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NFL Power Rankings: It's Anyone’s Race … Behind the Bills

The bull’s-eye remains on Buffalo, but Week 2 still stimulated movement among the league’s elite.

The NFL season has a tendency of mirroring the draft process, which often takes on a life of its own after a majority of the work and the common knowledge has been established. While there are inevitably “late risers” in both respects, there are also stalwart teams and players who were always going to be among the best but, for some reason, we talk ourselves into discounting them or diminishing them for the sport of it. 

Teams, especially, go through valleys inevitably during a long season, and we tend to punish them for not playing their best football in November and December, when, in reality, they may just be gearing up for a more consequential playoff push.

It’s important to keep in mind as we watch the Bills absolutely torch opponents as they have been doing over the first two weeks of the season. At some point, when Josh Allen has a handful of bad games and we start to wonder whether Buffalo has what it takes, let’s remember what happened Monday night and the Thursday before. 

Barring any catastrophic injury, that version of the Bills isn’t going anywhere. It’s who they are. 

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1. Buffalo Bills (2–0)

Last week: Win vs. Tennessee, 41–7 (Monday)

Next week: at Miami

It’s scary how routine the Bills are absolutely disposing of excellent NFL teams and really good opposing coordinators. The win over the Titans was another exclamation point. The challenge now is to evolve, for when someone finally figures out how to stop you. 

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrate a touch down during the third quarter at Highmark Stadium.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (2–0)

Last week: Win vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 27–24 (Thursday)

Next week: at Indianapolis

Eight QB hits and six pass breakups against a very good quarterback in Justin Herbert, plus a balanced running attack that saw Clyde Edwards-Helaire gain 9.3 yards per carry on the ground and 11 yards per passing target. Balanced Chiefs is not sexy, but it's sustainable. 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2–0)

Last week: Win at New Orleans, 20–10
Next week: vs. Green Bay

Tom Brady is the tide that lifts all boats, but having an opposing QB success rate of 35.4% on drop backs helps, too. 

4. Green Bay Packers (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Chicago, 27–10
Next week: at Tampa Bay

How terrifying are those versatile A.J. Dillon/Aaron Jones backfields? Also, Quay Walker looks like he’s the missing piece this defense needed to steel themselves against another January heartbreak. 

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter during their football game.

5. Los Angeles Rams (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Atlanta, 31–27

Next week: at Arizona

The Rams are 1–1 despite employing one of the least efficient offenses in the NFL, and least successful drop-back rates. In short, this won’t hold. Sean McVay will figure out a way to Sean McVay, and we’ll all be talking about some brainy evolution in November.

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6. Miami Dolphins (2–0)

Last week: Win at Baltimore, 42–38
Next week: vs. Buffalo

Why the hell not? There isn’t a team in the NFL having more fun than the Miami Dolphins right now. There isn’t a defensive coordinator who can quite put a thumb on Mike McDaniel.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (1–1)

Last week: Loss at Kansas City, 27–24 (Thursday)

Next week: vs. Jacksonville

The defense started fast, but does anyone have a feeling that we haven’t seen anything close to Justin Herbert’s ceiling? Let’s see what happens if the playcalling meets him halfway. 

8. Baltimore Ravens (1–1)

Last week: Loss vs. Miami, 42–38

Next week: at New England

We’re not hating that Lamar Jackson MVP prediction at this point. And Rashod Bateman looks far more dangerous after the catch than I ever remember. Despite the loss to the red-hot Dolphins, this is the team I least want to see coming up next on the schedule.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (2–0)

Last week: Win vs. Minnesota, 24–7
Next week: at Washington

The thought was always that if Jalen Hurts didn’t peak a year ago, the sky would be the limit for this roster. Well, Monday night’s stomping of the Vikings leads us to believe the Eagles might be in for some late January football this year.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) intercepts the ball in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.

10. San Francisco 49ers (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Seattle, 27–7
Next week: at Denver

Jimmy Garoppolo is back, which means so, too, is a more stable-but-not-quite-bullish take on this roster. Without Trey Lance, we won’t be able to see what’s next for Kyle Shanahan in his own personal evolution. But we will see a good-enough 49ers team that everyone hates to play. 

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1–1)

Last week: Loss vs. New England, 17–14,

Next week: at Cleveland (Thursday)

We overranked them a bit this week as a kind of legacy award. What Mike Tomlin does with this roster every week is incredible. Without T.J. Watt, the Steelers were a stunning Nelson Agholor touchdown away from moving to 2–0. They’ll still be a factor each week no matter what.

12. Detroit Lions (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Washington, 36–27

Next week: at Minnesota

The NFL’s best-kept secret—offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—is no longer a secret. Jared Goff is playing well. D’Andre Swift is constantly in open space. The Lions are for real. 

Detroit Free PressDetroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift, center, celebrates a touchdown with left tackle Taylor Decker, left, against the Washington Commanders during the second half at Ford Field.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (0–2)

Last week: Loss at Dallas, 20–17

Next week: at New York Jets

Call me a blind optimist (or just the guy scared to criticize the Bengals after picking them to win four games in 2021), but I think the Bengals are a few good meetings between coach and QB away from getting this right. 

14. New Orleans Saints (1–1)

Last week: Loss vs. Tampa Bay, 20–10

Next week: at Carolina

The Saints’ defense is an institution at this point. So, too, unfortunately is the fact that sometimes Jameis Winston will leave this planet during football games and chuck a bunch of dangerous passes into harm’s way.

15. Minnesota Vikings (1–1)

Last week: Loss at Philadelphia, 24–7

Next week: vs. Detroit

Kirk Cousins & Co. were stunned by a suddenly blitz-happy Eagles defense and a stellar coverage performance against Justin Jefferson. Was this the norm, or just a good learning experience for rookie coach Kevin O’Connell?

16. New England Patriots (1–1)

Last week: Win at Pittsburgh, 17–14,

Next week: vs. Baltimore

The Patriots aren’t doing anything particularly well right now and are still in the thick of it. Can Mac Jones master the mundane and make this offense run more efficiently?

17. New York Giants (2–0)

Last week: Win vs. Carolina, 19–16, 21–20

Next week: vs. Dallas (Monday)

Brian Daboll has instilled some life in this franchise while helping it shed some old skin. There may still be hard times ahead, but with games against the Dak Prescott–less Cowboys and the Bears coming, could they start 4–0?

18. Arizona Cardinals (1–1)

Last week: Win at Las Vegas, 29–23

Next week: vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Cardinals aren’t going to get the opportunity to have Kyler Murray run track and field laps through a gassed defense every week until he can make a play, and they’re not going to get many more Hunter Renfrow fumbles, either. At some point, their struggles beneath the surface will become their reality.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas RaidersArizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrates after scoring on a 59-yard fumble recovery in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (0–2)

Last week: Loss vs. Arizona, 29–23

Next week: at Tennessee

Two spirited performances by Las Vegas, albeit conservative ones. Will Josh McDaniels cut Derek Carr and Davante Adams loose?

20. Denver Broncos (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Houston, 16–9
Next week: vs. San Francisco

Coach Nathaniel Hackett said this week that he met with his coaching staff twice about streamlining communication efforts on the field. Sneakily, they have the 7th-best expected points added total per drop back this season. If they can tighten up the process, the system could shine.

21. Dallas Cowboys (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Cincinnati, 20–17

Next week: at New York Giants (Monday)

Kudos to Mike McCarthy, who let Cooper Rush rip on Sunday (relatively speaking) and stunned a reeling Bengals team. Micah Parsons should be dominating the defensive player of the year discussion.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown (85) catches a touchdown pass as Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (30) defends in the first quarter of an NFL Week 2 game.

22. Cleveland Browns (1–1)

Last week: Loss vs. New York Jets, 31–30
Next week: vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday)

A complete defensive and special teams breakdown in the waning moments of Sunday’s game gives us the Joe Flacco highlight we didn’t know we needed. The Browns barely beat the woeful Panthers and lost to the Jets, who are still finding their way. What kind of team is Deshaun Watson eventually inheriting? 

23. Tennessee Titans (0–2)

Last week: Loss at Buffalo, 41–7 (Monday)
Next week: vs. Oakland

Monday’s loss to the Bills will force the Titans back to the drawing board. The run game is nonexistent, and, as a result, Ryan Tannehill looks human. 

24. New York Jets (1–1)

Last week: Win at Cleveland, 31–30

Next week: vs. Cincinnati

If nothing else, the Jets have shown that they aren’t laying down anymore. A strong half against the Ravens. A stunning comeback against the Browns. Once this 2022 draft class matures, the Jets will be a competitor.

25. Atlanta Falcons (0–2)

Last week: Loss at Los Angeles Rams, 31–27

Next week: at Seattle

Arthur Smith has this team playing hard, and in two weeks, has gotten the ball to either Kyle Pitts or Drake London. He doesn’t care about your fantasy team, but he is displaying some creativity and highlighting his young stars. 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1–1)

Last week: Win vs. Indianapolis, 24–0

Next week: at Los Angeles Chargers

Trevor Lawrence finally looks comfortable, though I find my eyes drawn more to a talented young defense teeming with playmakers. Rookie Devin Lloyd has 17 tackles in two games and batted down three passes against the Colts on Sunday, in addition to his first career pick. 


27. Washington Commanders (1–1)

Last week: Loss at Detroit, 36–27

Next week: vs. Philadelphia

If this was another middling year for the Commanders, but Carson Wentz finished the season as a top-10 quarterback and was amenable to some kind of affordable extension at season’s end, do you consider that a victory as a fan of this franchise?

28. Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1)

Last week: Loss at Jacksonville, 24–0

Next week: vs. Kansas City

The Colts look adrift right now. As we wrote Sunday, it’s time to start taking a critical look at a process we all assumed was successful. 

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks on after getting sacked during the second quarter of a regular season game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

29. Houston Texans (0-1-1)

Last week: Loss at Denver, 16–9

Next week: at Chicago

The Texans are not going to win a lot of games this year, but they will come awfully close to winning a respectable number of games this year against better opponents. That said, Davis Mills is currently operating at a -10 completion percentage over expectation, meaning that he’s completing 10% fewer passes than he should. 

30. Chicago Bears (1–1)

Last week: Loss at Green Bay, 27–10

Next week: vs. Houston

Justin Fields looks better in Year 2, though he keeps thudding against the hard ceiling created by this roster. 

31. Seattle Seahawks (1–1)

Last week: Loss at San Francisco, 27–7

Next week: vs. Atlanta

As podcast cohost Gary Gramling said on our Sunday review this week, the Seahawks have won their Super Bowl. We’ll check back in with them come draft time to see which quarterback they may be interested in. 

32. Carolina Panthers (0–2)

Last week: Loss at New York Giants, 19–16

Next week: vs. New Orleans

With losses to the Browns and Giants on their ledger so far, we’ll see whether Matt Rhule can conjure some fight from this roster before the coaching hot seat becomes too much to bear. 

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