Through two games, it’s not advisable to draw any sort of concrete conclusions on any team, except for maybe the top-tier teams that are largely the same as last year and proved their worth dating back to last year. In that case, there’s a really interesting battle for the top spot in the NFL Power Rankings. Teams are now starting to show their true colors. Thus, we’re feeling a little more confident about where teams go in terms of the NFL hierarchy. However, there’s sure to be a lot more movement going forward as teams deal with injuries and/or schedules that either get easier or tougher. Regardless, here’s where we’re at heading into the third slate of games:
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 1: The undisputed top two
1 New England Patriots (2-0)
Until we see them play each other, it’s hard to say definitively whether the Patriots or Chiefs are the league’s best team. It’s one or the other, though. We’ll side with New England – at least for now – because they’re in better shape from a health perspective and just look more comfortable as a team at this point. The Patriots might be better on both sides of the ball right now than they were at any point last season, which is scary for the rest of the league.
2 Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
The Chiefs have come quite a long way in answering some questions concerning their defense. But it’s not as if the Jaguars and Raiders are offensive juggernauts. It’s a testament to how good Kansas City is that we really haven’t seen them tested at all outside of one good Oakland quarter. But starting this week with the Ravens, K.C.’s schedule gets tougher. Plus, New England’s practices might be more competitive than any Pats’ divisional games this season. New England should stroll to six in-division wins. We can’t say the same about the Chiefs. So at this point, having the inside track to home-field advantage is enough to knock Kansas City to the number-two spot.
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 2: Just short of being a real threat for the Lombardi Trophy
3 Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
This may be a bit high, but Baltimore has looked as good as any team this season. And they’re by far the biggest surprise to be ranked this high. However, Baltimore’s outlook could change this week as they have the Chiefs on the slate. With Week 3 coming up, we can start thinking about teams in more concrete terms. The Ravens won’t necessarily have to beat the Chiefs in order to prove they belong among the NFL’s elite, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
The Baltimore Ravens have totaled 1,083 yards of offense through two weeks, third most in NFL history (1991 Bills, 2011 Patriots).
Both teams went on to make the Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/dgpMyLvmeL
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 15, 2019
4 Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
It’s tough to glean a whole lot from Dallas’ early-season performance. They’ve been immensely impressive, especially the play of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But they’ve also played the Giants and Redskins. This week isn’t any different as the lowly Dolphins visit “Jerry World.” With the Saints, Packers, Jets, Eagles, and Giants coming up after Miami, it would be a total disappointment if the Cowboys are anything worse than 6-2 halfway through their schedule.
5 Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
The Rams’ Week 1 win against Carolina isn’t nearly as impressive now as it seemed at the time. L.A. is still among the class of the NFC, but the jury is still out a bit on this team. If Jared Goff hasn’t taken a step forward this year, it’s hard to see this team being any better than last year’s team, which got insanely lucky to get where they did. The Browns offer an interesting test for the Rams this week.
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 3: Off to a decent start, but much to prove
6 Green Bay Packers (2-0)
It’s a weird feeling being more confident in the Packers’ defense than their offense, but that’s been the case through two games so far. Still, this ranking reflects the struggles regarding all the other NFC North teams as much as it does the Packers’ successes in the early goings. It looks like Green Bay should cruise to a division title, and thus, a playoff spot. And in a league where so much can change, having that type of leg-up on the competition already is worth quite a bit.
7 Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Buffalo should cruise to 3-0 with a home game against the Bengals this week. Though they’ve been impressive, the Jets and Giants aren’t much of a test. Even if they dismantle Cincinnati, it will still feel like there isn’t a whole lot we know for sure about the Bills. They’re on track for a wild-card spot, but if that means getting pounded in the first round, that’s not much of an accomplishment, all things considered. To no fault of their own, this team has something left to prove, and we won’t find out until they go against New England in Week 4.
8 Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Eagles are dealing with a number of key players who are injured. For as bad as the Falcons looked in Week 1, it wasn’t a terrible loss for Philly in Week 2 when Atlanta squeaked by them. We’ll remain optimistic here for now, but they better have a strong showing against Detroit this week.
9 Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
There was legitimate bust potential with DK Metcalf, but he’s looked every bit the part of NFL-ready receiver in the early going. As of right now, Seattle is a tier below the true contenders in the NFC, but they’re not far off. If they can prove they’ve repaced the veterans lost with capable players, the Seahawks could be right there when the dust settles.
10 Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
11 Houston Texans (1-1)
We’re combining the Chargers and Texans this week because they’re playing each other in L.A. Oddly enough, the Houston may have been more impressive in their loss to New Orleans than they were in their win against the Jaguars. Although they’re ranked relatively high this week, both have been mildly disappointing so far this season. There’s a chance for one side to separate from the other this week.
12 Cleveland Browns (1-1)
It’s not all that surprising that it’s taking the Browns a minute to figure out how all their parts fit together, given how much roster – and staff – turnover there’s been over the last calendar year. Still, Baker Mayfield’s improvement – or lack thereof – remains one of the more intriguing subplots of the young season.
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 4: Hoping for hope’s sake
13 Chicago Bears (1-1)
The Bears finally won a game that required a clutch field goal! And despite his shortcomings as a passer, Mitchell Turbisky hasn’t been all that bad in crunch time (despite a really poor decision that cost Chicago the game against Green Bay in Week 1). Still, no matter how good the defense is, this team’s fate lies with their quarterback. Trubisky could round out into a good QB, but he’s not there yet, and the Bears won’t be real contenders until (or unless) he does so.
These are the throws Trubisky has to hit to be a viable NFL starter. Terrible placement pic.twitter.com/dMJYVHFl3Z
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 6, 2019
14 New Orleans Saints (1-1)
Despite losing Drew Brees for what’s expected to be about a six-week absence, the Saints still have a good chance to take the NFC South. And if they can still manage to slide into the postseason and get Brees back to full health, this is a dangerous team. They just need to tread water with Teddy Bridgewater until then, and that’s far from a given.
15 San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Even if they win this week against a reeling Pittsburgh team and move to 3-0, the 49ers’ schedule gets really difficult from there on out. As impressive a start as they’ve gotten off to, it’s still difficult to find a path to ten wins for this team. And that’s exactly what it may take to get into the playoffs in the NFC.
16 Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
17 Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Another matchup of teams ranked clustered together this week. This game may be a bit more important to the Colts, who need every win they can to separate from the AFC South; whereas the Falcons are in the NFC South, where every team has been disappointing at times already this season (though to be fair to the Saints, that’s largely due to the Brees injury). Atlanta could practically end up winning their division by default. We’re not so sure the same can be said about Indy.
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 5: Where do we go from here?
18 Oakland Raiders (1-1)
19 Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
It’s amazing how one early-season win has seemingly taken away most of the pressure surrounding the Raiders. No matter how the season plays out, ridding themselves of Antonio Brown when they did looks like a smarter decision by the day. The Vikings, on the other hand, are stuck in neutral so long as this version of Kirk Cousins is their quarterback (and at this point, he probably isn’t getting any better). There’s a way in which the game between these two this week can play out and we still don’t know much about either team, but we kind of already know where these teams are headed. Minnesota’s floor is considerably higher than Oakland’s, but they both share a ceiling of about 8-8 or 9-7.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
The Bucs have simultaneously looked pretty good this season but also pretty meh. While we’ve seen this team get out to quick starts before only to watch it squandered away, the start of this season isn’t that. However, the Brees injury is the ultimate NFC South monkey wrench. It’s the only division where we can’t rule out any of the four teams winning it, and as long as that remains true, Tampa has to stay in the top-20, albeit barely.
21 Denver Broncos (0-2)
There wasn’t a ton expected of the Broncos this season, but they could end up being pretty bad … which is a bit of a surprise. Every season there’s at least one good(ish) team that has a moderate level of talent on the roster but ends up with a poor record. This season looks like it’s trending toward the Broncos being that team.
22 Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
We reserve the right to be pleasantly surprised by how this squad responds to Mason Rudolph as starting quarterback. But so far, the season outlook doesn’t look good for the Steelers. Last season was filled with drama and that obviously weighed on the team. This season looks like one filled with misfortune. Either way, if that holds true, Pittsburgh is headed toward the same fate: staying home for the playoffs.
23 Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Titans narrowly escaped the division rival Colts in Week 2. Now they’ll need to do the same against the Jags in Week 3 or they’ll risk already falling too far behind to win the division, which already seems like a long shot. Whether it’s one game or a full season, this isn’t a team that’s all that well-equipped to play from behind.
24 Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Carolina really, really has to weigh the short- and long-term options with Cam Newton. For how bad he’s looked thus far, and given they’re 0-2, it wouldn’t be wrong to boot this season if it meant giving Newton a chance to get fully healthy. Still, though, the Panthers could come back and win the NFC South this season. This is a win-now roster that, to this point, can’t win. The situation here is complicated, to say the least.
This seems to be play Cam Newton aggravated his foot. Missed Greg Olsen by a mile on next play.
Cam was 7-of-8 passing before the throwaway, 18–of-42 after. pic.twitter.com/tPya2S3G5P
— Joe Person (@josephperson) September 17, 2019
25 Detroit Lions (1-0-1)
It might not be possible for a team to be as unimpressive through two weeks while not having a loss. With the Eagles, Chiefs, and Packers coming up, we expect it won’t be too long before Detroit is (back) under the .500 mark. And that might not change again for the rest of the season.
26 Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Two weeks in a row this team has had a chance to pull out a win but instead played like they were going for the tie. They got one, lost the other. It’s already safe to say Arizona is quite a bit better than last season. Kyler Murray looks the part of a young, on-the-rise franchise quarterback, which is a great sign. But this team hasn’t yet learned how to win. And that goes for the players and coaches.
NFL Power Rankings, Tier 6: Teams finding new ways to be awful
27 Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
The more things change for the Jaguars, the more they stay the same.
28 New York Giants (0-2)
Big Blue (finally) made the inevitable decision to bench Eli Manning in favor of Daniel Jones. The team may be doing the right thing in turning the page, but they’ll struggle mightily in the short-term.
29 Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)
For how bad they are, the Bengals roster is on the older side. Which is not a great combination. There’s a lot of work to do here in order to get Cincinnati back to a place of respectability.
30 Washington Redskins (0-2)
Washington is bad, but at least they realized it and have begun to turn the roster over to younger players, with a few exceptions. This team is a ways off from building a contender, though. In order for the Redskins to get right, they’ll need a few more offseasons of smart moves. And with the ownership and management, they currently have, accomplishing that would be a pretty big upset.
31 New York Jets (0-2)
The Jets are on pace to go through about a thousand quarterbacks this season. That’s not a path for success … if one ever existed for this team to begin with.
32 Miami Dolphins (0-2)
It’s justifiably a tenuous situation in Miami. The team is openly tanking, which creates an environment that not a lot of players are thrilled to be a part of. They did, however, take advantage of the Steelers’ willingness to overpay for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who’s a really good player but not worth what might be a top-ten pick if Pittsburgh goes into the tank without Ben Roethlisberger. But still, it makes the Dolphins even worse this season, which seemed pretty hard to do based on what they’ve gone through two games. It looks like we can pretty much write it in stone that Miami will be at the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings all season.