Alex Smith and the Chiefs made a huge statement with an opening road win over the defending Super Bowl champions
Football is back and the first week of the NFL season threw us all for a loop with several unexpected upsets. While it’s still a little early to throw all those preseason prognostications out, there is definitely a little bit of second-guessing going on given a few of the results on opening weekend.
Factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 2 NFL Power Rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs
If the Chiefs were to play the Patriots 10 more times, it’s doubtful they would be able to reproduce a 42-27 win on the road against Bill Belichick and company. The Eric Berry injury is a concern but the defense still looked a lot better than expected and the offense was surprisingly explosive behind Kareem Hunt and the, gasp, downfield passing attack of Alex Smith. Beat the champs at their place to open the year though and it’s easy to slide this AFC contender to the top spot for now.
2. New England Patriots
Week 1 kicks off a five-day period of numerous overreactions but the good news for everybody is we no longer have to discuss the Pats going undefeated one iota more. The loss to Kansas City doesn’t quite knock the team off its perch as the AFC favorite but it did help reinforce that this team isn’t perfect — especially in terms of a pass rush and along the offensive line. We’re guessing that’s the worst Tom Brady will play the rest of the season too.
3. Oakland Raiders
So many drives settling for field goals isn’t what you want but it was otherwise a strong start for Jack Del Rio’s squad on the road at a fellow AFC contender who looks like the easy favorite in their division. The defense clamped down on Marcus Mariota, while Marshawn Lynch and Derek Carr were solid in their return to football.
4. Green Bay Packers
It wasn’t pretty at times but Aaron Rodgers and company laid claim to early front-runner status in the NFC race with that victory over Seattle. The offensive line probably had a better effort than you’d expect out of that group against the Seahawks’ fearsome defensive line but just about everybody in Green Bay will really be talking about the way the defense looked chasing down Russell Wilson.
5. Dallas Cowboys
Everybody expected the offense to look good with Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup (for now and the foreseeable future) but the defense was the big takeaway from that rather boring win over the lifeless Giants. The score could have been a lot worse had Dak Prescott been a little sharper but either way, strong start to the year in Big D.
6. Seattle Seahawks
If the year plays out like many think it could, Seattle will rue that loss in Green Bay, which could potentially cost the Seahawks home-field advantage in the playoffs. For all the talk about the offensive line being the weak spot, the group looked even worse than you could imagine in the opener and that’s not a great sign going forward.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown connection appears to be in mid-season form by the looks of the way things went in picking up that division win against Cleveland to start the year off. Rookie T.J. Watt already looks like a great addition but the lack of a run game is something to keep an eye on to see if it’s a one-off or a long-term concern.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Sam Bradford looked like an MVP candidate on Monday night and shows what he’s really capable of when given at least a little time to throw. It helped, of course, to have Stefon Diggs do his best Randy Moss impression on a night where the legend himself but that was nonetheless a statement victory in prime time.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hurricane Irma has forced us to wait a week before we see the Bucs in action but this team remains a dangerous one on paper given all the weapons Jameis Winston has and the re-tooling of the defensive unit. Based on the way the rest of the division looked in Week 1, they very well may be the favorite in the NFC South early on.
10. Tennessee Titans
Mike Mularkey’s gamble with the opening onside kick didn’t pay off and then he went away from the persona he wants to build in Nashville by throwing too often near the goal line instead of running the ball. At least Marcus Mariota looked just as quick as you remember running the ball after that broken leg last season.
11. Detroit Lions
Big contract, big win for Matthew Stafford and budding fantasy football superstar Kenny Golladay. The Lions’ run game wasn’t anything to write home about but the flip side was that the defense came to play by forcing all those turnovers.
12. Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl hangover? Sure looked like there was one when they played the Bears and needed a late defensive stand to hold on for the victory. At least Matt Ryan didn’t seem like he missed a beat — especially throwing to tight end Austin Hooper — with a new offensive coordinator calling the shots.
13. Los Angeles Rams
Yes it was against the Andrew Luck-less Colts but no team looked better from last season to this one than the Rams on Sunday. We knew the defense would be pretty solid even without Aaron Donald back in the lineup, but the jump in offensive efficiency was the real eye-opener in Los Angeles under their rookie head coach.
14. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton threw two touchdowns passes but it was pretty clear that he isn’t quite 100 percent healthy to begin the year. Christian McCaffrey will continue to pay dividends as he gets used to the game with more reps but everything will come down to the arm strength returning to the quarterback.
15. Denver Broncos
You think offensive coordinator Mike McCoy enjoyed that opener by taking it to his old team? While the ending was nothing to write home about and there’s a bit of a ceiling for this team because of the quarterback, there’s enough to ride a great defense and win a decent amount this year.
16. Miami Dolphins
The Jay Cutler experiment will wait another week to be unveiled but Adam Gase and his team have their work cut out for them with the difficulty of practicing and playing in Southern California prior to opening against the Chargers.
17. Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians got the triple-whammy of a bad loss on the road combined with star running back David Johnson and left tackle D.J. Humphries both going out with a serious injury. Also not the start Carson Palmer wanted this season but you could certainly tell the game plan changed radically in the second half.
18. New York Giants
The only positive for the Giants to take away from that terrible-to-watch opener was that the pass rush should once again be one of the better ones in the NFC. Everywhere else though, things were rough and not even the eventual return of Odell Beckham Jr. is going to smooth them all over.
19. Houston Texans
Given what the team and their city have been through the past few weeks, it was hard to expect a laser-focused effort in Week 1. It didn’t take long for Bill O’Brien to realize that Deshaun Watson gives the team the best chance to win on offense (if he doesn’t get killed from that offensive line first) but the really concerning fact is how bad the previously stingy defense was run right over by the Jags.
20. Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh can’t help but smile after that kind of defensive performance on the road. The front seven was extremely active and the rebuilt secondary looked like it has much more depth than last season. While it was an encouraging start, we won’t really find out how good or bad this team is until the Ravens host the Steelers in October.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Grabbing a division win on the road is huge for such a young team and it’s even better for the Eagles to see that Carson Wentz regained the early form he showed off as a rookie. Seeing that kind of pass rush (and resulting turnovers) was probably the best development for Philly though.
22. Washington Redskins
The past several games Kirk Cousins has played in a Washington uniform have illustrated why the team has been so reluctant to offer the type of contract that the quarterback is looking for. Jay Gruden’s squad needs to regroup quickly across the country or else the year will get off on the wrong foot in the worst way possible.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars
That performance against Houston may have been the best overall performance by Jacksonville in years. Top pick Leonard Fournette hit the century mark running the ball while all those defensive draft picks and signings finally lived up to the early hype. It may not be repeatable but at least the team gave their fans a glimmer of hope.
24. New Orleans Saints
After months of offseason talk out of New Orleans about playing better defense and recommitting to the run game… that strategy lasted about a quarter and a half. Looks like the Saints will only go as far as Drew Brees can will them once again but in fairness they did open with a tough opponent on the road.
25. Los Angeles Chargers
After an offseason being a trendy dark horse, the Chargers proved they weren’t that much different from last year’s squad in that opener at Denver. The offensive line had their hands full but even factoring in the competition it doesn’t look like a unit that is going to be making a big leap for Philip Rivers.
26. Chicago Bears
All the Bears fans hoping for the worst from this team and expecting (or wanting) to play Mitchell Trubisky by Week 4 were pleasantly surprised at how competitive the team played at home against the defending NFC champs. Mike Glennon was fine and at least gave the team a chance to win even if he came up a tad short. If only the defense covered a tight end.
27. Buffalo Bills
Nice debut by new head coach Sean McDermott on both sides of the ball as they surge (temporarily) into the division lead. Be careful not to read too much into the performance given that it was against the Jets but good first impression in Buffalo.
28. Cleveland Browns
The Browns gave the Steelers everything they could handle at home and it’s clear the roster turnover the past two years has resulted in a much improved team. It might not be enough to help Cleveland go above .500 by the time the calendar flips to January but the play of rookie DeShone Kizer and company is the most encouraging news the city has had since LeBron won a title.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
So much for any sort of bounce-back campaign for Marvin Lewis, as the defense was a mess and the offense looked like an FCS college team going against Alabama. Andy Dalton’s five turnovers will get all the press (and he was certainly awful) but the entire effort by the Bengals is a good way to get their coach fired even earlier than expected.
30. San Francisco 49ers
What a mirage that solid preseason play was for the 49ers as they looked as lackluster as the crowd at Levi’s Stadium did —especially on offense. While the mental mistakes can be cleaned up by Kyle Shanahan, the lack of talent that is evident in a number of areas will have to wait until down the road.
31. Indianapolis Colts
Bad defense, bad roster, bad situation. About the only positive thing for the Colts after that debacle in LA is that they now know it’s Jacoby Brissett’s time at quarterback until Andrew Luck returns fully healthy.
32. New York Jets
Not a great sign when the Yankees outscore their fellow New York team on the same day by more than a field goal. It’s Week 1 but a few decisions that head coach Todd Bowles made indicated this team is already playing out the string.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.