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The Food Chain: Week 3 NFL Rankings Plus Current Super Bowl Odds

The Food Chain: Week 3 NFL Rankings Plus Current Super Bowl Odds

Those who are first will be last, and those who are last will be first. The rest of you in the middle, well, kindly wait on hold until the next available customer service representative can assist you.

In the first half of every NFL season, you get two of these Wonka-land weekends, where upsets abound and common sense gets dumped on its head. This was the first of them for ’18. Bills over Vikes…Lions smack Patriots…’Skins topple the Pack. Who saw it coming? The suspense is terrible; I hope it’ll last.

1. L.A. Rams (3-0): Disposed of the Chargers in businesslike fashion. Rams deliver 521 yards of offense. Sloppy teams like San Diego never hold up in this kind of battle, where discipline carries weight and one is forced to pay for his mistakes: Rams allow 12 ppg defensively, which is down in historic territory…at least for now. (SB odds 5:2)

2. Kansas City (3-0): After three quick weeks, we are down to only three unbeaten clubs. Chiefs continue their merciless aerial assault on the league, with QB Mahomes already on his 13th touchdown pass. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves (which, of course, we are), but it’s KC at the LA Rams on November 19th.  (8:1)

3. Jacksonville (2-1): Lost a grinder to Titans, but still deserves to be this high, due to the tough muscle of its defense. Titans reminded us, once again, of how primitive Jax passing game can be, once you strip away their caboodle of shorties and quickie routes. (12:1)

4. Philadelphia (2-1): Outlasted Colts despite top RB, WR injured and on the bench. Eagles lucky QB Wentz returned to action for this one; I highly doubt they had the momentum to win it with fading Foles.  (12:1)

5. Pittsburgh (1-1-1): A controversial choice at this slot because they’ve been so sloppy. Defense suddenly woke up for a stretch Monday night and turned the Bucs over on four straight possessions. Well, what have we here? The defense has finally gotten it together. What we had was a mirage, as Bucs lit them up for 14 points in the fourth until they ran out of steam. Steelers slotted here only because of talent on that roster, not because of how they’ve polished it. (15:1)

6. Tampa Bay (2-1): Of all the eminent QBs in the history of the world, none has ever thrown for 400+ yards in three straight weeks until QB Fitzpatrick. If things continue along at this delirious pace, we’ll be getting into Kurt Warner/Rich Gannon territory here. From journeyman, backup, vagabond – whatever you want to call it – to MVP candidate. Can he keep it up? The odds say certainly not. But you never know with those Harvard guys. (65:1)

7. Miami (3-0): Unjust to cast them any lower with that spiffy record of theirs. Surprising ‘Fins haven’t seen a 3-0 start since 2013. Loss of DE Hayes could cool a defense that’s allowed just 17 ppg thus far. A live club, for sure, but history hints that New England, despite their troubles, will take them apart this week. (50:1)

8. Baltimore (2-1): Winning ugly. Scrappy rat football. At several points the Denver game could’ve gotten away from them, but they uglied it out. “My dear,” said Churchill, “you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.” Amen. (25:1)

9. Washington (2-1): Emphatic beatdown of Green Bay makes up for dud Indy loss two weeks ago. ‘Skins boast second fewest points allowed defensively (14.7 ppg), the type of number that gets people’s attention. MLB Mason Foster mopping things up nicely for that no-name group. (70:1)

10. Carolina (2-1): Disappointing top-pick McCaffrey maimed Cincy for 184 on the ground, a career-high. Prior to that, he had never broken 100 in a game. I remember when I was a kid, playing in this summer rec basketball league. There was this blonde squirt named Leonard on the team. He had no skill. Whenever he saw any action, he would just dart around the court like a rodent, while his loving mother stood on the sideline yelling, “Do something, Leonard!”  (30:1)

11. Cincinnati: (2-1): Loss at Carolina not surprising; you could smell it coming. Four Andy Dalton INTs stunk up what was a nice little burst into the season. Visit to Atlanta this week will look like a B-version of Fast and Furious. If I were running a book, I’d set the over/under in total yards for that baby at 900. (9:1)

12. New Orleans (2-1): Like watching an NBA All-Star game, where the offense runs and guns and the defense is worried about getting cigarette breaks. 104 points scored, 103 points allowed. Phooey. I don’t like this kind of football. (15:1)

13. Atlanta (1-2): After three weeks the Falcons have lost six starters, five for the season. Almost impossible to overcome, considering the slim depth of NFL rosters. I recall Hank Stram telling a story about the time his tailback Abner Hayes went down hard and was wrenching on the ground in pain. Stram runs out from the sideline, very much concerned about his star player. “Where’d you get hurt, Abner?” Hayes answered, “Right here where I’m laying, coach.”  (35:1)

14. Denver (2-1): Much more alive than I’d thought they’d be. Coaching was a big concern last year, but from what I’ve seen so far Vance Joseph finally has his feet under him. I wish CBS would’ve shown us the alleged illegal block which erased their blocked FG/TD return, late in the second quarter. I have a feeling that penalty didn’t exist. Wait, what are you telling me? The blocked field goal ITSELF was illegal? The defender jumped over the line to swat the ball and that’s a no-no and the officials missed it? OutrageousSomething has to be done about this swelling wave of ref-on-ref crime(50:1)

15. Tennessee (2-1): A faceless team. Effective yet nondescript, like baking soda. I can’t get a grip on who they are yet. A run team, a pass team, a defensive operation…what? The exemplary C-student. They host the defending champ Philadelphia this week. Maybe that’ll tell me something. (50:1)

16. Minnesota (1-1-1): Well, well, well. Look who we have here – the derelicts of the week. You Vikes should be awfully ashamed, getting beat up and punked by a whimpering 17-point underdog. Slackers. Do you know when the last time a 17-point underdog actually lost in an NFL game? Do you know your history? Do you even care? Stand up straight! Tuck in that shirt! Adjust that belt buckle! Wipe that smile off your face! Are you listening to me? WHAT DO YOU WANNA DO WITH YOUR LIFE?! (12:1)

17. Chicago (2-1): Defense running the show here. Barely a step above Cards and Bills when it comes to offensive production. Still, win over Arizona means they’ve breached the .500 mark for the first time in four years (September 22, 2014). Impressive if you think about it. The average human can hold its breath for only two minutes. (30:1)

18. Green Bay (1-1-1): Pull QB Rogers from the lineup and this is a five-win team. Drafts continue to be marginal, bodies filling positions. There’s an old basketball story out of Saint Francis College (PA). Back in the late 1980s the program was really struggling with recruits. The head coach, Jim Baron, was beaming about his new point guard, a slow white kid named Donnie Wagner who played ball at a nearby high school. One of Baron’s assistants wasn’t so impressed. He said, “Jim, we don’t need some kid from Tyrone. We need somebody named Tyrone!” (12:1)

19. Cleveland (1-2): I saw how the rookie QB Mayfield lit up the team and the field with his presence, the whip-like arm, the dancing feet, the kick-ass attitude. That’s all it takes. The catalyst. With all those first and second-round picks on the roster – 16 of them in total – this has the makings of a time bomb, going off in a very good way. I’m serious. Suddenly this is a very dangerous team. (65:1)

20. L.A. Chargers (1-2): How far will they let it sink this year – 1-4? 2-5? – before they decide to turn it on again. With KC trying to run away with the division, they’re probably already thinking “wildcard” in that Charger huddle. And, John Madden used to say, “You don’t go looking for a wildcard; you go for the whole thing. If you end up with the wildcard, you still got something. If you start thinking wildcard, then you usually end up empty-handed.” With the Chargers, how many times have we seen it? (24:1)

21. Indianapolis (1-2): In both of their losses, Luck had ’em going in for the win until a turnover bit ’em. Too many bites like that and, well, we all saw what happened in Jaws. Dracula, too. (100:1)

22. Dallas (1-2): I’m not a really big yards/attempt believer when it comes to dissecting quarterbacks. But I’ll reach for it here. Prescott’s current average is 5.7, down there with people like Tyrod Taylor (benched) and Blaine Gabbert (backup). Sam Bradford (benched) of the winless Cards owns the bottom at 5.0. You see what I’m getting at? (100:1)

23. NY Giants (1-2): Amazing recovery in Houston, considering all the destructive people the Texans can throw at you defensively. Eli Manning as sharp as he’s ever been (25-27, 297, 2 TDs). Saquon Barkley already among the top backs in the league, up there with Gurley, Elliott, Bell in terms of firepower. They’ll need all those two can generate to run with the Saints this weekend. 1-3 is a borderline death knell. (65:1)

24. New England (1-2): The Pats, all the way down to 24th? Well, you’ve seen what I’ve seen so far. Is this a good football team? Tell me it is. 26th in points scored, 29th in 3rd down conversions and time of possession, 28th in yards allowed. I’ve been advised by three Pats fans this week, “Easy, don’t worry about it; they’ll get it straight.” Brady…Belichick – yeah, yeah I get it. But what about the rest of the operation. It’s depleted. It’s corroded. As one of the original Patriots said, “A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.” Ben Franklin. OK, maybe that was too original. But you get the idea. (10:1)

25. Seattle (1-2): Very big rebound against the Cowboys. Pete Carroll is squeezing as much out of a stripped roster as he can here. I heard one of these NFL insiders on the radio last week, saying how the team resents the way Carroll “coddles” his quarterback, Russell Wilson, how he’s overprotective, creates excuses for him, etc. When a QB has guided you to back-to-back Super Bowls and a little coddling is suddenly perceived, you’re just gonna have to look the other way. Coddling? What is this, a nursery? (100:1)

26. Houston (0-3): Things, once again, not working out the way it was planned in Houston. This is Bill O’Brien’s fifth year running the Texans. It never seems to get any better. Another Marvin Lewis. (80:1)

27. San Francisco (1-2): Hey, when the big guy goes down, the franchise man, there’s zero consolation. QB Garoppolo out indefinitely. Hate to see it. The league needs as many top QBs as it can get. Like the old Terry Bradshaw line: “You might lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.” (650:1)

28. Buffalo (1-2): Biggest upset on paper since I don’t remember when. And I usually remember this kind of high-calorie minutia. Ok, one website reported it’s the biggest since the ‘Skins picked off the Cowboys in 1995. Not important enough to research, but their takedown of the Vikes obliterated nearly every suicide pool in the galaxy. Including mine. Twice. (350:1)

29. NY Jets (1-3): Enthusiasm has faded since opening-day euphoria, that blowout of Detroit. New Yorkers on the head coach again (unprepared, same mistakes, etc). Keeping QB Darnold upright and of sound mind the top priority. (350:1)

30. Detroit (1-2): From a historical eye, win over Pats was their biggest since…since…ok, since punchout of Dallas in 1991 playoffs. See, I really do eat up the high-calorie minutia. As for today’s reality, Lions D has allowed the fewest passing yards allowed in the league – just 152/game. A number straight out of the Lombardi era. (80:1)

31. Oakland (0-3): Yes, it was a splash hiring, the kind of PR jolt the Raiders needed. But please remember, during Gruden’s seven years in Tampa, he eclipsed nine wins only twice. (350:1)

32. Arizona (0-3): The last shall be worst. In my 51 years, I have never seen a starting veteran QB like Bradford pulled in crunch time (four minutes left, trailing by two) and replaced by a rookie making his first ever NFL appearance. Ok, sonny, get in there and win it. “I feel bad for Sam because he’s worked his tail off,” WR Larry Fitzgerald said. “But you have a first-round pick (behind you), I guess you’re on borrowed time.” And what did rookie Josh Rosen promptly do? Exactly what I thought he’d do – lob up an interception ball. In my next 51 years, I doubt I’ll see it again. (650:1)

"For day-in, day-out football writing, I think the most knowledgeable person covering the game is Tom Danyluk." -Paul Zimmerman, SI.com (5/17/2007) Tom has been a pro football writer for over 30 years, starting at The Pitt News - the University of Pittsburgh's student newspaper - where he won the schools' first Outstanding Sports Columnist Award. He has been a member of the Pro Football Writers Assocation since 1987. Tom joined Pro Football Weekly in 2004, where he was a feature columnist through 2013. At Pro Football Weekly, he won several PFWA writing awards, including "Best Column," the most coveted of the awards (2009). This is his first season with SportsGamblingPodcast.com. Tom's first book, The Super '70s, was published in 2005. "The Lost Super Bowls" was published in July of 2016. None Yards! 30 Years of John Madden in the Broadcast Booth is his latest effort.

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