Vilardo: Week 3 NFL West Power Rankings and Previews

The eight teams in the SuperWest footprint went 3-5 overall, 2-4 outside of the division

Posted on September 20, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

It was another 3-5 week overall for teams in the two West divisions of the NFL. That included a Rams vs. 49ers matchup. So for the six teams that played outside the division, it was a 2-4 week.

For me personally last week, I saw my predictions for the entire NFL go 11-5 with a 9-6-1-mark against the spread and a very poor 4-12 for over/under totals. (Season long, I’m 19-13, 18-12-1 ATS, and 10-21-1 O/U)

I vow to be better this week!

Below are my Week 3 Power Rankings for the eight teams in the AFC and NFC West along with a quick look at the upcoming week’s matchups and my game picks.

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) ◄►

Rams Review

After week one, San Francisco looked like a sure bet to take the NFC crown. After week two, they still look like a good bet, but the defense had some issues shutting down the Rams’ potent offense.

The 49ers do have a legitimate MVP candidate in Christian McCaffrey. He looked great against the Steelers and may have even been better against LA. The last time a non-QB took the MVP honor was in 2012.

McCaffrey averaged 6.8 per carry against the Rams.

Brock Purdy once again looked good. His streak of at least two TDs in every one of his regular season starts may have ended, but he did improve to 7-0 as a starter in the regular season.

Purdy went 17-25 for 206 yards and did not turn the ball over. Even without Cooper Kupp, this is a potent Rams offense.

The defense may have struggled on Sunday, but the D made plays when they needed to, picking off a couple of passes and stopping the Rams on downs.

New York Giants Preview

Thursday, September 21
5:15 pm PT, Amazon Prime

San Francisco will host the Giants on Thursday.

New York was lucky to get out of Arizona with a win. Saquon Barkley will be out of the Giants lineup and San Francisco should beat up on a New York team on an extended west coast road swing.

The 49ers defense should get things right against a depleted Giants unit. The Niners should be able to score at will. This one could be ugly.

On the bright side, those in the Eastern time zone will have no need to stay up too late watching it.

My Pick: 49ers 31, Giants 10

[San Francisco is giving up 10.5 at home and I really see no way New York keeps this one within two scores given the Barkley injury and the extended road trip. The point total is shown at 45.

This is tougher, but again the Giants won’t put enough points on the board. The question is, does San Fran even need any help to push that total?]

2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) ▲1

Jaguars Review

The Chiefs got Travis Kelce and Chris Jones back for Week Two and were able to pick up a road win over Jacksonville.

The defense looked good against the Jags and Jones’ impact was felt immediately as he had 1.5 sacks of Trevor Lawrence.

Offensively KC still has some issues. The passing game was improved with Kelce back, but the receivers still had issues. Kadarious Toney rebounded from his opening week issues pulling in all five of his targets in Jacksonville.

After two weeks, the offense is really missing Orlando Brown. Jawaan Taylor has been okay but has been flagged a lot. Donovan Smith has allowed seven pressures and three hits on Mahomes.

The sacks are down, but that has more to do with Mahomes. This line needs to start playing better.

Chicago Bears Preview

Thursday, September 21
1:25 pm PT, Fox

Kansas City welcomes the Bears to town in week three. Chicago has lost their first two games, both by double digits, to a pair of seemingly middling teams.

While the Packers and Bucs are replacing legends at QB this season, Kansas City most certainly still has a legend under center. Once again, I don’t see how this one stays close.

The Chiefs will pressure Justin Fields, and offensively, it could be a field day for KC.

My Pick: Chiefs 29, Bears 7

[Kansas City will cover the 13 points easily. Yes 13 points, and yes, I don’t see that as being an issue. The Chiefs defense did a nice job on Detroit and limited the Jags.

No way the Bears offense supplies the offense to get this one over 48. The only way this one hits the over is if KC scored 42 points—and they could, but I see the game slowing in the second half with the decision in hand.]

3. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) ▼1

49ers Review

The Rams’ offense has looked sharp over the first two weeks—and Cooper Kupp hasn’t even played yet.

Against the Niners in Week Two, they were undone by second-half turnovers but played San Francisco toe-to-toe for the opening half.

Puka Nacua has set the NFL record for most receptions through his first two games with 25.

Kyren Williams stepped into the lead back role and produced 100 total yards and became the first Rams player to score both rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game since 2021.

Cincinnati Bengals Preview

Monday, September 25
5:15 pm PT, ESPN

The Rams will head to Cincinnati for a Monday Night game against a suddenly 0-2 Bengals team. Cincy has not been able to stop the run at all in their first two games.

The Ravens and Browns both run it well, but the Bengals have serious issues containing the ground attack. Look for Williams to continue to perform well.

The Rams passing offense will always produce, but with the support of the run game, it could have a big day.

Joe Burrow has not looked right this season, but there is too much talent on that offense to continue to struggle.

And the Bengals desperately need a win. Look for a shootout to end the weekend.

My Pick: Rams 27, Bengals 24

[The Rams are a 1.5-point dog ahead of this matchup. I like the Rams to get this one outright. The point total is 43.5, the Bengal offense has struggled this season, but 43.5 for offensive firepower on both teams?

This one seems like a lock, hit the over.]

4. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) ▲1

Lions Review

The second half of the opener against the Rams was really bad. And that collapse could be big at the end of the year for Seattle.

The good news for the Seahawks is they did not let that performance beat them two weeks in a row. Seattle went to Detroit and pulled the upset scoring three TDs in the final quarter and overtime.

Geno Smith made the second half against LA look like an anomaly as he tore through the Lions’ defense to the tune of 328 yards with no interceptions and a pair of TDs.

Tre Brown stepped in at CB for the injured Riq Woolen and produced a pick-six, a sack, and two passes defended late.

Carolina Panthers Preview

Sunday, September 24
1:05 pm PT, CBS

Seattle will come home for a meeting with the Panthers. Carolina played better in their week two loss to New Orleans than in the opener.

It will be career start number three for Bryce Young and Pete Carroll will know how to make things difficult for the rookie QB.

The Panthers have some issues along the offensive line and look for the Seahawks to exploit that in a comfortable win.

My Pick: Seahawks 21, Panthers 13

[The Seahawks are a 5.5-point favorite at home. Look for Seattle to be at least a TD better than Carolina. The point total of 42.5 seems like a lot.

Carolina has some players on defense who can keep the score down and the Seahawks will force the Panthers to struggle with the ball. Go with the under.]

5. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) ▼1

Titans Review

This is a Chargers defense that is struggling, especially against the pass. Ryan Tannehill was able to complete 77% of his passes.

Tannehill was able to complete two passes that traveled at least 45 yards in the air in the same game for the first time since 2013.

The Chargers’ pass rush was much better in week two with five sacks. The run game has been good in both games and bottled-up Derrick Henry to 3.2 yards per carry.

The offense is solid but does Los Angeles ever have issues in the back end of the D? The back end of that defense just needs to improve.

Minnesota Vikings Preview

Sunday, September 24
10:00 am PT, FOX

Barring a tie game in Minneapolis, either the Vikings or the Chargers will open the season 0-3. That is a huge hole for a pair of playoff teams a season ago.

Minnesota could come back from the winless open to the season easier in the NFC North than the Chargers. This is a must-win for Los Angeles. The bright side is the AFC only has a pair of 2-0 teams in Miami and Baltimore.

The secondary will have their hands full with Kirk Cousins tossing the ball to Justin Jefferson, Jodan Addison, and TJ Hockenson. It will be more like the Miami attack than the Titans.

L.A. has to get pressure on Cousins and make him uncomfortable to have any shot. The Vikings at home might be too much.

My Pick: Vikings 36, Chargers 33

[This one is a “Pick’Em” and I look for it to be a high-scoring, tight game with the offenses taking over.

The 53.5-point total is a large number but both teams will keep the scoreboard operator busy. It pushes past that for the over.]

6. Las Vegas Raiders (1-1) ◄►

Bills Review

The Raiders went to Buffalo and got beat up by an angry Bills team. That was not unexpected by any means.

The unexpected portion of that one was Hunter Renfrow disappearing from the offense. He went without a target in Buffalo until the final minutes.

In the win over the Broncos, Jimmy Garoppolo did not look his way at all. With Jacobi Meyers out, the Raiders really had no one to step up as a second option behind Davante Adams.

Adams has been targeted on 34.7% of Garoppolo’s passes this season. The Raiders will need to find another WR/TE to step up if they want to have offensive success.

Pittsburgh Steelers Preview

Sunday, September 24
5:20 pm PT, NBC

The Raiders will play in Alegient Stadium for the first time in 2023 with a Sunday Night game against the Steelers.

This one should come down to the wire and make for a good prime-time showdown, even if both offenses might have issues moving the ball.

The Steelers knocked off the Browns on Monday night because of their defense and ability to create takeaways. The Steelers’ offense looked really bad in the first two weeks.

Las Vegas has issues on the offensive side of things, but as long as they don’t turn it over, I think they should be able to come away with the win.

My Pick: Raiders 17, Steelers 14

[The Raiders enter this one as a slight 1.5-point favorite at home. I think Vegas will win, but the cover will be tight, a lot of Steelers fans will be in the building. Still go with the Raiders by a FG. This one stays under the 42.5.]

7. Denver Broncos (0-2) ◄►

Bills Review

The Broncos lost to Washington 35-33 on a missed two-point conversion after a Hail Mary on the last play of the game.

What really stands out in this one is the 35 points the Commanders put on the board. The last time Washington scored 30 points or more in a game was October 3, 2021, and they were known as the Washington Football Team.

Denver jumped to a 21-3 lead but let it slip away. Washington OC, Eric Bieniemy (Give this man a HC job already) made adjustments and Denver had no answer for them.

Denver, while flawed, did see better production in week two from the RBs and Marvin Mims looked like he could be a weapon moving forward.

After what was set up for a hot start to the season, Denver finds themselves 0-2 after two seemingly winnable games at home.

The Broncos have only been outscored by three points total in two losses, but the hole is getting deep.

Miami Dolphins Preview

Sunday, September 24
10:00 am PT, CBS

The Broncos now must go on the road and face a very good Dolphins team. Denver went 1-8 on the road last season and lost five in a row away from the Mile High City.

That minus-three on the aggregate season score will grow in this one. The Dolphins’ offense has proven in two games that they can beat teams with the pass or the run.

If Denver tries to take the passing game away from Tua, look for Raheem Mostert to churn out yards on the ground. I am not so sure the Broncos will have much of an answer for the passing attack anyway.

Denver’s hole will be 0-3. Miami wins this one big.

My Pick: Dolphins 31, Broncos 17

[The latest line I’ve seen has Miami –6.5, which seems like the play in this one. The Dolphins will get that cover and expect the line to move upward a bit more prior to kickoff.

The total at the moment is 47.5, I like the over in this—but just barely.]

8. Arizona Cardinals (0-2) ◄►

Giants Review

The Cardinals showed some life in their loss to the Giants. The offense was solid and balanced in the opening half with 241 yards and 20 points in the opening 30 minutes.

In the second half, the offense only produced 119 yards and could not stay on the field. During the Giants’ second-half comeback, the Cardinals’ defense was on the field for far too long.

Joshua Dobbs looked like he had good command of things with a TD pass and 228 yards in the air and knew when to make plays with his feet running for 41 and a TD. Dobbs will produce enough for this team to get some wins.

The penalties have to be corrected. Arizona has been flagged 17 times for a league-high 179 yards in 2023.

Dallas Cowboys Preview

Sunday, September 24
1:25 pm PT, FOX

Arizona will get some wins this season. They will just have to wait a few weeks, at least. The Cowboys this week, followed by the 49ers, do not offer much for the Cardinals.

Dallas has outscored opponents 70-10 this season and Dak Prescott has not thrown an interception this season.

CeeDee Lamb has looked like an All-Pro WR and Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense are playing like a unit on a mission.

This one could get away from the Cardinals early. The only chance is by controlling the ball, committing no turnovers, and limiting penalties. Easier said than done. Dallas cruises to a 3-0 start.

My Pick: Cowboys 35, Cardinals 14

[The Cardinals enter this one as a 12-point underdog at home. The Cowboys should be able to get that number without much issue.

The total on this one is sitting at 43. And that will depend solely on Arizona being able to produce some points. I don’t think the Cardinals will need to provide a lot of help with the total and see this one going over.]

—More from Stephen Vilardo—