Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. There are some significant shifts this week as we now have three weeks of results with which to evaluate teams. We’ll indicate as we go which teams are moving up and down from the Week 2 comparison.
10 – Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers (UP TWO LEVELS) – Instead of moving the Saints and Packers down after losses, we’ll move the Steelers up to join the league’s elite. We discussed the Steelers and Saints in Rise/Sink/Float this week. The Packers lost on the road in Chicago and shot themselves in the feet with 16 penalties. We’re not overly concerned about a road division loss, but the Pack needs to come back with another win to reestablish their street cred.
9 – Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots – The Texans fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a home loss to Dallas, but that loss to a desperate team isn’t real reason for concern. The Colts put together an impressive road performance to take down the Broncos. The Ravens won a division game against the Browns to move to 2-1 and stay within shouting distance of the Steelers heading into this week’s AFC North showdown. The Patriots took down the Bills at home, and while the run game was suprisingly good, the defense once again showed some holes.
8 – Atlanta Falcons (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets (UP A LEVEL) – The Falcons got a big-time road win in New Orleans. Even though it took a missed field goal to happen, it’s a sign that the Falcons are going to be in contention in the NFC South. If Atlanta runs the ball with that kind of success all year, they’ll be tough to beat. Dallas got a much-needed win at Houston, and they’re only one game back in their division, which means their slow start shouldn’t be fatal. The Jets won in Miami 31-23, which is a sign that the Jets have rectified their offensive issues from Week One well. Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards are both making huge plays for Gang Green. Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ offense did a good job against the Jets’ vaunted defense, which is a good sign going forward. Miami’s home game against the Patriots this week is once again huge for the Fins.
7 – Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnat Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles – The Bears won a big Monday night game at home against the Packers, indicating that they’re really a contender. Jay Cutler may get beaten to a pulp this season, but he’s doing a nice job in Mike Martz’ offense. Cincinnati put together a methodical road win at Carolina, which is the kind of win playoff contenders must get. The Vikings got their first win against Detroit, silencing some of the big-time questions that were floating around the Twin Cities. The Eagles moved to 2-1 in Jacksonville, and Michael Vick once again lit up a bad defense. But Vick is no certainty to light up a more talented group of defenders.
6 – Kansas City Chiefs (UP TWO LEVELS), New York Giants (DOWN A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans – We discussed the Giants in Rise/Sink/Float this week. The Chiefs shoot up two levels after moving to 3-0 with a convincing 31-10 home victory over the 49ers. Rookies Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster have added some punch to K.C.’s offense. The Chiefs now have a two-game AFC West lead over the Chargers, who gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns in seven-point loss in Seattle. Tennessee had an ultra-solid road win vs. the Giants, but they’re still not as scary as division foes Indy and Houston.
5 – Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Cardinals eked out a home win against the Raiders, and although it wasn’t impressive, it made them 2-1 in the lackluster NFC West. Seattle moved to 2-1 with another home win. The Seahawks are taking advantange of their massive home-field advantage thus far, and if they can continue to do that they’ll contend for eight wins, which could be enough in their division. The 49ers fell to 0-3 and fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, but there’s still time for a spark to help the Niners back into the division race.
4 – Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – This is now the level of teams that can step up and beat someone but are inconsistent. The Broncos threw for a ton of yards but still were manhandled by the Colts. The Lions lost at Minnesota to fall to 0-3, and more importantly rookie sensation Jahvid Best was injured. Oakland lost in Arizona on a last-second field goal miss. The Buccaneers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten when they got blasted at home by the Steelers. We still believe the Bucs are on the way up, but that game shows how far they have to go. The Redskins fell apart in St. Louis, losing a chance to stay atop the NFC East. They’re contenders for .500 but not for a long playoff run.
3 – Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – Sam Bradford got his first win in St. Louis over the Redskins, and the Rams once again demonstrated they can be kind of tough at home. The Jaguars were thumped at home against the Eagles, which is a bad sign for a team that lingered in contention last year almost exclusively because of home-field success.
2 – Carolina Panthers (DOWN TWO LEVELS), Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL) – We’re re-calibrating the bottom of the comparison this week, and that means moving the Browns and Panthers south. The Panthers showed little offensive life with Jimmy Clausen under center, and until the passing game emerges, the Panthers are an easy out. The Browns hung tough in Baltimore, and they continue to play hard, but they too lack offensive punch, which is a fatal flaw.
1 – Buffalo Bills – The Bills once again fell to 0-3, and to top it off they cut QB Trent Edwards, who started just one week ago. The Bills aren’t giving up in games, and rookie C.J. Spiller can provide a little pop, but the Bills have so little talent that most good teams will simply wear them down.