Another week down and another batch of quarterbacks are on the shelf. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Sam Darnold join Nick Foles as Week 1 starters no longer in action. Brees and Darnold should be back in about a month or so. Roethlisberger is done for the year, turning things over to Mason Rudolph. It has been a season defined by injuries so far and that has definitely been reflected in these power rankings, with lots of movement.
Of course the results played a part as well. Pittsburgh dropped to 0-2, as did Carolina, Jacksonville and Denver, all teams who had some form of postseason hope entering the year. Cleveland bounced back, the Jets are on their third quarterback already and Miami continues to show that they are the worst team in the NFL. It is shaping up to be a two-team race in the AFC. Meanwhile, the NFC feels wide open as the Rams, Packers and Cowboys are all off to great starts. Alright enough chit chat, here are this week’s power rankings, starting with a familiar face at the top.
1. New England Patriots: 2-0 (Last Week: 1)
Just another day at the office for the defending champs. New England blew the doors off Miami, just as everyone expected. What might not have been expected was the level of scoring from the defense. The Patriots had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and shutout the Dolphins. It might have been a slow start, leading just 7-0 after one quarter, but the Pats have the deepest, most talented team in the league. The AFC looks like it will be a two-team race.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-0 (Last Week: 2)
Patrick Mahomes is well on his way to winning another MVP. He torched the Raiders during the second quarter with 278 yards and four touchdowns, in one quarter! The Chiefs did trail 10-0 in this game before Mahomes worked his magic. There have been positive signs from this Kansas City defense early in the season, but it will really matter more in December and January. The Chiefs seems poised for another deep playoff run well ahead of the rest of the AFC West.
3. Los Angeles Rams: 2-0 (Last Week: 4)
This is the same team that squeaked out a win against the Panthers a week ago. It was a dominant defensive performance from the Rams. People will point to Drew Brees being out, but Los Angeles intercepted Brees and bottled up the run while he was still in the game. The offense certainly took its time to get going, but at the end of the day, they turned in a solid performance. Todd Gurley found the end zone for the first time this season and Jared Goff stayed mistake free. This is a formula the Rams can win with.
4. Green Bay Packers: 2-0 (Last Week: 8)
Well the Packers certainly started a lot faster this time around. After managing 10 points in Chicago, Green Bay scored 21 in the first half alone. Things slowed down big time though in the second half, as the defense finally let Minnesota find the end zone and Aaron Rodgers seemed to become extremely frustrated with the offense. Aaron Jones showed up though with a monster day featuring 100-plus rushing yards and a touchdown. We have yet to see the Pack play a complete game, and yet they are 2-0.
5. Dallas Cowboys: 2-0 (Last Week: 10)
Dallas looked a little sluggish out of the gate against Washington. Also, if you guess Devin Smith would score the first touchdown of the game for the Cowboys, you should probably go play the lottery. It was Smith’s first catch since 2016 and evened the score at seven at that point. From then on out, Dak Prescott and the offense cruised, scoring just before half to take a lead it wouldn’t surrender the rest of the way. It was a big divisional win that puts Dallas in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. The Cowboys have a bye, I mean, play the Dolphins in Week 3.
6. Baltimore Ravens: 2-0 (Last Week: 11)
It was a lot tighter this time around, but Baltimore emerges unscathed. Lamar Jackson was unleashed on the Cardinals defense, throwing for 272 yards and rushing for 120 more. It was duel of dual-threat quarterbacks in what proved to be a very exciting contest. Mark Andrew is also looking like Jimmy Graham with the numbers he is putting up. With the rest of the AFC North struggling, the Ravens are in a great spot in the division. Things will go from zero to 60 real quick for Baltimore though as it has a trip to Arrowhead up next.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-1 (Last Week: 7)
I’m pinning a lot of this on injuries and an untimely drop from Nelson Agholor. If Agholor takes that to the house, Philly escapes Atlanta 2-0. On top of that, the Eagles were playing without Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert for the majority of the contest. Carson Wentz even missed some time after getting banged up. The secondary played better, even despite the incredible efforts of Julio Jones. Overall, it was a solid game from Philly. If they can get just a bit healthier, this team should be a dangerous one.
8. Houston Texans: 1-1 (Last Week: 13)
That was too close for comfort if you are a Texans fan. Houston made a goal line stand on a Jacksonville two-point conversion attempt to preserve its slim lead. The defense won the day for the Texans, sacking Gardner Minshew four times and containing Leonard Fournette. It was a rough showing from the offense as Deshaun Watson had his 16-game streak of at least one passing touchdown snapped. The last time he failed to toss one was also against the Jaguars. A win is a win, but this wasn’t a convincing one. The Texans move up a lot though because of losses, injuries and bad offensive play elsewhere.
9. Minnesota Vikings: 1-1 (Last Week: 6)
Minnesota blinked and found itself down 21-0. If you ignore the first 20 or so minutes, the Vikings would’ve won the game 16-0, outplaying the Packers the rest of the game. Dalvin Cook once again flashed his big-play ability. He set a new career high for rushing yards as well. The biggest problem was the slow start and the poor play of Kirk Cousins in crucial moments. He threw a late-game interception in the end zone costing Minnesota a chance at what would have been a massive road win in the division.
10. Chicago Bears: 1-1 (Last Week 9)
Defense wins championships and kicking finally won a game for the Chicago Bears. As Mitchell Trubisky and the offense stumbled through another outing, Eddy Peneiro kicked three field goals, including a 53-yard game-winner as time expired. It was an important win for Chicago as both Detroit and Green Bay won. The Bears struggled to establish the run though once again as Cordarrelle Patterson proved to be the most effective rusher. Trubisky also disappointed for the second straight week, throwing for just 120 yards.
11. New Orleans Saints: 1-1 (Last Week: 3)
Time to test that backup plan. Drew Brees is out for at least the next six weeks with a serious thumb injury. The Saints started slow again and could not find anyway back into the game with Brees on the sidelines. It didn’t help that the refs screwed them out a defensive touchdown either. Teddy Bridgewater struggled mightily in Brees’ place, posting a 10.8 QBR. Bridgewater got little help from the running game either, as Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray combined for just 50 yards on 18 carries. With Brees out, things could get pretty rough in NOLA.
12. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-1 (Last Week: 5)
Perhaps the close shave versus Indianapolis was a sign of things to come. In what was the most shocking result of the week, Los Angeles looked completely inept in Detroit. The offense ground to a halt after an early touchdown from Austin Ekeler, managing just three points the rest of the way. Defensively, the Chargers looked great, intercepting Matt Stafford twice, but they lost starting safety Adrian Phillips to injury More has to be expected of Philip Rivers going forward as this team has title aspirations.
13. Atlanta Falcons: 1-1 (Last Week: 15)
Julio Jones bailed out just about everyone in Atlanta with a clutch catch and run for the go-ahead touchdown late against Philadelphia. It wasn’t a great game for Matt Ryan, as he tossed three interceptions in the contest. He had just two all of last season. It was also another brutal game for Devonta Freeman, who averaged two yards per carry on 11 attempts. Credit the defense for pressuring Carson Wentz all game though. The Falcons knocked a lot of skill players out of this game and did just enough to hang on for a big early-season win.
14. Seattle Seahawks: 2-0 (Last Week: 16)
Another week, another tight win facing the AFC North. Seattle looked a lot better offensively in Pittsburgh despite two fumbles. The Seahawks were able to move the ball up and down the field, controlling the pace of play. It did just enough to hold off a late surge from the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers. Some increased pass rush would certainly be appreciated. Expect this to be the theme for Seattle all year, but winning close still counts.
15. Indianapolis Colts: 1-1 (Last Week: 18)
Indianapolis came very close to upending the Chargers a week ago in Los Angeles. It went on the road again to lock up a big win in the division. Jacoby Brissett was far from elite, but he did toss three touchdowns. This is a talented defense who has the potential to keep the offense in the game throughout. It is very interesting to examine this team because the expectations have dropped so much. The Colts seem to be determined to prove they are more than just Andrew Luck. They do need to figure out their kicking situation though, with Adam Vinatieri missing five kicks in two games.
16. Cleveland Browns: 1-1 (Last Week: 17)
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better for Cleveland in a 23-3 road win. Granted, the Jets were about as battered as they possibly could be and there are still some concerns about that Browns offensive line. Nick Chubb managed just 3.4 yards per attempt and Baker Mayfield tossed another interception as well. However, Odell Beckham Jr. reminded everyone why he is one of the league’s elite playmakers and Myles Garrett looked unstoppable at times with three sacks. With a short week before hosting the Rams, the Browns will need to take that next step in their progression to keep things close against a dominant defense.
17. San Francisco 49ers: 2-0 (Last Week: 19)
Where in the world did that come from? The 49ers demolished the Bengals after a solid win that looks even better with the Buccaneers beating the Panthers. There are some early signs of optimism as the San Francisco front seven finally is playing up to the potential that match all of the first round draft picks they have spent there. Matt Breida looked explosive as the Niners pounded the Cincy defense for 259 yards on the ground. On the flip side of that, they held the Bengals to just 25 yards on 19 carries. With the struggling Steelers up next, the 49ers have a real chance to start 3-0.
18. Tennessee Titans: 1-1 (Last Week: 12)
Oh right. This is still the Titans we are talking about. One week after dismantling the Browns on the road, the Titans returned home only to drop a divisional game against the Colts. The defense got after Jacoby Brissett all game, but had no answer for the Indy ground attack. Marcus Mariota managed just 154 yards passing and wasted another solid effort from Derrick Henry. These are the types of game Tennessee has to win in a wide open division with a quarterback in a contract year. If these are the results, Mariota is going to be costing himself some money in the offseason.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 0-2 (Last Week: 14)
It might be time to panic. Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury. Mason Rudolph played admirably in his place, but the Steelers came up short once again. The defense could not make enough plays and gave up over 400 yards of offense. That probably played a large roll in the team’s decision to trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick. It was another poor performance as well for James Connor as the Steelers continue to search for consistency. Without Roethlisberger, this team might spiral.
20. Buffalo Bills: 2-0 (Last Week: 24)
There is a 2-0 team in New York and Josh Allen won’t let you forget it. The Bills beat the Jets and Giants in successive weeks, a feat that is by no means considered difficult, but Buffalo is off to a fast start. The defense looks just as tough as it ever has and the infusion of talent at the skill positions seems to be making a big difference for Allen, who is playing well above the level we saw from him a season ago. The Bills face the reeling Bengals, fresh off a beatdown out west, with a chance to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-2 (Last Week: 22)
The Gardner Minshew era got off to a bit of a rocky start. The Jaguars defense of old showed up though, holding Deshaun Watson to just 159 yards passing. Unfortunately, they got gashed by the combo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. In a weird twist, Leonard Fournette completely failed to show up in the run game, but did contribute as a receiver. Holding Houston to 13 points is impressive, but when you consider Jacksonville managed just 12 points, this was a disappointing showing. Oh and to top that all off, Jalen Ramsey wants off the team.
22. Oakland Raiders: 1-1 (Last Week: 21)
This is about what we expected from the Raiders. Oakland started hot with a 10-0 lead, but never managed to score again. The Chiefs exploded for 28 points in that second quarter and Derek Carr completely fell apart with some terrible interceptions. The Raiders secondary got pulled apart at times downfield as the pass rush could not do enough to hide those deficiencies. Oakland is so much better than it was a year ago, but there is still a large gap between them and the true contenders in this division.
23. Denver Broncos: 0-2 (Last Week: 23)
Denver looked terrible offensively while facing a very good Chicago defense, thought it won the game in wild fashion with a late touchdown and two-point conversation, then actually had their hearts broken by a last second kick. It was an emotional roller coaster for the Broncos. The offense still has a long way to go. There were signs of life from the defense though after a terrible showing in Oakland. If Joe Flacco cannot find a way to start scoring more frequently leading this offense, there will be calls for Drew Lock to start as soon as he is healthy.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-1 (Last Week: 28)
It was rather ugly the whole way, but Tampa stuffed Christian McCaffrey inside the five-yard line to preserve a hard-fought victory. Jameis Winston was up and down, but turned in a much better performance than a week ago. Peyton Barber got going in the run game a bit and Chris Godwin flashed the ability so many raved about during the offseason. Tampa got a bit lucky that Cam Newton missed so many open receivers, but the front seven played well enough to pick up a big divisional win. Shockingly, the Buccaneers lead the NFC South after two weeks thanks to the 1-0 divisional record. With the struggling Giants on tap, the Bucs might be able to build some momentum.
25. Detroit Lions: 1-0-1 (Last Week: 29)
I still don’t know how the Lions won this game. This was the same secondary that got shredded last week by a rookie quarterback. Now, facing Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense, they held strong and surrendered just 10 points in a crucial win. Matt Stafford struggled yet again with a pair of interceptions, but made enough plays to lead two scoring drives. With a trip to Philly coming up, Detroit will probably need a bit more scoring to emerge with a technically undefeated record intact.
26. Carolina Panthers: 0-2 (Last Week: 20)
Whatever momentum the Panthers built in the second half of their game against the Rams was nowhere to be found on Thursday night. Cam Newton missed receivers all over the field and really struggled with accuracy all game. Carolina could have dominated Tampa if Newton had been able to hit on a couple of significant throws. Instead, the Bucs keyed on Christian McCaffrey and essentially shut him down. The defense also made Jameis Winston look like a competent quarterback. This is a really bad look for the Panthers who find themselves in a tough hole in what is looking like a competitive division.
27. Washington: 0-2 (Last Week: 25)
It was another strong start followed by a tough finish in the division for Washington. Despite the 0-2 record, there is a lot to like about how this team has performed so far. Terry McLaurin looked sharp for a second straight week and Case Keenum is playing like he did during his miracle run in Minnesota. The defense locked up Dallas in the first quarter, but could only keep Dak Prescott down for so long. If Washington can find a way to run the ball a bit more to take pressure off both Keenum and the defense, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some better results in the near future.
28. Arizona Cardinals: 0-1-1 (Last Week: 30)
The final score was not what Kliff Kingsbury would have hoped for, as he and Kyler Murray continue to seek their first NFL win, but there was a lot to like about how they played. The Murray-led offense took a little while to get going. Actually, it didn’t manage a touchdown until the fourth quarter once again, but the defense played just well enough to keep them in it and gave the Cardinals a chance to win in the final minutes. This was against a Ravens team that blew the doors off Miami 59-10 last week, so a six-point loss is a positive result for a rebuilding team. There is a lot to like about an Arizona team that should just keep getting better as the year rolls on.
29. New York Jets: 0-2 (Last Week: 26)
After another injury-ridden week, the Jets turned to Luke Falk at quarterback. It went about as well as you would have expected. Le’Veon Bell played extremely well considering the total lack of a passing threat. Falk actually steadied the ship by comparison Trevor Siemian, despite constantly being hounded by Myles Garrett. There are things to be positive about in New York. The defense intercepted Baker Mayfield and kept Nick Chubb in check. Unfortunately, the offense looked miserable again and the corners were woefully outmatched. With Falk looking like the prospective starter for the next few weeks, things might actually get worse.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-2 (Last Week: 27)
All that optimism surrounding the Bengals after Week 1 is gone. Cincinnati looked completely overwhelmed against San Francisco, consistently leaving receivers wide open, failing to bring down running backs and showing little ability to protect Andy Dalton. For as well as the 49ers played, the Bengals made it very easy on them and look just as lost any many expected them to be heading into the season. Things were always bound to be a little rocky with a rookie head coach, but this was an abysmal showing.
31. New York Giants: 0-2 (Last Week: 31)
Oh boy. If not for the Dolphins, the Giants would have a firm grasp on the last spot in these rankings. New York did a better job of getting Saquon Barkley the ball in Week 2, but Eli Manning showed why the team drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall. It is hard to put all the blame on Eli considering he has a rag-tag collection of receivers with Sterling Shepard unavailable, but he needs to play better if he is going to keep his job. This is going to be a long season in New York.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-2 (Last Week: 32)
In two games, the Dolphins have allowed 102 points and scored 10. Now Minkah Fitzpatrick is headed to Pittsburgh as well in exchange for a collection of draft picks. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen looked horrific against New England. The Patriots brought two interceptions back for touchdowns and sacked them a combined seven times. On the bright side, Miami held opposing running backs to just 3.6 yards per carry. Otherwise, this was absolutely pathetic. The Fins look like they would fit right in well in either the SEC East or ACC Coastal division, because they haven’t looked like a team worthy of being in the AFC East.