Week 2 NFL Power Rankings
1. Carolina Panthers (2–0) It was widely perceived that the Panthers would take a step back on offense due to the lack of weapons outside of Newton. However, Olsen has stepped up his production (6 rec, 72 yards), and Kelvin Benjamin is turning into a true #1 WR. As for the defense that was second best behind Seattle in 2013, it may be even better this year. Look out, NFC South.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (2–0) It’s not really a surprise the Bengals are good again. The Bengals are used to regular season success, it’s the postseason where the struggles begin. Regardless, the progression of Bernard has become a nice compliment to AJ Green. While Green’s toe injury remains a concern, the Bengals have proven they can win without him. Don’t overlook this defense either. They held Matt Ryan to 231 yards passing.
3. San Diego Chargers (1–1) Winning on the road is tough. Just ask Seattle, who went into San Diego and came away with a loss. Rivers was incredibly efficient in this game, finishing 28–37 with 284 yards and 3 TDs. A throwback performance from Antonio Gates (7 rec, 96 yards, 3 TDs) helped as well. While this spot may be high for a 1–1 team, remember that this team was a few minutes away from stealing a win on the road in Arizona last Monday night.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (2–0) Seven receptions, 152 yards. Those were the numbers the 31-year old Sproles put up last night. He also took one to the house on a 19-yard TD run. Brees is surely wondering why the Saints let him go, especially given the recent injury to Mark Ingram. Foles has come out sloppy to start both games this year, but has settled into an impressive groove in the second half. Winning at Indianapolis isn’t easy, but the Eagles got the win to improve to 2–0.
5. Arizona Cardinals (2–0) The Cardinals won this game with a QB (Drew Stanton) who hadn’t started a game in three years. This game was mostly sloppy, but a solid performance from Ellington (15 carries, 91 yards) and an electrifying punt return for a TD from Ted Ginn (Does this guy age at all? He’s just as fast as he was at Ohio State) proved to be too much for the Giants.
6. Seattle Seahawks (1–1) Did the Chargers discover the key to breaking Seattle’s usually stellar defense? The Chargers were able to score 3 TDs from the tight end position, causing problems for the defense for most of the first half. One ESPN commentator stated he believed that the Seahawks were looking ahead to their rematch against Denver in week 3. While possible, I don’t believe that Pete Caroll’s team is capable of overlooking any team. Let’s give the Chargers credit for a nice win at home. The Seahawks offense did its job for the most part, with Harvin again playing a large role. It should be noted that Harvin did step out of bounds on his TD run, but it went unnoticed by the referees.
7. Denver Broncos (2–0) An early trend for the Broncos is this: Lead big early, followed by taking their foot off the gas. In both home games against the Colts and the Chiefs, the Broncos went up big in the first half, only to allow the opponent an opportunity to tie or take the lead in the closing moments of the 4th quarter. While this hasn’t cost the Broncos a win yet, it could come back to haunt them come playoffs.
8. Buffalo Bills (2–0) Surprise, surprise. The Bills have found their way into the top 10. It was perceived by many that the Bills would be in the running for the 1st overall pick in the 2015 draft, but a 2–0 record with impressive wins over Miami and Chicago suggest that this team will remain competitive all year. EJ Manuel is still “rough around the edges” as a QB, but the emergence of Watkins along with the health of Spiller and Jackson can lead to sustained success.
9. Chicago Bears (1–1) The Bears went in to San Francisco and ruined the 49ers stadium opener, scoring three TDs in the 4th quarter and coming away with a much needed win. Cutler threw for four TDS, three of which went to Brandon Marshall. The win puts every team in the NFC North at 1–1.
10. San Francisco 49ers (1–1) While Kaepernick ran the ball for 66 yards on nine rushing attempts, the three interceptions turned what could have been an elite performance into a poor performance for the 49ers QB (The 23.9 QBR speaks for itself). The Bears were able to sneak back into this game through turnovers and penalties (the 49ers had 16 penalties for 118 yards), and it cost the 49ers a win.
11. Atlanta Falcons (1–1) Given how well the Falcons played at home against the Saints, it was surprising to see how much they struggled on the road against the Bengals. Julio Jones was still able to be productive (7 rec, 88 yards, TD), but not much else went well for Atlanta. Is it time to move on from Steven Jackson? Jackson is actually averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season, but the explosiveness that he had in STL is not there. Giving Devonta Freeman a shot at the starting role could turn this offense into a juggernaut.
12. New England Patriots (1–1) It wasn’t surprising that New England went into Minnesota and came away with a win. What was impressive was the way the Patriots’ defense played. A blocked FG for a touchdown was what turned this game around. Brady only had to throw the ball 22 times. In fact, Ridley had more rushes (25) than Brady had passes. Speaking of Ridley, his 101 yards and a TD bodes well for his production going forward.
13. Detroit Lions (1–1) The Lions struggled against a very strong Panthers defense, struggling to get the offense going for most of this game. Missed FGs certainly played a role, as Detroit’s kicker, Freese, went 0/2. The Lions get the Packers at home in week 3, in what should be a shootout. Look for Stafford and Megatron to get back on track offensively. Whether Freese will remain the kicker in Detroit is another story.
14. Miami Dolphins (1–1) It’s hard to say whether the loss at Buffalo speaks more to the play of the Dolphins or the Bills. Tannehill was average at best, throwing for just 241 yards on 49 pass attempts (31 completions). The AFC East is certainly better than people initially expected, as the Jets, Bills, Dolphins and Patriots all appear to have decent teams this year.
15. Houston Texans (2–0) Foster: 28 carries, Fitzpatrick: 19 pass attempts. Houston took an early 14–0 lead, which eventually turned into a 27–0 lead. With a large lead, Houston didn’t really need to pass the ball, going to Foster early and often. The Texans now have two games on the Colts (and one on the Titans), which could come in handy in the AFC South.
16. Green Bay Packers (1–1) The Packers looked awful early, including a lost fumble on the first offensive play of the game. The tune changed quickly after Rodgers hit Nelson for an 80-yard TD pass. While the win was encouraging for the Packers, questions remain on the defensive side of the ball. Then again, that could be said for every team in the NFC North.
17. New Orleans Saints (0–2) Despite 10 receptions, 118 yards, and two TDs from Jimmy Graham, the Saints fell to 0–2 after losing the Cleveland. If there’s good news here, it’s that both of these losses came on the road. It’s hard to win games on the road- Just ask Seattle. There’s no need to panic here. If one play goes the other way in either of the first two weeks, we could be talking about a 2–0 Saints team.
18. Indianapolis Colts (0–2) Luck lost back to back games for the first time in his career, as the Colts squandered a 17–6 halftime lead, getting spurned by Sproles, Foles, McCoy and the rest of the Eagles. The run game is still a problem in Indianapolis (Richardson: 21 carries for 79 yards), and an 0–2 start is an early hole that Luck and company will have to find a way to dig itself out of. The Colts lost this game despite having the ball on offense for 36+ of the 60 minutes.
19. Baltimore Ravens (1–1) The Ravens played at home on the Thursday night game in week 2, and it was just what the team needed given all the outside news going on in Baltimore. The Ravens looked unstoppable on offense, scoring in each quarter of this game. It is surprising that Torrey Smith isn’t getting more looks, though Flacco threw the ball just 29 times (21 completions) for 166 yards in this game.
20. Cleveland Browns (1–1) Hoyer may get the credit for the win here, but it was really a combination of the running game (West: 19 carries, 68 yards, TD) and the defense that came up big for Cleveland. Hoyer was 24–40 for 204 pass yards and a TD. Not impressive numbers, but enough to get the job done. Cleveland is going to be a tough team to beat at home this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win five games at home in 2014.
21. New York Jets (1–1) The Jets were well on their way to pull of a stunning upset in Green Bay, before things fell apart quickly. Geno Smith has looked really comfortable in the pocket this year, which bodes well for the Jets competition level in the AFC East. Decker left the game with a hamstring injury, but had a nice TD grab before leaving. This team has a chance to win some games in a sneakily wide-open AFC East.
22. Dallas Cowboys (1–1) DeMarco. Murray. The kid can run. Murray carried the ball 29 times, matching the number of pass attempts from Romo. Romo had 176 yards through the air, while Murray had 167 yards on the ground. It was an efficient game all around for Dallas, and the defense was consistently stout throughout. A nice bounce back win after a letdown in Dallas in week 1.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (1–1) The Steelers have sputtered on offense since the second half of its week 1 game against Cleveland. My initial reaction is that Pittsburgh needs to have a more balanced attack. Against Baltimore, Pittsburgh ran the ball just 18 times compared to the 37 pass attempts. It should be noted that the Thursday night turnaround for the road team is always extremely taxing. If the offense sputters again in week 3, then it may be time to panic a bit in Pittsburgh.
24. Washington Redskins (1–1) The Redskins won a game they should have at home against Jacksonville. The surprising (at least for those living outside the DC area) part was the QB with which they won the game. Cousins had a QBR of 93.7, throwing for 250 yards and two TDs. With Griffin out for a while, Cousins has a chance to prove he can be a consistently good starting NFL QB.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (0–2) Kansas City actually played very well in Denver, having four attempts to tie the game from inside the Broncos’ five-yard line in the last minute of the game. The 0–2 start is tough in a division that features the Broncos and a much-improved San Diego team. If Charles has to miss any time, things could get worse before they get better in Kansas City.
26. Tennessee Titans (1–1) All the love the Titans got for their road win at KC in week 1 dissipated with their week two performance. Locker threw two interceptions and had a QBR of just 13.7. The lone bright spot for this team was Delanie Walker, who had 10 receptions for 142 yards and a TD. Bishop Sankey still hasn’t had a chance to run the ball in Tennessee, as he carried the ball just two times for 3 yards. The rushing attach was largely successful though, and maybe Tennessee should have ran the ball more in this game. 13 rush attempts compared to 34 pass attempts is not a recipe for success.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1–1) Things got ugly in Minnesota, and it had a lot to do with their starting QB, Cassel. Cassel had a QBR of just 17.2, throwing four interceptions and averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt. Cassel was also sacked 6 times. Chants for Teddy Bridgewater could be heard from Minnesota fans. Many believe this will actually come to fruition by game 6 of the 2014 season.
28. St. Louis Rams (1–1) The Rams came away with a nice road win in Tampa, finding a way to move the ball with QB Austin Davis, despite losing Tavon Austin for the game before half time. The defense has the chance to keep this team in many games, but questions remain on the offensive side of the ball, though Brian Quick seems to have emerged as a true #1 WR in STL.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0–2) Who needs Doug Martin when you have Bobby Rainey? Rainey was impressive, running for 144 yards on 22 carries. This game was pretty even all the way through, but Tampa has to find a way to win this game being the home team. A 0–2 start, with both losses at home, does not bode well for Tampa Bay’s chances of success this season.
30. Oakland Raiders (0–2) The Raiders looked miserable against an impressive Texans defense. Adding insult to… well, insult, JJ Watt even caught a TD against Oakland. This was a rout in ever sense of the word. The Texans forced four turnovers, two of which came via interception from rookie QB Carr. One encouraging sign for Oakland was the production from James Jones, who had 9 receptions for 112 yards and one TD.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0–2) In the words of Ryan Russillo, it’s time for “Bortles Service” in Jacksonville. The Jaguars got absolutely embarrassed in Washington, throwing away in goodwill they had earned for their first half performance in Philadelphia in week 1. This team isn’t going to do much, and with the way Bortles performed in the preseason, it’s never to early to give him playing time.
32. New York Giants (0–2) The Giants lost the turnover battler 4–0. That’s the only stat you need to know if you were wondering why this team lost at home to a team starting a QB who hadn’t started a game in three years. Victor Cruz couldn’t hang on to the ball, though the production of Donnell was an encouraging sign.