We must be doing something right with the FPC Power Rankings, seeing how the top 16 from Week 2 went 14-2 this weekend; the only two losses were from teams within the top 16 playing each other. The bottom 16 was similarly predictable, at 2-14, and the two wins coming from bottom 16 teams squaring off. But that’s enough patting on the back–we might get hurt.
Week 2 was chock-full of catastrophic injuries, many of which were suffered by star players. Not to be dismissive, but if a third-string cornerback has a season-ending injury, only diehards are likely to notice. Whereas when 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley and 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa are lost for the year, people pay attention. The unusual offseason no doubt played a role in these injuries, at least to some extent, and we wish for full recoveries all around.
On that somber note, we can look ahead to Week 3, which brings a few shakeups to the rankings…
32. New York Jets (0-2, Last week: 31)
Gang Green claims the cellar this week after getting palindromed by the banged-up 49ers, 31-13. The only real intrigue around this team is whether Adam Gase can survive 16 games before being fired. Additionally, what will the front office do with Sam Darnold if they land the top overall pick in 2021?
Next week: at Indianapolis (1-1)
31. Atlanta Falcons (0-2, Last week: 29)
The Falcons scored 20 points in the first quarter thanks to Dallas’ five fumbles. Then, they gave up 40 points over the remaining three quarters and stood slack-jawed while the Cowboys recovered an onside kick that set up a game-winning field goal. On the bright side, Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley are on a tear.
Next week: vs. Chicago (2-0)
30. Carolina Panthers (0-2, Last week: 26)
Carolina’s defense gave up over 30 points again on Sunday, and one reason is that the offense turned the ball over four times. The coming schedule is somewhat manageable, with both the Chargers and Falcons on the docket. Unfortunately, Christian McCaffrey will miss some time with a high ankle sprain.
Next week: at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2, Last week: 32)
Joe Burrow achieved his first career 300-yard passing game against the Browns, but it took him 61 attempts to get there. The Bengals will continue to struggle this year, even though they must be thrilled at how Burrow has played to this point. Without improved line play on both sides of the ball, Cincinnati will stay at or near the bottom of the league.
Next week: at Philadelphia (0-2)
28. New York Giants (0-2, Last week: 28)
What will the Giants’ offense look like without Barkley the rest of the year? In his place, Dion Lewis carried the ball 10 times for only 20 yards. Yikes. Time to shine, Daniel Jones!
Next week: vs. San Francisco (1-1)
27. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2, Last week: 23)
The Eagles did not give up a single sack against the Rams on Sunday, so they improved after their ghastly outing in Washington Week 1. They did offer up three turnovers, though, and the defense is shaky at best. Next week may offer some reprieve, as the Bengals come to town.
Next week: vs. Cincinnati (0-2)
26. Detroit Lions (0-2, Last week: 22)
The only reason that Detroit is ranked higher than Philadelphia is that the Lions have held double-digit leads in both games so far. They’re ranked 26th, of course, because they’ve squandered both of those leads. Matt Patricia may be feeling his seat warm up, and this season already looks like a wash.
Next week: at Arizona (2-0)
25. Miami Dolphins (0-2, Last week: 27)
Mike Gesicki had himself a game against Buffalo, hauling in eight receptions for 130 yards and a score. On the other side of the ball, Byron Jones left the field very early with an injury. Without him on the back end, Miami surrendered over 400 yards in the air.
Next week: at Jacksonville (1-1)
24. Denver Broncos (0-2, Last week: 21)
The injury bug made an appearance in Pittsburgh Sunday, and the Broncos got bit. Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton will miss a few weeks after both exited the Steelers game. Worse yet, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers come to town next.
Next week: vs. Tampa Bay (1-1)
23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2, Last week: 18)
Kirk Cousins was shell-shocked in Indianapolis this weekend, getting sacked three times and throwing up three interceptions. Defensively, Anthony Barr suffered a shoulder injury and may miss some time with it. The Vikings are in very real danger of finishing last in the NFC North this year.
Next week: vs. Tennessee (2-0)
22. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, Last week: 30)
Talk about a trial by fire: rookie quarterback Justin Herbert was informed he would be starting the game over an injured Tyrod Taylor moments before the game kicked off. He responded by throwing for over 300 yards, scoring twice (one pass and one rush), and pushing the defending world champions to overtime before eventually losing on a long field goal. Not bad, rook.
Next week: vs. Carolina (0-2)
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, Last week: 24)
Gardner Minshew came back down to earth a bit this week, dropping his completion percentage from 95 to 66.7. He still put up over 300 yards and three scores in a close division loss to Tennessee. More positive news is that rookies C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson could both be very good.
Next week: vs. Miami (0-2)
20. Houston Texans (0-2, Last week: 17)
No other team faced an early season meat grinder as daunting as Houston did. Kansas City and Baltimore are now in the rearview mirror, but Pittsburgh is on deck, and they look awfully good as well. Once again, Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt will need some help.
Next week: at Pittsburgh (2-0)
19. Washington Football Team (1-1, Last week: 20)
Washington notched three more sacks against Arizona, bringing their season total to 11, which leads the league. They still gave up 30 points in a loss, and their offense was stagnant until halfway through the third quarter. Antonio Gibson would do well with more touches in the future.
Next week: at Cleveland (1-1)
18. Cleveland Browns (1-1, Last week: 25)
Cleveland’s shorthanded offensive line mauled Cincinnati’s shorthanded defensive line at home on Thursday night. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 210 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. As a result, Kevin Stefanski was able to protect Baker Mayfield by limiting his passes (16 completions on 23 attempts) and rolling him out of the pocket on play-action, which should be the team’s offensive blueprint moving forward.
Next week: vs. Washington (1-1)
17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, Last week: 14)
Credit the Cowboys for completing an unlikely comeback to steal the win. Blame the Cowboys for losing three fumbles and putting themselves in position to need a comeback in the first place. The NFC East is still wide open, but Dallas should assert itself as a contender by eliminating these sloppy mistakes.
Next week: at Seattle (2-0)
16. Chicago Bears (2-0, Last week: 19)
What quarterback controversy? Mitch Trubisky tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first half, which would prove to be enough to beat the Giants. Against more challenging opponents, Trubisky and the offense cannot abide another scoreless second half.
Next week: at Atlanta (0-2)
15. San Francisco 49ers (1-1, Last week: 13)
Of the 32 teams in the NFL, perhaps none has been more afflicted by injury than the defending NFC champions. Bosa, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford…get the picture? Whoever has the Sourdough Sam voodoo doll, please stop torturing it.
Next week: at New York Giants (0-2)
14. Indianapolis Colts (1-1, Last week: 16)
Who would have guessed that after two weeks, the top statistical defense in the league could be found in Indianapolis? A dominating performance from DeForest Buckner shut down the Vikings, and the Colts are now allowing only a paltry 208 yards per game. Unfortunately, Malik Hooker tore his Achilles tendon (the same injury that ousted Marlon Mack last week), and his replacement for the rest of the season will be rookie Julian Blackmon.
Next week: vs. New York Jets (0-2)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, Last week: 12)
The Bucs sacked Teddy Bridgewater five times, Leonard Fournette rushed for 103 yards and two scores, and Mike Evans added 104 yards and another touchdown through the air. If that’s not the recipe for success, I’m not sure what is. The Brady-Rob Gronkowski connection has yet to be realized in Tampa, but with results like that, it doesn’t much matter.
Next week: at Denver (0-2)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0, Last week: 15)
The Raiders outclassed a seemingly superior opponent on Monday night, and this team might be for real. Jon Gruden’s multiple offense is hard to predict, as touchdown receptions by Alec Ingold and Zay Jones would indicate. What a way to christen their new stadium.
Next week: at New England (1-1)
11. Tennessee Titans (2-0, Last week: 11)
Ryan Tannehill played a near-perfect game against Jacksonville, and his team would need it in an eventual three-point win. Kenny Vaccaro stuffed his stat-line as well: 11 total tackles, two pass breakups, and a sack. Those two helped overcome an unusually pedestrian game from Derrick Henry (84 yards on 25 carries, no catches, no scores).
Next week: at Minnesota (0-2)
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0, Last week: 10)
Pittsburgh’s defense registered a whopping 13 tackles for loss against an undermanned Denver squad. Nevertheless, they had to sweat out a five-point victory after holding a 17-3 lead early in the second half. Is Pittsburgh the best challenger to Baltimore and Kansas City for AFC supremacy?
Next week: vs. Houston (0-2)
9. New Orleans Saints (1-1, Last week: 3)
Michael Thomas, where art thou? The Saints threw for over 300 yards against the Raiders, yet it seemed like a constant struggle to move the ball consistently without their star receiver. Sean Payton may need to lean more on his running game to protect Drew Brees for a playoff push.
Next week: vs. Green Bay (2-0)
8. Buffalo Bills (2-0, Last week: 7)
Can we talk about how fun to watch Josh Allen is? The young man from Wyoming popped off for 417 yards and four passing touchdowns and added a nice 16-yard run to boot. With a defense led by Ed Oliver and Tre’Davious White, this team could win a lot of games in 2020.
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
7. Arizona Cardinals (2-0, Last week: 9)
From the top overall pick to the playoffs in two years? Crazier things have happened, and Arizona looks like a serious playoff contender early in the season. For your consideration: the Cardinals tallied four sacks, and they got them from four players not named Chandler Jones.
Next week: vs. Detroit (0-2)
6. New England Patriots (1-1, Last week: 6)
These are not your father’s Patriots. Cam Newton accumulated nearly 450 yards of total offense, punctuated by three touchdowns (two rushing and one passing), and he came within a last-second goal-line stand of winning the game in Seattle. Defensively, New England will need to shore up their coverage after allowing five passing touchdowns to Russell Wilson.
Next week: vs. Las Vegas (1-1)
5. Los Angeles Rams (2-0, Last week: 8)
Can the Rams win a game if Aaron Donald has just one tackle and no sacks? As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what they did in Philadelphia Sunday. Jared Goff is playing masterful football, but let’s not overlook how important it is to have a dominant running game assisting him once again.
Next week: at Buffalo (2-0)
4. Green Bay Packers (2-0, Last week: 5)
If an Aaron Rodgers-led team can roll up over 250 yards rushing, look out. Aaron Jones led the Packers in carries, rushing yards, targets, receptions, receiving yards, and total touchdowns. The Aarons’ defensive cohorts sacked Matt Stafford four times for good measure.
Next week: at New Orleans (1-1)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0, Last week: 1)
The champs have been unseated! Despite another win, Kansas City is bumping down the list of power rankings, and it’s because they struggled mightily with an inferior team starting a rookie quarterback. Were it not for Harrison Butker‘s monster leg, we might have believed that the Chiefs were mortal after all.
Next week: at Baltimore (2-0)
2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0), Last week: 4)
Can we petition the NFL to force Seattle and New England to play each other every season? What a game! D.K. Metcalf was one of five Seahawk receivers to catch a touchdown against the Patriots’ vaunted secondary, and the defense stopped Newton when it mattered most.
Next week: vs. Dallas (1-1)
1. Baltimore Ravens (2-0, Last week: 2)
The Ravens are rolling. Offensively, they ran for 230 yards. Defensively, they recorded four sacks. Hosting the defending Super Bowl champions is the obvious litmus test.
Next week: vs. Kansas City (2-0)