Week 2 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Green Bay Packers (1-0) Previous Ranking: 1
I had Green Bay at the top coming into the season because of their returning offense, which we saw sparks of against the Seahawks in plays such as the offside draw bomb to Jordy Nelson in the endzone; however, the story of this game was defense. No surprise there when it comes to the Seahawks, but the Packers defense looked…actually good, after being decimated by injuries last season. I expected them to be much stronger, which they were, but I think that Seattle’s terrible offensive line play may have inflated their performance a bit. That being said, Green Bay is still at the top.
BTW: Ty Montgomery looked legit, getting a CAREER HIGH 19 carries and a TD against a TOUGH Seahawks defense.
Next game vs. Atlanta Falcons: W
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) Previous Ranking: 2
The Steelers stay at their No. 2 spot for week 2 for a few reasons. The offense looked good on the road, with the exception of the rushing game, but we all expect LeVeon Bell to shake off the rust as the season moves on (after missing all of training camp). A lot of people have been very negative on Cleveland for a long time, and so they should be, but Cleveland has made strides the past 2 seasons even if you can’t see it in the Win-Loss column yet, and last week’s game showed you a glimpse of that, WITHOUT MYLES GARRETT, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick. The Steelers held the Browns off and will continue to roll and pick up steam throughout the season.
BTW: TJ Watt looked legit with 2 sacks and 1 interception in his rookie debut. Look for LeVeon to get involved in the passing game this week.
Next game @ Minnesota Vikings: W
3. Oakland Raiders (1-0) Previous Ranking: 7
The Raiders are being underestimated by a lot of people, and I can understand the skepticism; however, this team won 12 games last year with an emerging superstar in Derek Carr, before he broke his leg in Week 16, which prevented them from winning the division, a top seed, a bye, and a potential playoff win. Guess what? He’s back….and so is Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. The defense has continued to improve, as they showed by holding the explosive Titans offense to only
BTW: 1st round CB Gareon Conley makes his debut this week against a Jets team that will be a nice transition to the NFL for him.
Next game vs. New York Jets: W
4. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) Previous Ranking: 18
The Kansas City Chiefs shocked the world with their CRUSHING upset of the Patriots on a Thursday Night Football season opener, where the New England unveiled its championship banner, while Roger Goodell was in the house. Alex Smith didn’t just look good…he looked great. He made all the reads that he’s accustomed to making as a “game manager” with one exception, he started NAILING the long ball. Tyreke Hill has become what the Chiefs had envisioned Jeremy Maclin would be, but for WAY less money. RB Kareem Hunt set the NFL rookie debut yardage record at 256 TOTAL YARDS AND 3 TDs against a Patriots defense that was considered elite coming into the season by many (not me).
BTW: Although it was impressive win, it was only one game, and the loss of S Eric Berry is a HUGE one. We’ll see how they adjust in a home game against the flying Eagles.
Next game vs Philadelphia Eagles: W
5. Carolina Panthers (1-0) Previous Ranking: 5
The Carolina Panthers defense is back. The defensive unit, led by Luuuuuuke Kuechly, limited the 49ers to a measly 3 points in their own house. Yes I know, it was the Niners, but if you actually watched the defense, they were shut down. All of the gaps left from the 2015-16 offseason were filled and health has returned this squad to form. Cam Newton looked alright in his first game since his rotator cuff surgery, but he only did what he had (which wasn’t much). We got a dose (small? large?) of how much Christian McCaffery can and will be used, as an inside/outside/wildcat runner, slot/outside receiver, kickoff/punt returner, and even decoy. I expect this offense to heavily rely on the run as it has in years past, for the playbook to evolve as the season progresses, and we see what doesn’t work, what works, and what REALLY works.
BTW: Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin were barely used. Expect that to change against a Bills defense that has been trending down ever since Rex Ryan took over and lost the head coaching job. Also, the new head coach is a former Panthers coach.
Next game vs. Buffalo Bills: W
6. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) Previous Ranking: 3
The Seahawks offensive line looked about as abysmal as it ever has, even worse than we expected it to look, but the defense was superb as always. This game would’ve been much closer than it ended up had the referees not negated a clear touchdown by the defense off of an interception; however, the Packers were just better. Eddie Lacy was nowhere to be seen, Russell Wilson was running for his life, and the team chemistry continues to be an issue in an otherwise loaded roster. They’ve got an easy home game next week against one of the league’s worst teams in the 49ers, but the Niners defense didn’t look half bad with Rueben Foster out there last week against the Panthers. I expect the offense to struggle again, but for the defense to pitch a near shutout.
BTW: Thomas Rawls, who was inactive last week, should be back in the lineup, but Chris Carson is a name to watch in this crowded and ineffective backfield. Maybe some clarity will be provided (probably not).
Next game vs. San Francisco 49ers: W
7. New England Patriots (0-1) Previous Ranking: 6
The defending Super Bowl Champions got DESTROYED, in their own house, while hanging up their new banner. Tom Brady looked good at times, and not so good at others. Mike Gillislee, who was signed from the Buffalo Bills, had a surprisingly big workload in week 1, gaining THREE TOUCHDOWNS. The defense looked horrible, and that wasn’t entirely because of Alex Smith’s big night, OR the rookie RB Hunt’s even bigger (arguably) night. Pass rush was a question mark, but Bill Belicheck will make the necessary adjustments to get this team back on track against a Saints team that’s boasted one of the worst, if not the worst, defenses in the league the past few years, and an offense that struggled last week. I didn’t have the Patriots as high as most to begin with this season, so there is only a slight drop in the rankings here from No. 6 to No. 7.
BTW: James White picked up where he left off catching a ton of balls out of the backfield. Expect that to continue, especially in New Orleans, where I think he’ll have at least 10 targets. Danny Amendola went down in a another WR loss for the Pats so look for newly acquired Philip Dorsett to get involved with Gronk having a monster game.
Next game @ New Orleans Saints: W
8. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) Previous Ranking: 9
The Falcons were also not as high on my list as they were on others, so they actually get a slight bump up to No. 8. Atlanta proved to be pretty underwhelming against a Chicago team that I had as second to last in the league coming into the season. Only 12 touches for Devonta Freeman; a lucky 80-yard TD to Austin Hooper on blown coverage; and THREE DROPS by the Chicago Bears in the endzone that would have won the game. The Falcons should be fine overall as the season progresses, but the way they played combined with the Packers strong performance, sets up a Sunday Night Football grudge match that the Falcons probably won’t pull out.
BTW: The Super Bowl Hangover is real. Just ask last year’s MVP Cam Newton.
Next game SNF vs. Green Bay Packers: L
9. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) Previous Ranking: 17
To be fair, I had Dallas ranked under the assumption that Zeke would be suspended for this game along with five others. The Cowboys pass rush looked surprisingly good with DeMarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton on a shaky defense that projected to take a step back this season. The offense looked as good as ever, and Dak Prescott actually looks poised to take a step forward, as opposed to the regression that most (me included) expected. He came in and knew the protections, made the necessary adjustments and moved the chains against a strong Giants defense that just couldn’t get off of the field. This win wasn’t quite as impressive as it looked because of the absence of Odell Beckham, Jr., but it was impressive nonetheless. Big jump for the Cowboys and nice momentum to ride into Denver against another strong defense.
BTW: Terrance Williams got a lot of looks and Cole Beasley made one helluva catch that even raised OBJ’s eyebrows, but the Broncos should be able to move the ball, which will keep their defense fresh enough to pull out a win.
Next game @ Denver Broncos: L
10. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) Previous Ranking: 20
All aboard the Wentz wagon! Philadelphia looked explosive on offense, even with the loss of Jordan Matthews. I loved the No. 2 overall pick in his rookie season last year and was expecting his success to continue as he develops chemistry with his new weapons and develops as a player. I don’t want to overreact to this big win, and Kansas City on the road is going to be a much tougher challenge than the Redskins at home.
BTW: Nelson Agholor has been getting preseason hype for 2 years now, so maybe we’re seeing some of that come to fruition. Blount had 14 carries last week too, but I’m not ready to call him the workhorse back in Philly yet.
Next game @ Kansas City Chiefs: L
11. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) Previous Ranking: 19
Minnesota came out on MNF looking like a wild card team as they pounded the Saints in Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota. The defense was just as legit as it was last year, except now they have a decent enough offense to keep them off the field a little longer. The revamped offensive line with all new starters along with rookie RB Dalvin Cook signaled to the fans that a new era of Vikings football is beginning, with AP watching from the sidelines. It’s Sam Bradford’s second year in this offense and now he’s actually got a run game and a little time to sit in the pocket. Let’s see where this thing goes, but the Steelers have an even more explosive offense than the Saints, and actually have a defense on the other side of the ball.
BTW: Don’t forget Sam Bradford was a former Heisman trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick. Big purchase Latavius Murray fumbled on his first carry and lost any chance at a starting gig while Cook ran away with the job and from Saints defenders.
Next game vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: L
12. Detroit Lions (1-0) Previous Ranking: 24
Matthew Stafford got PAID this offseason, becoming the highest paid player in NFL history, which is just whichever franchise QB signs a new deal, following Andrew Luck and Derek Carr. Stafford’s clutch factor and big arm have always been there, and he’s got quite a few weapons now with the possibility of an actual run game, but this defense is what stood out to me. Stafford threw a pick-six on his first throw, but redeemed himself with a 4 TD performance against a Cardinals team that suffered a terrible loss in David Johnson’s injury. I’m not counting on the Lions staying up this high, but they deserve to be here…for now.
BTW: Kenny Golloday had a nice 2 TD coming out party. Maybe we have a deep receiving core in the making here if Eric Ebron can put anything together. OBJ is questionable for Monday night’s game, and even if he plays he won’t be at 100%.
Next game MNF @ New York Giants: W
13. Denver Broncos (1-0) Previous Ranking: 12
The Broncos defense…is still the Broncos defense. They held Philip Rivers off in the final seconds of the game with an icing of the kicker on the last play. The Chargers offense is high powered when healthy, and so is their defense, but Trevor Siemian and CJ Anderson impressed with a steady dose of moving the chains. Emmanuel Sanders dropped a few balls that he shouldn’t have, and Jamaal Charles got a little involved. If they can stop the run against Dallas, they should be fine, but that’s easier said than done.
BTW: Denver is a team to watch as they’re only two years removed from a Super Bowl win with virtually the same team.
Next game vs. Dallas Cowboys: W
14. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) Previous Ranking: 15
I had the Baltimore Ravens higher than most people too, so only a slight bump here. With another stacked defensive unit, and the addition of Jeremy Maclin and the health of the other receiver on the roster, Baltimore should take a step forward. Danny Woodhead was a big addition for a team that is very run heavy and likes to dump it off to the the RB, but eh suffered a hamstring injury in the 1st quarter of the 20-0 shutout of the Red Rocket and the “Cincinnati Boners” as Matthew Berry calls them. Flacco didn’t really have to do anything, and the Ravens should want to keep it that way.
BTW: The pass game didn’t need to be utilized last week, but look for Maclin to get involved with a TD of some sort next week
Next game vs. Cleveland Browns: W
15. Tennessee Titans (0-1) Previous Ranking: 8
The Tennessee Titans had a tough, tough week 1 matchup that most thought that they would win (not me). The Raiders are one of the league’s best teams and Tennessee just couldn’t establish the run, which is what they’re entire offense and defense is based on. If they can’t get it going against next week, look for Derrick Henry to get a heavier workload. The Titans should climb back up the rankings, but for now this is where they sit. If they contain Fournette this week, they should have a pretty easy go at Jacksonville.
BTW: Don’t be surprised if DeMarco Murray gets put on the trading block this season. The Titans didn’t expect Henry to fall as far as he did in the draft and he is A LOT cheaper than Murray and probably just as effective.
Next game @ Jacksonville Jaguars: W
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) Previous Ranking: 16
Tampa Bay didn’t play in week 1 because of the looming hurricane, so they’re going to just stay put. They now have a much easier first game in the Bears at home as opposed to traveling to Miami, but now they have traded a lost bye week for extra preparation against a team that is frankly not worth it as they welcome QB Mike Glennon home. They’ll have to play 3 straight road games to start the 2nd half of the season, and I think it may cost them a playoff spot.
BTW: Doug Martin’s suspension is now going to be pushed another week. Also not good for the Bucs as they’ll be without him against a strong Giants defense, having him return against the Patriots…also not good.
Next game vs. Chicago Bears: W
17. New York Giants (0-1) Previous Ranking: 10
The Giants looked horrible on Sunday Night Football against division rival Dallas Cowboys, who just dominated the line of scrimmage. Brandon Marshall had a goose egg with OBJ watching from the sidelines, proving that this offense just does not work without him. There was no run game, which was expected, but they couldn’t even get into the red zone to give Brandon Marshall a toss up ball at the very least. He’s listed as questionable going into week 2, and the Giants better start scraping every spare dollar they have around for OBJ’s new contract while scouting offensive lineman for the next draft, otherwise it might be time to start looking for a young mobile QB to replace Eli Manning soon.
BTW: OBJ is that important to this offense, and in turn the defense, who was just on the field too much to be effective.
Next game MNF vs. Detroit Lions: L
18. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) Previous Ranking: 11
The Chargers actually looked really good. They’ve got health on both sides of the ball after finding their running game with Melvin Gordon. Philip Rivers is still a top QB in this league, and had it not been for a TO icing the kicker, followed by a fingertip block, they might have beat the Denver Broncos…but they didn’t. This seems to be a running storyline with the Chargers as they continue to lose close games. I think that the confidence of this young kicker may take a dive going into next week in what looks to be another close game outcome.
BTW: If and when Mike Williams comes back, this team could be dangerous, but by that time it might already be too late for a playoff push (but hey, who doesn’t love a good draft pick when you’re a good team?).
Next game vs. Miami Dolphins: L
19. Los Angeles Rams (1-0) Previous Ranking: 26
The Rams played a Pop Warner team as Max Kellerman alluded to the Colts sans Andrew Luck. Backup QB Scott Tolzien made people wonder how he has a job in the NFL, while Colin Kaepernick does not. Jared Goff looks much improved in season 2 so far, but this defense is just not worth anything, and the longest drive of the day for the Colts was five plays…FIVE PLAYS. The Rams are going to be a bit inflated in this week’s rankings, and we should better be able to gauge their talent against the Redskins in what should be a close matchup
BTW: WR Cooper Kupp has lived up to his training camp hype and the connection with Goff seems real. He and his wife even moved in with him this offseason to train and better get to know each other, plus WR Sammy Watkins looked pretty good too.
Next game vs. Washington Redskins: L
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) Previous Ranking: 27
Jacksonville routed the Texans in a surprise win that had rookie QB Deshaun Watson relieve starter Tom Savage by the second half. The rookie Fournette was what we thought he would be as a runner but proved to be an adept pass catcher out of the backfield too. For a team that boasts an elite defense, they just need to continue to lean on the run game with a few deep shots from Bortles to keep defenses honest in order to succeed at a middling level. Allen Robinson was lost to a season ending injury, which is never good but doesn’t necessarily mean the end for this team. The Jags actually have one of the deepest receiving corps in the league. The Titans can actually move the ball unlike the Texans, so the Jags don’t figure to repeat last week’s performance.
BTW: This defense had double digit sacks, but you can’t expect that every week. Don’t get too excited yet Jags fans, Blake Bortles is still your QB…for now. Maybe an Alex Smith acquisition could be a huge move here.
Next game vs. Tennessee Titans: L
21. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) Previous Ranking: 4
David Johnson. Gone. Carson Palmer. Garbage. Obviously, the loss of the No.1 fantasy football draft pick is a huge loss, but luckily the Cardinals are deep at RB and resigned Chris Johnson to the roster; however, depending on how long he’s out, there might not be anything for the Cardinals to play for to bring him back. I thought that Carson Palmer could return to 2015 form to lead this offensively and defensively stacked team to a deep playoff run and one of the top records in the NFL. I was wrong. I think it’s time to call time of death on Palmer’s career, because at this point, he’s like a vegetable on a ventilator and someone just needs to pull the plug. Harsh? Maybe, but he’s reached “the cliff” as Max Kellerman likes to call it, and there is no indication that he’s coming back.
BTW: AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. At least they’re playing an even worse team with an even worse week 1 showing this week. This game will be closer than people think, but Arizona should pull it out with their defense.
Next game @ Indianapolis Colts: W
22. Miami Dolphins (0-0) Previous Ranking: 22
Miami, just like Tampa Bay, is staying put since they didn’t get to play a game in week 1. Jay Cutler was a great addition to this team once QB Ryan Tannehill went down, given the familiarity with the playbook and the chemistry with Head Coach Adam Gase. Cutler posted his best year under Gase, and he’s got weapons at every position along with a pretty stout defense. The Dolphins are going to fly under the radar until they prove otherwise, but I like the upside here. I think the matchup with the Chargers will be a nice test and a close matchup that comes down to the last possession.
BTW: Cutler called second year WR Devante Parker a “faster Alshon” in an interview before the season, so look for some big play potential there with Jarvis catching a ton of underneath balls to move the chains while they alternate with the ground and pound game with Ajayi.
Next game @ San Diego Chargers: W
23. Washington Redskins (0-1) Previous Ranking: 21
The Redskins disappointed in their opener, but they’ve got a lot of new faces on the offensive side that haven’t had time to gel quite yet. Pryor didn’t have the big showing that some predicted, but I think this team will continue to improve as the season goes on. They play the Rams this week, and I think they win a close one on the shoulders of Captain Kirk, who is still playing for a contract…again. This team will be average until (if ever) Cousins has a signature game that sparks some production like the “You Like That?!” game two seasons ago, and the “Ooouuueee” game last season.
BTW: Newly acquired Terrelle Pryor is legit. Give him some time as he adjusts to a new team, like he adjusted to a new position, converting from QB to WR in his first few years in the NFL.
Next game @ Los Angeles Rams: W
24. Houston Texans (1-1) Previous Ranking: 14
Houston looked pretty bad last week and in Thursday night’s game, but the QB of the future rookie Deshaun Watson came through in his first start on his birthday at Cincinnati after getting a shoutout from Mia Khalifa. This was an ugly game and an ugly win…but it was a win. DW gets the W, and the Texans have found their QB for the foreseeable future. A big time 49-yard scramble and TD run proved to be the difference in the game and in the choice to start the National Champion Quarterback. Once some continuity gets going and the budding star gets to know the playbook and adjusts to the next level, the Texans might be looking at something, but until then we’re just gonna sit you right here.
BTW: Clowney caught a fumble and returned it a long way to help set up a score, and the defense picked up where the left off with J.J. Watt making a game ending layout of the Bengals’ center on a circus play.
TNF @ Cincinnati Bengals: W
25. New Orleans Saints (0-1) Previous Ranking: 25
The Saints are about who I expected they’d be. Improved defense, but the offense regressed without Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead catching passes. The Adrian Peterson addition to the Saints made absolutely no sense to me when it happened, and it still doesn’t. The only way that it would work is if you wanted to make sure that Ingram stays fresh, while controlling the game clock with time of possession to keep your defense off of the field. That being said, you have Drew Brees, so you’re not going to do that. You’re going to sling the ball, and the Vikings’ defense made that too hard. I think this is and has been an obvious rebuilding situation that New Orleans is trying desperately to fight. It’s time to trade Drew Brees for as much as you can get and start investing in young players while you lean on the run game and look for the next great QB. They play the Patriots this week, who are looking for a big win, so they’ll be 0-2 on Monday.
BTW: Adrian Peterson was seen giving some lip and death stare to Sean Payton as he sat on the sidelines watching rookie RB Dalvin Cook make Vikings’ fans forget about him.
Next game vs. New England Patriots: L
26. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) Previous Ranking: 13
Once again the Cincinnati Boners
TNF vs. Houston Texans: L
27. Buffalo Bills (0-1) Previous Ranking: 29
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28. Chicago Bears (0-1) Previous Ranking: 31
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29. Cleveland Browns (0-1) Previous Ranking: 28
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30. San Francisco 49ers (0-1) Previous Ranking: 30
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31. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) Previous Ranking: 23
Newly acquired Jacoby Brissett from the Patriots should get the nod for the start next week against Arizona. This defense is still terrible and while Brissett is an upgrade (bigger than most think) from Tolzien, they should still fall to the Cardinals, but don’t be surprised if the game is closer than you think after getting
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32. New York Jets (0-1) Previous Ranking: 32
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