We’ve seen 3 weeks of action thus far, 48 games, and the NFL landscape is starting to become more developed.  Some teams which were thought to be potential Super Bowl challengers aren’t looking so great, and others who seemed as though they might be getting another top 10 draft spot in April of 2011 are looking good.

Here they are, the NFL Power Rankings as I see it.

32 – Carolina Panthers (0-3)

They’re averaging one touchdown per game, 10.7 points per game, and they haven’t lost to any elite teams as they’ve been outscored by 39 points.

31 – San Francisco 49ers (0-3)

It’s embarrassing to put San Francisco into this spot, given that I thought they were going to have two losses the entire year and end up one of the best in the NFC.  Clearly I was wrong.  They’ve only scored 6 more than the Carolina Panthers, and although they’ve given up 16 more runs than Carolina, the fact that the 49’ers have lost to undefeated Kansas City, the reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints and a rejuvenated Seattle Seahawks keeps them from being last place.

30 – Buffalo Bills (0-3)

I like the fact that the Bills have scored 3 more points per game on average than the 49’ers while letting up the same number of points.  A loss at home to divisional opponent Miami is a tough loss, but I don’t blame them at all for losses at Green Bay and at New England.  At best I would think the Bills would be 1-2 at this point.

29 – Detroit Lions (0-3)

Once Matthew Stafford is healthy, the Lions are going to be a halfway decent team and much closer to the middle of this pack.  Losses on the road in the division to Chicago and Minnesota aren’t surprising, and a loss at home to Philly is acceptable given that the Eagles are looking good this season.

28 – Cleveland Browns (0-3)

The Browns are averaging 15 points per game and are only allowing an average of 19 points per game.  All three of their losses are acceptable ones, as Tampa Bay and Baltimore are looking fairly good this season, and though I don’t like it when teams lose at home to anyone, Kansas City is undefeated so that shouldn’t be too shocking that the Chiefs beat the Browns.

27 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

It’s hard not to put Jacksonville lower on the list than this, as they’ve looked worse than some of the 0-3 teams.  Only two of the 0-3 teams have scored fewer points than the Jaguars and only two of the 0-3 teams have allowed more points.  They did beat the Denver Broncos, and a loss to Philadelphia isn’t terrible for them.  Still, I’m close to putting them at 28 or 29.

26 – Oakland Raiders (1-2)

I like the fact that the Raiders took care of business at home (beating the Rams) and only lost their games on the road (Tennessee and Arizona).  Their per-game average of just over 17 points per game is optimism inspiring, though their defense needs to kick it up a few notches, as Oakland is getting outscored on an average of 8 points per game.

25 – New York Giants (1-2)

I’m still not entirely sure why I put the Giants ahead of Oakland in these rankings.  They’ve only scored 1 point per game more than Oakland on average, whereas their defense is letting up 3 more points on average than the Raiders.  A victory over Carolina isn’t inspiring, and they got killed by Tennessee at home and blown out in the Manning Bowl when they visited the Colts in Indianapolis.

24 – Washington Redskins (1-2)

I’m sure I’ll catch flack from some of the New Yorkers for this one, but the Redskins are better than the Giants… and probably better than some of the teams who I’ve ranked ahead of them (I’m trying to minimize my homerism).  18 points on average per game isn’t great, and neither are the 22.3 points per game they’re allowing.  Their win over the Cowboys wasn’t awe inspiring; their loss to Houston is disheartening because they were winning by 17 points late in the third quarter and couldn’t hold on; the loss to the Rams in St Louis was frustrating but the game did go back and forth until late in the contest.  Given a couple plays, the Redskins could easily be 2-1, and although it’s a stretch, it’s not unreasonable to think that given a couple small changes they could be 3-0.

23 – Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

The Vikings are scoring a lot less than the teams at 24, 25 and 26, but their defense is actually stepping way up, allowing HALF as many points as the Raiders (#26) and the New York Giants (#25).  Their win came at home against Detroit, and a loss at New Orleans by only 5 points was decent.  They shouldn’t have lost to the Dolphins at home though.

22 – St Louis Rams (1-2)

Sam Bradford is still trying to catch his stride at quarterback, and the injury to Steven Jackson is a bit frightful for their chances to move into the upper half of the NFL this season.  They are scoring nearly 5 points on average more than the Minnesota Vikings and have allowed only 3.6 additional points per game than the Vikings.  Their win against Washington was an unexpected surprise and is more impressive than the Vikings beating Detroit (a division opponent at home), and although their losses to the Cardinals and the Raiders aren’t great, I like their style.

21 – Denver Broncos (1-2)

The Mile High guys have allowed more points than they’ve scored, and a loss to Jacksonville isn’t great, but I don’t have any issue with their loss to the Colts.  The win against Seattle looked good, but I can’t put them any higher given their average points per game (for and against).

20 – San Diego Chargers (1-2)

The Chargers get this spot primarily because of all the points they’ve scored – averaging 24 points per game while allowing 20.  A win over Jacksonville at home isn’t great, but their losses at Kansas City and at Seattle are very forgivable.

19 – Houston Texans (2-1)

They’ve got more wins than the teams in the 20s, which is why they’re technically in the teens, but I’m not inspired at all by the way the Texans have followed up their season opening win against the Colts at home (which divisional teams should expect to do, so I don’t consider it an upset).  They were losing to the Redskins by 17 until late in the game and ended up winning (needing overtime), and they got blown out of Texas by the Cowboys at home.  They’ve also let up more points than they’ve scored, which isn’t a good sign.

18 – Dallas Cowboys (1-2)

As a Washington Redskins fan, I don’t want to have to type out my logic here, but I will.  They’ve scored more than they’ve been scored upon, a loss to still-undefeated Chicago isn’t the end of the world, they should be mildly proud of their win at home against Houston, and I hate to say it but they nearly defeated the Washington Redskins on the road.

17 – Arizona Cardinals (2-1)

The Cards are doing a lot better than I thought they would given the loss of Kurt Warner.  The loss in Atlanta doesn’t bother me, as it was on the road to a quality team.  The wins at St Louis and at home against the Raiders weren’t of high quality.  The fact that they’ve allowed an average of 10 more points than they’ve scored should be a bad sign to Arizona fans, but they’ve only lost one game, so it’s not necessarily something to be hugely worried about.

16 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

A win over Cleveland at home was decent, as was a win on the road against Carolina (road wins in the division are quality no matter who the opponent is), and I don’t fault them at all for their loss to undefeated Pittsburgh.  They could have a decent thing going down in Florida, and their next four or five games should tell a lot about what their future looks like.

15 – Miami Dolphins (2-1)

I’m not getting hung up on the fact that they lost at home to the New York Jets (though the Dolphins have to win divisional home games if they want to get into the upper third of the league), as they balanced it out with good road wins against (divisional opponent) Buffalo and in Minnesota (a top NFC team last season).

14 – New Orleans Saints (2-1)

They’ve only scored a few more than they’ve allowed in three games, and although I don’t like the fact that they lost to the Falcons (divisional opponent) at home, they did defeat Minnesota and took it to the 49’ers in San Francisco.

13 – Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

They’ve allowed roughly the same number of points as the New Orleans Saints, but they’ve outscored them by 3 points per game.  Their loss was on the road against Denver, which is mildly forgivable, and they took care of business at home against San Francisco (divisional opponent, so that win was expected) and San Diego.  I’m likely not the only one to be mildly surprised by Pete Carroll’s early success, with seemingly little adjustment anxiety.

12 – Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

Despite having two of the more high profile wide receivers in the NFL and a good quarterback, the Bengals have scored four fewer points on average than the Seattle Seahawks (#13), but the teams the Bengals have played are better.  A loss at New England is completely forgivable, a win in Ohio against Baltimore (divisional opponent) was a must-win yet optimism inspiring, and the road win against the Carolina Panthers basically just adds to their numbers a bit.  The Bengals need to kick their offense into gear if they want to be taken serious from here on out, despite having scored more than they’ve allowed… barely.

11 – New England Patriots (2-1)

They’ve scored a ton of points, averaging 30 per game, but they’ve allowed almost as many (27.3 per game).  Their wins are decent – against Buffalo at home (divisional opponent) and Cincinnati at home.  The loss to the New York Jets on the road is somewhat forgivable to the divisional opponent.  Their defense needs to get into gear… unless their offense takes it up a notch – at which point it won’t matter much what their defense does.

10 – New York Jets (2-1)

On average their offense is getting roughly 23 points per game while their defense is only allowing about 16 points.  A loss at home to Baltimore wasn’t great, though a road win at Miami was good inside the division as well as a home victory against the New England Patriots.

9 – Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

Aside from what Anquan Boldin did this week, the Ravens offense looked a bit sad against the Jets and Bengals.  Their road win against the Jets was good, and they needed the win against the Browns at home.  Their one loss – on the road to divisional opponent Cincinnati – is acceptable, but their offense is going to have to keep on track if they’re going to be remaining in the top 10.

8 – Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

While their defense isn’t looking all that great just yet, they’re head and shoulders above the Patriots at this point, and their offense is almost as productive, getting 28 on average.  Their loss at home to the Packers keep them from being higher on these rankings, and their victories against Detroit and Jacksonville are only decent because they were on the road for both games.  Mike Vick is playing atop his game for now, but what happens if he starts slipping up?  We’ll face that if it happens.

7 – Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

I don’t fault them for the loss to open the season at Houston (divisional opponent).  Their win at home against the Giants was decent, as was their road win against the Broncos.  Peyton Manning has the offense clicking on all cylinders, averaging just shy of 30 per game, while only allowing around 20 per game (slightly inflated by the opening week’s loss to Houston).

6 – Tennessee Titans (2-1)

Their offense is doing really well, getting 26 points on average per game, and their defense is looking really good allowing on average only 14 points.  Their win at home to Oakland isn’t all that inspiring, given that it’s just the Raiders, but their win on the road against the Giants looks a bit better.  Their loss at home to Pittsburgh shows that they’re probably not an elite team, as elite teams don’t lose at home to teams missing their regular starting quarterback.

5 – Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Their offense is looking as good as the Tennessee Titans, and while their defense isn’t looking as good as Tennessee, I like their strength of schedule a bit more.  They beat the Eagles IN Philadelphia, took care of business at home against the Bills, and they just barely lost to the Bears (divisional opponent) in Chicago by 3.

4 – Atlanta Falcons (2-1)

Their offense is as good as the Packers, as is their defense, and they beat (divisional foe) New Orleans on the road, took care of business against Arizona at home, and only lost to the Steelers IN Pittsburgh by 6.  To me, their strength of schedule says a lot so far.

3 – Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

With 23 points scored on average per game and only allowing 13 points, the Chiefs have surprised a lot of people with their start.  They beat divisional foe San Diego at home, took care of the Browns in Cleveland and beat San Francisco in KC.  I’m not totally inspired by their victories, but they are undefeated.

2 – Chicago Bears (3-0)

Their offense is as good as the Chiefs, their defense has allowed almost 4 points per game more than Kansas City, but I like the Bears strength of schedule a bit more, having beaten divisional foes Detroit and Green Bay as they hosted them in Chicago, and they took care of business as they visited Dallas and beat the Cowboys.  A slightly more difficult schedule than the Chiefs thus far.

1 – Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)

Wave those Terrible Towels, Steel City fans, you’re tops in my rankings.  Your offense is doing well despite Roethlisberger still sitting out on suspension, and your defense has allowed an NFL low 11 points per game on average.  The Steelers beat Atlanta in Pittsburgh and went on the road to take out the rejuvenated Buccaneers and the surging Tennessee Titans.  I can only imagine how well they’ll be doing when they get their QB back.

– – –

Think your team deserves a better spot than I gave them?  Think your rival is over-rated?  Tell me why.  I could potentially use your logic when I shift things around a week from now.

Your silence implies you agree with me, so send whatever message you feel appropriate.