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NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

Finally! Preseason football is over and we can finally watch games that matter. Week 1 has come and gone and it was quite an exciting week. There were plenty of close games to keep you on the edge of your seat. We also saw some upsets that can get us thinking: did we underestimate this team? In the first week, where teams actually try to win and play their starters for full games (hopefully, no one likes injuries), you get a taste of what type of season each team is in for.

We don’t always see the best of each team in the first week of the season. Some teams just get off to bad starts. Others get off to good ones. It’s a fresh start and a chance for some new teams to prove themselves to be among the NFL’s top teams. Week 1 is always tough to judge because every team has worked on new plays and new systems. Everyone has to work out all the kinks and wrinkles that come with new playbooks and game plans. There are plenty of surprises to go around. Let’s see which teams made a splash and which teams disappointed.

 

Model: Paola (Photo by Double G Media)

Model: Paola (Photo by Double G Media)

 

1. Seattle Seahawks (last week’s ranking: 1) – The Seahawks surprisingly struggled to defeat the Miami Dolphins at home. This was a game the Seahawks were pretty much guaranteed to win, yet they certainly made it interesting. There’s no doubt that this team is the NFL’s most talented club, but this game certainly lead to some questioning. It’s going to be up to the coaching to get this tough start behind them and get this team turned around before they face a much tougher opponent. This defense is still top notch. They held the ‘Fins to just 214 total yards and 10 points. Russell Wilson struggled for much of the day, but he stepped up when it mattered most, leading the Seahawks on a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to win the game. It’s too early in the season to question this team’s talent. Look for them to showcase that against the Rams next week in LA.

2. Green Bay Packers (last week’s ranking: 2) – Another very talented squad that struggled a bit against a team they were expected to defeat easily, the Packers allowed the Jags to hang around until the final possession. Games like this, however, should be taken with a grain of salt. So the Packers got off to a slow start. Big deal. No one should ever doubt the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers, who still made plenty of jaw-dropping throws in this game. The defense is young and athletic. They were excellent against the run throughout the game. Against the pass, they struggled a bit, but it happens, especially against a team like the Jaguars. Their offense appeared to be a bit rusty, but they’ll surely get that worked out. Next week’s game against the Vikings should be a good game and a good test for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

3. New England Patriots (last week’s ranking: 12) – No Brady. No Gronk. No Dion Lewis, Rob Ninkovic, or Nate Solder. No problem for the Patriots. They managed to go on the road and defeat a very good Arizona Cardinals team, despite missing five of their better players, including their two best. Now, the Patriots should not have won this game. Cardinals’ kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with just 47 seconds left in the game. While that is certainly not a chip shot, it’s easily makeable for a kicker who didn’t miss from inside 50 yards last season. The fact that the Patriots even put themselves in position to win is what makes them so impressive. The offense always seems to click, no matter who’s playing. The defense may not be the most talented, but they looked good in Arizona. The front seven was especially impressive. Bill Belichick is such a great coach, that he can always find a role for any player, allowing his team to run any scheme. They should have no problem handling the Dolphins next week.

4. Denver Broncos (last week’s ranking: 8) – The reigning Super Bowl champs flexed their muscle all over the Panthers yet again. In their season opener they, once again, used their dominant defense and effective run game to come out on top. The Broncos were another team that had a bit of luck, as the Panthers missed a potential game-winning field goal with just four seconds remaining. Graham Gano missed from 50 yards out, which is certainly not easy, but makeable for Gano. The Broncos still deserve plenty of credit for this win, however. They harassed Cam Newton all game and completely shut down the Panthers’ run game. The offense made plays when it mattered and Trevor Siemian did what he needed to do for this team to win. The Broncos’ formula is still the same as it was last season: dominate on defense, run the football, get the ball in the hands of the talented receivers, and limit mistakes. They’re a well coached team who can win with anyone behind center. They’ll face the Colts next week in what should be another very interesting matchup.

5. Arizona Cardinals (last week’s ranking: 3) – Oh, how a missed kick can change everything. The Cards didn’t look like the team that most people anticipated to start the season, but this was a bit of a “trap game”. The Patriots have shown that they are always a tough team to beat. The Cardinals should’ve have had this game, but a poor snap on the potential game-winning kick threw off timing of the kick, and Catanzaro shanked it wide left. This team still has what could be the NFL’s top offense, with weapons like David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd surrounding the gun-slinging veteran passer, Carson Palmer. The defense is very talented as well. They may have the NFL’s best secondary. This team’s biggest flaw is their lack of pass rush outside of Chandler Jones. They’ll have a chance to redeem themselves against the Bucs in Week 2.

6. Carolina Panthers (last week’s ranking: 4) – Once again, the Broncos had the Panthers’ number. The Panthers’ offensive line struggled to contain the Broncos’ pass rush and Cam Newton paid the price. Newton was hit over and over in Thursday night’s game, and yet, he had his team in position to win it in the end. The Panthers would surely feel better about themselves had Gano hit that field goal, but they should be proud of how hard they played against the reigning champs. The defense is still top tier, especially in the front seven, and Cam Newton can make anything happen for this offense. They’ve got a much easier matchup need week against the lowly 49ers.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (last week’s ranking: 7) – The Steelers just flat-out looked good on Monday Night Football. They dismantled the Redskins defense, both through the air and on the ground. The defense did a fine job as well, holding the Redskins to just 16 points. Their run defense is getting better on the back of their young defensive front. The loss of Bud Dupree for the season certainly hurts the pass rush, but they did a solid job slowing down Kirk Cousins and the ‘Skins passing attack. Pittsburgh’s offense could also contend for best in the league. They didn’t even have their full arsenal last night, playing without star running back Le’Veon Bell, receiver Markus Wheaton, and tight end Ladarius Green. As long as they have Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, this offense can do anything. Brown is by far and away the best receiver in the NFL and he and Big Ben have an incredible connection. Next week, they’ve got an exciting divisional matchup against the Bengals.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (last week’s ranking: 6) – If you get down early, don’t fold, don’t give in. That was the Chiefs’ mentality on Sunday. Trailing 21-3 early in the game, the Chiefs looked like a team primed for a major disappointment in their first game. Instead, they turned it around in the second half, came back, force overtime, and won the game. Credit to Andy Reid and Alex Smith, for leading this team to their comeback victory. The defense managed to gather itself and play like the defense we expected in the second half. The offense, lead by Reid’s West Coast style, turned it around as well. Spencer Ware was huge replacing stud running back, Jamaal Charles, as he totaled 199 yards and scored once. The Chiefs have a very good mix of weapons offensively and they always find a way to run the ball effectively. It’s up to Alex Smith to take this team as far as they can go. They go to Houston next week in what should be a fun matchup, especially after the Chiefs demolished the Texans in last year’s Wildcard round.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (last week’s ranking: 5) – The Bengals earned themselves a strong win over the Jets in the Meadowlands, lead by the incredible play of AJ Green. Green had himself the best week of any receiver, repeatedly torching All-Pro Darrelle Revis to the tune of 180 yards and a touchdown. Andy Dalton was sacked seven times, but still got the job done. The Bengals are going to need to see other weapons step up, but when Tyler Eifert returns, it should help. The defense for the Bengals was solid as always. They’ve never really been great defensively in any particular area, but they have no real weaknesses on that side of the ball either. Facing the Steelers next week, the Bengals defense will be tested in what will surely be a physical battle.

10. Oakland Raiders (last week’s ranking: 10) – What a win for the Oakland Raiders. Trailing for much of the game, Derek Carr lead a big time comeback, looking poised in the pocket and making some very strong throws against this Saints defense. Now, the Saint defense won’t scare anyone, but any comeback like this is impressive. Their defense was absolutely lit up by Drew Brees and new cornerback Sean Smith was burned by Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead multiple times, leading to his benching. This could be a big problem for the Raiders going forward, but no one expected their defense to be the team’s strength. Another problem for them in this particular game was the lack of production from potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate Khalil Mack, but he’ll likely turn it around next week. The offense is expected to carry this team on most occasions, as this did in this game. Lead by Carr, receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and runningback Latavius Murray, this offense can put up points with the best of them. The offensive line looked good as well and they even got a huge run from Jalen Richard to help their comeback. A gutsy call by Jack Del Rio late in the game is what made the difference. Going for a two-point conversion while trailing 34-35 was a huge risk. But it paid off for Del Rio’s squad and they got the victory. They host the Falcons next week in what should be another shootout.

11. Houston Texans (last week’s ranking: 9) – In a game that didn’t have a very shocking outcome, the Texans handled the Bears with ease. After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, the Texans outscored the Bears 23-7 over the final three. Brock Osweiler was solid in his debut, but the Texans were adamant about feeding new running back Lamar Miller. They made him the focal point of their offense, handing him the ball 28 times. He finished with 108 yards on the ground, which isn’t great based on the amount of touches, but at least they’re committed to keeping him involved. Rookie receiver Will Fuller had an impressive debut and DeAndre Hopkins was making ridiculous catches as always. The Texans offense certainly has a talented group of weapons, but the offensive line has lost some pieces and Osweiler hasn’t shown anything to make anyone think he’s going to be better than average. Their defense certainly handled the Bears offense, despite J.J. Watt being very quiet. Jadeveon Clowney made the type of impact the Texans have been waiting for. If he can finally become the player they thought they were getting in the first round back in 2014 draft, the defense could be dangerous. Hosting the Chiefs next week, the team faces its first real test of the 2016 season.

12. Minnesota Vikings (last week’s ranking: 13) – After a terribly slow start, the Vikings took control of the game in the second half against the Texans. They showed the type of aggressive and playmaking defense most people anticipated seeing from them this season. There’s plenty of young talent to go around on this defense, such as Harrison Smith, Sharrif Floyd, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, and Trey Waynes. After being shut out in the first half, they put up 25 points in the second half, including two defensive touchdowns. The offense never really got going, which is no surprise with Shaun Hill starting under center. Stefon Diggs looked pretty good, but he needs someone to get him the ball more and Kyle Rudolph was solid, as usual. The most disappointing part of this game for the Vikes was the slow day for Adrian Peterson. There’s no question AP is the best running back in the game and he’ll surely bounce back. Their matchup against the Packers next Sunday will be his next opportunity to return to dominance.

13. Indianapolis Colts (last week’s ranking: 11) – No team allowed more points this past weekend than the Colts. Allowing 39 points to the Lions was not pretty and was a result of poor tackling and terrible coverage. The lack of pass rush didn’t help either. The defense, missing several key starters such as Vontae Davis, Henry Anderson, Art Jones, and Clayton Geathers struggled to contain the Lions’ check downs to running backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. The two backs combined for 228 total yards. The Colts also lost two more starters in the game in T.J. Green and Patrick Robinson. While these losses certainly hurt their defense, there’s no excuse for poor tackling. Andrew Luck, however, was spectacular in his first game back after suffering a lacerated kidney in Week 9 of the 2015 season. He was dropping deep balls all over the Lions secondary, finding Philip Dorsett, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Dwayne Allen consistently for big gains. The offense struggled to the tune of just three points in the first 28 minutes of the game, but in the final 32, they scored 32. The pass blocking was excellent against a strong Lions’ defensive line. Luck had plenty of time to throw throughout the game. After leading the Colts to what could have been a game-winning touchdown with just 37 seconds left in the game, Luck was let down by his defense, who couldn’t stop the Lions from gaining 40 yards on three plays in just 29 seconds. Matt Prater hit the game-winning 43-yard field goal to seal the deal for the Lions. When the defense gets healthy, this team should be able to win games like this, but until then, they won’t be able to contain talented offenses. Andrew Luck better be prepared to lead this offense to 40 points every week. If he wants to win. They’ve got an incredibly tough matchup in Denver next week.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (last week’s ranking: 17) – The Jags may have already faced their toughest test this season. Playing the Packers in their first game and keeping up with them, despite losing, is a promising start. This is a team on the rise, behind improving quarterback Blake Bortles and his talented arsenal of weapons, including Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, T.J. Yeldon, and Julius Thomas. The defense held the Packers to 27 points, and if not for a couple of miraculous plays by Aaron Rodgers, it could’ve been even less. They’re young and they’re ready to prove themselves as a team that can compete. Their rookie class can be truly special on defense, with their first two draft picks of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack (who many people believed to be a top 10 pick), and their first round pick from last year, Dante Fowler, coming back from a torn ACL. A team that, just a couple years ago, was stuck in the NFL’s cellar, is now emerging as a potential playoff contender. They’ll have a good chance at getting their first win next week against the Chargers.

15. New York Giants (last week’s ranking: 14) – Another Week 1 matchup with the Cowboys, another game that came down to the wire. These games are always close, no matter who’s playing or who’s coaching. The Giants came out on top in this one, with the Cowboys failing to get into field goal range before time ran out. The Giants did an excellent job controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They ran the ball effectively throughout the game and shut down stud rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Eli Manning didn’t play his best, throwing an absolutely ugly pick that lead to a Cowboys touchdown, but he was excellent in the Red Zone, going five for seven with two touchdowns. The Giants certainly have a talented offense around Manning. Odell Beckham is the true star of this team, as he is one of the NFL’s top receivers. The offensive line did an excellent job in run blocking and kept the pressure out of Manning’s face as well. The defensive line for the Giants was a major factor in this win. Shutting down Elliott while keeping pressure on rookie quarterback Dak Prescott helped the defense immensely. Also, the secondary did an excellent job keeping Dez Bryant from doing anything, as he caught just one pass for eight yards. The Giants will face a much stiffer test, dealing with Drew Brees and the Saints passing attack, next weekend.

16. New York Jets (last week’s ranking: 16) – New year. New contract. Same Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets had a chance to win on Sunday against the Bengals. After knocking through a lead-taking field goal, Mike Nugent and the Bengals left plenty of time on the clock for the Jets to march down the field for their own game-winning field goal, trailing 23-22. With 54 seconds still on the clock, the Jets had an opportunity to win the game. What happened? Ryan Fitzpatrick happened. He once again choked for the Jets. He threw a game-sealing interception and the Jets lost. Now, the Jets still have plenty to be positive about. The pass rush was incredible, sacking Dalton seven times. Their running game, behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, was strong. Even with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker both making very little impact, the team was still in the game against a very good Bengals team. They had a chance, they just choked. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves this Thursday in Buffalo.

17. Dallas Cowboys (last week’s ranking: 20) – The Cowboys suffered a tough loss on Sunday. Losing to the Giants by a single point certainly hurts, but there were some good things to take away from this game. The team managed 19 points, despite starting rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. Also, the offensive line struggled a bit, which won’t happen on most Sundays. This team still has the best offensive line in football, featuring three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick. The defense, on the other hand, is going to be a problem for the ‘Boys all year. They couldn’t stop the run and they struggled to get pressure on Eli Manning. They were inconsistent for most of the game. They would force a three-and-out, then allow a long touchdown drive. They are missing a couple pieces in their front seven right now, with Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Rolando McClain all currently suspended, but even with those guys, this defense still has a ways to go. If this team can win a few games before Romo and these other guys return, they’ll still have a shot at the playoffs, but it won’t be easy. They’ve got another divisional matchup against the Redskins lined up for next week.

18. New Orleans Saints (last week’s ranking: 21) – So much for Drew Brees slowing down. Clearly, the arm strength is still there as well as the accuracy. He has always been one of the best downfield passers in the game and that still hasn’t changed. He absolutely tore up the Raiders secondary. Receivers Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead both had huge games as well. The offensive line held up pretty well, especially against Khalil Mack. They gave Brees plenty of time to throw and he looked just as good in the pocket as ever. Mark Ingram didn’t get enough carries to establish himself in this one, but when he gets going, he’s a big, strong back who’s tough to bring down. This team can put up points with the best of them. Their problem is their defense. They collapsed in the second half allowing the Raiders to come back in steal this game away from them. They allowed several big plays and this has become the norm for them in recent years. While they likely won’t be able to turn around this lackluster defense any time soon, the offense should be able to keep them in games. This is certainly an interesting team to watch going forward. Next week they take on the Giants in what should be a high scoring game.

19. Buffalo Bills (last week’s ranking: 15) – The Bills rewarded Tyrod Taylor for his play last season by giving him a big contract extension during the offseason. It appears they may have jumped the gun a bit. While he certainly had an exciting year, he’s also been rather inconsistent. He didn’t play well against the Ravens and it hurt the team significantly. They managed just seven points, which is not enough to win games. They never really got their run game going either. LeSean McCoy managed just 58 yards on the ground. Part of their offensive struggles came from left tackle Cordy Glenn leaving with an injury. That certainly hurt, but there’s no good excuse for managing just 160 total yards. The bright side for the Bills is that their defense was very good, holding the Ravens to just 13 points. They’ve got a very good pass rush on the strength of Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus (who was suspended for this game) and a talented young secondary as well. This defense, led by Rex Ryan, is certainly exciting and the offense can make big plays as well. It’s all about consistency for this squad. They face the rival Jets on Thursday night.

20. Baltimore Ravens (last week’s ranking: 18) – Last season was tough for the Ravens. Going from a playoff contender to a team that struggled to a 5-11 record last season left a lot of people wondering, “What happened?” A big reason for their struggles was injuries. They lost Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Justin Forsett, Chris Canty, Terrelle Suggs, and several others. Another major problem for them was that they lost so many close games as well. This team simply wasn’t clutch. Injuries aside, this team is not as talented as it used to be. They have a weak secondary. They don’t have a great group of weapons around Flacco and outside of Marshall Yanda, their offensive line is just decent. Although, first round pick Ronnie Stanley has shown potential at left tackle. John Harbaugh is an excellent coach, so this team shouldn’t be counted out, but based on the talent, they’re no more than a fringe playoff team. They’ll look to get another win against the awful Browns next week.

21. Washington Redskins (last week’s ranking: 19) – The Redskins won the NFC East last season, but they do not look like a team poised to repeat. They have virtually no run game after allowing Alfred Morris to leave in free agency. Matt Jones is just not good and their offensive line isn’t great either. Without any threat of a ground game, teams are going to focus on shutting down Kirk Cousins and their talented receivers. The ‘Skins look like a team that could have a season similar to what the Jaguars did last year. The defense is going to give up a lot of points and the offense is going to throw a lot trying to keep up. Their defense, outside of Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Norman, lacks overall talent. Bashaud Breeland is a decent player too, but a majority of their starting lineup is made up of average or below average players. Next weekend, they’ll face the Cowboys in what should be an interesting matchup.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week’s ranking: 23) – The Bucs got off to a good start to the 2016 season, beating the Falcons 31-24. Jameis Winston looked fantastic, throwing for four touchdowns. It wasn’t just about the numbers for Winston, though. He looked poised in the pocket and was throwing absolute dimes down the field. His touchdown throws to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Mike Evans were both things of beauty. Their offensive line had a good day in pass protection, but could’ve had a better game in run blocking. Doug Martin and Charles Sims are both talented backs, but there just weren’t enough holes to run through against this porous Falcons’ defense. The Bucs defense did what they had to do. They completely shut down the Falcons rushing attack that was so effect last season and, other than a 25-yard touchdown, they did a great job containing Julio Jones. Overall, the pass defense wasn’t great, but this is a young secondary that has plenty of room to improve. Rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves looks like a budding star already, but he needs help. Kwon Alexander was all over the field and pairing him with star linebacker Lavonte David gives the Bucs a nice tandem in the middle of the field. Gerald McCoy was dominant up front as well. The Bucs have a tough matchup in Arizona next week.

23. Miami Dolphins (last week’s ranking: 26) – Among the biggest surprises on Sunday was the Dolphins actually hanging around against the Seahawks. They were actually in position to win the game, being up 10-6, until Russell Wilson threw a late touchdown to Doug Baldwin. The worst part for the Dolphins is that they could have been up 17-6 at that point, but Kenny Stills dropped a wide open touchdown earlier in the game. The Dolphins should be proud of the fact that they nearly won in Seattle, which is possibly the toughest place to play in the NFL. Their defense played as well as anyone, containing the Seahawks strong run game as well as slowing down Russell Wilson, at least until that final drive. The offense didn’t do much, but no one expected them to. Seattle has one of the best defenses in football and it’s even more difficult to score on them in Seattle. Arian Foster actually looked pretty good in his Dolphins debut and they have a talented group of receivers as well. This team is still a ways away from contending for the playoffs, but they’ve got some exciting, young players on this roster. They’ve got a very tough matchup against the Pats next Sunday.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (last week’s ranking: 24) – Sunday’s game in Philly was the Carson Wentz show. People are raving about his performance, but it’s time to calm down. It’s been one game, not to mention the first game of the season when teams don’t know what to expect from one another. Also, this game came against the NFL’s least talented team, the Cleveland Browns. However, the Eagles did some good things in this game. The offense was effective with Wentz under center. While it is too early to claim him to be the next big thing in the NFL, he certainly has talent: strong arm, very athletic, showed great touch on his passes, looked good in the pocket, and he seemed to have command of his offense. He has the ability to become a very good quarterback and he always has. This game didn’t change anything. It was just a strong debut against a lousy defense. The Eagles might have the best front seven in football. Fletcher Cox is one of the best defensive tackles in the game. Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham are both back at their natural positions as 4-3 defensive ends. They also have a strong, young group of linebackers. Their safeties are very talented as well. They’re just very week at cornerback and it remains to be seen if their offense can maintain this type of production against good teams. We’ll see how Wentz fairs in his first prime time game on Monday night against the Bears.

25. Chicago Bears (last week’s ranking: 22) – Not a great start for Da Bears. It’s hard to find many positives in their game against the Texans this week. Alshon Jeffery is a fantastic receiver, but he doesn’t have much help. Kevin White missed his rookie season with a torn ACL and he was raw coming out of college, so he still isn’t quite ready to be the contributor the Bears are hoping he’ll be. Jeremy Langford looks unfit to be a starting running back in the NFL. Their offensive line is very good, but it didn’t show on Sunday and if Jay Cutler doesn’t get time to throw, this offense will go nowhere. On defense, they have possibly the best pair of inside linebackers in the NFL in Jerrell Freeman and Danny Tevathan. They also have a strong group of pass rushers. Unfortunately for them, their best one, Parnell McPhee, is currently on the PUP list and won’t play the first six games. They still have Lamar Houston, Willie Young, and high potential rookie Leonard Floyd. Their biggest problem is their secondary, defensively. Outside of Kyle Fuller, they don’t have much talent on the back end. They’ll see the Eagles in what should be an intriguing matchup Monday night.

26. Detroit Lions (last week’s ranking: 30) – What a wild game between the Lions and the Colts. The Lions got out to a big lead early, only to relinquish it, then kick a game-winning field goal with nine seconds left. The Lions are going to have plenty of games like this. Matt Stafford is a gunslinger and he’s got receivers that can flat out fly. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones give him a good enough pair to put up big points. Eric Ebron looks primed to finally become the player the Lions thought they were getting in the first round in 2014. Their offensive line actually looks very good and they have a pair of running backs that can both make plays on the ground and through the air. Ameer Abdullah could be in for a breakout season. He put up 120 total yards and a score. Theo Riddick was just as effective, managing 108 yards and two touchdowns. With the weapons surround Stafford, this offense can put up plenty of points in a hurry. Their defense, on the other hand, looks like it’s going to be a big problem. Other than Darius Slay, their secondary simply can’t cover. Their defense looked slow as Luck torched them with big throws downfield. Their defensive line can play, though. Ziggy Ansah and Harloti Ngata are both proven studs while Kerry Hyder looks like a future starter. If the offense can consistently play like this, this team could surprise people, but it would also take a big improvement on the back end of their defense. Next week’s game against the Titans could be a fun game to watch.

27. Tennessee Titans (last week’s ranking: 28) – For the first 30 minutes of the game, the Titans actually looked like a team ready to compete and win some games. Then the second half started, and the Titans looked like…well, the Titans. This team was a trendy pick to surprise people and win maybe seven or eight games. They shouldn’t be. Marcus Mariota hasn’t played well consistently and this team isn’t good enough to win with him playing poorly. Their run game looked very good in the preseason, but that changed in Week 1. This is why the preseason has to be taken with a grain of salt. Derrick Henry dominated in the games that didn’t count, but on Sunday, outside of one nice catch-and-run, he did not play well at all. DeMarco Murray looked more like the runner that the Eagles no longer wanted than the player he was in the preseason as well. The one positive takeaway from their game against the Vikings was how good they were at stopping Adrian Peterson. The defensive line was fantastic with Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey both having huge impacts. The problem is that the rest of the defense simply lacks talent. They could be a much better team as Mariota grows as a quarterback, but until then, they’ll remain in the NFL’s cellar.

28. Atlanta Falcons (last week’s ranking: 29) – The Falcons look like yet another team that can put up plenty of points, but the defense just can’t get stops. Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback and he’s got a great offensive line in front of him as well as a strong group of weapons. Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the league. Their only issue on Sunday was their inability to get anything going on the ground. Devonta Freeman had a monster season last year, but outside of his excellent vision, there isn’t anything special about him. Tevin Coleman should be the back of the future, and maybe even the back of the present, here in Atlanta. He’s a more powerful and elusive runner than Freeman and he’s just as effective catching the ball out of the backfield. The Falcons’ offensive line opened up a lot of holes for Freeman last season, but they just weren’t there on Sunday. Outside of Desmond Trufant and Vic Beasley, this defense just doesn’t have much. They have holes at nearly every other position defensively. It’ll take a couple years to add some more talent to that side of the ball, but when they do, they could be dangerous. They’ll be in a shootout with the Raiders next Sunday.

29. San Diego Chargers (last week’s ranking: 25) – Poor Chargers fans. This team showed so much promise early on, and then it all just evaporated. Up 21-3 at halftime, the Chargers looked like a team that could actually make some noise. Then the Chargers did what the Chargers do: collapse. Now, Kansas City is a tough place to play and the Chiefs have given the Chargers problems in recent years. No one expected them to win this game, but then they went up big in the first half and appeared as though they could pull off a big upset. Then the Chiefs came back, tied the game, and won in OT. This is stil the same old Chargers. They just can’t win. Unfortunately they lost Keenan Allen (again) to a torn ACL in the first half and without him, the offense couldn’t do anything. Melvin Gordon scored a pair of touchdowns early and looked great, but they stopped giving him carries. The defense was also playing a great game up until the second half. Then they showed their true colors. This was just a case of a team regressing to the mean. The Chargers front seven could be the worst in the NFL, so despite their very talented secondary, they won’t be good on this side of the ball. Everyone knows it’s all about controlling the line of scrimmage, something the Chargers can’t do on offense or defense. Even facing the Jaguars next week, the Chargers’ chances of winning are slim.

30. San Francisco 49ers (last week’s ranking: 32) – Who saw that coming? The 49ers looked absolutely dominant in their 28-0 rout of the LA Rams. Was this a product of the Niners being better than people anticipated or the Rams being worse? Probably a bit of both. Chip Kelly appears to have a good handle on this team, unlike he did in Philly. The offense mixed up the run with a lot of play action fakes and jet sweeps and that sort of unpredictability can make defenses look silly. The 49ers offensive line did an excellent job controlling the Rams’ supremely talented defensive line and Carlos Hyde and Blaine Gabbert were the main beneficiaries. Hyde demonstrated the power and vision he always had while Gabbert had plenty of time to find the open man. The Niners’ receivers had no problem getting open against the Rams secondary. The most impressive part of this game was how dominant the 49ers looked defensively. Shutting out any team is not easy, even if it was the Rams. Navarro Bowman appeared to return to his pre-injury form as he was all over the place making big hits as well as nice plays in coverage. The defensive line got a good amount of pressure and they did an excellent job containing Todd Gurley. The secondary is still not great and the pass rush won’t always be there, but this type of dominance shouldn’t be ignored. Playing the Panthers next week, the 49ers likely won’t repeat this performance.

31. Los Angeles Rams (last week’s ranking: 27) – So it turns out moving to a better city does not make for a better team. LA is going to go through some major growing pains with its new team. The Rams looked absolutely pitiful on Monday night. Punting ten times, throwing two picks, and turning the ball over on downs cannot be the end results of all your possessions. Allowing 28 points to a 49ers team that doesn’t have much talent offensively is bad enough, but not scoring a single point is what leads to this team looking like one of the worst. The secondary doesn’t look good after losing Rodney McCleod and Janoris Jenkins. The linebackers, outside of Alex Ogletree, played poorly. The defensive line is still among the league’s best, but that is about all this defense has. Offensively, there is much more to say other than, “Yuck.” This team is going to have trouble scoring all year. Todd Gurley is an animal, but facing eight and nine man fronts all year is going to make his season a challenge. This team doesn’t have great receivers. The offensive line is inexperienced and unproven. The quarterback situation is a disaster. They drafted Jared Goff with the first overall pick only to watch him struggle in the preseason and then be a healthy scratch in their first game. Case Keenum couldn’t do anything Monday night so sitting Goff doesn’t make any sense. Their plan is for him to sit back and learn, but learning from Keenum and backup Sean Mannion isn’t going to do him any favors. The best way for him to learn is to just be out there. It’s not like he could be any worse than Keenum was. They’ll probably be stomped on by the Seahawks next week, but they always tend to keep those games interesting.

32. Cleveland Browns (last week’s ranking: 31) – Will the Browns ever get out of the NFL’s cellar? They’re likely stuck there because of their recent draft history. Not a single first round pick from 2011 to 2014 is still on the roster (six picks in that span). They opted to trade out of the second overall pick, where they could’ve drafted Carson Wentz. Their quarterback problems have existed for as long as anyone can remember. Now, they came into this season hoping for career revitalization from Robert Griffin III, and instead, he struggled in their first game and got injured. He’s now on the injured reserve with the designation to return after eight weeks. This is a team that finds itself with only one legitimately good and reliable player: left tackle Joe Thomas. He won’t be around much longer either. Receiver Josh Gordon may be the best player on this team, but he’s currently suspended for four games and no one can trust that he won’t be suspended again. The rest of their receiving core is made up of rookies and veteran tight end Gary Barnidge, who had his first productive season at age 30. The defense lacks talent as well, with Joe Haden being their only proven player on that side of the ball, and he had the worst season of his career last year. It’s hard to see this team winning next week against the Ravens, if not any game.

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