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NFL power rankings: Patriots, 49ers, Bucs and Bears all rise; Saints, Cowboys slide into Week 4

Week 3 in the NFL had many teams at the top of Sporting News’ NFL power rankings continue their first-month surge. Early, the league’s best teams are doing it with offense, with defenses still playing catchup and home crowds virtually non-existent.

Before the marquee Monday night matchup of the Chiefs and Ravens, a lot of other contenders in the AFC and NFC positioned themselves well with impressive victories in tough matchups. There were also several teams that got their much-needed first wins, and others who got humbling losses out of the way.

From all the smaller-market NFL cities to the two New York teams that call New Jersey home, here’s how we now see all 32 teams stacking up against each other going in Week 4:

MORE: Fans of winless NFL teams are already looking at mock drafts

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NFL power rankings

1. Kansas City Chiefs 2-0 (last week’s ranking: 1)

The Chiefs have won with the running game and defense to help out Patrick Mahomes in the first two games. They’ll look to put it all together to be more complete reigning Super Bowl champions in Baltimore.

2. Seattle Seahawks 3-0 (3)

The Seahawks are being depleted by injuries, especially defensively, and now the offensive line and running backs aren’t immune. But they have Russell Wilson dealing like no other passer has before and that means everything.

MORE: Russell Wilson’s record stats pave way to NFL’s best-ever QB season

3. Baltimore Ravens 2-0 (2)

Lamar Jackson has picked up where he left off in his MVP season. The defensive overhaul has looked pretty good for them, too, but hosting the more balanced, explosive Chiefs will be a great litmus test.

4. Green Bay Packers 3-0 (6)

The Packers continue to roll in the Matt LaFleur era. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones have made them an interchangeable scoring machine. They proved they have plenty of playmakers without Davante Adams in beating the Saints.

MORE: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers getting help he needs as he leads NFC’s top offense

5. Buffalo Bills 3-0 (4)

Josh Allen wants in on the MVP conversation and proved to Jalen Ramsey and the Rams he’s far from “trash.” He should be more treasured as a clutch QB, locked with Stefon Diggs. A better traditional running game and closing defense would be nice, though.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers 3-0 (5)

The Steelers nearly saw the defensive wheels come off, but then their offense took control against the Texans, doing whatever was needed with run and pass to help them pin their ears back on the other side again. Complementary football is a lot easier with Ben Roethlisberger on one side.

7. New England Patriots 2-1 (10)

The Patriots got methodical with their seasoned running backs, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, helping to support Cam Newton in the rushing attack. The young defense also woke up nicely against the Raiders so they could stick with their conservative but effective winning formula.

8. San Francisco 49ers 2-1 (11)

The 49ers have a lot of trust in their offensive system under Kyle Shanahan, and it showed with Nick Mullens, Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. doing whatever they wanted against the Giants’ defense. San Francisco also was up to the task on the other side early without Nick Bosa.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1 (12)

The Bucs have bounced back from that tough Week 1 loss, showing their defensive prowess again at the Broncos. Tom Brady is starting to get into a groove with all of his receivers, too, which will get scarier for the rest of the NC

10. Tennessee Titans 3-0 (14)

Remember the Titans made the AFC championship game last season? With Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry up to their dynamic duo tricks, it’s not hard to forget anymore. Their defensive woes are manifesting more, but they are still getting key big plays.

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11. Los Angeles Rams 2-1 (7)

The Rams tried their best to erase a big Bills lead, but after a hot start, Aaron Donald and the defense had a bit of reality check against the run and downfield pass in Week 3. The good news is that the offense is also finding its revamped identity with more youth around Jared Goff.

12. Chicago Bears 3-0 (16)

The Bears are somehow undefeated after two big fourth-quarter comebacks (Lions, Falcons) led by two different quarterbacks, which sandwiched an ugly slugfest escape. Nick Foles is a good bet to stay the QB going forward, but they will need a lot more consistency from their running game and defense to build on their shockingly hot start, albeit against lesser opponents.

13. Arizona Cardinals 2-1 (8)

The Cardinals got a little sloppy as Kyler Murray didn’t protect the ball against the Lions and the defense, despite another good pass rush, couldn’t stop Matthew Stafford and Adrian Peterson when it counted. They’re still a young team learning to finish games.

14. Las Vegas Raiders 2-1 (15)

The Raiders did their best to hang with the Patriots for three quarters before things got ugly in New England with mistakes and a lack of execution. Jon Gruden thought he had a shot at outdueling Sean Payton and Bill Belichick in back-to-back weeks, but his run defenses prevented that.

15. New Orleans Saints 1-2 (9)

The Saints still have Super Bowl aspirations with Drew Bres, but their offense has just enough limitations featuring Alvin Kamara but with no Michael Thomas. Their defense is really struggling on the back end and the penalties are piling up in inopportune times. It’s also bad their Superdome-field advantage has evaporated.

16. Cleveland Browns 2-1 (19)

The Browns were discombobulated against the Ravens in Week 1, but they have taken it to Bengals and Washington since as they should with a heavy dose of the running game, a few occasional big downfield throws from Baker Mayfield and much more active defensive front seven. They are very much in the playoff hunt.

17. Indianapolis Colts 2-1 (20)

Philip Rivers is starting to feel comfortable again with Frank Reich, now that Jonathan Taylor’s running and the ballhawking defense have come through as reliables as expected. They have got to prove they can be effective like that on the road, too.

18. Dallas Cowboys 1-2 (13)

The Cowboys couldn’t quite complete their comeback mode against the Falcons, despite Dak Prescott dealing all the way through the final interception. They have totally abandoned their conservative, running ball-control ways, but might need to go back to it more with Prescott throwing too much, Elliott rushing too little and the defense needing the help of staying off the field.

19. Detroit Lions 1-2 (31)

The Lions got into the win column after fast starts but sluggish finishes against both the Packers and Bears. Kenny Golladay made a big difference to their offense and the defense finally got to making critical plays for Matt Patricia.

20. Washington Football Team 1-2 (18)

Washington saw another roller-coaster ride for Dwayne Haskins in the new offense. The defense went back to wilting against the run and te pass rush will keep hurting should rookie Chase Young miss a lot more time with his groin injury.

(SN/Getty)

21. Carolina Panthers 1-2 (29)

The Panthers showed some life in Los Angeles, even without Christian McCaffrey. They got some big plays from others in their offense trying to replace him and their defense really came together to play hard and overachieve against a rookie QB.

22. Los Angeles Chargers 1-2 (17)

Justin Herbert has had his moments over his first two starts, but he still is searching for a win. The Chargers’ defense is being put in tougher positions and the passing game needs to be a little more explosive.

23. Miami Dolphins 1-2 (30)

The Dolphins are doing just enough offensively, namely Ryan Fitzpatrick, to keep Tua Tagovailoa from making starts for them.  Their defense also started coming alive for Brian Flores. Just because they’re trying to bridge into the next stage of rebuilding doesn’t mean they won’t consistently show fight.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-2 (21)

Gardner Minshew and the offense, save for James Robinson, had a wakeup call to open Week 3. What’s bound to keep the Jaguars down near the bottom, however, is the shell of a defense with familiar veterans.

25. Houston Texans 0-3 (22)

Deshaun Watson did his best to get them to be competitive against the Steelers, but he still doesn’t have too much helping him and the defense is struggling too much to support him once he spots it a lead.

26. Philadelphia Eagles 0-2-1 (23)

What was that? Carson Wentz put together another clunker at home and the Eagles’ offense looked lost when not running Miles Sanders. Their defense also continues to have major lapses behind their strong pass rush.

MORE: Should the Eagles bench Carson Wentz?

27. Cincinnati Bengals 0-2-1 (27)

The Bengals had no business staying in that game with Joe Burrow getting buried, but his gritty gamer-ness keeps shining through as a rookie. Getting his first NFL tie before his first NFL win isn’t all that fun, but it does inspire.

28. Minnesota Vikings 0-3 (24)

The Vikings’ defense simply cannot stop anything that matters, whether it’s run or pass. It’s hard to believe that’s a Mike Zimmer defense. The offense is expected to be flawless to compensate, and that’s been far from the case for Kirk Cousins.

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29. Atlanta Falcons 0-3 (25)

The Falcons aren’t blowing leads the way you think. They’re too much of a pass-reliant team and can’t run to close out games. Their defense is too porous against teams in full-on passing mode trying to catch up, whether it’s the Cowboys or the Bears.

MORE: Matt Ryan voices support for coach Dan Quinn

30. Denver Broncos 0-3 (26)

The Broncos’ defense has fallen apart without Von Miller. The offense is now experience the same thing without Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton. They are already playing for 2021.

MORE: Fans of NFL’s 0-3 teams want to know everything about Trevor Lawrence

31. New York Giants 0-3 (28)

Start spreading the news. Neither New York team has won a game, and both had their hearts taken out by San Francisco. Joe Judge has some talent, but he isn’t getting near-enough execution to make up for major injuries to Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard.

32. New York Jets 0-3 (32)

Adam Gase’s team keeps getting throttled offensively and defensively. Now Sam Darnold is dragging things further down with sloppy play, on top of a shaky supporting cast.

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