For now the Bengals (sorry Beatdown readers) are the best team in the NFL. They are playing with a chip on their shoulders, and with a different conviction I've not sensed from them in recent years. That's enough praise for our rivals (sorry again).
The Ravens hopscotched their way to the Top-10 after an emotional win against the Browns. After more disastrous news broke out on the organization, most NFL-followers doubted that the Ravens would triumph after such a mentally-taxing week. At least you didn't have to stare at this the whole game!
1. BENGALS (3-0) +1
2006, the last time the Bengals started off to a 3-0 bang before closing the curtains at 8-8. Chad Johnson, before Ochocinco, was on that team and Rudi Johnson was a fantasy football stud. Enough with the history lesson; Cincinnati stomped the Titans (like I said they would) and Giovani Bernard is on pace for 1,000 yards rushing and 800 receiving.
2. CHARGERS (2-1) +6
That's right. San Diego leaped six ranks back-to-back weeks after clipping the Seahawks, and then hunting down the Bills (in Buffalo) on Sunday. No Danny Woodhead (out for season), no Ryan Matthews. ...yet their offense finds ways to put up numbers. Their best receiver is nondescript: potentially any of them can blow up.
3. BRONCOS (2-1) -2
The Broncos only drop two steps despite a tough loss to the Super Bowl-defending champs.
1) Rallying behind Peyton Manning facing a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
2) With 18 ticks left on the clock, Denver tied the game at 20 after the quarterback needled the ball to wideout Demaryius Thomas who was covered by Richard Sherman.
3) That was a two-point conversion. The 2nd best team in the AFC West slips, but doesn't fall.
4. EAGLES (3-0) -1
Why: their defense is suspect.
Why not lower: their offense is undeniably good. Head Coach Chip Kelly calls the right plays at the right time and I find that's enough to put the team in a position to seal the deal. Offseason acquisition Malcolm Jenkins came up big in the win against the Redskins.
5. CARDINALS (3-0) EVEN
Did they really upset the 49ers? Or is that what we're supposed to believe? Drew Stanton? Rookie wide receiver John Brown and two TD receptions? Questions? The Cardinals' defense registered one sack (FS Tony Jefferson), zero interceptions, no fumble recoveries, and still shut out San Francisco in the second half. I'm having whatever they are having. #LetMeKnow
6. RAVENS (2-1) +6
Awwww yes, Baltimore boost six ranks after a 10-launcher last week. The Ravens handled business in Cleveland and Steve Smith (remember I said to watch him vs. Joe Haden?), finished with 5 catches for 101 yards. I'm trying to say positive things here - I know it's been tough being a Ravens fan as of late and... Bernard Pierce's and Dennis Pita's injuries are troubling and... the secondary is thin like my balding scalp - let's stay strong. Through attrition, this team will gel in time for postseason festivities. Watch for Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett to lead the way. #hairjokesFTW
7. SEAHAWKS (2-1) EVEN
I double crossed myself after writing that the Seahawks would beat Denver in my Week 3 Power Rankings article, then refuting the claim in my Predictions piece (against my editor Jason Butt). Because Seattle allowed one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to rally his team from a 14-point deficit in 15 minutes, I'll cut the Seahawks some slack, but to deserve a Top-10 spot, well, but then again - who can beat Seattle, in Seattle? They later host the Cowboys, Raiders and Giants ... #cantmakeupmymind
8. STEELERS (2-1) +16
That was uber-quick. They demolished the Carolina Panthers, whom I had in the Top-5 six days ago. Pittsburgh's backfield produced 265 yards against a run defense that allowed 85 rushing ypg prior to Sunday night's marquee matchup. Behind an offensive line that struggled to create holes against Baltimore, Le'Veon Bell (21/147) and LeGarrette Blount (10, 118) proved that they had an off-game by smashing a strong defensive line, all the while Big Ben and Antonio Brown shunned Carolina's secondary. The loss of Ike Taylor (forearm) could dictate where they'll rank next week.
9. COLTS (1-2) +9
Thus far this is an absolute fact: nobody loses to the Jaguars. That was a wholesome win for the Colts from all aspects. Andrew Luck's unbelievable 140.4 passer rating (eight incompletions, four touchdowns) was the best single-game mark of his career. Look for them to cruise against the Titans next Sunday before meeting #BaltimoreBeatdown the first weekend of October.
10. FALCONS (2-1) +5
This is where our Knowledge is Power Ranking gets tricky. They snipped the Saints, yeah, but is it unimaginable for them to overtake the Patriots, Lions or the Packers? ATL's offense is loaded, as long as a healthy Matt Ryan is under the helm. Running back Antone Smith splits time with Steven Jackson (but we really don't know how effective Smith will be). The world isn't ready for a healthy Roddy White to line up opposite Julio Jones 7 days from now. ATL's defensive unit forced 10 three-and-outs against a team without a surefire quarterback and no Doug Martin. Also note that two-time Pro Bowler defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was absent. #aretheytop10?
11. PATRIOTS (2-1) -2
Raise your hand if you thought the score would be 10-9 with 13:49 to go in the fourth quarter. Keep them raised if you thought that the Patriots would go 3-and-out from the Raiders' 2-yard line. Put your hands down, all of you. After an overthrown long bomb that drew cornerback Logan Ryan to commit a pass interference penalty, Derek Carr and Co. looked to tie the game from NE's 12-yard line. With 52 ticks left on the clock, a quick dart intended for Denarius Moore bounced off his chest and landed into the soft hands of nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Next time I'm listening to James Koh.
12. LIONS (2-1) +7
I feel like Eddie Lacy. Worn down and stuck behind this line. (We call that writer's block.) Congratulations Lions, on a dominant win and thanks, for reading my KiP Rankings article. Detriot ran the rock 37 times (after calling them out for their 30, 18 attempts) for 115 net yards. Everyone on their defensive rotation pitched in. An Eddie Lacy fumble forced by Nick Fairley's big right arm and a safety (DeAndre Levy 9 tackles-1 assist) rejuvenated my faith in their defense. Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL after celebrating this sack and his season is now...over. #ouch
13. SAINTS (1-2) +4
#SaintsSteamroll activated. In the postgame press conference Sean Payton said that the win "was not perfect" and offensively, in the second half was "a little slow, a little sloppy."
These are all true. The scoreboard read 13-9 before Marques Colston rumbled into the endzone after making a 16-yard grab (TD was 18). The Vikings, with Bridgewater, still had more than enough time (12 minutes) to engineer touchdown drives but remained stagnant while their defense who needed to muster a couple of stops didn't. Saints will continue to show no mercy against their next two opponents: Dallas and Tampa Bay.
14. BEARS (2-1) -4
‘Da Bears' snuck out of the Meadowlands with a tough win Monday night. Ryan Mundy set the tone after Geno Smith pumped left and threw right. ... to Mundy. #easypickings Kyle Fuller is a beast, he's the owner of three interceptions in three games.
Say it loud, but no one doubts Chicago's depth - they are on a two-game winning streak with much of their defensive personnel out with injuries.
15. BROWNS (1-2) +6
Yes. The Browns brought the giggles when they tried to pull off this awesome razzle dazzle with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Sadly the penalty called on Terrance West (illegal shift!?) nullified a huge gain that made our laughs go from giggles to guffaws.
Next time stick with the Coach! Wrong Ball! Trick Play...?
On a serious note, the Browns' offense has found the answer(s) in rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. Now it's only a matter of time for their defense to gel.
16. JETS (1-2) EVEN
114 yards from their backfield and rushing attack ... even Vick had a 3-yard carry.
Why they abandoned the run who knows; Geno Smith completed passes to nine different receivers on Monday night.
Only the Falcons and Colts, won accomplishing the feat; Peyton Manning connected with nine receivers in Denver's loss to the Seahawks, who impressively featured 11 individuals with a reception.
A hamstring injury escorted Eric Decker to the sidelines after making a 19-yard catch. The man would've made a blatant difference in the offense's six trips to the red zone, too.
17. PANTHERS (2-1) -13
Sheesh. You tell me. I'm placing the Panthers over the Packers and 49ers. Why? The Lions humiliated Green Bay and San Francisco is on the cusp of implosion. #youhearditherefirst
If the Panthers don't tighten up their front seven soonzo they're donezo.
18. PACKERS (1-2) -7
Le Sigh. The Packers are ranked in the bottom half of the league and people will question my sanity. Personnel-wise, they possess one of the best offenses in the league, their quarterback is Aaron Rodgers and ... who am I kidding? Currently they are 28th in the league in yards-per-game generated (289.3), shockingly behind the New England Patriots (301.3). Their passing game isn't an issue. ... cough-eddielacy-cough. If they beat the Bears in Chicago next week I'll book the next flight to Hawaii to seek solace for my brain.
19. 49ERS (1-2) -6
Colin ‘Dapper'nick: a name nobody noticed me using since 2012. I'm glad the cheesiness didn't stick on (basically I'm never calling him that again). Frank Gore vented his frustrations after their loss to the Cardinals; Anquan Boldin pointed his finger at the refereeing and. ... excuses gets you beat.
20. BILLS (2-1) -14
Dan Hanzus came correct: EJ Manuel is holding his team back right now. I assumed that the Bills would remain true to their untainted record and win at home. ... I garble now when discussing the true strength of this squad. The Bills aren't who I thought ...
21. COWBOYS (2-1) EVEN
At one point the ‘Boys were down 21-0 to the lowly-ranked Rams. I was sitting next to a Cowboys fan at City Dogs on Sunday. While watching the Ravens game I noticed him gritting his teeth and pumping his fists as the Cowboys climbed out of the mosh pit. The whole time I kept reminding him that his favorite team will pull out a "W", and that they're currently the best team in the NFC East (may have stretched the truth on that one). But hey, the ‘Boys followed through and two hours later the lunch camper left in a jolly mood. #Waytomakesomeonesday
22. GIANTS (1-2) +7I predicted Cruz to bust out the fancy footwork and the salsa dance. He did, once, not thrice, and the Giants rolled the Texans - which isn't something to boast about.
23. REDSKINS (1-2) -2
In a normal world, the Redskins don't make the playoffs in 2014. (Too bad) the NFL is a twilight zone -- I bet any other time Kirk Cousins will hit a wide open Pierre Garcon on the game-winning drive and later connect with DeSean Jackson for his second touchdown catch. #didnthappen
24. DOLPHINS (1-2) -10
Do you know what the Dolphins are up to? Let me know. Statistically they're not doing too poorly, yet they're under-performing and getting outplayed by their last two opponents.
25. CHIEFS (1-2) +2
Alex Smith didn't need more than 200 yards to throw three touchdowns which indicates to me that Kansas City's running game and defense will carry the clock manager to victory as long as Smith delivers with accuracy (76%). The game was still competitive midway third quarter when Dolphins Randy Starks cut the deficit by 6. ...
26. TITANS (1-2) -2
An upset Ken Whisenhunt said in his postgame conference that the team is not playing anywhere close to where the team is capable of, and that when his team has the opportunities to make plays in all aspects of the ball, the players are not making them. Jake Locker fumbled twice (no losses) and threw two interceptions against a defense that requires sound judgment to defeat.
27. TEXANS (2-1) -4
I was fairly accurate in my picks article (predicted 30-18, NYG). I saw the Texans kicking six field goals. Then I checked the drive charts and saw that Houston reached the red zone TWICE the entire game.
28. VIKINGS (1-2) -6
Before there was a Cassel, there was Bridgewater. Now where is Ryan Moats...
Bridgewater will make his first start and VikingsNation is excited to turn the page. The absence of Adrian Petersen is deafening.
29. RAIDERS (0-3) +2
With a chance to earn their first win AT Foxborough AND throw the Patriots into the barrel with the rest of the 1-2 AFC East teams the Raiders, simply put, failed to capitalize when times were tough. #TuckRuleLives
30. RAMS (1-2) -4
Describe the Rams in 25 words or less: Off to a fast start and takes a commanding lead only to lose a maintenance battle against a dangerous Dallas Cowboys team. #DontEverThrowUpYourXJanoris
31. BUCCANEERS (0-3) +1
Excuses get you beat but no Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy isn't an excuse.
32. JAGUARS (0-3) -2
Is Gus Bradley is off to a rough start? Or is a rough start off to a Gus Bradley. Resolution? #signtimtebow