The first week of the 2011 NFL season has officially come and gone–leaving football fans with plenty to talk about after 16 exciting games. Here’s a look at the 2011 NFL Power Rankings for Week 2.
1. Green Bay Packers: They got off to a great start and never looked back as the defending Super Bowl champions held on to a late rally by the Saints to pickup right where they left off last season. Aaron Rodgers looked like a true MVP and rookie Randall Cobb could not have asked for a better debut after his first career catch went for a touchdown and he tied an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. This team looks dangerous.
2. New England Patriots: Everybody knew Tom Brady was good–but nobody could have predicted his 517-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night and they seem to be primed for another strong run at the Super Bowl. This team is loaded with weapons on offense, but any defense that allows Chad Henne to throw for over 416 yards clearly has areas in need of improvement.
3. Baltimore Ravens: Talk about a statement game. The Steelers were always considered the bullies of the AFC North to the Ravens and even though it’s just one game–this was a huge win for John Harbaugh and company. Joe Flacco finally got the chip off his shoulder of beating Ben Roethlisberger and considering how much of a smack down they laid on Pittsburgh–Baltimore seems determined to make sure they finish on top of the division this year.
4. Chicago Bears: It’s hard not to think the Bears had some sort of chip on their shoulder during Sunday’s game considering nobody seemed to believe in them during the offseason–despite reaching the NFC Championship last year. This was not only a huge game for Chicago, but for Jay Cutler after all of the heat he took in the NFC Championship. Cutler looked sharp by throwing for 312 yards with two touchdowns and how far the Bears go this season relies heavily on how well he performs on a weekly basis.
5. Philadelphia Eagles: The so-called “Dream Team” still has plenty of areas in need of improvement if they want any chance of finishing on top of the NFC–especially when it comes to the offensive line. Michael Vick may have finished with 98 rushing yards, but most of his runs weren’t by choice and that style of play won’t be as effective on a weekly basis.
6. New York Jets: This team flat-out dominated Tony Romo in the fourth quarter managed to overcome a 14-point deficit to pull out the impressive win. Call them lucky, but a win is a win–no matter how a team earns it. There’s a reason why the Jets are considered one of the top teams in the AFC, but the Jets will need to figure out a better way to get their ground game going if they want any chance with contending this season.
7. New Orleans Saints: If they were playing any other team in Week 1, there’s a good chance the Saints would be heading into Week 2 1-0. They got off to a slow start and their late rally fell just short, but this team showed they can compete with the defending Super Bowl champions–which means they can compete with just about any team. Losing Marques Colston for a month hurts, but Drew Brees shows similar qualities to Tom Brady–meaning he can make other players around him better so they should be just fine.
8. Houston Texans: It was obvious the Colts faced a tough matchup against the Texans with Peyton Manning on the sideline–but a 34-7 win without starting running back Arian Foster? Houston absolutely embarrassed Indianapolis and if there was ever a perfect opportunity for the Texans to finally rise up and take over the AFC South–this would be the season. With all of the uncertainties surrounding the other three teams in the division, Houston seems talented enough on both offense and defense to make their first playoff appearance as long as everyone can stay healthy.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: Where to begin? It seemed like the Steelers were still recovering from that heartbreaking Super Bowl loss to the Packers and it was a bit odd to see them struggle so bad considering how close these rivalry games against the Ravens usually are. Not only did they surrender seven turnovers, but it seems like age is starting to become an issue with this defense.
10. San Diego Chargers: It was sloppy–but the Chargers managed to come from behind in the second half and pull off a win against the Vikings thanks to big games from Philip Rivers and Mike Tolbert. Unfortunately, that type of play will result in a loss most of the time so if San Diego wants any chance at re-gaining the AFC West after missing out last season–they have plenty of areas in need of improvement.
11. Atlanta Falcons: After numerous key offseason additions, the Falcons were supposed to be one of the strong contenders in the NFC once again this season after finishing 13-3 in 2010. The team on the field during Sunday’s game against the Bears looked like anything but a strong contender and the type of performance displayed by Atlanta was nothing short of embarrassing. And to make things even better–they face another tough task in Week 2 with the Eagles coming to town.
12. Detroit Lions: Not too long ago, the Lions were considered the team that could never win on the road. Now, they appear to have enough weapons on both sides of the ball to finally make a run at the playoffs and Sunday’s road win over the Buccaneers was a huge step in the right direction for this young team. If Matthew Stafford can play like he did against Tampa Bay on a consistent basis (on top of staying healthy), Detroit could make some serious noise in the NFC–but playing in a tough division may hurt their cause.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They put up a good fight but in the end–the Lions were just too much for the young Buccaneers to handle on opening weekend. After all of the hype carried over from his rookie season, Tampa Bay needs to realize that LeGarrette Blount should be used more and receive more than just five carries in a game. There are high expectations for the Buccaneers this season and losing at home the first game of the season hurts–but there’s no reason to be concerned yet.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars: Let’s not get carried away–the Jaguars win over the Titans wasn’t anything to brag about. This team still has plenty of questions left to be answered–especially at quarterback–but the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew looked impressive was a good sign for Jacksonville considering all of the concerns this offseason surrounding his knee.
15. Dallas Cowboys: The game was in their hands heading into the fourth quarter and while football is a team sport–it’s difficult not to put most of the blame on Tony Romo for the team’s loss to the Jets. In one quarter, the not-so-elite quarterback managed to fumble while trying to run in a touchdown, throw a key interception, and was caught off guard on the team’s final drive during a crucial play in which he wasn’t ready for the snap and was forced to just throw it away. There’s no reason why Dallas should have lost this game and now Romo faces even more pressure for the rest of the season.
16. New York Giants: No team has suffered more from the injury bug than the Giants and it showed Sunday against the Redskins. Give Washington credit as they applied plenty of pressure to Eli Manning the entire game, but New York put up a strong fight until the second half. Division games will be key for teams in the NFC East and with the Eagles starting 1-0–Monday night’s game against the Rams becomes crucial for the G-Men.
17. Oakland Raiders: Let’s give the Raiders some credit–Hue Jackson and company looked pretty impressive on defense during Monday night’s win over the Broncos. On top of that, Darren McFadden showed why he’s a valuable part of this offense after leading all rushers in Week 1 with 150 yards. Oakland went 6-0 within the division last year and breaking their losing streak on opening day was a great way to kickoff the 2011 season.
18. St. Louis Rams: To say the Rams were beat up by the Eagles would be the understatement of the year considering how many injuries they suffered on offense. It’s a shame they lost Steven Jackson as early as they did because otherwise–this game would have been completely different considering Philadelphia doesn’t have the best group of linebackers. While Jackson will most likely miss Monday’s game against the Giants, at least Sam Bradford should be healthy enough to suit up and play.
19. Washington Redskins: Maybe Rex Grossman was right all along–maybe these Redskins have what it takes to put up a fight for the NFC East title. It may have been just one game, but it’s hard to ignore how dangerous Washington’s defense looked against New York. Add that to the mix of Grossman actually completing his passes–these Redskins may turn out to be better than most of us assumed they would be.
20. Miami Dolphins: Give Chad Henne and the Dolphins credit as they put up quite a fight against the Patriots in the national spotlight. Still though, for a passing defense that ranked in the top 10 last season–allowing Tom Brady to throw for 517 yards was not the best way to start off the 2011 season. On a positive note, at least Henne managed to shake off the offseason criticism and throw for 416 yards to go along with three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing).
21. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts were supposed to struggle with Peyton Manning on the sidelines–but that performance against the Texans was flat-out awful. Not only did the offense struggle, but both the defense and special teams looked just as terrible. Indianapolis fans knew they were in for a rude awakening, but if Sunday’s loss was any indication of what’s to come–they could be in for a very long season.
22. Buffalo Bills: Maybe they caught the Chiefs on the wrong day. Maybe they are finally ready to compete and make a run at the playoffs. Whatever it is, the Bills looked mighty impressive on Sunday and while everybody knew they were a possible upset–nobody could have predicted them to crush the Chiefs like they did. There’s a ton of pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick–who threw four touchdowns against Kansas City–after Buffalo passed on a quarterback in April’s draft and he couldn’t have asked for a better start to the regular season.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Despite their win over the Panthers, the Cardinals showed on Sunday they are still far from being contenders. On top of a struggling defense, Kevin Kolb looked a bit rusty in his debut. Without a few lucky breaks, it’s safe to say Arizona should have lost against Carolina–but thank goodness for long touchdowns by Early Doucet and Patrick Peterson in the fourth quarter.
24. San Francisco 49ers: The offense still has plenty of work–but at least Ted Ginn Jr. was able to come through on special teams with two returns for touchdowns in less than a minute towards the end of the game. Luckily for them, the 49ers play in a very weak division with the NFC West, but if they have any chance of being contenders this season, the offense needs to step it up–especially Alex Smith and Frank Gore.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Other than an impressive kickoff return by Percy Harvin to start off the game and an easy touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins following a Chargers turnover–the Vikings’ offense looked absolutely terrible in Week 1. All of that hype about finally landing Donovan McNabb and all he does is complete 7 of 15 passes for 39 yards. With those types of numbers, Minnesota would have been better off sending the planes out to bring Brett Favre on board during the third week of training camp for the third-straight season.
26. Carolina Panthers: Not many teams can say there was a ton of positive factors to take away from a loss–but the Panthers can. Carolina couldn’t have asked for a better debut from Cam Newton after he threw for 422 yards and managed to record three total touchdowns. Even if it was against a weak Cardinals’ defense–Newton’s performance was something to be impressed about.
27. Tennessee Titans: Other than two touchdowns by Kenny Britt, the Titans’ offense failed to get anything consistent going against the Jaguars. There were plenty of questions surrounding how effective Chris Johnson would be after holding out a majority of the preseason–but to finish with 24 rushing yards on nine carries is unacceptable.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: It’s safe to say after Sunday’s loss to the Bills at home–the Chiefs have hit rock bottom. And if putting up just seven points against a team that finished 4-12 last season wasn’t bad enough, losing safety Eric Berry for the season doesn’t help their case either. Jamaal Charles was supposed to have a field day against a weak Bills’ rushing defense, but clearly–that never happened.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals seem determined to prove the world wrong this season after losing Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and Johnathan Joseph. It may have been just one week, but Sunday’s win over the Browns was a huge confidence boost for this young Bengals’ squad as they will most likely experience plenty of growing pains throughout the 2011 season. However, if Cincinnati wants any chance of competing–they need to figure out a way to get A.J. Green more involved in the passing game.
30. Seattle Seahawks: It took the Seahawks until the third quarter before they finally put their first points on the board and the fact their special teams allowed Ted Ginn Jr. to return not one, but two touchdowns in less than a minute at the end of the game is nothing but embarrassing. There were questions surrounding Tarvaris Jackson throughout the preseason and despite throwing two touchdowns against the 49ers–he certainly didn’t make a strong case for himself opening weekend.
31. Denver Broncos: Expect the talks of a quarterback controversy to stir up yet again after Kyle Orton’s performance against the Raiders on Monday Night Football. Too many turnovers ended up being costly for this team and the fact that fans at the game were chanting Tim Tebow’s name towards the end of the game means there’s even more pressure on Orton than before.
32. Cleveland Browns: With all of the hype surrounding Colt McCoy during the preseason–this was not how things were supposed to play out for the Browns. This division rivalry has always proven to be a tough matchup, but this was a game many expected Cleveland to cruise through. One play by A.J. Green changed the entire outcome of the game and considering how tough the AFC North is with the Ravens and Steelers–this was a game the Browns needed to win.
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