10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
Last Week: n/a
After overcoming a fourth quarter deficit in Indianapolis week one, the Bengals had to turnaround and play a division rival on a short week. They dominated the previously unbeaten Baltimore Ravens in a game where the score didn’t indicate the performance. The 31-20 win for the Bengals gives Marvin Lewis’ group sole possession of the lead in the division that is looking very winnable with all the shenanigans going on in Western PA. While the Joe Mixon injury will be worth monitoring, if Andy Dalton continues to hold onto the football, Cincy may have another shot at that ever elusive playoff win.
Next Game: @ Carolina Panthers
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Last Week: n/a
Fitz-Magic. Need I say more? 35-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick and co. thoroughly dominated the defending Super Bowl champions in a game they led by 20 in the second half. However, Tampa was not the biggest winner on Sunday. When Fitzpatrick wore the undershirtless suit of wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the postgame press-conference, America earned that distinction. A big Monday Night meeting coming up with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the final game of Jameis Winston’s three game suspension. We’ll see how Dirk Koetter deals with the quarterback conundrum, but for now Fitz-Magic lives on.
Next Game: v. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Last Week: 12
Patrick Mahomes became the first quarterback to ever throw for ten touchdowns in the first two weeks of a regular season with his six touchdown performance on Sunday. The Chiefs are 2-0 and look like the most explosive offense in the AFC, by far. However, we’ve seen this out of Andy Reid before. You don’t have to look back very far either. Just last year, the Chiefs began 5-0 before finishing 10-6 and losing in the Wildcard round to what should’ve been an overmatched Tennessee team. The Chiefs playoff history combined with what should be season-long defensive struggles add up to an 8th place ranking in week three.
Next Game: v. San Francisco 49ers
7. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Last Week: 4
The Eagles struggled mightily on the road this weekend against the upstart Bucs. They lost only by six in a 27-21 game where the final score showed almost no indication of the gameplay. The Buccaneers were better in every facet including defense. It took a Mike Evans fumble to allow Philadelphia to get back into the game. 2017 NFL MVP candidate pre-injury, Carson Wentz, returns this week after watching his team win a Super Bowl last year following a torn-ACL in December. The Eagles should cruise past Indianapolis this week and climb these rankings.
Next Game: v. Indianapolis Colts
6. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Last Week: 7
Atlanta took care of business in what I’m sure felt like a must-win in Georgia’s capital. Following an 18-12 loss in Philly week one, a home loss against a division opponent would have put the Falcons squarely behind the eight-ball. They’d be 0-2, staring down the Saints barrel in the NFL’s toughest division, one that sent three teams to the postseason a year ago. Thankfully for those in the ATL, Matt Ryan and the offense got back on board this week and scored 31 against what many consider a good Carolina defense. It took a late stop, but Atlanta got the job done and must do the same against New Orleans at home this weekend.
Next Game: v. New Orleans Saints
5. Green Bay Packers (1-0-1)
Last Week: 6
Through two games in the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers “are who we thought they were!”, with a nod to the late Dennis Green. Week one: One-legged, heroic Aaron Rodgers leads the largest fourth quarter comeback in the history of the franchise behind a questionable offensive line with an average supporting cast and a defense that couldn’t stop anyone in the first half. Week two: The defense lets them down late at Lambeau and runs them into a tie with the third team on our list. Those two should be battling for NFC North supremacy all season, but the lack of plays on the defensive side have plagued the Packers over the last decade and will likely again this season. Aaron Rodgers is five, not the Green Bay Packers.
Next Game: @ Washington Redskins
4. New England Patriots (1-1)
Last Week: 1
The best part about this New England @ Jacksonville week two game is that broadcasters in late January will be discussing it as if it has anything to do with or any resemblance to the AFC title game those two respective franchises will be participating in. In week two it was a rematch of last season’s AFC title game, and a pre-match of this year’s AFC title game. The Patriots still have Tom Brady and a slightly better defense than the one they have in Green Bay. The acquisition of wide receiver Josh Gordon will be interesting to follow because off-the-field-issues or not, this man is a specimen and will be a go-to guy for Tom Brady while on the field.
Next Game: @ Detroit Lions
3. Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1)
Last Week: 2
While technically the Minnesota Vikings tied division rival Green Bay, it might as well have been a win. Overcoming a ten-point fourth quarter deficit and then tieing Rodgers and the Pack at Lambeau is a win in my book. Their defense however did appear to be leaking oil in the first half en route to giving up nearly 30 in the 29-29 nail-biter. Their matchup with the NFL’s resident FCS school will likely produce one of the most lopsided finishes of the 2018 season. Unbeaten through three games is never a bad start for a team looking to get one step further than the conference championship lost they suffered a year ago.
Next Game: v. Buffalo Bills
2. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
Last Week: 3
34-0. The first dominant, statement win of the ’18 season. However, I’m not sure if it was a statement of Arizona’s ineptitude or Los Angeles’ eliteness. The battle of Los Angeles this week should take a few steps towards indicating which one. The Rams are, on-paper, the best team in the NFC. They have an all-world running back with a good offensive line, an excellent offensive scheme with players who fit it, and a defense with 20-some odd pro-bowl appearances collectively. A few more wins in the fashion they’ve won the first two and they could begin to look like world beaters.
Next Game: v. Los Angeles Chargers
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0)
Last Week: 5
In layman terms, “You have to beat the best to be the best.” The Jaguars dealt a gut-check to the defending AFC champions when they made play after play on Sunday dealing Brady and Belichick a three possession deficit at one point. Blake Bortles looks to have improved upon his well-above average ’17 season and their defense looks like 1-A in the NFL. Their first divisional game this week as they host a Titans team coming off a win. Any given Sunday in the NFL, but the Jaguars are going to be tough to beat anywhere this season, especially at Everbank.
Next Game: v. Tennessee Titans ———
11. Miami Dolphins (2-0)
12. Carolina Panthers (1-1)
13. New Orleans Saints (1-1)
14. Denver Broncos (2-0)
15. Chicago Bears (1-1)