The NFL is back and so are our weekly power rankings! Join BetAmerica Extra columnist Zack Rhodes as he slices and dices all 32 teams and ranks them in order according to their Week 2 performance and Week 3 outlook.
1. New England Patriots (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
The laughably inept Roger Goodell should do us all a favor and just give Brady & Belichick their seventh Lombardi trophy now. Just cancel the rest of the season and save us from four straight months of the media fawning over the Patriots dynasty as New England dances with destiny and once again chases perfection. And those of you laughing at the possibility, take a look at their schedule and it will make more sense. The Pats are almost guaranteed to be 7-0 before they face the Browns at home in late October, and even though the competition will get tougher after that, they get their two toughest opponents, the Cowboys and Chiefs, in Foxborough. It’s a dream scenario for New England as the rest of the league figures out a way to deal with the recurring nightmare that is Antonio Brown catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady.
2. Dallas Cowboys (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
The Cowboys did nothing in their comfortable win over the Redskins on Sunday to dissuade me from taking them out of this second spot. Completing 18 straight passes at one point, Dak was flawless again, and it was good to see Zeke get into a rhythm as he carried the ball 23 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. Next up are the hopeless Dolphins, followed by a trip to New Orleans to take on a Saints team without Drew Brees, and then back home to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. It’s setting up to be a special season in Dallas.
3. Los Angeles Rams (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
The much-anticipated rematch between the Rams and Saints quickly turned into a mismatch once Drew Brees went to the sidelines after injuring his hand on the Saints’ second drive of the game. With Brees expected to miss 6-8 weeks as he recovers from a torn ligament in his throwing thumb, the cloudy NFC picture has suddenly become much clearer as the Cowboys and Rams have established themselves as the class of the conference. However, Los Angeles will be tested in the coming weeks as they travel to Cleveland this week for a fun match-up against the Browns before a four-game stretch that includes home games against the Bucs and 49ers and road trips to Seattle and Atlanta. It won’t be easy, but you know Sean McVay will have his guys prepared for the challenge.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
After being held scoreless in the opening quarter of a regular season game for the first time in his career, Patrick Mahomes quickly erased Oakland’s short-lived 10-0 lead and overcame the absence of the electric Tyreek Hill by throwing four touchdowns passes in the second quarter as the Chiefs cruised to an easy 28-10 victory on Sunday.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 15, 2019
Now the reigning MVP and Co. return home to play five of their next seven games in Kansas City, starting with an intriguing matchup this Sunday against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
Climbing 10 spots up to No. 5, Green Bay enjoyed the biggest move in this week’s rankings after beating a tough division rival for the second week in a row. Personally, I’m still not sold on this Packers squad, but we’ll get a better idea of their legitimacy with upcoming home games against Denver and Philadelphia before a trip to Jerry’s World to take on the Cowboys.
6. Chicago Bears (1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS)
The Bears probably deserve to drop more than one spot after once again failing to cover as favorites despite pulling out the last-second SU win in miraculous fashion in Denver on Sunday. However, I can’t get over my love for this defense and I was encouraged by the 18 carries rookie running back David Montgomery received, as Matt Nagy has got to find a way to take the pressure off the agonizingly average Mitch Trubisky.
You know who had a heck of a game on Sunday?
— Dan DeYoung (@DanDeYoung80) September 16, 2019
We’ll have to face reality and drop Chicago next week if they fail to cover as four-point favorites on the road against the Redskins this coming Monday night.
7. Baltimore Ravens (2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS)
Despite not covering the large 13-point spread as Kyler Murray made it a game late, the Ravens still took care of business and got the win thanks to another electric performance from Lamar Jackson, who passed for 272 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 120 yards. However, after a soft opening, things get real as Baltimore heads to Kansas City this week in what will be a must-watch matchup with Mahomes, and then return home for a key divisional game with the Browns.
8. San Francisco 49ers (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
With Jimmy G back and better than ever, the 49ers have made early believers very happy at the window over the first two weeks by cruising to easy victories on the road against the Bucs and Bengals as slight one-point dogs. Now they return home to face the Steelers and Browns before a crucial game against the Rams in Los Angeles. The Rams are clearly still the class of the division, but the improved Niners, always competitive Seahawks, and feisty Cardinals are going to make it a fun year in the NFC West.
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS)
Speaking of the always competitive Seahawks, Pete Carroll’s boys come in at No. 9 after traveling across the country to Pittsburgh and beating the struggling Steelers who lost Big Ben for the season with an elbow injury. Now they return home this week to face another team in the Saints who lost their star quarterback. However, Seattle’s good fortune may end once the calendar flips to October, as the Seahawks will welcome the Rams and Ravens to CenturyLink Field and head out on the road to face the Browns and Falcons.
10. Indianapolis Colts (1-1 SU and 1-0-1 ATS)
The Colts joined the Bills as the second-biggest movers in this week’s rankings behind the Packers. Even without Andrew Luck, Indianapolis has proven the preseason expectations were warranted this year, as GM Chris Ballard has rebuilt a roster anchored by a nasty offensive line and Frank Reich has done a masterful job despite significant adversity. The Colts are going to be a tough out all season and I’m looking forward to their under-the-radar game this weekend against another underrated bunch, the Atlanta Falcons.
11. Tennessee Titans (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
Despite their disappointing loss on Sunday to the tough-as-nails Colts, I have the Titans holding steady at No. 11. Led by a solid defense, a workhorse in Derrick Henry, and efficient Marcus Mariota, I think steady is the right word when thinking about Mike Vrabel’s squad this year.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) September 17, 2019
Tennessee fits in perfectly with the rest of the teams in the most competitive division in the league, the AFC South.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS)
It was a frustrating evening for the Eagles in their loss at Atlanta on Sunday night, as both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson left the game with injuries and Carson Wentz struggled to find a rhythm. However, the super savvy Doug Pederson has time to figure things out with home games against the Lions and Jets in two of the next three weeks before a daunting six-week stretch that includes back-to-back road games at Minnesota and Dallas and three home games against the Bears, Patriots and Seahawks.
13. Minnesota Vikings (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
Much like the Titans, I have the Vikings holding steady at No. 13 despite a disappointing divisional loss to the Packers. Falling into an early 21-0 hole was too much to ask from a team built to grind you out rather than come from behind, but Dalvin Cook was terrific again, rushing for 154 yards and a touchdown, as I’m convinced Mike Zimmer’s squad is going to have something to say in the NFC all season long.
14. New Orleans Saints (1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS)
Man, can someone reverse this voodoo hex that’s terrorized the Saints for several years now? First, it was the Minnesota Miracle, then the no-call pass interference play, and now they lose their Hall of Fame franchise quarterback for the next six to eight weeks due to a thumb injury. Unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get better as New Orleans travels to Seattle this week and then returns home to play the red-hot Cowboys.
15. Atlanta Falcons (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
I wrote last week that we’d know a lot more about this talented and underrated Atlanta team after its game against Philly on Sunday night. Well, the Falcons passed the test with the help of some key injuries and the alligator arms of Nelson Agholor. However, it doesn’t get any easier over the next three weeks, as the Falcons prepare to face the AFC South section of their schedule with road games at Indianapolis and Houston and a home game against the Titans.
16. Cleveland Browns (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
I’m one of the many intrigued by the talent on Cleveland’s roster this year, but let’s not get too carried away with their dominant win on Monday night over a Jets team that had Trevor Simeon and Luke Falk playing quarterback. The Browns failed their first test of the season miserably in their blowout loss to the Titans in Week 1 and now they face what might be the toughest five-game stretch any team will deal with all year, which includes road games at Baltimore, San Francisco and New England and two home games against the Rams and Seahawks.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 17, 2019
I know the word “team” isn’t in OBJ’s vocabulary, but that’s what it’s all about moving forward for the Browns as they will undoubtedly face their fair share of adversity in the coming weeks.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1 SU and 0-1-1 ATS)
Watching the Chargers and Lions play on Sunday took years off my life, as the game featured a missed extra point, three missed field goals, and four turnovers, including a crushing fumble at the goal line by Melvin Gordon-fill-in Austin Ekeler. I was probably a little too high on the Chargers to start the season, but L.A.’s JV squad has time to get it together as they have three home games against the Texans, Broncos and Steelers and a road trip to Miami over the next four weeks. One quick note: the Chargers are hurting in the secondary, as safety Adrian Phillips, who was replacing the talented Derwin James, is now out eight weeks with a broken forearm.
18. Houston Texans (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
With that last piece of news, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins have to be licking their chops as they get ready to travel to L.A. to play the Chargers this weekend. Especially considering how much the Texans struggled offensively in their hard-fought win over the Jaguars on Sunday. I have a feeling Houston’s dynamic duo may be in for a big day just like they had in their last-second loss to the Saints in Week 1.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS)
Between losing Nick Foles until at least Week 11 and Jalen Ramsey losing his mind on the sidelines, it’s been a frustrating start to the season for Jacksonville. Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier with divisional foe Tennessee coming to town this weekend. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but Gardner Minshew has some serious moxie to him, so I fully expect this Jaguars team to put up a fight as they try and save their season in the coming weeks.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
It seems like forever ago, but the Bucs showed some toughness in their gritty win over Carolina last Thursday night. Now they come in rested and get to tee off on preseason MVP Daniel Jones in his first career start. I’m looking for Jameis and his talented receiving corps to have a big day against the pathetic Giants just like Dak did in Week 1.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS)
By trading for talented safety Minkah Fitzpatrick this week, the Steelers are indicating they’re not giving up on the year despite Big Ben’s season-ending injury. And former Oklahoma State star Mason Rudolph showed he was capable in throwing two touchdowns in the loss Sunday to the Seahawks as the Steelers battled after losing their franchise quarterback. With their season hanging in the balance, I would expect a spirited effort this weekend against the undefeated 49ers.
22. Carolina Panthers (0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS)
With Cam Newton’s status “up in the air” due to an aggravated foot injury, Carolina’s painful start to the season has gotten that much worse. Now they head out on the road to face a young Arizona squad hungry for a win and a tough Texans team the next week. If Cam does sit and Kyle Allen plays, I like Kyler and Arizona to pull the upset.
I asked Tre Boston if he’s seen a change in Cam Newton: I don’t see a change in him, I see a change in what people ask of him…
(Tre spitting knowledge…worth watching) pic.twitter.com/vqkoHw73Rw
— Carolina Blitz (@KeepBlitzin) September 17, 2019
Next up: Arizona Cardinals
23. Buffalo Bills (2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS)
The Bills have been pretty good to start the season, but let’s not get too carried away with wins over the Jets and Giants. Josh Allen & Co. will get another chance to impress against a bad team in the Bengals this week in Buffalo before getting their first true test when they welcome the mighty Patriots to town next week. I’ve moved the Bills from the basement of the rankings, but the jury is still out.
24. Denver Broncos (0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS)
It’s been a rough start to the Joe Flacco era in Denver, but led by new head coach Vic Fangio and a proud defense, this veteran Broncos squad will be competitive in a lot of games. I’m interested to see how they bounce back this week in Green Bay after the last-second loss on Sunday to Fangio’s old team, the Bears.
25. Washington Redskins (0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS)
I wrote last week that it may get worse before it gets better as the Redskins open the season by playing Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago and New England in four of the first five weeks. That certainly seems to be the case as Washington deals with injuries at running back and in the secondary. Case Keenum hasn’t been the problem, but the Dwayne Haskins countdown will only intensify as the losses continue to pile up.
26. Oakland Raiders (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
After a promising win over Denver to start the season, Oakland came crashing back down to earth in their 28-10 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Now they face a brutal five-game stretch that includes four road games against Minnesota, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Houston and a home game against the Bears. It’s going to be another long season in year two of the Gruden era.
27. Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS)
After another fourth quarter flurry from Kyler Murray, the Cardinals are now 2-0 ATS with a real chance to be 3-0 after their game this weekend against the Panthers if Cam doesn’t play. Either way, Murray’s a proud dude who is going to keep this talented, but flawed team in games as long as he’s able to stay healthy.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 15, 2019
Next up: Carolina Panthers
28. Detroit Lions (1-0-1 SU and 1-1 ATS)
The high point of the season for the Lions may have been their hideously ugly win over the Chargers on Sunday, as Detroit plays the Eagles, Chiefs, Packers and Vikings over the next four weeks. Poor Matt Stafford.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS)
The Bengals showed they have enough talent to be competitive this year in their one-point loss in Seattle to open the season, but they reverted back to the mean in their blowout loss to the surprising 49ers in Week 2. I’m looking for the Bengals to look more like their Week 1 selves in upcoming road games at Buffalo and Pittsburgh and then back home in Week 5 against Arizona.
30. New York Jets (0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS)
I have to admit I enjoyed watching the hopeless Jets get eaten alive by Myles Garrett and OBJ on Monday night. I mean, I thought crazy-eyes Adam Gase was an offensive guru, which is exactly what the unlistenable Booger McFarland called him during the Monday night broadcast. I think it’s safe to say guru should never be used in the same sentence again with either of those two guys. I feel bad for one of my favorite running backs of all-time in Le’Veon Bell, but then again, it was his choice to join this cursed franchise.
31. New York Giants (0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS)
Speaking of gurus, maybe Dave Gettleman is indeed a genius and only needs five minutes at the Senior Bowl to pick out franchise quarterbacks. But as a betting man, I’m wagering that Gettleman is the idiot we all think he is and Daniel Jones is not the second coming of Peyton Manning. Time will tell, but in the interim, I’m going to bet young Daniel is in for a rude awakening this Sunday with the likes of madman Ndamukong Suh anxious to welcome him to the NFL.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS)
It’s very possible this Dolphins team is one of the worst the NFL has ever seen, but opening the season against the Ravens, Patriots and Cowboys is absolutely brutal. The NFL never sees lines like 21.5, but with the Cowboys rolling along and Miami losing by an average of 46 points in their first two games, 21.5 will likely seem like a bargain with Dallas up 40 at halftime.