It was a topsy turvy week 2 which saw none of the top 3 win - losses for the Eagles and Patriots and a tie for the Vikings, whilst some of the lower ranked teams coming into the season e.g. Tampa Bay are surprising all of the pundits. These results, and others, see quite a large level of movement in the Power Rankings after week 2.
The teams that have proven particularly difficult to rank this week are the Bucs, Steelers, 49ers, Bengals and Texans.
Remember though, it’s very early in the season and there’s a long way to go.
1. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 4)
The Rams beat Arizona at a canter, outgaining the hapless Cardinals 432 yards to 137 en-route to a shutout victory. Jared Goff continues to shine with WR Brandin Cooks his main target. And the defense is playing strong (although not under great stress against Arizona). There will be tougher tests ahead, but right now the Rams may just be the best team in football.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 7)
The Jaguars continue to look like the team that got to the AFC Championship last year. Blake Bortles passed for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Patriots in an over-the-hump type victory. Leonard Fournette’s hamstring continues to be an area of concern for the rising Jaguars. Unfortunately, they also lost LT Cam Robinson for the season with an ACL injury.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 9)
Kansas City’s high octane offense became stratospheric this week as Patrick Mahomes threw 6 touchdowns against the Steelers. Mahomes now has 10 passing touchdowns (and no interceptions) in just two games. It looks like Kanas City are going to play in high scoring games all season as the defense gave up 37 points in the winning effort. The Chiefs look like challengers to the Jags and Patriots in the AFC.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 1)
Offense is struggling with Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery still out. With the defense surprisingly giving up 27 points to the upstart Buccaneers and Jason Peters suffering a quadriceps injury (status unknown), this team is in need of a boost. They’ll likely get it with the return of Wentz this coming week. In the meantime, they fall from their no.1 perch.
5. New England Patriots (1-1) (last week’s ranking:2)
Last week’s no.1 and no.2 both lost as the Patriots went down to a good Jaguars team and answered our question, at least for now – “is there anybody in the AFC able to knock the Patriots off”? Defense struggled badly giving up big plays and 481 yards of offense to Blake Bortles and his team. The Patriots also need to get their running game going to take the pressure off Tom Brady but in the meantime may have helped their passing game by trading for Josh Gordon from Cleveland. But for now, they drop a little down our rankings.
6. Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1) (last week’s ranking: 3)
Kirk Cousins was excellent in a game the Vikings should have lost and then should have won. Cousins had more than 400 yards passing against a Packers defense which gave up big plays at crucial times. Vikings defense was just good enough to keep them in it. No doubt that this Vikings team is a strong contender with Cousins at the helm.
7. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 5)
The Falcons overcame the Panthers in a battle of two strong NFC South teams. Tevin Coleman’s 100-yard rushing day and a solid outing by Matt Ryan led the offense to 31 points and more than 400 yards, whilst the defense (beat up with the loss of LB Deion Jones and S Keanu Neal) did just enough to get past Carolina. Atlanta remains a strong contender in the NFC.
8. Green Bay Packers (1-0-1) (last week’s ranking: 8)
If last week was a wow, then this week we have a double wow. Packers had the Vikings beaten until shocking officiating call gave the Vikings a reprieve. Vikings then reprieved the Packers by missing two field goals in overtime. So, two of the top teams in the NFC battle to a tie. Aaron Rodgers was effective playing through injury but defense gave up big plays to an inspired Kirk Cousins. Questions remain – can Rodgers continue to be play through the pain? In doing so, will he make the injury worse? Can the Packers defense be better than average?
9. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 12)
The Chargers weren’t seriously challenged against the NFL’s worst team (Buffalo) as Philip Rivers threw 3 touchdown passes and the defense racked up 5 sacks and 2 interceptions. There are stiffer challenges ahead for the Chargers. The injury to DE Joey Bosa – who is possibly out for a few weeks – is a big loss for this team.
10. New Orleans Saints (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 6)
The Saints failed to impress as they somehow came from behind to scrape past the Cleveland Browns – in a game they could, and perhaps should, have lost. Drew Brees was up and down – mostly accurate but missing a wide open target for a touchdown in a close, low scoring game could have been crucial. The Saints running game struggled and couldn’t get going. As yet, this doesn’t look like the Saints we expected when doing our pre-season rankings and definitely not yet the Saints of last year.
11. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 14)
Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient and the 49’ers running game led by Matt Breida was huge as San Francisco beat the winless Lions. Garoppolo hung tough in the face of a strong pass rush. The 49ers continue to show that they are a solid all-round team and remain a Wild Card contender in the strong NFC.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) (last week’s ranking: 10)
Despite 37 points and 475 yards of offense, the Steelers still succumbed to the Chiefs – the Steelers themselves giving up 449 yards. Despite a great performance, Ben Roethlisberger was unable to overcome an early 21 point deficit. Pittsburgh will need to get stronger on defense or else this will be a season of shoot-outs.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 21)
Buccaneers follow up their shock win over the Saints, with an even more surprising victory over the champion Eagles. Ryan Fitzpatrick has 8 passing touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season and is quickly developing into a folk-hero – already beating two of our pre-season top 10 teams. Jameis Winston is back after week 4 but won’t get his job back at this rate. Defense played better this week than last.
14. Carolina Panthers (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 11)
Loss of TE Greg Olsen, possibly for the season, is huge. Nonetheless, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey put up in a fine offensive performance against the Falcons, albeit in a losing cause. But the defense gave up 31 points, having had a strong showing the week before. The Panthers need to get consistent on both sides of the ball to contend for a playoff spot in an NFC which looks stronger by the week.
15. Denver Broncos (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 16)
Case Keenum led the Broncos to a comeback victory over the Raiders in a game they trailed in throughout until the final seconds. But the star was rookie Phillip Lindsay with a 100-yard rushing game against the Raiders. Last week we asked “who are the real Denver Broncos?” – well that question still applies. This is a 2-0 team that could easily be 0-2.
16. Tennessee Titans (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 17)
Mike Vrabel got his first win as an NFL Head Coach as his Titans team led by back-up QB Blaine Gabbert (starting for the injured Marcus Mariota) overcame the Texans. Whilst Gabbert was efficient, at best, the big pass play of the game came on a fake punt - a 66-yard touchdown thrown by safety Kevin Byard. The Titans are beat up on the offensive line (both starting tackles out) which may impact them going forwards.
17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 18)
Dallas jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead against the Giants and always kept their noses in front against a Giants team that still hasn’t found a way to unleash Saquon Barkley. The Cowboys were solid, not spectacular (with the exception of one play) and utilised QB Dak Prescott as a runner almost as much as a passer. The Cowboys defense held the Giants to just 13 points off the back of a 6-sack performance. Dallas continues to look like a 'mid-table' team in the NFC.
18. Chicago Bears (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 19)
Chicago’s defense again got them in position to win and Mitch Trubisky did enough to get the Bears their first win of the season against the Seahawks. The Bears defense had 6 sacks and a pick-6 en-route to a 24-17 victory. Chicago is clearly going to be tough for anybody to rack up points and yards on this season.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 22)
Excellent first half performance was enough for the Bengals to see off the Ravens. Andy Dalton had 4 first half passing touchdowns and the defense held Joe Flacco in check for much of the game. Unfortunately star RB Joe Mixon injured his knee against the Ravens – how much playing time he will miss was unclear at the time of writing. He would be a big loss. Bengals have started with two solid wins but surely have tougher tests ahead.
20. Miami Dolphins (2-0) (last week’s ranking: 26)
The Dolphins offense struggled for a second straight week but was able to turn its opportunities into enough points to beat the Jets. The Dolphins defense was again turnover hungry, notching up 3 more this week. Unfortunately, for the Dolphins struggling offense, they have lost former Packer Guard Josh Sitton with a torn rotator cuff injury. Still, Miami is 2-0 and perhaps better than our pre-season view.
21. Houston Texans (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 13)
Houston played good football for most of the game for the second week running but again came up on the wrong side of the result against the Titans. J.J. Watt looks more and more like his old self but his team-mates need to step it up. DE Jadeveon Clowney missed the game through injury but bizarrely still managed to get himself a penalty from the bench for taunting. The Texans need him back on the field. Houston are the best 0-2 team in football, but they need to start winning.
22. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 15)
Joe Flacco struggled against the Bengals. Ravens trying to work Lamar Jackson into the line-up in certain situations but is that confusing / slowing down the offense? A win against the hapless Bills, followed by a loss to the Bengals doesn’t, as yet, give us confidence that this a playoff contender.
23. Washington Redskins (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 20)
The Redskins suddenly look like a struggling team. They were unable to get their running game going and Alex Smith couldn’t turn possession into points as Washington’s offense was poor against the surprising Indianapolis Colts. The offensive line is not playing well and CB Josh Norman is not living up to his billing. This could be a long season for the Redskins.
24. Seattle Seahawks (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 23)
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense couldn’t get going until the 4th quarter against the Bears when in essence it was too late. Shaquill Griffin (2 interceptions) and Seattle’s defense did their best to keep their team in the game to no avail. The Seahawks are not being helped by a mounting injury toll which currently includes Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner – all of whom could be back soon.
25. New York Jets (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 24)
Sam Darnold recorded a 300-yard passing day but also threw 2 interceptions as his Jets couldn’t rebound from a 20-0 first half deficit against the Dolphins. On the plus side, the Jets defense is playing stout football – this week holding the Dolphins to just 257 total yards. To a degree, Darnold came back down to earth after the week 1 blowout of the Lions but he looks like a star of the near future.
26. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) (last week’s ranking: 30)
Despite throwing 2 interceptions, Andrew Luck led the Colts past the Redskins and got his team their first win of the season. But the star of this game was rookie LB Darius Leonard who had 18 tackles (15 solo) and 1 sack, as the Indianapolis defense held Washington to just 9 points. At this early stage of the season, the Colts are still in the bottom third of teams in the league but they now have something to build on.
27. Detroit Lions (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 25)
The Lions defense racked up 6 sacks but despite Matthew Stafford’s comeback efforts, Detroit couldn’t overcome a strong 49ers running game in week 2. Still, Detroit looked much better this week (they could hardly have looked worse) than they did against the Jets in week 1.
28. Oakland Raiders (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 27)
Derek Carr (who went 29 of 32) and the passing game looked better this week against the Broncos, but the Raiders still found a way to lose a lead they held throughout. The defense giving up 168 yards on the ground didn’t help. Bad teams find a way to lose, and whilst it may be too early give that label to the 2018 Oakland Raiders they need to start winning soon or else the moniker will stick.
29. Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) (last week’s ranking: 29)
For the second straight week, the Browns played tough but couldn’t quite get over the hump. This week, the Browns woes in the kicking game cost them what probably would have been a deserved win over the Saints. The defense played a great game in holding New Orleans to just 275 total yards and Tyrod Taylor played another mostly solid game, apart from a crucial 4th quarter interception. It’s still not quite 'Baker Time'. This looks like a team that will win a few games once it can get that initial victory. In the meantime, the Browns offloaded a talented but troubled player in Josh Gordon – sending him to the Patriots.
30. New York Giants (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 28)
The Giants couldn’t get their talented rookie Saquon Barkley going against the Cowboys and a porous offensive line performance was enough for New York to fall to Dallas and drop to 0-2. Right now, it’s difficult to see where this Giants team is going – it doesn’t, as yet, look much better than the poor 2017 version. Making matters worse, the Giants lost starting center Jon Halapio for the season with a broken ankle.
31. Arizona Cardinals (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 31)
Yes, the Cardinals were playing against the one of the NFL’s best (LA Rams) but they were shockingly inept in week 2 – this on top of a very poor outing in week 1. Right now, the Cardinals can’t run, can’t pass and can’t stop the pass. Right now, they are the main challengers to the Bills for the no.1 pick in next year’s draft. How long before rookie QB Josh Rosen gets to play?
32. Buffalo Bills (0-2) (last week’s ranking: 32)
How bad are the Bills? When a player (Vontae Davis) retires at a halftime during a game, you know things are in a mess. Buffalo’s week 2 loss to the Chargers keeps them in pole position for the no.1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. QB Josh Allen did some good things against the Chargers whilst making rookie mistakes. It’s a steep learning curve for the rookie.
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog