- The usual suspects remain at the top of our list after Week 2, but the Texans, Jets and Giants are rising, while the Redskins, Bills and Colts continue to fall.
Just 25% of the league (eight teams) made it through Week 2 undefeated. At least two more of those thus-far flawless clubs will be saddled with a loss in Week 3, barring ties: New England hosts Houston; Pittsburgh visits Philadelphia.
Many of the teams expected to be contenders headed into the season still fit that bill after a couple of games, but it's becoming clear that the NFL’s beloved parity is very much alive and well again in 2016.
As such, there has been significant movement in the Power Rankings beyond the top three teams.
Blocking Von Miller one-on-one is like when the Joker sends in a henchman to take on Batman in hand-to-hand combat. You know what’s going to happen. This could be the year that Miller challenges Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5.
Still waiting to see if last year’s version of the Panthers resurfaces in 2016—a tough loss to Denver and awild win over San Francisco do not tell us much. The best indication that Carolina might be about to take off? Its defense, which led the league by forcing 39 turnovers last season, has produced six takeaways already in 2016.
It has been just two weeks, of course, but Larry Fitzgerald currently sits on pace for 112 receptions and 24 touchdowns this season. Those retirement rumors that popped up prior to Week 1 should be tucked away for a long while. Fitzgerald looks like he could play another decade.
Cincinnati now has scored a touchdown on one of its six red-zone trips this season, a 16.7% conversion rate that’s worse than all but Houston (14.3%) and Los Angeles (forever forbidden from entering the red zone by an ancient NFL prophecy). Nowhere do the Bengals feel Tyler Eifert’s absence more than within 20 yards of the end zone.
The Giants finished 1–8 in games decided by six points or fewer last season. They’re already 2–0 in 2016, with a 20–19 win over Dallas and a 16–13 victory over the Saints. NFL players will tell you that teams make their own luck, but the Giants were due to win a couple nail-biters.
Jordy Nelson may still be finding his footing after missing all of 2015, but thus far his return has not jump-started the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers is averaging 5.9 yards per pass attempt through two games, about right in line with Blaine Gabbert (5.8) and Case Keenum (5.7).
A combined 15 points in two games and now Thomas Rawls, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have joined Russell Wilson on the injury report. The Seahawks usually take a few weeks to get rolling, for whatever reason, but there is a growing list of reasons to be concerned.
The Chiefs now have played eight quarters and looked really good on offense in one of them, so the improvements have to come soon. They’re lucky to be 1–1 but also have the talent to take off at any point. Which direction will they head from here?
Thirty NFL defenses have allowed fewer than 850 yards through two weeks this season. The Saints have surrendered 903. And then there’s the Raiders ... they’re sitting at 1,035 after splitting with New Orleans and Atlanta. If they don’t patch things up on that side of the ball, the playoffs will have to wait another year.
It doesn’t matter how the Ravens made it to 2–0, it just matters that they’re there. At least, that’s how the standings work. Power Rankings, on the other hand, must take into account that Cleveland was up 20–0 Sunday before a blocked extra point and a Josh McCown injury turned the tide.
The Cowboys would have preferred an easier win in Washington on Sunday, but a) they’ll take it, and b) Alfred Morris scoring what would be the game-winning touchdown was about the best troll job Dallas had available shy of trading for RG3 and letting him kick the extra point.
Philip Rivers continues to play at a lofty level. And, for at least one more time before the 34-year-old hangs ’em up, it would be great to see what Rivers can do without evaporating dust people surrounding him on the roster. Injuries keep pummeling San Diego at a mind-boggling rate.
“Good things happen to people who run” was how Matt Ryan explained Justin Hardy’s crucial tip-drill touchdown catch Sunday, a nod to Hardy’s hustle on the play. Coincidentally, that’s also Ryan’s reasoning for how Forrest Gump became a millionaire.
Let’s not write off Miami quite yet. The defense looked great for three quarters Week 1 in Seattle, and then the offense took off during the second half of a comeback effort in New England. Four of the Dolphins’ next five are at home, starting with the Browns on Sunday and including games against the Titans and Bills. Adam Gase’s club could be back in the playoff picture by Halloween.
Are the Titans going to finish ahead of nine NFL teams when all is said and done this season? Color me skeptical, but they rallied past the Lions (who beat the Colts) and played Minnesota relatively tough, and the bottom of the league is a trash heap right now. So, here we are.
The Lions sure have made an art of dangling wins in front of their fans before folding. They’re like that dude in your friend group who unscrews the salt cap every time y’all go out to dinner. It was kind of amusing the first few times, but now it’s just tedious and predictable.
The Saints limited the Giants’ offense to nine points Sunday (Janoris Jenkins also ran back a blocked field goal for the Giants’ only TD of the game), yet somehow lost anyway. There simply are not going to be many moments when the New Orleans defense rises to the occasion, so this was a huge missed opportunity.
Kirk Cousins has not started the year well, but it’s funny how a player’s price tag can skew the discussion. Of course everything is going to look worse when Cousins is earning $19 million than it did when he was a $660,000 player. You wouldn’t go to Burger King very much if a Whopper suddenly cost $500.
The Bills allowed the Jets to put up 493 yards of offense and 37 points against them on Thursday night—and then fired their offensive coordinator. So who knows where they go from here. Granted, the offense hasn’t been great either—LeSean McCoy is sub-4.0 yards per carry, and Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas have more receiving yards than the hobbled Sammy Watkins.
That was more than just a loss to the Chargers on Sunday. That was the type of performance that finishes the sentence “Well, the breaking point came when …” after a coach gets fired. If the Jaguars can’t knock off the Ravens or Colts, the coaching staff is going to be a jittery bunch when their Week 5 bye rolls around.
Browns quarterbacks continue to have all the durability of coloring book pages when my two-year-old decides he wants to tear something. Godspeed, Cody Kessler. Stay safe.