Whew. Anyone else exhausted after the opening week of the 2019 NFL season?
The Cleveland Browns went from media darlings to facing a must-win contest already in Week 2 after their 30-point loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Baltimore Ravens did a convincing impression of the Kansas City Chiefs during their 59-10 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins, an organization apparently content with life in the fish tank until the 2020 draft.
The New England Patriots clowned the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-3. The New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans might have already delivered the game of the year; the Saints' 30-28 thriller wasn't completed until the third of three scoring plays—Wil Lutz' 58-yard field goal as time expired—in the final minute.
In a league where it's always wise to expect the unexpected, Week 1 offered ample reminders of how many times expectations must be reset.
That's what we're out to accomplish here by using our trusty crystal ball to peer into the future by predicting records and power rankings based on the projected outcomes of Week 2's 16 contests. We'll then highlight three marquee matchups to detail our rationale behind the expected results.
Power Rankings, Predicting Post-Week 2 Standings
1. New England Patriots (2-0)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
3. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
4. New Orleans Saints (2-0)
5. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
6. Minnesota Vikings (2-0)
7. Houston Texans (1-1)
8. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)
9. Tennessee Titans (2-0)
10. Chicago Bears (1-1)
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
12. Los Angeles Chargers (2-0)
13. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
14. Green Bay Packers (1-1)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
16. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
17. Carolina Panthers (1-1)
18. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
19 Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
20. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
21. Detroit Lions (0-1-1)
22. Denver Broncos (0-2)
23. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
24. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)
25. New York Giants (1-1)
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)
27. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
28. Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
29. New York Jets (0-2)
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
31. Washington Redskins (0-2)
32. Miami Dolphins (0-2)
Saints Rise To No. 4 With Second Signature Win
Congrats, Saints. Your reward for surviving Monday night's nail-biter? An NFC championship game rematch with the high-powered Rams.
This will be the conference's best measuring-stick matchup to date, as each club seems poised for another lengthy playoff push. The last collision was so close that an egregious missed pass interference directly led to an NFL rule change allowing coaches to challenge non-calls on pass interference.
"We'll be ready for the new changes from the rules," Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters.
What will be trickier for L.A. to navigate, though, is a New Orleans offense that already appears in midseason form. Drew Brees was his typically precise self (32-of-43 passing for 370 yards and two scores), Alvin Kamara did a little of everything (20 touches for 169 yards) and Michael Thomas remained a reception machine (10 catches on 13 targets for 123 yards).
Much like Week 1 for both clubs, this is almost certainly going down to the wire, but New Orleans will get the last laugh this round.
No. 6 Vikings Stand Atop NFC North With Win at Lambeau Field
This is Border Battle No. 118, and the Packers enjoy a slight 60-54-3 advantage all time. The Vikings should slightly narrow the gap, though, as a healthy Dalvin Cook could blow the top off this offense.
While limited to just 15 games over the past two seasons combined, the 24-year-old electrified in Sunday's 28-12 win over Atlanta with 21 rushes for 111 yards and two scores. Minnesota proved so effective on the ground—rookie Alexander Mattison added 49 yards on nine carries—that Kirk Cousins only attempted 10 passes.
"When I'm on the field, a lot of special things can happen," Cook told reporters.
Minnesota may need a more diverse portfolio on offense in this matchup, as Aaron Rodgers at home is different to Matt Ryan on the road. While Rodgers was fairly quiet in Green Bay's 10-3 win over Chicago (18-of-30 for 203 yards and one touchdown), his Hall of Fame-caliber resume highlights the deafening levels his offensive volume can reach.
That said, the Vikings have the weapons to get their passing game going, and their defense is ferocious. They have enough to scratch a victory out of this tricky road test.
No. 18 Browns Save Face in New York
The opener of Cleveland's most anticipated season in years was a dud. There's no way to sugarcoat it.
While the 43-13 score was perhaps more lopsided than the game, the Browns fell behind in the second quarter and never recovered. They committed a maddening 18 penalties for 182 yards, saw starting left tackle Greg Robinson ejected for kicking Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro and watched Baker Mayfield get sacked for a safety and later throw three interceptions in the fourth quarter.
"We lost our discipline, and we lost our composure," first-year Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters, "but it is one game, and we are going to be tested. You either take adversity and run toward each other or you run away. We have a bunch of guys who are going to run toward each other, and we are going to be fine."
Who knows if Kitchens' words will prove prescient, but a date with the Jets could be exactly what the Browns need to get back on track. New York blew a 16-0 second-half lead during its 17-16 loss to Buffalo, generated only 223 yards of offense (3.4 yards per play) and might be without both Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) and first-round defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (ankle).
Mosley is New York's on-field play-caller. Losing him could create confusion that Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of Cleveland's talented offense can exploit. With the schedule growing increasingly challenging in coming weeks, the Browns need this game. They'll find a way to get it.