There is no crazier month in the NFL season than September, when up is down, down is up and the Bills are undefeated. Are the Lions for real? How bad are the Colts? Are the Ravens AMAZING or TERRIBLE? Inconsistent performances early in the season often result in huge leaps up and down the power rankings, and this year is no different. Keep reading to see where your team landed after the first two crazy weeks of the season.
NFL Power Rankings
Last Week: 3
New England Patriots (2-0)Few passers have the ability to combine huge gains with pinpoint accuracy like Tom Brady. Brady leads the league in yards per attempt and he’s only one-tenth of a percentage point behind Matt Schaub for the league lead in completion percentage. It’s a passing league and the Pats have the best passer, therefore, New England sits atop the rankings this week.
Last Week: 1
Green Bay Packers (2-0)Safety Nick Collins is out for the rest of the season and last year’s breakout star, cornerback Tramon Williams, has a bruised shoulder. This is worrisome news for a Packers defense that has already given up 851 passing yards this season. For now, the Packers are 2-0 because of the arm of Aaron Rodgers (5 TDs, 0 INTs), but they’ll need to shore up the secondary if they want this season to end like last season.
Last Week: 5
Houston Texans (2-0)This is only the Texans’ third 2-0 start in franchise history. Can they ride that momentum to their first ever playoff appearance? With three games against playoff teams from last year on the schedule in the next month (@NO, PIT, @BAL), we might know the answer to that question sooner rather than later.
Last Week: 6
New Orleans Saints (1-1)The Saints hung with the defending Super Bowl champs (the Packers) on the road, then trounced last year’s other NFC Conference Championship Game participant (the Bears) at home. Drew Brees and the offense still seem capable of throwing up multiple touchdowns in the blink of an eye, so if they can get their running game going – the Saints are averaging fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground so far – lookout.
Last Week: 8
New York Jets (2-0)The Jets are hitting turbulence early this season, as they head into a brutal three-game road trip with their center, Nick Mangold, nursing a high ankle sprain. Mangold might miss his first start in 82 games, further hampering a Jets running game that is only averaging 3 yards a carry right now.
Last Week: 2
Baltimore Ravens (1-1)What a complete 180 in Baltimore. A week after thrashing their long-time tormentors, the Ravens went out and laid an egg against the Titans. Joe Flacco is a huge guy with a huger arm, but he has to show some consistency before we can take Baltimore seriously. The Ravens’ field general went from a 117.6 QB rating in Week 1 to a 51.2 rating in Week 2. That won’t cut it if the Ravens have serious Super Bowl aspirations.
Last Week: 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)Speaking of a complete turnaround from Week 1, I hardly even recognized the Steelers team that whupped up on the Seahawks at home. The defense went from looking old to looking hungry, shutting out Seattle in a huge bounceback win. I’m guessing this is the Steelers team we’ll see more of as the season wears on.
Last Week: 13
Atlanta Falcons (1-1)HUGE win for the Falcons, especially Matt Ryan. Ryan was getting a reputation for bad starts in big games, but he outdueled Michael Vick and the best pass defense in the NFL in Week 2 to get the Falcons’ season back on track.
Last Week: 4
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)What a bad week for Philly. Atlanta exposed the Eagles defense as weak against the run, then Michael Vick goes down with a concussion. With three division opponents coming up in the next five games, the Eagles’ depth will be tested early this season.
Last Week: 11
Detroit Lions (2-0)They’re young, they’re explosive and they have potential Pro Bowlers at a lot of key skills positions. In other words, this is like no other Lions team we’ve seen in the past decade. With winless Minnesota coming to town, Detroit has a real chance to start 3-0 for the first time since...1980. 1980!? The Professor didn’t even have green glasses back in 1980!
Last Week: 16
Buffalo Bills (2-0)Week 3 has the quarterback battle we’ve all been dreaming of for years: Tom Brady vs…Ryan Fitzpatrick? Yep. Fitzpatrick and Brady are tied for the league lead in touchdown passes and are leading the league’s #1 and #3 ranked scoring offenses, respectively. Prepare for a fireworks show in Orchard Park this weekend.
Last Week: 12
Dallas Cowboys (1-1)Tony Romo won over a lot of critics with his tough-as-nails overtime victory, throwing the decisive pass in overtime with a broken rib and a punctured lung. Now he’s slated to start in Monday night’s huge division match-up against the Redskins. If a banged up Romo continues to perform at this high of a level, he can change how he’s perceived throughout the league.
Last Week: 7
Chicago Bears (1-1)As a Bears fan, allow me to share with you my measured critique of the offensive line’s performance on Sunday against the Saints: “AAARRRGGGHHH!!!” The Bears continue to let quarterback Jay Cutler get run over by opposing defenses, and until they stop (the Bears have already allowed a league-high 11 sacks), Chicago will not be making a return trip to the playoffs this year.
Last Week: 15
Washington Redskins (2-0)Rex Grossman can not be contained! At least, he can’t be contained by two of the league’s worst secondaries. Rex went crazy against the 2nd and 3rd worst passing defenses in the NFC in his first two starts of the season, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in Week 3 at Dallas against the sack-happy Cowboys.
Last Week: 9
San Diego Chargers (1-1)If you listen to the NFL podcast, you know I am not a huge fan of the Chargers. They have all the talent in the world, yet they continue to make the worst mistakes at the worst possible times. Look no further than Week 2 for the perfect example of a typical Chargers game. San Diego had more first downs than the vaunted Patriots, had more time of possession and only punted once…yet they still lost because they had four killer turnovers.
Last Week: 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)Josh Freeman just keeps doing Josh Freeman type things in the fourth quarter of games. Freeman has eight come from behind wins in his three year career. I feel like if Freeman played as well as he does in the fourth quarter in the first three quarters of every game, he’d be putting up Hall of Fame numbers.
Last Week: 21
New York Giants (1-1)After giving up consecutive 300-yard passing games to Rex Grossman and Sam Bradford, the Giants and their banged up secondary are miraculously 1-1. But things don’t get any easier. New York has the Eagles on the schedule next. Philly will almost certainly air it out in order to get an early-season advantage in the standings over their divisional competition.
Last Week: 14
Oakland Raiders (1-1)The Raiders and their powerful running game (4.7 yards per carry) are being rendered useless by their mistakes. Oakland already has the most penalties and penalty yards in the league, and second place isn’t even close in either category.
Last Week: 31
Tennessee Titans (1-1)Who needs Chris Johnson when you have Matt Hasselbeck? CJ is averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry so far this season, but Hasselbeck has over 600 yards passing and Kenny Britt is emerging as one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats. If Johnson regains his form, the Titans (DEN, @CLE) can take advantage of a soft schedule to vault right into the mix in the wide open AFC South.
Last Week: 17
Arizona Cardinals (1-1)The Kevin Kolb signing is paying off early for the passing offense, but the passing defense is heading in the wrong direction. The Cardinals have the second worst pass defense in the NFC, and that’s after playing a rookie in his first career start and Rex Grossman. As the Cards take on more accomplished QBs, we could see some record setting performances by opposing passers.
Last Week: 18
St. Louis Rams (0-2)The Rams have been without workhorse back Steven Jackson since the first quarter of Week 1, and it shows. St. Louis went 1 for 4 in the red zone against the Giants in Week 2 and their lack of scoring punch has dropped them into an 0-2 hole to start the season. The only good news: the Rams play in the NFC West, where a losing record can still get you into the playoffs. Let’s not write this team off until we see them back closer to full strength.
Last Week: 29
Cleveland Browns (1-1)Congrats to Cleveland, who beat Indy for the first time in 17 years. Can the Browns reverse history two weeks in a row? With a win at home against the Dolphins on Sunday, Cleveland could start 2-1 for the first time since 2002.
Last Week: 22
Carolina Panthers (0-2)The Cam Newton Show continues to impress. Newton topped his rookie record debut by ten yards with his 432-yard passing day in Week 2. Now the hungry rookie wants a win. With the struggling Jaguars coming to town, Newton might finally get what he’s looking for.
Last Week: 24
San Francisco 49ers (1-1)The defense has kept both of their games close, but the offense just isn’t moving the ball. The Niners have the second fewest passing yards in the NFC while averaging only 2.8 yards per rush.
Last Week: 30
Denver Broncos (1-1)Broncos fans finally got to see Tim Tebow on the field – too bad Tebow lined up at receiver because the Broncos are so depleted by injuries right now. Denver has lost 6 starters to injury already this year, but all of the boo-boos couldn’t get in the way of John Fox delivering his first win as Broncos coach. Tough team or lucky win? We’ll find out in the next three weeks as Denver heads to a rejuvenated Tennessee, then Green Bay before coming home to take on San Diego.
Last Week: 26
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)Rookie receivers usually have a tough time adjusting to the NFL, just don’t tell A.J. Green. Despite dealing with a shortened training camp and a rookie quarterback, Green has still made an impact for the Bengals, tallying 11 catches for 165 yards and two scores – including the game winner in Week 1 – in his first two weeks as a pro. Looks like that #4 overall pick was worth it.
Last Week: 19
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)Luke McCown put up a historic performance against the Jets on Sunday, registering a 1.8 passer rating that included completing almost as many passes to the Jets (4) as to his own team (6). If that’s not a sign that it’s time to start the Blaine Gabbert Era, I don’t know what is.
Last Week: 28
Seattle Seahawks (0-2)Seattle’s passing game is nothing to celebrate (they have the third worst passing offense in the NFC), but they’re running game STINKS like the raw fish they’re throwing around out there at Pike Place Fish Market. Seattle hasn’t cracked 100 yards yet on the season and starting tailback Marshawn Lynch is averaging 2.3 yards per carry.
Last Week: 27
Miami Dolphins (0-2)If you’re a Dolphins fan, the upcoming stretch of five road games in the next seven weeks is a blessing in disguise. Miami has now lost 11 of its last 12 at Sun Life Stadium, so a road trip might be just what the doctor ordered to get things back on track for Miami.
Last Week: 25
Indianapolis Colts (0-2)And the lows just keep getting lower for Colts fans. Week 2 saw Indianapolis lose to Cleveland for the first time since 1994. If the Colts keep up these historically bad performances, I will continue my Peyton Manning for 2011 MVP campaign. Seriously, folks, this was a 10-win playoff team last year with Manning…now without him, they can’t even beat the Browns!
Last Week: 32
Minnesota Vikings (0-2)The Vikings have outscored opponents 34-7 in the first half of games this year…and been outscored 41-3 in the second half. How does a team with Adrian Peterson not know how to run out the clock with a second half lead? It’s probably because they barely average 4 yards per passing attempt, letting opposing defense stack the line against the run. Until Donovan McNabb improves his downfield accuracy, the Vikings are going to continue to struggle to move the ball and hold onto leads.
Last Week: 23
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)More scary stats for Chiefs fans, thanks to regular podcast guest The Wiz: since the calendar turned to 2011, the Chiefs have been outscored 150-27. And three of those games were at home. The Chiefs might need a nightlight down here in the cellar, because they’re going to be here for a while.