NFL Power Rankings Week 3: 2015 Standings, Reaction for All Teams Post-MNF

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 22, 2015

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during their game at Lambeau Field on September 20, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL tends to be unpredictable by nature of parity, but what happened in Week 2 was particularly bizarre.

Perceptions were turned on their heads as numerous upsets and 180-degree turns from the opening week's worst teams transpired. ESPN's Kevin Negandhi captured some of the more notable results:

Kevin Negandhi @KNegandhiESPN

Yesterday was the first time ever that the Raiders, Jaguars, Browns, Buccaneers and Redskins each won on the same day.

Contained therein are three quarterbacks from the 2014 draft class. Cleveland's Johnny Manziel made his first post-rehab start and guided the Browns to victory, while Derek Carr and Blake Bortles also lit it up in respectable winning performances.

But the team atop the latest power rankings has the best in the business at the most important position. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are leading the way off a 27-17 victory over Seattle to improve to 2-0.

Read on to find out who the AFC front-runner is and more on why the top teams are slotted where they are.

2015 NFL Power Rankings Post-Week 2
Rank Team
1 Green Bay Packers
2 New England Patriots
3 Arizona Cardinals
4 Denver Broncos
5 Cincinnati Bengals
6 Pittsburgh Steelers
7 Atlanta Falcons
8 Buffalo Bills
9 Carolina Panthers
10 New York Jets
11 San Diego Chargers
12 Seattle Seahawks
13 Kansas City Chiefs
14 Minnesota Vikings
15 St. Louis Rams
16 Dallas Cowboys
17 Baltimore Ravens
18 Washington Redskins
19 New York Giants
20 San Francisco 49ers
21 Indianapolis Colts
22 Oakland Raiders
23 Cleveland Browns
24 Tennessee Titans
25 Miami Dolphins
26 Philadelphia Eagles
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
28 Detroit Lions
29 Chicago Bears
30 Jacksonville Jaguars
31 Houston Texans
32 New Orleans Saints
Rankings are personal opinion

Analyzing Top Teams

Green Bay Packers

Rodgers has been phenomenal in recent years and has managed to offset many of the injuries that have raised concerns about Green Bay's offense. As long as Rodgers is under center, it seems the Packers will be just fine.

The MMQB's Peter King put Rodgers' greatness at Lambeau Field in particular in perspective:

Peter King @SI_PeterKing

The last time Aaron Rodgers threw a pick at Lambeau Field, ball was snapped on the play by Jeff Saturday. -- Saturday retired 30 months ago.

One of the underrated developments from Sunday night's win over Seattle was how well the Packers played up front on defense. B.J. Raji stood out and showed flashes of the former top-10 draft pick who went to the Pro Bowl in 2011, per Pro Football Focus' Bryan Hall:

Bryan Hall @PFF_BryanHall

BJ Raji with another impact game. Had 3 QB hurries, 3 defensive run stops and led the Dline with a +2.8 overall grade.

"B.J. Raji had an outstanding game. His best football game as a Green Bay Packer in my opinion," said head coach Mike McCarthy afterward, per the team's official Twitter account.

If coordinator Dom Capers' deservedly criticized defense can play at an average level for the year, there's reason to believe Green Bay will emerge as the team to beat in the NFC. Its own division features two 0-2 teams in Chicago and Detroit, while Minnesota figures to be one year away from truly threatening for the NFC North title.

It's still too early to say for sure whether the Packers' stellar defense will continue. The Seahawks were coming off a physical battle with St. Louis' terrifying front, which had to take a toll on the Lambeau visitors.

New England Patriots

For three quarters on the road against AFC East rival Buffalo, the reigning Super Bowl champions gave the Bills crowd little to cheer about. New England did well to stave off a comeback bid, but were able to thanks to how sensational Tom Brady was.

Brady picked apart the vaunted Bills defense schemed up by the brilliant mind of Rex Ryan. NFL.com's Chris Trapasso highlights how well Brady executed the Pats' precision-based short passing game en route to 466 yards passing and three scores:

Chris Trapasso @ChrisTrapasso

Tom Brady avged 2.00 secs to throw, 2nd fastest in NFL in Week 2 (only 1 game in '14 was faster for Brady) Tyrod avged 3.03, highest in NFL.

Julian Edelman is a reception machine, while tight end Rob Gronkowski (seven catches, 113 yards and a touchdown versus Buffalo) is further distinguishing himself as the best player at his position—and is showing he can stay healthy.

Not to stick too close to the same structure as the breakdown of Green Bay, but there seems to be a pattern here with elite QBs and defensive fronts that have stepped up to start the 2015 campaign.

After getting gashed often by Pittsburgh in the season opener, it appeared the Patriots capitalized on the extra time to prepare for Week 2. They proceeded to bottle up dual-threat Bills QB Tyrod Taylor for much of the contest, forcing three interceptions and registering eight sacks.

If that caliber of pass rush keeps up, the loss of Darrelle Revis in the New England secondary won't sting as much as the Pats bid to guard the Lombardi Trophy.

Arizona Cardinals

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Bruce Arians is simply one of the best coaches in football. Arians is in that elite conversation. The Cardinals have ripped off two impressive wins to ascend to the NFC West lead after two weeks.

Credit is due to the way Arians has positioned QB Carson Palmer to thrive. Coming off a devastating second torn ACL, Palmer is showing no signs of being washed up or declining. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The numbers don't lie, courtesy of Will Brinson of CBSSports.com:

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

Might not realize but @AZCardinals QB @carsonpalmer has been really good over last 16 games: http://t.co/1W492ohlV2 http://t.co/OZszCqTQh1

Rookie RB David Johnson has also been a revelation of sorts, opening Sunday's win over Chicago with a 108-yard kickoff return for a score. Johnson found paydirt again on a 13-yard TD scamper, adding to his 55-yard scoring reception from Week 1.

B/R Insights supplied more context for Arizona's Week 2 offensive eruption—aided by points from special teams and the defense:

Any concerns that the Cardinals defense would miss departed play-caller Todd Bowles, now the head coach of the New York Jets, have been dismissed for now. No matter what the circumstances or hardships, the combination of Arians and Palmer equips Arizona with the leadership to endure.

Divisional matchups with San Francisco and St. Louis in the next two contests offer the Cardinals the chance to put some real distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC West. They have been a solid team for two years under Arians but appear primed to take that next proverbial step in 2015.


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