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Mason's Week 3 Power Rankings: The rugged AFC West offers no respite

Posted Sep 19, 2017

Three AFC West teams in the top five? Believe it.

1. PITTSBURGH (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 2

Le'Veon Bell isn't all the way up to speed yet, but it hasn't mattered.

2. KANSAS CITY (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 3

How productive has Kareem Hunt been? Consider that Marshall Faulk was the last rookie to amass as many yards from scrimmage in the first two games of the regular season; Hunt's 355 yards the last two weeks is just five yards short of Faulk's 360-yard binge to start the 1994 campaign. According to pro-football-reference.com, only Billy Sims (Detroit, 1980) and Ottis Anderson (St. Louis Cardinals, 1979) had more yards from scrimmage as rookies in the first two weeks of a season than Hunt.

3. ATLANTA (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 5

The Falcons looked dynamic in their Mercedes-Benz Stadium regular-season debut, but the Packers were banged up without both starting offensive tackles and, by halftime, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and wide receiver Jordy Nelson. This week's game in Detroit could be a trap for the defending NFC champions.

4. OAKLAND (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 7

With a league-leading average of 3.74 net points per possession through two weeks, the Raiders' explosive, versatile offense looks dominant.

5. DENVER (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 8

The only team to rank in the top 10 in per-possession efficiency on both offense (seventh) and defense (eighth), the Broncos have shown exquisite offense-defense balance in their first two games.

6. NEW ENGLAND (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 4

Normal service was restored on offense in New Orleans, and the Patriots rank in the league's top four in net points, net yards and first downs per possession. But their defense lingers near the bottom in points and yardage allowed per possession; it ranks 29th in both categories.

7. GREEN BAY (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 1

The Packers need to get healthy first, then they can start sorting things out. But their penchant for late-season rallies ensures that they will follow the mantra of their on-field leader and "R-E-L-A-X" through the choppy seas of the early season.

8. TAMPA BAY (1-0)
LAST WEEK: 10

The Bucs did what they were supposed to do; they roared to an early lead over Chicago and were never challenged.

9. MINNESOTA (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 9

A loss at Pittsburgh without Sam Bradford? There's no reason to panic here -- unless Bradford's injury lingers.

10. SEATTLE (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 11

Russell Wilson has already been hit 17 times, and the Seahawks offense has just one touchdown through two games.

11. MIAMI (1-0)
LAST WEEK: 12

Running back Jay Ajayi has now averaged 106.4 rushing yards in his last 12 games dating back to last season.

12. DETROIT: 2-0
LAST WEEK: 13

The Lions remind me a little bit of the Broncos, in that they didn't receive much national respect, and they are playing with some attitude as a result of that perceived slight. If they beat Atlanta this week, the plaudits will come.

13. DALLAS (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 6

Arizona's secondary isn't as deep as Denver's, but with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals could try and mimic some of the coverages that caused Dak Prescott problems last Sunday. This is a copycat league, and you can be sure that future Cowboys opponents will pore over the film from the Broncos' rout of Dallas, scouring for ideas.

14. TENNESSEE (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 15

In looking at the Titans' first two results, you might just have to chalk up their Week 1 loss to Oakland to the fact that the Raiders are simply an outstanding team from the deepest division in the NFL. It's early, but the Titans look like the class of the AFC South.

15. PHILADELPHIA (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 17

It wasn't a "moral victory," but the Eagles showed some tough timber in a 27-20 loss at Kansas City.

16. CAROLINA (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 19

The injury to tight end Greg Olsen fundamentally changes their offense, but their defense couldn't be better. Sixteen-year veteran Julius Peppers looks about a decade younger, with four quarterback hits -- including 2.5 sacks -- so far this season.

17. BALTIMORE (2-0)
LAST WEEK: 17

The results are good, but the loss of guard Marshal Yanda for the season to an ankle fracture will be difficult to overcome.

18. WASHINGTON (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 23

Three different running backs -- Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine -- picked up at least 67 yards last Sunday, taking the pressure off Kirk Cousins.

19. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 16

At some point, the Chargers' fortune in close games has to change, right?

20. ARIZONA (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 23

They showed their resilience in coming back from a 13-3 fourth-quarter deficit at Lucas Oil Stadium, but Carson Palmer threw another interception and now has 26 picks in his last 21 starts (including playoffs).

21. JACKSONVILLE (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 19

Back to earth with a thud. The Jaguars hit Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota twice after sacking Texans quarterbacks 10 times (and hitting them twice more) the previous week.

22. HOUSTON (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 22

If their defense can put the clamps on opponents, one explosive DeShaun Watson play a game might be enough to get them by.

23. BUFFALO (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 28

Sean McDermott's defense has made a quantum leap, ranking fifth in per-possession efficiency through two games, and the Bills were just a leaping Zay Jones catch away from being 2-0. A classic example of a team that showed more in a Week 2 defeat than in a previous week's win, the Bills' defense looks like it's back to where it was in 2014.

24. LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-1)
LAST WEEK: 21

They play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum just once over the next seven weeks, so they will have to improve on their road form from late last season, when they lost three consecutive games by an average of 21.7 points.

25. NEW YORK GIANTS (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 14

"It will get better when Odell Beckham Jr. returns," I wrote last week. Those are words I would like to take back, thank you.

26. CLEVELAND (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 25

This week's trip to Indianapolis to face the struggling Colts represents a prime chance for the Browns to snap a 14-game road losing streak.

27. NEW ORLEANS (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 26

Fourth in overall per-possession offensive efficiency. Dead last in per-possession defensive efficiency. This feels like a rerun.

28. CINCINNATI (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 27

In case you're wondering, two teams that failed to score a touchdown in either of their first two regular-season games did make the postseason: the 1988 Browns and the 1990 Saints. So there is a glimmer of hope for the Bengals.

29. INDIANAPOLIS (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 30

The Colts lead the league in a statistic in which you never want to lead the league: three-and-outs (14 possessions without gaining a first down).

30. CHICAGO (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 29

The Bears have lost nine consecutive road games by an average margin of 28-14. They haven't hit 20 points in six consecutive road games. Good thing they're at home this week. Of course, it's against Pittsburgh, but the Bears battled the Falcons to the final minute in Week 1.

31. SAN FRANCISCO (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 31

The offense is still looking for its first touchdown, but their defensive line is playing well, particularly DeForest Buckner and Tank Carradine, so they will have a chance to stay in games.

32. NEW YORK JETS (0-2)
LAST WEEK: 32

Former Bronco Kalif Raymond was waived by the Jets on Tuesday after fumbling three times in 11 opportunities (five punt returns, three fair catches and three kickoff returns) over two weeks. His muffed punt return Sunday led to a 28-3 Raiders avalanche that ended any hopes of a Jets upset.

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