Rick Gosselin’s Week 3 NFL rankings: L.A. remains Ram tough


Jared Goff photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams

Editor’s note: Rick Gosselin is in his 46th season reporting on the NFL in 2018. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 35 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. Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are one of only three unbeaten teams left and it’s easily explainable. Los Angeles has allowed a league-low 36 points, an average of 12 per game. If you keep the opposition out of the end zone, you win games.

2. Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees are the only two starting quarterbacks who have not thrown an interception yet. Kansas City has committed a league-low one turnover in three games. Which explains their 3-0 record. The Chiefs aren’t beating themselves.

3. Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz is back and all of a sudden rookie tight end Dallas Goedart is in play. The Eagles took him in the second round but he was invisible in the offense with Nick Foles taking the snaps. With Wentz last weekend, Goedert caught seven passes and scored his first NFL touchdown.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have been without their Pro Bowl runner Leonard Fournette for two games now and remain one of only four NFL teams still without a rushing touchdown.

5. Minnesota Vikings. How much does Kirk Cousins like his Pro Bowl wideout Adam Thielen? Cousins has targeted him with 44 passes this season and Thielen has caught 32 of them. Thielen is the only receiver in the NFL with 100-plus yards in each of his first three games.

6. Miami Dolphins. The last time the Dolphins started 3-0 was 2014. If they beat New England Sunday, it will mark their first 4-0 start since 1995 and the Don Shula/Dan Marino era.

7. Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton leads all NFL quarterbacks in rushing with 136 yards. His three touchdowns on the ground are more than 19 NFL teams have rushed for this season.

8. New Orleans Saints. With just an average game this weekend against the Giants – 316 yards – Drew Brees will pass Brett Favre and move into second place all-time in passing yardage. A great game – 418 yards – would allow him to pass Peyton Manning as the all-time leader. Brees has already had a 439-yard game this season.

9. Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are 2-0 at home this season and 0-1 on the road. Now they play their next three games on the road at Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Tennessee.

10. Washington Redskins. The Redskins and Panthers draw the first two byes of the NFL season this weekend. Both teams take 2-1 records into their off week.

11. Chicago Bears. What a difference a year makes in the life of a young quarterback. In Mitch Trubisky’s rookie season, the Bears controlled the ball less than 29 minutes per game. In Trubisky’s second season of managing the offense, the Bears are now controlling the ball for almost 35 minutes per game.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have played three games and have been assessed at least 10 penalties in each of them. They’ve given away three football fields of free yardage for the opposition.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jameis Winston returns from an NFL suspension this week. But how do you replace a quarterback who became the first passer in history to open a season with three consecutive 400-yard games? There’s magic in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s right arm these days.

14. Tennessee Titans. The Titans have scored only four touchdowns and rank 30th in the NFL in points with just 49 in three games. But they maximized that offense by winning two games, including one that they did not score a touchdown (9-6 over Jacksonville last weekend).

15. Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton needs help and he’s not getting it from his running game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. He needs a healthy Joe Mixon, who missed last week’s game at Carolina, the first loss suffered by the Bengals.

16. Green Bay Packers. Davante Adams has caught a touchdown pass in each of the first three games of the season.

17. Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have played three games and lost three defenders with season-ending injuries. Atlanta ranks 28th in defense and the arrow is now pointing down.

18. New England Patriots. Tom Brady’s passing yards have declined over the last three weeks from 277 yards in a victory over Houston to 234 yards in a loss to Jacksonville to 133 yards in a loss to Detroit. This is not the same Brady who was the NFL MVP in 2017.

19. Los Angeles Chargers. The 1-2 Chargers are hurting defensively without Pro Bowl DE Joey Bosa, who has missed the first three games of the season with a bone bruise in his left foot and has already been declared out of this weekend’s game against San Francisco. With Bosa last season, the Chargers ranked fifth in the NFL in sacks. Without Bosa this season, they rank 17th.

20. Denver Broncos. Case Keenum has not thrown a touchdown pass in his last two games covering 69 passes. He’s been picked off twice during that stretch.

21. Cleveland Browns. Heisman Trophy winner and first overall draft pick Baker Mayfield makes his NFL starting debut this weekend in Oakland against the winless Raiders.

22. Seattle Seahawks. There are only two players left from the 2000 NFL draft – first-round kicker Sebastian Janikowski and sixth-round QB Tom Brady. Janikowski has booted the longest field goal in the NFL this season (56 yards) for the Seahawks.

23. New York Giants. Eli Manning would rather take the sack than throw an interception. He’s been sacked 12 times this season but has thrown only one interception.

24. Detroit Lions. There have been 13 individual 100-yard rushing games in the NFL this season, including three by rookies. Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson is one of them with a 101-yard game in the upset of the Patriots last weekend.

25. Buffalo Bills. Not only did rookie QB Josh Allen shock the Vikings with his three-touchdown performance, but he engineered the road upset with his best offensive weappn. RB LeSean McCoy missed the game with a rib injury.

26. Indianapolis Colts. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads the NFL in tackles with 41. Leonard was a second-round draft pick out of South Carolina State – the same school that produced Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson.

27. Dallas Cowboys. Cole Beasley leads the Cowboys with 12 receptions through three games. Michael Thomas of the Saints had 16 catches in the season opener and Adam Thielen had 14 catches last weekend. The 1-2 Cowboys lack downfield playmakers.

28. New York Jets. The 1-2 Jets are paying the price for playing a rookie quarterback. They lead the NFL with eight turnovers, including five interceptions by Sam Darnold.

29. San Francisco 49ers. No Jimmy Garoppolo, no hope. That’s a $132 million player missing from the lineup for the rest of the season.

30. Houston Texans. DeShaun Watson has passed for almost 700 yards in the past two weeks and the Texans have nothing to show for it. They sit 0-3 for the first time in Bill O’Brien’s five-year tenure as head coach.

31. Oakland Raiders. We all knew this was coming when Jon Gruden made the fateful call to trade his Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack. The Raiders now rank last in the NFL in sacks with three.

32. Arizona Cardinals. With the NFL’s worst offense, it’s time the Cardinals take a look at their first-round quarterback Josh Rosen. He can’t do any worse than Sam Bradford, who hasn’t thrown for 160 yards in a game yet. He makes his starting debut against Seattle.

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