The Good, the Bad, and the Terrible: Ranking NFL Teams Heading into W2

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Last week I wrote a piece on the Titans the promise they were showing, capping it all off with a comprehensive list of where I would place each of the 32 teams in terms of potential and prowess. Now that one week and one week two game is under their belt, let’s look at where those teams have ended up going into this week and how the dynamic has shifted.

The Good:

  1. Green Bay Packers- The Packers faced a tough challenge from a flawed but surging Jaguars team in Week One, and they really only got this spot over the number two team because they were one rank ahead of them last week. Aaron Rodgers proved he’s still got plenty of fourth quarter magic left as well. +3
  2. Denver Broncos- Although the win over Carolina was already accounted for at the time of my rankings last week, this team moved up thanks to the teams ahead (save for Green Bay) losing their games. There’s work to be done but the reigning number one defensive front proved its worth. +3
  3. New England Patriots- I said to look out for the Patriots coming to town and look what happened. Even with a backup quarterback and down several key players, they made the moves to upset my number one ranked team and stuck with it to win the game. Now they might be getting Gronk back and things are only going to get worse for opponents. +4
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers- It was a really big day for Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and DeAngelo Williams on Monday night. Josh Norman tried to help his teammates out at CB but the damage had already been done. Better get used to seeing that trio dealing damage all year too, assuming they can stay healthy. +4
  5. Kansas City Chiefs- Down Jamaal Charles and down 21 points at the half, the Chiefs came back and they came back big. They’ve extended their impressive regular season winning streak by one and they’ve shown they can beat the better team when down at the half. Let’s see how that translates over the rest of the season. +4
  6. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers lost a very close game which was already accounted for in the Week One rankings, so this is a more accurate account of where they should be now that the other teams have played their games. Now that they’ve been dealt a lesson in humility by the team that bested them before, you can bet they’re out for blood. -3
  7. Seattle Seahawks- For most of their first matchup against Miami, the Seahawk’s offense looked like a different team. They couldn’t even score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, although Miami was faring just as poorly. It was a defensive battle and surprisingly hard-fought victory. Now DangeRuss is potentially hurt too. This could be a similarly rough start compared to last year’s lukewarm reception. -5
  8. Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals fell from grace on the rankings here this week. They had a chance to put the Patriots to shame and they couldn’t pull it off even against the hurting team. Instead they got shown up and had to rely on their stellar defense in the absence of their offensive performance. How will they fare this week? Will Palmer still suffer from playoff jitters? -7
  9. Cincinnati Bengals- Well these tigers didn’t bungle this game although the Jets played their hearts out and only lost due to unfortunate special teams incidents. Andy Dalton and AJ Green carried the team on their backs and proved they could come in clutch again. -3
  10. Oakland Raiders- The Raiders stay where they were after my initial rankings because they’ve proved that they deserved the spot with their gutsy win over the Saints last week. The potential to at least bat .500 is there this season, although they can do better than that if they can win those close games like this past week’s.

The Second-Tier Squad:

  1. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes move up one slot solely for the fact that their defense totally won their game for them in the absence of offensive production. They got lucky that the Titans couldn’t communicate effectively, but get ready for them to drop this week if the Packers can keep their composure and torch their rivals. +1
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs edged out Houston here because they really showed up and played and outlasted their NFC South rival. Jameis played a great game after some initial pains and mistakes and his receivers came up big as well. If they continue to play like that then they’re a formidable squad this year. +3
  3. Houston Texans- Houston came up big and they’re only being docked two slots here because the teams above played even bigger. Mistakes were made but they weren’t detrimental to the overall outcome of their game against Chicago. Strangely the offensive side of the ball played better than the normally impeccable defense, but then that could very well be due to Fuller and Hopkins being clutch when needed. -2
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags came up big this week even if they walked away with a L on their record. They gave the Packers a real run for their money and if they can work on the defense then they’ve definitely got a chance at a wildcard slot. Let’s just see how they fare against Houston who is equally capable. +2
  5. New York Jets- Tough loss here for these guys. They played well and only lost by one point even with AJ Green carrying his team (literally) to victory. Honestly, if you sack Andy Dalton seven times in one game then you probably deserve the W. But stranger things have happened… They were robbed of a playoff berth last year and similarly they were robbed of a W this year. +2
  6. New York Giants- Prior to this week’s game the Giants weren’t even in this tier on my rankings. But after a nail biter against Dallas that actually went in their favor this year, Eli and OBJ and Cruz and co deserve the bump, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of people are going to drop as well, leaving the way open for them to rise. +6
  7. Dallas Cowboys- I didn’t expect it to be as close a matchup as it was, but the Boys actually moved up a spot on here even with their loss due to poor time management. Dez had another touchdown taken from him and Dak couldn’t lift off as well as he did in the preseason. Running was tough against the surprisingly (good?) Giants defense as well. It was a tough break but not an entirely poor showing. +1
  8. Miami Dolphins- I’ll admit, the Dolphins surprised me and probably the Seahawks as well. They may not have won the game but their defense definitely stepped up at the right time and they reigned hellfire on DangeRuss and the Hawks the entire game until the closing minutes. Things didn’t lift off for their offense either, but then they’ve needed work for some time. +6
  9. Philadelphia Eagles- Can you say good job Carson Wentz? The rookie posted a perfect passer rating and did an excellent job of lifting his team over the Browns. Okay, sure it was the Browns but you can’t ever make the mistake of underestimating a team in the NFL because anything is possible. Except maybe a Browns playoff run this year, but then you’d be surprised… +10
  10. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford proved that Calvin Johnson wasn’t the only person to carry their team. I wasn’t shocked to see them outlast the Colts, even with the pleasant surprise of Andrew Luck putting his team entirely on his back alone in order to attempt a one-man comeback. The Lions will need to work out the kinks before tougher opponents, but they’re already better than last year. +5

Third Stringers:

  1. Buffalo Bills- I’m not really sure what happened to these guys between last season and the present one, but it wasn’t anything good. They had way too many miscommunications and really need their confidence back. They fared somewhat better against the Jets this week but I can’t fairly take that into account yet without seeing how everyone else compares. -7
  2. Washington Redskins- The secondary got absolutely thrashed by the likes of Antonio Brown but somehow it was still worse than we all expected. Kirk Cousins played well but not well enough. Josh Norman proved he can put in work but that he is being underutilized when he should be the one matching up against WR1. The Redskins fought themselves more than the Steelers, who cruised on by like DeAngelo Williams for a touchdown. -9
  3. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens looked better thanks to Joe Flacco’s return from injury but even that couldn’t stop them from being disappointing even with a victory over the Bills. They barely scored and they had just as many issues with their efforts than the Bills did. It was a low-scoring affair and a defensive matchup all night. -3
  4. Tennessee Titans- These guys only get edged out by the Ravens (who they were one above last week) thanks to the plethora of missteps and miscommunications that plagued them throughout what should’ve been a win against Minnesota. If not for key flops at inopportune times they would be ranked very differently than they currently are. -5
  5. Atlanta Falcons- They didn’t play poorly although they ended up making more mistakes than their opponent did and losing their first game to Tampa Bay. The talent is there on the offensive side of the ball but the defense needs to step it up more than a few notches if they want to have a serious chance this year in the conference. -4
  6. New Orleans Saints- The Saints really did not play a bad game offensively but their defense was obviously even worse than that of the Raiders. I didn’t penalize the Raiders but since New Orleans did the same things and also lost the game, I have to take that into account. No gutsy call to save their ranking here. -3
  7. San Diego Chargers- Oh how unfair the football gods can be some days. The Chargers get to keep their same position and it looks like they may be earning a similar record as last year’s with Allen’s injury and their blown 21-point lead and eventual loss to the Chiefs. Philip Rivers is great but even he can’t carry an entire team, and when he can’t expect help from his running backs because they’re constantly stuffed then it’s a bad day.
  8. San Fransisco 49ers- These guys were ranked dead last in the previous rankings, but things have changed a bit for them after handing the Rams a shutout off of seven punts and two interceptions. They brought twenty-eight points of pain and misery to LA and couldn’t be contained. Let’s see if they can improve upon that and throw themselves at a much better Carolina offensive front and defensive wall. +4
  9. Indianapolis Colts- I’m doing the Colts a solid and moving them up one slot here based purely on the superhuman performance of Andrew Luck. He may not perform at this level in the weeks to come but it was a particularly impressive showing off of an injury, even if it was a loss. +1
  10. Chicago Bears- The Bears are bad and the game got ugly at times with Houston, but they didn’t do as poorly as they could’ve and they put up fourteen points to Houston’s twenty-three. Jay Cutler and crew made some solid connections even if the overall theme is the team needs some work. +1

Depth Chart Cuts:

  1. Cleveland Browns- RG3 did his best to come in and save the day and he came up with a few plays but ultimately just couldn’t dent the Eagles defensive attack. The Browns can rest easy knowing they aren’t last on my list, but they shouldn’t be resting at all especially now that there’s going to be a different man under center with news of RG3’s injury. -3
  2. Los Angeles Rams- I thought the Rams really had it in them to win this week but boy was I proven oh so wrong. If only they had been able to give Todd Gurley anything to work with, the results may have been different. Instead he got shut down and the Rams got shut out. Add to that the fact that Case Keenum was noticeably off the entire game and you’ve got a recipe for a persistent problem on the offensive side of the ball this week as well. -6

We’ve seen how one game has gone so far this week with Thursday night’s throwdown between the Jets and Bills (Jets winning 37-31), but there’s no telling what the rest of the week could be like. Stay tuned.

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