NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

Before we get into what was another wild weekend of action, we’ve got to talk about Jon Gruden. The now former Raiders coach resigned Monday night amid the fallout of the emails that surfaced this week. They are full of racist, misogynistic, bigoted language that seriously calls into question Gruden’s character.

I am happy that he will no longer be a coach in the NFL, but I do question why he was not fired. He unquestionably crossed a line, but the fact that his employment status was left up to him is concerning. Gruden apologized profusely, but seemed to be bothered by the fact that he was continually asked about the topic, almost dismissive of the significance of the situation. His apologies felt like he was simply going through the motions, even disingenuous. He just wanted to wipe his hands clean of it and move on, rather than address the damage done by the derogatory comments he made regarding several members of the NFL community.

There is no question that the NFL has a track record for sweeping serious allegations under the rug and often the league chooses to penalize those for drug use way more sternly than racism or even domestic violence. The NFL has certainly come a long way, but there is still a ton of room for improvement. Perhaps we will see future developments as the fallout from this email review continues. One can only hope.

Meanwhile, the NFL season continued to deliver exciting finishes. It helped that seemingly every kicker in the league forgot how to put the ball through the uprights. Let’s review Week 5 and take a look at how the league stacks up.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

1. Arizona Cardinals: 5-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-10 vs. San Francisco
For the first time in a while, we have some stability at the top of the rankings. Arizona is proving that it can find multiple ways to win. Sunday was a defensive battle as the Cardinals had their fewest points of the season. However, they contained Trey Lance and did just enough offensively to earn their fifth win of the year. A huge test at Cleveland is up next.

Bills logo

2. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 38-20 at Kansas City
It’s just one impressive win after another for Buffalo these days. Josh Allen had some big plays, but it was the defense that truly won the day. Holding the Chiefs to 20 points is impressive. Add in four forced turnovers, including a pick-six, and you are talking about a dominant performance. While Kansas City has been struggling this year, this was still a big step for Buffalo. It is hard to find a more complete team in the league at this point.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 4-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 26-17 at Seattle
It wasn’t always pretty, but Matt Stafford put in a gutsy performance and the ground game got it done. Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel combined for 119 yards and two scores. Defensively, Los Angeles was doing a decent job of containing everyone not named D.K. Metcalf even before Russell Wilson got hurt. There were a couple of scares down the field, but the Rams bounced back with an important win in a really tough place to play.

Buccaneers logo

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 45-17 vs. Miami
Goodness Tom Brady looks good. After struggling against the Dolphins towards the end of his time with the Patriots, the 44-year-old aired it out for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans looked unstoppable for much of the afternoon. On the other side of the ball, the secondary remains a work in progress, but the run defense is the best in the league. The Eagles are up next fresh off a surprising win over the Panthers.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 47-42 vs. Cleveland
What a game! Justin Herbert was nearly flawless as he engineered some second-half heroics. There are certainly some red flags when it comes to the defense, which gave up a ton of yards and points. However, the Chargers made a stand when it mattered most with a fourth-down stop to win the game. The schedule doesn’t get any easier though with a visit to Baltimore on tap.

Ravens logo

6. Baltimore Ravens: 4-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 31-25 vs. Indianapolis
Trailing 25-9 in the fourth quarter, it certainly looked like the Ravens were headed for an underwhelming upset. Instead, Lamar Jackson turned into Superman, leading a pair of scoring drives, complete with two-point conversions to tie the game. Baltimore certainly got some help from a few missed field goals and a missed extra point by Rodrigo Blankenship, but this was a stunning turnaround. If the Ravens can play anything like they did in the fourth quarter on a more consistent basis, they will be in really good shape.

Browns logo

7. Cleveland Browns 3-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 47-42 at Los Angeles
As long as games like these continue to happen, questions will be asked about the Browns’ status as a true Super Bowl contender. For the second time this season, Cleveland blew a two-score lead against an AFC West opponent. This time, it blew a 27-13 third-quarter lead, only to rally in the fourth quarter and then surrender two touchdowns in under four minutes. It is hard to blame the offense after a 42-point outing, including 300 yards from Baker Mayfield and no turnovers. Life won’t get much easier as the undefeated Cardinals visit in Week 6.

Cowboys logo

8. Dallas Cowboys: 4-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 44-20 vs. New York
Outside of a two-point loss to open the season, the Cowboys are unbeaten and cruising. Dallas opened things up in the second half, but this game was actually very close before Daniel Jones exited the game. Perhaps the Cowboys always would have pulled away, but the Giants were a much worse team without him, Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay. Focusing on the positive though, Ezekiel Elliott went over the century mark and the team as a whole eclipsed 200 yards. That is a winning formula with the defense playing the best we’ve seen in years.

Packers logo

9. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 25-22 at Cincinnati
On one hand, the Packers picked up their fourth straight win in a tough road test that required overtime. On the other hand, Green Bay tried its hardest to lose this game, but Cincinnati would not oblige. It is clear the secondary is missing Jaire Alexander. The defense came up with a pair of clutch interceptions of Joe Burrow, but Ja’Marr Chase torched the Packers’ defensive backs on a 70-yard touchdown and had another deep score called back due to a penalty. Winning while ironing out the kinks is still a good place to be.

Bengals Logo

10. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 25-22 vs. Green Bay
Lose and move up five spots? Seems counterintuitive, but who do you put above them at this point? Cincinnati should have won this game. They certainly looked like the better team for much of the second half. Joe Burrow did not play his best game though and ultimately, the offense blew several chances to win the game. While all the Bengals do is play close games, they seem to be trending in the right direction.

Saints logo

11. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 33-22 at Washington
Is the Jameis Winston experiment working? On the season, he has nearly 900 yards passing and 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. However, he has also completed just 60 percent of his passes and continues to be fairly inconsistent. I suppose as long as the Saints win games, they won’t really care how pretty it is. Winston tossed four more touchdowns on Sunday, but went 15-of-30 throwing and New Orleans had the ball for just 23 minutes of game play. Thankfully, the defense forced Taylor Heinickie to play much worse in an important bounce back victory.

Chiefs Logo

12. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-3 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 38-20 vs. Buffalo
Losing is one thing. Losing badly at home and looking overmatched in every phase of the game in another. Patrick Mahomes continues his uneven start to the season. He tossed two more interceptions, matching his season total from 2020. Defensively, Kansas City needs a reset. The Chiefs give up huge plays and tons of points on a weekly basis. With the team unable to run the ball even before Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with an injury, the defense had no chance. Andy Reid has a lot of work to do.

Panthers logo

13. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 21-18 vs. Philadelphia
So that’s why the Jets traded away Sam Darnold. Zach Wilson might have his own struggles, but Darnold imploded on Sunday, tossing three interceptions and only amassing 177 yards through the air. He had some help in the ground game as Chuba Hubbard racked up 101 yards. The defense did its job as well, recovering a fumble and limiting Jalen Hurts. This is a troubling loss for the Panthers, who will really hope they can get Christian McCaffrey back for Week 6.

Bears logo

14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week: 24)
Won 20-9 at Las Vegas
While Chicago picked up a solid win, its offense took a significant blow with the loss of David Montgomery. Through four weeks this season, he had the fourth-most carries in the league. How the Bears have found success this season has been by running the ball and trusting its defense to win the game. It remains to be seen if Damien Williams can pick up the slack.

Raiders logo

15. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 20-9 vs. Chicago
Suddenly, the Raiders are in free fall. After two straight comprehensive defeats, Las Vegas lost its head coach as Jon Gruden resigned on Monday. Now, Rich Bisaccia takes over as head coach with the near impossible task of blocking out all of the off-the-field distractions that will inevitably follow in the coming weeks. Derek Carr has clearly regressed after a hot start and Josh Jacobs continues to be one of the least effective running backs in the league. It will be very interesting to see how the team responds in Denver this upcoming week.

49ers Logo

16. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 17-10 at Arizona
The Trey Lance era got off to a pretty lackluster start. The rookie quarterback was solid, but the offense only managing 10 points is definitely an indictment on his level of play. Defensively, it was a good sign to see San Francisco hold Arizona to just 17 points. Kyler Murray looked fairly ordinary as the 49ers ensured he could not use his legs to beat them. It was a winning strategy, the offense just needs to play a bit better.

Titans logo

17. Tennessee Titans: 3-2 (Last Week: 21)
Won 37-19 at Jacksonville
Tennessee shook off the disappointment of its overtime loss in New York by avoiding another letdown. Kevin Byard got in on the action with a scoop and score to set the tone. Then Derrick Henry pummeled the Jaguars defense to the tune of 130 yards and three touchdowns. There are still some red flags, like James Robinson racking up 149 yards and 8.3 yards per carry. Mike Vrabel’s defense is still a weak spot, one that will need to get sorted out as the year rolls on.

Vikings logo

18. Minnesota Vikings: 2-3 (Last Week: 18)
Won 19-17 vs. Detroit
Minnesota came very close to blowing this game. Greg Joseph’s walk-off field goal secured the win, but against a winless team like the Lions, that is not a win to be proud of. For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins and company struggled. Some of that can be attributed to missing Dalvin Cook, but this team has enough playmakers otherwise to account for that. This team has a few close losses on the year against quality teams, but you would like to see them be a bit more convincing against the NFC North basement dweller.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-3 (Last Week: 23)
Won 27-19 vs. Denver
Suddenly, things do not seem as bleak in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger played well against a solid Broncos defense. The biggest talking point though has to be the Steelers finally managing to run the ball. Najee Harris led the way with his first 100-yard game in the pros as Pittsburgh finished with 147 yards on the ground. Establishing the run has to be a priority going forward, especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster potentially out for the season.

Denver_Broncos

20. Denver Broncos: 3-2 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 27-19 at Pittsburgh
It is certainly looking like the Broncos were the beneficiary of a very weak schedule to open the season. After a second straight loss in which the defense didn’t not look as strong nor the offense as potent, it is fair to turn the heat back up on Vic Fangio. Denver moved the ball well, but could not turn drives into touchdowns, settling for two field goals in the first half. Teddy Bridgewater tossed a game-ending interception in the end zone on fourth and goal, so this was certainly a close game. Unfortunately, close doesn’t count for anything in the NFL.

Eagles Logo

21. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-3 (Last Week: 25)
Won 21-18 at Carolina
Philly’s offense looked lifeless through nearly 45 minutes of this game. Jalen Hurts did not look sharp throwing the ball, managing just 5.4 yards per attempt on top of an interception. Thankfully, the defense and special teams stepped up to bail the offense out. Three interceptions of Sam Darnold and a critical blocked punt sparked two late touchdown runs from Hurts to pick up a seemingly improbable win. The Eagles will need to be sharper heading into a short week with the Buccaneers on the docket.

Seahawks logo

22. Seattle Seahawks: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 26-17 vs. Los Angeles
It is time to panic in Seattle. Dropping below .500 in a home divisional loss and losing Russell Wilson for at least a month is about as worst-case scenario as you can get. Geno Smith showed some ability to bridge the gap, but with the Steelers, Saints, Packers and Cardinals coming up in four of the Seahawks’ next five games, it is hard to see a path to the playoffs without Wilson. None of this even covers the concerns for the secondary in Seattle. Robert Woods was open on seemingly every play and Jamaal Adams misplayed a floating pass to DeSean Jackson. Week 6 will be very telling for what to expect next.

Patriots Logo

23. New England Patriots: 2-3 (Last Week: 19)
Won 25-22 at Houston
Goodness this was ugly. New England scored 16 unanswered points to top Houston. Bill Belichick, notorious for flustering rookie quarterbacks, could not slow down Davis Mills for much of the game. The former Stanford quarterback threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest issue for this Patriots team is the inability to score touchdowns. Mac Jones has been solid, but the Pats rank 26th in points per game. They showed some grit to complete the comeback, but the Texans lost 40-0 a week ago. This performance left a lot to be desired.

Colts logo

24. Indianapolis Colts: 1-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 31-25 at Baltimore
I still don’t know how the Colts lost this game. Leading 22-3 in the closing minutes of the third quarter, it seemed like Indianapolis was well on its way to a much-needed road victory to shake off a lackluster start to the season. Instead, the Colts choked, capped off by a pair of missed field goals and a missed extra point by Rodrigo Blankenship. While it is easy to blame the kicker, Indy’s usually stout defense surrendered over 500 yards and 22 unanswered points. That is inexcusable. Frank Reich has some soul searching to do.

Washington made up logo

25. Washington: 2-3 (Last Week: 20)
Won 34-30 at Atlanta
Seriously, what happened? Two teams in the NFL are giving up at least 31 points per game so far this season. Washington and Kansas City. That is 10.4 more points per game than Ron Rivera’s side allowed a year ago. After adding William Jackson III and Jamin Davis, it seemed like Washington was set to be even better. Instead, the pass rush is nonexistent and the number of turnovers has dropped precipitously. It didn’t help that Taylor Henickie had a game to forget as well, but this defense is the biggest issue.

Falcons logo

26. Atlanta Falcons: 2-3 (Last Week: 28)
Won 27-20 vs. New York
The score looks closer than this game truly was. Despite missing Calvin Ridley, the Falcons offense was clicking. Matt Ryan reached 300 yards for the second time this season and tossed a pair of touchdowns. Atlanta’s defense was phenomenal in the first half as well, holding New York to just three points. The Jets closed the gap to 20-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons closed it out with a late touchdown. Arthur Smith now gets a bye week to figure out how to beat a team that doesn’t play in New York.

Giants Logo

27. New York Giants: 1-4 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 44-20 at Dallas
Let’s not be too hard on the Giants. Before Daniel Jones got hurt, New York was level with Dallas. With Jones, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and more all missing in the second half, everything fell apart. A pair of interceptions from Mike Glennon and some poor run defense ended any hopes of the Giants staying competitive. If possible, a tougher test awaits with the Rams on tap.

Dolphins logo

28. Miami Dolphins: 1-4 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 45-17 at Tampa Bay
Sure, not having Tua Tagovailoa certainly hurts Miami’s top-end potential, but what gives defense? Brian Flores had one of the best units in the league firing on all cylinders in 2020. This year, the Dolphins rank 30th in yards and points allowed per game. Getting your quarterback isn’t going to fix all of that. The pass rush is lacking and the secondary looks overmatched. Tom Brady put up numbers he has never hit in his illustrious career on Sunday. Flores needs to rejuvenate this group as soon as possible.

Texans logo

29. Houston Texans: 1-4 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 25-22 vs. New England
While the result is incredibly disappointing, especially considering that the Texans collapsed in the second half, this was a huge improvement from Week 4. Davis Mills showed signs that he could be the quarterback of the future in Houston, which would be a massive development for this team. The Texans were never supposed to be good this year, so finding some players to fill key roles in the future while remaining competitive is a perfectly fine outcome. Hopefully, David Culley takes some notes on this loss to avoid blowing a big lead in the future.

Lions Logo

30. Detroit Lions: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 19-17 at Minnesota
Detroit is two last-second field goals away from being 2-3 with wins over the Ravens and Vikings. The Lions were fairly mediocre offensively, but this defense continues to impress. Kirk Cousins never looked totally comfortable and they forced two turnovers. Dan Campbell has won over this locker room and has Detroit playing his brand of football. It isn’t always pretty, but it often makes up for the difference in talent. The schedule doesn’t offer up any obvious opportunities for a win, but I think a win will come soon enough for this team.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 27-20 at Atlanta
Didn’t the Jets fire Adam Gase? You wouldn’t have known it watching New York’s offense in the first half in London? The offense ran just eight plays in the first 20 minutes of the game. They then had a 16-play drive that ended in a field goal. The defense didn’t do too much to help the cause either outside of forcing a fumble to set up said field goal. Serious questions have to be asked about Mike LaFleur after a fifth straight abysmal start.

Jaguars logo

32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 37-19 vs. Tennessee
Same old Jaguars. A win was always a tough ask, but an 18-point blowout against a team that just got beat by the Jets is not a great look. The team ran the ball well and Trevor Lawrence had some moments, but the defense looked helpless to stop Derrick Henry and failed to force a turnover. Jacksonville has a league low one forced turnover this season and a league-worse -10 turnover differential. Urban Meyer is out of the news with Jon Gruden taking center stage, but the pressure is still on.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

What a two-week stretch! I’m back after a week off. I was a bit busy. I got married, then went on my honeymoon. I think that feels like a good reason not to write for a week.

However, it also means that I have a ton to catch up on. As we all expected, the Cardinals are the final undefeated team in the NFL. In much less surprising news, Matt Nagy continues to be criticized and Urban Meyer is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Another slate of surprising results leads to another major shake up in the rankings as we near the quarter-way mark of the season.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

1. Arizona Cardinals: 4-0 (Last Week: 4)
Won 37-20 at Los Angeles
For the third week in a row, we have another new team at No. 1. The Cardinals unquestionably deserve to be here. A statement win on the road in L.A. solidified Arizona as a Super Bowl contender. Kyler Murray is the early frontrunner to win MVP and the defense continues to step up when it matters. Another NFC West showdown is up next with the 49ers.

Bills logo

2. Buffalo Bills: 3-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 40-0 vs. Houston
Holy hell, that season-opening loss to the Steelers looks more and more like a bizarre anomaly. Buffalo now owns a pair of massive shutout wins. In fact, Denver is the only other team to post a shutout this season. Now Houston is hardly a tough test, but the stat line Davis Mills posted looks like something when you play defense on rookie mode in Madden. He finished 11-of-21 throwing for 87 yards and four interceptions. This Bills defense is for real.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 3-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 37-20 vs. Arizona
Maybe this was an emotional letdown after beating the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 3, but this was a costly loss for the Rams. The margin for error in the NFC West is razor thin and now Los Angeles falls back in the division. There are a ton of games left, but some clear problems cropped up on Sunday. Arizona rumbled for 216 yards on the ground. This defense has to step up if the Rams want to win a Super Bowl.

Browns logo

4. Cleveland Browns 3-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 14-7 at Minnesota
In a week full of ugly games, this was easily the ugliest. Cleveland managed just a single touchdown offensively, but notched a pair of field goals and a two-point conversion to claim an important win. Unquestionably, the defense won the game for the Browns. Myles Garrett and company unsettled Kirk Cousins, who was on a tear through the first three weeks, and bottled up a good running game. Baker Mayfield definitely needs to play better, but this defense looks championship caliber so far.

Buccaneers logo

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 19-17 at New England
A look at the record would indicate that all is going well in Tampa Bay. However, a closer look reveals some concerns. Dallas outplayed Tampa for much of Week 1. The team’s only convincing win came against a horrible Falcons defense. New England was also a missed kick away from knocking off the champs. Defensively, this team has not been as good as a year ago. Injuries are mounting in the secondary. There is still a lot to be positive about, but there are cracks forming in the Buccaneers’ offense.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-1 (Last Week: 11)
Won 28-14 vs. Las Vegas
Honestly, the Chargers are a few penalties away from being 4-0. A convincing showing on Monday night coupled with an upset of the Chiefs has Brandon Staley’s team atop the AFC West. Justin Herbert is playing lights out. The team is imposing its will in the trenches as well. With playmakers at all three levels of the defense, this team is starting to look like a real contender. Another big test looms with a visit from the Browns.

Ravens logo

7. Baltimore Ravens: 3-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 23-7 at Denver
Baltimore certainly benefited from facing Drew Lock for much of the game instead of Teddy Bridgewater, but ultimately played much better offensively against better competition. Denver’s defense offered a real test. However, it was the Ravens defense that truly won the day. Holding the Broncos to just one touchdown was a good look and neither opposing quarterback had much success. With five sacks and an interception, it seems like this group is playing at a high level. A Monday Night Football showdown with the Colts awaits.

Packers logo

8. Green Bay Packers: 3-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh
Turns out it was just one game on the schedule. The team that slept-walked its way through the season opener has been nowhere to be found since then. Defensively, Green Bay limited Najee Harris and shutdown Pittsburgh’s offense for much of the game. Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb connected for a pair of scores while Rodgers added another on the ground. The Packers seem to be getting into a groove ahead of a matchup with the upstart Bengals.

Cowboys logo

9. Dallas Cowboys: 3-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 36-28 vs. Carolina
The final score line makes this game seem much closer than it truly was. Dallas led 36-14 in the fourth quarter before Carolina went on a furious comeback bid that came up short. With the rest of the division struggling, the Cowboys are cruising. Zeke Elliott seems to have knocked off the rust, racking up 147 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Dak Prescott didn’t throw for a ton of yards but avoided mistakes and tossed four touchdown passes. Don’t look now but this defense seems to be legit as well.

Raiders logo

10. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-1 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 28-14 at Los Angeles
This loss does not wipe out the fantastic start to the season for the Raiders, but it puts a solid dent in their ambitions. The Chargers led 21-0 at halftime as Derek Carr and the offense struggled to get going. Las Vegas had zero yards of offense at the end of the first quarter while the defense could not seem to stop Justin Herbert. Jon Gruden’s group played significantly better in the second half, but it was not enough to turn the tide.

Chiefs Logo

11. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 42-30 at Philadelphia
Oh look, it’s the AFC West basement dweller. I don’t think it will stay that way for too long. However, the concerns over the Chiefs defense are real. Kansas City surrendered 461 yards of offense and 30 points to the Eagles. Thankfully, Patrick Mahomes shredded the Philly secondary for five touchdown passes. The team also went 9-of-10 on third down conversions. The offense is still championship caliber, but the defense needs to find its way back to being at least league average.

Panthers logo

12. Carolina Panthers: 3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 36-28 at Dallas
Despite having a few extra days to prepare for the Cowboys, the Panthers could not find a way to stop Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott. Carolina hung around early and made it competitive late, but got dominated in the third quarter. Dallas punched in three touchdowns to outscore the formerly unbeaten NFC South side 21-0 in the period. The Panthers will look to bounce back against another NFC East side as the Eagles visit in Week 5.

Seahawks logo

13. Seattle Seahawks: 2-2 (Last Week: 18)
Won 28-21 at San Francisco
Seattle was a bit lucky to win this game. Two missed kicks, a muffed kickoff return and an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers certainly set the Seahawks up for success. Credit to Russell Wilson and company for taking advantage when the opportunities presented themselves. However, San Francisco outgained Seattle by over 200 yards and won the time of possession battle. The Seahawks also went 2-for-10 on third down, but also held the 49ers to 2-for-14 in those same scenarios. Things don’t get any easier with a visit from the Rams on a short week.

49ers Logo

14. San Francisco 49ers: 2-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 28-21 vs. Seattle
Turnovers and a stagnant offense cost San Francisco its second straight home game. The 49ers could not convert on third down, finishing a lowly 2-for-14 and took too long to truly get going offensively. It also remains to be seen how long Jimmy Garoppolo will be out with a calf injury. There is only so much this defense can do when the offense continues to have drive stalls. Kyle Shanahan has to figure out how to spark his team.

Bengals Logo

15. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-1 (Last Week: 17)
Won 24-21 vs. Jacksonville
This was definitely closer than it should have been. Cincinnati held off Jacksonville with a walk-off field goal. It was good to see the Bengals work their way back from a 14-0 hole, but it is worrying that the deficit existed in the first place. Joe Burrow played really well though, finding C.J. Uzomah for a pair of scores. Finding a way to establish the run would certainly solve a couple of the team’s issues, taking pressure off the defense and Burrow. Still, Cincy is 3-1 and looks much improved from a year ago.

Denver_Broncos

16. Denver Broncos: 3-1 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 23-7 vs. Baltimore
This was a demoralizing loss for the Broncos. Losing Teddy Bridgewater stings. Watching Drew Lock haplessly attempt to lead the offense in his place only worsened the pain. It was Denver’s first loss of the season, but it also served as a major benchmark for the team. After beating up on some of the worst teams in the league, it does not appear that the Broncos truly belong in the conversation with the NFL’s elite.

Saints logo

17. New Orleans Saints: 2-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 27-21 vs. New York
Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up? So far this season, Sean Payton’s side has shelled the Packers, fallen flat against the Panthers, whipped the Patriots and then choked against the Giants. The latest one might be the most confusing showing yet. New Orleans gave up 11 points in the final seven minutes of regulation and then could not stop New York from reaching the end zone in overtime. The Giants finished the game by scoring 17 unanswered points to claim the victory. Consistency might be hard to come by in the Bayou.

Vikings logo

18. Minnesota Vikings: 1-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 14-7 at Cleveland
It was a rough week for the offense, but there are some positives here for the Vikings defense. Holding Baker Mayfield under 50 percent passing is a good sign. Sacking him three times doesn’t hurt either. They did a decent job against the run, but the Browns still had 184 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, the offense did nothing to back up the defense. Kirk Cousins barely cracked 200 yards passing and the ground game averaged 2.8 yards per carry. The offensive line needs to play better.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots: 1-3 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 19-17 vs. Tampa Bay
While it was a loss, the defense played incredibly well against a high-powered Buccaneers offense. Mac Jones looked sharp and handled the blitz well all night long as well. In the end, the Patriots came up just short off pulling off a big victory. Things will get a lot easier in Week 5 with a trip to Houston up next. It might not be a 40-0 shutout, but New England should be able to pick up a win.

Washington made up logo

20. Washington: 2-2 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-30 at Atlanta
Washington, we have a problem! Matt Ryan carved up the defense to the tune of 283 yards and four touchdowns. Cordarrelle Patterson had a field day as well. Luckily, Atlanta’s defense might just be slightly worse. Taylor Heinicke led two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter to win the game. This is not a winning formula when facing most teams in the league. Ron Rivera needs to find a way to revitalize this defense as soon as possible.

Titans logo

21. Tennessee Titans: 2-2 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 27-24 at New York
Tennessee has already shown this season it is capable of incredible highs and devastating lows. Sunday was clearly one of the lowest points we’ve seen from them in quite a while. The Titans lost a very winnable game on the road against a team with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach. What made it worse was that one of their former players, Corey Davis, played a major part in their loss. Lucky for them though, they still lead the AFC South, because it’s the AFC South.

Colts logo

22. Indianapolis Colts: 1-3 (Last Week: 22)
Won 27-17 at Miami
Indianapolis finally got a win, comfortably beating Miami. It took a little while for the offense to get going, but it closed strong with 20 points in the second half. Jonathan Taylor put together one of the best games of his season and Carson Wentz avoided turnovers. Defensively, the Colts didn’t have too many problems with the Jacoby Brissett-led offense. A much tougher matchup awaits with the Ravens on Monday night.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-3 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 27-17 at Green Bay
The bottom appears to be falling out for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has no offensive identity and clearly one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Losing to the Packers is more than understandable given their recent form. That shouldn’t excuse the 29th scoring offense and 28th offense in total yards per game. The Steelers also rank dead last in rushing yards. This team has to do something to turn it around quickly.

Bears logo

24. Chicago Bears: 2-2 (Last Week: 27)
Won 24-14 vs. Detroit
While Chicago picked up a solid win, its offense took a significant blow with the loss of David Montgomery. Through four weeks this season, he had the fourth-most carries in the league. How the Bears have found success this season has been by running the ball and trusting its defense to win the game. It remains to be seen if Damien Williams can pick up the slack.

Eagles Logo

25. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-3 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 42-30 at Kansas City
It is really tough to come up against Patrick Mahomes in that form. Philadelphia did its best to hang around early, but I don’t think this offense is really built to compete in shootouts. On the defensive side, this has to go down as a disappointment. After a strong start against the Falcons and 49ers, the Eagles have gotten shredded by the Cowboys and Chiefs. Some of that is a better level of competition, but this defense has to get its act together.

Dolphins logo

26. Miami Dolphins: 1-3 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-17 vs. Indianapolis
So it turns out Jacoby Brissett might not be the problem in this offense. He did lose a fumble, but Miami finished with 35 yards rushing on a meager 2.2 yards per carry. That is not going to win many football games. The offensive line is a mess, surrendering three sacks and eight quarterback hits. Even when Tua Tagovailoa comes back, I’m not sure that it will make much of a difference if this is how the team is going to play.

Giants Logo

27. New York Giants: 1-3 (Last Week: 30)
Won 27-21 at New Orleans
In potentially the unlikeliest result of the weekend, New York overcame an 11-point deficit in the closing minutes and knocked off New Orleans in overtime. Daniel Jones topped 400 passing yards for the first time in his career while Saquon Barkley is starting to look like the player we saw before his injury. The Giants have a long way to go. This team had just 10 points through the first 52 minutes of gameplay. Getting a win is huge though.

Falcons logo

28. Atlanta Falcons: 1-3 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 34-30 vs. Washington
Even though the Falcons beat the Giants head-to-head in Week 3, they showed their unmatched penchant for blowing games against Washington and still very much seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Atlanta gave up two touchdowns in the final four minutes and spoiled one of the best performances we’ve seen from Matt Ryan in some time. It is hard to feel overly confident in this team’s ability to close out games when that defense needs to come up with a stop.

Jets logo

29. New York Jets: 1-3 (Last Week: 32)
Won 27-24 vs. Tennessee
Could this be a turning point in New York? Probably not, but it is a really positive sign after a few dismal performances. The Jets scored more against the Titans than they had in the first three weeks combined and Zach Wilson flashed the playmaking ability that made him the No. 2 pick in the draft. He routinely extended plays and had a few explosive throws down the field. There were also a few questionable decisions, but that is to be expected from a rookie making his fourth start. It was good to see Jamison Crowder back in action as well.

Texans logo

30. Houston Texans: 1-3 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 40-0 at Buffalo
Poor Davis Mills. The rookie from Stanford looks totally overmatched and unprepared for life in the NFL. After a solid, but unspectacular first start, Mills was thrown to the wolves and produced one of the worst stat lines we have seen in a while. He finished with a 0.8 Total QBR. Not that he got much help. Houston was held under 50 yards rushing and the defense could only hang on for so long. David Culley will need to revisit the drawing board heading into Week 5 against the Colts.

Lions Logo

31. Detroit Lions: 0-4 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 24-14 at Chicago
Losing while being competitive only gets you so far. Chicago took Detroit’s strength and turned it into a weakness this weekend. The Lions offensive line allowed four sacks and could not get the run game going in earnest. It led to a very underwhelming offensive performance. While Jared Goff threw the ball well, falling just shy of 300 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, he fumbled three times, losing two of them. Detroit’s best bet for success is running the ball, calling play action and keeping Goff clean. Credit the Bears for making that impossible, but this was a tough loss for the Lions.

Jaguars logo

32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-4 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-21 at Cincinnati
Believe it or not, the Jaguars seem to be improving on the field. Jacksonville came close to notching its first win since Week 1 of 2020. Trevor Lawrence looked much improved as the team built a 14-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Jags could not hold on and ended up losing on a last-second field goal. What is potentially more concerning is how much of a distraction Urban Meyer continues to be. The coach got himself in hot water again with a viral video taking center stage over the weekend. It’s hard enough for the Jaguars to overcome the clear talent deficit it faces. These off-field distractions only make life harder.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Shock waves continued to roll over the NFL after the Chiefs came up short, the Raiders pulled off another stunner and the Seahawks collapsed. Week 2 delivered on all the hype and then some with a stellar slate of games. 7 of the 16 games played this weekend were decided by three points or less.

Unfortunately, much like 2020, injuries popped up across the league to key players. Tua Tagovailoa exited on a cart and did not return. Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz joined him among signal callers to exit their starts. Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey were in and out of the lineup. T.J. Watt left early with a groin injury, while the 49ers lost more running backs.

Predictably, the rankings see some massive changes again following another weekend of surprising results. Through two weeks, this is how I think the NFL stacks up.

Buccaneers logo

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 48-25 vs. Atlanta
At the end of the day, the Falcons could not keep pace with the Buccaneers. Tom Brady was humming with five touchdown passes and the defense came up with a pair of pick-sixes. In fact, Mike Edwards actually returned back-to-back throws by Matt Ryan for touchdowns to really blow the game open. The defense still has not totally regained its 2020 form and Brady believes the offense can be even better. Tampa is far and away the best team in the league right now, but they face a tough test in Los Angeles against the Rams in Week 3.

Chiefs Logo

2. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 36-35 at Baltimore
Losing is never easy, but a fumble by Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands, costing him a chance to lead a potential game-winning drive really stings. Kansas City’s defense was really the issue though. After a great start, the Chiefs had no answer for Lamar Jackson. They could not get off the field when it mattered most. Andy Reid will need to figure out how to protect his defense, especially heading into a matchup with the Chargers, who nearly knocked off the Chiefs early in 2020. Let’s remember this was a one-point road loss to a good team. Don’t overreact.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 2-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 27-24 at Indianapolis
This was much tighter than it should have been. Los Angeles needed a late field goal to beat the Colts. It helped quite a bit to face Jacob Eason in the closing minutes of the game. The second-year quarterback tossed an interception to end what could have been a game-winning drive Indianapolis. Matt Stafford continues to play well though as the offense scored points when it needed to in the second half. Credit to the Rams for completing the comeback, but they will need to be sharper, especially on defense heading into a showdown with the Buccaneers.

Browns logo

4. Cleveland Browns 1-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 31-21 vs. Houston
Cleveland bounced back with a solid win over Houston to earn its first win of the season. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt lead the way, combining for 146 yards as the Browns punched in three touchdowns on the ground. It certainly wasn’t perfect, with a couple turnovers and a tight game prior to Tyrod Taylor’s hamstring injury. However, it feels like just about every team in the league has some question marks around them right now. Except maybe the Buccaneers.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

5. Arizona Cardinals: 2-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 34-33 vs. Minnesota
This one got a bit dicey. Minnesota should have probably beaten Arizona, but a win is a win, I guess. Still, the Cardinals showed some room for improvement defensively. Offensively, Kyler Murray showed out once again with 400 yards passing and four total touchdowns. This team has enough offensive talent to hang with anyone, but they need the defense to play a bit more like they did in Week 1. Luckily for them, that shouldn’t be a problem for them in Week 3 against the Jaguars.

49ers Logo

6. San Francisco 49ers: 2-0 (Last Week: 8)
Won 17-11 at Philadelphia
Defense won the day for San Francisco, which was a nice change of pace following a near collapse in Week 1. The special teams got involved as well with a blocked field goal. Jimmy Garoppolo is doing just enough to hang on to his starting job right now, but the offense struggled out of the gate. Heading into a big matchup with the Packers in Week 3, the 49ers are going to need to put together a much more complete game to hold out for a win.

Raiders logo

7. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-0 (Last Week: 15)
Won 26-17 at Pittsburgh
The Las Vegas Raiders request your attention and demand your respect. Knocking off a pair of playoff teams from the division most assumed would be the best in the AFC certainly turns some heads. Derek Carr is playing some of the best football of his career and the Raiders defense is good enough for the team to win games. Jon Gruden has this team beating some of the best teams in the league. Now, they get to face a Dolphins team facing uncertainty at quarterback and fresh off a 35-point shutout. Vegas should be positioned well to stay unbeaten.

Ravens logo

8. Baltimore Ravens: 1-1 (Last Week: 11)
Won 36-35 vs. Kansas City
Baltimore overcame a horrendous start to notch a massive win in primetime. Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six on his first possession of the game and threw another interception before the end of the first quarter. The 2019 MVP was resilient though, throwing for 239 yards and adding 107 on the ground. He made the big plays in the crucial moments of the game offensively. He got a bit of help from Odafe Oweh. The rookie from Penn State punched the ball out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s arms and recovered the fumble to set up the Ravens’ game-clinching drive. This was a big response from Baltimore following a disappointing Week 1 loss.

Bills logo

9. Buffalo Bills: 1-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 35-0 at Miami
That is the way you bounce back from a disappointing season opener. Buffalo bullied Miami all afternoon and knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of the game with a relentless pass rush. That was the biggest concern for the Bills heading into the season, so it is definitely a positive sign to see them rack up six sacks of Tagovailoa and his replacement Jacoby Brissett. Offensively, Buffalo ran the ball well! Brian Daboll spread the touches around, but the team finished with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. If the Bills can consistently run the ball effectively and pressure opposing quarterbacks, this team has Super Bowl potential.

Seahawks logo

10. Seattle Seahawks: 1-1 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 33-30 vs. Tennessee
Tennessee came back but Seattle also collapsed. Missed tackles and a stalled out offense cost the Seahawks dearly down the stretch in regulation and in overtime. Fans can point to a missed extra point as the reason for the loss, but in truth, the kicker cannot be blamed for blowing a 15-point halftime lead. There were some bright spots early, but much like they did last season, the Seahawks faded. It is important not to overreact to just one loss. However, Seattle is the only team in the NFC West with a loss so far, so the margin for error seems to be slim.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-1 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 26-17 vs. Las Vegas
Unlike Week 1, the Steelers defense and special teams could not bail out their inept offensive line. Derek Carr lit up the secondary for 382 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Conversely, Pittsburgh just could not get into gear. The coaching staff abandoned the run with just 14 carries in this game. A lack of balance and efficiency is going to be an issue for the Steelers, especially heading into a divisional game with the Bengals.

Panthers logo

12. Carolina Panthers: 2-0 (Last Week: 22)
Won 26-7 vs. Carolina
Talk about a statement. New Orleans was riding high after their blowout victory in Week 1. Carolina brought the Saints back down to Earth and put them in the ground. The Panthers defense was nothing short of stifling. They only allowed 128 yards of offense, forced two turnovers and shut out the Saints through three quarters. Once again, Christian McCaffrey was great and seems to have escaped any major injury. Sam Darnold continues to look solid as well. The Panthers draw a Texans team breaking in a rookie quarterback on a short week. There is a good chance Carolina starts 3-0.

Titans logo

13. Tennessee Titans: 1-1 (Last Week: 16)
Won 33-30 at Seattle
Through the first six quarters of the season, Tennessee was outscored 52-22. It looked like the wheels were falling off for Mike Vrabel and company with Arthur Smith now calling plays in Atlanta. Then, King Henry reminded everyone why he is the most physically imposing running back in the league. He sliced up the Seahawks defense to the tune of 237 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. While the comeback win is great, it does not mask some major defensive concerns for the Titans. Russell Wilson torched their secondary on the deep ball time and time again. If this team wants to make a serious postseason run, Vrabel will need to get more from his defense.

Saints logo

14. New Orleans Saints: 1-1 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 26-7 at Carolina
If you are looking for a synopsis of Jameis Winston’s career up to this point, you can simply watch the past two Saints games. After tossing five touchdowns in Week 1, Winston threw a pair of interceptions, bad ones at that, and had an overall dismal afternoon. That is not totally unexpected given Winston’s inconsistent history. Alvin Kamara finishing with five yards on eight carries is much more alarming. New Orleans’ true form likely falls somewhere between these two performances. Getting a few injured players back should help right the ship a bit, but consistency might be hard to come by in the Bayou.

Packers logo

15. Green Bay Packers: 0-1 (Last Week: 13)
Won 35-17 vs. Detroit
If you went to bed early on Monday, you might think the Packers still have a lot of issues to iron out. And you would be right. After trailing 17-14 at halftime, Green Bay finally showed signs of the team that has reached back-to-back NFC Championship games. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones went off. Rodgers tossed four touchdowns, including three to Jones, who added another one on the ground. It was a great finish after a lackluster start. It is hard to tell what we really know about this team through two weeks.

Cowboys logo

16. Dallas Cowboys: 1-1 (Last Week: 17)
Won 20-17 at Los Angeles
Dallas was a bit fortunate that Los Angeles could not get out of its own way. However, the Cowboys managed to avoid mistakes and picked up a crucial victory to avoid an 0-2 start. Mike McCarthy established the run and then didn’t stop running it. Dallas had 31 rushes for 198 yards and two scores to take the pressure off Dak Prescott and the defense. Not that Prescott or the defense needed much help. Dak finished 23-of-27 throwing for 237 yards and an interception. Defensively, the Cowboys came up with critical turnovers that helped force overtime, where Greg Zuerlein erased many of the bad memories from Week 1 with a 56-yard game-winner.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-1 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 20-17 vs. Dallas
There is no doubt that the Chargers beat themselves. Penalties, turnovers and an inability to stop the run made it impossible for Los Angeles to take control of this game. The front seven also struggled to generate much pressure on Dak Prescott. It serves as a good reminder that winning in the NFL is hard and this is a young team with a first-time head coach. On the bright side, Austin Ekeler was much more involved in the offense and Mike Williams showed up with a big statline. Those self-inflicted wounds won’t fly in Week 3 against the Chiefs.

Colts logo

18. Indianapolis Colts: 0-2 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Considering the opponent and the circumstances, a three-point loss is a pretty respectable result. Carson Wentz looked solid and the special teams came up with a huge play off a Rams miscue to take a fourth-quarter lead. Unfortunately for the Colts, Wentz exited with an injury and Jacob Eason could not engineer a drive to win or tie the game. He threw an interception on his first attempt and then ran out of time after the defense forced a three-and-out. If Wentz misses time, Indianapolis might need to explore the veteran QB market.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots: 1-1 (Last Week: 19)
Won 25-6 at New York
Mac Jones was introduced to the annual New England ritual of embarrassing the Jets. The Patriots rookie didn’t really do much, but he did take care of the football. The same cannot be said for his fellow 2021 draft mate Zach Wilson. Bill Belichick clearly confused the former BYU star as New England picked him off four times on Sunday. The one concern was that the Pats didn’t do much offensively except off turnovers. Just two other Patriots’ drives ended in points, and they were both field goals. The Saints come to town in Week 3.

Denver_Broncos

20. Denver Broncos: 2-0 (Last Week: 21)
Won 23-13 at Jacksonville
Denver is 2-0. However, the Broncos have not played anyone of note. With wins over the Giants and Jaguars, this team has not really been tested yet. However, Teddy Bridgewater seems to be settling in well to his new surroundings, with Courtland Sutton being the main beneficiary on Sunday. Defensively, Denver looked strong once again. You can only play the teams on your schedule. The schedule continues to be kind as well with the Jets up next.

Dolphins logo

21. Miami Dolphins: 1-1 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 35-0 vs. Buffalo
R-E-L … P-A-N-I-C? The Aaron Rodgers treatment likely won’t work here. A Bills team that could barely run the ball in Week 1 ripped off 146 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. That’s not why Miami should be panicking though. If Tua Tagovailoa is going to miss time after being carted off the field due to a rib injury, this Dolphins’ offense is in trouble. Jacoby Brissett struggled and the Fins were shutout for the second time in three years. The red-hot Raiders are next on the docket. Could this be a good fit for Cam Newton?

Washington made up logo

22. Washington: 1-1 (Last Week: 20)
Won 30-29 vs. New York
What happened to Washington’s defense? The front seven sacked Daniel Jones four times, but the unit gave up 29 points and it honestly should have been more. If not for a boneheaded mistake by the Giants, Washington would be 0-2 having surrendered 24.5 points per game and over 400 yards per game. With Taylor Heinicke at the helm, the defense is going to need to step up going forward, especially with the Bills on the horizon fresh off a shutout.

Bears logo

23. Chicago Bears: 1-1 (Last Week: 26)
Won 20-17 vs. Cincinnati
Bears fans got their first true glimpse of Justin Fields at quarterback. It was … underwhelming. He went 6-of-13 for 60 yards through the air, including a costly interception. He was also sacked twice and averaged just 3.1 yards per rush. He was thrown into the action, so maybe we should cut the kid some slack. However, this was a mediocre Bengals defense and this should not inspire a ton of confidence for Chicago’s playoff chances for this season. This shouldn’t impact the long-term outlook on Fields, it might just mean we should temper expectations for his rookie season.

Eagles Logo

24. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-1 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-11 vs. San Francisco
Jalen Hurts believers got a reality check against San Francisco. Hurts was not really the issue, but finishing 12-of-23 through the air is concerning. He made a bunch of plays with his legs, but this was definitely a disappointing showing from Philadelphia’s offense. On the flip side, the Eagles’ defense looks much improved from a year ago. Holding a Kyle Shanahan offense to just 3.1 yards per carry is impressive. Philly is putting some of the building blocks in place for future success. There might just be a few bumps on the road to getting there.

Bengals Logo

25. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 20-17 at Chicago
How to lose a football game in three plays, by Joe Burrow. Inspired by the true story of Matt Schaub. Burrow did his best impression of the former Texans and Falcons quarterback with three straight interceptions, including a pick-six. That was the difference in the game as the Bengals’ furious comeback came up short. The defense turned over Justin Fields, but could not get the ball back as Chicago ran out the clock. There are a few positives to take away from this, but overall this is a disappointing loss. Cincinnati’s offensive line issues have not gone away. Only Zach Wilson has been sacked more than Burrow so far this season. On top of that, Joe Mixon only managed 3.5 yards per carry. Penei Sewell is crushing it in Detroit. Just saying.

Vikings logo

26. Minnesota Vikings: 0-2 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 34-33 at Arizona
This one stings. Minnesota’s defense had no answer for Kyler Murray, but the Vikings should have won this game. Greg Joseph missed a game-winning field goal attempt in the closing second. He also missed an extra point earlier in the contest, which was ultimately the difference in the scoreline. Kirk Cousins was sharp with three touchdown throws. Danielle Hunter finally got back to his pre-injury form with three sacks in the game as well. Minnesota also picked off Murray twice. There is a lot to like about how the Vikings have played, but they are still 0-2 with the Seahawks set to visit in Week 3.

Texans logo

27. Houston Texans: 1-1 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 31-21 at Cleveland
How about those Texans? It was a loss, but Houston played Cleveland much tighter than I think anyone would’ve expected, especially after losing Tyrod Taylor midway through the game. Davis Mills was not great in relief. Heading into a short week, there is a chance Mills could be the team’s Week 3 starter on Thursday against Carolina. There is no question the Texans have a talent deficit against just about every team they will face this season, but David Culley and his coaching staff seems to be getting the most out of the players he has available to him.

Giants Logo

28. New York Giants: 0-2 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 30-29 at Washington
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be the Giants’ thing these days. Penalties doomed Big Blue, taking points off the board for them and putting points on the board for Washington. A Daniel Jones touchdown run came back after a hold downfield, while Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides on a missed field goal to set up Dustin Hopkins with a mulligan to win the game. These are issues that Joe Judge needs to iron out as quickly as possible in order to save the season.

Falcons logo

29. Atlanta Falcons: 0-2 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 48-25 at Tampa Bay
This just in: Atlanta’s defense is still trash. Tom Brady may be the GOAT, but the Falcons have surrendered 80 points across their first two games. Actually, the defense was only responsible for allowing 34 points against Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan threw a pair of pick-sixes that marred an otherwise decent performance. Perhaps the most troubling thing of all is that the Falcons cannot run the ball. Establishing the run was Arthur Smith’s calling card in Tennessee. 2.8 yards per carry is not going to get the job done. On the bright side, the hapless Giants are next.

Lions Logo

30. Detroit Lions: 0-2 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 35-17 at Green Bay
Detroit seemed to carry over all the momentum it built in the second half against San Francisco to open this game. Unfortunately, the Lions were blanked in the second half and the team’s lack of talent started to show. Jared Goff played well, but had two costly turnovers that really put the game to bed. Once again though, Dan Campbell’s squad played with heart. There is no question the Lions are going to struggle this season, but it already feels like the team has made some progress in its rebuild.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets: 0-2 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 25-6 vs. New England
Jets fans are all too familiar with the script that played out on Sunday. Their young quarterback that was supposed to inspire hope and optimism went up against Bill Belichick and imploded. Zach Wilson threw four interceptions on his first 10 passes and New York struggled to accomplish much in their home opener. The defense actually fared decently well all things considered. While they didn’t force any turnovers, surrendering just two touchdowns when the offense is anemic is solid. Tough defensive matchups continue with a trip to Denver up next.

Jaguars logo

32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-2 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 23-13 vs. Denver
Another ugly day on both sides of the ball has many wondering if Urban Meyer is out of his depth. Trevor Lawrence finished 14-of-33 throwing with a touchdown and two interceptions. Lawrence didn’t get much help from his defense or special teams either. Teddy Bridgewater finished with 328 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Meanwhile, Josh Lambo missed two field goals. Jacksonville somehow feels even more directionless than it did a year ago and that was after winning the Lawrence Lottery.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fantasy Football 2021 Waiver Wire Pickups: Mitchell, Shepard popular options heading into Week 2

Fantasy Football is finally back in full swing. If you are like me, you spent much of Sunday swiping through the scoreboard pages of your various teams and questioned why you didn’t start Jalen Hurts over Aaron Rodgers. Seriously, all the reigning MVP needed to do was not have the worst fantasy output of any starter in Week 1 and I would’ve won. I lost that matchup by 0.4 points.

But I digress, because whether you feel like you crushed your draft or really messed it up, you now have a second chance to build your fantasy team. Welcome to the waiver wire. Every year, there are a few great fantasy options that slip through the cracks and wind up going undrafted. Usually, the fantasy managers who scoop those handful of players up tend to be the ones that make deep playoff runs.

Don’t believe me? Alvin Kamara went undrafted in most formats back in 2017. He finished the year as RB3. Perhaps you rode James Robinson or Justin Jefferson to a championship last year after both started the year widely available on the waiver wire. The point is, your season is not over because you had a bad Week 1 or lost a couple players to injury.

A quick reminder of how I go about this column. I am looking at players who are available in at least 50 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues as a guide for who will be available. Of course you should pick up star players if they are somehow sitting on the waiver wire, but that won’t be the case for most people.

Going beyond simply looking for players to add to your roster, working the waiver wire requires a bit of strategy. Different leagues have different policies for how waiver claims are awarded. Some have the waiver order reset in reverse order of the standing after every week. Some move teams to the back of the queue after a successful waiver claim. Some have allotted budgets of real or fake money for managers to allocate on players throughout the season. It is important to check which set up your league has and know the best way to work within those parameters.

There is also no chance you will see me advocating for you to use a waiver claim on a defense or a kicker. That does not mean that you should not pick one up if let’s say you have the Panthers defense going up against the Saints this week, but don’t waste a valuable waiver claim on a position that likely will not offer you any long term value.

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my top additions heading into Week 2. These are listed in no particular order, simply broken up by position.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, DEN
It didn’t take long for Bridgewater to settle in. The former Panthers quarterback carved up the Giants defense for 264 yards and a pair of scores on his way to a QB14 finish. Those aren’t gaudy numbers, but solid nonetheless. On top of that, Bridgewater will face a Jaguars defense that gave up 291 yards and two scores to Tyrod Taylor in Week 1. Even without Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos still have plenty of talented receivers and backs to work with. It doesn’t hurt that Bridgewater can add a bit more value with his legs as well. He rushed for 19 yards this past week and could be in line for more as the season rolls on. I think he is a solid spot starter this week if you are in the market for one.

Mac Jones, QB, NE
I am a lot less sure about this one. Mac Jones looked really good in his NFL debut, but he did not do much from a fantasy perspective. However, he plays a very young Jets defense in Week 2 on the heels of throwing the ball 39 times against the Dolphins. That bodes well for some increased fantasy success against a weaker opponent. Jones is going to be incredibly efficient and will likely avoid turnovers. If you are searching for a fantasy option with a decently high floor, he feels like someone worth a look this week.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, SF
I’m ready to get burned again! I targeted Trey Sermon in a lot of my fantasy drafts this year under the assumption he would start if anything happened to Raheem Mostert. The latter has a lengthy injury history, so it felt pretty likely he would miss some time. Low and behold, Mostert is out of the season, but it is Elijah Mitchell who seems poised to take over the majority of the work in the backfield. He ran the ball 19 times for 104 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. The red flag? He did not have a single target in the passing game. Now, Sermon is likely to see some touches this week and Kyle Shanahan is notorious for rotating his running backs. JaMycal Hasty and eventually Jeff Wilson Jr. will definitely see some work. That being said, Mitchell absolutely should be rostered in every fantasy league. He will be my top waiver wire target this week.

Kenny Gainwell, RB, PHI
He didn’t light it up or see anywhere near the same volume as Mitchell, but Gainwell had a solid NFL debut. The rookie out of Memphis had 11 touches for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. He seems well positioned for about 10-15 touches per game. Normally, I wouldn’t feel great about him facing the 49ers in Week 2, but San Francisco gave up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in Week 1. This definitely has some risk reward potential, but if you are looking for someone to stash with upside, Gainwell is a good pick.

Mark Ingram, RB, HOU
Dare I say it: Mark Ingram looks fantasy relevant again. The former Ravens running back ran the ball a staggering 26 times against the Jaguars. He only averaged 3.3 yards per carry, but if he is going to see that much volume this season, he will be worth tracking. The Texans travel to Cleveland in Week 2. That’s not a great fantasy matchup for Ingram, but he should have a relatively high floor if he is going to see that much usage. I wouldn’t drop anyone you really like for him, but Ingram could be a great injury replacement for Mostert, Rashaad Penny or others.

Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
We talked all offseason about the big additions to the Giants offense. They signed Kenny Golladay, drafted Kadarius Toney and brought in Kyle Rudolph. That was in addition to Evan Engram and Darius Slayton with Saquon Barkley finally back from injury. Turns out we forgot about Sterling Shepard. After a frustrating and injury-riddled 2020 season, the former Oklahoma receiver reasserted himself in New York’s offense with a seven-catch, 113-yard performance capped off by a touchdown. He scored the ninth most points of any fantasy receiver in Week 1. He might not be a weekly starter, but Shepard will definitely be a matchup-specific flex option.

K.J. Osborn, WR, MIN
Not a name I was overly familiar with heading into Week 1, Osborn showed a lot of promise against Cincinnati. He caught seven of his nine targets for 76 yards. I’m not ready to call him a breakout player yet, but with Minnesota lacking depth at tight end and struggling to run the ball, Osborn could be involved a bit more in the offense than we expected. It is tough for me to start him at this point, especially facing a Cardinals defense that just shut down the Titans, but he might be worth stashing on your bench if you have room.

Tim Patrick, WR, DEN
Injuries are a part of football. Every year players go down and that opens up new opportunities in fantasy. Unfortunately, Jerry Jeudy will miss some time with a high-ankle sprain. That opens the door for Tim Patrick to be fantasy relevant again. He only saw four targets in Week 1, but he turned them into four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. I think he will see a few more throws his way with Jeudy out. Plus, he faces an abysmal Jaguars secondary in Week 2. Patrick feels like a speculative flex play or WR3 option in PPR formats. If you are in non-PPR leagues, K.J. Hamler is definitely worth a look.

Nelson Agholor, WR, NE
I’m still a little skeptical of Agholor, but he had a solid debut for the Patriots. He caught five of his seven targets for 72 yards and a score. There is a good chance he finishes the year as New England’s top receiver. On top of that, he faces a Jets secondary that struggled to contain the big play and is overall very unproven. Agholor is worth a look as a flex option in Week 2.

Jared Cook, TE, LAC
A change of scenery seems to have worked well for the veteran Cook, at least through one week. He caught five passes for 56 yards in his debut with the Chargers. That was against a talented Washington defense as well. Cook will face a Cowboys defense that gave up eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski in Week 1. I don’t think you should expect that type of production out of Cook, but he is definitely a streaming option this week and has the potential to be a regular starter in your lineup if you need a tight end.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

We got our first taste of NFL regular season football and it was everything we hoped for and more. Dak almost powered Dallas past Tampa. Kansas City and Cleveland played in an instant classic. New Orleans stunned the reigning MVP. Vegas capped the weekend with a wild overtime win over Baltimore. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Teams don’t win championships in September. These rankings will likely change a lot in the early weeks as teams find their identity and settle into a new season. Keep in mind that the Browns opened 2020 with a 38-6 loss only to reach the playoffs, the Jaguars stunned the Colts before losing 15 straight and the Buccaneers stumbled against the Saints before going on to win the Super Bowl.

After one week though, this is how I think the NFL stacks up.

Chiefs Logo

1. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 33-29 vs. Cleveland
Seeing the Chiefs down 15-3 midway through the second quarter might have offered shades of their Super Bowl loss. Luckily for Kansas City, Baker Mayfield is not Tom Brady. Patrick Mahomes might just challenge the latter for being the greatest of all time when it is all said and done. It would be easy to say he engineered a fourth-quarter comeback, but he had plenty of help. Tyreek Hill adjusted to a classic Mahomes rocket and coasted to the end zone for a one-play scoring drive. Kansas City dragged down Cleveland’s punter after he dropped the snap to set up a short field for the go-ahead score. Then, the defense sealed it with an interception. Andy Reid will surely hope to avoid such a slow start next week, but this is a good reminder that a comeback is rarely out of the question when it comes to the Chiefs.

Buccaneers logo

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 31-29 vs. Dallas
Bucs fans almost had their Super Bowl celebrations spoiled by the Cowboys. Then again, was the game really ever in doubt when Tom Brady got the ball back with about 90 seconds on the clock? It was a lot less comfortable of a win than many expected, but a win nonetheless. The biggest concern for Tampa Bay has to be the defense, which struggled to slow down Dak Prescott all game long. There were a few moments of brilliance, but overall, it was a bit of a slow start. Definitely nothing to panic about, but there is clearly room for improvement.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 1-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 34-14 vs. Chicago
Los Angeles passed its first test with flying colors and looks the part of a Super Bowl contender. Matt Stafford looked sharp in his new offense and his full complement of weapons showed up. He aired it out for 321 yards and three touchdowns while completing 20-of-26 passes. Defensively, the Rams didn’t generate as much pressure as you might have expected. The secondary more than made up for it though with some smothering coverage. This was a good start, but the pressure is still on. The entire NFC West won in Week 1, so the Rams still have plenty of work to do.

Saints logo

4. New Orleans Saints: 1-0 (Last Week: 14)
Won 38-3 vs. Green Bay
A lot will be made about Jameis Winston throwing five touchdowns on just 20 passes. I was more impressed by the Saints defense though. The Packers averaged a league-best 31.8 points per game in 2020 along with the fifth-most yards per contest. New Orleans held Green Bay out of the end zone and surrendered the fewest yards of any defense in Week 1. After losing Sheldon Rankins, Trey Hendrickson and Janoris Jenkins this was a much better showing than I would’ve expected. Newly-acquired Bradley Roby wasn’t even on the field yet. The Saints mean business and need to be taken seriously.

Seahawks logo

5. Seattle Seahawks: 1-0 (Last Week: 10)
Won 28-16 at Indianapolis
Russ is cooking once again and this time it seems like the defense decided to show up for the first half of the year, too. Seattle outplayed Indianapolis on both sides of the ball and picked up a solid road to win to open its season. Russell Wilson looked unstoppable, amassing 254 yards passing and four touchdowns on just 23 throws. The Seahawks controlled the line of scrimmage, running the ball effectively on offense and stymieing the Colts’ ground game on defense. Seattle gets another dose of the AFC South with a visit from Tennessee on the horizon.

Browns logo

6. Cleveland Browns 0-1 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 33-29 at Kansas City
It is hard to know which side of this loss to focus on. On one hand, the Browns led 22-10 at halftime and held a nine-point lead with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter. On the other, they collapsed in the final minutes and Baker Mayfield threw a bad interception to end Cleveland’s comeback bid. There is a lot to like about how they played, but the Browns are going to need to win these games in order to really earn contender status.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

7. Arizona Cardinals: 1-0 (Last Week: 19)
Won 38-13 at Tennessee
Woah! If it weren’t for the Saints beating the brakes off the Packers, I think we would all be talking about how good the Cardinals looked in demolishing the Titans. Kyler Murray seems fully healthy and back to the MVP form he flashed before suffering an ankle injury in 2020. Chandler Jones seems back to his old self as well with a monster five-sack performance, tied for the most in a single game in franchise history. Keep in mind that he tallied 19 sacks and eight forced fumbles in 2019 before missing most of 2020 due to injury. This is a very impressive start for Arizona. Kliff Kingsbury needs to maintain that over a full season though. The Cards started 6-3 last year before limping to a 8-8 finish.

49ers Logo

8. San Francisco 49ers: 1-0 (Last Week: 9)
Won 41-33 at Detroit
This went from a convincing blowout to a questionable victory very quickly. A costly fumble by Deebo Samuel nearly cost the 49ers the lead in the fourth quarter, but the defense did just enough to preserve the victory. After going up 38-10, Detroit outscored San Francisco 23-3 the rest of the way. That is a red flag for Kyle Shanahan. On the bright side, Elijah Mitchell looked great in his debut. Samuel dazzled on a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Dre Greenlaw got the defense involved in the scoring as well with a pick six. There was a lot to like, but San Francisco can not afford to take its foot off the gas like that in the future.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

9. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-0 (Last Week: 16)
Won 23-16 at Buffalo
Maybe the Steelers aren’t as overmatched as we all thought. Actually, this looked exactly like what I think we all expected Pittsburgh to be. The defense played lights out while the offensive line looked abysmal. It proved to be the special teams, which blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown, that won the game. Ben Roethlisberger posted an ugly 28.5 QBR and Najee Harris averaged 2.8 yards per carry. That is not usually a winning formula. Mike Tomlin needs to find a way to take at least some pressure off his defense as the season rolls on.

Bills logo

10. Buffalo Bills: 0-1 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 23-16 vs. Pittsburgh
It might be time to cool the Super Bowl hype in Buffalo. After lighting up the NFL in 2020, Josh Allen seemed to show some regression in his 2021 season opener. Perhaps that was just a product of playing a talented Steelers defense. He struggled against Pittsburgh in 2020 as well, but not quite as badly as he did on Sunday. Devin Singletary looked effective running the ball, but lost the handle twice. He was lucky neither resulted in a turnover. Zack Moss was a healthy scratch. Defensively, Buffalo looked really good, but it was not enough to carry the offense and special teams to a win. Miami is up next.

Ravens logo

11. Baltimore Ravens: 0-1 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 33-27 at Las Vegas
Blowing a 14-point lead is inexcusable, especially with an offense as capable of controlling the clock as the Ravens’ offense can. Lamar Jackson was phenomenal when he wasn’t fumbling the ball. Jackson coughed it up three times, with two of those times resulting in turnovers. The last one cost Baltimore the game in overtime. This also was not the greatest start for defensively as they allowed Las Vegas to climb back into the game. There are still some positives to take away from the performance, but Jim Harbaugh has to be disappointed in how his team closed the game.

Dolphins logo

12. Miami Dolphins: 1-0 (Last Week: 11)
Won 17-16 at New England
Miami picks up an all important road win in the division and leads the AFC East through one week. Tua Tagovailoa looked decent, showing some areas of growth, but was also clearly outplayed by Mac Jones. Brian Flores also made the curious decision to only give Myles Gaskin nine carries despite him averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The rest of the team averaged 1.8 yards per attempt on 14 rushes. Flores will also need to figure out what to do about his run defense. A pair of fumble recoveries shifted the focus away from the fact that Damien Harris ran the ball down the team’s throat. A win is great, but there are a few things the Dolphins need to work on heading into Week 2 against the Bills.

Packers logo

13. Green Bay Packers: 0-1 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 38-3 at New Orleans
What in the world just happened? The Packers entered Sunday with a 26-6 record in the regular season under Matt LaFleur and had the reigning MVP coming off back-to-back NFC Championship Games. The Saints cared about absolutely none of that. Aaron Rodgers played one of the worst games of his career and the defense got carved up by Jameis Winston, who threw five touchdowns on just 20 attempts. Worst still, the offensive line does not look great. The running game accounted for 2.9 yards per carry and gave up seven quarterback hits. LaFleur has a ton to figure out and it already seems like the tension between him and Rodgers is growing.

14. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-0 (Last Week: 15)
Won 20-16 at Washington
Brandon Staley got his head coaching career off to a winning start. This was not an easy opening matchup either, traveling across the country to play one of the best defenses in the league. It was far from perfect as L.A. managed just 3.1 yards per carry and committed a pair of turnovers. However, we finally got a glimpse of how good this defense could be with Derwin James and Kenneth Murray both healthy. This seems like an exciting team to watch this year. A big game versus Dallas awaits.

Raiders logo

15. Las Vegas Raiders: 1-0 (Last Week: 21)
Won 33-27 vs. Baltimore
What a comeback and what a finish! It was a roller coaster, but the Raiders pulled off a seemingly improbable win in overtime. Derek Carr looked incredible down the stretch after a rocky start against a solid Ravens defense. It was far from perfect and I still have some questions about the defense. Give them credit for forcing a pair of crucial turnovers to turn the tide, but the Ravens had no problem moving the ball against them. This definitely takes some heat off both Carr and Jon Gruden, but the road only gets tougher with a trip to face a stifling Steelers defense next week.

Titans logo

16. Tennessee Titans: 0-1 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 38-13 vs. Arizona
Maybe the Titans will still rebound to win the AFC South, but this was a very inauspicious start. Tennessee got blown out in its own building and looked overmatched on both sides of the ball. The defense had no answer for Kyler Murray, who accounted for five total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill will be having nightmares about Chandler Jones for a while after the Cardinals edge rusher sacked him five times on Sunday. What might be the most concerning part of all is that the Titans could not run the ball. Derrick Henry finished with just 58 yards on just 3.4 yards per carry. Mike Vrabel has a lot to figure out before his side heads to Seattle this week.

Cowboys logo

17. Dallas Cowboys: 0-1 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-29 at Tampa Bay
It was a loss, and that won’t help them at the end of the season, but it was a strong start by the Cowboys. Dak Prescott looked great in his return from injury. The defense wasn’t amazing, but looked much better than a year ago. If Dallas can establish the run a bit more in Week 2, we could see this team start to look like a true playoff contender. That won’t be the easiest task with the Cowboys headed to L.A. to face the Chargers. It’s not a must-win by any means, but it feels like a big litmus test for Mike McCarthy’s group.

Colts logo

18. Indianapolis Colts: 0-1 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 28-16 vs. Seattle
Carson Wentz was set for a fresh start in Indianapolis, reunited with his former offensive coordinator behind one of the better offensive lines in the league with a reliable running game. Through one week, it looks like he might have left most of that behind in Philadelphia. Wentz was sacked three times and hit 10 times. The running game only managed 3.8 yards per carry. There is cause for concern on the defense as well. Russell Wilson usually comes out cooking, but to surrender four touchdowns through the air is not a good sign for the secondary. Things don’t get much easier with the Rams coming to visit in Week 2.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots: 0-1 (Last Week: 13
Lost 17-16 vs. Miami
The Patriots were unlucky not to beat the Dolphins, but they have no one to blame but themselves. New England fumbled the ball four times, losing two of them. That proved to be the difference in a defensive slugfest. Mac Jones looked pretty sharp though and the running game showed promise. There are clearly going to be some growing pains for Bill Belichick, but I can promise you he will not let fumbles continue to happen. There is a good chance we see some reduced roles for Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris after coughing it up. Jones will face off with fellow rookie Zach Wilson in Week 2.

Washington made up logo

20. Washington: 0-1 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 20-16 vs. Los Angeles
Losing to the Chargers stings, but losing Ryan Fitzpatrick for six to eight weeks hurts much worse. Much of the offseason optimism that Washington could repeat in the NFC East centered on the improved quarterback play that Fitzmagic could bring. Taylor Heinickie looked fine in relief, but this is a bit of a change up for Washington. Also, let’s not lose focus on this defense. Thought of as one of the best in the league, Washington sacked Justin Herbert just twice for a loss of three yards. Not quite as impactful as you would’ve expected from that uber talented front seven. Washington has a short week before playing a divisional game against the Giants.

Denver_Broncos

21. Denver Broncos: 1-0 (Last Week: 23)
Won 27-13 at New York
It was only one game, but the Broncos look very smart for trading for and subsequently starting Teddy Bridgewater. He looked sharp running the offense. Melvin Gordon flashed some big-play ability as well on a monster 75-yard touchdown run and Vic Fangio was aggressive in his decision making. Defensively, this was an awesome performance. Denver held New York to just seven points up until the final play of the game. The Broncos roll into Florida to face a hapless Jaguars team in Week 2. There is a very good chance they get off to a 2-0 start.

Panthers logo

22. Carolina Panthers: 1-0 (Last Week: 25)
Won 19-14 vs. New York
The Sam Darnold era in Carolina got off to a positive start. The former Jets quarterback beat his former team to open the season, showcasing some of the talent that made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2018. He missed a few throws as well, but this is a good sign for the future. That defensive front looked legit as well, hounding Zach Wilson all game long. We will see if the Panthers are ready to make some noise in the division when they host the Saints in Week 2.

Eagles Logo

23. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-0 (Last Week: 27)
Won 32-6 at Atlanta
Perhaps one of the most surprising results of the entire week, Philadelphia smacked Atlanta to open the season. Jalen Hurts looked like a franchise quarterback. A healthy offensive line and a revamped secondary definitely made a huge difference. The Eagles kept Hurts pretty clean and the defense got after Matt Ryan, sacking him three times and holding him to 4.7 yards per attempt. Philly will get a chance to prove themselves in a home matchup against the 49ers in Week 2. I have a feeling we will learn a lot about both teams.

Bengals Logo

24. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-0 (Last Week: 28)
Won 27-24 vs. Minnesota
The Bengals have a winning record! I am being somewhat sarcastic in my excitement, but it is the first time since November 2018 that the Bengals are above .500. It looked like Cincinnati was headed for a tie before Evan McPherson knocked through a game-winning field goal as time expired in overtime. Give Zac Taylor credit for riding Joe Mixon and the run game as a way to ease Joe Burrow back into action. However, the second-year quarterback was still sacked five times despite only attempting 27 passes in the game. That does not bode well, especially with the Bears and Steelers up in Week 2 and Week 3.

Vikings logo

25. Minnesota Vikings: 0-1 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 27-24 at Cincinnati
Mike Zimmer’s seat somehow got warmer after an ugly season-opening loss to the Bengals. The offensive line was atrocious, evidenced by Dalvin Cook’s 3.1 yards per carry average and the three sacks and eight hits Kirk Cousins took. The defense that many expected to improve after a dismal 2020 season didn’t look much better either. Next up? Chandler Jones and Cardinals in Arizona fresh off a beatdown of the Titans. Good luck Vikings fans.

Bears logo

26. Chicago Bears: 0-1 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 34-14 at Los Angeles
The Andy Dalton experiment should probably come to an end, but Matt Nagy seems determined not to turn things over to Justin Fields. It remains to be seen if Chicago can actually win with Dalton under center. Facing the Rams in Los Angeles to open the season behind an incredibly banged up offensive line is not the easiest start. For Bears fans frustrated that Fields is not starting, go watch some highlights of Zach Wilson running for his life and getting sacked six times in his debut. That is exactly what Nagy is trying to avoid.

Giants Logo

27. New York Giants: 0-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 27-13 vs. Denver
As has been the case for all of his career, Daniel Jones showed the athleticism and playmaking that made him the No. 6 pick back in 2019. Unfortunately, he also continued to be maddeningly unreliable in big moments. A costly fumble when the Giants were driving made a comeback all but impossible. Jones scored a meaningless touchdown as the clock hit zero to make the scoreline seem a bit more respectable, but this team is heading nowhere fast. Even with Saquon Barkley back, New York cannot run the ball. The defense that inspired confidence a year ago gave up big plays and could not get off the field on key downs. Start scouting 2022 quarterbacks Giants fans.

Texans logo

28. Houston Texans: 1-0 (Last Week: 32)
Won 37-21 vs. Jacksonville
Just as we all expected, the Texans are atop the AFC South through one weekend of play. Tyrod Taylor accounted for over 300 yards of offense and a pair of touchdown passes. Perhaps even more surprising than Houston’s offensive showcase was the defensive effort. The Texans had a horrendous defense in 2020. That was before they lost J.J. Watt in free agency. Somehow, the unit tallied three interceptions and held Jacksonville to just 76 yards on the ground. Things will get a lot tougher in Week 2 with a visit to Cleveland, but this was a great debut for new head coach David Culley.

Falcons logo

29. Atlanta Falcons: 0-1 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 32-6 vs. Philadelphia
The Arthur Smith era opened with a resounding thud. Atlanta looked hopeless in its opener, getting shelled by a Philadelphia side that most people expected to be contending for the No. 1 overall pick. The Falcons managed two early field goals and then proceeded to be shut out for the remaining 45 minutes. Matt Ryan could not get the passing offense going. The defense did nothing to inspire confidence either, surrendering 32 points and 5.7 yards per carry while managing a single sack. It is looking like it might be a long season for the Falcons, who are likely wondering if they should have drafted a quarterback in May.

Lions Logo

30. Detroit Lions: 0-1 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 41-33 vs. San Francisco
For two and a half quarters, this looked a lot like the hapless Lions team we all expected to see this year. They trailed 38-10 and looked lost in all three phases. Detroit outscored San Francisco 23-3 the rest of the way and nearly pulled off an epic comeback. While the Lions fell short, that late-game surge has to count for something. We will have to see if maybe the defense can find a way to avoid getting blown out early so Jared Goff doesn’t have to throw the ball 57 times. Dan Campbell will have his team in primetime against the Packers next Monday night.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets: 0-1 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 19-14 at Carolina
Maybe this is a bit harsh, but the team that played in the first half against the Panthers looked like the second-worst team in the league. However, if you are a Jets fan like me, you saw the flashes of potential that made you excited about Zach Wilson. The offensive line is unquestionably a problem, especially with Mekhi Becton likely to miss some time due to a MCL sprain. This is an incredibly young team with a rookie coaching staff and rookie quarterback. There are going to be a lot of growing pains, but there were definitely some positives, even in a loss.

Jaguars logo

32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-1 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 37-21 at Houston
It is important not to overreact after just one game. This was Urban Meyer’s and Trevor Lawrence’s first game in the NFL. That being said, my goodness the Jaguars look bad. We spent all offseason talking about how the Texans were going to be one of the worst teams in NFL history. I still don’t think Houston is very good, I now know that Jacksonville is just that bad. If this is how this team is going to compete every week, we might see Meyer coaching USC next year.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.