Week 2 NFL Power Rankings: Bills Are The Clear Class Of The League, And Brady's Bucs Look Just Fine
Having digested all the overreactions and hot takes that inevitably arise following pro football's opening kickoff, it's time for some NFL power rankings before Week 2 gets underway.
No need to prolong things with a boring intro…
32. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 26)
I'm a Hard Knocks fan. This hurts. I want to see Dan Campbell do well. They ran the ball well with D'Andre Swift, but as long as Jared Goff is your quarterback, you're only going to go so far. And I expected more out of the Lions' defense, which got rolled by the Eagles. That 38-35 final score is deceptive, as Goff pulled an all-time backdoor cover for the second season opener in a row.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 23)
Trevor Lawrence was under siege against the Chase Young-less Commanders. Did well to take only two sacks on 10 QB hits. I thought the Jags were going to come out firing in Week 1. Little did I know Carson Wentz, even with two trademark INTs, would throw for 4 TDs on their asses. Looks like the rebuild in Duval County is very much a work in progress.
30. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 18)
This has a lot to do with Dak Prescott's injury. Also has to do with how poorly he was playing before breaking his thumb. Everyone was anticipating CeeDee Lamb's emergence as a legit WR1. Two catches on 11 targets. I don't know recall seeing such inefficiency. With Dak out for a month or so at least, Dallas is in big trouble no matter how great Micah Parsons is on the other side of the ball.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 22)
My Bengals lost to Pittsburgh in the biggest shit show of a game. Cincinnati's long snapper tore his biceps, and two awry snaps caused a winning extra point and OT field goal to fail. The Steelers were spotted four first-half turnovers and five for the afternoon and still barely won. TJ Watt partially tore his pec, which is a catastrophe but isn't season-ending because TJ Watt isn't strictly speaking human. Still, Pittsburgh's offense blows and Watt's absence looms large.
28. New York Jets (Last Week: 29)
I love the cornerback tandem of Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed. Gang Green's defensive front got after it against Baltimore, too. Big problem: Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback. He whose entire legacy rests on many Anquan Boldin jump balls and Rahim Moore's historically awful play on a deep pass. Hurry back, Zach Wilson. You can't possibly be worse.
27. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 32)
Monday night was Seattle's Super Bowl. Two fluky fumbles on the 1-yard line did Denver in, as did some baffling clock management down the stretch by Nathaniel Hackett. Still, I'll give the Seahawks credit. Geno Smith looked way better than he had any right to and the defense held pretty strong against a supposedly loaded cast of Broncos skill players in the 17-16 win.
26. New York Giants (Last Week: 31)
Yeah, the G-Men needed a missed kick at the horn to emerge victorious. Nevertheless, going into Tennessee and taking down the AFC's reigning No. 1 seed is no small task. I'm liking how my Saquon Barkley Over 900.5 rushing yards season prop is looking after he just piled up 164 yards. The NFL is better when New York/NJ teams are good. Let's see if the Giants can keep it going.
25. Houston Texans (Last Week: 30)
I'm a Davis Mills truther. His fumble was costly, yet the Colts were able to tee off on him because the Texans couldn't run the ball and protect a 20-3 lead. Mills has 14 TDs to only one INT in his young NFL career at home. Houston played quality defense for three quarters. Low-key: Lovie Smith with a decent QB and not having to recruit may be a better combination than we're all prepared to admit.
24. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 28)
If elite EDGE defender Myles Garrett and bruising tailback Nick Chubb play like they did this past Sunday, it pains me to say Cleveland could be a real factor in the AFC playoff picture. A single blocker cannot take Garrett without committing a penalty, and I'm convinced the first defender has never tackled Chubb to the turf. Jacoby Brissett sucks. As long as he doesn't turn it over, the Browns should be competitive.
23. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 25)
Yeah…I had the Falcons -2.5 alt spread and they were up 26-10 with 11:35 remaining in the last quarter. Jameis Winston had 97 passing yards on 20 attempts at that time. Atlanta's cornerback tandem of A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward gives them a chance to pull a stunner every week. I don't quite know how to explain the loss except to say, "Yup, they're still the Falcons."
22. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 24)
It was basically a pool party in that 49ers-Bears game. I'm not going to discredit Chicago's win. This team kept their composure, essentially caused San Francisco to self-destruct with penalties and managed two TDs in horrid conditions while facing one of the NFL's premier defenses. At least for now, Da Bears earn some respect.
21. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 16)
Even with offensive line upgrades this offseason, Carolina was out of sync facing the edge tandem of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. The Panthers' reigning No. 2 defense couldn't tackle Nick Chubb, either. Cleveland had the full book on Baker Mayfield. In spite of all that and Christian McCaffrey rushing for only 33 yards, the outcome came down to a 58-yard field goal. Not overreacting to the Panthers' slow start just yet.
20. New England Patriots (Last Week: 21)
As bad as the Pats looked as Matt Patricia took the reins from Josh McDaniels as offensive play-caller, New England shut down Miami's rushing attack. The Dolphins are a damn good team. I'm not out on the Patriots. They should've taken replacing McDaniels a lot more seriously is all.
19. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 19)
Another Week 1 loser whose outlook is ugly in the moment. I don't like the Cardinals on defense, nor do I like the fact that they caved to Kyler Murray and paid the brat. Where is his incentive to study film harder if it's no longer in his contract? I don't know. If Arizona can somehow get back on track off the Chiefs blowout, and maintain their trend of hot starts in recent years until DeAndre Hopkins' six-game suspension is up, things may not be so bad in the desert.
18. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 20)
As I said earlier, Jameis Winston had 97 passing yards with 11:35 left in the fourth quarter. Possibly less. I just went off the screenshot documenting all the Falcons' collapses. New Orleans allowed an alarming amount of yards facing a suspect-all-around Atlanta offense, so I can't put the Saints too high. The absence of Sean Payton sure looked glaring through three quarters.
17. Washington Commanders (Last Week: 27)
If Carson Wentz can just not be a flat-out idiot and his o-line holds up decently well, this Commanders team could surprise a lot of people. They have two excellent pass-catching backs in Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic. It appears Curtis Samuel is finally healthy. First-round rookie Jahan Dotson had two TD grabs. Oh, and Terry McLaurin is a strong WR1. Washington could rise even higher if Chase Young's absence becomes more of a non-factor than expected.
16. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 15)
Not going to kill the Colts here despite a rough showing against the Texans, who were friskier than expected. Matt Ryan is still getting used to his new supporting cast and change of scenery. Although I don't love the roster, if Matty Ice makes good decisions and Jonathan Taylor keeps piling up yards, Indy should be OK. Emphasis on OK. Nothing special. The exact middle of the league at No. 16 feels right for them.
15. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 17)
Bumping the Titans up two spots for losing to the Giants seems counterintuitive. I just think Tennessee came out flat and New York was amped up with a new coach. In the long run, Mike Vrabel has always found a way to get this team competitive. Nothing I saw in Week 1 makes me think the Titans are in danger of losing the AFC South crown.
14. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 11)
Oh man. Everyone is ready to jump all over Trey Lance. Bring it on. I'm buying his stock. Dude has Kyle Shanahan helping him out. George Kittle didn't even play in Week 1. Chicago's Soldier Field was a downright mess. I'm docking the 49ers for their 12 penalties and 99 yards. Clean that up, play in actual decent weather, and I think the perception of Lance and San Francisco will change in drastic fashion soon.
13. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 12)
Lamar Jackson had a promising start, albeit facing the Jets. Good for him. All the noise around his contract situation and he came out firing. Where I have concern is the Ravens' rushing attack, which totaled a mere 63 yards on 21 attempts. Is Baltimore's offensive line a problem? Seems like it. The Dolphins are going to be a tough Week 2 opponent.
12. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 10)
Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Denver in the Seahawks game. Nathaniel Hackett vomited all over himself in the final minute and a half or so. The Broncos are the clear fourth-best team in the AFC West right now. That's still good enough for 12th in the power rankings. Tells you something about that damn loaded division.
11. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 5)
Ugly Week 1. Make your R-E-L-A-X jokes. The Packers lost 38-3 to the Saints to open last season and were just fine. I'm not panicking despite knocking Green Bay out of the top 10 from their previous fifth spot. Whatever happens from here, Aaron Rodgers' passing attack isn't going to be as aesthetically pleasing without the services of Davante Adams.
10. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 8)
Speaking of Adams, he shined in his Raiders debut. I thought Las Vegas' defense held up better versus the run than expected. Holding Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Co. to seven second-half points was an impressive feat. Derek Carr isn't gonna throw three picks every week. Could've been a better start for the Silver and Black under Josh McDaniels. Oh well. Feels like the Raiders have enough good talent and coaching to return to the playoffs.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 13)
Gosh I want to buy in on Jalen Hurts. I so badly want to. He's good enough to carry the Eagles' loaded roster to an NFC East crown. Hence this top-10 ranking. Having said that, Hurts can't carry the ball 17 times per start like he did versus Detroit and expect to hold up for 17 games plus the postseason.
8. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 9)
I've been banging the Mike McDaniel drum all offseason. SWEET VINDICATION, BABY!!! Bet your ass I had the Dolphins winning and covering. Tua looks pretty fuckin' good when you actually give him competent pass protection and good weapons. Miami couldn't even establish the run against the Pats and Tua still kept it together. Bodes well for the Fins if you ask me.
7. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 1)
Baffles me to no end when the Rams go with empty, five-wide sets when their five-man line cannot pass protect to save their lives. They ran into that Bills buzzsaw and got a quick reality check. The reigning Super Bowl champs should right the ship when they host Atlanta in Week 2 as long as WR2 Allen Robinson doesn't pull a second straight disappearing act.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 2)
The first half was waking nightmare fuel. Joe Burrow will, at maximum, have two more five-turnover game in his entire NFL career from here on out. Not going to be a frequent occurrence. Facing the likes of Cooper Rush and Joe Flacco as opposing starting QBs the next two weeks, I'm confident the Bengals get back on track before Week 4's Thursday night clash with the Dolphins.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 7)
I hesitate to put the Bolts this high. Feels like an inevitable jinx. Their top receiver Keenan Allen has been ruled out out ahead of Thursday's divisional tilt with the Chiefs. They might get blown off the field at Arrowhead Stadium. Brandon Staley's fourth-down decision-making is still a point of concern. You can only go so wrong with such a loaded defense and Justin Herbert under center, however.
4. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 14)
Kirk Cousins is playing for a new coach who actually likes him. Dalvin Cook looks like a top-flight tailback as usual. Justin Jefferson is among the flat-out best wide receivers in the sport and torched the Packers for 184 yards. Minnesota's defensive unit didn't look great on paper heading into the season. After what they just did, come to think of it, the Vikings do have elite players at every level: Danielle Hunter up front, Eric Kendricks at linebacker and Harrison Smith on the back end. Good vibes for the Vikes.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 6)
No Tyreek Hill, no problem for Patrick Mahomes. Turns out, those who theorized the Chiefs may be harder to stop since you can't plan for one specific wideout to shut down were proven right — at least to begin the year. Mahomes threw five TDs. Travis Kelce is still around doing things. Rookie DB Trent McDuffie is injured and that's a bummer. As long as this offense is humming and KC's D doesn't take too many more hits health-wise, a fifth straight AFC title game seems likely.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 4)
All the noise, all the doubters, and people really thought Tom Brady wasn't gonna strut into JerryWorld and beat the Cowboys into submission? Come on now. This is the GOAT we're talking about. Difficult as Week 1 always is to forecast and as much of a roller-coaster as it was for me, I took pride in nailing the shit out of this pick. Even before Dak's injury, Tampa was shutting Dallas down. Leonard Fournette looked to be in midseason form as well. If the Bucs have that type of balance in the running game to complement TB12, look the fuck out.
1. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 3)
What more is there to say that someone else hasn't already said? It almost looked like Ken Dorsey was an upgrade at offensive coordinator over Brian Daboll, who just pushed the Giants above .500 for the first time in years!! Josh Allen was in complete command, Buffalo's d-line is deep as hell and Von Miller apparently has some deal with the devil, fountain of youth thing going on. Overreactions aside, I can't think if a legitimate argument against the Bills as the NFL's current best team.