NFL power rankings: Dolphins rocket into top 10; 49ers, Rams recover; Colts, Browns plummet for Week 3

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Week 2 in the NFL was marked by some improbable comebacks from trailing teams and major meltdowns by leading teams. There also was some normalcy with the league’s best teams taking care of business, a few getting to 2-0 and others rebounding to 1-1.

Although it’s easy near at the top to know which teams continue to separate themselves from the rest, the muddled middle is starting develop because of an early 1-1 mess. Keeping all that in mind going into Week 3, here are Sporting News’ updated NFL power rankings, or how every team stacks up against each other from 1-32:

MORE: Breaking down NFL’s contenders, pretenders after Week 2

NFL power rankings Week 3

1. Buffalo Bills 2-0 (previous ranking: 1)

The Bills have had a long time to rest after flexing on the Super Bowl champion Rams in the kickoff opener in Week 1. They were well positioned to stop the Titans nemesis at home on Monday night with their loaded offense and defense.

2. Kansas City Chiefs 2-0 (2)

The Chiefs’ offense came down to earth against the Chargers’ strong defense but the Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ defense made the big plays needed to get the best of Justin Herbert. Kansas City won’t be giving Buffalo any breathing room before the teams’ epic playoff rematch in Week 6.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-0 (3)

The Buccaneers with Todd Bowles don’t have the explosive offense so far, especially with major wide receiver and offensive line injuries there to frustrate Tom Brady in his presumed final season. But they are getting it done early, dominating on the road with a stout and active playmaking defense that’s fully healthy and daunting on every level.

4. Philadelphia Eagles 2-0 (6)

The Eagles have enjoyed a dazzling offensive start, too, led by Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown. They are the clear favorites to run away with the NFC East and shoring up a few more things on defense means they will be a factor in the bigger playoff picture of the conference title chase.

5. Los Angeles Rams 1-1 (8)

The Rams smashed the Falcons all over the field by getting well overall, even though there were a few lapses in the passing game, pass defense and yes, special teams. They should continue the momentum against the defense-poor Cardinals before the first 49ers showdown in Week 4.

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6. San Francisco 49ers 1-1 (9)

Speaking of the 49ers, they suffered a huge blow with Trey Lance going down right before he could get started back on track for a potential breakout season. But going back to Jimmy Garoppolo is an amazing luxury to keep taking advantage of immense overall talent under Kyle Shanahan. Nick Bosa and the defense will always keep them out of a true slump.

7. Los Angeles Chargers 1-1 (4)

The Chargers played as well as they could to take down the Chiefs on Thursday night, but they made one more critical mistake with Justin Herbert’s pick six. They had to be inspired by their defense — they just need to clean up their explosive offense for bigger games.

IYER: Trey Lance’s injury proves 49ers made NFL’s best offseason ‘move’ with Jimmy Garoppolo

8. Miami Dolphins 2-0 (13)

Mike McDaniel has proved every bit of his offensive genius in only two games operating with Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. He even got Chase Edmonds and Mike Gesicki involved with key plays. The Dolphins are living up to playoff sleeper expectations on one side but need to get more consistent defense to deliver on playoff promise.

9. Minnesota Vikings 1-1 (7)

The Vikings are matching Miami’s McDaniel hire early with Kevin O’Connell in the way he’s scheming up Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. The new-look defense with healthier personnel is the reason, however, is why they can keep pushing the Packers, whom they already beat, in the NFC North race.

10. Green Bay Packers 1-1 (10)

The Packers overcame another shaky Week 1 under Matt LaFleur with Aaron Rodgers and defense playing more up to expectations in the get-well home matchup with the Bears. They need to be all systems go a little more for Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 3.

11. Baltimore Ravens 1-1 (5)

What was that? The Ravens’ vaunted pass defense and playmaking secondary crumbled quickly in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins, wasting an epic passing and running performance from Lamar Jackson. They will look to rebound vs. the Patriots’ much more limited offense.

12. Denver Broncos 1-1 (17)

The Broncos are still not looking all that pretty offensively as Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett figure out things with their passing options and running rotation. But their 3-4 defense proved it can provide plenty of punch when needed with Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb.

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13. New York Giants 2-0 (20)

The Giants, like the Dolphins and Vikings, also made a good offensive-minded hire with Brian Daboll, a smart coach who has experience with both Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. But the story of their early surprise, on top of a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, has been a gritty rushing-based attack and solid defense, even minus Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-1 (11)

Did Mitchell Trubisky do enough to remain the Steelers’ starting QB over rookie Kenny Pickett? He’s been in shaky in two games, but the team is still in first place (with everyone else) in the AFC North and have a big shot at the Browns on the road Thursday night. Pittsburgh may get too reliant on winning defensive-minded battles of attrition and may need a change for the sake of more offensive explosiveness come Week 4.

15. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (18)

What was that? The Cowboys got another gritty supersub performance from Cooper Rush in a well-schemed offense from Kellen Moore. Their defense, powered of course by Micah Parsons, rose to the occasion to disrupt the Bengals. The goal will be staying afloat in the NFC East race behind the Eagles and now Giants until Dak Prescott can get back.

16. Cincinnati Bengals 0-2 (12)

What was that? Joe Burrow has gone back to being a human pinata with a high level of pressure and sacks to show for it against him. The Bengals are insistent on delivering their downfield passing game and it’s not complementary in relation to their defensive effort. It will suddenly get tougher, too, against better QBs after Week 3 at the Jets.

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17. Arizona Cardinals 1-1 (21)

The Cardinals’ defense will keep holding them back and it looked bad again for a good chunk of the game against the Raiders. But they had to be pleased by Kyler Murray taking command of the offense in comeback mode when they needed it the most.

18. New England Patriots 1-1 (23)

The Patriots don’t get many style points for grinding out the victory in Pittsburgh with a good dose of the running game and active front seven defense. But it’s a reminder that Belichick and his coaching staff are capable of making some solid winning adjustments just when they’re counted out to do so.

MORE: How the Browns blew a 13-point lead to the Jets with just over a minute left to play

19. Cleveland Browns 1-1 (14)

The Browns’ offense was a nice surprise in the home opener vs. the Jets with Nick Chubb setting up some fine passes from Jacoby Brissett. But the defense had a total throwback meltdown against Joe Flacco late and there also was shaky clock management under Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland likely is stuck playing a lot of close games minus Deshaun Watson.

20. New Orleans Saints 1-1 (15)

The Saints’ offense didn’t have Alvin Kamara for a sputtering rushing attack and Jameis Winston came crashing down to earth against a tough pass defense from his former team, the Buccaneers. They need more consistency there to support Dennis Allen’s defense.

Jameis Winston

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21. Detroit Lions 1-1 (27)

The Lions showed some of their “Hard Knocks” buzz in coming out like gangbusters offensively and defensively on Washington, thanks to young stars Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift and Aidan Hutchinson. Detroit’s talent and moxie will keep it in most games under Dan Campbell.

22. Tennessee Titans 0-2 (22)

The Titans blew the game late against the Giants and also missed a key opportunity to recover in Week 1. They’re winless after a brutal follow-up matchup in Buffalo, a team in their current state aren’t close to beating.

23. Chicago Bears 1-1 (19)

The Bears were fortunate to take down the mighty 49ers in the rain and slop in Week 1, but in non-frozen conditions at Lambeau Field, their run defense got a reality check from the Packers while their passing game design around Justin Fields still didn’t inspire at all.

24. Washington Commanders 1-1 (25)

The Commanders’ defense is an absolute schematic and personnel mess, further exposed without Chase Young. That’s taking away from a loaded offense that has looked much more dangerous with Carson Wentz.

Carson Wentz

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25. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-1 (31)

The Jaguars also are back to fielding a competent offense with Doug Pederson and Press Taylor helping Trevor Lawrence look good with Christian Kirk, James Robinson, Travis Etienne and others. They had to be most thrilled about their youth-fueled defense shutting down Jonathan Taylor and the Colts.

26. Las Vegas Raiders 0-2 (24)

The Raiders’ defense had clear issues and the offensive line was a concern. But offense was supposed to be a more explosive, well-oiled machine with Derek Carr getting Davante Adams in Josh McDaniels’ passing scheme. Instead, they have showed plenty of dysfunction in critical moments so far to lag behind quickly in the tough AFC West.

MORE: Winless Colts on the hot seat after latest Jaguars fail

27. Indianapolis Colts 0-1-1 (16)

The Colts failed to score a point in Jacksonville and fell to 0-2 in AFC South play starting the season on the road. Matt Ryan and the passing offense is really dragging down both Jonathan Taylor and the Shaquille Leonard-less defense. Indianapolis is supposed to be the best team in the division but is looking more like the worst.

28. New York Jets 1-1 (32)

Flacco has provided a spark to the passing game minus Zach Wilson, getting the ball to all of his talented receivers and the Jets also got promising rookie running back Breece Hall going for Mike LaFleur. Even though the defense didn’t deliver in Cleveland, the fight and effort for Robert Saleh’s team did.

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29. Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (26)

The Seahawks came tumbling down in San Francisco as they reminded everyone about their limited talent at quarterback and defense. The emotional overachieving against Wilson’s Broncos has given way to harsh season-long reality.

30. Houston Texans 0-1-1 (28)

The Texans pushed another favored opponent on the road in Denver as their defense keeps playing over its head for Lovie Smith. But their offensive limitations with Davis Mills have become pretty clear, especially on the road.

31. Atlanta Falcons 0-2 (30)

The Falcons will do their best to play hard and be competitive with a limited roster, caught in between fading and rebuilding. But they simply don’t enough have punch with Marcus Mariota and the defense beyond playmakers Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, Drake London and A.J. Terrell. They were totally overmatched against the Rams.

32. Carolina Panthers 0-2 (29)

The Panthers have lost two close games to two other mediocre-to-poor teams in the Browns and Giants. The Baker Mayfield-led offense has had flashes, but hasn’t been efficient or effective. The defense is doing its best to keep them in games, but it’s still all pointing to the quick end of the Matt Rhule era.

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