BY ADAM GREENE
Week 3 is usually when the NFL begins to calm down a tad. The good teams begin separating from the pack and the bad teams just keep looking worse by the day. For whatever reason, 2022 has decided to break the mold.
There’s always plenty of chaos in Week 1 and punditry is rife with overreactions. What no one is ready for is that same chaos to continue every single week for the first month of the season. If you’re still alive in your survival pool, you’ve probably already won the pot.
The entirety of the rankings have been shuffled this week, with not only a new franchise in the top spot, but a new team at No. 32. Of course, these are teams that regularly sit atop and a-bottom of the Power Rankings, but it’s notable nonetheless.
With no idea what’s going on, it falls to me to deliver the appropriate praise and punishment for these performances in the only way that matters — a completely arbitrary ranking system.
1. GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-1)
For the second year in a row, the Packers opened up the season looking like a flaming dog turd before surging to the top of the heap. This time, it took a low scoring victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to land them in the top spot. It was only the second time in Aaron Rodgers career that he’s beaten a team QBed by Tom Brady. Maybe we should give an ayahuasca enema a chance
Last week: No. 5
2. BUFFALO BILLS (2-1)
Losing to a hot Dolphins team in the final seconds isn’t the worst thing for the Bills. They remain the AFC favorites, but it does show you how competitive the conference will be this season. No team was going undefeated, but it’s a shame Buffalo didn’t get longer to flirt with it.
Last week: No. 1
3. LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-1)
The Rams haven’t looked great this season in spite of their record. Traveling to their arch nemeses, the San Francisco 49ers, who have swept them in the last three regular seasons, this would be a great time to actually show up for four quarters. It’d also be nice to see Allen Robinson really show why the team targeted him in the offseason.
Last week: No. 4
4. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-1)
The Bucs signed COVID-19 super spreader Cole Beasley to their roster only to immediately lose a game in which he did not play. Coincidence? Probably, but I’m still feeling some solid schadenfreude.
Last week: No. 2
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-1)
If the Indianapolis Colts had been as good as I thought they’d be in the preseason, last Sunday’s loss wouldn’t have been a shock. As the Colts looked like they were swirling around next to a fishing net filled with rotting cod in the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre for the first two weeks of the season, I was a little stunned that they knocked off Kansas City.
Last week: No. 3
6. MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-0)
It’s been six years since the Dolphins made the playoffs, but after opening the year 3-0 (and beating the Bills), they sit at a 74.4 percent chance to play on in late January. And for the people who wanted to run Tua Tagovailoa out of South Beach (including his former head coach), he’s No. 2 in the NFL in passing yards, No. 2 in yards per attempt, No 4 in completion percentage and tied for third with Patrick Mahomes in touchdown passes.
Preseason: No. 7
7. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-0)
The Eagles are a good team with one of the easiest schedules in the league. That leads to a 3-0 start. Now, they face their first real test of the season when they host the… checks notes… Jacksonville Jaguars?? Philadelphia should be too surprised that Jacksonville looks as if it has its act together. Their former Super Bowl winning head coach is running the team.
Last week: No. 6
8. BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-1)
Lamar Jackson continues to not only put up MVP numbers, but generally annoy all the worst people on the planet. In that way, he’s my personal MVP too.
Last week: No. 9
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-2)
The Bengals managed to avoid an 0-3 start, but even picking up their first win, the road gets no easier. They host the red hot Dolphins Thursday night in a game that Cincinnati hopes will be a playoff preview. Because, if it isn’t, the Bengals won’t be in the tournament.
Last week: No. 11
10. DENVER BRONCOS (2-1)
The Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t shut down Russell Wilson’s kitchen in Denver just yet, but that’s just because they didn’t see the dead rat king in the freezer. The Broncos have looked terrible in every game this year, but have still managed to win two games. They travel to a desperate Las Vegas Raiders team and can all but end their season in September with another food poison assisted victory.
Last week: No. 12
11. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-2)
In a hotly contested AFC, the Chargers are going to have to figure out a way to survive with half a Justin Herbert. Luckily, half a Herb is still better than what 20 other NFL teams are fielding on any Sunday.
Last week: No. 8
12. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-1)
Removed from the lights of prime time, Kirk Cousins once again delivered the goods. It’s his thing to perform at his best when the viewing audience is at its smallest.
Last week: No. 14
12. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-2)
Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start of the season looked more like a stop. Of course, the 49ers don’t have a choice to keep rolling with our favorite porn star aficionado since Trey Lance is out for the year. The good news for Niner fans is that Jimmy G has played like garbage before only to somehow find his mojo facing the very team he’ll play on Monday night, the Los Angeles Rams.
Last week: No. 10
13. CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-1)
The Browns are keeping it together with their starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, sidelined with a suspension and what has to be the tightest quads in human history. They also took a scare this week with Myles Garrett being slightly injured in a car crash. He should be OK for the year, but might not play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, a team tougher than their record.
Last week: No. 22
14. DALLAS COWBOYS (2-1)
Cooper Rush is now 2-0 as the Cowboys quarterback. And while the record looks fine, no one needs to get it in their heads that Dak Prescott is any danger of getting replaced. The defense is carrying the day with 11 sacks over the last two games.
Last week: No. 18
15. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-1)
You can claim that the Jaguars’ huge upset over the Los Angeles Chargers was, in large part, because of Justin Herbert’s injury. But Herbert didn’t’ surrender 38 points to the Jags. A pretty good Brandon Staley LA defense did.
Last week: No. 23
16. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-2)
The Saints have so much faith in the backup quarterback Sean Payton forced them to continually sign that Jameis Winston is starting his third straight game with four fractured vertebrae. Taysom Hill wept on his Microsoft Surface tablet.
Last week: No. 15
17. ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-2)
If Kyler Murray had put forth the same kind of performance in Call of Duty as he did against the Rams last week, he would be kicked off the server. Because of that, the Cards are road dogs against the Carolina Panthers Sunday. If Murray wants to take something personally, it should be that.
Last week: No. 16
18. CHICAGO BEARS (2-1)
The Bears win over the Texans taught us nothing. Chicago, even at 2-1, hasn’t experienced a season defining win (or loss) yet. In a September of chaos, the Bears are just another agent of entropy.
Last week: No. 20
19. NEW YORK GIANTS (2-1)
The Giants took their first, of what will probably be many, losses of the season. That one should especially hurt as the QB leading Dallas to victory, Cooper Rush, was on their roster for a time in 2020.
Last week: No. 17
20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-2)
Regardless of what the fanbase thinks, Mike Tomlin isn’t pulling Mitchell Trubisky until the season is out of hand. Losing to the New York Jets at home Sunday will show the season is out of hand.
Last week: No. 13
21. TENNESSEE TITANS (1-2)
A week after saving their season with a win over the Raiders, the Titans have to do it again. This time, they travel to Indianapolis to face a Colts team that was favored to win the AFC South in the preseason.
Last week: No. 24
22. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1-1-1)
Like their AFC South counterparts, Indy resuscitated its season with a big win last week. For the Colts, it was a shocker over the Chiefs. Now, they have to do it again against the aforementioned Titans in a battle of arguably the two best running backs in the NFL — Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry.
Last week: No. 27
23. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (0-3)
The Raiders are looking at a hard road if they want to make the playoffs in Josh McDaniel’s first season. Only six other teams since 1970 have made the postseason after opening 0-3. If Vegas is going to be the seventh, then that journey must begin Sunday when they host the Broncos.
Last week: No. 19
24. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-2)
The only thing surprising about the Patriots 1-2 start is that they aren’t 0-3. Bill Belichick’s legacy is about to go up in flames like an early 2000s confiscated camcorder tape at the behest of Roger Goodell.
Last week: No. 21
25. DETROIT LIONS (1-2)
Here’s a fun fact — the Lions are currently the No. 2 ranked offense in the NFL. It’s what’s making their losses just that much more frustrating. But at least they’re a lot more fun to watch.
Last week: No. 25
26. ATLANTA FALCONS (1-2)
Thanks to an NFC West opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, the Falcons picked up their first win last Sunday. If they can knock off the Cardinals this week, they’ll be .500 for the first time since 2017 and tied with the Rams atop a division they don’t play in.
Last week: No. 28
27. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (1-2)
It’s just like Carson Wentz to give you hope on the stat sheet, but a loss on your grade card. It’s why he keeps getting jobs in the NFL and the teams he plays for keep losing.
Last week: No. 26
28. CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-2)
Carolina really messed up this time. Getting their first win of the season against a broken down Saints squad has caused the books to fall in love with Baker Mayfield once again. Now, for some insane reason, the Panthers are favored hosting a Cardinals team that not only made the playoffs a year ago, but nearly won the NFC West. Bet accordingly.
Last week: No. 32
29. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-2)
Geno Smith said, after his week 1 victory over Russell Wilson, that people had written him off, “but I ain’t write back tho.” Since admitting that he’d been lackadaisical in his correspondence, Smith has experienced a real letter writing spree in two consecutive losses. After a third defeat, he might just pick up journaling.
Last week: No. 29
31. NEW YORK JETS (1-2)
I have good news for Jets fans. Zach Wilson is slated to return to the line up this week and you can go ahead and reactivate your mamaw’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Her DMs should be clear.
Last week: No. 30
32. HOUSTON TEXANS (0-2-1)
It would be just like the Texans to screw up their chance at a winless season by delivering a beat down to the injured Chargers this Sunday. They did it a year ago with Herbert at full strength.
Last week: No. 31
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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