NFL Power Rankings: Biggest Risers and Fallers Heading into Week 3

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2013

Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints won 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The conclusion of Week 2 means the NFL landscape is finally starting to take shape. Legitimate teams continue to find a way to win, while the pretenders have been discovered as just that.

While it's still early in the season and a lot can change, right now we have a good idea as to where each team stands in the overall hierarchy of the NFL.

The following are power rankings not simply based on record. They also take into account overall performance, strength of schedule and projected future performance.



1. Denver Broncos (2-0)

No change here this week for Peyton Manning's Broncos. After tossing seven touchdowns in the opener, Peyton downed little brother Eli and the New York Giants in convincing fashion.

Peyton's good, but it's the rest of his team that keeps the Broncos this high. The offensive players around Peyton are elite, and the defense continues to improve.


2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)

After a poor showing on the road in Week 1 against Carolina, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks bounced back better than most could have predicted—physically abusing the San Francisco 49ers in front of a national audience, 29-3.

Wilson had a quiet game, but once again running back Marshawn Lynch had his way with the San Francisco defense, rushing for 98 yards and two scores. Speaking of defense, Seattle found the remedy for Colin Kaepernick.

The Seahawks could sneak into No. 1 with more consistency.


3. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

The good news for the San Francisco 49ers is simple: While the beatdown in Seattle was embarrassing, there's plenty of time to recover, and the team gets another shot at Seattle later in the year.

Pound for pound, the 49ers are still a top-three team in the league.


4. Houston Texans (2-0)

Don't look now, but the Houston Texans are one of the NFL's best once again. First, it was a comeback win over a gritty San Diego squad in Week 1. This past Sunday, it was a comeback win against an even better Tennessee team.

The Texans are the ultimate sleeper in 2013.


5. New Orleans Saints (2-0)

What a difference a head coach can make.

New Orleans now sits dominantly on top of the NFC South after wins over Atlanta and Tampa Bay. That alone is enough to justify the ranking here as both teams New Orleans has defeated are talented teams, despite Tampa Bay's early struggles.

Further adding to the high ranking is the presence of Sean Payton, who has the team playing at a high level. New Orleans is a Super Bowl contender in the utmost sense.


6. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

Nipping at the heels of New Orleans is a Green Bay team led by Aaron Rodgers and his 480 yards passing. They dismantled the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

Green Bay stayed tough in a loss to San Francisco, clearly identifying the Packers as one of the NFL's best. Rodgers and Co. just need to notch a win over an elite opponent before jumping any higher.


7. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons encountered a buzzsaw in Week 1 on the road in New Orleans but turned things around in Week 2 against an up-and-coming St. Louis team.

The 31-24 outcome doesn't do it justice—Atlanta dominated both sides of the football for most of the contest. Ryan and Co. are legitimate once again.


8. New England Patriots (2-0)

The New England Patriots have struggled in consecutive weeks with AFC East opponents and rookie quarterbacks. Geno Smith and New York gave them a scare on Sunday, while EJ Manuel and Buffalo did the same in Week 1. 

Regardless, New England continues to win. Tom Brady is still at the helm backed by a miserable defense, but until it's proven otherwise, the Patriots are still a top team. They're winning without top options like Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski.


9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Monday Night Football saw the Cincinnati Bengals bounce back in a major way against the Pittsburgh Steelers after a Week 1 loss in Chicago.

Quarterback Andy Dalton was horrific in the first half, but the defense remains one of the NFL's best, and Dalton's weapons such as Giovani Bernard bailed Dalton out as expected.

Pittsburgh isn't the best competition these days, but expect Cincinnati to hang around the top 10 all year.


10. Chicago Bears (2-0)

The first two weeks of the season have seen the Chicago Bears survive consecutive scares against Cincinnati and Minnesota.

Thanks to elite corners Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, the Bears will always be in games. Overall, Chicago is a top squad when Jay Cutler is upright.


11. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

These aren't the Baltimore Ravens from a year ago, but Joe Flacco and Co. will continue to improve as the season continues. Baltimore notched a gritty win over Cleveland but needs a new-look defense to step up to retain this spot.


12. St. Louis Rams (1-1)

St. Louis was brought back down to Earth in Week 2 against Atlanta. Breakout star tight end Jared Cook was silenced after exploding in Week 1, but rookie Tavon Austin broke out in his place. The Rams will bounce back thanks to a tough defense and quality overall roster.


13. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

The Andy Reid era continues to be a success in Kansas City. Quarterback Alex Smith is still a liability, but the team has one of the best defenses in the NFL thanks to guys like nose tackle Dontari Poe.

The Chiefs are not going anywhere.


14. Miami Dolphins (2-0)

Many scoffed at generally high rankings for Miami last week, but guess what? The Dolphins have won two games on the road to start the season.

Going into Cleveland isn't always a given and going into Indianapolis and taking down the Colts is a tough task with Andrew Luck at the helm.

Miami looks every part a playoff contender, especially with Ryan Tannehill's 300-plus yards passing in Week 2 and Mike Wallace recording his first 100-yard outing with the team. Add in a quality defense and the high ranking is more than justified.


15. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

The loser of the Miami-Indianapolis contest is no slouch, either.

Andrew Luck and the Colts survived a scare against Oakland in Week 1 but failed to do so against Miami. The Colts will continue to stay tough in all contests thanks to Andrew Luck, but the defense needs to improve to keep this rank. They have a true test on the road against the 49ers in Week 3.


16. Washington Redskins (0-2)

The Washington Redskins have a lot of work to do.

More specifically, their defense needs to improve after being destroyed in consecutive weeks by Philadelphia and Green Bay. Until that happens, it does not matter how well Robert Griffin III and the offense perform.


17. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

With the way Buffalo has rallied around rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, this rank is only going to improve as the season continues.

Buffalo kept it close with New England in Week 1 before overcoming Carolina late last week. The offense has plenty of weapons and the defense finally looks the part with Mario Williams waking up.

Don't sleep on the Bills.


18. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

It's hard to get a precise feel for just how good the Dallas Cowboys are in 2013. Like recent years, the team looks great one week while sloppy the next. 

Dallas was knocked off by Kansas City in a close one in Week 2, and until the team can win games like that, it isn't budging in the rankings.


19. New York Giants (0-2)

The downward tailspin for New York continues, although Eli Manning and Co. have had a tough schedule the first two weeks.

New York remains one of the more balanced teams in the league, but until it can prove it has enough to hang with the big boys, middle of the pack is where the Giants belong.


20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Michael Vick may have thrown for 428 yards, but the Philadelphia Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly were downed at home by San Diego. 

While the Chargers are nothing to scoff at this season, there's no excuse for the loss. Vick and Co. need to beat the tough teams to be considered anything but average this year. 


21. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The upward climb for Tennessee continues.

While a Week 1 victory over Pittsburgh is questionable with the state of the franchise, hanging tough with Houston at home was a great sign.

The only issue plaguing an otherwise very solid team at this point is quarterback Jake Locker. The team will go as he goes.


22. Detroit Lions (1-1)

Detroit downed a miserable Minnesota squad in Week 1 before losing to a quality opponent in Week 2 when the team encountered Arizona.

Calvin Johnson and the offense will continue to be elite, but the defense continues to be an issue as always. Ndamukong Suh and Co. need to make things easier on the offense before Detroit moves up in the rankings.


23. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

Week 1 saw a heartbreaking loss for San Diego. Still, the team has proven to be much better than the early loss indicated.

The Chargers went into Philadelphia in Week 2 and scored a major victory. Philip Rivers and the offense continue to surprise, while an adequate defense translates to San Diego being a tough out for any team.


24.  Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

Speaking of bounce-back performances in Week 2, Arizona displayed a balanced offense and quality defense in Week 2 to down the Detroit Lions.

Armed with a defense that can silence any offense and a game manager at quarterback in Carson Palmer (more than can be said the past few years), Arizona will continue to quietly surprise teams.


25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)

Tampa Bay is in a free fall. 

Head coach Greg Schiano clearly has no control over his roster and does not care for the NFL's rules, as his team remains one of the most undisciplined squads and continues to rack up personal fouls.

Despite an elite defense, a quarterback controversy is brewing, and Tampa Bay will continue to have a hard time winning games with Schiano leading the way.


26. Carolina Panthers (0-2)

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers played a solid game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 but wound up getting upended by Buffalo and a rookie quarterback in Week 2.

Once again Newton has no weapons to work with. The defense will keep the team in games, but the roster has a long way to go.


27. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)

It's panic time in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers were roughed up by Tennessee in Week 1 before faltering on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati—a scenario the Steelers have historically dominated.

The lack of a running game and deep threat, not to mention the presence of a quality offensive coordinator, means Pittsburgh is going to have a difficult time winning games this year.


28. New York Jets (1-1)

Geno Smith and the New York Jets are better than advertised.

A Week 1 win over Tampa Bay is nothing to take lightly, and the team gave New England everything it could handle on a short turnaround.

The Jets defense is legit, and that alone will keep New York in games.


29. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

Adrian Peterson cannot do it on his own.

The quarterback issues in Minnesota persist, and there's little that will change for the Vikings until the staff decides to go with Matt Cassel. Until that day, the Vikings will be a bottom-feeder.


30. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

Yes, Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders actually won a game. No, it wasn't in any way impressive with it coming against Jacksonville.

Oakland still has one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Pryor's unpredictability will keep the team in most games, but to expect a higher ranking here is unreasonable.


31. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

Cleveland remains Cleveland.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden's Week 3 status is unclear as he deals with a sprained right thumb, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Still, he continues to hold the Browns back from being a serious contender, and the serious struggles of running back Trent Richardson through two weeks are not helping anything.

The Browns have a long way to go.


32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

The tank-for-Teddy campaign continues, whether that's the actual plan or not.

Jacksonville is horrible no matter who resides under center (give Denard Robinson a chance?) and the defense is a mess.

As is the entire franchise. Nothing to see here.


Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling