2023 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: A Muddled Mess in the Middle

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 of the NFL season has come and gone, and now, we look ahead to Week 3.

With the beginning of a new week comes a new list of NFL power rankings.

Following this past weekend’s action there has been plenty of shuffling in the rankings, and this week includes the largest list of “swing” teams to date. The NFL is still trying to sort itself out early on in the season, so here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 3.

The Super Bowl Contenders

2023 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3
Sep 17, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass in the first quarter against the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1. Dallas Cowboys

  • Last Week: 30-10 win vs. NYJ
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 9/24 @ ARI

The Cowboys continued their early dominance by completing the New York sweep. CeeDee Lamp torched the Jets secondary, catching 11 passes for 143 yards. Their defense forced three turnovers too, making this an all-around great game for Dallas. The Cowboys look like the most complete team early in the season.

2. Baltimore Ravens

  • Last Week: 27-24 win @ CIN
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. IND

Baltimore’s defense did a fantastic job of shutting down Ja’Marr Chase in Week 2, limiting the star receiver to just five catches for 31 yards. On the other side, Lamar Jackson is back to being an MVP-caliber QB and threw for 237 yards and a pair of TDs.

3. San Francisco 49ers

  • Last Week: 30-23 win @ LAR
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 9/21 vs. NYG

The 49ers machine keeps on rolling. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel piled up yards against the Rams defense, and they forced a couple turnovers on the other side. Through two weeks, the defense ranks among the best in points and yards allowed. Even if Brock Purdy has a few hiccups later in the year, San Francisco’s defensive group can keep them in games.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Last Week: 17-9 win @ JAX
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. CHI

Despite a lethargic offense once again in Week 2, Kansas City’s defense was terrific against Jacksonville. Chris Jones’ return to the field saw him produce six pressures and a pair of sacks. The Chiefs will figure things out on offense, but for now, the other side of the ball seems poised to carry the workload.

5. Buffalo Bills

  • Last Week: 38-10 win vs. LV
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 9/24 @ WSH

This was exactly the type of bounce back that Buffalo needed to show. Josh Allen took off the Superman cape and played efficient, smart football. Meanwhile, the Bills managed to rush for 182 yards. This balanced attack will be crucial to their success moving forward.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Last Week: 34-28 win vs. MIN
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 9/25 @ TB

The Eagles are 2-0, but their wins have not been convincing by any means. In a game where the Vikings turned the ball over four times, Philadelphia really should have blown them out. Instead, they allowed Minnesota to battle back into the game during the second half. They are still a Super Bowl contender when things are going right, but they won’t get away with sluggish conclusions to games forever.

Solid Playoff Teams

Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) passes the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

7. Miami Dolphins

  • Last Week: 24-17 win @ NE
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. DEN

Tua Tagovailoa is now 5-0 against the Patriots in his career, and once again, the Dolphins offense flew up and down the field in Foxborough. Tua is the NFL leader for passing yards through two weeks and should very much be in the MVP conversation if this production keeps up.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Last Week: 9-17 loss vs. KC
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. HOU

The Chiefs offense gave Jacksonville every chance to take this game and run with it, but the Jaguars simply couldn’t generate any type of offensive attack. They had fewer than 300 yards of total offense, and that won’t get it done if they want to get into any Super Bowl discussions.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Last Week: 26-22 win vs. CLE
  • Trending: +7
  • This Week: 9/24 @ LV

The Steelers got off the snide in a big way on Monday night, securing a home victory over their division rivals. George Pickens had his best game as a pro, catching four passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Add in a few big plays from LB T.J. Watt, including the fumble recovery for a TD to seal the game, and Pittsburgh looks to be back on track.

The “Swing” Teams

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

10. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Last Week: 24-27 loss vs. BAL
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 9/25 vs. LAR

Joe Burrow’s calf injury popped up again in Week 2, and that does not bode well for the Bengals long-term if he is forced to miss time. Should Burrow be available on Sunday and moving forward, this still feels like a playoff contender. However, if Jake Browning is the QB in Cincinnati, their prognosis changes drastically.

11. Detroit Lions

  • Last Week: 31-37 loss vs. SEA
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. ATL

Both David Montgomery and Amon-Ra St. Brown left this game at different points because of injury. While St. Brown did eventually return, he did not have a reception in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Detroit’s defense stood no chance against Geno Smith in overtime.

12. New Orleans Saints

  • Last Week: 20-17 win @ CAR
  • Trending: +5
  • This Week: 9/24 @ GB

This Saints defense is going to cause trouble for opposing offenses throughout the year. On Monday night, they had four sacks of Bryce Young and held Carolina to just over 200 yards of offense. If they can cut down on the silly turnovers, New Orleans could become a far and away favorite in the NFC South.

13. Minnesota Vikings

  • Last Week: 28-34 loss @ PHI
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. LAC

Despite an 0-2 start, there are reasons for optimism in Minnesota. If they simply had five turnovers through two weeks instead of seven, there is a fairly high chance that this team would be 2-0 right now. The fact that their offense was able to move the ball against this Eagles defense is promising moving forward.

14. Cleveland Browns

  • Last Week: 22-26 loss @ PIT
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. TEN

The story of the night for Cleveland was the loss of star running back Nick Cbubb. The Pro Bowler left the game with what appeared to be a very serious knee injury, and now, the Browns will be relying on Jerome Ford to take carries out of the backfield. Deshaun Watson still cannot throw accurate passes downfield, so Ford’s production will be key for this team moving forward. All that being said, this defense will keep them in the mix for a lot of games.

15. Seattle Seahawks

  • Last Week: 37-31 win @ DET
  • Trending: +5
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. CAR

Simply put, Geno Smith was on his A-game against the Lions. He completed 32 of his 41 passes for 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Tyler Lockett. Add in a nifty pick-six by Tre Brown, and this was going to be a tough team for anyone to beat on Sunday.

16. Atlanta Falcons

  • Last Week: 25-24 win vs. GB
  • Trending: +7
  • This Week: 9/24 @ DET

Through three quarters on Sunday, the Falcons seemed dead in the water. They kicked four field goals, being unable to punch the ball into the end zone. However, that changed in the fourth quarter as they erupted for 13 points. Bijan Robinson looks like a star, and Arthur Smith is proving to be a gutsy coach.

17. Green Bay Packers

  • Last Week: 24-25 loss @ ATL
  • Trending: -4
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. NO

Green Bay desperately missed Aaron Jones in the running game on Sunday. AJ Dillon rushed 15 times but only produced 55 yards. This did not allow them to ice the game away by running down the clock, thus turning this game into a Falcons comeback.

18. Los Angeles Rams

  • Last Week: 23-30 loss vs. SF
  • Trending: +7
  • This Week: 9/24 @ CIN

Despite this loss, the Rams proved just about all they needed to on Sunday. They are capable of hanging with some of the best teams in the NFL. Matthew Stafford looks as good as ever at QB, and Puka Nacua has been a revelation at wide reeiver in the absence of Cooper Kupp. Once Kupp gets healthy, this could be a very dangerous team.

19. New York Jets

  • Last Week: 10-30 loss @ DAL
  • Trending: -8
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. NE

The Jets are going to need to rely on their defense now that Aaron Rodgers is no longer at QB. That was not the case on Sunday as Dallas got whatever they wanted, particularly in the passing game. Sauce Gardner is off to a slow start, and he needs to get going if New York wants to salvage this season.

20. New England Patriots

  • Last Week: 17-24 loss vs. MIA
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 9/24 @ NYJ

The Patriots were unable to move the ball on the ground on Sunday night, totaling just 88 rushing yards on 25 carries. Then, their defense stood no chance against Raheem Mostert, who had 18 carries for 121 yards and 2 TDs.

21. Tennessee Titans

  • Last Week: 27-24 win @ LAC
  • Trending: +9
  • This Week: 9/24 @ CLE

Mike Vrabel just finds ways to win, and it didn’t hurt that LA’s defense couldn’t have stopped a nosebleed on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Tannehill threw just four incompletions this weekend, a far-cry from his three interceptions in Week 1 against the Saints.

22. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Last Week: 24-27 loss vs. TEN
  • Trending: -4
  • This Week: 9/24 @ MIN

As Mike Vrabel finds ways to win, the Chargers find ways to lose. They had an opportunity to close this game out in overtime, but just like Week 1, the offense faltered at precisely the wrong time. Los Angeles is now in do-or-die territory with a matchup against the Vikings looming.

Faux 2-0 Teams

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Last Week: 27-17 win vs. CHI
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 9/25 vs. PHI

The Buccaneers got a nice win against the Bears this weekend, but there was no reason for it to be this close. The Bears had a chance to tie the game or take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but luckily, Justin Fields made a throw that went right into Shaq Barrett’s hands. Combine that with the fact that they shouldn’t have beaten the Vikings in Week 1, and this team doesn’t feel like they will keep things all that close against Philly.

24. Washington Commanders

  • Last Week: 35-33 win @ DEN
  • Trending: +4
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. BUF

Admittedly, Sam Howell has impressed through two weeks. However, close wins against the Broncos and Cardinals don’t mean much at this point. Heading into a Week 3 game against Buffalo, it’s telling that they are touchdown underdogs despite being at home.

On the Outside Looking In

Sep 17, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Washington Commanders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

25. Denver Broncos

  • Last Week: 33-35 loss vs. WSH
  • Trending: -11
  • This Week: 9/24 @ MIA

I’m done with Denver. It looked like things were getting back on track in the first half against the Commanders, but then, they couldn’t move the ball at all over the final 30 minutes of the game. Washington put up 21 second half points while silly mistakes made this Broncos team look exactly the same as last year.

26. New York Giants

  • Last Week: 31-28 win @ ARI
  • Trending: -5
  • This Week: 9/21 @ SF

The Giants dug themselves into another deep hole early on, but luckily, they were playing the Arizona Cardinals, who remembered that they were supposed to be tanking. Had New York been playing anyone else, they probably lose this game.

27. Indianapolis Colts

  • Last Week: 31-20 win @ HOU
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 9/24 @ BAL

Indy’s offense seems to be figuring things out, and despite Anthony Richardson leaving the game with an injury, they continued to roll with Gardner Minshew. This team could be line for a big rise if they keep things close against Baltimore.

28. Carolina Panthers

  • Last Week: 17-20 loss vs. NO
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 9/24 @ SEA

The Panthers simply don’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up right now. Their playmakers aren’t getting open in the passing game, and protection around Bryce Young has been subpar to begin the year.

29. Chicago Bears

  • Last Week: 17-27 loss @ TB
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 9/24 @ KC

So, what exactly are the improvements to Chicago’s offense? Once again, the Bears were incapable of moving the ball, totaling just 236 yards of offense. Justin Fields threw a pair of interceptions in this game, and they seem completely outmatched in the trenches.

30. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Last Week: 10-38 loss @ BUF
  • Trending: -6
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. PIT

This is more like the Raiders team that was expected coming into the season. It’s never a good sign when Josh Jacobs totals -2 rushing yards, and Davante Adams left with an injury.

31. Arizona Cardinals

  • Last Week: 28-31 loss vs. NYG
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 9/24 vs. DAL

Arizona knew the assignment in the second half. Suddenly, the New York Giants offense could not be stopped, nor could the Cardinals string together drives after a dominant 20-0 lead through the first 30 minutes. Regardless, they showed enough to move out of the cellar by one spot.

32. Houston Texans

  • Last Week: 20-31 loss vs. IND
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 9/24 @ JAX

The score became respectable by the end, but Houston was getting blown out for a large chunk of this game. It happened despite QB Anthony Richardson leaving the game with an injury, and Gardner Minshew led the offense for the rest of the day. Despite the loss, C.J. Stroud had an impressive day with 384 passing yards and a pair of TDs.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.