Another week of NFL football is in the books, and this season hasn’t disappointed. Electric prime-time games, divisional standings turned on their heads, and so much more has left us feeling in need of some organisation. Welcome to The Sports Wave’s week two NFL power Rankings, where we’ll lay down what we know from another thrilling slate of games and ask one question of every team.
(1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Call me a hater if you want, but does anyone else get tired of seeing Tom Brady at the top of this list all the time? He’s earned his spot, and the roster around him is impressive, but I’d love to see a little more excitement all the way up here. Father time has other ideas, it seems. Our query: Who can beat this team in the NFC playoffs to stop them from going to a second-straight Super Bowl?
(2) Los Angeles Rams 1
Call me crazy, but the Kool-Aid has been drunk. L.A. looks like true Super Bowl contenders, and there’s plenty of gas in the tank. Cooper Kupp is a bonafide WR1, this defense is a stalwart, and Matthew Stafford was, in fact, the missing piece. They’ll need to keep this level of play up through the playoffs, but if they do, can they compete for the NFC title?
(3) Kansas City Chiefs 1
This move down, though only one step, will definitely earn me some heat. Kansas City is clearly one of the best teams in the NFL, but there were issues during their slugfest with Lamar Jackson’s Ravens on Sunday Night Football last week. They’ll dominate on offense all season, certainly, but could a suspect (though still splashy) secondary cost them dearly in the postseason?
(4) Buffalo Bills
Well, they’re not winning exactly the way that they were expected to, but shutting out a rival that was primed to contend for the division 35-0 on the road was a huge lift. The defensive line that was the NFL’s most expensive (and one of the least effective) in 2020 has gotten a whole lot younger and more effective, dominating the run game and the pass rush through all four quarters against Miami. Josh Allen still needs to get this passing game back on track, but the offensive line is improving following a dismal start to the season, and he’s shown us some of what earned him his $258M contract extension already this season. After a down year by their usual standards in 2020, is this defense legit again?
(5) Cleveland Browns
Cleveland didn’t get off on the right foot in this game, but they eventually found solid ground against Houston. It’s official, when the run game isn’t working, Cleveland is struggling; Good thing it’s usually working. Their secondary is proving to be a real problem, though more for them than for opposing offenses, putting that aside: Is open-field tackling the Browns biggest problem?
(6) Green Bay Packers
A lot of good teams stumbled in week one, but that first game is often a poor indicator of what’s to come. After flailing against the Saints, was a tune-up game against the Lions exactly what the doctor ordered? We now know that the Packers are beatable, but they’re just as tough as any team in this league right now. Could we see another performance like we did from Rodgers in week one and, if so, when?
(7) Arizona Cardinals 3
What a game. It came down to a lucky miss by the Vikings’ kicker to win it, but the Cardinals are looking better than they have in a long time. The departure of Larry Fitzgerald was the turning point for this franchise, as they say goodbye to the old and hello to this new and exciting roster that poses a threat at almost all levels. As it stands right now, is Kyler Murray the early MVP?
(8) San Francisco 49ers 1
The 49ers are an unconvincing 2-0, and I’ll tell you exactly what I mean by that. Just one short year ago, they were coming off an NFC Championship win and had Super Bowl expectations. This season, they’re barely eking out wins against the Lions and Eagles. They’re still great, but there’s a lot of worries across this injury-wracked roster. Will San Francisco finally stop playing down to their opponents’ level?
(9) Baltimore Ravens 2
They couldn’t have asked for more on Sunday Night Football, pulling off a stunning upset against the best team in the AFC right now. Baltimore is still running all over the place, and it’s a great scheme for the regular season, but when they inevitably make the playoffs they’ll need to adapt their offense, as evidenced by recent history. The easiest way to do this is by developing passing schemes that better fit Lamar’s arm, but if they do, can their coaches and QB pull it off?
(10) Dallas Cowboys 1
Dallas was incredible in week one, but much more muted in week two, though successful nonetheless. Tony Pollard looks like a better RB than Ezekiel Elliott, but the rest of the roster is gelling well as Dak ‘eases’ into being under centre once more. In a two-horse race, how many games are needed to beat out Washington for the division?
(11) Los Angeles Chargers 3
L.A. is missing talent in a few areas, most importantly around Justin Herbert. If you didn’t droll over Herbert’s arm this weekend, you weren’t watching the same game as everyone else, but they have to give him more support if they intend him to be their franchise QB for the foreseeable future. Can they give Herbert the assistance that’s needed to win in an increasingly difficult AFC?
(12) Pittsburgh Steelers
After a decent opener against an underperforming Bills team in week one, Pittsburgh got rocked by the Raiders. Najee Harris is fully capable of being the weapon this offense needed for the future but there are still issues in the trenches that need to be solved if they intend to gain some consistency and truly compete this season. For a second-straight year, both the run game and passing game are being hurt by this offensive line. It’s a long season, will the line continue to be a liability?
(13) Tennessee Titans 4
Let’s not kid ourselves here, the Seahawks lost this game just as much as the Titans won it, but you can’t ignore that Derrick Henry might be one of the greatest running backs of all time if he keeps this pace up. In what was essentially a miracle win, they managed to lean on the running game to make a comeback- a plan that won’t pay dividends very often. Is Derrick Henry the entire gameplan, or can Vrabel diversify his offense?
(14) Seattle Seahawks 1
After what is the first loss by an NFC West team this season, Seattle is wondering how it all went so wrong so fast. They took their foot off the gas, make more costly mistakes than you can shake a stick at, and ultimately beat themselves before Tennessee got the chance. The offense stalled, the defense fell apart, and they watched victory slowly flow down the drain. Are the Seahawks actually the worst team in the NFC West?
(15) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are still a talented team, but they can’t beat 22 men on the field at once. They’re their own worst enemy on gameday, consistently making the crucial mistakes that cost them more than a few points. Carson Wentz has flashed but still looks like the man we saw last season in Philly. If he can turn it around then they’re genuine competitors. When do they stop shooting themselves in the foot and start playing some football?
(16) New England Patriots 2
Mac Jones did everything that was asked of him on Sunday, but they didn’t ask much. The defense handled Zach Wilson in his first divisional matchup, and that’s all she wrote. Be encouraged by Jones’ early play, but there’s a long way to go before this rookie blows the doors off. Despite that, in an offense that brought in as much outside talent as the Patriots did in the 2021 offseason, is Mac Jones good enough to help them win right now?
(17) Washington Football Team 2
They may have gotten lucky in the end after a questionable offsides call on what would have been the game-losing field goal attempt, but most of what we saw from Washington on Thursday Night Football was extremely impressive. Terry McLaurin is a bonafide star, especially with a competent QB throwing to him. Is Taylor Heinicke that QB?
(18) New Orleans Saints 4
Well, that was something of a let-down. In this meeting of mediocrity, the Saints’ injury losses were on full display, but they’ll be getting some of those back soon enough. The real concern lies with Jameis Winston, and his continued success going forward. We’ve seen the good from him, and now the bad has reared its head. Has anything changed from his time in Tampa Bay?
(19) Miami Dolphins 3
A lot of people thought that Miami had closed the gap between themselves and Buffalo in the AFC East, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In his limited time on the field, Tua Tagovailoa failed to impress, and his back Jacoby Brissett didn’t fare much better. He avoided any major injury, but couldn’t return to the game. He may be fine to play the next week, but whether he does or doesn’t, we’re not convinced that Tua is the long-term answer for Miami just yet. Can he fix his game and bring this team back to greatness?
(20) Carolina Panthers
They’re better than advertised, that much is for sure. We all knew that CMC’s return would elevate this team, but Sam Darnold is handling his snaps well, and Carolina is starting to look like they’re due a second-place placement behind Tampa in this year’s standings. Is this what a true-to-the-term balanced offense looks like?
(21) Las Vegas Raiders 2
It may be time to hit the panic button in Las Vegas because these fans don’t know what else to do when their team starts winning. The passing game is developing well, against all odds, and it’s hard to imagine they step back once Josh Jacobs is fully healthy. We could be in for a scrappy AFC West playoff picture come December. Are the Raiders for real?
(22) Minnesota Vikings
They may have looked better than they did last week, but this Vikings team still wasn’t quite good enough. They had the chances to win this game and just couldn’t pull it off at the close. They have a capable franchise QB, elite talent across the board, but remain unable to put together a full game when it matters most. Why do they continue to fall short?
(23) Denver Broncos 2
There you have it, the Denver Broncos are officially 2-0, sitting tied with the Las Vegas Raiders for the AFC West lead. Is that what anyone imagined we’d be seeing after only two weeks of the season? Probably not, but it’s clear that the transition to Teddy Bridgewater has given this team more life than they’ve had in a while. Von Miller is back, despite being muted on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and this WR core is full of threats. With all that help, was Bridgewater the missing link?
(24) Cincinnati Bengals 3
This man has not been as advertised. When Burrow has got the ball in his hands, defenses aren’t worried, and he’s giving the wrong team plenty of opportunities to make plays. His three-interception meltdown was more than enough to lose this game against any team, and Chicago didn’t have to do anything to make those happen. If he can’t figure it out now, it won’t be long before we see a new number one pick drafted by the Bengals. When does the real Burrow arrive and bring Cincy their fire back?
(25) Philadelphia Eagles 1
It was a disappointing but entirely expected loss for Philly this week, but there’s plenty of reasons to be hopeful moving forward. This defensive line is no pushover, and the offense has flashed, but all eyes are on the second-year QB with his first undisputed starts under centre. He might not always get it done, but he’s shown he has enough talent to keep this team afloat, and he has markedly improved his play at the NFL level. Can Hurts develop into a franchise QB?
(26) Chicago Bears
‘If Dalton is healthy, he’s the starter’. Despite flashes from the rookie backup and massive public outcry, Chicago seems to believe that their best chance to win comes from the veteran, but for how long? We know that Andy Dalton isn’t the future of this franchise, but Justin Fields might be, and he’s not getting the reps he needs to develop into a franchise QB by sitting on the bench. Our question for the Bears: What dirt does Dalton have on Nagy that’s keeping him as QB1?
(27) Houston Texans 2
If Tyrod Taylor didn’t go out with an injury against Cleveland, we may have seen one of the biggest upsets of this short (and already upset-filled) season. That statement may be a reach, but this isn’t: The team is working well together and when Taylor returns from his injury I expect him to get his starting role back, something that’s been robbed from him too many times before. Is Tyrod good enough to compete for a playoff spot?
(28) New York Giants 2
How disappointing. Outside of one big run, Saquon Barkley was all but obsolete and is having clear trouble returning to form. The offensive line isn’t helping, but New
Jersey York needs more from the former second-overall pick. None of this loss, however, can be placed on Daniel Jones, who had an excellent game and is proving himself to be a real mobile threat from the backfield. Danny does indeed have some dimes in him, but is it enough to let this roster compete for the division?
(29) New York Jets 2
If you’re into the Jets social media scene, you’ll understand that the roof is on fire for those fans in New York. A disastrous outing for fresh young QB Zach Wilson has a lot of fans ignoring the silver linings amid this weekend to forget. On the plus side, Robert Saleh has clearly brought this defense a little life again, but they’re far from perfect, and definitely feeling the loss of FA signing Carl Lawson. Did New York make a mistake drafting Zack Wilson, or is it just more growing pains?
(30) Atlanta Falcons 2
We won’t lie to you, things are looking pretty bleak for this Falcons team. They put up 25 points on a stingy Bucs defense, sure, but they also threw two consecutive pick-6’s when they were in a good position to make a comeback. This offense is still good enough to get it done, but they need help from a defense that doesn’t seem to care. Perhaps rebuilding this offseason would have been wise, with plenty of teams interested in a ‘Matty Ice’ under centre. Did they make a mistake not taking a QB over TE Kyle Pitts?
(31) Jacksonville Jaguars 1
If this was any other team, we’d be worried by what we’re seeing out of Jacksonville right now, but because they are the way that they are, we just feel bad for Trevor Lawrence. Sitting in a franchise that thought a Tim Tebow TE turnaround was a viable option, he’s not going to get what he needs from his teammates this season. He’s got talent, and he’s shown that time and time again, but without a roster around him, he’s going to be waiting until 2022 to start winning games. There’s plenty to be done right now, but when do they actually start to help Trevor Lawrence?
(32) Detroit Lions 1
Another week, another blowout. This time it came in crushing fashion as Green Bay reminded Detroit why they’re still without a playoff win. After a game with very few positives and more negatives than we can list, it’s only a matter of time; When will Detroit lock up the top pick in the 2022 draft?