The NFL season is a crazy, up-and-down stretch that features shockers, surprises, and great games on a consistent basis. Now, as we evaluate the teams through the first three games of the 2015 season, the question is, who are the top five teams in the league, as well as the bottom five teams? We’ll call them the “micro” power rankings. Let’s start with with No. 32 up to No. 28, then roll through the top five in the NFL.
No. 32 San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers were simply miserable against the Arizona Cardinals. Not only did they lose 47-7, but they’ve been outscored 90-25 through three games. Worst of all, they actually defeated the Minnesota Vikings in week one. Regardless, it’s not going to get better anytime soon, especially with Colin Kaepernick throwing the ball the way he did in week three’s loss. Kaepernick threw four interceptions against the Cardinals, and while we know that Carlos Hyde is good, that alone won’t be enough to win this team many games.
No. 31 Chicago Bears (0-3)
The Bears were bad even with Jay Cutler under center this season, but things got a whole lot worse against the Seattle Seahawks in week three. The Bears were shut out 26-0 while managing just 146 total yards, including 48 passing yards. After starting out with a close loss to the strong Green Bay Packers, the Bears have gone completely downhill, beginning with the fact that their defense allowed 48 points to Arizona in week two.
No. 30 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Congrats to the Jaguars for knocking off the Miami Dolphins in week two. Unfortunately, Miami looks more like a pretender than a contender at this point. Aside from that, the Jaguars were held to nine points in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, then lost in brutal fashion, 51-17 against the New England Patriots last week. The Jaguars have some work to do if they want to turn it around anytime soon.
No. 29 New Orleans Saints (0-3)
The Saints are in some serious trouble right now. They’ve started out 0-3, and quarterback Drew Brees is dealing with a shoulder injury. After a pretty close 31-19 loss to the Cardinals, hopes remained pretty high. Then came the home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. The Saints have a whole lot to figure out, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
No. 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
So, have the Buccaneers figured out this whole defensive thing? After giving up 42 points to Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans, they’ve allowed 19 points in each of the last two games. The problem? They scored nine against the Houston Texans, just a week after giving us hope that they had turned the corner, defeating the Saints 26-19 in the Superdome. There’s plenty of growing to do for the Buccaneers, but they have the potential.
No. 5 Buffalo Bills (2-1)
No disrespect to the Denver Broncos here, but we’re giving the edge to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 5 spot. After smashing the Miami Dolphins 41-14 and completely shutting down Andrew Luck, the Bills deserve a ton of respect. Yes, they lost to the New England Patriots, but their furious comeback nearly worked out. This is a team that could give the Patriots a tough time when they next square off at the end of November. Another key reason why Buffalo gets the edge is because Denver’s three victories over teams with a combined 1-8 record don’t do all that much for us.
No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
How about the Bengals? Andy Dalton is playing incredible football and has only thrown one interception this season. After a crazy back-and-forth victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals are the team to beat in the AFC North, hands down. Could this be the year that Cincinnati finally makes some noise in the playoffs as well? There’s plenty of reason to believe in this team. Not only are Dalton and A.J. Green playing well, but Cincinnati’s defense has stepped up also.
No. 3 Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Guess which team has the biggest point differential at +25.7, ranks first in average points per game with 42.0, and has the third best total defense, allowing just 16.3 points per game? That would be the Cardinals. Arizona has quickly gone from being one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL to being one of the best teams in the NFL. With Carson Palmer back from a 2014 injury, he’s lighting the NFL on fire. Palmer has thrown for 803 yards and nine touchdowns, with only two interceptions. Let’s also not forget to give a tip of the hat to Larry Fitzgerald, who’s playing like he’s in his early 20’s again and has totaled 333 yards and five touchdowns already.
No. 2 Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Three wins, three dominant performances from Aaron Rodgers. Best of all, the Green Bay Packers have a defense playing at a different level thus far in 2015. Rodgers has completed 73.6% of his passes for 771 yards, 10 touchdowns, and zero interceptions through three weeks. The Packers have a strong case to be at the top of these rankings, but the fact that the teams they’ve played haven’t been great is what places them at No. 2. Don’t worry though, if the team in the No. 1 spot slips up at all, Rodgers and company are ready to step in.
No. 1 New England Patriots (3-0)
Remember when everyone said Tom Brady would play like a man with a huge chip on his shoulder? Well, yeah, that’s definitely happening. Brady has thrown for 1,112 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions to this point, while also completing 72.2% of his passes. Brady, who is currently 38, looks like he’s playing the way he did during the peak of his career. Or hey, maybe that peak is still rolling right along for the veteran quarterback. New England has topped 40 points in each of the last two games, and New England’s offense is scoring so many points that teams can’t even keep up. Easy choice for No. 1 here.
Follow Jeff Smith on Twitter @JSM8ith
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