Six of the top seven teams from last week's Power Rankings won in Week 2. After that? All hell broke loose.
The NFL loves to promote its parity, and it will be hard to top what went down last weekend. There were several surprises, from the Buccaneers' win in New Orleans to the Jaguars taking down Miami, among others.
As a result, the updated Power Rankings saw some serious shuffling from spots seven through 32. It probably won't be the last time.
1. New England Patriots
An early 36-yard Rob Gronkowski catch Sunday came with Gronkowski lined up out wide and Edelman in the slot next to him. So, too, did Edelman's game-tying touchdown reception a few plays later. Defenses still have not really solved either Gronkowski or Edelman, individually. When the Patriots pair them up on the same side of the field, it's almost unfair.
2. Green Bay Packers
There have been two World Cups (one men's, one women's), an Olympic Games, three solar eclipses and seven Adam Sandler movies since Aaron Rodgers last threw a home interception (Dec. 2, 2012). He is on such a ridiculous run that it's not even a surprise when he does something like, you know, make Richard Sherman look entirely average.
3. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are averaging 259 yards per game so far this season, fewest in the league by a comfortable margin—St. Louis is second-worst at 282. So, that tells us one of two things: either Denver's 2-0 start is unsustainable, or this team is going to be incredible if and when it gets the offense figured out.
4. Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians's team is 23–11 since 2013, has started 2–0 and leads the NFC West. So, why does it keep getting the Jan Brady treatment? I was asked during a radio spot this week if people are overlooking the Cardinals. The answer: yes, but it doesn't make any sense why. It’s time to start paying attention. Arizona has a Super Bowl-worthy make-up.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati fans already have two weeks worth of stellar regular-season efforts to file away for their annual ‘Ahhhhh why can't they play like that in the playoffs?!’ rants. The Bengals are rolling right now, especially on offense—QB Andy Dalton has yet to be sacked on 63 dropbacks (60 passing attempts), helpful in the ongoing uptick of his stats across the board. Dalton's current QB rating of 120.3 is 34 points above his career average.
6. Dallas Cowboys
This team has become problematic from a Power Rankings perspective, which I'm sure is keeping Jerry Jones up at night. Based on what they've accomplished in Weeks 1 and 2, and the thought of their capabilities at full strength, the Cowboys deserve a top-10 spot. But how good can a Brandon Weeden-led team really be?
7. New York Jets
The Jets' 14-spot rise in this week's rankings has a two-fold explanation. No. 1, they've pushed around Cleveland and Indianapolis to start the season, showing a defense that could be the league's best. And No. 2, well, who else deserves to be up here? A couple of other 2-0 squads sit below the Jets, but neither has been more impressive.
8. San Diego Chargers
The most important number for San Diego in Week 2 was not the final score of its loss to Cincinnati (24-19), but rather Melvin Gordon's per-carry average—5.5. He was far more explosive with the ball in his hands than he had been a week earlier. Assuming he maintains his forward momentum, this is an offensive juggernaut in waiting.
9. Atlanta Falcons
With two games gone, Julio Jones is on pace for 176 receptions this season, a number that would shatter Marvin Harrison's standing record of 143. History tells us that Jones's pace will slow, eventually. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure he could catch a bullet with two fingers, so who knows.
10. Seattle Seahawks
They lost in overtime at St. Louis, then had a lead heading into the 4th quarter at Lambeau. A disappointing start, to be sure (especially on defense), but let's not pretend like the Seahawks are headed toward a 4-12 season. Six of their next nine games are at home, so this 0-2 start could be a distant memory soon.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
With 47 seconds and one timeout left before halftime on Thursday, the Chiefs handed off to Jamaal Charles twice, for a total of two yards. The clock expired. They went to halftime. When they took the same approach late in regulation, tied at 24, Charles fumbled away a touchdown and Kansas City lost. Weird stuff happens in football. On the list of things Andy Reid could have done differently, taking the ball out of Charles' hands is pretty far down the list.
12. Carolina Panthers
Dating back to last year, the Panthers have now allowed fewer than 100 yards in eight of nine regular-season games. They've also topped the century mark themselves in 13 consecutive outings, including a 172-yard rushing showing vs. Houston last Sunday. Old school and effective.
13. Buffalo Bills
After his team's loss to New England, Bills coach Rex Ryan stated that “Belichick outcoached me, no question about it.” To which everyone who saw the game replied, “Uh, yes.” Belichick can do that, even to the best coaches out there. Now, if Joe Philbin runs circles around Ryan this week, there might be a bigger problem.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense averaged 458.5 yards and 32 points over their first two games. Oh, and Le'Veon Bell returns from suspension in Week 3. Think of it as like this: You're enjoying an incredible meal at your favorite restaurant, and then the chef sends out free dessert.
15. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have a skilled running back in Lamar Miller and a rising wide receiving star in Jarvis Landry. This off-season, they signed Jordan Cameron and Greg Jennings and traded for Kenny Stills. A cornucopia of weapons for QB Ryan Tannehill. So how is it that the only Dolphins with touchdowns on offense so far this year are Rishard Matthews, Damien Williams and Jake Stoneburner?
16. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson showing flashes of the Adrian Peterson of old during Week 2 had to have coach Mike Zimmer excited. No doubt more satisfying for the defensive-minded coach, though, was the sight of a bloodied and shellshocked Matthew Stafford on the Detroit sidelines. Zimmer's defense cannot get after it any harder than it did in Week 2.
17. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck had a little Brett Favre in his game Monday night. But it was the injured-in-Minnesota Brett Favre or jeans-commercial Brett Favre. This ranking is too complimentary given what we've seen from the Colts so far. They just cannot continue to play this poorly with the talent they have. Right?
18. St. Louis Rams
Rather than analyze results like the Rams' Week 1 win over Seattle as an “upset” or their Week 2 loss at Washington as a “letdown,” it's more apropos to put it all into a wider context. Namely, that Jeff Fisher, now in his fourth season as the Rams' coach, still cannot attain any measure of consistency.
19. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens' two losses have been very different, yet equally problematic. There was the Week 1 setback in Denver where they couldn't move the football or protect Joe Flacco. Then there was Sunday's flop at Oakland, which featured the defense surrendering nearly 500 yards and folding late. The latter is more worrisome.
20. Washington Redskins
How did we get to a place where Washington might be in the best shape of any NFC East team? Did I black out? What year is it? Granted, it was just one win (and two solid performances), but the Redskins' much-improved run game gives them a chance to grind out some victories. With injuries in Dallas and turmoil in Philadelphia, that could be enough to keep them in this thing.
21. San Francisco 49ers
Short week, long road trip, opponent coming off a Week 1 loss ... there are some built-in excuses for the 49ers' loss at Pittsburgh. There is less leeway for the disappearing act they pulled in quarters one through three—all but erasing the good vibes they scored in their season-opening win against the Vikings.
22. Detroit Lions
A garbage-time touchdown aside, the Lions' second-half possessions Sunday ended as follows: fumble, three-and-out, fumble, punt, interception (after pass interference wiped out an INT on the previous play). Add to the mess a defense missing injured DeAndre Levy as much, or more, than the departed Ndamukong Suh, and you've got a team on the ropes early.
23. Cleveland Browns
Travis Benjamin's breakout is among the most baffling storylines of the young season. He already has his career high for touchdowns (three receiving, one return) and is just 110 receiving yards from matching his four-year best there, too. If nothing else comes from this current Johnny Manziel start stint, at least he helped boost Benjamin's stock in a contract year.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles' offense has all the cohesiveness of that football scene in “Wedding Crashers” where Jeremy calls a play—“Red Seven! Red Seven!”—and John responds, “I don't know what Red Seven means.” Chip Kelly's play calling has been unimaginative, to a stunning degree.
25. New York Giants
Losing in lopsided fashion is almost preferable to what's gone on with the Giants thus far. At least in those cases, a team's weak spots usually are obvious. The Giants' current predicament—“We've just got to find a way to finish”—is more abstract and, in many ways, harder to fix.
26. Oakland Raiders
The buzz over the Raiders' Week 2 come-from-behind win over Baltimore may not carry over even into Week 3. For a young and rebuilding team, though, it was the type of gritty effort that can help plant a few seeds for future success. They earned that result by showing up in the clutch.
27. Houston Texans
The Ryan Mallett-Brian Hoyer debate has all the allure of being asked if you'd rather be kicked in the crotch or punched in the back of the head. Frustration should be mounting in Houston, because the AFC South is eminently winnable this season.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Over the past four seasons, the Jaguars have enjoyed back-to-back wins just once—actually, a three-game streak in 2013. To get another run on the books, all the Jaguars have to do is go into Foxborough and beat the Patriots.
29. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota has yet to play a regular-season home game. He and his team now will get four straight, spread over five weeks, starting with a visit from the reeling Colts this coming Sunday. Were we to consider the Titans a potential playoff team, this would have to be viewed as a crucial stretch. The AFC South's dismal situation puts that possibility on the table.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When a team picks at the top of the draft, this is the type of immediate impact it should get in return. Jameis Winston (No. 1 overall) is the obvious headliner for Tampa Bay's rookie class. But offensive linemen Donovan Smith (No. 34) and Ali Marpet (No. 61) each have played every snap so far, and Kwon Alexander is tied for the team lead in tackles.
31. New Orleans Saints
A long-term Drew Brees injury will be only slightly less painful for the Saints than the sight of a wounded Brees heaving ducks in a home loss to Tampa Bay. Should Brees wind up on injured reserve, the Saints would have upwards of $56 million committed to players not playing for them—they're in for more than $30 million in dead money already.
32. Chicago Bears
The Bears dropping to 0-2 with a 25-point blowout loss at home opens the door for our first real connect-the-dots speculation regarding the 2016 draft—Jay Cutler's replacement, anyone? Chicago has the September feel of a team headed for a high draft pick. All we need now is a clever, Jared Goff-related play on words in case any Windy City fans want to root for losses. #TakeTheSeasonOffForGoff