1. New England Patriots (2-0) Def. Buffalo 40-32. Previously: 1
New England is on a warpath. A few fumbles let the Bills climb back into a game that was 37-13 at one point, but this is the second week in a row the Patriots have won a game that wasn't at all as close as the score.
2. Green Bay Packers (2-0) Def. Seattle 27-17. Previously: 2
A week two regular season game will never qualify as revenge for a championship game, but the Packers got the most satisfaction they could from this one. Aaron Rodgers keeps finding receivers, and the Packers will be near the top of this list until the day he isn’t under center. Possibly still then if their last quarterback transition is any indication.
3. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) Def. Chicago 48-23. Previously: 4
The end of last season made it easy to forget how good this team is when Carson Palmer is around. The Cardinals have faced two of the NFL’s bottom feeders so far, to be sure, but they’ve treated them as such. Larry Fitzgerald’s renaissance Sunday was nice to behold.
4. Denver Broncos (2-0) Def. Kansas City 31-24. Previously: 8
Denver rallied to stun the Chiefs late Thursday night after a sluggish start recalled the offense’s struggles against Baltimore and let the Chiefs build a 14-0 lead. Everyone had an opinion on the end of the Peyton Manning era last week, but Peyton made his known by throwing for three touchdowns and notching yet another fourth quarter comeback in his long career.
5. Dallas Cowboys (2-0) Def. Philadelphia 20-10. Previously: 5
You might be hard pressed to find two more costly back-to-back victories in NFL history, as the Cowboys lost Tony Romo to a broken collarbone a week after losing Dez Bryant. Still, both are hopeful to return this season, and the Cowboys have given themselves some very nice breathing room over the Giants and Eagles in what is shaping up to be a woeful division.
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6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) Def. San Diego 24-19. Previously: 10
Two weeks, two impressive victories for Cincinnati. Drubbing Oakland 30-13 looks even better in the wake of the Raiders upset over Baltimore this week, and San Diego is always a quality opponent. Cincinnati is looking impressively balanced on offense right now, and Jeremy Hill just needs to get the fumbles under control.
7. Seattle Seahawks (0-2) Lost to Green Bay 27-17. Previously: 3
Seattle could make a case last week they outplayed St. Louis. That case isn’t there this week. Not that anyone would consider questioning a decision made by Pete Carroll, but get Kam Chancellor back fast Seahawks, Arizona is two games up.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) Def. San Francisco 43-18. Previously: 13
If this is the Pittsburgh offense without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, look out. Those two will be back next week, and that should make opposing defenses very, very afraid. As for the defense, bend but don’t break might sum it up best, unless Gronk is around.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) Lost to Denver 31-24. Previously: 6
The Chiefs have allowed comebacks in two straight weeks now. In Week 1 it didn’t bite them, but this time it did. Jamaal Charles’ astonishing second fumble of the night was returned for a touchdown with 27 seconds left and Kansas City lose to Denver for the seventh straight time. Andy Reid turned the team around faster upon his arrival than most thought he would, but until the Chiefs can get past the Broncos, they’re stuck in neutral now.
10. Buffalo Bills (1-1 Lost to New England 40-32. Previously: 9
Buffalo gets some points, actually 19, for keeping their heads in the game and fighting back in the fourth quarter after falling down 37-13. This wasn’t a great game for Rex Ryan and the Bills, but it wasn’t an unexpected one either. A lot of people lose, and will lose, to the Patriots.
11. New York Jets (2-0) Def. Indianapolis 20-7. Previously: 25
Two games undefeated and this defense has to be salivating as they start watching Eagles game tape this week. Did anyone think when Geno came back it might be to an undefeated team? And does an undefeated team really want Geno back?
12. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) Lost to New York Jets 20-7. Previously: 7
We all knew Indianapolis had to get past the Patriots entering this season, now it seems their bugaboo is the entire AFC East. That or points. The Colts have started poorly before and recovered but they need to start protecting their franchise quarterback, fast.
13. Carolina Panthers (2-0) Def. Houston 24-17. Previously: 21
If it all has to fall on one player’s shoulders, there are worse candidates than Cam Newton. The Panthers are starting to look like an NFC South team from a decade ago – Mike Vick’s Falcons. Those Falcons are looking likely to be the Panthers chief competition for the division this season.
14. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) Def. New York Giants 24-20. Previously: 14
The NFC South has been the butt of division strength jokes for a while now, but the Falcons are doing their part to transfer that burden to the NFC East. Two weeks, two wins, and two monster games from Julio Jones make the offense look set, and the defense is definitely looking up under Dan Quinn.
15. San Diego Chargers (1-1) Lost to Cincinnati 24-19. Previously: 15
The Chargers have played two close games, lost one and won one, and that’s likely going to be a theme the rest of the season for one of the teams that’s been this way for a few years now. Philip Rivers will keep the Chargers in most games and in the playoff hunt. Melvin Gordon has been more impressive in two regular season games than he was in the pre-season, and that’s good news.
16. St. Louis Rams (1-1) Lost to Washington 24-10. Previously: 11
If there’s a post-Super Bowl letdown, is there a post-beating the team in the post-Super Bowl letdown letdown? St. Louis lived it, racking up a depressing 213 yards of total offense against Washington. When does Todd Gurley get here?
17. Miami Dolphins (1-1) Lost to Jacksonville 23-20. Previously: 12
This hasn’t been the season Dolphins fans spent the off-season salivating about. An uninspiring win over the Redskins and a very uninspiring loss are only made to look worse by the comparative highs Bills and Jets fans are experiencing. It’s quickly looking like this is a division every game will matter in, and the loss to Jacksonville might look even uglier in December.
18. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) Lost to Pittsburgh 43-18. Previously: 17
From the moment the Steelers started racking up two point conversions, the Niners were playing catch up. That let Colin Kaepernick rack up passing yards, but they couldn’t control the game with Carlos Hyde like they did last week, and boy did the game get out of control quickly.
19. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) Def. Detroit 26-16. Previously: 26
There’s the Vikings team we expected to see this season. A week after getting 10 carries, Adrian Peterson touched the ball 31 times, and the result, as you might expect, was 192 total yards. Teddy Bridgewater was efficient, the defense forced turnovers, and the Vikings won.
20. Detroit Lions (0-2) Lost to Minnesota 26-16. Previously: 20
Detroit doesn’t look as lost as some of the 0-2 teams, but Matthew Stafford can’t keep getting banged up every week, which means the Lions can’t keep giving up on the run. Calvin Johnson’s reintroduction to the passing game was welcome, and the Lions can’t forget to look his way in the future.
21. Houston Texans (0-2) Lost to Carolina 24-17. Previously: 19
Different quarterback, same result, as Ryan Mallett got the start this week after replacing Brian Hoyer last. The Texans have lost two close games to quality opponents, so there’s no reason to panic, especially with Arian Foster on the horizon, but nonetheless they’ve missed the opportunity to put the struggling Colts in a hole.
22. Oakland Raiders (1-1) Def. Baltimore 37-33. Previously: 30
David Carr’s welcome back party went well. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree each nabbed 100 yards and a touchdown and the defense held Baltimore to less points than 37. If you’re a Raiders fan, that’s all you can ask for, and really about two more things than you could reasonably ask for.
23. New York Giants (0-2) Lost to Atlanta 24-20. Previously: 23
Do the Giants deserve credit for having played well enough to hold leads late against the Cowboys and Falcons, or blame for letting them slip in spectacular fashion? At least Odell Beckham Jr. shone once again in this one.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) Def. Miami 23-20. Previously: 29
At a certain point the talent the Jaguars seemed to be stockpiling needed to start translating into wins, and this might be that point. Allen Robinson put on the show so many were expecting from him after a disappointing week one.
25. Baltimore Ravens (0-2) Lost to Oakland 37-33. Previously: 16
Week one, the Ravens defense impressively shut Denver down while their own offense was even more impressively shut down and lost the game. Week two, the offense lit up Oakland while their own defense was even more impressively lit up by the Raiders. The Raiders.
26. Washington Redskins (1-1) Def. St. Louis 24-10. Previously: 28
Matt Jones seemed like a nice pre-season story impossibly buried on the depth chart behind Alfred Morris. Not anymore. And was that an efficient game by Kirk Cousins? Don’t look now but the Redskins are in second place in the NFC East behind a Dallas team that just lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) Lost to Dallas 20-10. Previously: 18
The Eagles came out Sunday like Chip Kelly showed them the tape of the first half against Atlanta and said “C’mon guys, I know you got a full 60 of that in you.” They did. Cutting Pro Bowlers is looking less and less like sound roster building every game.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-1) Def. Tennessee 28-14. Previously: 31
Thrown in because of injury, Johnny Manziel is giving Cleveland fans the glimpses of ability they were hoping for last year, and the defense chased Marcus Mariota all over the field Sunday.
29. Chicago Bears (0-2) Lost to Arizona 48-23. Previously: 24
All the good feelings from hanging with Green Bay and an 8-for-8 start by Jay Cutler gone on one play. One of the few positives for Chicago is that Matt Forte continues to have success on the ground, even if the Bears had to abandon the run in this one. They’re going to need him.
30. Tennessee Titans (1-1) Lost to Cleveland 28-14. Previously: 27
Marcus Mariota had a tougher second week, getting sacked seven times and fumbling three times against Cleveland.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) Def. New Orleans 26-19. Previously: 32
Jameis Winston looked a lot better playing in the Superdome in week two. That's the composure the Buccaneers were betting on with the first pick.
32. New Orleans Saints (0-2) Lost to Tampa Bay 26-19. Previously: 22
Losing to Arizona was one thing; losing to Tampa is another. Now the Saints are without Drew Brees for a couple weeks? It's hard to see it getting better soon.