NFL Power Rankings: Dolphins are 3-0, although we have to hold it in perspective

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The Miami Dolphins are 3-0. Strip away every little thing else and that is all that ought to matter at this moment to them and their fans. It has been a very long time since there was this much justifiable excitement for that franchise. Celebrate it.

For those who aren’t emotionally invested, it’s value taking a extra in-depth look underneath the hood.

The Dolphins are undeniably better this season. They’ve been adding expertise for the past few years and it’s lastly paying off. They’re in all probability a playoff group. Through the years, 76 p.c of teams that start 3-0 make the playoffs, and it’s easier now for the explanation that playoffs expanded to 14 teams in the 2020 season. The Dolphins look like they received the proper coach in Mike McDaniel, the Tyreek Hill commerce has transformed the offense and Tua Tagovailoa is making strides. The defense has given up a lot of yards and points the previous two weeks however there is talent on that facet of the ball. They also have a one-game lead on the Buffalo Bills after Sunday with a head-to-head win in hand, which is huge for tiebreakers.

But it is exhausting to buy the Dolphins as the new AFC East favourite, and really onerous to consider they might be more than that. Miami had a fantastic, memorable comeback in Week 2, however you can only have a comeback when you performed really poorly for many of a game. The Dolphins have been down 35-14 to the Baltimore Ravens before getting scorching in the fourth quarter. In Week 3, the Bills outgained Miami 497-212, had 90 performs to 39 for Miami, and Buffalo held the ball for 40:40. The Bills dominated play and came up short on the scoreboard. It happens. The Bills ought to have gained but Josh Allen short-armed a pass to wide-open Isaiah McKenzie ultimately zone late within the sport. The Bills misplaced by two points on the road with a quantity of starters either injured or coping with issues from the warmth. It’s not just like the Dolphins dominated the sport.

And all of that is OK. Miami is 3-0 and has a fantastic quality win in its pocket for the remainder of the season. The Ravens win will age nicely too. For a staff that has been to the playoffs simply once since 2008 and hasn’t had a playoff win since 2000, there’s nothing mistaken with a step this season that does not embody them being launched into the tier of Super Bowl contenders. The Dolphins are much better. They appear to be a playoff group. They have a promising coach and might feel lots higher about their quarterback than they did three games in the past. All that’s constructive. Now we’ll see what comes next.

Story continues

Christian Wilkins (94) and Robert Hunt (68) of the Miami Dolphins rejoice during an enormous win over the Bills. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Here are the facility rankings after Week 3 of the NFL season:

The Jets have performed two good minutes all season. They’ve led for 22 seconds. The comeback towards Cleveland was unimaginable however that was a transparent outlier. I know I’m alleged to say we can’t choose them until we see them with Zach Wilson, but do you consider he is transforming this team? Me both.

The Texans would be 1-2 in the event that they did not determine to try to sit on a Week 1 lead with Rex Burkhead, giving him all the enjoying time at operating again over rookie Dameon Pierce. That was one of many weirdest teaching decisions of the season. That has corrected. Pierce had 80 yards on 20 carries Sunday, had a variety of good runs, and it’ll keep getting better from here. Houston nonetheless will not be superb general.

The Seahawks drafted Kenneth Walker III in the second spherical. They gave him 9 snaps on Sunday. One of his three carries was unbelievable. The Seahawks gave extra snaps to DeeJay Dallas than Walker. In related information, the Seahawks misplaced at house to the Falcons.

The Falcons finally obtained Kyle Pitts concerned, with 87 yards on 5 catches. They got their first win of the season. Must be a coincidence. The Falcons have been pretty good this season, a lot higher than their document or their roster would indicate. They won’t be an easy out.

Justin Fields has 23 completions in three games. This calendar yr, every single determination the Bears have made — together with the defensive-minded coach they hired, the dearth of free-agent additions on offense, drafting defense first and persevering with to the playcalling — appears to point they have zero perception in Fields.

Christian McCaffrey, one of many best receiving operating backs ever with two 100-catch seasons on his resume, has 10 catches for 57 yards in three video games. One of the signs of a nasty coaching workers is when it does not understand the means to play to the strengths of its finest players.

Pocket awareness typically fails Carson Wentz, and it definitely did when he was getting sacked 9 times on Sunday. I’ll write that off as dealing with a great Eagles defense, because Washington’s offense was largely fantastic earlier than that. But it’s a reminder that there might be some ugly games.

Maybe the Steelers know that Kenny Pickett isn’t prepared and starting him now would set him again. But it did not look that way in preseason. Other than that, I can’t think of a single cause to not begin Pickett proper now. Mitchell Trubisky is not the reply. What’s the point in waiting?

Hopefully you did not buy too much into that 2-0 start. The Giants have not arrived but, but they are better. They have a a lot better head coach. It’s a work in progress, and Monday night time showed that.

It’s funny that this is the only 0-3 group within the NFL. They’re not unhealthy. They’ve been outscored by simply 13 points. But they’re additionally 0-3 in a tough conference that may be very unlikely to have a wild-card entry with lower than 10 wins. It’s an enormous hole. The first order of enterprise is figuring out how Davante Adams can have 12 and 36 yards in their final two games. That’s inexcusable.

I’m unsure how the Cardinals fix this. No, DeAndre Hopkins’ return is not going to turn them into a top-10 offense. James Conner hasn’t been capable of pick up the place he left off last season. Kyler Murray is not doing sufficient for a $230 million quarterback. Kliff Kingsbury does not seem to have the solutions. And the defense isn’t adequate to keep them in contention. This season may get ugly for the Cardinals.

The subsequent few weeks will both be Mac Jones taking part in at presumably far lower than 100 percent on a high ankle sprain or Brian Hoyer taking up. I’m unsure how an offense that already had its issues (though, it was better Sunday) gets a lot better than that situation. These next few weeks are crucial for the Patriots. They have to grind out some wins to remain related.

The Titans rediscovered their winning method. They’re not going to play well from behind as a outcome of it minimizes Derrick Henry and puts more strain on Ryan Tannehill. If they will get a lead and lean on Henry, they are a different team. That’s easier said than accomplished, however we all know what the Titans have to do going ahead.

The Lions blew it on Sunday. They should have gone for it on fourth-and-4 with somewhat more than a minute to go however decided on a 54-yard field goal as a substitute, a choice Dan Campbell stated he regrets. This is the place the Lions’ historical past is an issue. Other teams can lose a recreation like that and while it stings, it does not follow them. It’ll be onerous for Detroit, which deserves rather more than its 1-2 record right now, to not slip into the mindset that they are simply the same previous Lions.

The excellent news is rookie receiver Chris Olave seems like a fantastic decide. He had 9 catches for 147 yards on Sunday, a week after getting a ton of air yards but being unable to attach better with Jameis Winston. The dangerous news is there’s not much else to love in regards to the Saints offense proper now.

Uh oh. The Chargers took a foul loss on Sunday, not as a outcome of they lost to Jacksonville, however 38-10 at home? And they misplaced unbelievable left tackle Rashawn Slater to a torn biceps. That’s certainly one of their greatest players out for the season. Edge rusher Joey Bosa went down with what appears to be a significant groin harm. They had been already with out center Corey Linsley, cornerback J.C. Jackson and receiver Keenan Allen, and quarterback Justin Herbert was clearly enjoying hurt. The Chargers aren’t completed this season or something, however if you had high hopes for them, it’s time to recalibrate.

The defense has to be beside itself. In one loss, it allowed eight completions. In the second loss, the Broncos had five points deep into the fourth quarter, and two of these factors were on Jimmy Garoppolo’s security when he channeled Dan Orlovsky. The good news is San Francisco’s defense is superior and will assist them dig out of this 1-2 start.

The Bengals did what they needed to do towards a nasty Jets group. They play an excellent Dolphins group at home on Thursday, and that might be a greater barometer of what they’ll be this season.

The Broncos offense looks terrible through three video games. All of the yelling about Nathaniel Hackett’s game administration overshadowed that Russell Wilson hasn’t looked good both. I must be affected person, on circumstance that it’s just three video games after an offseason of total change, however it has been three ugly video games on offense. There should be some reliable concern.

The Colts cannot fear about how it seemed, they needed a win and obtained it towards an excellent Chiefs team. They get the Titans at residence this week and if they win that, they will be proper again on monitor in the AFC South. A abruptly huge rematch in opposition to the Jaguars comes early, in Week 6.

Dallas could have been in some real hassle with out Dak Prescott. Cooper Rush has filled in properly and the Cowboys are 2-0 in his starts. He received a big assist from CeeDee Lamb within the fourth quarter on Monday evening, and from a protection that’s relentless. The Eagles aren’t out of the woods within the NFC East but. The Cowboys’ Week 1 loss looks like a lengthy time in the past.

I marvel if Nick Chubb can make a run at NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He has 341 dashing yards and 4 touchdowns on 62 carries, and leads the NFL in all three categories. The Browns are going to ride him hard. If he keeps up near this tempo and the Browns keep in the AFC North race with their backup quarterback for 11 video games, Chubb will get a lot of the credit.

I had the Jaguars too low final week. It was only a mistake. I probably was penalizing them an extreme quantity of for a Week 1 loss to Washington (and holding onto preseason preconceptions) and not giving sufficient credit for the Week 2 win over the Colts. The Jaguars are an excellent staff. Trevor Lawrence is turning into everything he was hyped to be. They’re fun. A trip to Philly this week is a unbelievable check.

We’re back on the Dalvin Cook shoulder harm curler coaster, earlier than ever this season. Not great. They’ll be fine at running again with Alexander Mattison. What is concerning is how Justin Jefferson has 62 yards in two games. He had just 14 yards on three catches Sunday. That should by no means happen.

Lamar Jackson is wonderful. Full stop. Sometimes on social media we focus on the small teams with terrible takes, as a outcome of it’s easy to dunk on them. And I don’t suppose the share of individuals still criticizing Jackson may be very high. It simply shocks me that any exist anymore.

It’s reasonable to wonder if the Buccaneers are in some hassle. My reply continues to be no, or no much less than “not yet.” If the Bucs get all their gamers wholesome and so they’re still laboring on offense, I’ll fear. Until then I see a group playing great protection (seriously, Tampa Bay’s defense is the most underrated unit of these first three weeks) and playing offense without a handful of Pro Bowlers or potential Hall of Famers. Let’s give it a while.

Arizona is the one group that may decelerate Cooper Kupp. Since the start of final season, Kupp has played 24 video games, including playoffs. He has a minimal of 92 receiving yards in 21 of these video games. All three of his video games underneath 92 receiving yards are towards the Cardinals (he had video games of 64 and 61 yards last season and 44 on Sunday). Kupp nonetheless scored a landing Sunday on a jet sweep as a result of he’s unstoppable, however his hex in opposition to the Cardinals is hard to figure out.

It would have been nice if the Packers offense put that Buccaneers sport away early, so the protection didn’t have to face a two-point conversion in the final seconds. But the Packers have been going in opposition to an excellent Bucs defense. And they received a win that’s going to matter so much when the NFC gets seeded in January.

The Dolphins defense was on the sphere for 90 plays in ridiculous warmth towards a Bills offense that needed to spread it out and cross it all over the place. Now the Dolphins go on the highway on short rest for a Thursday evening sport at the Bengals. They also have injury issues, together with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (though excuse me for not worrying an extreme quantity of about him enjoying through his, ahem, back and neck injury). If the Dolphins win in that scenario, it is going to be actually spectacular.

The Chiefs offense isn’t the identical. It does not assist when Clyde Edwards-Helaire has zero yards on seven carries against the Colts. It will still be good as a outcome of Patrick Mahomes is amongst the finest quarterbacks we’ve ever seen, but over the last couple weeks there have been extra challenges than we’re used to seeing.

If you’re dismissing the Eagles defense for taking half in “solely” the Vikings and Commanders the final two weeks, go check what these two offenses did of their games that weren’t against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s protection is sweet. I’m bumping the Eagles means up because I was too conservative on them before. I stored seeing a group that had Super Bowl upside but didn’t act on that sufficient in these energy rankings. That has been corrected.

One of the principle tenets of the power rankings here is, when there is a troublesome choice to be made we ask a simple question: If Team A performed Team B on a impartial field, who would win? Well, I’d nonetheless choose the Bills to beat anyone listed above. You in all probability would too. A two-point road loss in sweltering warmth, when they more than doubled up the Dolphins in yards, plays and time of possession, all with multiple starters out of the lineup, actually would not lead me to imagine Buffalo isn’t the best group in the NFL. Every NFL group loses a sport, until you’re the 1972 Dolphins.

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