In a relatively uneventful Week Two, the league’s supposed best teams failed to truly differentiate themselves. Last year saw a clear divide between the elite and the bottom tier, but the lines appear to be much grayer now. The Seahawks and the Panthers eked out wins over the hapless 49ers and Bills, respectively, while the Cowboys and Giants both fell flat on their faces in losses. The rankings will experience another shake-up this week, as this year’s echelons appear to still be working themselves out.
- Atlanta Falcons (2-0): Last week: 3
The Falcons leap into the top spot after beating the Packers 34-23 at home in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Atlanta averaged 5.2 yards per carry against a solid Green Bay run defense, which allowed Matt Ryan to sit back and pick his spots.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0): Last week: 1
A Hail Mary away from the Eagles forcing overtime at Arrowhead this past week, the Kansas City offense did not look the same as it did in their Week One thrashing of the Patriots. Kareem Hunt appears to be the real deal, however, as the rookie averaged 6.2 yards per carry en route to over 100 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
3. Oakland Raiders (2-0): Last week: 2
Beating the Jets at home isn’t much to ride home about, but this was a dominating performance by Oakland. Marshawn Lynch’s dancing antics were loved by the hometown crowd, but his backup Jalen Richard stole the show with 109 yards and a touchdown on just eight touches.
4. New England Patriots (1-1): Last week: 4
Angry Tom Brady is not someone any NFL defender wants to face. The Saints were gashed by the 40-year-old quarterback to the tune of 447 yards and three touchdowns. Gronk’s injury seemed concerning, but the All Pro tight end said it was “nothing serious” over the weekend.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0): Last week: 7
The Steelers blew past the Sam Bradford-less Vikings at home behind a big game from embattled wideout Martavis Bryant, though their one-sided victory is hiding problems. Le’Veon Bell had another weak game, gaining 91 all-purpose yards despite receiving a whopping 31 touches.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-1): Last week: 6
Going into Mercedes Benz Stadium and knocking off the defending NFC champs is a tall task for any team in the league, though the Pack was able to muster a small comeback towards the game’s end. Green Bay desperately needs to solve its problems in the run game, as the lead back, Ty Montgomery, ran for just 35 yards on 10 touches.
7. Seattle Seahawks (1-1): Last week: 8
The Seahawks are not looking like the Super Bowl contender most pundits expected them to be. Pete Carroll’s squad scored just 12 points against a cellar-dwelling 49ers team at home, but Seattle appears to have found a diamond in the rough in seventh-rounder running back Chris Carson, who gained 100 all-purpose yards on 21 touches.
8. Denver Broncos (2-0): Last week: 16
The Broncos have another huge vault up the rankings as they obliterated the Cowboys at Mile High by a score of 42-17. Their vaunted defense shut down one of the league’s better offenses, limiting Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on the ground and kept Dak Prescott to a passer rating of 68.6.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1): Last week: 11
Taking the Chiefs to the final play of the game should be chalked up as a win for a fast-rising Eagles team. Carson Wentz is on the verge of leaping into the league’s top tier of quarterbacks, as the second-year passer threw for 333 yards and two scores while adding 55 more yards on the ground against one of the league’s best defenses.
10. Tennessee Titans (1-1): Last week: 15
The Titans scored an important division win against the Jaguars on the road, beating up on Jacksonville 37-16 to establish themselves as the team to beat in the AFC South. A changing of the guard in the run game may be occurring in Tennessee, as Derrick Henry received five more carries than DeMarco Murray and averaged 6.6 yards per carry compared to Murray’s 2.8.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0): Last week: 12
The Buccaneers didn’t appear to have any rust from their bye week in the first weekend due to Hurricane Irma, as they easily dispatched the Bears 29-7 at home. Despite only sacking Mike Glennon once, the Bucs defense displayed their playmaking ability by forcing two interceptions and recovering two fumbles.
12. Detroit Lions (2-0): Last week: 14
Winning on the road in the NFL is tough, and beating a playoff team on the road is even harder. The Lions were unfazed by the Giants, and were able to keep Odell Beckham, Jr. quiet for the duration of the contest en route to a 24-10 victory in the Meadowlands.
13. Dallas Cowboys (1-1): Last week: 5
The Cowboys fell to pieces in the Denver altitude, as their running backs totaled just 16 yards. It is definitely too soon to write off last year’s NFC top seed, but there are certainly cracks in the Cowboys’ foundation.
14. Carolina Panthers (2-0): Last week: 8
Losing Greg Olsen to a broken foot could further bring down a Panthers offense that scored just nine points against the Bills at home. Cam Newton went down briefly but didn’t miss a snap, though Carolina’s O-Line was exposed repeatedly throughout the game.
15. Baltimore Ravens (2-0): Last week: 13
The Ravens have opened the season with two divisional wins, even if they have come against two of the league’s worst teams. The defense continues to make plays, as Baltimore collected four interceptions and recovered a fumble, but allowing a migraine-hampered DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan to combine for 300 yards in the air isn’t a good sign.
16. Miami Dolphins (1-0): Last week: 23
The Dolphins eked out a win over the Chargers in LA on a last-second missed field goal in Jay Cutler’s first game out of retirement. Jay Ajayi ran wild over the Chargers defense, totaling 122 yards rushing on 28 carries.
17. New York Giants (0-2): Last week: 10
After putting up only 13 points over the first two weeks of the season, there is definitely trouble brewing in New York. Gametime decision Odell Beckham Jr. risked further injury to be a complete non-factor as he registered only four grabs for 36 yards against a Lions defense not particularly known for their pass defense.
18. Minnesota Vikings (1-1): Last week: 17
With Case Keenum replacing the injured Sam Bradford, the Vikings put up a dud of a game in Pittsburgh as Keenum threw for just 167 yards. With Bradford’s injury believed to be a bone bruise, it is likely he will return next week.
19. Washington Redskins (1-1): Last week: 22
Washington bounced back from their disappointing season opener by going into LA and beating the Rams 27-20. Backup running back Chris Thompson could supplant Rob Kelley in the near future, as the fourth-year rusher totaled 106 yards and two touchdowns on a meager six touches.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1): Last week: 18
After their dominating performance in Houston in Week One, the Jaguars couldn’t get much going against the Titans at home. The loss of Allen Robinson clearly affected Blake Bortles’ performance, as the embattled signal-caller threw two picks and had a passer rating of just 63.7.
21. Houston Texans (1-1): Last week: 21
Even though the Texans were able to win on the road on Thursday Night Football, their performance wasn’t encouraging. DeShaun Watson had a terrific touchdown run, but contributed very little in the passing game as he was held to 125 yards in the air.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2): Last week: 20
Two weeks into the season, and the Chargers lost two games at the final buzzer as rookie Younghoe Koo was unable to convert makeable field goals. Nonetheless, Philip Rivers’ 31-for-39, 331 yard effort and Hunter Henry’s increased output are both good signs.
23. Arizona Cardinals (1-1): Last week: 19
It took an overtime period for the Cardinals to defeat the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts in Indianapolis, but a win’s a win. With David Johnson out for the foreseeable future, veteran Chris Johnson was plucked off the street and led the team with 44 rushing yards.
24. Los Angeles Rams (1-1): Last week: 25
The Rams got Aaron Donald back from his contract holdout, but his impact wasn’t enough to top the Redskins at home. Todd Gurley is starting to look like his former self, however, as the young runner gained 136 all-purpose yards and hit paydirt twice.
25. New Orleans Saints (0-2): Last week: 24
The Saints pass defense hasn’t been even adequate in recent memory, and stood no chance against a motivated Tom Brady. Adrian Peterson, the Saints marquee offseason signing, once again failed to make an impact as he gained just 26 yards on eight carries.
26. Buffalo Bills (1-1): Last week: 26
Losing in a one-score game to a good Panthers team in Carolina can be chalked up as a win for Buffalo, as their defense gave Cam Newton headaches all game and racked up six takedowns of the former MVP. LeSean McCoy had an uncharacteristic game, gaining only nine rushing yards on 12 carries.
27. San Francisco 49ers (0-2): Last week: 30
A field goal away from beating the Seahawks in the league’s most inhospitable stadium for opposing teams, San Francisco’s defense stepped it up in a big way during Week Two. Additionally, Carlos Hyde ran roughshod over one of the NFL’s most feared defenses, gaining 124 yards on 15 carries.
28. Chicago Bears (0-2): Last week: 27
After an encouraging Week One, the Bears came back to Earth as they were embarrassed on the road by the Buccaneers. Jordan Howard’s struggles continued, and the Bears offense as a whole only gained 20 yards on the ground.
29. Indianapolis Colts (0-2): Last week: 32
Looking moderately better with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback than with Scott Tolzien, the Colts were able to force an overtime period against Arizona. Indy was shredded in the passing game by Carson Palmer, but held their ground in scoring territory.
30. Cleveland Browns (0-2): Last week: 28
DeShone Kizer’s migraine problems could become a serious problem for Cleveland if they persist, as the rookie struggled mightily against Baltimore and was briefly replaced by Kevin Hogan. Second-year wideout Rashard Higgins is a player to watch, however, as he caught seven balls for 95 yards on 11 targets.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2): Last week: 29
This Bengals season is already looking nightmarish, and Marvin Lewis’s seat has to be on fire. Andy Dalton didn’t have a terrible game, but the entire Bengals offense appears to be stuck in first gear.
32. New York Jets (0-2): Last week: 31
The Jets were dismantled in the Black Hole against Oakland, conceding 45 points in the blowout loss. Not only was Gang Green incapable of keeping Oakland out of the end zone, but they didn’t register a single hit on Derek Carr in the entire game.