2021 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 3?

NFL StaffContributor ISeptember 21, 2021

2021 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 3?

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    Bleacher Report

    We're two weeks into the 2021 NFL season, and already we have seen more than a few surprises.

    Two AFC West teams from which not much was expected this year are undefeated. The Las Vegas Raiders have been especially impressive, notching wins over a pair of teams that made the postseason in 2020. In Carolina, the Panthers are riding high after coming away victorious in each of their first two games.

    Of course, plenty has gone as expected too. The Buccaneers are rolling after blasting the hapless Falcons at home. The NFC West has been as advertised, with Seattle's loss to Tennessee in Week 2 the only blemish on the division's record. Things haven't gone as well in the AFC South, where the Colts and Jaguars are winless and the division is 2-6 as a whole.

    After a weekend of action highlighted by Baltimore's thrilling win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brent Sobleski, Gary Davenport and Brad Gagnon gathered for their weekly pass at ranking the league's 32 teams from worst to first.

    There were a few big risers. A couple of big fallers. And a team that appears superglued into the unenviable slot of the worst team in the league.

    It's there we'll start, with a plea for patience from a coach who may be wishing he'd stayed in the TV booth.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Last Week: 32

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Denver 23-13

    The Urban Meyer era in Jacksonville is looking a lot like the era that came before it. And the era that came before that.

    The Jaguars are not a good football team. Offensively, Jacksonville managed just 75 rushing yards and 189 yards total in Week 2. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed just 14 of 33 passes and threw two more interceptions.

    Things have been so bad over the first two weeks that Meyer asked fans for patience via a tweet from the team's official Twitter account.

    "Hang in there with us. We're going to get better," the statement reads. "The one thing about Jacksonville and the 904, go to sleep knowing there's not going to be any group working harder to get this thing flipped."

    Given that the Jacksonville fanbase just endured a one-win season, the team has now lost 17 consecutive contests, and there's little reason to think things are going be any different at home Sunday against the red-hot Cardinals, that plea for patience isn't likely to go over all that well.

31. New York Jets (0-2)

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Last Week: 29

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. New England 25-6

    Now, it's way too early to pass judgment on rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The second overall pick in the 2021 draft could well be the franchise QB the Jets have sought for so very long.

    But Week 2 was not kind to the former BYU standout.

    Without tackle Mekhi Becton and facing the multiple fronts and coverages of the New England Patriots, Wilson was terrible: 19 completions in 33 attempts for 210 yards and four interceptions. He had as many picks as completions in the first half.

    Still, despite that awful game, Wilson told reporters that he's not going to change who he is.

    "I just have to remember the situation I'm in," he said. "I'm an important piece in this whole thing, and I just have to keep learning and getting better. You have to keep that swag and that mojo every single week."

    We'll see how long the swag lasts if the losses keep piling up.

30. Detroit Lions (0-2)

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Last Week: 30

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Green Bay 35-17

    If you're the glass half-full type, there are some positives to take away from the Lions' loss at Lambeau Field on Monday night. Detroit gave the Packers all they could handle in the first half and actually held a 17-14 lead at intermission.

    Unfortunately, NFL games have two halves.

    In the second half, a Lions defense that just doesn't have the talent to stop the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams was exposed. Offensively, Jared Goff committed a pair of costly turnovers. Goff was also Detroit's leading rusher in the game, which is not a stat that says "winning football."

    The cold, hard, reality is that there may not be a team in the league with less talent than the Lions. More weeks than not, that's going to show. Things certainly won't get any easier Sunday, when Lamar Jackson and the Ravens visit Ford Field.

    If you're a Lions fan looking for solace, your best bet is looking ahead to next April's draft.

    That may be the next time something good happens to the long-suffering franchise.

29. Atlanta Falcons (0-2)

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Last Week: 31

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Tampa Bay 48-25

    There was a time when it appeared the Atlanta Falcons might actually give the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers a run for their money in Week 2.

    That time lasted right up until Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw two pick-sixes.

    With those picks and another long season on the horizon, it's only a matter of time until talk turns to replacing Ryan and closing the door on that particular part of Falcons history. But the reality is that Ryan didn't play that badly in Week 2—one of the interceptions for a score was a wildly tipped ball. It's not Ryan's fault that the defense isn't good. Or that the offensive line needs work. Or that Atlanta averaged 2.8 yards a carry on the ground against the Buccaneers.

    "Ryan remains the face of the franchise in Atlanta, which also lines him up for scapegoat duty," Davenport said. "The Falcons are a bad team, but unless they can find a trade partner, cutting Ryan loose isn't going to do anything but make them that much worse."

28. New York GIants (0-2)

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Last Week: 28

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Washington 30-29

    The good news for the New York Giants is that quarterback Daniel Jones played well in Week 2. The third-year pro completed 22 of 32 passes for 249 yards and a score and picked up a team-leading 95 yards and another score on the ground.

    That's it. That's the good news.

    Giants fans must feel like they are living the NFL equivalent of Groundhog Day, because the same issues that have seemingly plagued the team for years were again evident against Washington. The offensive line play was horrible. The run game (outside of Jones and one long run by Saquon Barkley) sputtered. There were numerous miscues and 11 penalties, including an offsides call that gave Washington a second shot at the game-winning field goal.

    "The Giants are a bad football team," Davenport said. "And the mistakes and penalties reflect directly on head coach Joe Judge. The pathetic state of the offensive line, on the other hand, reflects directly on general manager manager Dave Gettleman. The odds that either still has a job in New York in 2022 aren't good."

27. Houston Texans (1-1)

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Last Week: 27

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Cleveland 31-21

    Let's get this out of the way.

    We were wrong about the Houston Texans. After blasting the Jaguars in Week 1, the Texans were giving the Cleveland Browns all they could handle in the first half of Sunday's game.

    But then starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor pulled his hamstring, and with third-round rookie Davis Mills thrust into action, the Texans just couldn't keep up.

    With Taylor's availability to play Thursday night against the Panthers up in the air, head coach David Culley was asked if we could see Deshaun Watson under center in Week 3.

    "Deshaun Watson will be deactivated this week just like he's been for the first two ballgames," Culley said, per Mark Berman of KRIV. "As far as Tyrod goes, at this point right now, it's day-to-day. He's getting an MRI. He's been looked at. We'll just see this afternoon how it is. If he's able to go he'll play”

    Per Aaron Wilson, Taylor's MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain that could sideline Taylor a month. Mills will make his first career start against the Panthers.

    "It's really too bad that Taylor got hurt," Davenport said. "Given how many expected the Texans to be one of the league's worst teams, it was impressive to see the level he had the offense operating at. Hopefully he'll be back soon, because there is some real spoiler potential with this Texans team while he's leading it."

26. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Last Week: 19

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 27-24

    The schedule-makers didn't do the Indianapolis Colts any favors to open the season. The team's first five games are brutal: vs. Seattle, vs. Los Angeles, at Tennessee, at Miami and at Baltimore.

    Sunday's three-point loss to the Rams drops the Colts to 0-2 and into a tie for last place with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South. As if that winless record and brutal schedule aren't troubling enough, now the team could be without quarterback Carson Wentz against the Titans.

    Wentz sprained both ankles against the Rams, and he told reporters there was just no way he could have re-entered the game.

    "Felt it right away. Tried to tape it up and do everything I could to finish the game," Wentz said. "... I've sprained my ankle probably 100 times since I was a kid. This one I just couldn't play on it."

    If Wentz is out and Jacob Eason has to start against the Titans, Dolphins and/or Ravens, the Colts have little chance of winning.

    And Indy's playoff aspirations could be toast.

25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

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    Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    Last Week: 25

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Arizona 34-33

    Sure, the Minnesota Vikings blew a 20-7 lead Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals and missed a 37-yard field goal that would have won the game at the end of regulation. Sure, the Vikings are 0-2. But head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that he's actually encouraged by the team's start to the season.

    "I think today was encouraging, honestly, about the heart that we played with today, and the fight that we played with today," Zimmer said. "If we play like that, we'll win a lot of games. They may all come down to like this, like the last two have. As long as we do that, we keep fighting and keep trying to get better, and keep working together, sticking together as a football team, then I think we've got a chance."

    Zimmer's right that the team has a chance. Per Will Ragatz of Inside the Vikings, since 1990, 30 teams that started 0-2 made the postseason. Three won the Super Bowl.

    But those 30 playoff teams were from 258 squads (11.6 percent). The Vikings have started the season 0-2 14 times in franchise history.

    They made the postseason after that 0-2 start just once, back in 2008.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    Last Week: 21

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Chicago 20-17

    Heading into Sunday's matchup in Chicago, no quarterback in the NFL had a longer streak of pass attempts without an interception than Cincinnati's Joe Burrow.

    So of course he threw three in Week 2—on three consecutive passes. One was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Roquan Smith. Another set up a field goal that wound up being the difference in a three-point loss.

    Per Paul Dehner of The Athletic, Burrow allowed after the game that those miscues can't happen.

    "We tried to get it out quick and knew they had a good pass rush and were going to get it out quick. They just started sitting on all of our routes," said Burrow "You've got to throw the ball over their head. At least make them feel like you are going to be able to do that and call some plays that go over their head."

    Of course, it's rather difficult for Burrow to throw deep passes from his back. The second-year pro has already been sacked nine times in two games behind Cincy's allegedly improved O-line.

    If that continues, Burrow and the Bengals are in for another long year.

    "Cincinnati came down from its Week 1 high very quickly," Sobleski said. "The concerns are still evident. In two weeks, Burrow has been sacked nine times, which is tied for second-most in the league, and hit 16 more times. The Bengals can be a very fun team, as long as the franchise quarterback remains upright. As of now, it's still an issue."

23. Chicago Bears (1-1)

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Last Week: 24

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. Cincinnati 20-17

    The Justin Fields era is here.

    After veteran quarterback Andy Dalton injured his knee against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, it fell to rookie quarterback Justin Fields to take the Bears the rest of the way.

    The Bears did eke out a three-point win, but Fields didn't play especially well: He completed just six of 13 passes and threw a pick. He was the first to admit to reporters after the game that he needs to improve if the Bears are going to keep winning.

    "I don't think I'm pleased with how I played at all," Fields said. "I think there's a lot more in me that I have to show. That's going to come with time. I know it's not going to happen overnight, so I'm just going to keep grinding, and no matter what happens, I know I'm meant for this. ... And I definitely think I can play better. I just think that this is the beginning. I'm definitely excited for the future and excited to get back to practice."

    Head coach Matt Nagy said after the game that he doesn't believe Dalton's injury is serious. But it's hard to imagine the Bears going back to the veteran if Fields plays reasonably well next week in Cleveland.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Last Week: 22

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 17-11

    In Week 1, the Philadelphia Eagles got the Jalen Hurts they hoped the young quarterback would become in his second season.

    In Week 2, the Eagles got the Jalen Hurts who was equal parts electrifying and maddening as a rookie.

    Hurts once again picked up yards with his legs Sunday against the Niners; his 82 yards on 10 carries led the team. But his passing line wasn't nearly as good as the week before: 12 completions on 23 attempts for 190 yards.

    With that said, Hurts' so-so day was far from the worst thing that happened to the Eagles on Sunday. Per Eagles reporter Derrick Gunn, veteran defensive end Brandon Graham was carted off the field with what is believed to be a season-ending Achilles tear.

    "The Eagles aren't a bad team," Davenport said. "They certainly aren't the worst team in the division. (Looking at you, New York.) But losing their defensive leader and best pass-rusher is a major blow to a team that doesn't have much margin for error."

21. Washington Football Team (1-1)

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Last Week: 20

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. New York Giants 30-29

    Heading into Week 2, the Washington Football Team was reeling. Not only did Washington lose at home in Week 1 to the Los Angeles Chargers, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick also suffered a hip injury that landed him on injured reserve.

    That injury inserted Taylor Heinicke into the starting lineup under center, And just as he did in last year's Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Heinicke went out and had had himself a day in a one-point win: 336 passing yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.5.

    That Washington got the win on a last-second field goal is the most important thing. But even in the victory, there were concerns. The presumption was that Washington would field one of the league's best defenses. But that defense has struggled somewhat over the first two games of the season, allowing 391 yards to the Giants a week after giving up 424 yards to the Chargers.

    "What's up with the defense? I really thought this unit would be one of the two or three best in football this season, but they've given up 48 first downs and more than 800 yards in two games," Gagnon said. "The good news is they're still 1-1 thanks to the Giants being the Giants, they're still in the NFC Least, and the offense is in good shape with Heinicke under center. When the D eventually gets on track, they could do a lot of damage. But there's no guarantee that'll happen."

20. Miami Dolphins (1-1)

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    Hans Deryk/Associated Press

    Last Week: 12

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Buffalo 35-0

    After a relatively impressive Week 1 win over the New England Patriots, the bottom dropped out for the Miami Dolphins.

    Not only were the Dolphins embarrassed at home by the rival Bills, but the Week 3 status of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now up in the air after the second-year pro was forced from the game with bruised ribs.

    "Don't know the severity of the injury right now," head coach Brian Flores told reporters after the game. "But we're going to run some tests tonight and tomorrow morning and we'll hopefully have a little more information."

    Mind you, this isn't to say that the outcome of Sunday's game would have been different had Tagovailoa been out there. But the Miami offense couldn't do anything of consequence with Jacoby Brissett under center.

    And with a trip to Vegas to face the red-hot Raiders next up on the schedule, it's hard to imagine the Dolphins winning that game without their starting quarterback.

    "Miami impressed with a strong victory against the rival New England Patriots only to be blanked by the Buffalo Bills in Week 2," Sobleski said. "Tagovailoa suffered bruised ribs in the contest, and the severity of the injury could very well dictate how effective the Dolphins offense is in the coming weeks. With the season already riding on Tagovailoa's development, Dolphins faithful should be concerned."

19. New Orleans Saints (1-1)

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    Last Week: 10

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Carolina 26-7

    So, um, about the Saints.

    New Orleans is the poster team for the perils of reading too much into a single game. After annihilating the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, the Saints looked like a team that could easily make it back to the playoffs despite Drew Brees' retirement.

    In Week 2, they did not.

    After throwing for five touchdowns without a single interception against the Packers, Saints quarterback Jameis Winston came crashing back to earth against the Panthers. Against Carolina, Winston completed just half of his 22 pass attempts for a meager 111 yards. He also fell back to the old turnover trap, throwing a pair of interceptions.

    The Saints were quite simply dominated in this game from start to finish. The Panthers came up one yard shy of tripling New Orleans' offensive output of 128 yards. The Saints allowed four sacks and gained just 2.8 yards a carry on the ground.

    "That didn't last long, did it? New Orleans had a magical Week 1 experience, but the reality is this is a flawed team that has bled talent in recent offseasons, and Winston is a flawed quarterback who will have just as many ugly days as pretty days," Gagnon said. "I get the feeling this season is going to be a roller-coaster ride for the Saints."

18. New England Patriots (1-1)

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Last Week: 15

    Week 2 Result: Won at New York Jets 25-6

    Sunday's victory over the New York Jets was a very Belichickian game.

    If you were looking for offensive fireworks, this wasn't the game for you. There were less than 600 yards of offense between the two teams, and they combined to go 8-of-25 on third down.

    That is, um, not good.

    But while the Patriots were outgained yardage-wise, New England didn't do the one thing that will always sink an NFL team. The Pats didn't turn the ball over, but they forced four Jets miscues.

    This is the recipe the Patriots are going to use this season: play defense, run the ball (24 carries for 101 yards) and try to keep the pressure off rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

    The question is how effective that strategy will be against teams that aren't tomato cans—like, say, the Tampa Bay Bradyneers, who come to Gillette Stadium in Week 4.

17. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Last Week: 17

    Week 2 Result: Won at Seattle 33-30 (OT)

    After getting flattened at home in Week 1, the Tennessee Titans badly needed a win Sunday in Seattle. It didn't look good at first, but the team was able to grind out a victory in overtime.

    The star of Sunday's win for the Titans was unquestionably running back Derrick Henry, who dominated the game's second half. By the time the team lined up for the game-winning kick, Henry had piled up 182 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while adding 55 more yards on six receptions.

    Head coach Mike Vrabel praised the bruising runner after the game.

    "It just never ceases to amaze me. We just got to keep being in opportunities and being in football games where he can help us affect the outcome," Vrabel told reporters. "That's really what happened today."

    Tennessee needs Henry to continue stepping up in a big way. Over the next six games, the Titans face the rival Colts twice and host both the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs.

16. Carolina Panthers (2-0)

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    Last Week: 26

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. New Orleans 26-7

    It appears we may have underestimated the Carolina Panthers.

    After gutting out a win over the hapless New York Jets in Week 1, the Panthers faced what appeared a daunting task in Week 2: a matchup with a New Orleans Saints team that blew out the Green Bay Packers last week.

    The Panthers then outplayed the Saints in every facet of the game during a blowout win of their own.

    Quarterback Sam Darnold was sharp, throwing for 305 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Running back Christian McCaffrey played like Christian McCaffrey, tallying 137 total yards and a score. And the Carolina defense was stout, allowing only 128 yards of offense and forcing two turnovers.

    "The Panthers have been one of the more surprising teams in the league so far this year," Davenport said. "But it could be a while before we really know how good they are. Their next eight games are all against teams that missed the postseason last year, and they don't face a team that finished .500 or better until they travel to Arizona on November 14."

    "Situation matters," Sobleski said. "Darnold is finally being placed in a position to succeed, and the 2018 No. 3 overall pick is finally starting to realize his potential. In his first two games with the Panthers, Darnold has a higher competition percentage, average yards per attempt, QBR and quarterback rating than he ever did during his days with the New York Jets. More importantly, Carolina is 2-0. Maybe Darnold takes a step back over the next few weeks, but he'd still be playing better than he previously did."

15. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0)

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Last Week: 23

    Week 2 Result: Won at Pittsburgh 26-17

    Break up the Las Vegas Raiders!

    The Raiders may be the NFL's most surprising team over the first two weeks of the 2021 season. They've opened with wins over a pair of teams that made the postseason last year.

    The biggest surprise has to be the play of quarterback Derek Carr. He's played at an MVP level so far, and he did so against two of the league's better defenses.

    Against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, Carr threw for 435 yards and two scores. He followed that performance up with 382 passing yards and two more scores in Sunday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The Raiders have a chance to maintain this momentum moving forward. Only one of their next six opponents made the playoffs last year, and that was a Chicago Bears team that went 8-8.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Last Week: 8

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Las Vegas 26-17

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have problems.

    This isn't to say that it's panic time in the Steel City after the Steelers fell to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2. But there are multiple causes for concern.

    For starters, while Ben Roethlisberger threw for 295 yards in the game, much of that came with Pittsburgh playing catch-up. For the second week in a row, Big Ben didn't look good throwing the ball, especially down the field.

    It's not like the ground game shined, either. Rookie running back Najee Harris was held in check for the second time in as many weeks, gaining only 38 yards on 10 carries. He did add five receptions for 43 yards and his first career touchdown, though.

    Injuries are adding up for Pittsburgh as well. Star edge-rusher T.J. Watt left the game with a groin injury and did not return, while top wide receiver Diontae Johnson suffered an apparent knee injury on the final play of the game.

    "You still never want to count the Steelers out, and we were reminded of that in Week 1," Gagnon said. "With that said, this team just isn't as crisp on either side of the ball these days. They've lost too much talent, and now the injury bug is a factor as well. Considering how strong the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns look, it's going to be a challenge for the Steelers to get back to the playoffs this winter."

13. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13

    Week 2 Result: Won vs Detroit 35-17

    After the Green Bay Packers were shelled by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, there was no shortage of hand-wringing about what was "wrong" with the team.

    If Monday night's win over the Detroit Lions was any indication, then the list isn't nearly as long as we originally thought.

    Green Bay admittedly started a little slow—the Packers allowed a touchdown on the game's opening drive and trailed the Lions 17-14 at the half. But Green Bay turned it on after intermission, and by game's end quarterback Aaron Rodgers had thrown four touchdown passes, wide receiver Davante Adams topped 100 receiving yards and running back Aaron Jones found the end zone four times.

    That isn't to say there isn't anything to worry about ahead of next week's meeting with the undefeated 49ers though. Green Bay was able to take advantage of some Detroit miscues, but the defense struggled early and didn't generate much of a pass rush.

    The Packers certainly looked better than in Week 1. But they don't look like a top-tier team in the NFC. At least not yet.

12. Denver Broncos (2-0)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Last Week: 18

    Week 2 Result: Won at Jacksonville 23-13

    Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is on a roll.

    Despite the loss of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in Week 1, Bridgwater shined in Sunday's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 328 yards and two scores without an interception. His passer rating for the game was a robust 125.8.

    It's the second time in as many weeks that the Broncos have notched a win on the road over a bad team. They now officially have Gagnon's attention.

    "I don't know if Bridgewater can keep this up, but his numbers are tremendous, and it's not as though he's just been a caretaker," he said. "He has a lot of support in Denver, and the Broncos are off to a very promising start. The AFC West might actually be semi-competitive this year."

    There's a pretty good chance that the good times will keep rolling in Week 3. The Broncos finally get to come home Sunday to face the winless Jets.

11. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Last Week: 16

    Week 2 Result: Won at Los Angeles Chargers 20-17

    In Week 1, the Cowboys threw the ball all over Raymond James Stadium and came up just short against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Week 2 brought a much different game plan, and a different result as well.

    The Cowboys leaned more heavily on the ground game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, and the pair added five receptions for 57 yards.

    The Cowboys also made big changes on defense. With both Demarcus Lawrence (who is on injured reserve) and Randy Gregory unavailable, they moved rookie linebacker Micah Parsons to the edge. The former Penn State standout acquitted himself well, notching a sack of Justin Herbert.

    "It was encouraging to see Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn change things up in Week 2, even if the defensive switches were born of necessity," Davenport said. "It's still awfully early, but the Cowboys look like the class of the NFC East right now."

10. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Last Week: 14

    Week 2 Result: Won at Philadelphia 17-11

    With the San Francisco 49ers offense struggling Sunday at Philadelphia, it was fair to wonder if head coach Kyle Shanahan might go to rookie quarterback Trey Lance over Jimmy Garoppolo.

    After the game, Garoppolo said he can't allow those thoughts into his head while he's playing.

    "You can only control what you can control, and the rest you try not to think about," he told reporters. "It's a football game, you've got a lot of things going on in your mind."

    It wasn't pretty, but Garoppolo and the 49ers made the plays they needed to, especially on defense, and earned a tough win on the road in Week 2.

    Things aren't going to get any easier for the 2-0 Niners in Week 3. They'll be taking on the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of the 2020 NFC Championship Game on Sunday night.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Last Week: 11

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Dallas 20-17

    On Sunday at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Chargers finally got to play in front of their fans.

    Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both had big games, and running back Austin Ekeler piled up 115 total yards. But a pair of Justin Herbert interceptions and an inability to stop the run led to Los Angeles becoming the first team in the AFC West to lose a game this season.

    After the game, quarterback Justin Herbert said the team needs to shake off the stink of this defeat quickly.

    "We have 15 more weeks," he told reporters. "We've got 15 more opportunities to play football and we got another game on Sunday against a really good opponent. So, we've got to watch the film. We can be salty about it for a couple of hours, but it's time to be back to work."

    The second-year signal-caller is right. The Chargers have no time to sulk, as they're headed to Kansas City in Week 3.

    "Herbert has developed into one of the game's most dynamic quarterbacks," Sobleski wrote. "His arm talent forces defenders to be alert at all times, because he can make certain throws most quarterbacks can't. Yes, the Chargers lost to the Cowboys on Sunday. Even so, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year and his supporting cast is one of the most promising groups that the NFL has to offer."

8. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Last Week: 3

    Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Tennessee 33-30 (OT)

    Well, so much for the Seattle Seahawks' stay in the top five of these power rankings.

    Through the first half Sunday, the Seahawks were rolling offensively, solid against the run defensively and held a 15-point lead at intermission.

    Then it all came apart.

    The Seahawks went from stout against the run in the first half to tissue-paper soft in the second, eventually allowing 182 yards and three scores to Derrick Henry. Outside of one long touchdown pass on a busted coverage, the Seattle offense couldn't get anything going after intermission.

    After one miserable offensive series in overtime, the Seahawks punted and the Titans drove down for the game-winning field goal.

    "Everything that cost the Seahawks in 2020 was on display in Week 2," Davenport said. "The offense got stale and predictable. The defense just got awful. And there were 10 penalties called on Seattle for 100 yards. With a daunting month of games ahead of them (at Minnesota, at San Francisco, vs. the Rams and at Pittsburgh), the Seahawks need to tighten things up. Otherwise, they'll find themselves in a hole in the league's toughest division."

7. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

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    Hans Deryk/Associated Press

    Last Week: 5

    Week 2 Result: Won at Miami 35-0

    After a listless Week 1 loss to the Steelers in Buffalo, there was a touch of uneasiness running through Bills Mafia.

    Shutting out the rival Dolphins on the road should go a long way toward calming them.

    The Bills allowed only 216 yards of offense, forced three turnovers and knocked Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of the game. They also got their ground game going, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 30 attempts and scoring three touchdowns.

    But if you look deeper into the blowout, there's at least one reason for some concern.

    For the second straight game, quarterback Josh Allen wasn't especially effective. He finished 17-of-33 for 179 yards, two scores and an interception, and he had a passer rating of only 75.2.

    After completing almost 70 percent of his passes last season, Allen is well short of 60 percent through two games this year. But at least one analyst here at B/R isn't worried.

    "It's been an odd start to the year for Buffalo, but you know Allen and the passing offense will come around," Gagnon said. "In the meantime, it's encouraging that the running game has produced quite well. That was a question mark prior to the season, but Devin Singletary is averaging 6.4 yards per carry following strong performances against quality defenses in back-to-back weeks to open the season."

6. Cleveland Browns (1-1)

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. Houston 31-21

    The Cleveland Browns notched their first victory of the season Sunday. That is a good thing.

    It's also perhaps the only good thing that happened to them against the Texans.

    In the first series of the game, the Browns lost wide receiver Jarvis Landry to a knee injury, further depleting a shaky wideout corps that is already down Odell Beckham Jr. And for the second time in as many weeks, Cleveland's supposedly revamped defense did not play well at all.

    The Texans aren't exactly regarded as an offensive powerhouse. But even after losing starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they still managed more than 300 yards of offense and converted eight of their 14 third-down attempts.

    "I'm having a harder and harder time buying into this Browns team as a legitimate Super Bowl contender," Davenport said. "You aren't beating the AFC's best teams if your defense can't get off the field, and the Browns can't. Unless that gets better in a hurry, it's going to be disappointment time again in Cleveland."

    "Cleveland fell to the Chiefs in Week 1 despite outplaying Kansas City for most of the contest," Sobleski added. "Kevin Stefanski's squad then struggled a bit against the Texans, particularly when Taylor was in the game. The Browns' offense is humming, but the defense is still a work in progress. Despite all of the talent the team added this offseason, the unit can't seem to stop anyone on third down. The group still has time to come together, but it could hold the entire team back."

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Last Week: 9

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. Kansas City 36-35

    Heading into Sunday night, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson faced a daunting task. If he didn't beat the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time in his career, the Ravens would fall into the dreaded 0-2 hole after a soul-crushing overtime loss the week before in Las Vegas.

    Fortunately for the Ravens, Jackson is a superstar.

    He got off to a rocky start, throwing a pair of interceptions to Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, including a pick-six on his first attempt of the game. But Jackson came through when the stakes were highest, throwing for 239 yards and rushing for 107 more in a one-point Ravens win.

    After the game, Jackson credited the whole team while speaking to reporters.

    "We were strong and together and we kept that focus," Jackson said. "I know my team is going to look at me, and I got to do it for my guys."

    After a challenging start to the season, the Ravens should be heavy favorites in Week 3 at Detroit.

4. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Last Week: 7

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. Minnesota 34-33

    The Arizona Cardinals are 2-0, but the second win came about much differently than the first.

    In Week 1, the Redbirds pounded the Tennessee Titans on the road. But in their home opener, they fell behind the Minnesota Vikings early, and they would have lost if the Vikings hadn't missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired. 

    While speaking to reporters after the game, quarterback Kyler Murray was the first to admit the Redbirds didn't pile up many style points Sunday.

    "I tell you all the time, it comes down to shooting ourselves in the foot and stopping ourselves," Murray said. "When we score, it feels easy, it feels fun. When we turn the ball over, negative plays, it's like 'Damn,' s--t feels ugly. It is what it is, we have to continue to get better and continue practicing."

    It might have been an ugly win, but Arizona's young quarterback is building an early-season MVP case. After smoking the Titans for 309 total yards and five touchdowns, Murray piled up another 431 total yards and four scores against the Vikings.

    With the lowly Jaguars up next, Murray should be popular in season-long fantasy football and DFS in Week 3.

3. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Last Week: 6

    Week 2 Result: Won at Indianapolis 27-24

    Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp already appear to be besties.

    For the second straight week, Kupp was Stafford's preferred weapon in the passing game. After catching seven passes for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Bears in Week 1, Kupp hauled in nine catches for 163 yards and two scores against the Colts on Sunday.

    The Rams had to come back after blowing an 11-point lead, but Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey told reporters he had no doubt that the team's new quarterback was up to the task.

    "His track record of what he's been able to do in the fourth quarter, we know that, like in the back of our mind," Ramsey said. "The confidence is definitely there to where we know that they can help us put some points on the board and secure a win."

    The next task won't be any easier. In Week 3, the Rams play host to Tom Terrific and the reigning Super Bowl champions.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Last Week: 2

    Week 2 Result: Lost at Baltimore 36-35

    Before Sunday night's loss to the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had never thrown an interception in the month of September.

    However, Mahomes had a costly pick against Baltimore, and he was kicking himself about it after the game.

    "Yeah, I should have just thrown it to Demarcus Robinson in the flat, then I saw 'Trav' [Travis Kelce] come back to me," Mahomes told reporters. "When dude grabbed my leg, I thought I could get my other leg down. He spun me, and it was a dumb interception. Probably one of the worst interceptions I've probably ever had."

    That interception—and a late fumble by Clyde Edwards-Heliare—were big factors in the Chiefs' first loss of the year. But their biggest worry is a run defense that has allowed a staggering 404 yards to the Ravens and Browns over the first two weeks of the season.

    If that continues, Kansas City's status as the AFC front-runner will take a hit.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Last Week: 1

    Week 2 Result: Won vs. Atlanta 48-25

    Tom Brady is good at football. Who knew?

    Through two weeks, Brady has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 655 yards and nine touchdowns. At his current pace, he would throw for 5,567 yards and 76 touchdowns this season.

    What's scary is that the 44-year-old thinks his Tampa Bay Buccaneers can still do substantially better.

    "What I think, and I'm sure other guys feel the same way, is I think we can do better. I really do," Brady told reporters after their Week 2 victory over the Falcons. "And I really think we have the opportunity, with the way that the games are flowing and the opportunities we're getting with the ball—we have even more."

    That groan you just heard was every player in the league who doesn't play for the Buccaneers.

    "Injuries in the secondary may be Tampa's biggest issue at the moment, and that secondary logged two pick-sixes against the Falcons," Davenport said. "The offense looks unstoppable. Rob Gronkowski is on a rampage. Brady looks like he's 25. You can't run the ball against them. Not only are the Bucs No. 1, but it isn't close."


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