads the NFL in passing yards with 817 yards through the first two games, over 100 more than second place (Kyler Murray with 689). His 382 passing yards guided the Las Vegas Raiders to a road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. With wins over the Ravens and Steelers to start the season, the Raiders are putting themselves into a good spot early for playoff positioning. The Raiders will look to continue this trend as they will host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
7. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 9
Another road game meant another victory for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday as they took care of the Philadelphia Eagles 17-11. Deebo Samuel dazzled once again with 93 receiving yards, carrying the 49ers’ passing game to success as they deal with a rash of injuries at the running back position. Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and JaMychal Hasty all went down with injuries, forcing the 49ers to try out replacements. Their defense held the Eagles for most of the game, allowing the offense to score what they needed to win. While the 49ers haven’t looked the most impressive so far this season, their coaching and gritty play has allowed them to get the job done over the first two weeks of the season. The schedule will get tougher as they will host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in their home opener.
6. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 5
Gus Johnson and Kyler Murray magic: a perfect combination on a Sunday afternoon. The Arizona Cardinals engaged in an epic shootout with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday as Kirk Cousins and Murray went back and forth in the desert. In the end, Murray made enough plays to give the Cardinals the late lead as Vikings’ kicker Greg Joseph added his name to the list of bad Vikings’ missed field goals with a missed 37-yard field goal as time expired. While the defense struggled, the Cardinals are now 2-0 and looks as explosive as they ever have under third-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. They look to make it 3-0 as they head to Jacksonville and face the 0-2 Jaguars on Sunday.
5. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Previous Ranking: 6
The Houston Texans provided Cleveland the perfect bounce back game after losing another heartbreaker to the Chiefs. The offense was balanced with efficient games from Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb. The defense contained Texans’ rookie quarterback Davis Mills in the second half as the Browns pulled away for a 31-21 victory. Despite an injury scare from Mayfield, the Browns are set up for a favorable non-divisional over the next month, starting with a Sunday matchup with Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears.
4. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
Previous Ranking: 7
Speaking of bounce backs, no team had a better turnaround performance from Week 1 than the Buffalo Bills. In Week 1, the Steelers shocked many by defeating the Bills 23-16 with strong special teams play. The Bills’ defense took our their frustrations on the Miami Dolphins’ offense, pitching a shutout in a 35-0 victory. Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game and backup QB Jacoby Brissett was left helpless behind a leaky offensive line as the Bills’ pass rush recorded six sacks. This is the best the Bills’ defense has looked since the 2019 season, showing that maybe, Josh Allen may not have to carry the team like he did last season. The Bills will welcome the Washington Football Team to town on Sunday.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)
Previous Ranking: 2
In Super Bowl 55, the Chiefs fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to poor play on the offensive line. This season, this has been fixed (Mahomes sacked only twice in two games) but it has come at the cost of their defense. The Chiefs have gotten ran over in their first two games of the season (worst rush defense in the league so far) and have forced Mahomes to win shootout over other AFC contenders. A Mahomes interception and a Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble cost the Chiefs their Week 2 matchup at the Ravens, dropping them to 1-1. It does not get any easier for the Chiefs as on Sunday, the LA Chargers come to town after a brutal loss to the Cowboys.
2. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 3
This upcoming Sunday, the top two teams in this edition of the Rich 10 NFL rankings will face off in the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On one side, we have the Rams who escaped Indianapolis with a 27-24 victory. Cooper Kupp is already forming a deadly combination with Matthew Stafford as he notched 163 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions. While the defense struggled, they forced two redzone turnovers that ended up being the difference in the game. As Stafford continues to grow into Sean McVay’s scheme even more, the Rams should only improve as the season goes along.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and Tom Brady defeating the Atlanta Falcons. In Sunday’s 48-25 win, Brady threw for five touchdown passes as he improved his record against the Falcons to 9-0. While the defense let the Falcons make the game competitive in the fourth quarter, Mike Edwards sealed the deal with two pix sixes. Tampa Bay has started their Super Bowl defense with two home wins and nine Brady touchdown passes, the most of any QB in the NFL despite being 44-years old. The Bucs will hit the road for the first time since their NFC Championship game win at Green Bay when they visit the Rams on Sunday.