17 min read

NFL 2023 Week 3 Power Rankings: Cowboys Climb Into Top 3

We have two weeks of football in the books, which gives us a better idea of who each team is right now.

Every Tuesday, we’ll provide updated power rankings. The rankings will be driven by who the teams are at the moment. Those stances will be centered on every team’s talent, reliability and current level of success. Betting markets also will influence our stances, as will each team’s path to contention within its conference. We’ll also be aware of each team’s looming schedule difficulty.

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

1. San Francisco 49ers

Previous Rank: No. 1

Last game: 49ers 30, Rams 23

After blowing out the Steelers on opening day, the San Francisco 49ers left Los Angeles with their second road win in a row. San Francisco is one of the league’s most complete teams, scoring 30 points in each of its first two games.

The 49ers' elite defensive front can single-handedly derail games against vulnerable offensive lines. The 49ers are well positioned to start 3-0 with a Thursday night home game against the Giants on deck.

Next: vs. NYG (TNF), vs. ARI, vs. DAL (SNF), at CLE

2. Dallas Cowboys

Previous Rank: No. 4

Last game: Cowboys 30, Jets 10

The Dallas Cowboys have beaten both New York teams by a combined score of 70-10 to start the season. That utter domination has the Cowboys jumping the Eagles and Chiefs in our rankings. The Cowboys' premium pass rush, improved secondary and complete offense make them a contender.  In Week 3, Dallas could add a third consecutive blowout win to its resume in Arizona.

Next: at ARI, vs. NE, at SF (SNF), at LAC (MNF)

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Previous Rank: No. 2

Last game: Eagles 34, Vikings 28

The Philadelphia Eagles are another complete team that can win through the air, on the ground or defensively. On opening day, their defense played the leading role during their win in New England.

Last week, the Eagles leaned on their ground game in their victory over the Vikings. We have not seen a ceiling game out of Jalen Hurts’ passing attack this season, but it’s coming.

Next: at TB (MNF), vs. WAS, at LAR, at NYJ

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Previous Rank: No. 3

Last game: Chiefs 17, Jaguars 9

QB Patrick Mahomes is the centerpiece of the Kansas City Chiefs’ dynasty, but their defense carried the day in Jacksonville last week. Kansas City’s defense was the better unit on opening day against the Lions, too. TE Travis Kelce and DT Chris Jones are back, so better days are likely ahead for the Chiefs.

However, keep in mind Mahomes still has a below-average wide receiver group. Thankfully, Mahomes won last year’s MVP under those same conditions. Still, his offense needs to show more than it has to rise up our rankings.

Next: vs. CHI, at NYJ (SNF), at MIN, vs. DEN (TNF)

5. Miami Dolphins

Previous Rank: No. 10

Last game: Dolphins 24, Patriots 17

The Miami Dolphins’ supremely talented passing attack carried them to victory on opening day. On Sunday night, it was their defense and running game that led them to victory in New England.

Complete teams that can win games in multiple ways tend to go far in the NFL playoffs. The Dolphins look like one of those teams.

Next: vs. DEN, at BUF, vs. NYG, vs. CAR

6. Buffalo Bills

Previous Rank: No. 6

Last game: Bills 38, Raiders 10

Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills have been among the most consistent teams over the past several years. We expected a correction game against the Raiders last week, and that’s what we got. RB James Cook and rookie TE Dalton Kincaid already are making an impact. Allen has a better-supporting cast on offense this year than he did last season.

Next: at WAS, vs. MIA, vs. JAX (Europe), vs. NYG (SNF)

7. Baltimore Ravens

Previous Rank: No. 8

Last game: Ravens 27, Bengals 24

The Baltimore Ravens’ defense continues to be rock solid through the first two weeks. That’s been a staple in Maryland for most of this century. The Ravens’ new-look offense has been efficient and effective, but it still hasn’t hit its ceiling. The Ravens are 2-0, but it’s clear their best football is ahead of them.

Next: vs. IND, at CLE, at PITT, vs. TEN (Europe)

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Previous Rank: No. 5

Last game: Chiefs 17, Jaguars 9

There is no shame in losing to the Chiefs but scoring just nine points against them at home is disappointing. The Jacksonville Jaguars' offense stumbled, but no one could have asked for more out of their defense. Jacksonville has the raw materials to contend in the AFC, but it showed last week it isn't quite there yet.

Next: vs. HOU, vs. ATL (England), vs. BUF (Europe), vs. IND

9. Detroit Lions

Previous Rank: No. 9

Last game: Seahawks 37, Lions 31 OT

Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions’ offense played well in Week 2, but their defense took a big step back against Seattle. So far, Detroit is exactly what we expected it to be: a good, tough team that isn’t quite in that upper echelon. The Lions have a manageable schedule stretch on deck, where they could realistically open the season 5-1.

Next: vs. ATL, at GB (TNF), vs. Car, at TB

10. New Orleans Saints

Previous Rank: No. 14

Last game: Saints 20, Panthers 17

The New Orleans Saints were in control for most of Monday night in Carolina. New Orleans’ defense has been strong, giving up just 32 total points through two games. Derek Carr’s passing attack hasn’t been perfect, but it’s clear it has more potential than it did last year.

The Saints have weapons on offense, and they’ll get RB Alvin Kamara back from suspension in Week 4. Perhaps most importantly, New Orleans will continue to benefit from the league’s easiest schedule.

Next: at GB, vs. TB, at NE, at HOU

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

Previous Rank: No. 16

Last game: Steelers 26, Browns 22

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a physical, quality defense for most of the franchise’s existence. In 2023, Pittsburgh’s defense is the reason it has gotten off to a 1-1 start. Kenny Pickett’s offense has underwhelmed so far, but they’ve played two high-end defenses with trench advantages. Week 3 at Las Vegas should give us a better idea of what the Steelers’ offense is capable of.

Next: at LV (SNF), at HOU, vs. BAL, BYE

12. Cleveland Browns

Previous Rank: No. 12

Last game: Steelers 26, Browns 22

The strength of the Cleveland Browns’ offense is their offensive line, which makes RB Nick Chubb’s injury devastating on a number of fronts. Jerome Ford stepped in admirably, rushing for more than 100 yards in Chubb’s absence.

Even if Ford can produce at a high level, Cleveland’s fate rests on Deshaun Watson. Through two games, Watson has been an inaccurate, unreliable player. Unless that changes, the pressure is on the Browns’ talented defense to keep this team in contention.

Next: vs. TEN, vs. BAL, Bye, vs. SF

13. Cincinnati Bengals

Previous Rank: No. 7

Last game: Ravens 27, Bengals 24

If QB Joe Burrow plays Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals are in a correction spot against the Rams. Burrow’s offense finally started to show some life in the second half against Baltimore last week. Losing two games against talented division rivals isn’t a reason to panic. However, a loss to the Rams will change that, especially if Burrow can’t play.

Next: vs. LAR (MNF), at TEN, at ARZ, vs. SEA

14. Los Angeles Chargers

Previous Rank: No. 11

Last game: Titans 27, Chargers 24 OT

The Los Angeles Chargers have all the talent in the world, that’s been the case for years. Justin Herbert has simply been himself through two weeks. And he is one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Despite its talent, this team simply isn’t closing out winnable games. That’s been a trend throughout the Brandon Staley era, and it’s the current reality through the Chargers' first two games.

Next: at MIN, vs. LV, Bye, vs. DAL (MNF)

15. Los Angeles Rams

Previous Rank: No. 20

Last game: 49ers 30, Rams 23

The Los Angeles Rams' blowout win in Seattle was the biggest surprise of opening day. They followed that effort by giving the vastly more talented 49ers a competitive game in Week 2. QB Matthew Stafford has elevated his supporting cast on offense to unthinkable heights through two games. The Rams now get desperate Cincinnati, on the road, on Monday Night Football in Week 3.

Next: at CIN (MNF), at IND, vs. PHI, vs. ARZ

16. Seattle Seahawks

Previous Rank: No. 17

Last game: Seahawks 37, Lions 31 OT

The Seattle Seahawks suffered a bad opening-day loss to the Rams, then followed that up with an impressive victory in Detroit. Geno Smith was exceptional last week against the Lions. If he can consistently play at that high level, the Seahawks are a contender in the NFC. If Smith remains inconsistent, this will be a roller-coaster season for Seattle.

Next: vs. CAR, at NYG (MNF), Bye, at CIN

17. Atlanta Falcons

Previous Rank: No. 19

Last game: Falcons 25, Packers 24

The Atlanta Falcons have a scrappy, run-centric offense with a much-improved defense. Those two factors have driven them to their 2-0 start. Where this team goes from here will largely depend on what QB Desmond Ridder can do against better teams. Upcoming games against the Lions and Jaguars should show us where this Falcons’ team truly stands.

Next: at DET, vs. JAX (England), vs. Hou, vs. WASH

18. Tennessee Titans

Previous Rank: No. 21

Last game: Titans 27, Chargers 24 OT

The Tennessee Titans followed up their narrow opening-day loss with an overtime win against the Chargers. Tennessee's defensive line is a strength, but its secondary has given up 300 yards passing in both games this season.

Tennessee’s bottom-tier offensive line limits what it can do offensively, especially in the passing game. The Titans continue to be a hard-nosed, well-coached team under Mike Vrabel. But ultimately, this roster has a lot of holes.

Next: at CLE, vs. CIN, at IND, vs. BAL (Europe)

19. Green Bay Packers 

Previous Rank: No. 15

Last game: Falcons 25, Packers 24

Jordan Love has played well through two games, totaling six passing touchdowns over that span. He’s also only thrown for 396 passing yards with a 55.8 completion percentage. Love was without RB Aaron Jones and WR Christian Watson last week, so there’s a clear path to him being more productive. The Green Bay Packers face two quality opponents during the next two weeks. They will need more out of their offense in those matchups.

Next: vs. NO, vs. DET (TNF), at LV (MNF), BYE

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previous Rank: No. 30

Last game: Buccaneers 27, Bears 17

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense has been good, holding the Vikings and Bears to 17 points each. That’s not a major surprise, and we definitely don’t view that as a fluke. Baker Mayfield’s offense, on the other hand, has been good enough to win against two of the worst defenses in football.

We give Tampa Bay credit for its 2-0 start, but we remain underwhelmed by its offense. The Buccaneers face their first elite opponent of the year, the Eagles, this Monday night.

Next: vs. PHI (MNF), at NO, BYE, vs. DET

21. Washington Commanders

Previous Rank: No. 26

Last game: Commanders 35, Broncos 33

The Washington Commanders are 2-0, which is at least somewhat surprising. They were expected to win on opening day against Arizona. That narrow home victory wasn’t impressive. However, going into Denver and scoring 35 points is noteworthy. The Commanders face two title contenders over the next two weeks, but they’ve been better than expected to this point.

Next: vs. BUF, at PHI, vs. CHI (TNF), at ATL

22. Minnesota Vikings

Previous Rank: No. 18

Last game: Eagles 34, Vikings 28

Kirk Cousins has played well, throwing for 708 yards through two games. That’s where the compliments end for the Minnesota Vikings heading into Week 3. Their run game is non-existent, making them a one-dimensional offense.

Defensively, the Vikings are technically better than they were last season, but they still leave a lot to be desired. At this point, Cousins’ passing attack is the one real path the Vikings have to victory.

Next: vs. LAC, at CAR, vs. KC, at CHI

23. New England Patriots

Previous Rank: No. 23

Last game: Dolphins 24, Patriots 17

The New England Patriots have lost two one-score games to two teams in our top five entering Week 3. Bill Belichick’s defense has been bankable in New England since the turn of the century. We can count on that being a buttoned-up group, everyone knows that.

What has to be exciting for Patriots fans is that QB Mac Jones has been pretty good through two games. Jones is having success without having difference-making skill players. If that continues, the Patriots will start stacking wins against non-elite rosters.

Next: at NYJ, at DAL, vs. NO, at LV

24. New York Jets

Previous Rank: No. 13

Last game: Cowboys 30, Jets 10

The New York Jets defense did not play well in Dallas, but we saw on opening night how capable that group is. In other words, we can count on the Jets’ defense in most matchups. New York’s offense, however, was non-functional against the Cowboys.

The Jets brought in Aaron Rodgers because Zach Wilson is already a failed first-round quarterback. With Rodgers, New York is a title contender. Without him, they are a team entirely reliant on the defense.

Next: vs. NE, vs. KC (SNF), at DEN, vs. PHI

25. New York Giants

Previous Rank: No. 22

Last game: Giants 31, Cardinals 28

After getting embarrassed by the Cowboys on opening night, the New York Giants went into halftime down 20-0 in Arizona. New York’s defense made Josh Dobbs look like Tom Brady for 30 minutes. Daniel Jones then carried the Giants’ offense to a 31-point second half, stealing a three-point win.

The come-from-behind victory is nice, and Jones deserves credit for his performance. However, the Giants' pass rush and secondary were non-existent in Arizona. Beating Dobbs’ Cardinals by three points isn’t something to celebrate. New York has a major uphill battle this Thursday night in San Francisco.

Next: at SF (TNF), vs. SEA (MNF), at Mia, at LAR

26. Las Vegas Raiders

Previous Rank: No. 24

Last game: Bills 38, Raiders 10

Week 2’s game in Buffalo was a trip back to reality for the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas’s defense was dismantled in both phases by the Bills. Jimmy Garoppolo’s offense didn’t impress in its narrow Week 1 win in Denver, and it did little in Buffalo. The Raiders have a few excellent players, but collectively, they are a below-average team.

Next: vs. PIT, at LAC, vs. GB (MNF), vs. NE

27. Denver Broncos

Previous Rank: No. 25

Last game: Commanders 35, Broncos 33

On the bright side, Russell Wilson has been much better through the first two games of this season. On the downside, he took seven sacks against Washington behind shaky offensive line play. What’s more concerning is the Denver Broncos gave up 35 points to the Commanders last week. The Broncos are more dangerous than they were last year, but they still lack consistency.

Next: at MIA, at CHI, vs. NYJ, at KC (TNF)

28. Indianapolis Colts

Previous Rank: No. 31

Last game: Colts 31, Texans 20

Anthony Richardson has impressed through his first two NFL games. He’s been a far more consistent passer than most expected. Unfortunately, he was sidelined for most of Week 2 because of a concussion. His dynamic athletic ability makes him special, but he already needs to take less contact.

The Indianapolis Colts’ boundary cornerbacks are a vulnerability, but their defense has played well through the first two games. Overall, the Colts have been better than expected.

Next: at BAL, vs. LAR, vs. TEN, at JAX

29. Carolina Panthers

Previous Rank: No. 29

Last game: Saints 20, Panthers 17

The Carolina Panthers' defense has been solid through the first two games this season. Their offense, on the other hand, has been hard to watch. It’s not much of a surprise when a rookie quarterback like Bryce Young struggles early in his career.

The problem is Young's supporting cast is so weak he’ll largely have to carry the offense for it to improve. We’re still far away from seeing that type of outcome with Young.

Next: at SEA, vs. MIN, at DET, at MIA

30. Chicago Bears

Previous Rank: No. 28

Last game: Buccaneers 27, Bears 17

The Chicago Bears haven’t just lost their first two games, they’ve lost them handily. They were blown out at home on opening day by the Packers before losing in Tampa Bay last week. If the Buccaneers had more consistent quarterback play, that 10-point loss would have been worse.

Chicago’s offense has underwhelmed, and it may have the league’s worst pass rush. Now the Bears head to Kansas City in Week 3, where a blowout loss could unravel the Bears' season.

Next: at KC, vs. DEN, at Wash (TNF), vs. MIN

31. Arizona Cardinals

Previous Rank: No. 32

Last game: Giants 31, Cardinals 28

The Arizona Cardinals were the consensus worst team in the league heading into opening day. Arizona faces a talent deficit against most opponents, with three brutal games looming. Despite those realities, they’ve given the Commanders and Giants competitive games. The Cardinals are 0-2, but they’ve been far more competitive than most expected to this point.

Next: vs. DAL, at SF, vs. CIN, at LAR

32. Houston Texans

Previous Rank: No. 30

Last game: Colts 31, Texans 20

The Houston Texans have started the season 0-2 in a pretty unimpressive fashion. In both instances, they were forced to play from behind early. Houston’s defense has shown some promise, as has quarterback C.J. Stroud. But ultimately, the Texans have lost each of their first two games by two scores. They are the worst team in the league right now.

Next: at JAX, vs. PIT, at ATL, vs. NO

Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.