Sunday's early afternoon games are exactly the reason why the NFL is so crazy popular. Upsets, unbelievable finishes and ridiculous stat lines were just some of the highlights from a heart-stopping Week 3 of the NFL season.
The craziness of Sunday has certainly served to shake up our 2012 NFL power rankings too.
In our weekly edition below, we rank the teams based on what we've seen so far this season. We have also provided a projected win-loss record for each of the 32 NFL teams, giving a future context to the rankings.
Here's the complete list.
1. Houston Texans (Current record: 3-0, Projected record: 13-3)
The best team in the AFC imposed its will on the road against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Considering it plays in arguably the weakest division in football, Houston should cruise to 12 or 13 wins.
2. Atlanta Falcons (3-0, 12-4)
The Falcons had to travel across the country but then beat up on an improved Chargers team in a big way. Everyone should be buying in now.
3. New York Giants (2-1, 11-5)
The defending Super Bowl champs showed their mettle Thursday night. Without two of their best offensive players, New York handed Carolina a Manhattan-sized whupping.
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1, 12-4)
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith gained a number of lifelong fans Sunday night. Consider me one. Anyone with a close sibling knows how difficult it must have been to perform at the level he did against the Patriots.
5. San Francisco 49ers (2-1, 12-4)
The upset no one saw coming wasn't even a close game—the Vikings punched San Francisco in the mouth early and never stopped punching. The 49ers still have plenty of knockout blows to throw in 2012.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-1, 12-4)*
The Packers start a stretch of four road games in five weeks Monday night in Seattle.
7. Arizona Cardinals (3-0, 9-7)
Doesn't it feel like Arizona beating up on the Eagles actually made the Cardinals' win Sunday afternoon look worse? Like, maybe the Eagles actually were lucky to get to 2-0? Whatever your take, the Cardinals have now beaten three potential playoff teams to start 2012.
8. New England Patriots (1-2, 12-4)
The talent level on the defensive side is clearly better this season, but the results didn't show up Sunday night. When New England absolutely needed a stop, the Ravens were the ones making plays.
9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 10-6)
Dallas got one of the uglier wins of the weekend, but it's hard to argue with the way Rob Ryan's defense played. The offense is still too talented not to find a groove eventually.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1, 9-7)
No team was more disappointing in Week 3. Michael Vick clearly played poorly, but the Eagles offensive line is a mess right now. Philadelphia is talented but flawed.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1, 9-7)
The Bengals finally got themselves a good-looking road win. Save for his first throw, Andy Dalton again put up big numbers. That receiver group is a lot better than most pegged it to be to start 2012.
12. San Diego Chargers (2-1, 9-7)
The Chargers got beaten by a better team Sunday afternoon, but there's still no excuse for losing by 24 at home. Philip Rivers (two interceptions, sub-50.0 passer rating) has to be sharp for this team to win football games.
13. Seattle Seahawks (1-1, 8-8)*
Have the Seahawks had a bigger game than Monday night since beating the Saints in the 2010-11 playoffs? Statement time in Seattle.
14. Denver Broncos (1-2, 10-6)
Joe Mays, Roger Goodell on line two. In all seriousness, a 1-2 record wouldn't have been a crazy prediction for the start of the Broncos' season. Their first three games have arguably been the toughest in football.
15. Chicago Bears (2-1, 9-7)
The offensive line issues were still alive and well in Week 3. Unless something drastically changes up front offensively, the Bears will remain quasi-contenders in the NFC.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2, 10-6)
The Steelers will look back on this Week 2 loss when they are fighting and clawing for a playoff spot late in the season. Even 2,000 miles away from home, you can't let 10-point leads in the second half evaporate.
17. New York Jets (2-1, 7-9)
The Jets' 2012 season comes down to Monday's MRI on the knee of Darrelle Revis. If he's gone for the remainder of the year, New York can kiss any hope for a playoff spot goodbye.
18. Buffalo Bills (2-1, 9-7)
Can the Bills ever get an injury break? First Fred Jackson goes down, and now C.J. Spiller is likely to miss a week or two. If this team ever could get a season of injury relief, the playoffs might actually happen.
19. Minnesota Vikings (2-1, 6-10)
The most impressive win of the week, and it's not even close. To stick with the boxing references used with the 49ers, Minnesota recorded a TKO Sunday with the same right hook routinely thrown by San Francisco. Physical, in-your-face football was advantage Vikings in Week 3.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2, 7-9)
The cardiac Lions were at it again Sunday in Tennessee, and I didn't have a problem with Jim Schwartz attempting to go for it on fourth down in overtime. But a hurried quarterback sneak? Not the right play call in that situation.
21. Washington Redskins (1-2, 6-10)
Not the ending Washington wanted in its home opener, but this is a football team clearly on the upswing. Robert Griffin III has very few doubters remaining.
22. St. Louis Rams (1-2, 5-11)
The story of Sam Bradford's NFL career: one step forward, one bigger step back. The Bears' defensive line didn't make Sunday easy for him.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2, 7-9)
Greg Schiano's decision to again go after the victory formation will fog the fact that the Bucs were held under 100 yards until their final drive. No team looked more lost offensively Sunday than Tampa Bay.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-2, 7-9)
Cam Newton had arguably the worst performance of his young NFL career in the Thursday night spotlight. The sulking was also a little much. Emotion is good in this game, but it has be channeled the right way.
25. Indianapolis Colts (1-2, 4-12)
A silver lining for the Colts: Andrew Luck is very polished in the two-minute situations. The consistency over the other 56 minutes will come in time.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-2, 3-13)
Joe Philbin got iced in overtime, but that decision doesn't even need to be made if Dan Carpenter just makes his kick earlier in the extra period.
27. Tennessee Titans (1-2, 5-11)
Credit the Titans for finding a way to win with only 24 yards rushing from CJ240. And no, that's not a typo—Chris Johnson is on pace for 240 yards rushing in 2012.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-2, 4-12)
Arguably the second-biggest upset from Sunday came via the Raiders, who overcame a 10-point deficit late to shock the Steelers. Scoring 34 points—even without Troy Polamalu or James Harrison playing for Pittsburgh—was an impressive feat.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2, 5-11)
Comeback wins like Sunday's in New Orleans—even over a winless team—can jump-start a talented football team. The Chiefs need to build on their first win in Week 4.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2, 5-11)
A win is a win, especially when Blaine Gabbert's late touchdown pass masks what would have been another awful day at the office for the second-year quarterback. Maurice Jones-Drew has shaken off any "rust" nicely too.
31. New Orleans Saints (0-3, 6-10)
I must admit, having the Saints at No. 31 is still hard to get used to. But this team has earned a bottom-two ranking, especially after blowing a 24-6 second-half lead.
And what about this fun fact? The three teams (Chiefs, Panthers, Redskins) that have beaten New Orleans are a combined 0-6 in their other games this season.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3, 3-13)
Someone has to be last. The Browns clawed back after C.J. Spiller left Sunday, but this team just doesn't have the pieces to be more than a three- or four-game winner in 2012.
*Plays Monday night
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