2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

What a crazy Week 2 we had in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes showed once again why he’s already an elite quarterback, throwing four touchdowns in just the second quarter versus the Oakland Raiders and over 400 yards passing. The New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers lost their starting quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. And Lamar Jackson was the first player in NFL history to have 250 yards passing and 120 yards rushing in a single game.

As for our power rankings, there were quite a few significant changes this week, particularly to the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints.

We had nine teams stay in the same spot from last week, with the top-three teams and bottom-four teams all staying the same.

Here are our Week 3 NFL Power Rankings:

Teams Ranked 32nd to 23rd

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
32 Miami Dolphins -18.76 0-2 0.1% 29 32 0
31 Arizona Cardinals -7.04 0-1-1 3.0% 21 15 0
30 New York Jets -6.58 0-2 4.1% 25 9 0
29 Washington Redskins -6.40 0-2 3.1% 13 22 0
28 Oakland Raiders -6.18 1-1 7.0% 6 18 -1
27 New York Giants -6.16 0-2 3.1% 16 31 1
26 Cincinnati Bengals -5.10 0-2 8.3% 19 10 -4
25 Jacksonville Jaguars -4.33 0-2 9.6% 14 30 1
24 Carolina Panthers -2.20 0-2 11.9% 22 16 -7
23 Indianapolis Colts -2.12 1-1 37.5% 8 26 -2

After the Miami Dolphins gave up 40-plus points at home in back-to-back weeks, it looks like they may be throwing this season away already. They have by far the league's worst nERD score -- a metric that measures how many points above or below average a team is -- which is double what the 31st-ranked team has (-7.04). Miami has less than a one percent chance to even make the playoffs. On top of that, they traded away one of their best young players yesterday, Minkah Fitzpatrick, to the Steelers for a first round pick in 2020.

Although the team is ranked 29th overall, Case Keenum has been particularly impressive for the Washington Redskins through the first two weeks of the regular season. He’s thrown for 601 yards passing and 5 touchdowns to start the season and has done that without throwing an interception. His 35.23 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) through two weeks ranks fourth-best across the league.

The Indianapolis Colts pop off the chart above, as they currently have a 37.5% chance to make the playoffs. Jacoby Brissett and the Colts offense have been impressive to start the season thus far, ranking as the eighth-best overall offense through two weeks. Their biggest question has been on defense, which was expected to be their anchor after Andrew Luck announced his retirement this pre-season. The Colts currently rank 26th overall in total defense across the league, with just a 0.30 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They'll look to improve on that if they want to improve their chances of making the playoffs.

Teams Ranked 22nd to 13th

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
22 Atlanta Falcons -1.95 1-1 25.0% 20 24 3
21 Cleveland Browns -1.67 1-1 21.9% 32 18 3
20 Pittsburgh Steelers -1.63 0-2 15.9% 28 21 -4
19 Detroit Lions -1.59 1-0-1 21.1% 18 12 0
18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1.21 1-1 31.1% 31 6 5
17 Denver Broncos -0.69 0-2 10.7% 15 27 1
16 Buffalo Bills -0.31 2-0 57.2% 24 8 4
15 Chicago Bears 1.30 1-1 26.5% 30 7 -3
14 Philadelphia Eagles 1.63 1-1 54.2% 11 20 -3
13 Houston Texans 1.91 1-1 45.3% 5 29 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in for an interesting season after losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury. Since Mike Tomlin took over as the head coach for the Steelers in 2007, he has only had to play 16 games without Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback. In those 16 games, the Steelers have a record of 9-7, while averaging 21.3 points per game.

The Steelers will now roll out Mason Rudolph as their starting quarterback in Week 3. Rudolph has not started a single game in his NFL career, but he did show some promise in last Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Rudolph went 12-of-19 for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns in his attempt to make a comeback against the Seahawks. Rudolph will likely look to continue his college connection with James Washington going forward. While JuJu Smith-Schuster will still be the number one receiver for the Steelers, the chemistry between Rudolph and Washington is real. Washington has posted a stat line of 17 catches, 366 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns over the last two preseasons – which Mason Rudolph was heavily involved in contributing to those numbers.

Per SportsLine data scientist, Stephen Oh, the Steelers have gone down from a 33.3% chance to make playoffs with Roethlisberger to a 13.7% chance to make playoffs without Roethlisberger.

The Buffalo Bills are off to a hot start after going 2-0 to open the season. This is the first time the Bills have won their first two games of the season dating back to 2014. Since 2007, teams that start the season 2-0 have a 55.1% chance of making the playoffs, whereas teams who start the season 0-2 only have a 12.2% chance of making the playoffs.

Through Week 2, Bills receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown both rank in the top-25 in Reception NEP amongst 116 qualified wide receivers. Per FantasyPros, the Bills have the eighth-easiest strength of schedule this season, which will provide opportunity for Bills playmakers all season.

Teams Ranked 12th to 1st

Rank Team nERD Rec Playoff Odds Off. NEP Rank Def. NEP Rank Change
12 New Orleans Saints 1.99 1-1 47.4% 4 28 -8
11 Seatlte Seahawks 2.27 2-0 49.7% 23 14 2
10 Minnesota Vikings 3.04 1-1 37.5% 9 13 0
9 San Francisco 49ers 3.10 2-0 50.3% 27 2 6
8 Green Bay Packers 3.63 2-0 77.9% 26 3 1
7 Los Angeles Chargers 3.86 1-1 60.5% 7 25 -1
6 Tennessee Titans 4.03 1-1 48.4% 10 1 2
5 Dallas Cowboys 5.36 2-0 73.5% 2 17 2
4 Los Angeles Rams 7.59 2-0 84.6% 17 11 1
3 Kansas City Chiefs 8.12 2-0 87.8% 3 19 0
2 Baltimore Ravens 8.86 2-0 89.0% 1 4 0
1 New England Patriots 13.32 2-0 96.6% 12 5 0

The New Orleans Saints took two big losses last week. The first big loss was to the Los Angeles Rams, who beat up on the Saints in the second half of their game on Sunday, outscoring them 21-6. The second big loss was when their starting quarterback, Drew Brees, left the game with a thumb injury, that will ultimately sideline him for multiple weeks.

The Saints will now turn to backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to lead the way. Bridgewater replaced Brees at quarterback towards the end of the first quarter on Sunday. He finished the game with a Passing NEP per drop back of -0.01, meaning he added -0.01 expected points on every single drop back. Expect those numbers to go up for Teddy, while he leans on Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to help this team win without Brees.

As mentioned in the intro, Patrick Mahomes is out of this world. In Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, he threw for 443 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, 3 of which traveled 39-plus yards. In doing so, Mahomes finished Week 2 with the highest Passing NEP (22.76) on throws made 16-plus yards down the field, where he racked up 289 passing yards – 85 more yards than the next closest quarterback (Kyler Murray). The Chiefs have the third-highest nERD score in the league, with an 87.8% chance of making the playoffs. They’re doing this, all while having the toughest schedule in the NFL.

Finally, the New England Patriots, who handed a beating to the Dolphins in Week 2 by a score of 43-0. They did so with newcomer Antonio Brown, who led all Patriots receivers with 4 catches, 56 yards and a touchdown. There’s talk of this team now having an undefeated regular season, similar to the 2007 Patriots team. They have a long way to go before they can start talking about going “undefeated,” but they are certainly on the right path in doing so.