1. Rams (-) (W 35-23 vs. LAC)
What we learned: The Rams, currently, are a few steps ahead of the pack.
Kansas City’s defense is too weak to be a nemesis. Los Angeles is on the throne.
What we learned again: The Rams have too much firepower.
Gurley, Cooks, Kupp, Woods and Goff is proving more than serviceable in McVay’s hands.
2. Chiefs (+2) (W 38-27 vs. SF)
What we learned: Patrick Mahomes is still throwing touchdown passes.
Tack another three on the chalkboard there, Jimmy.
What we learned again: Justin Houston can still play.
Two strip sacks. Well played, sir.
3. Eagles (+3) (W 20-16 vs. IND)
What we learned: Was not the Eagles best game.
They will more than likely fall in next week’s ranking but due to my top five getting sabotaged, Philly gets to sneak a few spots up the ladder. Wentz looked fine and I’m not concerned about how he’ll perform this season.
What we learned again: Eagles fans should be the most relaxed in the NFL.
The Rams could be holding that flag but they haven’t won a championship yet. The Eagles have and are still a very strong team. Most games this season will be exhibitions for Philly. They’re making the playoffs.
4. Jaguars (-1) (L 9-6 vs. TEN)
What we learned: I was right!
Blake Bortles cannot be counted on to carry the Jaguars offense on a regular basis. That is not their identity. No Fournette and the offense stutter steps. Hate to see this team lose a divisional game at home but Tennessee is no slouch. They’re moving up quick.
5. Falcons (+2) (L 43-37 vs. NO)
What we learned: Atlanta, despite occasional red zone problems, can still score.
Atlanta still has the most explosive receiver group in the league, the best backup running back (talked about that last week) and a quarterback who can sling.
What we learned again: For Dan Quinn being a former defensive coordinator, his defense is still a constant struggle.
Atlanta is hurting from the injury bug right now but Atlanta hasn’t had a great defense since Quinn has been there. I’m not calling for a firing or anything but if your offense is putting up 37 and losing, you need to make some changes.
6. Vikings (-4) (L 27-6 vs. BUF)
What we learned: We play the games for a reason.
Minnesota was a huge favorite, playing a home game against one of the worst teams in football. They were humiliated. Hopefully this is a wake-up call. This is a game that may come back to bite them.
What we learned again: Anyone seen Dalvin Cook?
Had a good start to last year and has remained mostly anonymous thus far.
7. Patriots (-2) (L 26-10 @DET)
What we learned: This is the first time the Patriots have lost back-to-back games by double digits since December 2002.
An interesting stat for sure but it’s too early for the panic button. New England’s defense is still bad. We already knew this. The offense has struggled, which is unheard of for New England but again, I think it’s just too small a sample size to run them out of the top ten just yet. We know the ceiling this franchise is capable of.
What we learned again: Bill Belichick has no time for fun.
Seeing Belichick walking past kids just looking for a high-five wasn’t a great look. It was also stereotypical Belichick.
8. Chargers (+3) (L 35-23 @LAR)
What we learned: The Chargers defense might officially be a problem.
I think I’ve already mentioned this but I am perturbed how Melvin Engram and Joey Bosa aren’t entering the dreams of opposing quarterbacks.
What we learned again: The Bolts might be trending in the wrong direction.
After starting 0-4 last year, Los Angeles looked like a competitor. Keenan Allen had a comeback player of the year. Melvin Gordon has been on fire this year and yet the Chargers sit at 1-2. A big win against the Rams or Chiefs would have made a huge difference. Kansas City looks like a playoff lock. If the Bolts want a shot at a playoff run, they have to come away with victories in some of these games. Eventually, keeping games close only means so much.
9. Bears (+1) (W 16-14 @ARI)
What we learned: I love the Bears defense.
Tenacity is back to Chicago. Looks like a playoff team.
What we learned again: The Bears offense isn’t great and it will be up to the defense to keep them in games.
16 points, let alone having to come back to win against Arizona, isn’t flattering.
10. Buccaneers (-1) (L 30-27 vs. PIT)
What we learned: There’s a reason they call him Fitzmagic.
Fitzpatrick is magical but like magic, it fades away eventually. Fitzmagic turned into Fitztragic in the first half. He performed some heroics in the second and nearly pulled a win out of his beard anyway. Cracks began to show but Fitzmagic isn’t done yet.
What we learned again: The Buccaneers can’t run worth a damn.
Peyton Barber has not been an acceptable option and Ronald Jones hasn’t made the progress management has hoped for.
11. Packers (-3) (L 31-17 @WAS)
What we learned: The Packers recipe of “Rodgers or Bust” is finally coming back to bite them.
Rodgers suffered a knee injury of some sort and playing on it as hampered his play. He’s still doing things other quarterbacks simply can’t do but he’s hobbling out there and the Packers and Aaron himself are putting his long-term health at risk by continuing to play on it. I understand that’s what a leader does but if I’m Aaron, I’m so disgusted with Packers management that if I’m Aaron, I’d tell them to screw off. If they’d built a team during the near decade he’s been on that field, they could at least win some games without him or, better yet, maybe he wouldn’t have got injured in the first place.
What we learned again: You need more than one player to play football.
Feel like we should all know this but Green Bay doesn’t.
12. Panthers (+5) (W 31-21 vs. CIN)
What we learned: Panthers have the most complete team in the NFC right now.
Not a Cam fan but Carolina is on the right track. Love McCaffrey. Their receiving core is iffy and their offensive line is prone to spurts. That front seven? Terrorizing.
What we learned again: Luke Kuechly is the Panthers most valuable player, not Cam.
If you’ve been living your life thinking Cam Newton is the MVP of the Panthers, you are incorrect. Cam is also prone to spurts. The defense has always been strong and Kuechly, the league’s best middle linebacker, is the reason why.
13. Giants (-) (W 27-22 @HOU)
What we learned: The Giants can score points when given protection.
I took Houston for this game. I expected Clowney and J.J. Watt to be all over Eli. Watt had three sacks, but otherwise, the Giants handled the Houston defense. At this point, I think that’s more a statement on Houston than New York. We’ll see.
What we learned again: Eli Manning is still a feasible option if not an attractive one.
25/29 with two scores. Eli is not a quarterback that will win you games by talent alone. It’s too early to say whether taking Barkley was a mistake but I’m not as hard on the decision as others are.
14. Bengals (+1) (L 31-21 @CAR)
What we learned: Cincinnati might have a suspect run defense.
McCaffrey is an electrifying player but he’s not someone who’s great between the tackles so he’s often limited to traps or zone reads outside. McCaffrey had 184 yards rushing. Haven’t gotten to watch the tape but that’s a lot.
What we learned again: John Ross is a bust.
When John Ross does something, I will shut up. Until he does, I will keep talking.
15. 49ers (-3) (L 38-27 @KC)
What we learned: The 49ers are now in trouble.
With Jimmy G, San Fran was an intriguing team to watch. Without him, less so and the team is too young to compete for a wild card spot. There’s also now concern about Jimmy’s long-term health. No one can know how he’ll return from that knee injury.
What we learned again: $37 million quarterbacks are a bad idea.
16. Ravens (+3) (W 27-14 vs. DEN)
What we learned: Ravens look fresh.
The Broncos defense was a true test for what was one of the league’s worst attacks last year. Baltimore came away with 27.
What we learned again: Ravens defense will do Ravens defense things.
Allowed under 300 yards offense and under 200 passing.
17. Dolphins (+5) (W 28-20 vs. OAK)
What we learned: Kenyan Drake looks awful.
His tape from last year looked good. A lot of analysts liked him as a dark horse fantasy pickup. He had five carries for three yards against the Raiders. Yes, the Raiders.
What we learned again: Miami is undefeated.
Still haven’t learned much about the Fins. They’ve played three mediocre opponents and so I have to take most of their stats thus far with a grain of salt.
18. Redskins (+9) (W 31-17 vs. GB)
What we learned: Redskins look improved.
Now that they have an actual starter at running back in AP, the Skins can better utilize Chris Thompson, forming a legitimate one-two punch combo in the backfield. Alex Smith is a downgrade from Kirk Cousins but will likely not force things down the field or make gunslinger-like decisions. Ball security will be a plus for this team. I have little confidence in the team’s receivers (Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder both look better as slot options) and Jordan Reed is an injury bug.
What we learned again: AP has more juice.
19 for 120. He’s not done yet.
19. Browns (+2) (W 21-17 vs. NYJ)
What we learned: Cleveland won a football game.
Haven’t been able to say that in a long time. Let the record show I was rooting for the Jets.
What we learned again: Hue Jackson is an idiot.
Hue watched Baker this summer and decided Tyrod should start. That’s fine. I’m not a fan of starting rookie quarterbacks in openers, but by the end of the first quarter, it was readily apparent that Tyrod should not be in the game. Hue is a really dumb guy though and I can say with the utmost confidence that the Browns would have lost this game if it wasn’t for the Jets knocking Tyrod out of the contest.
20. Titans (+6) (W 9-6 @JAC)
What we learned: The Titans quietly knocked off Houston and Jacksonville.
Neither game was pretty but a win is a win. They’re gonna get a boost in the power rankings next week if this keeps up.
What we learned again: Tennessee doesn’t need Mariota.
Think I said this last week. Guess I want to make sure you’re listening.
21. Lions (+8) (W 26-10 vs. NE)
What we learned: Kerryon Johnson is the Lions first 100-yard rusher since Reggie Bush on Thanksgiving, 2013. Snaps 70 games without 100-yard rusher, fourth-longest drought.
I would get excited but this doesn’t mean that the Lions have finally acknowledged that running the ball exists. Blind squirrels find nuts, too.
What we learned again: Matt Stafford is underappreciated.
He plays for the Lions so this is kinda redundant. I just can’t imagine what Detroit would be like without him. I think once he’s gone we’ll begin to realize how good he really was. Not a HOFer or anything but a very good passer.
22. Saints (+1) (W 43-37 @ATL)
What we learned: The Saints can score a lot of points.
Drew Brees is more of a factor this year, Michael Thomas is a WR1 and Alvin Kamara is an MVP candidate.
What we learned again: The Saints defense is definitely back to being awful.
Matt Ryan had nearly a perfect passer rating and five touchdowns.
23. Broncos (-7) (L 27-14 @BAL)
What we learned: Denver’s No-Fly Zone is over.
Think this was already established last year but feel like losing to Flacco was a red flag.
What we learned again: When Case Keenum is your quarterback, teams like Baltimore aren’t a favorable matchup.
Keenum against the Ravens or Flacco against the Broncos? I’ll take Flacco.
24. Steelers (-) (W 30-27 @TB)
What we learned: For the Steelers to win, their defense will have to force four turnovers. Even then, might still barely win.
The first half was great. The defense came up with big plays and the Steelers unloaded on Tampa Bay. Then they didn’t show up in the second half and let the Bucs claw their way back into it. That lost Pittsburgh any rungs in the power rankings they might have earned from the win.
What we learned again: At this point, feels like everything and then some has to go right for the Steelers to win a football game.
It’s not often that you watch a game and come away more frustrated after a win. Such was the case on that evening.
25. Texans (-11) (L 27-22 vs. NYG)
What we learned: Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat.
Now sitting at 0-3 with a healthy roster, O’Brien is out of excuses. No quarterback, not healthy and no money are all off the table. This team has a light schedule, too. Make a run for the wild card or get out of town.
What we learned again: J.J. Watt is still a freak.
26. Jets (-8) (L 21-17 @CLE)
What we learned: Darnold did not look like the better quarterback on Thursday.
Baker was quite something. Looked diligent with a gunslinger attitude. Darnold looked like he was still learning.
What we learned again: The Jets are gonna Jet.
They were winning. All they had to do was not injure Tyrod. They, of course, injured Tyrod.
27. Seahawks (-2) (W 24-13 vs. DAL)
What we learned: Seattle’s only as good as Russ is that day.
Russ has to be playing great for Seattle to have a shot. Hard to see this team bailing him out if he has a rough night.
What we learned again: Earl Thomas is a top-five safety.
Thomas, Berry and Harrison Smith are the first three names that come to mind. Malcolm Jenkins, Devin McCourty, Eric Weddle and Keanu Neal are up there as well.
28. Cowboys (-8) (L 24-13 @SEA)
What we learned: Dak Prescott is now becoming a problem.
People hit the concern button earlier than I did and I’m hitting it now. Dak seems incapable of throwing for 200 yards right now. His receiving core sucks. Travis Frederick probably won’t play this season. Let’s not pretend Dak’s walking through an orchard. That said, if he’s the franchise quarterback Dallas believes him to be, he needs to show them more.
What we learned again: Scott Linehan needs to go.
In the first three weeks, Dallas has put up 8, 20 and 13. Time for a new offensive look.
29. Bills (+3) (W 27-6 @MIN)
What we learned: The Bills were pissed off.
They came out swinging and shocked the world. They were heavy underdogs.
What we learned again: Josh Allen is a bust.
Dude seems to be better at running than throwing. Maybe they should move him to running back.
30. Colts (-2) (L 20-16 @PHI)
What we learned: The Colts still struggle to run the ball.
It’s the Eagles so not a team that most run well against but you would’ve hoped Frank Reich would have brought a new philosophy to the Colts.
What we learned again: The Colts always seem to fall a step behind.
They seem to have a shot at a lot of big games but seem to lose each time. Close but no cigar seems to be a running joke.
31. Raiders (-1) (L 28-20 @MIA)
What we learned: Jordy Nelson’s still alive.
Six receptions for 173.
What we learned again: Hiring people who haven’t coached in a decade is a bad idea.
Signing them to a 10-year, $100 million contract is probably a bad idea, too.
32. Cardinals (-1) (L 16-14 vs. CHI)
What we learned: The Cards blew a 14-point lead.
Congratulations! You still suck! Least they’re starting Rosen next game.
What we learned again: Bradford just made a lot of money to suck and sit on the bench again.
Bad habits die hard, huh, NFL?