Rick Gosselin's Week 2 NFL rankings

The Las Vegas Raiders make a huge jump this week in Rick Gosselin's NFL Power Rankings.
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Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 49th season reporting on the NFL in 2021. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs, and Cowboys in his career plus 38 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor subcommittees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his second-week ballot:

1. Tampa Bay. Twenty-two seasons into his career and Tom Brady is still charting firsts. This is the first time he has thrown for as many as nine touchdowns in his first two games. His best previous start to a season was seven TD passes in both 2011 and 2015 with the Patriots. Brady threw four in the opener against Dallas and five more last weekend against Atlanta. Last week: 1

2. Kansas City. The burden gets heavier on QB Patrick Mahomes by the week. After two games the Chiefs rank last in the NFL in defense and last against the rush. Kansas City ranks third in the league in scoring with an average of 34 points per game but has only a 1-1 record to show for it. Last week: 2

3. Arizona. The NFL is only two weeks into its season and already more than a third of the starting quarterbacks -- 12 of them -- have rushed for a touchdown. Two quarterbacks have rushed for touchdowns each of the first two weekends, Kyler Murray of the Cardinals and Daniel Jones of the Giants. Last week: 3

4. Cleveland. The Browns had high hopes for LSU safety Grant Delpit when they selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft. But he ruptured an Achilles tendon in training camp and spent his rookie season on the sideline. Delpit didn’t play in Cleveland’s 2021 opener at Kansas City but finally made his NFL debut last weekend against Houston. Classify it as a "Wow.". Although he didn’t start, Delpit came off the bench to collect five tackles, a sack and also forced a fumble. 1-1 Last week: 5

5. Buffalo. Great Lakes 2, Atlantic Ocean 0. Michigan State (bordered by Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior) traveled to Miami Saturday to defeat the NCAA Hurricanes 38-17, then the Buffalo Bills (bordered by Lake Erie) went into the same stadium on Sunday and dismantled the NFL Dolphins, 35-0. Last week: 6

6. Las Vegas. Daniel Carlson has kicked 26 field goals in a row. His last miss came on Nov. 1, 2020, when he hit the left upright on a 41-yard try against the Browns -- and he converted eight in a row before that miss. The average length of his field goal during this streak is 32.1 yards. Four of his kicks were from 40 yards out and two more from 50 out. The NFL record for consecutive field goals is 44 by Adam Vinatieri of the Colts from 2015-16. Last week: 13

7. LA Rams. We’ll get to see how good the new-look, 2-0, Matthew Stafford-Rams are this week when they host the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The last time Stafford quarterbacked his team to three consecutive victories was Weeks 8-10 of the 2017 season with the Detroit Lions. Last week: 8

8. Baltimore. Lamar Jackson’s 107 rushing yards in the Sunday night upset of Kansas City was his 10th career 100-yard rushing game -- nine in the regular season and one in the playoffs. Only Michael Vick posted more career 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback -- 11. His total included 10 in the regular season and one in the playoffs. After Vick and Jackson, the next quarterback on the list has only four 100-yard rushing games. Last week: 9

9. Dallas. The Cowboys did what they needed to do -- avoid an 0-2 start with two road games to open the season against playoff contenders with elite quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Justin Herbert). Dallas now has three consecutive home games and will be favored in all of them against Philadelphia, Carolina and the New York Giants. The Cowboys haven’t started 4-1 since 2016. Last week: 11

10. Pittsburgh. Nobody in the NFL has played the 3-4 defense as long or as well as the Steelers. But the “3” part of the defense has taken a hit with the losses of DE T.J. Watt (groin) and NT Tyson Alualu (broken ankle). Both suffered first-half injuries in last weekend’s loss to Las Vegas. Alualu has already been placed on the injured reserve. Last week: 4

11. Tennessee. Derrick Henry is starting to rev up. The NFL’s reigning rushing champion exploded for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries in last weekend’s upset at Seattle. Next up are the Colts, against whom Henry has three consecutive 100-yard games. He rushed for 178 and 103 yards in Tennessee’s two meetings with the Colts in 2020 and 149 yards in the final meeting of the two teams in 2019. Last week: 16

12. Green Bay. Derrick Henry wasn’t the only back to resurrect his season after one game. Aaron Jones of the Packers and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys also had bounce-back games in the second week to help their teams post their first victories of the season. Jones scored four touchdowns on 23 touches -- 17 rushes with one touchdown and six receptions with three touchdowns. He gained 115 yards against the Lions, 94 more than he gained against the Saints when he touched the ball only seven times. Last week: 6

13. Carolina. The Panthers lead the NFL with 10 sacks on defense. Six of the starters in Carolina’s front seven have a sack. The team leader is linebacker Hassan Reddick with three. He left the Arizona Cardinals in free agency to sign with the Panthers this offseason, accepting a one-year, $8-million contract of which $6 million was guaranteed. He’s already proven to be worth the investment. Last week: 19

14. LA Chargers. Three receivers have had 100-yard games each of the first two weekends of the NFL season and two of them play in the same building. Keenan Allen of the Chargers and Cooper Kupp of the Rams both call SoFi Stadium home. Allen has turned in 100s against Washington (100) and Dallas (108) while Kupp has posted 100s against Chicago (108) and Indianapolis (163). The other receiver with a pair of 100s this month is Seattle’s Tyler Lockett. Last week: 10

15. Seattle. Russell Wilson is the master of the long-distance strike. Half of his six TD passes this season have covered 60 yards. His six TD passes have covered 247 yards. Tom Brady’s league-leading nine TD passes have covered 102 yards. Last week: 7

16. Denver. The NFL schedule-maker did the Broncos, Cowboys, 49ers and Vikings no favors this season. They were the only teams scheduled to play their first two games on the road. But the Broncos traveled two time zones to start 2-0 with victories over the Giants and Jaguars, and the 49ers traveled three time zones to go 2-0 with wins over Detroit and Philadelphia. The Cowboys went coast to coast -- Tampa and then Los Angeles -- to start the season 1-1. But the Vikings are off to an 0-2 start. Last week: 23

17. San Francisco. The 49ers lost starting running back Raheem Mostert with a season-ending knee injury in the opener, then lost the next three backs on the depth chart with injuries at Philadelphia in the second week -- Elijah Mitchell (shoulder), JaMycal Hasty (ankle) and Trey Sermon (concussion). Next up for the 2-0 49ers is Trenton Cannon, who the 49ers claimed on waivers from Baltimore last weekend. Last week: 17

18. Washington. The NFL’s 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year is off to a slow start. DE Chase Young earned that honor last season with his 7½ sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a touchdown. But through two games this season, Young has six tackles with no sacks and no quarterback pressures. Washington needs Young to become the player he was in 2020 when the defense finished second in the league. Washington ranks 25th this week. Last week: 21

19. New England. There were two constants in New England’s championship era -- Tom Brady and a stout defense. Brady is gone but the stout defense remains. The Patriots rank fifth in defense this week, allowing an average of only 297.5 yards per game. They also have the most interceptions (five) and have allowed the second-fewest points (23). Last week: 25

20. New Orleans. Jameis Winston has quarterbacked the Saints for two games now and Coach Sean Payton has already seen his best and worst. His best was a five-TD, no turnover, no sack performance in the opener against Green Bay. His worst was an 11-of-22 showing for 111 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and four sacks last week against Carolina. Will the real Jameis Winston please stand up? The Saints visit New England -- and a Bill Belichick defense -- Sunday. Last week: 12

21. Cincinnati. When the Bengals went on the clock for the fifth overall pick of the 2021 draft, they had two choices -- give franchise QB Joe Burrow a weapon in former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase ... or give him some protection in Oregon LT Penei Sewell. Cincinnati opted for the weapon and Chase has given the Bengals two long TD receptions in the first two games -- a 50-yarder against Minnesota and a 42-yarder against Chicago. But Burrow can sure use some protection at this point. He’s already been sacked an NFL runner-up nine times this season. Last week: 22

22. Indianapolis. The NFL schedule-maker gave the Buccaneers, Colts, Panthers and Washington a perk -- their first two games of the 2021 season at home. But only Indianapolis failed to capitalize with an 0-2 start. Tampa and Carolina stormed out at 2-0 and Washington sits 1-1. The Colts play their next three games on the road at Tennessee, Miami and Baltimore -- and might be without QB Carson Wentz, who left last week’s loss with an ankle injury. Last week: 14

23. Philadelphia. The Eagles take the NFL’s third-ranked pass defense to Texas this weekend for its stiffest challenge -- Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia held Matt Ryan to 164 passing yards in the opener and Jimmy Garoppolo to 189 yards last weekend. But Prescott has completed more passes (65) than any other NFL quarterback this season and his 640 passing yards ranks sixth. He has thrown for at least 400 yards in four of his last seven starts. Last week: 20

24. Minnesota. Like the Cowboys, the Vikings follow up their two-game road start with three consecutive home games. Minnesota now hosts Seattle, Cleveland and Detroit with a chance to get its season on track. The positive heading into the homestand was the re-emergence of Dalvin Cook as the focal point of the offense. He rushed for 131 yards last weekend against Arizona. Cook led the NFC with 1,557 rushing yards last season. His legs give the Vikings a chance every week. Last week: 24

25. Miami. The Dolphins won Super Bowls under Don Shula with the tandem of Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick pounding the football on the ground. Well, the Dolphins haven’t won a Super Bowl in 48 years and they’ve all but abandoned the run. Miami hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Jay Ajayi in 2016 and the 2021 Dolphins rank 27th in the NFL on the ground with just 145 yards. The lack of a running game has contributed to the continuing quarterback struggles in Miami. Last week: 18

26. Houston. Tyrod Taylor was one of four NFL quarterbacks to leave games with injuries last weekend, which was unfortunate for the Texans. Taylor was off to a terrific start as DeShaun Watson’s replacement, passing for 291 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening victory over Jacksonville then completing 10-of-11 passes for one touchdown and rushing 16 yards for another to help the Texans forge a 14-14 halftime deadlock against the heavily-favored Browns. But Taylor did not return for the second half because of a hamstring injury and rookie QB Davis Mills couldn’t finish off the upset bid. Mills will likely draw his first NFL start Sunday at home against Carolina. Last week: 26

27. Chicago. Andy Dalton was another of the quarterbacks who could not finish what he started last weekend, departing the Cincinnati game late in the second quarter with a knee injury. He was replaced by rookie Justin Fields, who struggled in closing out a 20-17 Chicago victory. Fields completed only 6-of-13 passes for 60 yards. He’s likely to get his first NFL start in Cleveland this weekend against the Browns. Last week: 27

28. Detroit. What’s bad news for the Lions’ defense is good news for TE T.J. Hockenson. The Baltimore Ravens and the headache that is Lamar Jackson visit Detroit this week. But the Baltimore defense has been vulnerable to the tight end thus far this season, allowing a 100-yard game each of the first two weekends. Darren Waller of the Raiders caught 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens in the opener and Travis Kelce followed up with a seven-catch, 109-yard, one-touchdown game last weekend. Hockenson is Detroit’s best offensive weapon. Last week: 29

29. Jacksonville. The education of rookie QB Trevor Lawrence continues. Through two weeks he has thrown more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4) for the winless Jaguars. He’s finding NFL defenses a little more challenging than ACC defenses. He leads the NFL in interceptions and has a 57.1 passer efficiency rating -- quite a fall off from his 164.3 career rating in college at Clemson. Last week: 30

30. NY Jets. QB Zach Wilson threw only three interceptions at Brigham Young last season. He threw four in his first exposure to a Bill Belichick defense Sunday in a loss to the Patriots. Wilson also was sacked four times as his Jets fell to 0-2. Last week: 28

31. NY Giants. TE Evan Engram caught a team runner-up 63 passes last season. That’s a sizable chunk of production that’s been missing from the New York offense the first two weeks as Engram nurses a hamstring injury. He’s been a game-day inactive each of the first two weeks of the season. QB Daniel Jones needs help and Engram can’t get onto the field soon enough. Last week: 31

32. Atlanta. In a league that stacks its rules for offenses to score points, it took the Falcons more than 78 minutes, five quarters and 14 possessions to score their first offensive touchdown this season. Little wonder Atlanta is 0-2. Last week: 32

Gosselin is an ICONIC NFL writer, with influence on owners, management and players.  He is the mentor of Raider Maven's Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr., and you can read him at Talk of Fame Network.

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