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2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

The Ringer

Which teams make up the top five after one week of NFL action?

While the top four teams remain the same this week, several teams made their case for the fifth spot. Falling just short at No. 7 are the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the biggest movers this week. Sophomore QB Patrick Mahomes’s versatility and willingness to take the big shot has our writers believing in the Chiefs again. Who did manage to move into the five spot and where do the rest of the teams stand? Find out below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

New England Patriots (1-0)

New England Patriots (1-0)

Although the Patriots’ Week 1 victory versus Houston looked close on the scoreboard, it felt like New England had control the entire game. The team’s defensive front took advantage of Houston’s abysmal offensive line, limiting DeShaun Watson’s effectiveness. Gronk put up a 7/123/1 line and looked like his usual dominant self. The Patriots should face a much stiffer test next week in an AFC Championship rematch versus Jacksonville. If Tom Brady can carve up that defense, there should be zero concern about the Patriots declining at all this year. (Nick Cardozo)

2 (-)

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Philly’s defense held the Falcons to just 12 points on opening night. When Carson Wentz returns to the offense, this team will be one of the NFL’s best on both sides of the ball. (Hunter Bonge)

3 (-)

Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

The Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota is upon us, and Vikings’ fans have to be pleased with the ex-Redskin’s debut performance. Cousins completed 20/36 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions, ultimately leading Minnesota to a 24-16 win over Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. It was the kind of performance Mike Zimmer and company were seeking when they elected to offer Cousins a three-year, $84 million (fully guaranteed) contract in the offseason. Second-year running back Dalvin Cook also turned in a quality performance, coming off his rookie year in which he missed 12 games because of a torn ACL. Cook finished with 16 carries for 40 yards on the ground, while also recording six catches for 55 yards receiving. Cousins and company will attempt to replicate their first-week success in Week 2 when they take on a potentially Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team. (Ryan Grube)

4 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

The Rams’ offense started slow in their 33-13 win over the Raiders, but both the offense and defense looked very strong in the second half. That second half was just the beginning of what the Rams could do this season with arguably the best roster in the league. (Max Vukelich)

5 (+3)

Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Green Bay Packers (1-0)

He may have only been on one good leg, but “that baaaaaad man” Aaron Rodgers found a way to overcome a 20-3 fourth-quarter deficit en route to a comeback victory against the Bears. Rodgers, who completed 20/30 passes for 286 yards, was carted off the field in the second quarter, ultimately causing widespread panic among every Packer fan out there. Fortunately, the two-time MVP’s knee checked out, and Rodgers returned to throw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to complete the comeback for Green Bay. Although he’s insisted that he’ll play next week against the Vikings, you can never fully trust the player with injuries. Should Rodgers play on Sunday, he’ll take on a complete Minnesota team on both sides of the ball in what will be a marquee matchup between two division rivals. (Ryan Grube)

6 (+3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)

Jacksonville’s defense looked just as impressive as it did last year in the team’s season debut. This weekend’s matchup with New England could go a long way to deciding who ends up with home field advantage at the end of the year. It’s a big test for the Jaguars this early in the season, but if Leonard Fournette can’t play they could struggle tremendously on offense. (Max Vukelich)

7 (+5)

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Tyreek Hill stole the show in the Chiefs 38-28 victory over the Chargers, but perhaps the biggest takeaway was the play of quarterback Pat Mahomes. The sophomore gunslinger had quite the season debut, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns. As was true with Kansas City as a whole, it was by no means a perfect performance (the defense allowed a whopping 541 yards), but there’s a lot to like moving forward. (Kyle Trapp)

8 (-1)

Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

Atlanta struggled offensively against one of the NFL’s best defenses in week one, but they proved that they can play a competitive game against anybody. There will be no easy wins against the Falcons this season. The offense has the weapons to be one of the most productive in the league. (Hunter Bonge)

9 (-3)

New Orleans Saints (0-1)

New Orleans Saints (0-1)

The Saints took things back to 2016 with their debut performance against the Buccaneers. Drew Brees and company did their share on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Dan Marino. Only time will tell if their Week 1 lapses were a blip on the radar, or a sign of things to come. (Kyle Trapp)

10 (-5)

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)

The Steelers are probably the league’s biggest mess at the moment. They opened the season without their star running back, ultimately tying the Browns in Week 1. Even if I’m irrationally high on the Browns’ chances this season because of Hard Knocks, a Super Bowl hopeful has to perform better before those aspirations become a pipe dream. Look for the Steelers to bounce back in Week 2. (Matt Fowler)

11 (-)

Carolina Panthers (1-0)

Carolina Panthers (1-0)

Carolina capitalized on the Falcons’ and Eagles’ Week 1 losses, defeating the Dallas Cowboys in a rather ugly 16-8 victory. Though nothing special, it was a solid start to the season for former-MVP Cam Newton, who completed 17/26 passes (65% completion rate) for 161 yards through the air, while adding an additional 58 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Second-year multipurpose back Christian McCaffrey also had a productive day, turning 10 carries and six receptions into 95 total yards (50 rushing and 45 receiving). Meanwhile, on the defensive side, the Panthers were relentless, as they surrendered just 232 total yards to the Cowboys. Carolina will surely need to produce more on offense to contend in the tough NFC South, but it is Week 1, and if the defense can continue its dominance, Ron Rivera and company will be back in the playoffs in 2018. (Ryan Grube)

12 (+5)

Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

The Ravens looked dominant in their Week 1 opener, albeit against the Bills. Unlike last season, the offense was operating on all cylinders and can only get better with more experience under its belt. Look for that trend to continue, and for the defense to impress again in Week 2. (Matt Fowler)

13 (-3)

Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

Although they lost, the Chargers had some bright spots in their Week 1 defeat to the Chiefs. Rivers looked good and the chemistry with star receiver Keenan Allen is clearly there. Young receiver Mike Williams also put up impressive numbers as the offense held its own. Everyone knows the Chargers have playoff aspirations, the defense just needs to get the memo. (Matt Fowler)

14 (-1)

Houston Texans (0-1)

Houston Texans (0-1)

The Texans hung around with New England in Week 1, in spite of Deshaun Watson’s lackluster performance. Houston has the defense, coaching, and offensive talent to make the playoffs. A Week 1 loss doesn’t change that. (Hunter Bonge)

15 (-)

San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

In Jimmy Garoppolo’s first loss as a starter, the 49ers’ offense missed too many opportunities to beat the Vikings, who are one of the best teams in the league. Playing against the Lions’ and Chiefs’ defenses the next two weeks will give the offense a chance to bounce back, but if the defense doesn’t play well the 49ers could dig themselves an early hole in the NFC playoff race. (Max Vukelich)

16 (+3)

Washington Redskins (1-0)

Washington Redskins (1-0)

It wasn’t electric, nor was it erratic, but efficient is the best way to describe Alex Smith’s debut performance for the Redskins. Smith was precise with his passing, as he completed 21/30 passes (including 13 in a row at one point) for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Again, not unbelievably dominant, but it was effective. Moreover, it yielded a win, which is what Jay Gruden and company were looking for when they traded for Smith in the offseason, essentially moving on from Kirk Cousins. Adrian Peterson, another debut Redskin, also delivered a strong stat line, rushing 26 times for 96 yards and a touchdown, while also adding two receptions for an additional 70 yards. Washington finished the game with 182 rushing yards—their most in a game since Week 2 of last season. If they can continue their renewed success on the ground, the Redskins will undoubtedly contend in the NFC East in 2018, and potentially fight for a playoff spot. (Ryan Grube)

17 (+4)

Denver Broncos (1-0)

Denver Broncos (1-0)

It wasn’t pretty, but the Broncos managed to start off the season with a win over the Seattle Seahawks thanks to (or in spite of) a three-touchdown, three-interception performance from new starting quarterback Case Keenum. As was the case for Denver during their recent Super Bowl victory, the Broncos owe a great deal of their success to defense. They sacked Russell Wilson six times and forced three turnovers of their own. The AFC West is completely up for grabs and the Broncos could certainly top it by season’s end. (Adrian Nelson)

18 (-4)

Tennessee Titans (0-1)

Tennessee Titans (0-1)

It seems like every year the Titans are a trendy preseason breakout pick, and it seems like every year they disappoint. There is a lot to like with this roster, but a Week 1 loss to a Miami team projected by many to finish in the league’s basement is a less-than-inspiring start to the season. Granted, numerous delays made it difficult to find a rhythm, and the injury bug bit some of the Titan’s more important players. But the concern is real in Tennessee. (Kyle Trapp)

19 (+5)

Chicago Bears (0-1)

Chicago Bears (0-1)

The duo of Roquan Smith and Kalik Mack is terrifying. Those two offseason additions alone will win a couple of close games for Chicago and keep them in several more. The Bears will be one of the most-improved teams year-to-year when it’s all said and done. (Hunter Bonge)

20 (-4)

Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

When the Cowboys had their dominant 14-2 season a couple years back, it was due almost exclusively to one of the best offensive line units of the last 10 years. This year, things are different. Starting C Travis Frederick began the season out and his fellow starters LT Tyron Smith, RT La’el Collins, and RG Zach Martin all started the season beat up. Without these guys playing and playing at a high level, the burden of the Dallas offense falls squarely on Dak and Zeke, whom seem to be proving that they aren’t as special as was once thought. (Adrian Nelson)

21 (+2)

New York Giants (0-1)

New York Giants (0-1)

The Giants gave Jacksonville a fight in Week 1, but fell short, 20-15, in Saquon Barkley’s debut. Barkley went for 106 yards, though most of them came on a spectacular 68-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was bottled up all afternoon due to New York’s putrid offensive line, but found a way to remind people just how much talent he brings. Next up is a Sunday night matchup with Dallas with the loser falling into a 0-2 hole. Eli Manning needs to be better than he was Sunday or else that team will be the Giants. (Nick Cardozo)

22 (-2)

Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

At the looks of it, Seattle’s hopes will rest solely in the hands of Russell Wilson, who just lost his top weapon to a knee injury. After suffering a loss to Case Keenum and the Broncos, the Seahawks need a bounce back win to prove to everyone there’s still some fight left in this team. Luckily, Earl Thomas isn’t showing any signs of offseason rust, meaning the defense should continue to be competent. The offense just needs to catch up. (Matt Fowler)

23 (+3)

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

Cincinnati got off to a very good start on Sunday. As it does with most teams, the season will come down to the offensive line. In 2017, the offensive line didn’t do well in either the run or the pass game. They only managed 3.6 yards per carry (fourth-worst in the league) and gave up 2.5 sacks per game (13th-most in the league). On Sunday they were able to rip off 5.1 yards per carry and were under last year’s average for sacks given up. To avoid reverting to form the team must rely on above-average line play. (Adrian Nelson)

24 (+3)

Cleveland Browns (0-0-1)

Cleveland Browns (0-0-1)

The Cleveland Browns didn’t lose! By now the internet has made all they jokes, but I’ll leave you with three facts you may our may not know that sums up the Browns. 1) At 0-0-1, the Browns are off to their best start since 2004. 2) Since football returned the Cleveland in 1999, the winningest quarterback in Cleveland Stadium is Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 3) Since the Browns were reestablished in Cleveland, NFL teams with a +5 turnover margin are 132-4-1. The Browns have two of the losses and the tie. (Adrian Nelson)

25 (-3)

Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Jon Gruden’s debut had an ugly finish, but was surprisingly solid. In fact, the Raiders actually held a halftime lead despite losing by 20. Derek Carr’s second-half implosion is a definite concern, and if he has more games like that one, the front office has to seriously rethink if Carr is still the plan for the future. It’d be helpful if Amari Cooper could get involved at all, as he finished with just one catch for nine yards. What looked like a promising team with a young core less than two years ago is now the oldest team in the NFL with serious questions surrounding the guys who were supposed to be cornerstone players. (Nick Cardozo)

26 (+3)

New York Jets (1-0)

New York Jets (1-0)

Savior Sam was able to bounce back from a terrible pick six to start his career and lead the Jets to a victory. The defense was especially impressive in this matchup, as they made Matthew Stafford look like he was the quarterback making his first career start. If the defense continues to force turnovers the way it did last week, the Jets could quickly become a playoff contender. (Max Vukelich)

27 (+5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

Wow, how many people saw that outcome coming? 35-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick turned back the clock and delivered what might be his best performance of his busy 14-year career. Fitzpatrick completed 75% of his passes (21/28) for 417 yards and accounted for five (yes, five!) total touchdowns (one rushing), leading Tampa Bay to an impressive 48-40 victory over New Orleans. Absolutely shocking, and yet, magnificent. Fitzpatrick set the tone early, throwing a 58 strike to DeSean Jackson on the Bucs’ opening drive, and did not let off the gas, as the Harvard graduate picked apart a Saints secondary that includes 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Lattimore. While their defense is not up to par, surrendering 40 points and 475 total yards to the Saints, their offense surely is, and we could potentially have a quarterback controversy brewing once Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension. (Ryan Grube)

28 (-10)

Detroit Lions (0-1)

Detroit Lions (0-1)

Only the Buffalo Bills saved the Lions from having the worst opening week performance in the NFL; not exactly something to hang your hat on as an aspiring playoff team. The defense was routinely bested by a 21-year old rookie, and Matthew Stafford tossed four interceptions as he tried to will the team back into the game. There was quiet optimism in Detroit earlier this offseason, but that is no longer the case after a rough preseason and an abysmal season opener. (Kyle Trapp)

29 (+1)

Miami Dolphins (1-0)

Miami Dolphins (1-0)

Miami pulled out an opening week win in a game that spanned six hours due to lightning delays. Maybe it’s time the NFL rethinks those early-season Florida games. The Dolphins stifled the Titans’ passing attack, whether it was Marcus Mariota or Blaine Gabbert in the game. On offense, Kenny Stills looks like he can seize the opportunity created by Jarvis Landry’s vacated targets and become a No. 1 kind of guy. Miami wasn’t expected to win many games this year, but there’s a chance the team can compete. (Nick Cardozo)

30 (-5)

Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Despite the loss to Cincinnati, the Colts had to have been encouraged by Andrew Luck’s first real game back. He brushed off an early interception and threw for two touchdowns and 319 yards. Luck spread the ball around tremendously, as the Colts had seven different pass catchers with at least three receptions in the contest. If he can keep defenses guessing like that, the Colts will start stringing wins together. (Nick Cardozo)

31 (-3)

Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

The Cardinals had a horrific Week 1 performance from start to finish, as Sam Bradford simply could not move the ball in his team debut. The team gave David Johnson just nine carries, which is inexcusble even if they were trailing most of the game. Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, only one pass was completed to a wide receiver. Someone needs to emerge as a steady Np. 2 receiver or else Bradford will be giving way to Josh Rosen sooner than later. (Nick Cardozo)

32 (-1)

Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Welp, that was rough. We knew the Bills’ quarterback situation was less than ideal, but Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen combining to complete 11 of 33 passes for 98 yards is a unprecedented level of bad. To make matters worse, the notion that Buffalo could capitalize on a weak AFC East was squashed by solid performances by the Jets and Dolphins. It looks like it will be a long year in upstate New York. (Kyle Trapp)

Edited by Emily Berman.

SQuiz
What pick was Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft?
Created 9/12/18
  1. 7
  2. 10
  3. 17
  4. 23

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