NFL Power Rankings Week 2: Initial Standings Post-Thursday Night Football

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2019

Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) and quarterback Jameis Winston (3) celebrate following the team's 20-14 win over the Carolina Panthers following an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Week 2 of the NFL season kicked off in thunderous fashion. Actually, it was a rain delay that clouded Thursday night's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers—a game that resulted in a surprising Buccaneers road victory.

That outcome puts the NFC South in an interesting state. The New Orleans Saints looked solid in Week 1, if not special. The Saints and Buccaneers are the only two teams with wins in the division, and every team faces a fair bit of pressure moving forward.

The Atlanta Falcons, by the way, host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. The Saints have a rematch of the NFC Championship Game with the Los Angeles Rams.

There's a real chance the Bucs hold the division lead by the end of Week 2, which again puts the division in an intriguing state.

What's the state of the NFL as a whole? Let's take a look at some post-Thursday power rankings.

         

NFL Power Rankings, Post TNF

1. New England Patriots

2. Kansas City Chiefs

3. Los Angeles Rams

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Philadelphia Eagles

6. Dallas Cowboys

7. Los Angeles Chargers

8. Seattle Seahawks

9. Green Bay Packers

10. Baltimore Ravens

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

12. Chicago Bears

13. Tennessee Titans

14. Houston Texans

15. Atlanta Falcons

16. Minnesota Vikings

17. San Francisco 49ers

18. Buffalo Bills

19. Cleveland Browns

20. Indianapolis Colts

21. Detroit Lions

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

23. Oakland Raiders

24. Cincinnati Bengals

25. Carolina Panthers

26. Arizona Cardinals

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

28. Denver Broncos

29. Washington Redskins

30. New York Giants

31. New York Jets

32. Miami Dolphins

       

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers looked like one of the league's worst teams in Week 1, and quarterback Jameis Winston played like the questionable starter that he's been throughout his career. Week 2, however, brought changes.

Winston looked competent, completing 64 percent of his passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. The defense—led by Shaq Barrett, who had three sacks—looked nasty at times, and it stopped running back Christian McCaffrey on a key 4th-and-1 near the end of the game to seal the victory.

The Bucs have a rising star in wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin finished Thursday's game with 121 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Through two weeks, he has 11 catches, 174 yards and two scores. In Godwin, Mike Evans and O.J. Howard, Tampa has a solid receiving trio for Winston to utilize moving forward.

Oh, and the Buccaneers running game, which was a disaster for much of last season, was respectable. Tampa gained 100 yards on the ground as a team, and while the 3.2 yards-per-carry average isn't eye-opening, it was enough to grind the game away on the road.

The Buccaneers may not be a playoff team in 2019, but they're a more complete team than they were a year ago.

    

25. Carolina Panthers

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

The Panthers are in trouble. It's not just the 0-2 start that should concern Carolina—though that certainly is alarming—it's the lack of offense. Cam Newton racked up 324 yards passing, but he was inconsistent and often unable to stretch the field.

Carolina was just 3-of-14 on third down and 0-of-3 on fourth down.

"It's hard to look defensive guys in their eyes after a game like this because offensively we didn't hold up our end of the bargain," Newton said, per Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com.

Is Newton 100 percent? That's a fair question and one that's going to hang over the Panthers for much of the season. He did top 300 yards, but it took Newton 50 attempts to get there, and he completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

One thing that is certain is that Carolina is going to struggle when opponents are able to contain McCaffrey—as the Buccaneers did on Thursday. McCaffrey finished with just 37 yards rushing and 16 yards receiving. The end result was an offense that couldn't extend drives or pull out the win over the Buccaneers at home.

    

31. New York Jets

The New York Jets have yet to play in Week 2, but they've managed to slide down the rankings regardless. Blowing a late lead against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 was bad enough, but in the days since, they've seen their talent pool take a major hit.

The biggest hit is the loss of quarterback Sam Darnold, who is out at least a week and possibly more with mononucleosis.

The Jets have also lost wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season with a neck injury and have several other key players dealing with injuries.

New York is staring an 0-2 start directly in the face, though there's still a chance they pull off a win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. Cleveland looked absolutely out of sync in their opener, committing 18 penalties for nearly 200 yards.

Another mistake-filled night by Cleveland could gift the Jets a win and a chance to remain in the AFC East hunt. However, the Jets will be relying on backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, and they will need a lot of help to pull it out.

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