The Kansas City Chiefs are in last place in the AFC West, while the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos are undefeated and in first place in the same division. Who could have predicted that outcome after the first three weeks of the season?
The NFL truly is a week-to-week league, which is why the divisional power rankings shuffled quite a bit after Week 3. A few interdivisional showdowns set the stage for the how the rankings sorted out after Week 3, while some intra-divisional contests played a major factor.
While it's still tough to determine which division is truly the best in the NFL, we have a good indicator of the contenders as September comes to a close. Let's just say there's some really good football being played out west.
8. NFC East
Last week's ranking: 6
Welcome back to the basement of the NFL, thanks to three poor performances by the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Football Team. The Giants could only muster 14 points against an Atlanta Falcons team that allowed 80 points over the first two games of the season -- on 10 days rest. New York is in competition for the worst team in the NFL, not exactly ideal for a team that had hopes of winning this poor division.
Washington gave up 43 points in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia allowed 41 to the Dallas Cowboys on "Monday Night Football." Neither team was competitive in their contests. Washington, a team that was in competition for the league's best defense entering the season, has given up the fourth most points in the league. Philadelphia's lone win was against Atlanta and the Eagles have regressed ever since, looking like one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Dallas is the class of this division, a very bad one. The NFC East is just 2-6 outside the division, showcasing why the division hasn't exactly improved from last year.
7. AFC South
Last week's ranking: 8
For one week at least, the AFC South managed to stay out of being ranked as the worst division in the NFL. Was it because the NFC East was that poor in Week 3 the AFC South moved up a spot? The Houston Texans were dominated by the Carolina Panthers on "Thursday Night Football" and the Jacksonville Jaguars were outscored by 18 points in the second half to the Arizona Cardinals, committing four turnovers in the loss. Both teams started rookie quarterbacks, even though Trevor Lawrence continues to turn the football over at an alarming rate (leads the league with seven interceptions).
Carson Wentz on two sprained ankles was no match for the Tennessee Titans defense, as the Indianapolis Colts scored just 16 points and finished 1 of 3 in the red zone. Tennessee's interdivisional win over Indianapolis was the only victory the AFC South had in Week 3, which was expected as the only win the division would have this week.
The AFC South is 1-7 in games outside the division, worse than the NFC East. Jacksonville and Houston didn't get embarrassed like the NFC East did in Week 3.
6. NFC North
Last week's ranking: 7
Give this division a lot of credit. The NFC North took the "worst division in football" ranking to heart and had an impressive week. The Green Bay Packers had a huge win over the San Francisco 49ers on "Sunday Night Football" and the Minnesota Vikings shocked the Seattle Seahawks at home. That's two huge wins over the NFC West, which ranked No. 1 in these rankings the first two weeks.
The Detroit Lions were a Justin Tucker 66-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar from upsetting the Baltimore Ravens, a kick that probably should have been longer thanks to a controversial non-call. The Chicago Bears were embarrassed by the Cleveland Browns and Matt Nagy doesn't know who his quarterback is. Chicago poorly represented the division this week with just 47 yards of offense, including one net passing yard.
The NFC North is just 2-8 outside the division, but the huge wins from the Vikings and Packers over the NFC West moved them up. They are the only two out-of-division wins -- statement ones against one of the best divisions in football.
5. AFC East
Last week's ranking: 4
Thank the Buffalo Bills for salvaging the division from having a miserable week. Buffalo blew out Washington at home, as the Bills established themselves as the clear front-runner in this division. The Bills may have also reemerged as the contender for home-field advantage in the AFC with the Chiefs off to two conference losses this early in the year.
As for the rest of the division? The New England Patriots were beaten badly at home by the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets couldn't score a point in a blowout loss to the Denver Broncos. Despite drafting Zach Wilson, the Jets are last in the NFL in points scored -- in that competition for the worst team in the league.
The Miami Dolphins lost a tough matchup to the Las Vegas Raiders on the road in overtime, with a backup quarterback at the helm. It's hard to get a read on New England and Miami through three weeks.
Outside the division, the AFC East is only 1-5. That record should improve over the next few weeks.
4. NFC South
Last week's ranking: 5
This division looked to be between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. The Carolina Panthers have entered the chat.
Carolina is off to its first 3-0 start since the 2015 season, when the Panthers went to the Super Bowl. Wins over the Jets and Texans aren't convincing, but the Panthers did beat a Saints team that dominated the Packers and Patriots. Carolina makes this division more formidable, especially since they lead the South with Tampa Bay losing to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Saints had an impressive win over the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons upset the New York Giants to earn their first win. It wasn't that long ago the Falcons were in the conversation for the worst team in the NFL.
If Tampa Bay didn't fall to Los Angeles, this division had a case to crack the top three. The NFC South is an impressive 6-2 in out of division games.
3. AFC North
Last week's ranking: 3
The Cleveland Browns look to be the class of this division through three weeks, but the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals -- yes the Cincinnati Bengals -- are tied with them atop the division at 2-1. Cincinnati had an impressive win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Ja'Marr Chase is making a major difference in a division that's dominated by strong defenses. Pittsburgh's offense is not in sync after three weeks, making the Steelers' win over the Bills all the more perplexing. The schedule doesn't get easier with the Packers on deck.
Baltimore needed a controversial non-call just for Justin Tucker to hit a 66-yard field goal that hit and bounced over the crossbar to beat Detroit -- the last place team in the NFC North. Not an impressive win, but it's a win for the division. Cleveland dominated Chicago to win its second straight, making life miserable for a Bears offense that had just six first downs. The Browns had seven sacks and held Justin Fields to 6 of 20 passing, showcasing the strength of their defense.
The AFC North has two good teams -- and may have three. They're 6-4 in out of division games.
2. NFC West
Last week's ranking: 1
The NFC West was dethroned from the No. 1 spot, a tough decision to make given how the division fared last week. The deciding factor was the Seattle Seahawks losing by 13 points to a previously winless Vikings team -- not exactly flexing their muscle outside the division. The San Francisco 49ers lost an interdivisional matchup to the Packers with no time remaining, holding the lead with 32 seconds left before allowing Aaron Rodgers to drive down the field and lead Green Bay to victory on a walk-off field goal by Mason Crosby.
This division still houses two of the five unbeaten teams left in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams had an impressive win over the defending Super Bowl champions while the Arizona Cardinals survived a halftime deficit to beat the Jaguars. Arizona and Los Angeles square off this week in what should be a shootout for sole possession for first place in this talented division. San Francisco faces Seattle this week as well.
Through three weeks, the NFC West is 9-3 in out of division games. The first intra-divisional games begin this week.
1. AFC West
Last week's ranking: 2
When the Kansas City Chiefs sit in last place in a division, that's an excellent indicator how good the division is. The Los Angeles Chargers upset Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium for a statement victory, showcasing they'll be a contender for the division crown. The Chargers snapped a seven-game home winning streak by the Chiefs when Patrick Mahomes starts, making the win even more impressive.
The Chargers are only third in this division, behind the undefeated Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. Vegas won its second overtime game in three weeks, holding off a late charge by the Dolphins to stay unbeaten. Denver throttled the New York Jets, finishing September 3-0 after failing to win a game in the month in each of the last two seasons.
The Chiefs are still one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but this division has significantly improved. All four teams have the look of playoff contender in a loaded AFC, which is why the AFC West overtook the NFC West for the No. 1 spot.
The AFC West is 8-2 outside the division, as that .800 win percentage is the best in the NFL. Another case why the division is now the best in football.