Semi-Weekly NFL Super Recap (with Power Rankings)

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Semi-Weekly NFL Super Recap  (with Power Rankings)
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

What we learned from Week 1 and Week 2 (in Power Rank order)

TIER 1

1. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

1. Joe Flacco is making the second-year leap. He has been great in the first two games, showing smarts and utilizing his great arm.

2. Willis McGahee is still the guy. McGahee is currently tied for the league lead in touchdowns. How many people likely thought that he wouldn't even be leading his own team in touchdowns after two weeks?

3. The defense is shaky without Rex Ryan and Bart Scott. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can only do so much. The good news: Lewis looked incredible in the game against San Diego. They still make the plays when they need to.

2. New Orleans Saints (2-0)

1. This could be the best offense, ever. They have so many weapons on the ground and through the air. It's ridiculous.

2. The defense is going to force turnovers. They had four against Philly and three against Detroit.

3. Brees will make a run at Brady's 50 touchdowns. It's hard to imagine that he's going to throw for less than two touchdowns in any game. He could easily average three per game the rest of the season, which would put him 51. Brady should be sweating.

 

TIER 2

3. New York Giants (2-0)

1. Plaxico Burress wasn't that important to them. Eli has had great chemistry with Mario Manningham and Steve Smith and has one of the deepest receiving corps in the league.

2. They are going to miss Derrick Ward. Brandon Jacobs has struggled this season and it could be because Ward isn't there to give them a different look. Ahmad Bradshaw just isn't the same caliber player that Ward was.

3. Their pass protection is great. Manning has been sacked one time against defenses that have featured DeMarcus Ware and Albert Haynesworth. One sack in two games with a non-mobile QB like Manning is phenomenal.

 

4. New York Jets (2-0)

1. Their defense might be the best in the league. They have yet to allow an offensive touchdown and limited Brady and the Texans' Matt Schaub to a combined 382 yards passing, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Brady and Schaub combined stats in their other games? A whopping 735 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.

2. Mark Sanchez will be rookie of the year. He'll put up stats like Joe Flacco did in his rookie year, but he will be very efficient and most importantly, win games.

3. Rex Ryan is built to coach. He motivates his team and obviously has one of the best, if not the best, defensive minds in the game. He is the start of a new era in the Meadowlands.

 

5. Atlanta (2-0)

1. Tony Gonzalez has been the biggest acquisition of the offseason. He has a touchdown in each game and is Matt Ryan's favorite target.

2. Michael Turner isn't quite what he was last season. He's not bad or anything; he just isn't the same elite back that he was last year.

3. Mike Peterson is a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker. He's been all over the place for Atlanta so far.

 

TIER 3

6. San Francisco (2-0)

1. Shaun Hill is a decent NFL starter. He put up good numbers last year and even without very good receivers he can move the ball. He will not make mistakes, either.

2. The defense is one of the league's best. Holding Arizona to 16 points is quite a feat.

3. Michael Crabtree will not ever wear a Niners uniform. What is he thinking? Has holding out for an entire year EVER been a good move for any athlete EVER? There is no way he will make more money next year or be as good after being away from football. It's a shame that such a talented player will probably never realize what he could have been.

 

7. Indianapolis Colts (2-0)

1. Peyton Manning is still the king of the two-minute drill. And he's going to have a better year than Brady.

2. Their defense is not good. They haven't allowed many points, but they've played bad offensive teams. The Dolphins offense ran and threw all over them.

3. Dallas Clark will act as the No. 2 receiver since the Anthony Gonzalez injury. He is the league leader in receiving yards after two weeks. While that won't continue, he will probably lead all tight ends in yards.

 

8. Minnesota (2-0)

1. Adrian Peterson is still the best back in football. Big surprise.

2. Brett Favre will not throw downfield. His longest completion has been 21 yards. It's very possible that he could still have arm issues.

3. They can beat the cupcakes. They've blown out Cleveland and Detroit, who happen to be two of the three worst teams in the NFL. We'll see how they handle San Francisco in their next game.

 

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)

1. Their defense is still great. They've allowed an average of 13.5 points in the first two weeks. It wouldn't be surprising if they didn't let a single team above 20 this year.

2. The offensive line is still abysmal. Roethlisberger is running for his life on every pass.

3. Santonio Homes is making the leap to being a top-flight wide receiver. Holmes stats from the first two games do not lie: 14 catches, 214 yards and a touchdown. He is a burner and Roethlisberger's favorite target.

 

10. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

1. LaDainian Tomlinson is done. There were talks of a big comeback year for LT this season. He was horrible running the ball in against Oakland and now is injured. Anyone still on that bandwagon?

2. Philip Rivers is a top-five quarterback. He is very good in the fourth quarter of games and would probably put up Drew Brees-like numbers if given the opportunity to pass that often, as evidenced in the Baltimore game.

3. The defense is the glaring weakness. Shawn Merriman hasn't been himself and Jamal Williams is out for the season. Not good.

 

11. Chicago Bears (1-1)

1. Matt Forte will suffer a sophomore slump. His bad game against the Steelers is excusable, but a bad game against a Packers team that surrendered 140 yards to Cedric Benson is not.

2. Jay Cutler will win some games for them—and lose some. He is very inconsistent. He threw four picks and played awful against a Packers defense that Carson Palmer destroyed before playing great against a great Pittsburgh defense. Who can guess with this guy?

3. They have a lot of receiving depth. Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are all good at wide receiver. Not great, but all good. Greg Olsen and Matt Forte are big matchup problems for teams.

 

12. New England Patriots (1-1)

1. This is not the 2007 Patriots. The offense has been pretty bad. It seems like teams have figured them out.

2. The defense is a big liability. It looks like getting rid of Seymour was a mistake, at least for this season. Losing Mayo hurts them even more. The offense had better start playing better.

3. Something is wrong with Tom Brady. Besides the last two drives against Buffalo, Brady has looked like a below-average quarterback. He will bounce back, but will be lucky to throw 30 touchdowns this year.

 

TIER 4

13. Denver (2-0)

1. The defense is revamped. They have allowed a league-low 6.5 points per game in the first two weeks. The two teams they played scored 20 and 31 points in their other games. Is this really the same team that gave up the third-most points in the NFL last year?

2. Kyle Orton will not be able to replace Jay Cutler. He doesn't make a ton of mistakes, but Orton will never take over a game like Cutler could.

3. Elvis Dumervil is one of the most underrated defensive ends in the league. Last year was an off year, but he's already bounced back. He is a pass rusher in the mold of Dwight Freeney.

 

14. Dallas (1-1)

1. The scoreboard won't be a big deal. Nobody is going to hit the thing. People made a way to big of a deal about it.

2. When Tony Romo is on, he is great; when he is off, he is bad.

3. Felix Jones is one of the best game-breakers in the league. He's in the mold of Darren Sproles and Leon Washington, but with size.

 

15. Houston (1-1)

1. Andre Johnson very arguably a better wide receiver than Larry Fitzgerald.  He was matched up with one of the best corners in the league in Week 1. He went crazy in Week 2. That is the real Andre Johnson.

2. If Matt Schaub stays healthy, he will be a top-five quarterback in terms of yards and touchdowns. They are going to throw a lot.

3. Steve Slaton has disappeared. He has 51 yards in two games. However, Slaton has faced two of the best run defenses in the league, New York and Tennessee.

 

16. Philadelphia (1-1)

1. Michael Vick will not get a lot of playing time. He is, most likely, the fourth quarterback on the team right now. They will use him, but not as much as many people would have thought.

2. If the defense doesn't get a good pass rush, they are in trouble. The Eagles were all over Jake Delhomme in Week 1 and they destroyed Carolina. Drew Brees had all day in Week 2 and the Saints destroyed Philly.

3. Brian Westbrook will not be healthy all season. He probably won't get more than 15 to 20 touches in any game this year. He is banged up. Luckily for Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy has looked great.

 

17. Arizona (1-1)

1. Kurt Warner is healthy and he is still a great quarterback. Twenty-four of twenty-six? Seriously? He's still got it.

2. They can't run. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower have both been pretty bad. This is a pass-first team in a big way.

3. The defense is better than last year. Especially against the pass. Rodgers-Cromartie keeps maturing into a star.

 

18. Cincinnati (1-1)

1. Chad Ochocinco is back in every way. He is back to being flashy without being super obnoxious and actually walking the walk with his play on the field. He's on his way to a vintage Chad (Johnson or Ochocinco?) year.

2. Cedric Benson can run. Cedric Benson? He has 217 yards, a 4.3 yards-per-carry average and a touchdown. Very un-Benson-like, but this could be the new Cedric.

3. This is the best defense Marvin Lewis has had. Rey Maualuga is going to be a star at linebacker. If Lewis is still around he could be his new Ray Lewis.

 

19. Green Bay (1-1)

1. Aaron Rodgers still has a ways to go to be considered an elite quarterback. He's been very average so far. But at least he isn't throwing interceptions.

2. The defense is basically the same as it was last year. They will get a lot of turnovers and make big plays, but they'll give up a lot as well. They gamble too much.

3. Donald Driver is one of the most consistent wide outs in the league. He's going to end the year with 1,000 yards for the sixth straight season. Are there any other guys in the league that have been that consistent without being considered superstars?

 

20. Tennessee (0-2)

1. Chris Johnson is the fastest running back in the league. The game he had against Houston was pure amazing. He might challenge Adrian Peterson for the rushing title this year.

2. Kerry Collins is still a solid quarterback. He has a respectable 85.6 rating and will lead them just like he did last year.

3. Losing Haynesworth hurt. With Albert, teams had to focus on him not only stuffing the run, but also rushing the pass. They still have good run stuffers, but not a big guy in the middle to rush the passer. This will lead to teams passing all over a very average secondary.

 

TIER 5

21. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

1. Trent Edwards is a legitimate starting NFL quarterback. He has made some very good throws in the first couple of games.

2. Fred Jackson will keep the starting running back job when Marshawn Lynch comes back. Jackson has been a phenomenal playmaker, through the air and on the ground. Lynch won't take the job until Jackson falters.

3. Terrell Owens is not going to be a huge difference maker in the fortunes of the team. He has not been a huge factor so far and will continue not to be.

 

22. Carolina Panthers (0-2)

1. The defense really misses Maake Kemoeatu. They can't stop teams if they really want to score. They cannot put faith in their defense this year.

2. Jake Delhomme will have his good weeks and his bad weeks. He'll probably have 2-3 good weeks, 8-9 average weeks and 3-4 bad weeks. The Panthers had better win in the weeks where he plays good or average because the games where he blows up are impossible to win.

3. DeAngelo Williams is still a game-breaking talent. He is going to score 20 touchdowns again. He is getting the ball in the red zone and making great plays to get in. Once he starts getting more carries, better numbers and long runs will come.

 

23. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

1. Their season depends on the health of Matt Hasselbeck. Seneca Wallace won't make mistakes, but he doesn't have a good arm. He's a poor man's Jason Campbell.

2. Justin Forsett is their best back. It wouldn't be surprising at all if Forsett is the starter by season's end. He's looked explosive in the few touches he's gotten.

3. Their run defense is horrible. Frank Gore embarrassed them.

 

24. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

1. Jamarcus Russell has a good arm, but not a good brain. He has no accuracy. His completion percentage against the Chiefs (yes, those Chiefs) was an abysmal 29 percent. That won't be winning any more football games for them.

2. Michael Bush needs to get more carries. He is powerful and fast. He could be a better version of Brandon Jacobs if given the chance.

3. The Richard Seymour trade might actually work out. He had two sacks in the opener. When was the last time Oakland cranked out a good first round pick anyway?

 

25. Washington Redskins (1-1)

1. Jason Campbell needs to be replaced. He doesn't take any chances and is holding them back. They need a quarterback who can throw down the field with receivers like Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El.

2. They are very bad inside the 20. Shaun Suisham has kicked four field goals this year, the longest being 28 yards. They need to score when they are that close.

3. Clinton Portis has lost a step. Really Clinton? Julius Jones can rush for almost 120 yards against St. Louis and you can only manage 79? He needs to step it up.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

1. They still have no receiver. Matt Jones and Reggie Williams might have been better than Torry Holt and umm...nobody.

2. The secondary is going to get exploited by everybody. Kurt Warner absolutely killed them.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew is good, but needs the ball. He averaged over five yards per carry against the Cards, but only rushed the ball 13 times.

 

27. Miami Dolphins (0-2)

1. Ronnie Brown is one of the most inconsistent backs in the league. He's either going to have a really big game or a dud.

2. Joey Porter has fallen back to earth. He has just four tackles and one sack through two games.

3. Ted Ginn is an all or nothing player. He'll have 120 yards one week and no catches the next. Expect more of nothing from him this year. He's not that good.

 

TIER 6

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)

1. Cadillac Williams has bounced back nicely. Most people would have had him as the third stringer a month ago. Now he is the featured back.

2. Kellen Winslow has really benefited from his change of scenery. He has two touchdowns in the first two weeks and Byron Leftwich looks for the tight ends a lot. He's going to score eight or nine touchdowns.

3. This is a horrible defense. It looks like anything they had, Monte Kiffin took with him.

 

29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)

1. Matt Cassel was a horrible waste of $50 million. He is a purely average quarterback. It would shock me if he ever makes a Pro Bowl.

2. Dwayne Bowe is developing into one of the best receivers in the league. He's big, fast and has good hands. That's a great combo on a team that is going to pass a lot.

3. Todd Haley doesn't look like a big upgrade over Herm Edwards. He's made some questionable decisions in the first couple of weeks.

TIER 7

30. Detroit Lions (0-2)

1. They are going to win a game this year. If they can actually show up for a second half, they might get four or five. They hung with two very good teams in the first two games.

2. Matthew Stafford looks decent. He won't put up great numbers this year, but all he has is Calvin Johnson. That's it. His offensive line doesn't do him any favors, either.

3. The defense desperately needs to force turnovers. They aren't stopping anybody.

 

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

1. Brady Quinn has played very poorly. He is not an upgrade over Derek Anderson. At least Anderson throws a good deep-ball.

2. Jamal Lewis is done. Overweight power backs typically don't age too well.

3. Braylon Edwards needs a change of scenery. He can be a star in the NFL if he gets out of Cleveland.

 

32. St. Louis Rams (0-2)

1. Steven Jackson would be a top-three back on any other team. He is the complete package of a power, speed and receiving back. Too bad they'll be playing from behind all year. They'd be better off handing to Jackson 30 times per game, even if they're losing.

2. They have no receivers. Has there ever been a team that had worse receivers? Not even a knowledgeable NFL fan could name a single Rams receiver.

3. The defense is going to get killed. Bad news, Rams fans—the offense isn't going to score, either.

 

If I had to pick how the season will end today...

*runner up in (_)

MVP: Drew Brees (Adrian Peterson)

Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson (Drew Brees)

Defensive Player of the Year: Ray Lewis (John Abraham)

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Sanchez (Percy Harvin)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Rey Maualuga (James Laurinaitis)

Comeback Player of the Year: Shawne Merriman (Torry Holt)

Coach of the Year: Rex Ryan (John Harbaugh)

NFC division winners: Bears, Saints, Giants, 49ers

NFC wild cards: Vikings, Cowboys

AFC division winners: Ravens, Colts, Patriots, Chargers

AFC wild cards: Steelers, Jets

NFC Champion: Saints

AFC Champion: Chargers

Super Bowl Champion (MVP): Chargers (Rivers)

 

Bold Prediction of the Week: Chris Johnson will lead the NFL in rushing at year's end, not Adrian Peterson.

 

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