The Pickswise NFL Power Rankings: It's getting tight at the top after Week 3

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Phil Agius


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I've been writing about the NFL and a host of other sports for the UK's top daily betting paper the Racing Post for more than 20 years. An incurable Browns fan (1-31 survivor), I also specialise in all kinds of motorsport betting including F1, MotoGP, IndyCar and NASCAR. For Phil Agius media enquiries, please email
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Things are getting tight at the top in the Pickswise NFL Power Rankings following the Week 3 action. Last week’s top 2, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, remain there despite both losing this week, with Buffalo and the Rams gaining ground on the heels of their impressive wins.

This season, we’ve handed over control of our NFL power rankings to the Pickswise supercomputer. Our data science team has created a predictive machine learning model that makes use of a proprietary dynamic rating system. In addition to analyzing in-house derived metrics, the model also adapts to situational factors such as rest weeks, home-field advantage, and time-zone differentials.

Let’s take a look at how the computer ranks all 32 teams heading into Week 4.

1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

The Super Bowl champions return to the top despite losing to the Rams this week. Clearly the computer found it easier to forgive the Bucs their first loss of the year — on the road to a strong team — but is losing patience with the Chiefs after their second defeat.

2 Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)

The Chiefs built up enough respect of the last few seasons to still be No. 2 despite a 1-2 record — and remember, but for an uncharacteristic Nick Chubb fumble and the Browns punter dropping a snap they might easily be 0-3. If they don’t beat the Eagles, we’ll know something is really wrong. Signing Josh Gordon is a move that can go one of two ways.

3 Buffalo Bills (2-1)

The Bills have looked like last season’s team again in Weeks 2 and 3 following their opening loss to Pittsburgh. Expect them to stay on track this week as they’re 16-point favorites against the Texans.

4 Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

It might seem a little late to get to the first of the NFL’s 5 unbeaten teams, but the Rams deserve their move into the top 4 after toppling Tom Brady and the Bucs.

5 Green Bay Packers (2-1)

The Packers move up 1 spot after their last-gasp win over the 49ers, but they would have lost with a mere mortal at quarterback — and a better clock manager on the 49ers sideline.

6 Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

Another small rise for a team who pretty much looked like they had lost on Sunday. This time, the Ravens would have lost to the Lions with a mere mortal as their kicker. With that kind of result a week after beating the Chiefs, it’s no wonder we need a computer to sort these things out.

7 Seattle Seahawks (1-2)

Sometimes we’ll raise our hand at a position that makes us raise an eyebrow, and the computer does seem generous to the 1-2 Seahawks after their 30-17 loss to a Minnesota team missing Dalvin Cook.

8 New Orleans Saints (2-1)

A road win at the Patriots probably isn’t worth what it used to be but the Saints will be happy enough with it, especially given their Week 2 setback against the Panthers.

9 San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

The 49ers move up despite losing to that late Green Bay field goal. Their injury-hit secondary looks to be a longer-term concern, though.

10 Cleveland Browns (2-1)

The Browns move up to the top 10 after destroying the Bears offensive line on Justin Fields’ first start. The Cleveland offense welcomed back OBJ this week, but Myles Garrett and company stole the show with 9 sacks.

11 Las Vegas Raiders (3-0)

Three-and-0, baby! The Raiders are loving life so far this season but they made Buffalo’s 35-0 win over Miami look even better when only just scraping past the Dolphins in overtime.

12 Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

The Cardinals are unbeaten, but you feel like they should be deducted places for managing to lose the first half of their game against the Jaguars.

13 Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

I guess it seems appropriate that time is catching up with Big Ben, but this might be the last we see of the Steelers in the top half. Coming up next: Packers, Broncos, Seahawks, Browns.

14 New England Patriots (1-2)

It’s going to be an interesting week at Foxboro with their beloved son Tom Brady returning on Monday night. Bill Belichick leading Mac Jones off the field like a naughty schoolboy on Sunday was a little odd, but it will be fun to see if he really does know what opposing teams should have been doing to stop Brady for all those years.

15 Indianapolis Colts (0-3)

The Colts put up a bit of a fight against the Titans but still suffered a costly AFC South defeat and we should learn a bit more about their prospects when they face the Dolphins this week. They’ve had a tough start but the bottom half beckons.

16 Tennessee Titans (2-1)

Is this a good time to remind you that these are the computer’s rankings and not mine? Good. Who knows what the math is behind having the Colts above the Titans at this stage — and just wait until you see the next few teams…

17 Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Dallas has a great chance to win the NFC East from here, with Washington’s defense not living up to their reputation and the Eagles and Giants having little to recommend them. Expect to see the Cowboys moving further up the list, although the Carolina defense will provide them with an interesting test this week.

Check out our MNF reaction as things begin to look up for the Cowboys

18 Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)

I’m nominating this one as the most baffling ranking this week, so no need to tell me about it, Chargers fans. The Bolts just went to Arrowhead and beat Pat Mahomes (it helps if he’s not looking at his receivers when throwing picks), but with the Raiders, Browns, and Ravens coming up next, they’ve got plenty more chances to prove themselves worthy of a higher spot to our microchipped master.

19 Denver Broncos (3-0)

Just a one-place lift for a 26-0 shutout of the Jets seems a bit mean-spirited, but the computer still needs to see more than a team bullying rookie QBs in back-to-back weeks, apparently. Lamar Jackson is next up, so maybe beating him would do the trick.

20 Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Dolphins would have hoped for better after winning in New England, but Jacoby Brissett led them to a strong performance in defeat against the Raiders.

21 Carolina Panthers (3-0)

This looks a little low for an unbeaten team, but maybe the computer is a big Christian McCaffrey fan. Rookie Chuba Hubbard gets a tough first start against Dallas if McCaffrey remains sidelined.

22 Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

The Vikings have one of the most misleading records in the league as they might easily be 3-0 and their offense was still buzzing in the win over Seattle despite the loss of Dalvin Cook. They have an interesting test this week against their former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the Cleveland Browns.

23 Chicago Bears (1-2)

The Bears are lucky not to drop after they posted just 1 net passing yard (that’s not a typo; Justin Fields passed for 68 yards and lost 67 on his 9 sacks) and being out-gained 418 to 47 in total yards. Their defense looks the real deal but it may be wasted unless Matt Nagy finds a better way to use Fields’ talent.

24 Washington Football Team (1-2)

The WFT conceding 43 points in a game is not what you expect when you look at their defensive depth chart but they have another chance to live up to their lofty reputations against the Falcons this week.

25 Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

The Eagles can’t really complain about this relatively humble ranking after that effort on Monday night. With the Chiefs. Panthers, Buccaneers and Raiders up next, they’re not likely to be moving up the list much on October.

26 Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

In contrast, the Bengals not only might already deserve to be higher than this, but they have a great chance to make a case for it as they’re up against the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. Rumors that Ja’Marr Chase had forgotten how to catch a football have proved unfounded.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for TNF Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

27 Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Well, the Falcons got a win on the board thanks to a late TD from tight end Kyle…no, sorry… Lee Smith. It was against the Giants, but with the Football Team, Jets, and Dolphins next up, there’s a chance to bag another win or two.

28 New York Giants (0-3)

Oh boy! Check out the Giants’ schedule and tell me where their first win is coming from: the Saints, Cowboys, Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Buccaneers are on deck. Sheesh!

29 Houston Texans (1-2)

A 1-2 record is good enough for 2nd place in the AFC South with the Jaguars and Colts still winless. So that’s a positive for David Culley and company. We knew there was one.

30 New York Jets (0-3)

New York is not really a football hotbed this year. There’s a real chance the road to the Super Bowl does not run through the Big Apple (0-6). The Jets are +310 favorites to have the worst regular-season record with FanDuel Sportsbook, incidentally.

31 Detroit Lions (0-3)

The computer is surely being a little harsh on Dan Campbell’s Lions here; they more or less beat the Ravens, who had beaten the Chiefs the week before. But I guess there are no pictures of 66-yard field goals on the data feed, and an L is an L.

32 Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)

The Jags showed a little life against the Cardinals, but not enough to suggest they are ready to put it all together for a whole game yet. Trading away first-round CB CJ Henderson is an odd decision, too, and the player coming from Carolina in return also ruins the Darnold to D. Arnold connection. Not happy about that.

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