Each week of the NFL season, The Baltimore Sun will rank all 32 NFL teams. The rankings will take into account not just weekly performance, injuries and roster depth, but how well each team measures up as Super Bowl contenders.
Here are the rankings heading into Week 4:
1. Miami Dolphins (3-0, No. 3 last week)
Last week: Win vs. Broncos, 70-20
Up next: at Bills
Thanks to the kindness of coach Mike McDaniel, who chose to kneel on fourth down with 33 seconds left instead of kicking a field goal, the Dolphins just missed setting the NFL record for points in a regular-season game. It was truly a dazzling display of offense from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running backs De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert, who helped pile up 726 total yards, including 350 on the ground. This offense is showing no signs of slowing down, making Miami the clear team to beat.
2. San Francisco 49ers (3-0, No. 1)
Last week: Win vs. Giants, 30-12
Up next: vs. Cardinals
It was light work Thursday night against an overmatched, banged-up Giants team, as San Francisco held the ball for nearly 40 minutes and outgained New York 441-150. Quarterback Brock Purdy has missed some throws in the first few games, but he’s been good enough to guide an offense that, when healthy, boasts some of the best playmakers in the game. The defense has been as good as advertised, allowing just 4.2 yards per play.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-1, No. 5)
Last week: Win vs. Bears, 41-10
Up next: at Jets
Just about the only concerning moment for the Chiefs on Sunday came when quarterback Patrick Mahomes came up limping after Bears defensive end Yannick Ngakoue fell into his right ankle near the end of the first half. Mahomes shook that off to throw for 272 yards and three touchdowns, and the defense allowed just 11 completions and nearly kept Chicago out of the end zone until giving up a nine-play, 75-yard drive in garbage time. With the Jets, Vikings and Broncos up next, Kansas City should be able to keep pace in the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0, No. 4)
Last week: Win vs. Buccaneers, 25-11
Up next: vs. Commanders
The Eagles struck a nice balance on offense Monday night, as A.J. Brown caught nine passes for 131 yards and D’Andre Swift continued his strong start with 130 yards on 16 carries. Jalen Hurts has not put together MVP-type numbers this season, throwing just three touchdown passes to three interceptions, but he’s now 20-1 over his past 21 regular-season games. The defense also bounced back in a big way, holding the Buccaneers to 174 total yards.
5. Dallas Cowboys (2-1, No. 2)
Last week: Loss vs. Cardinals, 28-16
Up next: vs. Patriots
Just when it looked as if the Cowboys might be the best team in the NFL, cornerback Trevon Diggs suffered a season-ending torn ACL in practice and Dallas laid an egg as a nearly two-touchdown favorite. The Cowboys’ red zone struggles are becoming a big concern; through three games, the offense has scored a touchdown on just six of its 15 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, including a 1-for-5 performance Sunday. The defense didn’t show up either, allowing 7.5 yards per play and recording just four quarterback hits.
6. Buffalo Bills (2-1, No. 7)
Last week: Win vs. Commanders, 37-3
Up next: vs. Dolphins
Now this is the Bills team everyone expected to see. Led by a dominant defense — which delivered nine sacks and four interceptions — a poised performance from quarterback Josh Allen and a big day from wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Buffalo snuffed out any hope of an upset. That Week 1 letdown against the Jets feels like a distant memory, as the Bills have outscored opponents 75-13 since.
7. Ravens (2-1, No. 6)
Last week: Loss vs. Colts, 22-19 (OT)
Up next: at Browns
Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back with the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson. After a commanding performance in a road win over the Bengals, Jackson struggled mightily in soggy conditions Sunday, fumbling twice and failing to deliver points on his final five drives. That includes two overtime possessions with great field position after a 31-yard punt return from Devin Duvernay to the Colts’ 48-yard line and a turnover on downs when running back Zack Moss was stopped short on fourth-and-1 at his own 46. For the Ravens to finally make a deep postseason run with Jackson, they need to execute better on offense in clutch situations. One loss will not derail the season, but it was a costly missed opportunity to build some momentum heading into a tough stretch against the Browns and Steelers.
8. Detroit Lions (2-1, No. 9)
Last week: Win vs. Falcons, 20-6
Up next: at Packers
The Lions’ defense finally showed its teeth. After recording just one sack in the first two games, Detroit brought down Desmond Ridder seven times Sunday, including a strip-sack by Aidan Hutchinson with 2:07 to play. Perhaps even more impressive was the Lions’ run defense, which limited the Falcons to 2.2 yards per carry after they averaged nearly 5 in the first two weeks. If the defense can play that well consistently, Detroit might have one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
9. Cleveland Browns (2-1, No. 15)
Last week: Win vs. Titans, 27-3
Up next: vs. Ravens
All eyes were on quarterback Deshaun Watson in the wake of star running back Nick Chubb’s season-ending knee injury, and he showed he can carry the offense by going 27 for 33 for 289 yards and two touchdowns in a big win. On a day when Cleveland was held to 2.5 yards per carry, Watson delivered some of his best throws of the season and showed some elusiveness in the pocket. It helps to have a dominant defense, as Myles Garrett completely took over the game with 3 1/2 sacks and Tennessee was held to 2.1 yards per play.
10. Seattle Seahawks (2-1, No. 12)
Last week: Win vs. Panthers, 37-27
Up next: at Giants
The Seahawks pulled away in the fourth quarter, but they have some things to clean up if they want to be an NFC contender. As good as running backs Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet looked Sunday, the Seahawks went just 3 for 6 in the red zone and 3 for 13 on third down. They also allowed 334 passing yards to an offense led by veterans Andy Dalton and Adam Thielen. Quarterback Geno Smith looks back on track after an ugly opener, but it’s taking a while for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle’s first-round wide receiver, to make an impact.
11. Green Bay Packers (2-1, No. 17)
Last week: Win vs. Saints, 18-17
Up next: vs. Lions
It’s time to start believing in Jordan Love. On a day when the Packers were missing five key contributors, including running back Aaron Jones and two starting offensive linemen, the 24-year-old quarterback carried the offense with the help of some big catches from receivers Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed. This young group of pass catchers has matured quickly, with rookie tight end Luke Musgrave also emerging as a reliable target.
12. New Orleans Saints (2-1, No. 10)
Last week: Loss vs. Packers, 18-17
Up next: vs. Buccaneers
What looked to be a promising 3-0 start instead ended in disaster after the Saints blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and lost quarterback Derek Carr to a shoulder injury that is considered week to week. New Orleans’ defense has been outstanding outside of Sunday’s fourth-quarter collapse, especially its secondary, but it’s going to be tested if turnover-prone backup Jameis Winston has to replace Carr for any period of time.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1, No. 19)
Last week: Win vs. Raiders, 23-18
Up next: at Texans
It has not been a thrilling start for the Steelers’ offense, but Sunday night’s performance provides something to build on. Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett was efficient (16 for 28 for 235 yards and 2 TDs), wide receiver Calvin Austin III flashed his big-play potential with a 72-yard touchdown catch and George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth provided steady production in the absence of wideout Diontae Johnson. The defense remains stout, holding Las Vegas to 4 for 13 on third down while recording three interceptions and four sacks.
14. Atlanta Falcons (2-1, No. 13)
Last week: Loss vs. Lions, 20-6
Up next: vs. Jaguars
It’s been a mixed start for quarterback Desmond Ridder in his first season as the full-time starter. While the offense has largely relied on the running game, Ridder hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, throwing just two touchdown passes while taking 12 sacks. Simply put, he hasn’t handled pressure well, and it was evident against Detroit. It’s a small sample, but Ridder ranks 28th in Total QBR, which is adjusted for the strength of opposing defenses. He’ll need to be better for the Falcons to win the NFC South.
15. Washington Commanders (2-1, No. 14)
Last week: Loss vs. Bills, 37-3
Up next: at Eagles
Sam Howell finally lost as an NFL starting quarterback, throwing four interceptions and struggling against a pass rush that recorded nine sacks. He still holds onto the ball a bit too long, which leads to some poor decisions under pressure. Washington could lean more on its running game, which averaged 8.1 yards per carry but was limited to just 13 attempts. Running back Brian Robinson Jr. looks ready to handle a larger workload.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2, No. 21)
Last week: Win vs. Rams, 19-16
Up next: at Titans
It wasn’t pretty, but Monday night’s win was exactly what the Bengals needed. Questions will linger about the health of quarterback Joe Burrow’s calf after an uneven performance, but Ja’Marr Chase reminded everyone why he’s considered one of the league’s best receivers with 12 catches for 141 yards. Cincinnati’s defense made a statement of its own with six sacks and two interceptions, both by linebacker Logan Wilson, as it limited the Rams to just three field goals until a late touchdown drive.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2, No. 22)
Last week: Win vs. Vikings, 28-24
Up next: vs. Raiders
Justin Herbert was once again spectacular, finishing 40 for 47 for 405 yards with three touchdowns, including 18 completions to Keenan Allen. Mike Williams also had seven catches for 121 yards, but he is out for the season with a torn ACL, a crushing blow to an offense that has been so good under first-year coordinator Kellen Moore. In a type of game the Chargers have routinely found a way to lose, they finally found a way to win. (Let’s just ignore that dropped interception at the end.)
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1, No. 16)
Last week: Loss vs. Eagles, 25-11
Up next: at Saints
After playing mistake-free football in back-to-back wins, the Bucs turned the ball over twice Monday night, including a fumble by running back Rachaad White right before halftime that led to an Eagles field goal for a 13-3 lead. The defense held Philadelphia to just one touchdown in five red-zone trips but couldn’t get off the field on a 15-play drive that burned the final 9:22 off the clock. The Bucs are still in the mix in the NFC South race, but they need to clean up their mistakes, including some costly drops.
19. Los Angeles Rams (1-2, No. 11)
Last week: Loss vs. Bengals, 19-16
Up next: at Colts
If the Rams are going to be competitive this season, they need the Matthew Stafford from Week 1 to return. Stafford struggled Monday night, completing just 18 of 33 passes, throwing two interceptions and taking six sacks. He did average 8.2 yards per attempt and hit some chunk plays down the field, but just one of the Rams’ four trips inside the red zone ended with a touchdown, and that came with one minute left. Cooper Kupp can’t return soon enough.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2, No. 8)
Last week: Loss vs. Texans, 37-17
Up next: vs. Falcons
Whether it’s turnovers, penalties or dropped passes, the Jaguars’ struggling offense is one of the most surprising developments of the season. Jacksonville has scored just 26 points over the past two games and is converting just 30% of third downs despite returning nine starters and adding star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. On Sunday, they gave up an 85-yard kickoff return to Texans fullback — yes, fullback — Andrew Beck. This was a team not only considered the favorite in the AFC South, but a potential Super Bowl contender. There’s a long way to go.
21. Indianapolis Colts (2-1, No. 26)
Last week: Win vs. Ravens, 22-19 (OT)
Up next: vs. Rams
Coach Shane Steichen looks like a keeper. In what was expected to be a rebuilding year, the Colts lead the NFC South after beating the Ravens with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew and a heroic performance from kicker Matt Gay. The defense has been exceptional, recording 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and five turnovers in three games. When rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson comes back, the Colts could reasonably contend for a division title.
22. Arizona Cardinals (1-2, No. 29)
Last week: Win vs. Cowboys, 28-16
Up next: at 49ers
The Cardinals have been competitive in every game, and they showed what they’re capable of Sunday in a convincing win over a team many considered the league’s best. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was solid again, and running back James Conner made his presence felt with 98 yards and a touchdown. Even rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson put his stamp on the game, catching a 69-yard pass to set up the final touchdown when Dallas was threatening to take back control. This is far from the worst team in the league.
23. New England Patriots (1-2, No. 25)
Last week: Win vs. Jets, 15-10
Up next: vs. Cowboys
If the Jets had completed that Hail Mary on the final play, what would be saying about these Patriots? As good as the defense has looked so far, the offense has not made a meaningful step forward under new coordinator Bill O’Brien. Maybe that falls on Mac Jones, who looks destined to be no better than an average starting quarterback in this league. That might be good enough to return to the postseason, but not a Super Bowl run anytime soon.
24. Houston Texans (1-2, No. 30)
Last week: Win vs. Jaguars, 37-17
Up next: vs. Steelers
The Texans … might be good? At the very least, they’ve found their face of the franchise in C.J. Stroud, who is the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least 900 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first three career starts. Second-round receiver Tank Dell (five catches for 145 yards) looks like a star, too, and the defense delivered its best performance Sunday under first-year coach DeMeco Ryans. This team has a shot in the wide-open AFC South.
25. Tennessee Titans (1-2, No. 18)
Last week: Loss vs. Browns, 27-3
Up next: vs. Bengals
The Browns are going to make plenty of offenses look bad this season, but the Titans can’t be pleased with what they’ve seen so far from Ryan Tannehill, who threw for just 104 yards Sunday. He ranks 32nd in Total QBR among qualified quarterbacks, ahead of only Zach Wilson and Justin Fields. It might be time to get second-round pick Will Levis ready to start to give this offense a spark.
26. New York Giants (1-2, No. 20)
Last week: Loss vs. 49ers, 30-12
Up next: vs. Seahawks
The Giants have had a brutal schedule to open the season, and it only gets tougher from here. After hosting the Seahawks on Monday night, they travel to Miami and Buffalo, which might be the two of the three best teams in the AFC. Left tackle Andrew Thomas and running back Saquon Barkley are hurt, and right tackle Evan Neal and cornerback Deonte Banks were banged up Thursday night. Getting back to the postseason is going to take a herculean effort from quarterback Daniel Jones and coach Brian Daboll.
27. New York Jets (1-2, No. 23)
Last week: Loss vs. Patriots, 15-10
Up next: vs. Chiefs
On fourth-and-10, with the game on the line in the final two minutes, quarterback Zach Wilson threw a 2-yard pass to tight end Tyler Conklin. And while the Jets did get the ball back and Wilson nearly completed a miraculous Hail Mary as time expired, that fourth-down throw illustrates exactly why New York can’t be taken seriously as long as Wilson is the starter.
28. Minnesota Vikings (0-3, No. 24)
Last week: Loss vs. Chargers, 28-24
Up next: at Panthers
It’s been a rough turn of fortunes for Minnesota. The Vikings have lost seven fumbles, tied for the second most through three games since 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has not been immune, either, throwing an interception at the goal line and another in the end zone with seven seconds left to halt Sunday’s comeback bid. The Vikings are talented, but any hope of recapturing last season’s magic seems lost.
29. Las Vegas Raiders (1-2, No. 27)
Last week: Loss vs. Steelers, 23-18
Up next: at Chargers
Coach Josh McDaniels was widely criticized for his decision to kick a field goal trailing by eight points and facing a fourth-and-4 from the Steelers’ 8-yard line with 2:25 to go. According to ESPN’s analytics, going for it would have given the Raiders a 15.8% win probability compared with 10.2% for kicking a field goal. Las Vegas got the ball back at its own 15 with 12 seconds left, but Jimmy Garoppolo’s first pass was intercepted. Now Garoppolo is in concussion protocol, and the Raiders’ faint hopes of competing in the AFC West are dwindling.
30. Denver Broncos (0-3, No. 28)
Last week: Loss vs. Dolphins, 70-20
Up next: at Bears
Imagine giving up 70 points in a football game. Now imagine having to rewatch the film. “As unpleasant as it’s going to be, we’ve got to get these things cleaned up,” coach Sean Payton said. Hopes were high for the Broncos with Payton at the helm after his successful tenure in New Orleans, but the season could not have started any worse. Since 1979, six teams have overcome an 0-3 start to make the postseason. This does not look like the next one.
31. Carolina Panthers (0-3, No. 31)
Last week: Loss vs. Seahawks, 37-27
Up next: vs. Vikings
Rookie quarterbacks rarely have immediate success, but it has to be concerning that the Panthers’ offense looked much better with Andy Dalton under center than No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, who’s out with an ankle injury. With Brian Burns’ contract talks going nowhere, the Panthers should seriously consider trading the star pass rusher to help their rebuild.
32. Chicago Bears (0-3, No. 32)
Last week: Loss vs. Chiefs, 41-10
Up next: vs. Broncos
The Bears had $100,000 worth of equipment stolen from their stadium last week, and it was merely a footnote on a long list of problems. The sudden resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams and quarterback Justin Fields’ comments about coaching dominated the headlines before another defeat, Chicago’s 13th straight dating to last season. Coach Matt Eberflus vowed to take a “hard look” at everything, but time is already running out for him, Fields and a defense that has allowed 106 points to turn this season around.