In a world where mediocre Texas Rangers shortstops from the late 1990s are now doing national car commercials, we bring you the NFL Power Rankings for Week 3.
Yes, we saw Royce Clayton and his family extolling the virtues of their Ford Flex on Monday night. Clayton hung around baseball for 17 seasons with 11 different teams. While Felix Jones and Jerricho Cotchery -- the weapons Ben Roethlisberger is playing with -- aren't quite as well-traveled yet, it feels like they are. Le'Veon Bell and Heath Miller can't make it back fast enough for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who clearly need more punch offensively. Otherwise, Mike Tomlin might have to do his best coaching job just to reach .500.
Meanwhile, our new No. 1 this week doesn't seem to need an offense, not with the way its defense is playing. And our No. 2 doesn't seem to need a defense, not with the way its offense is playing.
Funny, that's exactly how I felt when staring at No. 1, No. 2 ... and a big, blank Word document. That's OK, though, Neal; Seattle and Denver have earned it. As for the rest? Take a look below. All of you are welcome to bring it with your opinions ... @Harrison_NFL is the place. I read 'em all.
Now, let the dissension commence!
On the subject of running backs, I saw that former Bears great Rick Casares passed away. A big, Eddie George-like back at 6-foot-2, Casares led the NFL with 1,126 yards rushing in 1956 -- when the season was just 12 games long.
Achieving critical stops in outcome-determinant situations is more feasible and apropos than playing suffocating defense, à la the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. After all, few teams have the personnel to do much more than that. (The Saints are no exception, having lost many players to injury.) Given the current state of the rules, defensive backs can't get too down after giving up big plays; they just have to focus on stopping the next one. On Sunday, that's what New Orleans did when it had to, and -- with a little help from a Rian Lindell hook shot -- won the game.
Next up: a home date with the Falcons, who just had some trouble protecting their quarterback against the Rams. This is the type of contest in which the Dolphins can a) showcase the pass rush led by new toy Dion Jordan and old reliable Cameron Wake, and b) show they're for real by beating one of the better teams in the league.
Sunday's win over the Dallas Cowboys was ugly, but it was still a win. And hey, big kudos go to cornerback Brandon Flowers, who was beaten early and often by Dez Bryant, but proved that the best corners in this business are those who let the bad plays drift into oblivion (along with all of the cruddy dates and hooptie rides they've had). The Cowboys' passing game couldn't rekindle its first-half fire, and with Dontari Poe and Derrick Johnson clogging running lanes, the Kansas City Chiefs were in business. Hate to say it, but Andy Reid won his home opener playing some "Martyball."
How's this for a stat line? Rivers was 36-of-47 passing for 419 yards and three scores. He even had a 12-yard run, which, for him, is like Tony Dorsett going for 99.
Of course, the offense still put up a 30-spot in Sunday's loss. Philly's weak spot -- as we suspected would be the case two weeks ago -- proved to be the defense. Still, win or lose, this is an exciting team to watch.
So what changed as the game went on? The strength of this St. Louis Rams team -- the pass rush -- got going. Meanwhile, quarterback Sam Bradford spread it around, hitting four different receivers on the Rams' first touchdown drive and three receivers on the second -- he even called his own number on scrambles. If Bradford can lift his play without the urgency imposed by a 24-3 deficit, working in tandem with a defense that promises to punish the other guys' quarterbacks, we won't be typing such long blurbs after losses ...
Detroit had no business losing in Arizona to a team whose best player was out of the mix in the second half. Golden opportunity missed.
There was a lot to be impressed with in the kid's second career start. Ditto the passion with which Mario Williams was playing out there (notching 4.5 sacks). Fred Jackson contributed. Stevie Johnson made big plays (like getting the Carolina Panthers to commit a key pass-interference penalty late). The secondary barely gave Cam Newton any plays downfield. C.J. Spiller broke off a long gain. This was a team win. Frankly, it's nice to see organizational hope in Bills town.
In the intervening weeks, the challenge for Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is to find a passing game that threatens ... well ... anybody. Jake Locker couldn't even make it to 150 yards on 30 pass attempts. That won't cut it in the NFL. It's up to Loggains to give Locker protection while creating more downfield opportunities.
The bright spots for Panthers fans continue to be a pretty solid defense overall and -- at least this week -- a commitment to running the football ... or running plays period. Carolina had over 70 offensive snaps after posting a league-low 50 in Week 1.
[The Redskins couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000244662/article/green-bay-packers-roll-up-580-yards-in-rout-of-redskins). They couldn't stop [Jordy Nelson](/player/jordynelson/1032/profile). They couldn't stop [Randall Cobb](/player/randallcobb/2495448/profile). We mentioned [in our Week 2 predictions column](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000243083/article/week-2-predictions-49ers-edge-seahawks-broncos-down-giants) that this defense might have trouble recovering on a short week to stop the [Packers](/teams/greenbaypackers/profile?team=GB) ... and that's about what happened. </content:power-ranking>
Aside from the giveaways, New York has stayed with its opponents. So thank goodness Jacobs didn't fumble in his first game back. By the way, can he play safety?
Gates dropped a sure touchdown pass (among others) Thursday night; he also did nothing to break up a Geno Smith interception. The third-year receiver will improve, no doubt. Yet, his game highlights a painful problem for the Jets: How can Smith take any steps forward if his receivers consistently hold him back?
[Against the Jacksonville Jaguars](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013091512/2013/REG2/jaguars@raiders) on Sunday, McFadden got some blocking, rushing for 129 yards while adding another 28 through the air. The [Raiders](/teams/oaklandraiders/profile?team=OAK)' defense? Held the [Jaguars](/teams/jacksonvillejaguars/profile?team=JAC) to 248 yards while adding five sacks. </content:power-ranking>