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NFL Week 3 Power Rankings: Chiefs fall but not too far; Rams move up

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs made uncharacteristic blunders and squandered a fourth-quarter lead in Sunday night’s loss at Baltimore. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Each week during the NFL season, The Post’s Mark Maske ranks the 32 teams. This week, the Buccaneers maintain their hold on the top spot. The Rams move up to No. 2. The Chiefs fall with their loss Sunday night in Baltimore, but not too far. The Ravens don’t get to pass the Chiefs, at least not yet. For now, the Chiefs still get the benefit of the doubt after two straight Super Bowl appearances and three consecutive trips to the AFC championship game. The Cardinals and Raiders ascend to the top 10. The Jaguars keep their grip on the bottom spot.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 1

Tom Brady has nine TD passes in two games, including five in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons. The Bucs might be the rare Super Bowl winner that actually has improved the following season. But the upcoming schedule is rough, with a showdown with the Rams this weekend in Los Angeles and then Brady’s return to New England the following Sunday.

2. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 3

The Rams look awfully good. But there is practically no margin for error in the NFC West, in which the four teams have a combined record of 7-1. Early-season supremacy in the NFC — and perhaps the NFL — will be at stake when the Rams host the Bucs on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

3. Buffalo Bills (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 7

The trouncing of the Dolphins was more like it for a team expected to be among the league’s best. Now the Bills must focus on maintaining a high level of play more consistently in a season in which their opponents regard facing them as measuring-stick games.

4. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 9

The injuries have piled up early in the season. Yet it’s so far, so good in the 49ers’ bid to return to prominence. Jimmy Garoppolo went the entire way in Sunday’s triumph at Philadelphia without any snaps going to rookie QB Trey Lance.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 2

Don’t fret about the Chiefs too much. Not yet, at least. Yes, they failed in crunchtime and lost a game that they should have won Sunday night in Baltimore. They did very un-Chiefs-like things, such as the ill-advised interception thrown by Patrick Mahomes and the late fumble by RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The run defense was pitiable. But the Chiefs’ championship mettle is proven and, for now, the late-game blunders can be regarded as aberrational.

Chiefs can’t close it out as Lamar Jackson, Ravens complete fourth-quarter comeback

6. Cleveland Browns (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 6

The Browns got into the win column Sunday and survived their own QB-related injury scare when Baker Mayfield stayed in the game after hurting his non-throwing shoulder while trying to make a tackle following an interception. This is an excellent team that has not yet hit its stride. The injury to Jarvis Landry is costly but could be offset if the Browns can get fellow WR Odell Beckham Jr. back into the lineup.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 11

Aaron Rodgers played great. The Packers had a big second half Monday night to beat the Lions. All is well again in Green Bay, at least for now.

8. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 12

QB Kyler Murray is playing like an MVP candidate, and the Cardinals resemble a legitimate contender. This impressive start holds plenty of promise. But the big tests in the imposing NFC West are still to come.

9. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 18

Is it possible that the Raiders are the real deal in Year 4 of Jon Gruden’s return to coaching? Let’s reserve judgment for now. But the early signs are encouraging. The Raiders had an East Coast trip and an early start time Sunday in Pittsburgh after a short week following the overtime thriller the previous Monday against the Ravens. And they still gave a solid performance, led again by QB Derek Carr, in beating the Steelers. Carr has 817 passing yards in two games.

10. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 19

Lamar Jackson secured his first win against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs with Sunday night’s stirring comeback in Baltimore. The Ravens avoided what would have been their first 0-2 start since 2015. But if Jackson has to run for about 100 yards per game for his team to remain in the AFC’s upper tier, is that sustainable, even for him?

11. New England Patriots (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 13

QB Mac Jones prevailed convincingly in his rookie duel with Zach Wilson, and the Patriots bounced back from a season-opening loss to the Dolphins with a decisive victory over the Jets. Things get interesting with the Saints and the Buccaneers coming to Foxborough, Mass., over the next two weekends.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 14

It’s still not saying all that much, but the Cowboys might be the team to beat in the NFC East. QB Dak Prescott looks good two games into his return, and he got more help Sunday from the running game and the defense. Kicker Greg Zuerlein connected from 56 yards for the game-winning field goal against the Chargers after some shaky moments in the opening loss at Tampa Bay.

Cowboys, Cardinals win at the buzzer; Titans storm back to top Seahawks in a wild NFL Week 2

13. Tennessee Titans (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 16

The Titans were staring at an 0-2 start before getting things together in Seattle and rallying for an OT win. Coach Mike Vrabel opted against going for the two-point conversion and the potential victory in regulation but was redeemed by the OT field goal. The Titans found a way for RB Derrick Henry and WR Julio Jones to have big performances simultaneously. That’s a good sign.

14. Carolina Panthers (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 17

It’s far too early to say the Panthers are for real. They’ve played two games at home, and they caught the Saints at a good time Sunday. But a 3-0 start is well within reach, with a game Thursday night at Houston in which they are expected to face an unheralded rookie QB making his first NFL start. It’s not too early to believe the Panthers are making meaningful progress in Year 2 for Coach Matt Rhule.

15. New Orleans Saints (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 4

Everything, it seemed, finally caught up to the Saints: their nomadic existence, the coronavirus issues affecting the coaching staff, the injuries to key defensive players. That was a listless performance in the loss at Carolina, and Coach Sean Payton and his team need to regroup.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 5

The promising opening victory at Buffalo was followed by Sunday’s disappointing loss at home to the Raiders. Which is the real version of this Steelers team? Probably something in between those two performances.

17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 15

Justin Herbert threw two interceptions in the loss to the Cowboys but still looks like the NFL’s next great QB. It’s not clear yet how good this team is. But the Chargers certainly are interesting.

18. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 10

The loss to the Titans was puzzling and distressing. The Seahawks seemed to have the game well in hand at several points. There’s no room for such defeats in their division. After one loss, they’re a last-place team.

19. Denver Broncos (2-0) | Last week’s rank: 22

Granted, beating the Giants and Jaguars doesn’t prove much. But it’s far better than losing to the Giants and Jaguars. And the equally dreadful Jets are up next before the schedule toughens considerably.

20. Washington Football Team (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 23

Taylor Heinicke makes things happen. The Washington coaching staff perhaps has ended up with the right QB by happenstance rather than by design. But no one should get carried away just yet about the team’s prospects. That victory Thursday night was largely a giveaway by the Giants.

21. Chicago Bears (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 25

Coach Matt Nagy is taking the stance that Andy Dalton remains the Bears’ starter at QB, ahead of prized rookie Justin Fields, if Dalton is healthy. But there’s plenty of wiggle room there in the short term; Dalton’s knee injury could give Fields his first chance as an NFL starter.

22. Miami Dolphins (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 8

QB Tua Tagovailoa reportedly suffered bruised but not broken ribs in Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Bills. That’s good news. But that’s a painful injury, and the Dolphins might have to lean on backup Jacoby Brissett. Sunday’s game at Las Vegas suddenly looks daunting.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 20

The defeat at home to the 49ers was a step backward. Starting over with a young QB was never going to be seamless.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 21

Joe Burrow threw interceptions on three straight attempts Sunday in the loss at Chicago, and the good feelings from the opening victory over the Vikings dissipated. But no one thought the Bengals were going 17-0, and merely being competitive on a weekly basis is a move in the right direction.

Several NFL QBs suffer injuries Sunday, including Carson Wentz and Tua Tagovailoa

25. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 24

So much for the fortunes of QB Carson Wentz changing with the offseason trade to Indianapolis. It’s only two games into his first season with the Colts and he already has endured foot surgery in training camp, a quarantine upon his return before the opener and now injuries to both ankles suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Rams. So far, at least, Indianapolis is not the remedy for Wentz, and Wentz is not the answer for the Colts.

26. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 26

Kicker Greg Joseph was the culprit Sunday with the missed FG in Arizona. But, really, didn’t it feel inevitable that the Vikings would find a way to lose?

27. Houston Texans (1-1) | Last week’s rank: 27

Rookie QB Davis Mills is expected to get his first NFL start Thursday night against the Panthers, with Tyrod Taylor likely sidelined for several weeks by the hamstring injury he suffered Sunday and Deshaun Watson slated to be on the game-day inactive list again. The Texans get a first glimpse at whether the third-round pick has the look of a future starter. It would help if Coach David Culley doesn’t opt to decline any more third-down penalties on the opposing defense that leave him punting.

28. New York Giants (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 28

That was a brutal loss Thursday night: the holding call that negated QB Daniel Jones’s TD run; the gimme TD to WR Darius Slayton that wasn’t; the feeble offensive sequence after the late interception; the offside penalty on Washington’s missed FG. It’s a fifth straight 0-2 start, and it already feels like another lost season. Aren’t Joe Judge’s no-nonsense coaching methods supposed to prevent such blunders?

29. Atlanta Falcons (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 29

The Falcons hung with the Buccaneers for three quarters Sunday in Tampa. But they couldn’t keep pace in the fourth, and the final result was lopsided. There’s little immediate reason for optimism here.

30. Detroit Lions (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 30

Jared Goff looked terrific and the Lions led the Packers at halftime Monday night at Lambeau Field. Then reality set in.

31. New York Jets (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 31

The four-interception outing by Zach Wilson in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots was about as bad as it gets. But Wilson is hardly the first rookie QB to be befuddled by a Bill Belichick defense. Stay the course. Endure the growing pains. Hope that there are better times ahead — even when you’re the Jets.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) | Last week’s rank: 32

It’s going to be a long first NFL season for Coach Urban Meyer and QB Trevor Lawrence. This is not a quick turnaround situation. Time, presumably, is on Lawrence’s side. But will Meyer remain patient, endure the losing and see this through? He already has had to face questions about the coaching vacancy at the University of Southern California.

What to read about the NFL

Scores | Stats | Standings | Teams | Transactions | Washington Commanders

The latest: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.

Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.

Civil suits settled: Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 active civil lawsuits filed against him by women who accused him of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women announced.

Jerry Brewer: “The Browns were prepared for initial turbulence, but they assumed they were getting Watson at the end of his troubles. Now his disgrace is their disaster.”

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