Home / frontnfl / 2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2
AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

Every team finally hit the field for real, with the 2018 NFL season in full swing. Week 1 was pretty crazy and unpredictable—and had some questionable officiating throughout in my opinion—and it might remain that way for a couple of weeks. You don’t want to overreact too much based on one week, but my power rankings will be fluctuating more throughout this month as we get a better idea of each team’s makeup this season.


1. New England Patriots (1-0) | Last week: 1

The score was 27-20, but New England’s victory over Houston didn’t really feel like it was all that close. Tom Brady tossed three first-half touchdowns—one to Rob Gronkowski, one to James White, and one to Phillip Dorsett—as he still looks as good as ever, navigating the pocket and delivering strikes to his receivers at 41 years old. The Texans don’t have a great offensive line, but the Patriot pass rush looked excellent, sacking Watson three times and putting a lot of pressure on him throughout the game. This Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Jaguars will be fun to watch.


2. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) | Last week: 2

It was not a flashy victory, but the Eagles got to 1-0 to open their first season as defending Super Bowl champs. The more-concrete news that Carson Wentz could miss a few more weeks as he recovers from his serious knee injury from last year isn’t ideal, but Nick Foles can obviously get the job done for as long as Wentz remains out of the lineup. Philadelphia’s elite offensive line makes them tough to beat.


3. Los Angeles Rams (1-0) | Last week: 5 (+2)

My big concern about the Rams entering the season was the meshing of personalities. It was only one game, but so far so good in that department. The other concern was that linebacker spot, and the Raiders exposed that as a weakness with tight end Jared Cook (180 yards) last night. However, opposing wide receivers are probably going to have a difficult time getting open against Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters this season, and LA’s offense should be able to go toe-to-toe with the best of them. Through one game, Jared Goff looks even more poised and comfortable than he did during his big 2017 season.


4. Green Bay Packers (1-0) | Last week: 4

Obviously, some people (including Cris Collinsworth) might have been overstating it just a bit, but it was amazing that Aaron Rodgers went from looking to have suffered a potential season-ending injury to leading the Packers to a 21-point fourth quarter and a huge Sunday night win against the Bears. Defensively, the secondary played very well in coverage, and they’re the main reason I believe Green Bay is more of a legit Super Bowl contender than they’ve been the last couple of seasons.


5. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) | Last week: 6 (+1)

I picked the Vikings to miss the playoffs this season because they have a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator in a very tight NFC conference. Everything looked good in Week 1, though, with Kirk Cousins not trying to do too much while spreading the ball around to all his weapons. And there isn’t a better defense in the NFL than the Vikings’ in my opinion, so I like their chances almost every week.


6. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) | Last week: 3 (-3)

Everyone that watched last year’s Division Round game between the Falcons and the Eagles knows the situation at the end of last Thursday’s season opener was eerily similar, but Atlanta also had chances to capitalize on drives in Philadelphia territory earlier in the NFL Kickoff Game loss. Part of why I was high on the Falcons coming into the year—aside from them being a very talented team—is because I thought the offense would be clicking in Steve Sarkisian’s second season. It’s too early to be too concerned, but hopefully the Falcons don’t start pressing too much in the red zone. The loss of safety Keanu Neal to a torn ACL is tough, but I thought second-year safety Damontae Kazee stepped in and played great last week. [UPDATE: Star linebacker Deion Jones (foot) has also been placed on injured reserve.]


7. Carolina Panthers (1-0) | Last week: 9 (+2)

As usual, Luke Keuchly was all over the field for Carolina’s defense, helping limit Ezekiel Elliott and Dallas’ offense. It looked like Keuchly might have suffered a serious leg injury in the game, but thankfully he and the team dodged a bullet, and he was back on the field quickly. As a passer, Cam Newton played controlled in the first game with Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, and clearly the new offense is not going to limit him as a runner. The Panthers can get a two-game division lead on the Falcons to open the season if they win this Sunday.


8. Washington Redskins (1-0) | Last week: 19 (+11)

The Redskins were one of the most intriguing teams entering 2018, and the early returns look very promising. Alex Smith, who I believe is clearly a top-ten quarterback, is somehow still disrespected by most casual fans, but he has the all-around skillset to make plays with his arm and legs to keep the offense moving while avoiding mistakes. Adrian Peterson ran determined, and he won’t be fun for defenses to tackle while he’s running behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. If Washington can control the ball and the game like they did against the Cardinals in Week 1, they can beat anyone.


9. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) | Last week: 14 (+5)

Two of the touchdowns were on little pop-passes, but Patrick Mahomes II still looked good in his second-career start, going 15/27 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Mahomes makes accurate off-platform throws with ease, and he has plenty of playmakers to get the ball to. The Chiefs put up 38 points without Karem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins having big games, and the offense looks like it’s going to be pick-your-poison. At some point, other teams are going to just try and not let Tyreek Hill (268 total yards, three touchdowns against the Chargers) get the ball at all, which is going to open things up for everyone else.


10. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) | Last week: 13 (+3)

Jacksonville’s 20-15 win against the Giants was probably the type of game they want to play every week, and it was good for their psyche to emerge with a victory after the high expectations (and some talking) entering the season. Now the Jags will get another shot at the AFC’s best when they host the Patriots. The Jaguars will probably be treating it like the Super Bowl, but they can’t get too emotional if things aren’t going well against a team that isn’t likely to beat themselves.


11. New Orleans Saints (0-1) | Last week: 7 (-4)

The most disappointing Week 1 performance was undoubtedly from the Saints, who gave up 48 points to the Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers at home. The secondary had a very bad game, and it’s difficult to explain why they played so poorly—perhaps they were too confident against a backup quarterback. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and the rest of the offense appeared locked-in at least, so hopefully this was a wake-up call for the defense.


12. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1) | Last week: 8 (-4)

Because they were only able to tie the Browns, people are going to point to Le’Veon Bell missing the game as the reason—Bell himself appeared to hint at it on Twitter. As awesome as Bell is, there isn’t that big of a drop-off to James Conner, who had 192 total yards and two touchdowns in the tie. People that don’t watch argued that Conner isn’t a good receiver, but he showed he is more than capable as a reliable outlet for Ben Roethlisberger. Quite honestly, the Steelers probably aren’t sweating Bell’s return as long as Conner remains healthy.


13. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) | Last week: 16 (+3)

The Ravens took advantage of the undermatched offense of the Bills, holding Buffalo to three points in their blowout victory to open the season. Baltimore’s defense is going to remain one of the league’s best in 2018, and the offense could be a lot better than it’s been in recent years. Joe Flacco, who is probably playing with a chip on his shoulder after the team drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round, hit each of his three new starting receivers for touchdowns in the Week 1 win, and I’m anxious to see if the offense keeps it going on Thursday night against the Bengals.


14. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) | Last week: 11 (-3)

Joey Bosa being out of the lineup is a big blow to the Chargers, and it was felt in Week 1 with Bosa unable to chase Patrick Mahomes II around the field. They might not have known what to expect with Mahomes under-center, though, and they’ll look to bounce-back against the Bills this weekend. Offensively, the Chargers have the quarterback and supporting cast to be among the league’s best; it was a major positive to see 2017 first-round pick Mike Williams (five receptions, 81 yards) play well at receiver as a big target for Philip Rivers.


15. Oakland Raiders (0-1) | Last week: 15

There wasn’t a team I was more curious about entering the year than the Raiders, and they didn’t disappoint in the first half last night against the Rams, as Derek Carr was given that CEO-level control at the line of scrimmage. However, the second half just wasn’t a good half for Carr and the offense, and eventually the Rams just started clicking offensively. The Raiders should be able to get in a better rhythm this week against the Broncos.


16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) | Last week: 25 (+9)

The big three of Andy Dalton, Joe Mixon, and A.J. Green all did their part on offense for the Bengals in their win over the Colts, and the defense stepped up with a big fourth quarter. 2016 sixth-round pick Clayton Fejedelem’s game-sealing forced fumble then scoop-and-score might have been the play of the week in the NFL, and Cincinnati will look to keep the momentum going in a primetime Thursday night matchup against Baltimore.


17. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) | Last week: 12 (-5)

Again, it was just one game, but the Cardinals did not look great in their 24-6 loss to the Redskins. The offensive line was a concern, as Sam Bradford didn’t have much time to push the ball down the field, but the defense was the bigger concern to me. The Redskins basically moved the ball with ease, racking up 429 yards and 30 first downs. Time of possession might not be the most important thing in the world, but it felt like the Redskins played keep-away and had the ball for the entire game. Arizona needs to get off the field this Sunday against the Rams, or it could be ugly.


18. Tennessee Titans (0-1) | Last week: 10 (-8)

I was as high on the Titans as anyone entering the season, but they’ve unfortunately been hit with injuries to open the year. Marcus Maritoa injured his throwing arm, which led to two interceptions against the Dolphins before he was pulled. Left tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion on a borderline-uncalled-for hit. And tight end Delanie Walker is done for the year because of a dislocated ankle and fractured leg. Hopefully Mariota and Lewan are OK, as the Titans need them to compete in the AFC South. Their loss to the Dolphins came in the weirdest game of the week, as they had two lengthy lightning delays that totaled nearly four hours.


19. Houston Texans (0-1) | Last week: 17 (-2)

As stated earlier, the Texans-Patriots game didn’t feel as close as the 27-20 score indicates. Deshaun Watson was running for his life for much of the game, and the secondary was picked apart by Tom Brady. Also, starting cornerback Kevin Johnson is now unfortunately dealing with a concussion that’ll keep him out for multiple weeks, so all the best to him—hopefully he’s feeling much better soon. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney must play well and set the tone for Houston’s defense.


20. San Francisco 49ers (0-1) | Last week: 18 (-2)

The first-career loss as a starter for Jimmy Garoppolo was the worst game of his career, but it came against perhaps the best defense in the NFL in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Marquise Goodwin missed a lot of the game against Minnesota with a leg injury, but thankfully he’s OK and should be ready to go for Week 2 against the Lions. It’ll be interesting to watch Garoppolo go up against Matt Patricia, as the two of them went against each other often in practice when they were both in New England.


21. Chicago Bears (0-1) | Last week: 20 (-1)

As I indicated during the preseason, the NFL appears to be as deep as ever in 2018, so these teams in the bottom part of the power rankings have a lot of potential. The Bears showed that potential on Sunday night, with Matt Nagy’s offense coming out red-hot and the defense led by Khalil Mack making huge plays on the other side. There’s talent all over the roster for the Bears, and they’re a potentially scary team if all things start to click.


22. New York Giants (0-1) | Last week: 22

Pat Shurmur, Eli Manning, and the Giants offense had a tough task dealing with Jacksonville’s defense to open the season, but there were some plays to be made throughout the afternoon. Some Jags pressure caused a miss on a near-touchdown on a throw to Odell Beckham Jr. in the end zone, and there were dropped passes by Giants receivers in the game. Saquon Barkley got off to quite the start to his career, showing his truly-elite gamebreaking ability on a 68-yard touchdown run. It’d be a good sign if the defense can shut down the Cowboys this Sunday night.


23. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) | Last week: 21 (-2)

The Seahawks apparently wanted to get back to running the ball more this season, but the opposite happened in their Week 1 loss to the Broncos. Russell Wilson was sacked six times in the game, and he also threw two interceptions—but he did throw three touchdowns and is sometimes a slow starter to games and seasons. Seattle’s inexperienced roster will compete, and the young defense should get better as the season progresses.


24. New York Jets (1-0) | Last week: 30 (+6)

A 31-point outburst in the third quarter was a shocker in the Monday Night Football doubleheader last night, as the Jets dominated the Lions at Ford Field to start the season 1-0. After a pick-six on his first NFL pass, Sam Darnold showed his superb poise by coming back out like nothing happened. The No. 3 pick from USC went 16/20 for 198 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the way, and he looked like a veteran with his awareness in the pocket and ability to move out and make plays on the run. There’s a nice opportunity here with a home game against the Dolphins in Week 2 before a trip to Cleveland in Week 3.


25. Miami Dolphins (1-0) | Last week: 28 (+3)

After several hours of alternating between playing and waiting around, the Dolphins came away with a home victory against the Titans to open the year. It was a weird game with no flow to it because of the delays, but overall the offense played well while the defense recorded three interceptions. I want to see what the Dolphins and Titans look like in a more-normal game this week.


26. Denver Broncos (1-0) | Last week: 29 (+3)

There were no long weather delays, but the Seahawks-Broncos game was also a weird one because of all the turnovers (six). Case Keenum threw three touchdowns and three interceptions in his Broncos debut, and the running game powered by rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay (who caught a 29-yard touchdown from Keenum) balanced the attack. Von Miller is off to a scorching start with three sacks, as he’s one of the few guys that can track a scrambling Russell Wilson down—and he showed it in the win.


27. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) | Last week: 26 (-1)

Andrew Luck and the Colts appeared poised to drive the field for a go-ahead touchdown against the Bengals, but a Jack Doyle fumble unfortunately ended those chances. Still, there should be a lot of optimism around the Colts, particularly because Luck didn’t show any limitations coming off the shoulder injury—and he certainly does not appear ready to change his style of play. Athletic second-round rookie linebacker Darius Leonard recorded nine tackles in his debut and appears to have a very bright future.


28. Dallas Cowboys (0-1) | Last week: 23 (-5)

There’s no question the Panthers are one of the NFL’s best defenses, but there’s still concern for the Cowboys, who are dealing with a revamped receiver group, being limited to just eight points after their struggles down the stretch last season. Dallas’ defense played well, which is a positive, but they drop five spots in the power rankings. If they show something offensively Sunday night against the Giants, they might shoot up the rankings.


29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) | Last week: 32 (+3)

The Buccaneers climb three spots in the power rankings after their huge 48-point showing against the Saints in the Superdome. Ryan Fitzpatrick played great, connecting on big plays down the field to his weapons. Tampa Bay scored on seven of its first eight possessions against New Orleans, but things should get a lot tougher against Philadelphia coming off a mini bye week with plenty of time to prepare.


30. Detroit Lions (0-1) | Last week: 24 (-6)

Bad games happen, so I am not too concerned about Matthew Stafford’s four-interception game last night against the Jets. However, I am concerned about the defense giving up big plays throughout the night. It wasn’t talked about enough during the broadcast, but defensive end Ezekiel Ansah did miss most of the game with a shoulder injury, so that affected things for Detroit on defense. But after a bad preseason, this start to the regular season is not a good look for the Lions.


31. Buffalo Bills (0-1) | Last week: 27 (-4)

The supporting cast on offense for the Bills is probably going to make it difficult for them to compete for a playoff spot in 2018. The offensive line in particular needs to do a good job of protecting the quarterback, which they haven’t done through the preseason and start of the regular season. This season looks like it could be a step back after Sean McDermott’s squad might have been ahead of schedule by making the postseason last year.


32. Cleveland Browns (0-0-1) | Last week: 31 (-1)

It is unbelievable that Cleveland tying Pittsburgh made it the team’s best start since 2004. There is serious talent on the Browns roster, but it’s so hard to be optimistic about their outlook. After all the talk of Josh Gordon not “starting” for the team, a personnel grouping mistake somehow made it so he did start the game. I really do not like criticizing teams or organizations, but it really seems like the Browns have no idea what they are doing sometimes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *