32. CHICAGO (0-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 28 - Defense: 23
Said John Fox of the Bears' injuries. "It's not an excuse, but it is an excuse." That's some Zen right there.
31. JACKSONVILLE (0-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 24 - Defense: 22
The Jaguars took over inside the Baltimore 40 three times in the last 9:01 of the game thanks to a muffed punt and two interceptions. Jacksonville got just three points from those drives. The opportunities were there for the Jaguars in Weeks 1 and 3, and they frittered them away both times.
30. CLEVELAND (0-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 27 - Defense: 13
Even in defeats, they've shown a spark. Only Cody Parkey's struggles on a 3-of-6 day kept the Browns from the win column.
29. MIAMI (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 25 - Defense: 18
How do you decline after winning? Well, the win was over Cleveland. And the Browns were in position to win the game with a late takeaway, which is reflected in the Browns' defensive efficiency. Miami's defense was let off the hook by three missed field-goal attempts. The Dolphins won, but didn't solve any of their problems.
28. BUFFALO (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 26 - Defense: 19
LeSean McCoy ran wild and the Bills intercepted Carson Palmer four times. But was it just the residue of a week in which everyone was electro-shocked into proficiency because of Greg Roman's firing, or can this be a trend? We'll learn Sunday in New England.
27. NEW ORLEANS (0-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 4 - Defense: 31
This is exactly what the Saints were last year.
26. WASHINGTON (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 7 - Defense: 30
"You like that," indeed. A few more performances like a 21-of-35, 296-yard, two-touchdown day for Kirk Cousins and you can talk about Washington lurching back into the race again. A visit from the Browns next Sunday provides an outstanding opportunity to get back to break-even.
25. SAN DIEGO (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 8 - Defense: 20
A week after Chris Harris Jr. contained T.Y. Hilton, San Diego's Jason Verrett was beaten by Hilton for the 63-yard, game-winning touchdown that doomed the Chargers to a 26-22 loss. But perhaps more worrisome for San Diego than having their best cornerback beaten in the clutch was Melvin Gordon's performance; he mustered just 35 yards on 16 carries.
24. SAN FRANCISCO (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 31 - Defense: 9
Garbage-time touchdowns the last two weeks, including two in Seattle last Sunday, make their offensive numbers look better than they should.
23. INDIANAPOLIS (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 11 - Defense: 28
The Colts delivered another example of a win in which the victors didn't solve their problems. Defenses have scored three touchdowns off Colts giveaways in the last two weeks.
22. LOS ANGELES (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 32 - Defense: 15
Why are they below the team they beat Sunday? Because two gift-wrapped giveaways and a pair of missed kicks made their win possible. This remains a team with holes, and the angry Cardinals should expose them next weekend.
21. TAMPA BAY (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 18 - Defense: 14
If the Bucs eventually fall a game short of the postseason, they will kick themselves over the opportunity lost Sunday: a 20-10 lead that vanished in a 21-point Rams run, and two missed placekicks -- a 41-yard field-goal try and a first-quarter extra point -- that left the Bucs chasing points with two failed two-point conversions. Those points were the difference. The Bucs' mistakes are correctable, and if they fix them, they're dangerous and will be a tough matchup for the Broncos on Sunday.
20. DETROIT (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 2 - Defense: 29
Can they stop anybody when it matters?
19. TENNESSEE (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 23 - Defense: 10
So far, the Titans are showing a knack for finding the banana peel -- usually after they place it themselves. They lost to Minnesota in Week 1 when two giveaways became defensive touchdowns, then sealed their fate in Week 3 with two crucial penalties in the red zone: an unnecessary-roughness call against Taylor Lewan and an offensive-pass-interference call against Andre Johnson. As with the Bucs -- another team with a promising second-year quarterback -- the mistakes are correctable, but for now, miscues have prevented both teams from taking the next step.
18. NEW YORK JETS (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 12 - Defense: 24
It had been eight years, 10 months and 14 days since a quarterback threw six interceptions in one game as Ryan Fitzpatrick did Sunday. It had been three years, nine months and 16 days since a team had eight giveaways. No team has won a game with eight giveaways since the 1967 Packers, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. The Jets won't have another game resembling this in 2016; it is a statistical near-impossibility. So burn the film and move on.
17. ATLANTA (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 1 - Defense: 32
Is Atlanta's offense legit, or is it a product of two games against defenses that are 27th and 31st in per-series efficiency? In spite of the weakness of their opposing defenses, it might be the former, because the Falcons proved Monday they don't need to feed the ball to Julio Jones to win. A diversified offense has the potential to cause some major problems, even with a daunting three-game slate against Carolina, Denver and Seattle looming. Win one of those three games, and the Falcons can hang around the playoff race. Win two, and they are legitimate contenders.
16. NEW YORK GIANTS (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 14 - Defense: 12
Eli Manning and the Giants' passing offense melted in scoring range. The Giants averaged 2.25 yards per pass play from the Washington 20 and closer, going 2-of-7 passing for 19 yards with one sack and one interception. The Giants scored touchdowns on just two of five red-zone possessions, and that was the difference.
15. CINCINNATI (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 19 - Defense: 16
As last week showed, the Bengals' balance isn't there yet. When they can pass, they can't run; when they can run, they can't pass. Until Tyler Eifert returns, teams will be able to contain half of the Bengals' offense; they need him back so they can keep foes off-balance.
14. OAKLAND (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 6 - Defense: 27
Tennessee's late penalties helped, but a red-zone stop to preserve a win is just the sort of confidence-building moment the Raiders' struggling defense needed.
13. DALLAS (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 3 - Defense: 25
If Ezekiel Elliott holds on to the ball and Dak Prescott keeps avoiding mistakes, Dallas is capable of cobbling together time-consuming drives which will allow their defense to find their footing. The Cowboys aren't fancy, but they are effective.
12. BALTIMORE (3-0)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 20 - Defense: 4
Baltimore's defense appears back to form, but tests against the Raiders and Redskins loom in the next two games. Still, this is part of the schedule where the Ravens need to rack up wins, because the emergence of the Eagles could make their final four weeks of New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati particularly brutal.
11. GREEN BAY (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 14 - Defense: 26
Aaron Rodgers got back to his old self, but the defense is still buckling way too often.
- PITTSBURGH (2-1)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 17 - Defense: 17
It will be interesting to see the Steelers' reaction to how Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz played Antonio Brown on Sunday. Schwartz conceded the underneath routes to Brown, focusing his tighter coverage outside and down the sidelines. Brown racked up 140 yards on 12 catches, but averaged 11.7 yards per reception, and the explosive Steelers were largely contained.
9. ARIZONA (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 16 - Defense: 7
Special teams are a mess, and Carson Palmer has 10 interceptions in his last five games, including eight in his last four going back to the 2015 NFC Championship. Fundamentally, this is a strong team, but there are cracks in the foundation that need to be filled.
8. KANSAS CITY (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 22 - Defense: 8
The Chiefs' nasty, swarming defense has overcome its shaky start to the season against San Diego, allowing just one touchdown in the last 10 quarters -- and that was on a drive set up at their 27-yard line by an Alex Smith fumble.
7. HOUSTON (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 30 - Defense: 2
The Texans are 29th in points per possession (1.2), 28th in net yards per possesion (26.7) and 27th in first downs per possession (1.46). It takes time to integrate newcomers into the offense, but Bill O'Brien expected better than this out of the gates. And after the Tuesday night news that J.J. Watt will go on injured reserve, this ranking could be a bit high.
6. CAROLINA (1-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 15 - Defense: 6
It wasn't just that the Panthers lost to Minnesota; they looked disinterested as they did so. Given the events in Charlotte last week, including protests just a long pass from their stadium, it would be hard to blame them for having their minds elsewhere, They'd better get them back in focus quickly; the Falcons lurk this weekend, and were the only team to beat the Panthers in the 2015 regular season.
5. SEATTLE (2-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 21 - Defense: 3
Somehow, Russell Wilson is expected to keep playing, but with their offensive line still struggling in pass protection, how much longer can he hold on?
4. MINNESOTA (3-0)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 29 - Defense: 5
Minnesota's defense did to Cam Newton what only the Broncos had done in the last year. Purple People Eaters 2.0 has arrived.
3. PHILADELPHIA (3-0)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 9 - Defense: 1
The comprehensive nature of their 34-3 flattening of the Steelers called to mind the Broncos' dominance of the Packers last Nov. 1. Even the fact that the Eagles had more penalties didn't matter. Aside from punting, Philadelphia was the stronger side in every aspect of the game. They remind me of the Chiefs late last year after Jamaal Charles was lost to injury in that with an abundance of good weapons but no great ones, they are difficult to handle tactically because you can't focus on one target. It's probably not a coincidence that Eagles head coach Doug Peterson was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator last year.
2. NEW ENGLAND (3-0)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 13 - Defense: 11
Last Thursday's 27-0 dismantling of Houston was a signature night of the Belichick era, but let's not get carried away: Houston was its own worst enemy. Nevertheless, the Patriots will come through Tom Brady's suspension with no worse than a 3-1 record, and that puts them in better shape than most thought possible.
1. DENVER (3-0)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 5 - Defense: 12
With a plus-32 fourth-quarter scoring margin, no one has been better at closing -- and wearing opponents out -- than the Broncos. The oppressive heat and humidity looming in this weekend's game at Tampa Bay offers a stern test of the Broncos' endurance and resolve.
A frame-by-frame look at Demaryius Thomas' 55-yard touchdown catch against the Bengals from team photographer Eric Bakke.