Today's Pigskin

18 August 2016: New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) reacts to his rushing touch down. The New England Patriots defeated the Chicago Bears 23-22 in a preseason NFL game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
From the Sidelines

Today’s Pigskin’s post-Week 2 NFL power rankings

(Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

In the NFL, a lot can change in 15 weeks. Last year, for instance, the Atlanta Falcons got off to a surprising 5-0 start before slumping to an 3-8 finish. Many will remember that back in 2007, the New York Giants went from 0-2 to Super Bowl champions.

So, yeah, if your favorite team isn’t looking so hot, don’t count them out quite yet.

All that said, what good would football be if we had to wait ’till January to react to it all? No, we as football fans come to verdicts on a week-to-week, game-to-game and even play-to-play basis. Which is, in essence, what we’re doing with Today’s Pigskin’s post-Week 2 NFL power rankings.

As you’ll see below, Week 3 comes with a lot of intrigue based on these rankings. Why, starting tonight we’ll get a showdown between No. 1 and No. 6. Come Sunday, No. 8 squares off with No. 3 and No. 4 takes on No. 7.

Scroll on to find out who each of those teams are and where your own favorite team ranks.

And, remember, these rankings are intended to inspire discussion, so, whether you agree or disagree, let us hear it in the comments below.

  1. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

So far, Corey Coleman’s been the lone bright spot in what’s looking like an otherwise lost season. That was the case, at least, until he broke his hand. Cleveland now gears up to start its third quarterback in as many weeks and he’ll be without his top pass-catching option. Silver lining – the Browns are sure to land a prime draft spot and might pair Coleman up with a competent quarterback next season.

  1. Chicago Bears (0-2)

The Bears kept things close for a half against the Eagles, but eventually talent won out. Chicago’s already been ravaged by injuries on what’s not exactly an overwhelming roster. With the Jay Cutler experiment seemingly at its end, this season will be played with eyes toward the future.

  1. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)

Every year the Rams seem to pull off an ugly win against a superior divisional foe. Unfortunately, they’re still pretty lousy the rest of the time. The front seven, as it showed against Seattle, can keep it in games. But, with an offense that’s totaled all of nine points through two games, that’s only taking Los Angeles so far.

  1. Buffalo Bills (0-2)

Many questioned why Rex Ryan made the decision to release offensive coordinator Greg Roman after his unit put up 24 points against the Jets. Some viewed Roman as a scapegoat, someone Ryan was using to divert attention away from himself. Others think it might’ve been a move to reinvigorate a struggling team. Whatever the case, it won’t save Ryan for long if he can’t put a few wins on the board. That won’t get any easier this week with the Cardinals coming to town.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

The strength of this 49ers team was thought to be its defense, but that perception took a hit after Carolina laid a 40-burger on it. Granted, the Panthers boast one of the league’s best offenses, but it was still a stunner to see San Francisco go from shutting a foe out to getting nearly 50 dropped on it. Fortunately for the ‘Niners, they do play the Rams again this year.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

A close loss to the Green Bay Packers seemed to indicate fans’ hopes that the Jaguars could compete in ’16 had some basis. Not to mention all the young talent on the team provides lots of room for optimism. Of course, a slaughtering at the hands of a so-so Chargers team has already crushed those hopes. Gus Bradley’s been given plenty of time seemingly because he has an eye for talent, but it’s time to get something more than just hope out of that talent.

  1. Washington Redskins (0-2)

It’s funny how quickly a script can flip in the NFL. Kirk Cousins went from hero, to priority re-signing to the root of the problem in no time flat. Granted, Cousins hasn’t played very well, but it’s not like he’s the only Redskin that could be said about. The run game has been non-existent and the defense has surrendered 30+ in two straight. The team’s overall talent isn’t bad, but its production sure is. 

  1. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

The Colts are in some ways, the first outlier on these rankings. All the teams below them are usually in the top half of the draft whereas the Colts are generally a playoff qualifier. Of course, Luck was a driving force behind many of those playoff runs. But the Colts seem to view him as a cure-all, as they’ve let the team around him deteriorate. We’ll find out this year just how far Luck can get Indy (practically) by himself.

  1. New Orleans Saints (0-2)

New Orleans was in position to win each of its first two games, but, unfortunately, it’s a bad team with a good quarterback. As we’ve seen with Andrew Luck, that’s not a winning recipe. What’s curious in the Saints’ game planning is that they’ve got an excellent runner in Mark Ingram, and yet, refuse to give him the ball. One would think with so vulnerable a defense, New Orleans would want to keep it off the field as often as possible.

  1. Miami Dolphins (0-2)

The Dolphins have long been a streaky team. They played well enough to win against Seattle for 58 minutes and might’ve come back against New England if games went 62 minutes. The schedule does soften considerably over the next few weeks, so the Dolphins have a good shot to tack a few wins onto their record. As usual, the team will probably find itself hovering around .500 at the midseason point before letting its fans down once again.

  1. Detroit Lions (1-1)

While Marvin Jones won’t make Lions fans forget about Calvin Johnson, it can safely be said that he’s emerging as one heck of a Marvin Jones. With 12 grabs and over 200 yards in two weeks, Jones has quickly usurped Golden Tate as Matt Stafford’s favorite target. Given that Detroit just lost a promising young rusher in Ameer Abdullah, you can expect it to rely on Jones even more in the weeks ahead.

  1. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The Titans figure to mostly be a grind-it-out sort of club this year, one that plays their best with a lead. That said, the Titans showed some explosiveness in coming back from down 15-3 in the fourth quarter to topple Detroit. Marcus Mariota stretched the field with some pretty throws to Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray before throwing a touchdown bullet to Andre Johnson between two defenders. If Mariota stays healthy and continues to progress, the Titans could surprise some people this year.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

Mariota’s draft-mate, Jameis Winston, didn’t have so fortunate an afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals. A week after throwing four touchdowns, Winston evened up his touchdown-to-interception ratio by throwing four picks against the Cardinals. Now with Doug Martin on the shelf for a few weeks, the pressure on Winston to rebound and keep his team afloat is even greater.

September 11, 2016: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) before the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers defeat the Falcons 31 - 24 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. (Photos by Frank Mattia/Iconsports Wire)

(Photos by Frank Mattia/Iconsports Wire)

  1. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

The Chargers have been considerably more impressive than most thought they had any right to be. San Diego let a win against Kansas City slip just through its grasp before rebounding to pulverize the Jaguars. Losing both Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead stings badly, but Melvin Gordon’s renaissance, and Philip Rivers’ uncanny ability to get the most out of previously unknown receivers should keep San Diego competitive most weeks.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

Who’d have thought that Dak Prescott, and not Ezekiel Elliott, would be the Cowboys’ most impressive rookie through two weeks? While Prescott’s been efficient, Elliott’s been a relative disappointment. He was shut down in Week 1 and then in Week 2, though he ran well, he put the ball on the ground twice. With a talented group of backs behind him, the pressure’s on Elliott to shore up his ball security.

  1. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

The Raiders have an offense that can score on anybody. Unfortunately, they also have a defense that can get scored on by anybody. Their new-look defensive group, headlined by additions like Bruce Irvin, Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith, has struggled to make a difference early on. In fact, Oakland’s already surrendered over 1,000 yards of offense. There’s a lot of talent on the Raiders’ defense, but they need it to gel in a hurry if they expect to reach of their goal of a playoff berth.

  1. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

The Atlanta Falcons are going to frustrate fantasy footballers this year with the backfield tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The two runners have had almost an identical number of touches; meaning neither can be considered a reliable every-week fantasy back. The effectiveness of the pair, however, bodes well for Matt Ryan and the rest of Atlanta’s offense. Unfortunately, its defense hamstrings how far it can go. 

  1. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

Could Baltimore’s two victories be more impressive? Yes, absolutely. Nobody’s crowning them contenders after a six-point win over Buffalo and a comeback victory against the lowly Browns. That said, the Ravens are keeping pace within the division and, given how tough they always play their AFC North foes, that’s all they need to do.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

Many are telling Eagles fans to temper their enthusiasm. Telling them that wins against the Bears and Browns don’t signify much of anything. They have a point, but, hey, you can only play the teams on your schedule. Not to mention that the Eagles won both games by double digits. Philadelphia gets its first real test of the year against Pittsburgh and that’s one that you shouldn’t pencil in as a loss just yet.

  1. New York Jets (1-1)

With Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is unquestionably playing with the most talented group of skill players he’s ever enjoyed. But the emergent Quincy Enunwa has added yet another weapon into the mix. The big target has made quite a flew plays already and, if he can continue to produce, would put the Jets firmly in the mix for the league’s best receiving corps.

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

Simply put, Seattle’s offense has been downright putrid thus far. The Seahawks have totaled 15 offensive points through two games, an embarrassing total for a team thought to be a Super Bowl contender. The backfield of Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls has been so bad that rumors of Marshawn Lynch un-retiring are floating around. The Seahawks, of course, rebounded from a slow start last year, but it’d be nice to see some signs of life out of this offense against the 49ers.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

From a struggling offense we move to … a struggling offense. Kansas City’s group, of course, looked great during a comeback win against the Chargers, but that came after a sluggish start. Last week, against the Texans, the Chiefs were sluggish for all four quarters. Granted, this was never going to be a dominating offense, but it needs to better than the one we’ve seen thus far.

  1. New York Giants (2-0)

The Giants haven’t exactly beaten world-beaters in their first two games. But what they have done is play stout defense (32 points allowed thus far) and grind out tough wins. Both were traits that the team lacked in ’15 and, so, it’s got to be heartening to see for fans of the G-Men. While all the defensive additions are making their mark early, the Giants still have a boatload of offensive talent that hasn’t yet hit its stride. When they do, this team will be a tough out for anyone.

18 September 2016: Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradfordl (8) talks with Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12)  after game with Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Shaun Hill (13) in the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis,Minnesota. (Photograph by Bryan C Singer/Icon Sportswire)

(Photograph by Bryan C Singer/Icon Sportswire)

  1. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

Last year, the Packers’ offense faltered for a multitude of reasons. Eddie Lacy was sluggish; Jordy Nelson was hurt, etc. But our lasting memory of the group was it going toe-to-toe with a high-powered Cardinals defense. That gave Green Bay hope that its once-unstoppable unit would return to form in ‘16. And yet, Aaron Rodgers has looked surprisingly human — completing just 57 percent of his passes thus far. Fortunately, a visit from the Lions this Sunday is a good chance for him to rebound.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Andy Dalton looked surprisingly hesitant to throw the ball downfield during Cincinnati’s loss to the Steelers. Of course, driving rain played a part, but one would hope the Bengals aren’t content to play risk-free offensive football. The pass-catching talent is too potent and the run game too non-existent (103 rushing yards after two weeks) to get away with that. Especially not with an aggressive Denver defense lying in wait.

  1. Minnesota Vikings (2-0)

There’s plenty to talk about on the heels of Minnesota’s prime-time win over Green Bay. Is Bradford-to-Diggs the new Culpepper-to-Moss? Can Minnesota survive without Adrian Peterson? But it’s Minnesota’s defensive group that deserves your attention. The Vikings flustered Aaron Rodgers all game long, forcing him into three fumbles and an interception. The new-age “Purple People Eaters” aren’t to be overlooked.

  1. Houston Texans (2-0)

The Miami Dolphins drew a lot of criticism for not utilizing Lamar Miller to his potential, but the Texans sure won’t. The running back has handled the ball 53 times in two games as a Texan. He’s yet to break off one of the big gains that became a hallmark of his in Miami, but he has kept the chains moving at a reasonable clip. More importantly, he and rookie receiver Will Fuller have made Houston’s offense more than just the DeAndre Hopkins show.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

The Cardinals didn’t let a gutting loss to the Patriots linger on their mind for too long, rebounding to steamroll the Buccaneers. Marcus Cooper, who the Cards nabbed in a trade with the Chiefs, starred on the day. The 26-year-old earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after pulling down two interceptions and returning one for a score. He looks to be another asset in what’s already a talent-rich secondary.

  1. Carolina Panthers (1-1)

The Panthers rebounded from a tough, opening day loss to hang 46 on the 49ers. The stars were out in full form as Cam Newton totaled four touchdowns and Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen both went for over 100 yards. But, just as Alabama can’t hang its hat on beating down Western Kentucky, Carolina can’t be judged on dismantling a lesser foe. Fortunately, the Vikings and their top-notch defense will give the Panthers another chance to show their stuff.

  1. Denver Broncos (2-0)

A rejuvenated C.J. Anderson has kept Denver’s offense afloat while its ferocious defense only appears to have gotten better. The Broncos pulverized Andrew Luck, who typically fares well against their stout defensive group, all Sunday long. Losing DeMarcus Ware for a few weeks stings, but former first round linebacker Shane Ray should prove to be a plenty capable fill-in.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)

Pittsburgh’s offense, justifiably, draws the attention, but the Steelers defense has been impressive through two weeks. Pittsburgh’s suffocated opposing run games and held two defending division champions in Washington and Cincinnati to 16 points apiece. The sledding doesn’t get any easier, though, with a date against an unexpectedly tough Eagles team ahead.

  1. New England Patriots (2-0)

When Tom Brady’s four-game suspension came down, most New England fans probably set their sights on a .500 record for his return. Missing Rob Gronkowski and both starting tackles probably didn’t help their cause, but New England’s persevered. The Patriots already have two wins in the books and are set to return their stars soon. At this point, anything else is gravy.

Today’s Pigskin’s post-Week 2 NFL power rankings

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