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Seth Dunlap's NFL Power 12 - Week 3

New conference favorites dominate top of the rankings

Seth Dunlap
September 18, 2018 - 8:08 pm
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The second week of the NFL season turned into Bounce Back Week for many contenders.  The Saints, somehow, escaped the Browns.  The Falcons, with two of their best defensive players on injured reserve, won a critical divisional game against the Panthers.  The Chargers did what everybody expected and thrashed what looks like the league’s worst team.

While the scales have been balanced a bit as we settle in for the long fall grind, new contenders asserted themselves in the AFC.  The Jaguars mauled the Patriots and have stakes claim to being conference favorites, while the Chiefs look every bit like this year’s surprise Super Bowl contender in a statement road victory over the Steelers. 

While it’s usually wise to without judgement until the first quarter of the season is complete, we are seeing some movement in our Power 12.  Remember, this isn't a look at the best dozen teams in the NFL.  This is a projection of the 12 playoff teams

Let’s get to the rankings for Week 3

 

NFL Power 12 - Week 3

1.  Los Angeles Rams, LW-#3:  One thing seems certain; the Rams aren’t a 2011 Eagles redux.  This Dream Team looks every bit like the most talented, star-studded team in the National Football League.  While tougher home tests loom against the Chargers and Vikings in the coming weeks, there’s every reason to believe that the NFC’s path to a Super Bowl will run through Los Angeles.

2.  Jacksonville Jaguars, LW-#5:  I feel like a proud mother lion, err Jaguar, with this team.  I was one of the first people on Jacksonville’s 2018 bandwagon, begging people to hop on with me.  If you still, somehow, don’t realize how good Jacksonville is then it’s time to get educated.  Their defense just suffocated Tom Brady and the Patriots like few before them have been able to go.  This is a generationally great unit, right there with the Legion of Boom, the Baltimore units, or perhaps even those nighmareish 80’s Bears’ defenses.  All they’re missing are championship rings to prove it.  Yes, it’s a different era -- Jacksonville won’t set any defensive scoring records – but this is as good of a defensive 11 as you’re likely to see in the NFL for quite some time. 

3.  Minnesota Vikings, LW-#4:   It’s hard to judge either the Vikings or Packers after they played to NFL’s second tie in the first two weeks of the season.  What I saw was a team that went toe to toe with a contender, on the road, and was a field goal away from winning.  Yes, they were also a field goal away from losing, but a tie on the road against a team you’re challenging with in the division is a net positive.  The Vikings now have the advantage with a game in The House That Skol Built against the Packers later this season.

4.  Kansas City Chiefs, LW-#6:   I don’t know what lies ahead this season for this young exciting football team – there’s often some difficult growing pains with teams relying on young quarterbacks to make them contenders – but it looks like it will be really fun ride for everybody in Chiefs Nation.  They just got through possibly the most daunting two game stretch of the season with road victories at division favorites Pittsburgh and the L.A. Chargers, but things don’t get much easier with the 49ers heading to Arrowhead followed by an always-difficult trek to Mile High.  Oh, then its games against Jacksonville and New England.  Yeah, that’s the most terrifying first six weeks of any team in the NFL.  So far, so good for the Chiefs.  

5.  New England Patriots, LW-#2:   I’m not dropping the Patriots too far for getting beat around by a young, hungry football team on the road.  We’ve also seen this act from New England before.  They lose a couple of games early, then round into championship form by mid-season.  There’s not any reason, yet, to think the Patriots won’t be playing on at least Divisional Weekend in January.

6.  Philadelphia Eagles, LW- #1 The honeymoon phase for Nick Foles is officially over, and Eagles fans are rejoicing at the return of Caron Wentz.  There’s no doubt that having last year’s MVP front runner helming your offense if going to be an improvement, but the offensive woes seem to go much deeper than just quarterback play.  Let’s check back in around Week 6 to see if the Super Bowl Hangover is real.

7.  Green Bay Packers, LW-#7:  I’m on a lonely island as one of the few people who isn’t completely sold on the Packers as true NFC contenders.  Yes, they have Aaron Rodgers.  Yes, they played to a draw against a conference favorite this week at home.  But – yes, here it is – Green Bay were favorites to win those games in the preseason.  Vegas expected them to be 2-0 at this point, so 1-0-1 is a mild disappointment, even while overcoming a hobbled Rodgers and a missed field goal to win it last week.  I’m reserving judgement on Green Bay.

8.  Los Angeles Chargers, LW-#9:  That first week loss to the Chiefs looks a lot less bad now.  They expectedly handled business in Buffalo, and barring some unforeseen collapse – spoiler alert, that tends to happen with this franchise – they’ll be playing in January as either a Wild Card team or Division champ.

9.  New Orleans Saints, LW-#8:  That was ugly.  But it’s a win.  And a win is a win, is a win, is certainly a win in the National Football League.  Considering I had the Saints starting 3-2 before the bye anyways, I’m not ready to change my expectations for them yet.  They’ll need to split the next two weeks on the road against the Falcons and Giants to stay on track.

10.  Cincinnati BengalsLW-not ranked:  I was never somebody who thought this Bengals team was going to implode.  They were much too talented for that.  The ressurection Andy Dalton,  coupled withe the in-process implosion of Pittsburgh, perhaps makes this team the unbelievable favorite in the AFC North.  Who Dey?

11.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LW-not ranked:  We are in Peak Fitzpatrick and I love it.  I was the knucklehead that predicted the Bucs would be the worst team in the NFL.  They look more like the most improved team in the NFL.  Here comes the inevitable quarterback controversy when Jameis Winston returns after Week 3.  The Bucs would certainly be higher on most power rankings lists, but they're still eight, maybe nine, wins away from locking down even a Wild-Card berth in the NFC.  I have them very slight favorites over Atlanta or Carolina right now.

12.  Pittsburgh Steelers, LW-#12:  Remember, this isn't a traditional power rankings list.  This is a projection of the dozen teams that will make the playoffs in the NFL.  The Steelers are 0-1-1 and in a hole, but I'll need more than a two week sample to completely bury a trendy preseason Super Bowl favorite.  Would you really have the Dolphins, Colts, or Texans in this spot?

Dropping out: 

  • Panthers, LW-#10
  • Ravens, LW-#11

Previous Week's Rankings

 

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