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Harry How/Getty Images
Two games into the 2018 season we’re starting to learn some things in the NFL.
We know that the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars are very good teams. We know that the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals are not.
We know that the Kansas City Chiefs have an explosive offense. That the Dallas Cowboys can rush the passer. That Kirk Cousins is earning his money so far in Minnesota.
However, we’re also learning how much we don’t know. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be light-years better than we expected. The New England Patriots, on the other hand, might not be as good as we thought.
After another wild weekend across the National Football League, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport have gathered once again to rank all 32 teams from worst to first.
The same sad sacks are bringing up the rear this week, but there was plenty of moving and shaking—including a new No. 1.
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Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Last Week: 32
Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 31-20
There were positives for the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s home loss to the Chargers.
The Bills didn’t lose 47-3 like they did in Week 1.
That’s about it.
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen was shaky, completing just 18 of 33 passes with a pair of interceptions. The Bills rushed for just 84 yards as a team and lost tailback LeSean McCoy to injured ribs.
Oh, and through two games the Bills are giving up almost 40 points a game.
We’d love to say that there are things the Bills Mafia can take away from this game that will offer some hope for the rest of the season.
But the only hope Bills fans can realistically have right now is that after watching the Arizona Cardinals play, maybe the Bills are just the worst team in the AFC and not the entire league.
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Harry How/Getty Images
Last Week: 31
Week 2 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams, 34-0
The Arizona Cardinals are a dumpster fire.
After getting absolutely waxed by the Rams in Week 2, the winless Cardinals have now been outscored 58-6 in two games. Over those two games, the Cardinals have 350 yards of offense—total.
By comparison, Arizona allowed 432 to the Rams on Sunday.
Just 137 yards of that offense came against Los Angeles. Quarterback Sam Bradford was positively pathetic, completing 17 passes for 90 yards with a pick.
Again, by comparison, Jared Goff threw for 354.
The Arizona “offense” is painful to watch. Running back David Johnson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are great players and legitimate weapons, but with Bradford at the wheel, the only place the Redbirds are headed is careening into a ditch.
The Cardinals have two options at this point. Either start rookie Josh Rosen under center or prepare to get their collective heads kicked in on a weekly basis.
That is, if you can wake Rosen up.
“Can there be a tie for the NFL’s worst team?” Sobleski asked. “The Bills are an embarrassment, but so are the Cardinals. How bad is it in the desert? The team’s future can be found on the sideline yawning at his team’s performance.”
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Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Last Week: 29
Week 2 Result: Lost at Denver, 20-19
The Oakland Raiders had it.
The Raiders were up 19-7 on the Broncos in Denver. A defense that had been shredded by the Los Angeles Rams had held the Broncos in check. Quarterback Derek Carr had been brutally efficient in a game where he missed on just three of 32 passes—a completion percentage over 90 percent.
But the defense faltered late, allowing 13 unanswered points to close the game. The offense wasn’t able to answer those scores, either, failing to hit the 20-point plateau for a second straight week. And with a last-second field goal, the Broncos sent Oakland to its second defeat in as many games.
The Raiders are already a team on the brink—two games back of Kansas City and Denver and all alone in the AFC West cellar.
That’s not really what most fans had in mind when Jon Gruden signed a $100 million deal to coach the Raiders.
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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Last Week: 30
Week 2 Result: Lost at San Francisco, 30-27
It’s been an ugly start to the Matt Patricia era in Motown. First came a blowout loss at home to open the season against the New York Jets. Then reports that Patricia’s coaching technique was already rubbing veteran players the wrong way.
Early on against the 49ers, it appeared a miserable week would have a cruddy ending. The Lions trailed the Niners 30-13 on Sunday before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns got the team back into it. That comeback came up short, though, and now the 0-2 Lions have to try to figure out how to stop the bleeding.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford rebounded from an awful opener against the Jets, but that was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was for a Patricia defense to be a sloppy mess that has allowed 78 points through two games.
At least the Lions don’t have to play an angry Patriots team that just got shelled on the road in Week 3.
They get those Patriots in Detroit.
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Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
Last Week: 13
Week 2 Result: Lost at Tennessee, 20-17
So, about the whole notion of the Houston Texans as a dark-horse playoff contender.
If Week 2 was any indication, um, no.
This game looked like a layup for the Texans. A trip to Nashville to face a Titans team that looked awful in Week 1 and was starting Blaine Gabbert at quarterback.
Deshaun Watson topped 300 passing yards. Both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins went over 100 receiving yards with a score. The Texans averaged 5.7 yards a rush and outgained the Titans by over 150 total yards.
And yet somehow, Houston found a way to lose the game.
It was a performance that sent Davenport leaping from the Houston bandwagon.
“The Texans dominated just about every statistical category except one—the scoreboard,” he said. “I’m at a loss for how Houston managed to get beat on Sunday. What I do know is that playoff contenders don’t lose games like this to bad teams. And make no mistake, the Titans are a bad team.”
Gagnon jumped with him.
“Look at what the Jaguars did to the Patriots compared to how Houston fared in Foxboro,” he said. “And now you lose to a depleted Titans team that was ripe for the picking? A Titans team missing its top three offensive tackles? A Titans team with Blaine freakin’ Gabbert at quarterback? Maybe we overrated the Texans based on a small sample with Deshaun Watson last season.”
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Bill Feig/Associated Press
Last Week: 24
Week 2 Result: Lost at New Orleans, 21-18
The Cleveland Browns are a performance art piece. A master work in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Browns held the Saints high-octane offense in check for most of Sunday afternoon. Led most of the way. Even came back to tie things up on a beautiful 47-yard fourth-down touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Antonio Callaway.
Then, Zane Gonzalez missed his second extra point of the day, Drew Brees drove the Saints into field-goal range and Wil Lutz secured the win for New Orleans.
Gonzalez got another bite at the apple from 52 yards out as time expired, but he missed. Because of course he missed. Because Browns.
It was a classic Cleveland end to a day that started with reports the Browns were going to release wide receiver Josh Gordon after he injured his hamstring—at a photo shoot.
If you know anyone who can kick a football straight, the Browns are hiring.
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Last Week: 25
Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Miami, 20-12
After he blew out the Detroit Lions in Week 1, rookie Sam Darnold was the belle of the ball in the Big Apple.
Cinderella turned back into a pumpkin against the Miami Dolphins.
The turnovers that were Darnold’s bugaboo at USC were his undoing against the Dolphins. Darnold threw a pair of interceptions against Miami, managing a passer rating of just 74.6 despite passing for well over 300 yards.
It wasn’t that Darnold had an awful game. Or the Jets, for that matter. In fact, the team outgained the Dolphins by a sizable margin. But there was one statistical category where Gang Green did not have an edge, and it’s the category that will kill an NFL team 10 times out of 10.
Darnold has to learn (quickly) that you cannot turn the ball over and win in the pros.
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James Kenney/Associated Press
Last Week: 27
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Houston, 20-17
We may be on the verge of the most uninspiring quarterback controversy in recent memory in Nashville.
With Marcus Mariota on the shelf with a bad elbow, it fell to Blaine “Real American” Gabbert to lead the Tennessee offense against the Houston Texans. And he was awesome, passing for a whopping 117 yards and a touchdown while hitting on 13 of 20 attempts.
That was sarcasm, just to be clear.
Still, the fact is Gabbert had a passer rating over 95. He didn’t make any mistakes with the football. And most importantly, the Titans won the game.
They did so despite being outgained by over 150 total yards and averaging only 2.9 yards a carry. Calling it an ugly victory doesn’t properly do it justice.
But ugly wins count just the same as pretty ones, and Gabbert did everything the Titans asked of him.
Thank goodness they didn’t ask for much.
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Last Week: 21
Week 2 Result: Lost at Dallas, 20-13
The New York Giants have a two-time Super Bowl MVP at quarterback in Eli Manning. Arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Odell Beckham. And a Top Two draft pick in the backfield in rookie tailback Saquon Barkley.
What the Giants also have—two weeks into the 2018 season—is an absolutely dismal offense.
Through two games, the Giants have scored all of two touchdowns. One was a 68-yard Barkley run against the Jaguars. The other was a garbage-time touchdown pass Sunday night against the Cowboys.
Both came once the game in question was no longer in question.
It’s not solely the fault of those skill-position players. In both losses this year, the Giants’ retooled offensive line has been pushed around. Holes aren’t there for Barkley. Manning has precious little time to throw.
The Giants are once again the sole occupant of the NFC East basement—and a team in very real trouble.
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Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Last Week: 23
Week 2 Result: Lost 24-17 at Chicago
The Seattle Seahawks started the 2015 season 0-2 and made the playoffs—a fact 12th men and women across America will no doubt repeat like a mantra after the Seahawks were handled by the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
But that was a good team that got off to a bad start.
This year’s Seahawks are a bad team that can’t get started.
For the second week in a row, Russell Wilson was put in a position where he had to try to carry the team back all by himself. For the second time he failed—in large part because for the second week in a row the Seahawks allowed half a dozen sacks.
There’s no getting around it. Seattle’s offensive line is god-awful. When Wilson wasn’t flat on his back or running for his life he was pressing due to pressure. The result was two more turnovers—both back-breakers in the final quarter.
The only thing saving Seattle from being a last-place team is the morass of horrible that is the Cardinals.
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Rob Carr/Getty Images
Last Week: 18
Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Indianapolis, 21-9
In Week 1, the Washington Redskins looked like gangbusters in dismantling the Arizona Cardinals on the road.
In Week 2, Washington was at home—and it was the one being dismantled.
If there are positives to the Redskins’ 21-9 setback against Indianapolis, we can’t find them. Quarterback Alex Smith was shut out of the end zone. Tailback Adrian Peterson was shut out altogether—after a big Week 1, Peterson averaged all of 1.8 yards a carry against a porous Colts defense.
Mind you, this loss wasn’t a matter of Washington’s opponent playing lights-out football—the Colts were sloppy on as many drives as not Sunday.
The Redskins were just sloppier, on both sides of the ball. Any momentum the team had in the desert is gone now, and with the Packers coming to town next week, things aren’t going to get any easier.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Last Week: 28
Week 2 Result: Won at New York Jets, 20-12
Raise your hand if you thought the Miami Dolphins would be undefeated two weeks into the season and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Now put your hand down, you big liar.
Last week, the Dolphins used big plays to down the Tennessee Titans. In Week 2, it was, well, um…
We’re not completely sure.
The Dolphins ran for more yards than Ryan Tannehill passed for at the Meadowlands. Miami was outgained by the Jets, 362-257. And yet, thanks in large part to three Jets turnovers, the Dolphins managed to eke out a win.
Undefeated or no, we’re still not ready to call the Dolphins contenders. Or even call them good. And at the end of the month, Miami travels to Foxborough to face the Patriots in their first real test of 2018.
But with a home date coming up with the Oakland Raiders before that, it’s entirely possible the Dolphins will roll into Gillette Stadium at 3-0 with a chance to open up a two-game lead on the Pats.
Nobody saw that coming.
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Rob Carr/Getty Images
Last Week: 26
Week 2 Result: Won at Washington, 21-9
There was a theme to Week 2 in many games across the NFL. Style points were in short supply.
Ugly wins were not.
The Indianapolis Colts were the beneficiaries of one of those unattractive victories. In spite of a pedestrian effort by Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, Indy controlled Sunday’s matchup with the Washington Redskins for most of the game.
The reason was a Colts defense that gave up yardage but not points. Spurred by a monster effort from young linebacker Darius Leonard, the Colts shut Washington tailback Adrian Peterson down and held the Redskins out of the end zone. That opened the door for a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton that salted things away.
It’s not an effort that’s going to frighten the other teams in the AFC South. But before you can run, you have to walk. Bad teams become better by figuring out how to hold on to leads.
The Colts couldn’t do that in Week 1, but in Week 2 they got the job done.
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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Last Week: 19
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Detroit, 30-27
There was a lot to like in San Francisco’s Week 2 win over Detroit.
After a shaky Week 1, Jimmy Garoppolo played mistake-free football against the Lions, passing for 206 yards and a pair of scores.
Tailback Matt Breida came up huge for the team, rushing for 138 yards—including a 66-yard touchdown.
Plus, there’s the whole winning thing. That’s nice.
However, this was a game the 49ers were way ahead in, only to allow the Lions to come storming back. Were it not for a defensive holding call just before the two-minute warning that negated a late interception, the Lions would have been in a position to at least tie things up.
The game shouldn’t have been as close as it wound up being.
The 49ers weathered the storm, hung on and got in the win column, but it’s going to take a much better defensive effort to notch a win a week from now against the sizzling Chiefs.
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Frank Victores/Associated Press
Last Week: 7
Week 2 Result: Lost at Cincinnati, 34-23
That loud slam you just heard was the Baltimore Ravens crashing back to earth.
As it turns out, Baltimore’s Week 1 pounding of the Buffalo Bills may have said a lot more about how bad the Bills are than how good the Ravens are.
The final score of Thursday’s game isn’t indicative of just how soundly the Ravens were pounded by the Bengals early on in that game. Once inside linebacker C.J. Mosley left the field with a knee injury, a Baltimore defense that looked dominant against Buffalo had no answer against Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco also took a big step backward. Yes, Flacco threw for 376 yards, but he completed less than 60 percent of his passes and turned the ball over three times.
The game was a stark reminder that this Ravens team has issues on both sides of the ball.
And a reminder to the B/R analysts not to overreact to a single game one way or another.
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Last Week: 22
Week 2 Result: Won vs. New York Giants, 20-13
These are not the Dallas Cowboys of two years ago.
Where those Cowboys were explosive offensively, these Cowboys are methodical. Dak Prescott passed for 160 yards against the Giants, adding 45 more on the ground. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott had a good game but not a great one, rushing for 78 yards and a score on 17 carries.
The 2018 Cowboys are also stout defensively—especially up front. The Dallas pass rush made Eli Manning miserable Sunday night, piling up six sacks and registering eight QB hits.
These Cowboys aren’t built to win shootouts. And they aren’t a team without flaws—the receiving corps remains one big question mark.
But by playing defense and running the ball, Dallas is keeping games close, and against the Giants the Cowboys controlled the tempo throughout.
There’s not a ton of sizzle in Big D right now. What there is, though, is more than a little beef on both sides of the ball.
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John Bazemore/Associated Press
Last Week: 8
Week 2 Result: Lost at Atlanta, 31-24
Sunday’s trip to face a banged-up Falcons team presented a golden opportunity for the Carolina Panthers—a chance to move to 2-0 on the season and put their rivals in an 0-2 hole it’s historically difficult to get out of.
However, outside of an early 10-3 lead, the Panthers spent the overwhelming majority of the game in catch-up mode. It was the Falcons who set the tempo for the game. It was the Falcons who won the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Davenport was more than a little disappointed by the performance:
“This was a chance for the Panthers to send a message against an injury-ravaged defense. But it was the Falcons who were able to get the ground game going, out-rushing the Panthers 170 to 121. Sure, Cam Newton had a huge game, but the Panthers aren’t at their best when he attempts 45 passes. The Panthers had a chance to establish themselves on top of the NFC South on Sunday. They blew it.”
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David Banks/Associated Press
Last Week: 15
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Seattle 24-17
We still don’t really know just how good the Chicago Bears are.
The first-half Bears are awesome. For the second week in a row the Bears found the end zone on their first drive of the game and played relentless defense, sacking Seahawks quarterback five times in the first 30 minutes of their Monday night affair.
However, for a second straight week the Bears let their opponent back in the game. As a matter of fact, the Seahawks were moving the ball down just seven in the fourth quarter before Prince Amukamara’s pick-six essentially sealed the deal.
The Chicago defense looks legit—and then some. Khalil Mack was an animal again. The Chicago pass rush sacked Wilson half a dozen times and turned him over twice.
If Mitchell Trubisky and the offense can find the same sort of consistency and come close to matching the defense’s level of play, then this could be a very dangerous football team.
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Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Last Week: 16
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Oakland, 20-19
As we mentioned a bit earlier, ugly wins were something of a theme in Week 1.
In the 4 p.m. window of games, it was the Denver Broncos who kept that theme rolling. More specifically, it was Denver quarterback Case Keenum.
Keenum didn’t have the best of games against Oakland. He completed only 19 of 35 pass attempts for 222 yards. His passer rating was a moribund 61.8. And Keenum threw his fourth interception of the young season.
However, late in the game Keenum engineered two drives that culminated in Brandon McManus field goals and another that ended in a Keenum run for six—and that was enough to squeak the Broncos past Oakland and into the ranks of the league’s 2-0 teams.
The Broncos aren’t the best 2-0 team in the league. In fact, they might be the worst. But with the defense playing well and rookie Phillip Lindsay pacing the ground game, Denver is hanging around and finding a way to pull games out.
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Bill Feig/Associated Press
Last Week: 11
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Cleveland, 21-18
Things very nearly got extremely dicey for the Saints in Week 2.
For most of the game, the Saints trailed a Cleveland Browns team that hasn’t won a game since December 2016—at home. The Saints were outgained by the Browns, 327-275. The Saints lost the turnover battle and allowed Drew Brees to be sacked three times.
Were they playing any team in the NFL but Cleveland (or maybe Buffalo), the Saints would have lost this game and fallen to 0-2 for the fifth consecutive year.
New Orleans escaped, but Davenport still feels the Saints should be more than a little concerned:
“This was a team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl front-runner in 2018. Instead, it very nearly dropped a second straight home game to a tomato can. The offense was erratic Sunday. The defense was lousy for a second straight week. This team has a lot of work to do if it’s going to realize those championship expectations this year. A lot.”
However, Gagnon’s more optimistic.
“The Saints are notoriously slow starters, having lost each of their last nine Week 1 and Week 2 games prior to Sunday’s victory over the Browns,” he wrote. “So I’m looking at the glass half-full. The offense lit it up in Week 1 and the defense was impressive in Week 2. I get the feeling they’ll put it all together more often than not this season.”
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Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Last Week: 9
Week 2 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City, 42-37
There are several reasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers to be concerned after Sunday’s home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs—a loss that dropped Pittsburgh 1.5 games back of Cincinnati in the AFC North.
The Steelers didn’t miss Le’Veon Bell in Week 1, as understudy James Conner had a big game against the Browns. But Conner was a complete non-factor in Week 2, gaining just 17 yards on eight carries as the Steelers fell in a deep hole early.
A monster game from Ben Roethlisberger dug Pittsburgh out of that hole. But Roethlisberger doesn’t play defense. On Sunday, no one did. The Steelers allowed 449 yards of total offense to the Chiefs and had no answer for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs passing game.
The Steelers are a good football team—we think. But they’re lucky not to be sitting at 0-2 ahead of a trip to face a red-hot Tampa Bay team in Week 3.
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Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
Last Week: 20
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia, 27-21
What in the holy heck has gotten into Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Torching the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 was one thing. But the general belief was that the bearded one was in for a harsh reality check Sunday against the defending champions.
Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard scoffs at your reality check. So does his right arm.
All “Fitzmagic” did in Week 2 was throw for 402 yards and four more scores as the Bucs raced out to a 27-7 lead and then held on for one of the week’s most surprising outcomes—again.
It marked the second straight week that the 35-year-old journeyman has topped 400 passing yards with four touchdowns and a passer rating north of 140.
Sobleski’s a believer.
“The Fitzmagic is back, and the Buccaneers deserve credit for their 2-0 start,” he said. “Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is pushing all of the right buttons and getting the most out of his veteran quarterback and talented surrounding cast. The defense is still worrisome, but it won’t matter if the offense continues to play at its current level.”
Mind you, this is a team that was dead last in the first edition of these power rankings.
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Frank Victores/Associated Press
Last Week: 16
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Baltimore, 34-23
There’s good news and bad news for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The good news is that after throttling the Baltimore Ravens early and holding on late, the Bengals are 2-0 and in first place all by themselves in the AFC North. The last time that was the case was 2015—which just so happens to be the last time Cincinnati made the playoffs.
The bad news is that the Bengals now begin a murderous stretch on their schedule without second-year tailback Joe Mixon, who will miss at least two weeks after having his knee scoped.
Over the next month, the Bengals play at Carolina and Atlanta before hosting the Dolphins and Steelers. Three of those teams made the playoffs in 2017, and the Bengals have lost their last six matchups with Pittsburgh.
The ongoing debate about whether the Bengals are contenders or pretenders is likely going to be settled over that span.
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John Bazemore/Associated Press
Last Week: 14
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Carolina, 31-24
It’s been a rough start to the season for the Falcons. Atlanta lost the season opener in Philly—a game in which the team’s two best defensive players (safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones) both suffered significant injuries.
In addition to being short those defenders, the Falcons were also without tailback Devonta Freeman as they welcomed in the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.
Tevin Coleman more than picked up Freeman’s slack on the ground, rolling for 107 yards on 16 carries. And while Matt Ryan‘s passing numbers weren’t eye-popping (272 passing yards, two touchdowns), the 2016 NFL MVP added two more scores on the ground.
It was a closely fought game by two teams that gained almost identical yardage, but the Falcons made the plays they had to to avoid the dreaded 0-2 hole.
Still, Gagnon remains skeptical that the Falcons can keep it going.
“They bounced back,” he said, “but I’m not giving too much weight to a home victory on extra rest against a depleted opponent. The Falcons are a mentally and physically fragile team in a tough division, and it’s going to be a long season.”
Ouch. Tell us how you really feel, Brad.
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Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
Last Week: 12
Week 2 Result: Won at Buffalo 31-20
After losing their home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, the Los Angeles Chargers badly needed a win in Week 2 to avoid another slow start to the season.
Luckily for the Bolts, the scheduling gods saw fit to lay out a trip to Buffalo and the marshmallow that is the Bills in Week 2.
It’s hard to take too much away from the Chargers’ performance in the game. Quarterback Philip Rivers was efficient, missing on just four of 27 pass attempts and throwing three touchdowns. The Chargers out-gained Buffalo by a sizable margin and didn’t turn the ball over.
The thing is, you expect the Chargers to do all those things against the woeful Bills—even in a 1 PM start time game on the east coast.
However, Sobleski thinks the Chargers showed over the past twp weeks they can’t be taken lightly.
“Clearly,” Sobleski said, “there’s no shame in losing a shootout to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers were hit by the runaway Patrick Mahomes freight train in Week 1 only to beat down the Bills Sunday. How good Los Angeles is falls somewhere between those two points. But Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense are clearly among the league’s best.”
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Morry Gash/Associated Press
Last Week: 10
Week 2 Result: Tied vs. Minnesota, 29-29
An argument can be made that given the circumstances surrounding the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, earning a tie against the Minnesota Vikings was something of an achievement. After all, the Pack squared off with arguably the NFL’s best defense with a quarterback who wasn’t close to 100 percent.
However, the Packers should have gotten more than a tie Sunday at Lambeau. For three quarters, the Packers outplayed the Vikings. At the dawn of the fourth quarter, Green Bay led 20-7.
Apparently, big fourth-quarter comebacks at Lambeau aren’t solely made by Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers gutted out a 281-yard passing performance, bad knee and all, but as we’ve seen so many times during his tenure with the team, No. 12 can’t do it all by himself.
The Green Bay defense allowed a staggering 480 total yards to the Vikings and three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. But even then, Green Bay had a chance to win at the end of regulation, with Mason Crosby missing from 52 as time ran out.
It could have been a statement win. Or a crushing loss. Instead, it’s neither—and a bit of both.
Ties are the worst.
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Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Last Week: 4
Week 2 Result: Lost at Tampa Bay, 27-21
Well, the Philadelphia Eagles were finally able to get the offense going Sunday in Tampa. The Eagles piled up 412 total yards against the Buccaneers, with quarterback Nick Foles accounting for 334 of them with a touchdown pass.
The problem is that by the time the Eagles got the offense going, the team was down 27-7, and while Philadelphia made a game of it, its comeback attempt came up short.
We knew the Eagles would be stout against the run in 2018 after leading the NFL in that regard a year ago. The question was how a young Eagles secondary would hold up.
Against a nova-hot Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday, the answer to that question was that it didn’t—the Eagles were roasted to the tune of 402 passing yards and four touchdowns.
This wasn’t a fluke. The Eagles were flat-out outplayed by the Buccaneers.
And while the loss wasn’t solely (or even mostly) Foles’ fault, talk radio in Philly will be full of calls for Carson Wentz to get back out there in the coming days.
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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Last Week: 3
Week 2 Result: Lost at Jacksonville, 31-20
Here’s a sentence you don’t see all that often.
The New England Patriots just got their butts kicked.
Now, an 11-point loss might not appear to qualify as a keister-kicking, but the game wasn’t a close as the final score indicates. The Jaguars raced out to an early lead before the Patriots knew what hit them. And New England never got within 11 in the second half.
The Patriots were outgained by a jaw-dropping margin of 481-302, as Blake Bortles had his way with the New England secondary. And it’s that defense that’s of particular concern to Davenport moving forward.
“I know that we aren’t supposed to ever worry about the Pats. They’re the team that always figures it out. But I have a news flash for you—the New England defense sucks. It sucked last year. It sucked in the Super Bowl loss. And it sucked Sunday in Florida. There’s no magic fix for that, either. The Patriots may be the team to beat in the AFC, but they’re also a beatable team. The Jags certainly did—like a drum.”
Gagnon echoed those sentiments.
“I know we all like to gang up on the Patriots and declare the dynasty over when they lose big early-season games. I’m not prepared to do that, but Sunday was confirmation that the Jaguars are simply more talented. The Pats might intimidate and outsmart opponents all the way to the Super Bowl, but on paper they aren’t even in the same realm as Jacksonville, Minnesota and the Rams.”
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Don Wright/Associated Press
Last Week: 7
Week 2 Result: Won at Pittsburgh, 42-37
It’s still early, but so far, the Kansas City Chiefs’ decision to roll out second-year pro Patrick Mahomes at quarterback is looking pretty smart.
That is, if you consider throwing for 326 yards and six touchdowns a good game.
Is six touchdowns good? It sounds good.
For the second straight game, the Kansas City offense was an absolute buzzsaw. Mahomes threw touchdown strikes to five different receivers. Over the first three starts of his NFL career, Mahomes has thrown 10 touchdown passes—an NFL record.
However, Davenport sees a potential problem amid all the points:
“The Chiefs are an offensive juggernaut right now, and K.C. looks like the best team in the AFC West two weeks in. But the Chiefs led this game 21-0 early and had to hold on for the win because their defense is every bit as bad as the offense is good. That may not be a big problem in September, but January is another story.”
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Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
Last Week: 5
Week 2 Result: Won vs. New England, 31-20
There’s no question which NFL team had the most impressive outing of Week 2.
It’s not just that the Jacksonville Jaguars avenged last year’s AFC Championship Game loss with an 11-point win over the Patriots at home. It’s how the Jaguars did it—and the fact that the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
With Leonard Fournette sidelined by a bad hammy, the Jaguars went with a pass-heavy approach that featured lots of quick throws. The result was a huge outing for Blake Bortles, who scorched the Patriots for 377 yards and four scores.
Jacksonville’s defense was, well, Jacksonville’s defense. Tom Brady was held to 234 passing yards with two touchdowns and a lost fumble, and Jalen Ramsey relegated star tight end Rob Gronkowski to milk carton status—two catches for 15 yards.
This was a statement game in every sense of the word, and the statement it sent was clear…
The Jaguars are the best team in the AFC.
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Mike Roemer/Associated Press
Last Week: 1
Week 2 Result: Tied at Green Bay, 29-29
Yes, you read that right—another tie.
Some will likely argue that the Minnesota Vikings should count themselves lucky to have escaped Lambeau Field with even that. The Vikings trailed the Green Bay Packers, 20-7, before Kirk Cousins led a furious comeback that culminated in his fourth touchdown pass of the game with under a minute left.
However, the Vikings could have won this game. Should have won this game.
Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson had a pair of opportunities in overtime to first give Minnesota a lead and then win the game as the clock hit triple zeros. But from 49 and then 35 yards out, Carlson missed his second and third kicks of the game.
And thus, a sister was kissed.
The not-so-special special teams ruined a phenomenal outing from Cousins, who threw for 425 yards. Spoiled a chance for the Vikings to send a massage that they’re the team to beat in the NFC.
And in the process may have exposed a weakness on Bleacher Report’s No. 1 team entering the week.
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Harry How/Getty Images
Last Week: 2
Week 2 Result: Won vs. Arizona, 34-0
In a week when more than one Super Bowl contender stubbed their toe, the Los Angeles Rams stubbed something else.
The Rams, for a second time in as many weeks, were too much for an overmatched team. Offensively, the Rams fired on all cylinders, moving the ball at will on the ground and in the air. Jared Goff topped 350 passing yards. Todd Gurley had 73 total yards and three touchdowns—and that’s with him taking half the game off.
L.A. was just as dominant on defense. Cardinals tailback David Johnson had just 48 rushing yards and averaged only 3.7 yards a carry. Sam Bradford was shut down, throwing for all of 90 yards.
Yes, the Rams haven’t played anyone yet. But they’ve done a number on the two teams they have faced, outscoring the Raiders and Cardinals 67-13.
As Sobleski wrote, there’s little question which team in the league is playing the best two weeks in.
“No team is playing as well as the Rams,” he said. “The squad’s 54-point differential is, by far, the league’s best. Todd Gurley looks like an MVP candidate again, and Jared Goff is the perfect distributor for Sean McVay’s scheme. Plus, the defense is swarming with playmakers at every level.”