Pickwatch Week 3 Power Rankings
Week 2 is done and with a record low number of upsets, the rich certainly got richer, but who rose and fell in our weekly power rankings?
21 Sep, 2020
Week 2 has been and gone, here are the official Pickwatch power rankings for week 3. We've got a lot right so far, but some teams are defying our preseason predictions. Find out who below...
Kansas City = The hallmark of a good team is playing badly and losing. For the first half of Sunday's game against the Chargers, the Chiefs just didn't look in any way like the best team in the NFL, yet in the second, it was exactly the same as in the Super Bowl, with Mahomes gashing the Chargers (who admittedly were not in the Super Bowl...) for big chunks of yardage. The Chiefs are... inevitable. They will win, it's just a case of how.
Next up: @ Baltimore
Baltimore = Dominant. The Ravens look unlikely to lose to anyone right now, but guess what? Fate dictates that the Ravens and Chiefs face off in a Monday Night MEDISLAM to quite literally decide which team is the current best in the NFL. The Ravens probably don't have as good a QB as Patrick Mahomes, but they've started piling up the rushing yards again, an ominous sign for the rest of the league, and in fact worrying for the Chiefs who gave up 183 rushing yards in week 2 against the Chargers.
Next up: vs Baltimore
Seattle (Up 1) Russell Wilson. That's it. No, it's not just Wilson... Chris Carson is on merit one of the best backs in the NFL, D.K. Metcalfe seems like a no.1 WR and Tyler Lockett is Wilson's reliable safety blanket, with 15 catches through 2 games. The Seahawks are notoriously slow starters, who last season 4 of their first 6 games by less than 3 points. If their performances against the Falcons and Patriots are anything to go by, this season may be a big offensive tour de force. Defensively... let's wait and see how they do against the Cowboys. Next up: vs Dallas
Green Bay (Down 1) The league's top offense, averaging 505yds per game so far. That includes a staggering 208.5 rushing yards per game. Yes, the Packers have turned into a big time running team and their best player might be the other Aaron, running back Aaron Jones. Assuming Davante Adams is not injured badly, as Rotowire reports, then the team has a great chance to make a statement against their first major test of the season, on the road in New Orleans. Next up: @ New Orleans
New England (Up 1) Rising in defeat? The Pats were outplayed narrowly by one of the league's best teams, but going on the road to the west coast and putting up 30pts is no mean feat. The Pats are working completely differently to previous years in style, but the effectiveness is there. The concern I have is the aura not being the same with Cam Newton at QB, but that may be a problem for another day. Next up: vs Las Vegas
Tennessee (Up 4) One of the biggest risers. The Titans are one of the few 'complete; teams outside of the elite 'power 5'. Jacksonville will upset plenty of teams in 2020, so holding on in the face of MINSHEW MANIA is not to be sniffed at. The balance of the offense is what I particularly like, with the capability to throw and run equally effectively. Next up: vs MIN
Pittsburgh (Up 3) I'll be honest, I'm still not convinced by Ben Roethlisberger, and in the closing stages of Sunday's narrower-than-it-should-have-been victory over Denver, he looked shaky again. I think the schedule has been extremely kind to them, with only Tennessee likely to have a winning record from their first 6 games - the AFC North sure got the right year to face the AFC East in conference games. James Conner playing well is a huge boost. In a season where the drop-off between good and bad is extremely pronounced, the Steelers are likely strong enough to stay above the Mason-Dixon line. Next up: vs Houston
Dallas (Down 1) What was that? Seriously, the first quarter of Sunday's game was almost farcically comedic. The Cowboys couldn't string a series together, fumbling 3 times and managing to botch a fake punt to turn the ball over deep in their own half. What followed was crazy enough to go down in history as one of the best comebacks ever, but the defense looks extremely vulnerable and offensively, they can't afford games like that against teams like the upcoming Seahawks. Next up: @ Seattle
If you read my season preview article, you'll know that I was high on the Raiders as a potential wild card team, and that seemed well-founded as they went to 2-0 last night with a solid team performance. The worry is of course that Derek Carr's decision making puts a cap on the Raiders and their potential, but the rest of the team is extremely well built, in particular the offensive and defensive lines. Also let me tell you about Darren Waller. I've seen him up close, in person and this guy is a physical freak - he's taller than most O-linemen, but built like a true athlete and as fast as a wide receiver. Last night he served notice that he is ready to become one of the league's best TE's. Next up: @ New England
Two huge injuries to QB Jimmy Garoppolo and star DE Nick Bosa override any positives from a victory on the road against the worst team in the NFL. Garoppolo has taken a great deal of flak and his skeptics have been out in force since the second half of the Super Bowl last season, but this injury should highlight how much worse the QB situation can be for any team minus it's starter. Bright side? They face the second-worst team in the NFL this week, which may give them an extra week to start Nick Mullens and get Jimmy G healthy. Next up: @ NY Giants
New Orleans (Down 6) So if you're following Upset Watch this season, you'll know the Saints, along with the Eagles and Vikings, are my tip for a surprise down year. So far, so good. I'm going to say it now, Drew Brees is cooked. He was done last season and he's even more done this year. The stats will show him with a 300 yard game last night, but if you saw it, you just know. Brees has always been the dump-off king, but he took that to extremes against the Raiders. I still think the Saints will end up somewhere around .500 this season, but it can fall apart quickly, and the Saints are already in that group of teams that has a hole to get out. Their saving grace? After Green Bay, they face the Lions, Chargers, Panthers and Bears. Next up: vs Green Bay
Tampa Bay (-) Ok, is Tom Brady in the same boat as Brees? The signs are beginning to become more apparent that Brady's decline may be terminal. Last week I gave him some leeway, and that is going to continue, but in his first 46 passes of 2020, he's currently setting his lowest passing yards per attempt since 2002. The Bucs offense - ranked no.1 for a lot of last season is ranked 25th now. The signs are there. Let's put a pin in this one and come back to it in a few weeks before deciding Brady and the Bucs are definitely what they look like. Next up: @ Denver
The signs are more positive for the Cardinals than they have been for some time. The key to this is not just Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins who are the bright spots, it's a top-10 defense that has given up just a single rushing TD and ranks second in points allowed this season so far. Again, it's two games in, we aren't going to crown their asses, but this is a team with hope. They have a great opening schedule, playing Detroit this week and moving on to Carolina and then the Jets. If you're Kliff Kingsbury, you want to be coming out of that stretch with at least 4 wins. Next up: vs Detroit
LA Rams (-) Beating Philly right now isn't quite the feather in the cap it once was, but it was a ruthless performance by a team that is still trying to find it's identity after last year's regression. Jared Goff showed flashes of his potential, with no interceptions and three TD's (He's the kind of player where you order those stats that way...) but the defense had an interesting day. Philly gave up 8 sacks in week 1, but none to the Rams despite a good all round team performance. They face a more mobile QB this week in Josh Allen that will give us a good indicator as to how good their pressure will be this season. Next up: @ Buffalo
Jacksonville (Up 2) The middle of the pack is shaken up by the 1-1 Jags. We talked in preseason about how Jacksonville could be a surprise for a lot of teams, and they came very close to 2-0 against the Titans on Sunday. They aren't a special team, but as you're about to see, pretty much every team outside of this top 16 is fundamentally broken in some way. The nicest thing you can say about the Jags is that they aren't in the same boat. They also have a 6 game stretch that begins on Thursday against Miami, but takes in Cinci, Detroit, Houston twice and the Chargers. Their home stretch this season is tough, so they need to put wins on the board now. Next up: vs Miami (Thursday Night)
Buffalo (Down 1) Ok, I know you're thinking that a team can't move down one after a win, and other teams move up after losses, but you're wrong. These are power rankings, they aren't entirely based on record, they're also based on say, for example, whether a team has gaping flaws like nearly losing to the Dolphins and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I may be high on the Dolphins, but the Bills are definitely not the team some people peg them as (I've seen them in peoples' top 5 already this week). In the next 8 weeks they have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, with 6 teams currently 2-0 and the Patriots. If they can win this season, they will have earned their stripes. Next up: vs LA Rams
Cincinnati (Up 1) Truth be told, I don't think many of the teams below Buffalo have a great shot of the playoffs, but the Bengals may be positive about what they've seen from Joe Burrow so far in his 2 games as starting QB. Of course this team is still middle of the pack at best on both sides of the ball, but the bright spots (The pass defense led by William Jackson being another) are cause for optimism. The run defense... not so much. Let's assume that getting beasted by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is not going to be exclusive to the Bengals, though. Interesting test against the Eagles this week, can they bury Philly's season and get more pressure on Carson Wentz than they did Baker Mayfield. Next up: @ Philadelphia
Chicago (up 9) Alright alright alriiiiight, our joint biggest risers of the week. There's a chance the Bears can do something here and of course, this makes me pretty happy as a Bears fan. I'm immediately skeptical of a team that struggles to beat the Giants at home in the manner the Bears did, but there's enough happening on defense and very occasionally on offense to cause a light breakout of optimism here. The Bears rank 3rd in points allowed, that stat will be put to the test against a shell-shocked Atlanta team on Sunday. Next up: @ Atlanta
LA Chargers (Up 1) What a strange week, and what a strange team. The Chargers got beaten by the best team in the league last week - no shame there. The fact they nearly beat them is the strange part. Then you add in the lop-sided defense/offense balance and the stabbing your own QB in the chest debacle... what a mess. Yet the Chargers are ranked as a top 10 offense in yards, averaging nearly 170 on the ground. This week they play a Carolina team that is mediocre on defense and should give new QB Justin Herbert a chance to get into a good rhythm after an encouraging first start. Assuming the team doctor doesn't garrote him while giving him a neck rub. Next up: vs Carolina
Atlanta Oh where do you even begin? The main takeaway here was obviously the Falcons warming their hands around what they seemed to believe was a campfire, only for it to reveal itself as a football once it crossed the 10yd point after the onside kick.
How this happens is anyone's guess, but the most likely conclusion the team and the owner will come to is that Dan Quinn is now not the man to coach the Falcons. It's not just the onside kick - the Falcons also allowed Dak Prescott to score 3 rushing TD's, rank dead last in points allowed, and seem to be unable to get their run game going. Think about that, they call rushing plays just 36.9% of the time, yet in the Cowboys game, they had a big lead and ample reason to run the ball. Something is broken in Atlanta, and only their sheer talent keeps them in contention for a wild card spot.
Next up: vs Chicago
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