In most instances, 0-3 is pretty much a death sentence in the NFL. But this year's group of 0-3 teams is very interesting.
There are six 0-3 teams, and only one is completely hopeless. Of the other five, someone is going to make a serious run back up these power rankings. But which one?
It's still hard to envision Pittsburgh bottoming out. Not with that coaching staff, that cast of veterans, a good quarterback and a solid defense. Minnesota and Washington were in the playoffs last year, so there's talent on both squads. The Vikings probably should have won at Chicago two weeks ago. Minnesota's loss to the Browns last week was disheartening, but maybe there's a comeback somewhere here.
In Tampa Bay, it's hard to hear a heartbeat with the Buccaneers, but this is still a good defense, quarterback Josh Freeman has been good before (I know, it's hard to remember that long ago) and included in their 0-3 record are two horrible late losses including a game they gave away to a very good Saints team.
But if you're picking one 0-3 team to rise from the dead, isn't it the Giants? Yeah, I know the flaws. The pass rush is not what it was, the running game has gone belly up, that was a horrendous outing at Carolina last week ... I get all that. But you shouldn't be ready to totally write them off yet. Tom Coughlin is a good coach. Eli Manning is a good quarterback with good weapons. They've turned in stink bomb performances before, and while it's hard to say why, it's just what they do. As bad as it looks for the Giants, I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of them.
Someone among the 0-3 teams is going to make a charge. It won't be Jacksonville. It's hard to completely rule out any of the other five, however.
And now, onto the power rankings with three weeks in the books:
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3, last week: 32)
31. Arizona Cardinals (1-2, LW: 29)
The bright side is this: They hit a home run with the Tyrann Mathieu draft pick. Even in a risk-reward scenario, this was the absolute peak of the reward side.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-2, LW: 30)
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor suffered a concussion against Denver, and if he misses time for the Raiders, what else do they have?
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3, LW: 28)
Nice (almost) comeback, but this was still a must-win game at home on Sunday night, and the Bears controlled most of it. There aren't many good signs out of Pittsburgh.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3, LW: 26)
Hey, at least there was no heartbreaking close loss for a third week in a row.
26. Washington Redskins (0-3, LW: 27)
This defense is an absolute debacle. Robert Griffin III is on pace to throw for 5,000 yards, and he might need to do that just to get Washington a few wins.
25. New York Giants (0-3, LW: 24)
The only good news is that the NFC East might be so bad, 9-7 takes it. But that means a 9-4 finish for a team that showed no signs of life at Carolina, so maybe it's not such good news after all.
24. Cleveland Browns (1-2, LW: 31)
Now they're apparently debating whether Brandon Weeden or Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback in Week 4, which makes little sense after how Hoyer played.
23. Buffalo Bills (1-2, LW: 22)
There are some interesting pieces here. Middle linebacker Kiko Alonso looks like he was a great pick. There's a lot to like in this draft class. That's how you build a winner.
22. New York Jets (2-1, LW: 25)
I'm not buying them as a contender or anything, but they look like they might have something in rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
St. Louis Rams (1-2, LW: 19)
Let's take a look: Close home win against a bad Arizona team. Blown out early at Atlanta. Blown out often at Dallas. Is this is a team whose ineptitude sneaked up on us?
20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2, LW: 18)
I'm not sure if fans realize the irony in saying things like, "The media totally overreacted about Chip Kelly's offense after one game! It's horrible!!!!"
18. Carolina Panthers (1-2, LW: 23)
They figured out against the Giants, the best way to make sure they don't screw up another close game is by winning a blowout.
17. Tennessee Titans (2-1, LW: 16)
A little lucky to beat San Diego, no doubt. Probably makes up for them being a little unlucky to lose at Houston the week before.
16. Baltimore Ravens (2-1, LW: 15)
You can't live off of special teams and defensive touchdowns. The offense has to do something eventually. But, a lot of teams would love to be 2-1 right now.
Detroit Lions (2-1, LW: 14)
Earlier in the year, I didn't know what to make of Tampa Bay. Now that we all can see the Buccaneers stink, the Lions are the toughest team in the NFL to figure out.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-1, LW: 13)
We all expect that somehow the Cowboys' coaching staff will totally forget all about the running game again this week, right? Old habits die hard.
13. San Francisco 49ers (1-2, LW: 3)
The way the Colts beat them in Week 3 – by taking Colin Kaepernick out of the game, and punching the 49ers defense in the mouth in the run game – was shocking.
12. Indianapolis Colts (2-1, LW: 17)
So what are we to believe, the team that almost lost at home to the Raiders, or the team that just demolished the 49ers on the road? Adding Trent Richardson will help.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0, LW: 12)
The offense will have to open up at some point to reach the next level. But after last year, this level isn't too bad.
10. Green Bay Packers (1-2, LW: 8)
A bit of a fluky loss, giving away two touchdowns at a very good Cincinnati team. But their offensive line is not championship-worthy. The defense might not be either.
9. Atlanta Falcons (1-2, LW: 10)
Giving up that final drive wasn't great, but overall it wasn't a terrible performance for the Falcons at Miami. Remember, both losses came down to the final seconds on the road.
8. Houston Texans (2-1, LW: 6)
Until they put together four good quarters in a row, they're not going to move up. They're very lucky to be 2-1 right now.
Miami Dolphins (3-0, LW: 11)
This team is gaining confidence, especially in its quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They have an absolutely fascinating Monday night game at New Orleans next week.
6. Chicago Bears (3-0, LW: 7)
How about the three third-down plays Jay Cutler made with the game on the line at Pittsburgh? That's what a franchise quarterback looks like. He might be there, finally.
5. New England Patriots (3-0, LW: 5)
I know, you want to tell me why New England is horrible. They're 3-0, and will get healthy soon. Just because you want the Patriots dynasty to end doesn't mean it will yet.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1, LW: 4)
Probably a little lucky to beat Green Bay, but that defense forced Aaron Rodgers into his worst game in a few years. The Cincinnati defense is as good as there is in the NFL.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-0, LW: 9)
I still expect the defense to come back to earth. But until that happens, they have to hold a very high spot in these rankings. The offense is as good as ever.
2. Denver Broncos (3-0, LW: 2)
It's Peyton Manning vs. the Eagles defense in Week 4. The man is on pace for 6,000 yards, and no reason to believe he'll slow down in a high-paced game against Philadelphia.
1. Seattle Seahawks (3-0, LW: 1)
Still haven't seen one reason to knock them out of the top spot.
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