Welcome to the most important thing you’ll read all week (just kidding). In Mitch’s power rankings intro for Week 2, he mentioned that the introduction to a power rankings post is perhaps the most poorly read block of text in sports media. You scroll to where your team is located, fire up Twitter and search for the author’s name so you can call him or her an a-hole. But hey, at least we’re communicating, right?
If you do happen to make it this far, I’d urge only one thing as we barrel into Week 3 and, societally, into some fairly choppy waters: I’ve gotten emails from plenty of readers about their thoughts on what happened before games in Week One and why they reacted the way they reacted. I’ve had some pretty challenging, difficult and intense conversations. I’ve been overwhelmed at times, both positively and negatively. I’m sure you have too.
So my ask is that you continue to channel your rage into the power rankings. Call us whatever you’d like. I’m sure, like always, I will manage to somehow disappoint a Bills fan. Get it all out here. And then, in your real-life interactions, the meaningful, face-to-face kind with the people you see every day, reserve the majority of your kindness and patience and understanding. It’s important to understand that, for the lot of us, the decisions we’re making on an everyday basis, whether they be financial or political or emotional, are made with the belief that they’ll lead to a better life for the people we love and care about. Maybe they’re not the decisions you would make. Maybe it makes the world feel unfamiliar to you.
I’ve seen so much beautiful nuance put into arguments over where we rank these teams, which, maybe some of us only possess a finite amount of. It’s a privilege to provide a forum for that discussion and to allow everyone to escape for just a few minutes scrolling through on their cellphones. If you could do me a favor and transfer that same energy to a neighbor with a different campaign sign than yours, a co-worker you always seem to disagree with, a shopper clogging up the line at the grocery store fumbling through paper coupons, that would make the world just a little bit better. And maybe, one day at a time, power rankings could be the most serious thing we’d have to fight about every Tuesday.
Without further ado, here we go...
1. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. New England 35-30
Next week: vs. Dallas
Seeing DK Metcalf cross leverage and beat Stephon Gilmore for a touchdown on Sunday night ignited something in Seahawks fans. For years they looked at their collection of talent and wondered if only. If only we could continue to develop this physical specimen into a dangerous, every down wideout. If only we would let Russ cook. If only we traded for Jamal Adams and used him to help define the coming era of positionless football.
Well, they did! Seattle began the season with tough wins over two quality opponents. Russell Wilson is on a torrid, MVP pace and Adams might find himself chasing down the defensive player of the year leaderboard. Meanwhile, the secondary, while not perfect, is becoming more functional each week. This is going to be a fun division to watch and a fun team to have up front.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Last week: Win at Los Angeles Chargers 23-20
This week: at Baltimore
It is frustrating when you develop a fairly successful coverage plan against the Chiefs, only to have Patrick Mahomes rush for 54 yards, pick up a whole bunch of first downs and destroy your defense another way. This offense is unbeatable and has the luxury of flowing from a Super Bowl into a condensed offseason. We will see how they handle yet another formidable challenge next week.
3. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
Last week: Win at Houston 33-16
This week: vs. Kansas City
We’re seeing Lamar Jackson develop a pocket presence that is so far beyond his age. He has completed more than 75 percent of his passes and his bad throw percentage is down to six—six!—through two games this season. Oh and his time spent in the pocket was cut in half from last year, down from an already formidable 2.6 seconds per snap in 2019.
4. Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Last week: Win at Miami 31-28
This week: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Raise your hand if you expected Josh Allen to be leading the NFL in passing through Week 2. On one hand, I’m tempted to say: please show me how they perform against teams that aren’t the Jets or a banged-up Dolphins. On the other, this is exactly what you try and do with developing QBs—you create a runway and build confidence.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. Lions 42-21
This week: vs. New Orleans
Life is good when you start the season with a pair of 40-point games against coaches who earned their lot in life from designing defenses. Should Davante Adams remain healthy for a full season, this team could cruise to another division title, a second in two years for Matt LaFleur.
6. New Orleans Saints (1-1)
Last week: Loss at Las Vegas 34-24
Next week: vs. Green Bay
I think this was the one team we expected to hit the ground sprinting post-pandemic and they have for the most part. Strangely, their performance at the “Death Star” was somewhat out of character but may expose some of the fat Sean Payton needs to trim from his game plan.
7. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. Washington 30-15
This week: vs. Detroit
Kyler Murray’s transition from rookie of the year to established star was fast, but so it goes when you’ve been mastering a version of this offense since high school. Will anyone come up with a more effective way to spot and tackle him on the run?
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. Denver 26-21This week: vs. Houston
Ben Roethlisberger is warming himself up, James Conner is breaking out and, in potentially dangerous news for opponents, Chase Claypool is establishing himself as a big-play candidate who could ruin defensive gameplans.
9. New England Patriots (1-1)
Last week: Loss at Seattle 35-30
This week: vs. Las Vegas
I stand by my previous week’s take that Cam Newton is a quintessential Patriot. They were one 50-50 play call away from beating one of the best teams in football and once again have two punching bags in the division to tune up twice a year. If Bill Belichick can swing a trade for another playmaker before the deadline, watch out.
10. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
Last week: Win at Philadelphia 37-19
Next week: at Buffalo
Sean McVay’s offense is evolving to again puzzle the defenses that rose up to stop him in 2019. If Jared Goff gets comfortable enough to go vertical consistently, the NFC West will solidify itself as the toughest division in football.
11. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. New Orleans 34-24
Next week: at New England
Las Vegas’ giant robotic vacuum cleaner of a stadium sure looked great on Monday night, and the Raiders put on a performance befitting of their Al Davis tribute on the Vegas strip. Darren Waller continues to slip into vacant space, and Derek Carr quietly plods along as one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
12. Tennessee Titans (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. Jacksonville 33-30
Next week: at Minnesota
Ryan Tannehill is still the guy we saw at the tail end of 2019 and, despite some injuries working their way through Tennessee’s receiving corps, the Titans are exceptionally difficult to game plan for and outwrestle each week.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Last week: Win vs. Carolina 32-23
Next week: at Denver
A bounce-back performance highlighted the best parts of Tampa’s roster construction: A brilliant defensive coordinator, a high-end quarterback and a laundry list of fresh-legged running backs to pound the rock.
14. Chicago Bears (2-0)
Last week: Win vs. New York Giants 17-13
Next week: at Atlanta
Matt Nagy and his staff have done an admirable job keeping the Mitch Trubisky train in motion. The Bears could be good enough to remain in the hunt for a seventh playoff spot this year if the quarterback continues to develop.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Kansas City 23-20
Next week: vs. Carolina
One whiffed coaching decision from being 2-0 with a win over the Chiefs and an ascending rookie quarterback. Kudos to Anthony Lynn for not abandoning Tyrod Taylor yet, but also nice work in getting Justin Herbert ready with almost zero practice reps during a pandemic.
16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Last week: Win vs. Atlanta 40-39
Next week: at Seattle
A gutsy performance from Dak Prescott has the Cowboys in the driver’s seat of a division that already seems poised to underwhelm.
17. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Last week: Win vs. Cincinnati 35-30
Next week: vs. Washington
Under Kevin Stefanski, the run game has balance, Baker Mayfield gets the ball out on time and (for at least one week) Odell Beckham exists within the offense again. What’s not to like?
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
Last week: Loss at Tennessee 33-30
Next week: vs. Miami (Thursday)
A team that will play fearless and fun in 2020, which is more than some of us (myself included) gave them credit for at the beginning of the season. Don’t tell Jay Gruden and Gardner Minshew that this is just paving ground for the Trevor Lawrence show.
19. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Last week: Win vs. Minnesota 28-11
Next week: vs. New York Jets
Philip Rivers has spread the ball around expertly and Jonathan Taylor looks every bit the part as an any-down running back who can propel the offense forward. Expect the Colts to make gigantic leaps on this list in weeks to come.
20. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
Last week: Win at New York Jets
Next week: at New York Giants
It will be one of the most difficult coaching stretches of Kyle Shanahan’s career: Remain afloat without your most important offensive and defensive players indefinitely while the rest of the division takes flight.
21. Washington (1-1)
Last week: Loss at Arizona 30-15
Next week: at Cleveland
The fun might be over for Washington as they dip into the meat of their schedule, but this pass rush will complicate more than a few Sundays for young quarterbacks during the season. And is that enough to take them out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes?
22. Houston Texans (0-2)
Last week: Loss vs. Baltimore 33-16
Next week: at Pittsburgh
Probably the best 0-2 team in football. Bill O’Brien has talent on the sidelines calling plays and talent on the field, but has not been able to put it together just yet.
23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Indianapolis 28-11
Next week: vs. Tennessee
The Vikings are struggling with the things they normally do well. All around, a hard-to-recognize Mike Zimmer team two weeks into the regular season.
24. Miami Dolphins (0-2)
Last week: Loss vs. Buffalo 31-28
Next week: at Jacksonville (Thursday)
By the middle of the season, this Miami team will be middle of the pack, which, if we predicted that a year ago, might sound ridiculous. Brian Flores’ unit has been hanging tough for two weeks against better opponents.
25. Detroit Lions (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Green Bay 42-21
Next week: at Arizona
Matt Patricia and the rest of Patriot Midwest are desperately fighting to keep their tenure alive. Will a healthier roster lead to more success down the road, or is the team throwing away the last several prime years Matt Stafford has left?
26. Atlanta Falcons (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Dallas 40-39
Next week: vs. Chicago
Dan Quinn and the Falcons are better than this, but since the Super Bowl loss, a mystical cloud of perpetually unfortunate and confusing events have blanketed this franchise. Apparently, a difficult one to exorcise.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)
Last week: Loss vs. Los Angeles Rams 37-19
Next week: vs. Cincinnati
Carson Wentz looks like he’s regressing and his head coach is struggling to explain why. The Eagles were a team that looked far from in trouble just a season ago. Now, the outlook is far different.
28. Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Tampa Bay 31-17
Next week: at Los Angeles Chargers
If Christian McCaffrey is nicked up off and on this season, it makes the offensive development even more difficult. Still, Teddy Bridgewater is completing his passes and moving the football. Barring a favorable draft position, he’s got QB of the future potential.
29. Denver Broncos (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Pittsburgh 26-21
Next week: vs. Tampa Bay
Sans Drew Lock, a team that made a gigantic leap this offseason will struggle over the next few weeks, especially given that the pandemic complicates the free agent workout process.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Cleveland 35-30
Next week: at Philadelphia
I don’t think the Bengals will sit in this bottom third for long. Joe Burrow is tough and Cincinnati is going places with their 2020 No. 1 overall pick.
31. New York Giants (0-2)
Last week: Loss at Chicago 17-13
Next week: vs. San Francisco
Without Saquon Barkley, Dave Gettleman’s rebuild now gets its most grueling evaluation yet. For three years, the Giants built a team around the run. What happens without the running back now?
32. New York Jets (0-2)
Last week: Loss vs. San Francisco 31-13
Next week: at Indianapolis
The group of us (myself included) who believe Adam Gase is still the right head coach for the Jets might be dwindling faster than expected. Losses like the one the Jets suffered Sunday, with the 49ers losing nearly all of their most talented players, don’t help.