Entering Week 4 of the NFL season, there are some perennial powers not in their usual place atop the power rankings. The LA Rams and KC Chiefs appear to be the two hottest teams, but what about spots 3-10? Spoiler alert: you won’t find Tom Brady‘s Patriots or Aaron Rodgers‘ Packers. And you still wont see Big Ben’s Steelers, who just got their elusive first win. So who does fill out the best of the NFL after three weeks? You’re going to have to read to find out.
1) The Los Angeles Rams 2018 Record: 3-0 Previous Week: 1 ( – )
The Rams continued their roll in week three, downing the Chargers 35-23. Jared Goff had an impressive showing, tallying over 350 yards in the air, and adding three TDs. He was able to find veteran WR Robert Woods 10 times for 104 yards and a score. Todd Gurley had another 100+ yard game and also added one score. He has been a regular there, as he’s tied for the league lead in rushing TDs with four. The Rams defense added two takeaways vs the cross-city Chargers, bringing their season total to six, which is tied for 6th best in the league. The Rams continue to lead the league in points allowed per game at 12.0. One interesting stat to note, teams aren’t running on the Rams. In three games, teams have rushed 58 times against them (2nd fewest). However, in those 58 rushes, albeit a small sample, the Rams are giving up 5.0 yards per carry (6th worst).
2) The Kansas City Chiefs 2018 Record: 3-0 Previous Week: 5 ( +3 )
What a start to the season for 2nd year QB Patrick Mahomes. Through three games, he has thrown for 896 yards and 13 TDs. That may seem pretty impressive for a 2nd year signal caller, but perhaps even more so, he has yet to throw an INT. That ball security has led Kansas City to a 3-0 record. Thus far, the Chiefs have committed only one turnover, which ranks 1st in the NFL. With elite weapons on offense like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Kareem Hunt, it is no wonder Kansas City leads the league in PPG (39.3). As much as their defense has been shredded thus far, the Chiefs defense actually ranks first in a key category. On third down, they’ve only allowed eight successful conversions of 31 attempts (25.8%).
3) The Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Record: 2-1 Previous Week: 4 ( +1 )
The Birds saw the return of their franchise QB, Carson Wentz, in week three. It may be a few weeks before the Eagles’ offense, which has battled injuries other than Wentz’s, will start to click on all cylinders. They should be able to be held afloat by their 1st ranked rushing defense. Overall, they rank T-8th in scoring defense (18.3 PPG) and may have the best front seven in the league. The Eagles also have one of the best offensive lines in the league, bolstered by all-pro left tackle Jason Peters. Dominating the line of scrimmage, the Eagles ran for 152 yards while only yielding 68 rushing yards vs the Indianapolis Colts. Their defense also racked up 5 sacks while nearly doubling up the Colts in total yards. Three games in, the Eagles defense ranks T-3rd in first downs allowed (48) and 9th in total yards allowed (314.67/game).
4) The Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 Record: 2-1 Previous Week: 2 ( -2 )
A tough divisional matchup with the Titans saw the Jags take their first loss of the season. Blake Bortles, who looked like an all-pro in week two, struggled in week three. He barely surpassed 150 yards in the air, as his team failed to score an offensive TD. The Jags should get a pick-me-up when RB Leonard Fournette returns from a hamstring issue. That said, Blake Bortles will need to perform better than he did this week to win games going forward. The Jags have played undisciplined football the first three weeks, and they rank 4th worst in penalties (26) and 3rd worst in penalty yards (265). The Jags defense is ranked T-2nd best in the NFL allowing just 14.7 PPG. Their defense is also tied for the best redzone percetage (16.7%) and fewest attempts allowed inside the 20 (6). The team they are tied with in both categories: the Tennessee Titans.
5) The Miami Dolphins 2018 Record: 3-0 Previous Week: 10 ( +5 )
Say what you want about the Fins’ quality of competition through three games, this team can win games, and it is not just because QB Ryan Tannehill ranks 4th in both completion percentage (73.0%) and QB rating (121.8). But that sure doesn’t hurt. The Dolphins have been stout against the run, allowing only 3.3 YPC, which ranks 2nd in the league. Then, add in the fact the Fins lead the league with 7 INTs, and they rank 3rd in the league in defensive red zone percentage (33.3%), this team can play. They will, no doubt, face their toughest QB matchup this season when they travel to Foxborough this week to face Tom Brady and the Patriots. But if you’re a Dolphins fan, there may be a tad more optimism about this matchup than usual.
6) The Chicago Bears 2018 Record: 2-1 Previous Week: NR
Last week I debated back and forth whether to put the Bears or Dolphins at #10. The Bears had a tough loss in week one to the Packers, a game in which they led for most of the way. But after three games, it is more than obvious: the Bears are back. They rank 2nd in the NFL to the Eagles in rushing yards allowed (196) and they also rank 2nd in first downs allowed. Through three games, they rank T-2nd in the league with eight total takeaways, thanks in large part to the addition of DPOY Khalil Mack. If it wasn’t for the heroics of Aaron Rodgers and Vicodin, the Bears would be 3-0 at this point. Jordan Howard hasn’t gotten fully going yet, and neither has Tarik Cohen. Mitchell Trubisky has a very respectable completion percentage (69.2), but it hasn’t translated to a ton of yards. With a superb playmaking WR like Allen Robinson, the Bears will look to find an offensive rhythm against a Buccaneers team ranked 31st in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed.
7) The Minnesota Vikings 2018 Record: 1-1-1 Previous Week: 3 ( -4 )
The Vikings were ambushed by the Bills in week three. Josh Allen led Buffalo into Minneapolis and it seemed they were up 17-0 before the game started. It wont get easier this week either, the Vikings have to travel to LA on a short week to play the Rams Thursday night. The Vikings rank 9th in passing defense going into their prime time matchup with the Rams. They also are 8th best in the league in rushing YPC (3.6), and they also have been stingy in the red zone, allowing only four scores on 12 attempts (33.3%), which ranks T-3rd. It very well could be a lopsided Rams victory, but if the Vikings are up to the arduous task of slowing down Todd Gurley, they will have a chance.
8) The Cincinnati Bengals 2018 Record: 2-1 Previous Week: 7 ( -1 )
The Bengals fell in week three to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Coming into the matchup they had been the 3rd ranked rushing defense. Christian McCaffrey changed that, single handedly, by racking up 184 yards on the ground. Newton added 36 yards of his own, and two scores. This week, the Bengals have to travel to Atlanta to face a team hungry to stay in their own divisional hunt. The Bengals will need to score more points than they have been scoring, especially with a defense that after three games is ranked dead last in third down percentage allowed (52.2%) and T-6th worst in red zone scoring percentage (77.8%). The good news, for Cincy, is the Falcons just allowed 43 points to the Saints. Andy Dalton and company will need to make use of the fact that, on offense, they are T-3rd in the league in red zone scoring percent (87.5%).
9) The Baltimore Ravens 2018 Record: 2-1 Previous Week: NR
The Ravens, through three games, have yet to not convert a red zone trip into a score. The lopsided win vs Buffalo in week one aside, the Ravens lost a close game to Cincy and just handed Denver its first loss. They also have one of the better RB tandems, in Alex Collins and Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen, who lead the NFL with a combined six rushing TDs. Thus far, the Ravens have allowed the 2nd fewest passing yards (169.3/game) and are a respectable 13th in rushing yards allowed (103.67/game). Their defense has tallied nine sacks (T-7th) and recorded three INTs (T-9th).
10) The Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers 2018 Records: 2-1 Previous Week: NR/NR
As we’ve already seen this season, there are sometimes ties in the NFL. Both the Redskins and Panthers enter a week 4 bye with a 2-1 record. Neither Cam Newton nor Alex Smith have been a true gunslinger this year. But both veteran QBs are taking care of the ball (1 INT each) and avoiding negative yardage (6 sacks each). The Redskins are tied with the Jaguars for the 2nd best scoring defense in the NFL (14.7 PPG). The Panthers, meanwhile, lead the league in rushing yards. Fourth on the list of rushing yards, the Washington Redskins. The Panthers are T-2nd in the NFL with only two turnovers lost, and directly behind them with three is the Redskins (T-5th). The Panthers and Redskins have both gotten off to good starts, and with no matchups this week, we’ll have to wait a bit to see more of each.