1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) def. Cincinnati 24-16. Previously: 3
The rainy weather in Pittsburgh did what seemingly no amount of player suspensions could — slowed down the Steelers offense. And it didn’t matter, they stayed on top of their division rival throughout, held A.J. Green in check and won despite getting just 39 yards from Antonio Brown.
2. Denver Broncos (2-0) def. Indianapolis 34-20. Previously: 2
Demarcus Ware’s injury hurts, but no one has shown any signs of being able to stop this pass rush yet this season. In Week 3, the Bengals may be a little better equipped to try than the Colts were, and we’ll see how the Broncos fare outside the friendly confines of Mile High for the first time.
3. New England Patriots (2-0) def. Miami 31-24. Previously: 1
It’s a shame to see Jimmy Garoppolo injured after the start to the season he enjoyed: beating the Cardinals in their backyard and building a 21-0 lead on the Dolphins before he had to leave the game. Getting him back in time for Thursday’s matchup with the Texans will be a tall order.
4. Carolina Panthers (1-1) def. San Francisco 46-27. Previously: 4
Injuries are becoming a theme in the top five this week, as the Panthers will lose Jonathan Stewart for a couple weeks. The run game didn’t slow down against the 49ers though, with Fozzy Whittaker grabbing a 100-yard day on 16 carries.
5. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) def. Tampa Bay 40-7. Previously: 6
The Cardinals bounced back from their opening week loss to the Patriots in a big way, embarrassing Tampa Bay. The joyride may well continue when they travel to Buffalo in Week 3. Watching Larry Fitzgerald through two weeks (and 13 seasons) has been a joy.
6. Minnesota Vikings (2-0) def. Green Bay 17-14. Previously: 13
After outscoring their offense in the season opener, the Viking defense continued to look terrifying in Week 2. Stefon Diggs has one good game and one outstanding game this season, and Sam Bradford looks perfectly content to look Diggs’ way. The run game, ineffective long before Adrian Peterson left the game injured, is the only major flaw right now in Minnesota.
7. Houston Texans (2-0) def. Kansas City 19-12. Previously: 10
The Texans’ new pieces are gelling, as Will Fuller notched his second 100-yard receiving day in as many career games. The win over Kansas City was a big moment, as the Chiefs beat the Texans twice in Houston in 2016, including the Texans’ brutal dismissal from the 2016 playoffs.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) lost to Pittsburgh 24-16. Previously: 8
The Bengals had themselves in the game against the Steelers, until both final drives ended in fumbles (one a desperation pitch on the game’s final play). They’ll have a third straight tough opponent when Denver comes to town, and a third straight close outcome seems likely.
9. New York Jets (1-1) def. Buffalo 37-31. Previously: 12
The Jets offense may have never played as well as it did in the Thursday night victory over Buffalo. Matt Forte found the end zone three times; Brandon Marshall returned from injury mid-game to hit 100 yards receiving and was joined there by Eric Decker. A couple deep Bills bombs are reason to worry about the secondary, particularly after A.J. Green had his way with them in Week 1.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) lost to Houston 19-12. Previously: 9
For Philadelphia fans, one brutally familiar stat came out of the Chiefs’ loss to Houston: 19 rushing plays for 6.3 yards per carry, 41 passing plays for 4.2 yards per play. Spencer Ware’s performance in Week 1 highlighted Kansas City’s embarrassment of riches at running back. So he had 12 touches Sunday.
11. Green Bay Packers (1-1) lost to Minnesota 17-14. Previously: 7
Jordy Nelson getting his second touchdown in as many games was about the only positive hidden inside this loss. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times; the team turned the ball over three times; and the defense was eaten alive by Stefon Diggs. Rodgers was the Packers’ most effective runner. The Vikings are defending division champions, and looked like it.
12. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) lost to Los Angeles 9-3. Previously: 5
There’s the early season Seahawk hangover we’ve become used to (see last week’s 12-10 last minute defeat of the Dolphins, 2015’s season opening loss to, yep, the Rams) and then there’s what we watched Sunday afternoon. Seattle just lost to a team that still doesn’t have a touchdown entering Week 3.
13. New York Giants (2-0) def. New Orleans 16-13. Previously: 16
Giant fumbles may have kept this game from becoming the shootout everyone expected following 2015’s barn burner, but the offense still put up 417 total yards. More impressive is the way the overhauled defense kept opponents in check for a second straight week. Brandin Cooks may have fared better against the Giants than Dez Bryant, but this sure wasn’t his Week 1 performance against the Raiders.
14. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) def. Oakland 35-28. Previously: 21
Next Monday night in New Orleans will be another chance for the Falcons to show the nation the good Falcons. Matt Ryan is playing some of his best football through two games, and the Falcons’ run game even got on track in the win over the Raiders.
15. Oakland Raiders (1-1) lost to Atlanta 35-28. Previously: 11
The Raiders fell victim to a tipped ball in Week 2, it’s true. But (almost) every game in the NFL is close, and Michael Crabtree appears ready to be a hero each week. A trip to Tennessee in Week 3 isn’t as easy a victory as it might appear.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) def. Chicago 29-14. Previously: 22
Carson Wentz and the Eagles pass rush looked just as impressive in their victory over the Bears as they did in Week 1. The next test, Pittsburgh, will be a vast step up for both, and a challenge that should show us whether the Eagles are for real.
17. San Diego Chargers (1-1) def. Jacksonville 38-14. Previously: 28
Are they for real? After a Week 1 challenge to the order of the AFC West ended in defeat and the loss of Keenan Allen, the Chargers’ shellacking of Jacksonville looks all the more impressive. It included another damaging injury to Danny Woodhead, however.
18. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) def. Cleveland 25-20. Previously: 20
The Ravens can move to 3-0 with a victory over the so-far lackluster Jacksonville offense next week. If they do, they’ll be halfway to surpassing last season’s victory total. Mike Wallace, with three touchdowns in two games, has given Joe Flacco the deep threat he loves (and was missing in 2015).
19. Detroit Lions (1-1) lost to Tennessee 16-15. Previously: 14
The Packers looked awfully vulnerable in their Sunday night loss to the Vikings. If the Lions smell blood, they’ll have their chance to jump back into the division race they slipped out of in 2015 against Green Bay this weekend. The Vikings have one receiver, and the Packers couldn’t stop him. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and the Lions’ backs may prove a problem.
20. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) lost to Denver 34-20. Previously: 19
The Colts — thanks in large part to Andrew Luck’s guts — hung around against the Broncos. There’s a potential shootout in store between Luck and Philip Rivers in Week 3 when the surprising Chargers come to town.
21. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) def. Washington 27-23. Previously: 24
Two weeks in, the Cowboys appear much more prepared to deal without Tony Romo in 2016 than they were in 2015. It may not lead them to the playoffs by season’s end, but the Dak Prescott approach should have Cowboys fans feeling good about the future. Dez Bryant surpassing one catch should have them feeling good about right now.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) lost to Arizona 40-7. Previously: 18
The running game has struggled in both games of 2016 so far, though you won’t often rack up a ton of yards on the ground trailing like the Buccaneers were. Still, if they want to see more of Week 1 Jameis Winston (four touchdowns) and less of Week 2 (four interceptions), getting Doug Martin going on the ground is the place to start.
23. Washington (0-2) lost to Dallas 27-23. Previously: 17
A Week 3 victory over the Giants is a necessity to prevent Washington from falling three games back in the division and ruining their chances of repeating as division champs in 2016. It’s hardly assured however, given the Giants’ passing attack and the Washington propensity to … let teams have a good passing attack.
24. New Orleans Saints (0-2) lost to New York Giants 16-13. Previously: 23
The Saints defense was opportunistic against the Giants, and that kept the game close. But they’ve still given up 903 yards through two games. The Falcons offense, which seems in gear after a week two win, will be a big challenge Monday night.
25. Tennessee Titans (1-1) def. Detroit 16-15. Previously: 30
The Titans can be glad Andre Johnson still had one leaping touchdown grab over double coverage left in him. The defense kept them in the game against Detroit, they’ll have another test in line when the Raiders — with 66 points through two games — come to town in Week 3.
26. Miami Dolphins (0-2) lost to New England 31-24. Previously: 26
A close loss to the Seahawks and close to a comeback against the Patriots are one thing. A close loss to the Browns next week won’t carry quite the same weight. Having a leading rusher besides Ryan Tannehill would be a good start.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) lost to San Diego 38-14. Previously: 15
The Jaguars performance against the Chargers was disappointing, to say the least. A couple late touchdowns saved the scoreline from being even worse. If they drop to 0-3 at home against the Ravens next week, this season will look unsalvageable.
28. Buffalo Bills (0-2) lost to New York Jets 37-31. Previously: 25
The Bills’ embarrassing firing of Greg Roman won’t help the defense that allowed the Jets 493 total yards, 28 first downs or 37 points last Thursday. It’s too bad, because when the Cardinals come to town, that defense is going to need all the help it can get.
29. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) lost to Carolina 46-27. Previously: 27
The 49ers struggles to run the ball continued through Week 2, though they were a bit hidden by the strange game that includes both teams’ tight ends catching 75-plus-yard touchdowns. While they kept the game close for a while, the 49ers’ opponents now have the highest and lowest scoring games of the season.
30. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) def. Seattle 9-3. Previously: 32
The Rams started the season (albeit a week late) by remembering they were supposed to have a pretty fair defense Sunday. Shocking Seattle in the “home” opener feels a lot better than a repeat of Week 1 would have, but they better find the end zone against an embarrassed Buccaneers team in Week 3.
31. Chicago Bears (0-2) lost to Philadelphia 29-14. Previously: 29
It remains to be seen if Jay Cutler’s injured thumb will keep him out. But even if Cutler can play, the Bears must find a way to protect him. Their offensive line could do nothing against the Eagles’ pass rush or in the run game.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-2) lost to Baltimore 25-20. Previously: 31
The Browns didn’t seem long for this spot while up 20-0, but one bungled extra point later … Isaiah Crowell and Corey Coleman turned in performances against the Ravens that inspire hope for the future.