Week 3 is officially underway. A little late on the podcast, but here are my thoughts looking ahead to this weekend’s action. Five things i’m looking for from the NFC and AFC, and my five predictions for some of this week’s toughest contests. Check out my latest Power Rankings while you’re here. Enjoy!
One thing’s for certain after Week 2 of the NFL season, we know nothing! Or at least I know nothing. Two of my top five teams from last week lost in Week 2, while each of my bottom six teams earned victories. Here’s my crack at this week’s rankings with some major adjustments in place. Please feel free to let me know how fantastic or fantastically horrible my rankings are. Enjoy!
New England Patriots (2-0) – Weren’t the Bills supposed to challenge the Patriots this week? Tom Brady and the offense had their way with Rex Ryan’s defense. Brady looks as good as he ever has and the combination of Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman are reaping the benefits of playing alongside matchup nightmare, Rob Gronkowski. The defense is still a concern but late scores by the Bills made the final score closer than the game was actually played. (Last Week: 1)
Green Bay Packers (2-0) – No Jordy, no problem for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offense moved the ball extremely well on the Seahawks on Sunday night despite key offensive weapons going down during the game. Good news for Green Bay, Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury does not appear to be serious. I still want to see what happens when this defense is tested, but they sit comfortably atop the NFC at the moment. (Last Week: 3)
Denver Broncos (2-0) – This is without a doubt the best defense that Peyton Manning has ever played with. The Broncos have the best edge rushing duo and cornerback duo in the NFL. Once Kubiak seemingly stepped out of Manning’s way, the offense started to get going. I don’t think Manning’s arm will last into January, but I don’t see a 3rd team better than Denver right now. (Last Week: 11)
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) – Is Andy Dalton ready to take the next step? If he is, it’s due in large part to the emergence of Tyler Eifert with about 150 yards and 3 touchdowns in two games at tight end. The offense looks like it might finally be ready to pull its weight. Two Jeremy Hill fumbles are a concern, but Gio Bernard looked fantastic in relief of Hill. (Last Week: 4)
Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – Larry Fitzgerald has found the fountain of youth. Carson Palmer is playing some of the best football of his career. The Arizona defense is as talented and fun to watch as any in the NFL. Beating the Saints and Bears aren’t exactly the most impressive wins, but they beat them both in convincing fashion. (Last Week: 13)
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) – Wins are wins in the NFL. Narrow victories over the Eagles and Giants don’t exactly make the Falcons seem like Super Bowl contenders and they get the depleted Cowboys next. The defense has actually looked like they belong in the NFL and will only get better as the year progresses. The Falcons’ young running backs, Coleman and Freeman, are going to make teams respect the run game like they didn’t have to last year. (Last Week: 7)
New York Jets (2-0) – Todd Bowles looks about as comfortable as any first time NFL head coach I’ve seen. And why shouldn’t he be comfortable? The Jets have forced 10 turnovers while only allowing 17 points through two weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken the opportunity given to him by a guy named IK and ran with it. Fitzpatrick seems quite fond of his two big targets, Marshall and Decker. (Last Week: 17)
Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) – I have to ask, did the Broncos win on Thursday night or did the Chiefs lose? Kansas City was the better team on Thursday night. Andy Reid mismanaged the clock and his players mismanaged the ball to the tune of five turnovers. I still believe in this team, but Thursday had to be a huge wake up call for the Chiefs. (Last Week: 2)
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – If this team can figure out how to play on the road, look out! Big Ben and the Steelers offense put up 43 points while still missing Bell, Bryant, and Pouncey against a solid defense. Antonio Brown can’t be covered by anybody on planet Earth. Their defense will still have growing pains, but the front seven looked good in bottling up the 49ers rushing attack. (Last Week: 20)
Buffalo Bills (1-1) – Not many offenses will carve up this Bills defense like New England did, but it was astonishing to watch. Consistency will be an issue with the inexperienced Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Rex Ryan and his team will get better as the weather gets worse with an elite defense and strong running game. (Last Week: 6)
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – It’s certainly hard to get a read on the 49ers two weeks into the season. They ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Steelers on Sunday. I think their week one performance is more indicative of what this team is capable of. It’s going to be tough for them to win any game where Carlos Hyde is held in check like he was on Sunday. They need Hyde to pass concussion protocol in time for a big division game against the Cardinals in week three. (Last Week: 5)
San Diego Chargers (1-1) – No shame in losing in Cincy as the Chargers did in week two. Melvin Gordon looks to be adapting nicely to the NFL. It’s tough to win any game in the NFL when your number one wide receiver has 2 catches for 16 yards as Keenan Allen did on Sunday. The defense has been solid against the pass and weak against the run; they’ll need to tighten that up to contend. (Last Week: 10)
Seattle Seahawks (0-2) – Many folks predicted the Seahawks would start 0-2 and here they are. They are deficient on the offensive line and the secondary surely misses Kam Chancellor. With that being said, they’ve had the lead in the 4th quarter on the road in each of the first two weeks. In week three they return home to the best home field advantage in all of the NFL. Now it’s time to see if Wilson can get Jimmy Graham involved in his first home game as a Seahawk. (Last Week: 12)
Dallas Cowboys (2-0) – The defense has been very good through two games in earning two victories; they will have to be spectacular in order to keep the Cowboys afloat while Romo and Dez heal. Lucky for the Cowboys, the rest of the division is awful. If Brandon Weeden and company can get a few wins in Romo’s absence, I’d still pick them to win the division. (Last Week: 9)
Carolina Panthers (2-0) – An underwhelming 2-0 start, but a 2-0 start nonetheless. Cam Newton will new to produce more Superman-like performances to keep this depleted offense moving. The defense has been stout, but the Jaguars and Texans don’t exactly boast the highest powered offenses the league has to offer. (Last Week: 19)
Indianapolis Colts (0-2) – Andrew Luck and the Colts seemed to have started this trend of slow starts last season. They’ll coast to the playoffs thanks to the division in which they play. Their new, veteran weapons have not panned out thus far and their defense is soft with a depleted secondary. (Last Week: 8)
St. Louis Rams (1-1) – Good luck figuring this team out two weeks into the season. A week one win over the Seahawks seems to be a distant memory after getting pounded by the Redskins in week two. Todd Gurley appears to be ready to make his NFL debut on Sunday at home against the Steelers. Maybe Gurley can bring an identity to an offense severely lacking one. (Last Week: 14)
Minnesota Vikings (1-1) – The Vikings bounced back on a short week after their embarrassing late Monday night loss in Santa Clara in week one. Adrian Peterson looked like the guy we remember, fumbles and all. I’m still looking for Teddy Bridgewater to look comfortable with his receivers, but certainly a much better performance Sunday at home against the Lions. (Last Week: 28)
Tennessee Titans (1-1) – An inactive Delanie Walker and losing Kendall Wright for a portion of the game surely hurt Mariota in his 2nd Mariota finished with 257 yards and 2 touchdowns, but also took 7 sacks and lost 2 fumbles. The home fans will get their first live look at their young, new quarterback when the Titans host the Colts on Sunday with a chance to put Indy in an even deeper hole. (Last Week: 23)
Baltimore Ravens (0-2) – The Ravens offense didn’t show up in week one and the defense followed suit in week two. Baltimore returns home in week three after two road games against the AFC West to open the season. Flacco and Steve Smith were on the same page in Oakland, they’ll need that when the 2-0 Bengals come to town. The defense shut down Peyton Manning, so we know they are capable. Time to put it all together. (Last Week: 16)
Miami Dolphins (1-1) – It’s been a shaky start for one of the trendy picks to make some noise heading into the 2015 season. Ryan Tannehill and the offense can’t seem to find any rhythm. And now there is some controversy swirling on the other side of the ball with their big time free agent acquisition Ndamukong Suh. They better right the ship fast because the AFC East is no joke this year. (Last Week: 21)
Detroit Lions (0-2) – Good news for the Lions, it doesn’t sound like Matthew Stafford’s shoulder injury is too severe. Stafford remembered a guy named Calvin Johnson in week two targeting him early and often. Losing Fairley and Suh is clearly killing this defense; that unit is in for a long season. (Last Week: 25)
Washington Redskins (1-1) – The Redskins had a 4th quarter lead against Miami week one and pounded the Rams in week two behind rookie running back, Matt Jones (Who?). They have yet to face a juggernaut offense, but their defense has looked formidable. With injuries to Romo and Dez in Dallas, and the disasters brewing in New York and Philly, could this division belong to the Redskins? Nah! (Last Week: 27)
Oakland Raiders (1-1) – Derek Carr was slinging it all afternoon against a Ravens defense that held Peyton Manning without a touchdown drive one week earlier. Carr found new targets Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree early and often. Carr also marched the Raiders right down the field for a game winning touchdown after throwing a horrible interception. The defense should have been better so far; but once they figure it all out, the Raiders could be on the rise. (Last Week: 30)
New York Giants (0-2) – The Giants gave up game winning 4th quarter touchdown drives in each of their first two games. They don’t look in synch on either side of the ball. The only good news is that Odell Beckham Jr. seems to have returned to his rookie season form in their week two loss to the Falcons. (Last Week: 26)
New Orleans Saints (0-2) – Losing at home, where they use to be unbeatable, to a rookie quarterback is not a good sign. Drew Brees’ shoulder injury is even worse news for the Saints. If Brees misses any significant time, this team is done. Brandin Cooks needs to get going for this team to be successful. The loan bright spot has been the play of Mark Ingram. (Last Week: 22)
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) – The Eagles look like a complete disaster through two weeks. The rushing attack has been shut down by average defenses. Sam Bradford looks uncomfortable. Their $63 million cornerback, Byron Maxwell, has looked awful. If this continues, the players could lose faith in Chip Kelly given the overturn in the offseason. (Last Week: 18)
Cleveland Browns (1-1) – I was tempted to put the Browns higher because Johnny Manziel seems to be providing a much needed spark; but Mike Pettine has announced that Josh McCown will start week three. I am not even a Manziel fan, but it seems pretty clear that the team has rallied around him. The worst franchise in football continues to earn the title. (Last Week: 29)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) – The Jags defense has looked solid through the first two weeks and the offense found a bit of a groove in week two. It’s going to be tough for the offense to hit the home runs every week as they did in week two against the Dolphins, but at least they have something positive to build on moving forward. (Last Week: 31)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) – Jameis Winston rebounded nicely to get a road win within the division after week one’s travesty. The Bucs need Mike Evans to get up to speed quickly, especially with the loss of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins for 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. (Last Week: 32)
Chicago Bears (0-2) – Let the Jimmy Clausen era begin in Chicago. Just kidding! The offense is bound to struggle while Jay Cutler is out. Alshon Jeffery is banged up and Matt Forte isn’t what he used to be. The defense is about as bad as any in the NFL. I wonder if Jared Goff has ever been to the Windy City. (Last Week: 24)
Houston Texans (0-2) – As an NFL team, you’re only as good as your quarterback play. Right now, the Texans have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL (sorry Washington). The defense has been a disappointment as well through two weeks. J.J. Watt and company will need to dominate in order to keep this team afloat this season. (Last Week: 15)
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