It was a crazy week in the League, with some teams shoving off criticism and doubt, while others created more.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) –
Pitt did exactly what the NFL’s best team is supposed to do: won. And against a solid team, to boot. The NFL’s best offense looked precise in Sunday’s win over Cincinnati, and gave the Steelers some early-season cushion over the team many perceived to be their main threat in the division. But be careful: the looming trip to Philly will leave no love lost.
2. New England Patriots (2-0) –
No Brady? No problem. No Jimmy? Well, we’ll see. The Patriots kept up their winning ways Sunday, smothering the Dolphins early behind a herculean effort from Jimmy G. But he went down in the second half, and has been officially ruled out for Thursday’s game against Houston. Jacoby Brissett didn’t command much on offense, and the Pats may finally hit a bump in the road.
3. Denver Broncos (2-0) +1
Denver continued to do what Denver does: constrict teams until the die. The Colts offensive line was brutalized in Sunday’s game, but Andrew Luck still was able to move the ball some. But the game was pretty much out of reach after halftime. That pass rush is scary, and it was again Von Miller that strip-sacked the game away. This team may very well ride a defense to the Super Bowl again.
4. Houston Texans (2-0) +4
That was an impressive win for the Texans, handling KC at home and moving up to 2-0 early on. It certainly doesn’t help that the main competition in the division is 0-2, and that the biggest game they’ve had so far happens to now be a battle against a third stringer. Things are looking promising in Houston.
5. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) +4
The Cardinals sure got back in the swing of things Sunday, absolutely mauling Jameis Winston and the Bucs. The defense looked great, the offense looked great, and the Cardinals that we all expected are finally here. The lack of a running game still scares me, but if Carson Palmer keeps throwing for 300+ and 3 TDs, they may not need it.
6. Carolina Panthers (1-1) +2
Speaking of swearing off demons on Sunday, the Panthers offense was incredible against San Fran. Kelvin Benjamin is also officially back, hauling in two touchdowns and going over 100 yards. Jonathon Stewart went down, but Fozzy Whittaker picked up the pace and established the run. If this is the Panther offense going forward, look out.
7. Minnesota Vikings (2-0) +5
Minnesota found a way to stave off arch-rival Green Bay in a stunner on Sunday night. Sam Bradford looks terrific, and was great in charge of the offense. The injury to AP concerns me, however, as this team may struggle to move the ball against better defenses than Green Bay. Still, a win like that is a confidence boost. The Vikings aren’t going anywhere.
8. New York Giants (2-0) +6
While I expected the Giants to click this season, I didn’t quite expect them to look as improved on defense as they have so far. Holding the Saints to just 13 points is impressive, and a testament to how far this secondary has come from last season. It’s just two games, but you have to love what you’re seeing in New York.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) -3
You can’t fault the Bengals for going to Pitt and losing. But you can fault them for that running game and the turnovers. The Bengals as a team had just 18 carries for 46 yards Sunday, and doing that is a recipe for disaster. Dalton chucking it 54 times a game isn’t a good thing, and only getting 16 points out of it is worse.
10. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) +4
The Ravens got things done again Sunday, but needed a big comeback to do it. I want to credit Baltimore on what they’ve done so far, but two less than impressive games against two bad football teams is far from something to write home about. Still, 2-0 is 2-0, and judging from how last year went, I’m sure they’ll take it.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) -6
It was a tough road loss for the Chiefs, who struggled to gain traction on offense against Houston’s D. It looked a lot like the first half of the San Diego game, and that has to scare KC fans. Does this team have the firepower to compete, or was the 4th quarter in week one an anomaly?
12. Green Bay Packers (1-1) -9
That was a bitter, bitter loss from Green Bay. To lose to the Vikings who are starting a QB after just two weeks, and then to have them lose their top offensive weapon and still not find a way? That loss may come back to haunt them.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) +5
I’m full on Wentz-mania. That was a spectacular showing from the rookie, who looks ready for the challenge of being an NFL QB. But, let’s pump the brakes on giving the Eagles full contender status in the NFC East: their schedule has been more than favorable, playing probably the two worst teams in football to open the season. We’ll find out much, much more from them this week.
14. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) -7
Another week of just abysmal offense from Seattle. Somehow, the Seahawks don’t have the league’s worst offense, but it’s tough to fathom how not. The defense has been strong, keeping both of their first opponents under 10 points. But if you’re only scoring 3, it’s not going to matter much.
15. New York Jets (1-1) +2
The Jets got a nice rebound after a tough loss to the Bengals, and took care of business against Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks to be deserving of his big contract, and it seems like the Jets have their answer on offense. Now it’s time to look at the defense, which are a far cry away from the Jets defense of earlier in the decade that made serious AFC title runs.
16. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) +8
I have absolutely no idea how to feel about the Falcons. After blowing their home opener to the Bucs, the Falcons turned around and went to Oakland and got the upset. The defense actually looked competent late against Carr, as well. If they start gelling, they could compete for the NFC South. But don’t hold your breath just yet.
17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) +7
Hold the phone, Dallas has a pulse. After giving a big scare to the division leaders, the Cowboys have unseated the Redskins. That was an impressive win for Dak Prescott on the road, and it may seem logical that Dak can hold the fort down for Tony Romo, provided he keeps getting some great help by that O-line. And with two very winnable games coming, Dak could establish some confidence before hitting a rough stretch in October.
18. Oakland Raiders (1-1) -5
Here’s a great stat for you: the Raiders have the NFL’s number one offense statistically. Here’s one that’s better: they also have the NFL’ worst defense statistically. We knew it would take some time for all these new pieces to gel, but jeez, this thing can’t continue like this, especially with how the rest of the division is playing.
19. San Diego Chargers (1-1) +8
Blowing that lead against KC could have put the Chargers on the mat, but instead they rebounded nicely and got the win against Jacksonville in impressive fashion. The defense was smothering, and looked like it did for three quarters in week one. Losing Danny Woodhead is going to hurt, but they’ve got the pieces to stay competitive.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) -5
There are losses in the NFL, and then there is what the Cardinals gave the Bucs this week. That was a drubbing of epic proportions, and a colossal letdown for the Bucs after an impressive opening week win. Jameis will have to right the ship quickly, as they’ll need a win this week with the Broncos and Panthers looming.
21. Tennessee Titans (1-1) +8
One of my favorite young teams in the league got a nice come-from behind victory this week. Marcus Mariota was great when it counted, and the Titans have a solid win to build on. And with the Colts struggling and the Jaguars down, it’s not inconceivable to see the Titans make a jump up to #2 in the division.
22. Detriot Lions (1-1) -2
That was a tough loss for the Lions, who should have won that game over Tennessee. But, it’s in the past, and Stafford and company are going to have to rebound in a hurry to prepare for a pissed off Packers team. This could be a big statement week for both teams.
23. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) –
I don’t think anyone quite expected a repeat of the drubbing the 49ers dished out in week one, but I think it would have thought it would have been a little closer than that. The 49ers defense, which looked so good last week, got manhandled by the Panthers. The offense still looked solid, and they can build on that going forward.
24. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) +8
The Sun rises, water is wet, and the Rams beat the Seahawks. I don’t know how to describe it, but the Rams have the Seahawks number. This offense is really, really bad, but the defense actually looked to gain some confidence. Maybe a win is all they need to right the ship, but this team looks rough so far.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) -9
What a disappointing start to the season for the Jaguars. Expected to be a team that would rise, the Jaguars have fallen flat on their face. They got drubbed in week two, and look to have regressed after that promising loss to the Packers. Bortles and company look a year away on defense, but I’m more disappointed in the offense’s lack of production.
26. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) -5
It’s weeks like these that the loss to Detroit really hurts you. Traveling to Denver and facing that defense is like running into a buzz saw, but if the Colts hold on, we’d be having a much different conversation at 1-1 than at 0-2. The Colts are already behind Houston, and you don’t want to play catch up in the AFC.
27. Washington Redskins (0-2) -2
Speaking of a disappointment, boy have the Redskins imploded. Not only did they get shellacked by the Steelers in week one, but they also dropped a home game against the depleted Cowboys. The preseason favorites are now dead last in the division, and everyone around them appears to have gotten better. Not a place you want to be in.
28. Miami Dolphins (0-2) -8
On one hand, they’ve only lost their opening games by one possession. On the other, it took the Patriots going down to their third string QB for this thing to get interesting. The Dolphins got torched by Jimmy G, and it looks like it’ll get worse going forward, with Marcus Mariota and Big Ben on the horizon. They better handle Cleveland this week.
29. New Orleans Saints (0-2) -1
Positive note: the Saints defense looked way better in week two. Negative note: the offense got shut down by New York. The lack of true dominant receivers showed it’s head for Brees in New York, and the Saints could use some playmakers that don’t rely on Brees. The showdown this week with Atlanta is huge for both teams.
30. Buffalo Bills (0-2) -7
The bell soon tolls for Rex Ryan. The loss Thursday night was a tough one to swallow, and a fired coach this early indicates trouble upon the horizon. And great timing: the Bills welcome Arizona to town this week. Yikes.
31. Cleveland Browns (0-2) –
I’m actually giving the Browns some style points for their competitive game against Baltimore. It was tough watching them blow it, but Terrelle Pryor and company look really good. Now if they could just keep a quarterback healthy, they could have something to build on.
32. Chicago Bears (0-2) -2
Getting run off the field by a rookie quarterback in your own building isn’t exactly how you’d want your second week to start. Nor is getting booed off the field following the game. Take out a garbage time punt return by Eddie Royal, and this thing is uglier than it ended up as. Things are rough in Chicago.