Rick Gosselin's Week 3 NFL rankings -- Here come the Cowboys

Dak Prescott photo courtesy of USA Today
Rick Gosselin

Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 47th season reporting on the NFL in 2019. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 37 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 3:

1. Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes threw more touchdown passes in 15 minutes last weekend than any of the other 31 starting quarterbacks could throw in their complete 60-minute games. Mahomes threw four TD passes in the second quarter to send the Raiders down to defeat in KC’s last-ever visit to Oakland.

2. New England Patriots. Tom Brady ranks third in interception avoidance in NFL history with one every 55 career passes. So it’s no surprise Brady has yet to throw an interception in 64 throws this season for the 2-0 Patriots.

3. Dallas Cowboys. The top picks by the Cowboys in two of the last three drafts have been healthy game-day inactives each of the last two weeks. Defensive end Taco Charlton (2017) and defensive tackle Trysten Hill (2019) have yet to see the field this season – and the Cowboys continue to scuffle along in the pass rush with only two sacks.

4. Los Angeles Rams. Cooper Kupp is back after a knee injury sidelined him the final six games of the 2018 regular season and all of the post-season. Make no mistake about it – QB Jared Goff loves throwing to him. Kupp with his tight route-running has evolved into the safety blanket of the Rams’ passing offense and turned in his first 100-yard game of the season in last week’s victory over the Saints.

5. Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens sit atop the AFC North because they have mastered their identity. Baltimore is a physical football team that thrives when it runs the ball and stops the run. This week the 2-0 Ravens lead the NFL in both rushing and run defense.

6. Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll picked up his 100th victory as head coach of the Seahawks last weekend at Pittsburgh. This following a college career that featured 97 victories at Southern Cal. Where Pete Carroll goes, success follows.

7. Green Bay Packers. The Packers ranked 30th in the NFL in defensive takeaways last season with a mere 15, intercepting seven passes and recovering eight fumbles. But after two weeks of 2019 they are already a third of the way there. Green Bay shares the NFL lead with three other teams with five takeaways apiece.

8. Chicago Bears. There was no secret to Chicago’s success in 2018 – run the ball, control the clock and let a rested defense terrorize the opponents. The Bears controlled the ball for almost 32 minutes per game last season on the way to an NFC North title. But they traded away leading rusher Jordan Howard in the offseason and are now struggling on the ground. The 1-1 Bears are controlling the ball almost four minutes per game less than last season, which is taxing a still great defense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles. NFL quarterbacks have their eyes on Pennsylvania. In particular, the defenses that play in that state. The Eagles and Steelers have both allowed 300-yard passers in each of their first two games. Case Keenum of Washington and Matt Ryan of the Eagles have lit up the Eagles and Tom Brady and Russell Wilson singed the Steelers.

10. Buffalo Bills. The Bills are 2-0 and haven’t even played at home yet. The victories over the Jets and Giants the first two weekends marked the first time in franchise history that Buffalo has opened the season with two road victories. Now they have five of their next six games at home.

11. Minnesota Vikings. Dalvin Cook leads the NFL in rushing with 265 yards. He is one of only two NFL backs to rush for 100 yards in each of his first two games along with Saquon Barkley of the Giants.

12. San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are one of only four teams that rank in the NFL’s Top 10 in both offense and defense this week along with the Bills, Patriots and Ravens. The 49rs rank seventh in offense and eighth in defense.

13. Detroit Lions. Detroit QB Matthew Stafford now ranks 10th all-time in fourth-quarter comeback victories, tying Brett Favre with his 28th last weekend against the Chargers. Peyton Manning is the all-time leader with 43 comeback victories.

14. Los Angeles Chargers. The 1-1 Chargers lost in Detroit last week without their starting running back, tight end and kicker. Now they have lost starting safety Adrian Phillips with a broken arm. The absence of kicker Michael Badgley hurt the most last week. Punter Ty Long was forced to handle the placekicking chores and missed two field goals in a 13-10 loss to the Lions.

15. New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees’ assault of the record book – and the Saints’ pursuit of another Super Bowl – are both on hold because of a thumb injury last weekend that will sideline the New Orleans quarterback for up to six weeks. Brees needs 18 more TD passes to break the career record of 539 by Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, the Saints must play a schedule without Brees that includes games against NFL contenders Chicago, Dallas and Seattle. Hello, Teddy Bridgewater.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Saints aren’t the only team with franchise quarterback problems. Ben Roethlisberger’s season came to an end in the second week with an elbow injury, leaving the quarterbacking in the hands of second-year man Mason Rudolph. The Steelers visit San Francisco this weekend hoping to avert the franchise’s first 0-3 start since 2013.

17. Houston Texans. Sometimes you can find bargains in the bargain bin – as the Texans have in RB Carlos Hyde. When Lamar Miller went down with a knee injury in the third preseason game, the Texans acquired Hyde in a trade with the Chiefs. He became a quick study of the Houston offense, then rushed for 83 yards in his starting debut against New Orleans and added 90 more last week against Jacksonville.

18. Indianapolis Colts. The Colts may not be the best team in the NFL but they are the most disciplined. Indianapolis has been assessed only 11 penalties for 75 yards this season, both league lows.

19. Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan is one of only four NFL quarterbacks who has thrown for 300 yards in each of his first two starts this season along with rookie Kyler Murray, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. But Ryan has offset his five TD passes with a league-high five interceptions for the 1-1 Falcons.

20. Tennessee Titans. The Titans have the best pass defense in the AFC and for that they can thank the Patriots. Starting cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan both left New England to sign free agent deals with the Titans – Ryan in 2017 and Butler in 2018. Ryan has two interceptions this season and Butler one for the Titans, who are allowing only an average of only 182 yards per game through the air this season.

21. Oakland Raiders. Josh Jacobs was never the go-to guy in the Alabama backfield, averaging only 6.3 carries per game in his college career. But that didn’t stop the Raiders from selecting him in the first round last April. He carried the ball 23 times for 85 yards in his NFL debut against Denver and 12 times for 99 yards in Week 2 against Kansas City. His presence in the backfield will make Derek Carr a better quarterback.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. OLB Shaquil Barrett has emerged as the Tampa Bay pass rush. The Buccaneers have only four sacks this season and Barrett has all of them. He picked up the lone sack in the season opener against San Francisco and then became the first Buc in 17 years to collect three sacks in one quarter last week against Carolina.

23. Cleveland Browns. Myles Garrett is meeting the lofty expectations of the first overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft. He collected seven sacks as a rookie, went to the Pro Bowl after a 13 ½-sack second season and now leads the NFL with five sacks in this his third season.

24. Washington Redskins. The Redskins are one of only three teams that has not committed a turnover this season along with Baltimore and Tennessee. But the Ravens are 2-0, the Titans 1-1 and the Redskins still winless at 0-2.

25. Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton threw 51 passes last week against Tampa Bay and 89 passes on the season but is still looking for his first TD pass. It’s a passing league and you need passing touchdowns to win, which explains why the Panthers are 0-2 after two weeks.

26. Cincinnati Bengals. His 4.22 speed at the combine enticed the Bengals to draft WR John Ross ninth overall in 2017. He was a bit of a disappointment in his first two seasons, catching a combined 21 passes. But he has shed that “disappointment” label this fall. Ross scorched Seattle for 158 yards on seven catches in the season opener and then slapped the 49ers with 112 yards on four catches last week.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars haven’t won a game yet, their quarterback is sidelined and now their best player wants out. Two-time Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey has demanded a trade after a sideline confrontation with coach Doug Marrone during last week’s loss to the Texans. Ramsey doesn’t like the new defensive scheme that is heavy on zone coverages. He has excelled in the past in man coverage.

28. Denver Broncos. Believe it or not, the Broncos are the only NFL team still without a sack this season. Denver has elite edge rushers Von Miller (14 ½ sacks in 2018) and Bradley Chubb (12 sacks in 2018) but nothing to show for it through two games. The last time Denver went back-to-back games without a sack was in December 2014.

29. Arizona Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald is ageless. At 36, he is one of only three players with 100-yard receiving games in each of the first two weeks of the 2019 season. Cincinnati’s John Ross and Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews are the other two.

30. New York Jets. The winless Jets figure to be without QB Sam Darnold for at least a month with mononucleosis – and it could be a very long month with the Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys coming up on the schedule in the next three weeks. His backup Trevor Siemian started Monday night against the Browns but left the game with an ankle injury, leaving the offense in the hands of No. 3 QB Luke Falk.

31. New York Giants. An 0-2 start has brought the curtain down on the Eli Manning era and raised the curtain on the Daniel Jones era. The Giants now have two Super Bowl rings sitting on the bench.

32. Miami Dolphins. The winless Dolphins rank last in the NFL in offense and defense. They also have scored the fewest points and allowed the most points. And this week they travel to Dallas to face the Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and NFC’s best offense.

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