WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Patriots cement hold on top spot, Broncos move up to 3

September 22, 2015 - 5:42 pm
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[caption id="attachment_97733" align="alignright" width="400"]Tom Brady averaged 1.99 seconds from snap-to-attempt against the Bills. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Following their takedown of the Bills on Sunday, Tom Brady and the Patriots retain their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)[/caption] The Bills were supposed to be a serious test for the Patriots offense. Rex Ryan typically gives Tom Brady fits. Such was not the case Sunday, as Brady and the Pats put a divisional whupping on Sexy Rexy and retained their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers held strong at No. 2, avenging their NFC championship game loss to the Seahawks. I'm not quite ready to say that Peyton Manning is back, but he certainly looked in control during the Broncos' fourth-quarter comeback against the Chiefs. The biggest surprise in the NFL seems to be the NFC East. No one is poised to win that division, never mind run away with it. The Cowboys have to withstand injuries to their two best players, but they can still make a run late in the season if their backup quarterback -- Brandon Weeden or the newly acquired Matt Cassel -- can win one out of every three. The AFC East looks better than it has in years, with the Jets and Pats starting off undefeated. The Bills will stick around, but the Dolphins' loss to the Jaguars is a major cause for concern. Drew Brees is hurt, leading many to consider the Saints' 2015 campaign already over. The NFC South, then, becomes a two-team battle between the Panthers and Falcons, both of whom are 2-0. The Colts are 0-2 but still will end up winning the AFC South, because it's just that bad of a division. We're only two weeks into the season, but that doesn't stop us from making rash generalizations that will look foolish at year's end. On to the rankings! 1. (1 last week) Patriots (2-0) -- Tom Brady and the Patriots marched into the Ralph and dominated Rex Ryan and the Bills. Following three touchdown passes from TB12, pundits are comparing this team to the one in 2007. A Week 3 matchup vs. Jacksonville will lead to more stat-padding from the offense. 2. (2) Packers (2-0) -- After losing three straight to the Seahawks, the Pack finally got some revenge. Aaron Rodgers continues to spread the ball around, and he was masterful in the fourth quarter. The team's decision to move LB Clay Matthews into the middle has worked out, as he helped limit Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on the ground. 3. (9) Broncos (2-0) -- Peyton Manning still has no velocity, but Thursday night's comeback win over the Chiefs, in Kansas City, was about as gutsy of a performance you'll see from the veteran QB. The defense forced five more turnovers and looks primed to carry the load week in and week out. 4. (5) Cardinals (2-0) -- Bruce Arians was supposed to have a good defense, but the offensive surge has been a surprise. The Cardinals have scored 79 points in the first two weeks of the season, which is the best in the NFL. The aging Larry Fitzgerald leads his receiving corps with nearly 200 yards and three TDs. 5. (10) Bengals (2-0) -- Even though they do this every year, it doesn't mean we can't include them in the top five. As expected, the Bengals are off to a hot start. Tyler Eifert has developed into Andy Dalton's favorite target, as teams double A.J. Green. 6. (12) Steelers (1-1) -- Antonio Brown is the best pass-catcher in football with 328 yards receiving already. Ben Roethlisberger is completing 72 percent of his passes. As if these two needed any help, don't forget that RB Le'Veon Bell returns from his suspension this week. 7. (6) Chiefs (1-1) -- Hardly the first team to be victimized by a fourth-quarter Peyton Manning comeback, the Chiefs played well enough to win Thursday night but couldn't close the door. Jamaal Charles needs to hold on to the ball in the final moments of regulation. That was a lazy effort. 8. (21) Panthers (2-0) -- Their Week 1 victory over the Jaguars didn't turn many heads. Neither should a seven-point victory over the Texans. But good teams beat bad teams when they're supposed to, and Carolina has done just that. With the Saints and Bucs up next, Carolina should be 4-0 before things start to get tough. 9. (15) Falcons (2-0) -- The Julio Jones deal looks brilliant, as he's reeled in 22 catches for 276 yards and helped Atlanta improve to 2-0. Their next six games (Dallas, Houston, Washington, New Orleans, Tennessee, Tampa) should keep the Falcons in the top 10 for the foreseeable future. 10. (3) Seahawks (0-2) -- The defending NFC champs are 0-2 to start the season, but both losses came on the road, and both were close games. OC Darrell Bevell needs to figure out how to get Jimmy Graham the ball. General manager John Schneider needs to make a phone call to Kam Chancellor's agent. 11. (25) Jets (2-0) -- Todd Bowles' defense has forced 10 turnovers this season, including five on Monday night vs. Andrew Luck and the Colts. If this trend continues, Ryan Fitzpatrick needs only to be average for this team to sniff the wild card. 12. (8) Bills (1-1) -- At 1-1, Buffalo technically is last in the AFC East. I won't fault the Bills for running into an offensive juggernaut in Week 2, but the decisions to pop off during the week make me question their leadership. 13. (4) Cowboys (2-0) -- I wanted to put them lower. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have serious injuries. Jason Witten is nursing two ankle injuries and a sprained knee. Brandon Weeden is at the helm, and contrary to what Jerry Jones is telling the media, he's awful. 14. (11) Chargers (1-1) -- Philip Rivers is completing 80 percent of his passes. In two weeks, Antonio Gates returns from his suspension. This could be one of the top offenses in the league by the end of the year. 15. (20) Vikings (1-1) -- Feeding the rock to Adrian Peterson helped the Vikings get a win on Sunday. He rushed for 134 yards but fumbled twice in the second half. Expect the Vikings to lean on Peterson and keep Teddy Bridgewater from having to do too much this early in his career. 16. (7) Rams (1-1) -- What a difference a week makes! After narrowly escaping with a win over Seattle, the Rams laid an egg in Washington. The highly touted defensive line allowed 182 yards on the ground. St. Louis' own offensive woes could be remedied with the emergence of Todd Gurley in Week 3. 17. (17) Ravens (0-2) -- The loss to the Broncos in Week 1 doesn't look as bad compared to the loss to the Raiders. The loss of Terrell Suggs put the defense into an adjustment period. Having to fly out West twice in a row didn't do this team any favors. 18. (14) Colts (0-2) -- The Colts lost two in a row to start the season last year, too. However, the fact that Andrew Luck has morphed into an absolute turnover machine has got to be unsettling in Indy. He was supposed to be the heir apparent, and now he looks like he's either plateaued, or even worse, regressed. 19. (16) Dolphins (1-1) -- A loss to the Jaguars hurts. The defense made a lot of mistakes, including a dropped pick-six before the half and a stupid penalty to ice the game. Ryan Tannehill did his part, but Lamar Miller ran for just 14 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game. Yikes! 20. (29) Redskins (1-1) -- Coach Jay Gruden told reporters after his team's 24-10 win over the Rams that the blueprint for winning with a young quarterback is to run the ball effectively. Rookie RB Matt Jones rushed for 123 yards and two scores. The Redskins D held Rams QB Nick Foles to just 150 yards passing. 21. (22) 49ers (1-1) -- This was more what we expected out of a 49ers team in transition. Heading into the fourth quarter, San Francisco only scored three points against a bad Pittsburgh defense. Allowing 43 points to the Steelers isn't the problem, a lot of teams will do that this year. 22. (13) Eagles (0-2) -- The NFC East is up for grabs, so the Eagles have a little time to figure this thing out. Sam Bradford is in a new system with a coach unlike any he's likely had before. DeMarco Murray didn't forget how to run the ball. But for now, this team is underachieving, even though no one really knew what to expect. 23. (31) Browns (1-1) -- Johnny Manziel's style of play is not conducive to sustained success, but it's fun to watch. If WR Travis Benjamin can continue to get open for Manziel, and score, coach Mike Pettine will have a hard decision to make when Josh McCown is cleared to play. 24. (28) Raiders (1-1) -- Drafting a wide receiver in the first round can be risky, but Amari Cooper is paying dividends. Derek Carr had a solid game, throwing for 350 yards. The fact that two of his receivers (Cooper and Michael Crabtree) had over 100 yards is even more promising. 25. (19) Lions (0-2) -- The Lions were beat up by the Vikings on Sunday and dropped to 0-2. To make matters worse, QB Matt Stafford might not play against the Broncos on Sunday night. If Stafford is out for any extended amount of time, the window for this Lions team will be slammed shut. 26. (24) Giants (0-2) -- The G-Men could be 2-0 right now if it weren't for poor clock management and fourth-quarter implosions. Jason Pierre-Paul and his 8 1/2 fingers will be welcomed back to a defense that just can't close anybody out. The NFC East is wide open and will be up for grabs all season long. 27. (30) Buccaneers (1-1) -- Jameis Winston won his first game, and it was on the road in a divisional matchup. His maturity seems to be on the uptick since his days at Florida State. He was composed in a Week 1 loss, then turned in a solid performance the next week. 28. (27) Titans (1-1) -- Marcus Mariota and his teammates were pushed around by the Browns on Sunday. Their first home game is against the reeling Colts this week. Andrew Luck should restore order to the AFC South, starting Sunday, with a thrashing of the Titans. 29. (26) Texans (0-2) -- The team without a QB soldiers on. At 0-2, things don't look bright for the Texans. Ryan Mallett and the offense were held to just 93 yards in the first half. Where is Arian Foster when you need him? 30. (32) Jaguars (1-1) -- Blake Bortles had a career-high passer rating (102.2) on Sunday, but it was second-year WR Allen Robinson who had a breakout game. Robinson hauled in six passes for 155 yards and two TDs. This team still is bad, but there's no harm in pointing out the positives. 31. (18) Saints (0-2) -- Drew Brees now has lost six straight in the Superdome. An MRI revealed he's been playing with a bruised rotator cuff, and he could miss some time. Similar to the Lions, if Brees is out for a while, the Saints might want to start looking toward the future. 32. (23) Bears (0-2) -- As if things weren't bad enough, Jay Cutler is out with a hamstring injury. Jimmy Clausen (he's still in the league?) will start in his place. Clausen's first test will be against a winless Seahawks team that is playing its first home game of 2015. Good luck! DraftKings DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.