NFL Power Rankings: Biggest Surprises Heading into Week 3 Action

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IISeptember 18, 2013

Sep 15, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) yells during 1st quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Mills/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

There was a shift atop the Week 3 NFL power rankings. Did the Seattle Seahawks jump to the top spot after annihilating the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2?

Or was it the Denver Broncos after Peyton Manning and Co. slapped around Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon?

That's one surprise you'll have to keep reading for. And there are plenty of other surprises in the league's hierarchy after two weeks of action.

The teams that have exceeded expectations are highlighted below along with rankings for every other team in the league.

*Biggest surprise teams are discussed in greater detail and highlighted by italicized team names. Also, change in position is annotated in brackets after each team's record.


1. Denver Broncos (2-0) [+1]

Peyton Manning has the Denver Broncos looking like early Super Bowl favorites. They’ve put up 44.5 points per game through two weeks and haven’t lost a regular-season game since October 7, 2012.


2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) [+1]

Seattle looked like the NFC favorite to meet Manning and the Broncos in February. The Seahawks blew out their divisional rivals for the second straight time, shifting the power structure in the NFC to the Northwest.


3. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) [-3]

Colin Kaepernick and Co. need to find answers to Seattle’s defense. Without a solid running game, San Francisco’s offense just doesn’t work.


4. Green Bay Packers (1-1) [+1]

Answering a close, season-opening loss to the 49ers with a blowout win will make people remember the Cheeseheads are still contenders. Aaron Rodgers made Swiss cheese out of Washington’s secondary, and the Pack found their rushing game. Look out.


5. New Orleans Saints (2-0) [+1]

Drew Brees led another comeback victory on the New Orleans Saints’ final drive—big surprise. Brees now has now led 21 fourth-quarter comebacks during his career. Their defense is eerily similar to the bend-but-don’t-break unit that helped them win a Super Bowl a few years ago.


6. Houston Texans (2-0) [+2]

The Texans are undefeated but not unblemished; in the end, wins are all that matters. The Houston Texans have some flaws, but they’re a team that finally looks to have balance on offensive thanks to standout rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins.


7. New England Patriots (2-0) [-3]

Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski can’t come back soon enough for Tom Brady; he’s visibly infuriated at his receivers' progress. Bill Belichick has this team rolling without any type of real identity. Once the Patriots get healthy, they’ll be in the mix of contenders as they always are.


8. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) [-1]

Despite the massive rash of injuries, the Atlanta Falcons found a way to win against a pretty good St. Louis Rams team in Week 2. Without a running game, though, they’re going to struggle due to opposing pass rushes teeing off on Matt Ryan.


9. Chicago Bears (2-0) [+1]

Jay Cutler is looking like a new quarterback in Marc Trestman’s offense. Likewise, running back Matt Forte is having a great year both on the ground and in the passing game. Don’t count this team out down the stretch.


10. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) [+2]

Andy Dalton needs to be more efficient. The Cincinnati Bengals are loaded with talented young players on both sides of the ball. They won’t be a real playoff contender until Dalton gets better.


11. Miami Dolphins (2-0) [+10]

The Miami Dolphins made a lot of changes this offseason, many of them costing a pretty penny. We all wanted to know how it would work out. The Fins are 2-0 after starting their season with two straight road games. Questions answered.

With only six games left on the road this year, the Dolphins are already in a comfortable position moving forward.

Pass rush has been huge for the Dolphins to this point. The team is tied for first in the NFL with nine sacks through two games. Brent Grimes has stayed healthy and shined in Miami's secondary, too, giving them a better defense than many anticipated.


12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) [+5]

The Kansas City Chiefs sent six players to the Pro Bowl in 2012—an NFL record—but managed to win just two games. It’s amazing what a change of leadership and quarterback can do for a franchise.

Here were are two weeks into the young 2013 NFL season, and the Chiefs have already managed to match their win total from a year ago. Andy Reid is a winner, so while this is a surprise, it's really not in a way.

The Chiefs haven't done it by being flashy or overly dominant in any one area, but they have been efficient. They lead the AFC in turnover differential—plus-four—and Alex Smith has been solid but not spectacular behind center.

Defense is what is going to carry this team, and they have a very talented bunch on that side of the ball.


13. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) [+1]

Barely beating a poor Cleveland team wasn’t very encouraging last week, but it’s a step up after being shredded in their opener by the Broncos. Marlon Brown is emerging as a serviceable option in the passing game, but the Ravens' rushing woes are concerning.


14. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) [-5]

Much like last year, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are showing a propensity for dramatic finishes. Their Week 2 loss was discouraging, but Miami’s pass rush has been dominant, so don’t get scared about their offensive line just yet.


15. San Diego Chargers (1-1) [+11]

These aren't Norv Turner's San Diego Chargers. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. With little-to-no expectations coming into the season, new head coach Mike McCoy will be regarded as a hero if he continues to succeed.

While the Chargers are 1-1, they have exceeded low expectations and risen to a level of respectability. New offensive linemen have helped Philip Rivers revert back to his old form, and he's playing lights out despite not having a well-regarded group of targets to throw to.

Oh, Eddie Royal also leads the NFL in touchdowns with five scores after two games. Defensively, the Chargers' front seven has proven to be a problem for opponents so far. We'll see if they can keep that up without getting abused in their secondary.


16. Detroit Lions (1-1) [-5]

If the Detroit Lions could erase some stupid mistakes, they would easily be a top contender with the talent they have on their roster. That isn’t happening, though, and the Lions will continue to sit in mediocrity until they can fix the little things.

17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) [-4]

The Dallas Cowboys have consistently found a way to be painfully average over the past few years. What happened to the running game in Week 2? DeMarco Murray ran the ball just 12 times. Putting the game solely on Tony Romo’s right arm isn’t a recipe for success.


18. St. Louis Rams (1-1) [+2]

Sam Bradford is starting to build some chemistry with his young weapons. That’s great for the St. Louis Rams and bad for the already competitive NFC West. Their defense is starting to click, but we’d all like to see more out of their solid secondary.


19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) [-4]

Chip Kelly, welcome to the NFL. Losing isn’t something Kelly is accustomed to, but it’s probably going to happen a handful more times at least this year. We’ll see how he responds after preparing his team in a short week before their Thursday night matchup.


20. New York Giants (0-2) [-2]

You’re not going to win many games when turning the ball over as much as the New York Giants have so far. Eli Manning has thrown seven interceptions, and the team has lost three fumbles while forcing just two turnovers on defense—the worst turnover ratio in the NFL.


21. Washington Redskins (0-2) [-5]

Maybe Robert Griffin III was brought back too quick? Suggesting that prior to Week 1 was scoffed at, but through two weeks he’s not looking like the same quarterback from his rookie season. Plus, the 'Skins defense has played dreadfully, so that’s not making it any easier on the them.


22. Tennessee Titans (1-1) [+2]

If only the Tennessee Titans had an offense. Jake Locker is looking like a liability; the Titans may want to move on next season if he doesn’t start to get it soon.


23. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) [+5]

Carson Palmer found a way to win without Larry Fitzgerald on the field in the second half. That’s a scary thought. Can he make them contenders again when Fitz gets back?


24. Buffalo Bills (1-1) [+6]

There is hope in Buffalo. E.J. Manuel looks solid after two NFL starts, and the team’s defense is playing much better than advertised. Mario Williams’ 4.5 sacks in Week 2 probably didn’t hurt.

25. Carolina Panthers (0-2) [-3]

Good teams find ways to win close games. The Carolina Panthers just aren’t good enough on either side of the ball to be considered a contender at this point. Like most teams, they have some positives, but they might be another year from succeeding.

26. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) [-7]

Young and talented but ineffective offensively. That’s the 2013 Minnesota Vikings. Teams can’t rely on defense and special teams carrying them to wins every week in the NFL; you have to be able to score points. I’m not so sure Christian Ponder understands that concept.


27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) [N/A]

Two close, ugly losses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to begin their once-hopeful 2013 campaign. Look, these Bucs are a good group, but until they cut out the bone-headed mistakes, they’re going to continue to sit at the bottom of the rankings.


28. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) [-5]

This Pittsburgh Steelers team doesn’t resemble any we’ve seen in recent memory. They can’t run the ball and are having serious problems getting to the quarterback. I’m not sure there’s anything Ben Roethlisberger and Co. can do about it, either.


29. Cleveland Browns (0-2) [-4]

The Cleveland Browns have scored 16 points through two weeks, and fans are already talking 2014 draft prospects. That sounds about right for the Browns at this time of year.


30. New York Jets (1-1) [N/A]

Maybe the New York Jets aren’t as bad as we thought? Their rush defense has been solid, and Geno Smith could be pretty good if he stops throwing the ball to other teams’ defenders.


31. Oakland Raiders (1-1) [N/A]

The Oakland Raiders have surprised so far, but we’ll wait to move them any further until we see how they play against a top competitor. Monday night’s test against Denver will be a good barometer of where these Raiders are—just being able to compete will be a positive result.


32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) [N/A]

The “Baguars” scored a garbage-time touchdown against Oakland to ramp their scoring in 2013 up to 11. Is it Tebow Time yet in Jacksonville?


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