The hardest single Power Rankings to write is week 2.
You finally have data points! Evidence that team A is better than team B — they just beat them on their own field!
There’s a balancing act between sticking to your preseason predictions, and being stubborn and ignoring the reality of what’s going on. Thus, week 2′s rankings are always the hardest to sort out — especially when you’re trying to rank them by odds they do something meaningful in the postseason. Does the soft NFC South mean the Panthers are more likely to go far than the Seahawks, who have to battle the 49ers? What about inter-conference matchups like the Bengals and Bears? Until the divisions sort themselves out, and the true 2013 pecking order begins revealing itself, the rankings will be somewhat in flux. You don’t want to overreact to a couple week one matches and throw out everything you thought you knew.
That being said, plenty did happen in to shake things up in week one. In the NFC, the most notable shake-up is the rise of the Philadelphia Eagles. We weren’t quite sure what to expect out of Chip Kelly’s offense, but they went into Washington and put on a show-and-a-half. It was a stunning performance; enough for me to slide them into the favorite position in the NFC East, bump the Redskins down to the wildcard slot, and send the Buccaneers, who sputtered against the Jets, packing.
In the AFC, I find myself worrying significantly about the Baltimore Ravens. Watching Anquan Boldin tear up Green Bay, and coming back to look at what the Ravens remaining receivers did against Denver, and their outlook has to spiral downwards somewhat. Add in Jacoby Jones missing 4-6 weeks, and things look grim in the short-term for the Ravens. I’ve bumped them out of the AFC North catbird seat in favor of the Bengals, who played the Bears close on the road. When your entire division goes 0-1, you have to look for those silver linings.
The Bengals (and Steelers, who dropped out due to the disastrous injuries to their offensive line and running game) had to be replaced in the wildcard slot, and there just doesn’t seem to be any good picks in the AFC. Every week, I go and predict every game and run the tiebreakers, and both the last slots were tied with a bunch of teams at 8-8 — the Chiefs, Titans, Bengals, Steelers, and Dolphins all ended up there. When you chunk through all the various tiebreaking procedures, you get the Dolphins and Titans taking the last two wildcard slots, but it’s entirely up for grabs for anyone to take at this point.
Here are the power rankings for week 2, followed by my updated playoff projections.
|New England Patriots||(1)||(1)||(1-0) I think we can give Brady and company a mulligan, but if they keep struggling like they did in week one, they'll find their stay atop this list is short lived.|
|Green Bay Packers||(2)||(2)||(0-1) Still my NFC Champions -- a road loss to a good team like San Francisco doesn't change that.|
|Denver Broncos||(3)||(3)||(1-0) Seven touchdown passes? Jiminy Christmas, Peyton, save some for the rest of the season!|
|Carolina Panthers||(4)||(7)||(0-1) The table is order of "odds they make the playoffs/win the Super bowl", and until Seattle/San Francisco shakes itself out, my pick for NFC South champs stands above them. So, for one week, tops.|
|Seattle Seahawks||(5)||(10)||(1-0) Why the heck did I have the Seahawks so low last week? It'll take two weeks just for me to sort out my CAR/SEA/SF mess. Way to go, past me.|
|Cincinnati Bengals||(6)||(9)||(0-1) They rise, not because of their performance in week 1 (good lord, no), but because everyone else in the AFC North looked bad enough for me to bump them up to division-winning status.|
|San Francisco 49ers||(7)||(6)||(1-0) They'll need their run game to do something more if they're going to win in Seattle on Sunday Night.|
|Houston Texans||(8)||(8)||(1-0) Schaub did a good job of shouldering the load for an injured Foster, but they'll need BOTH of them operating on full steam if they're going to go far this season.|
|Baltimore Ravens||(9)||(4)||(0-1) Gut instinct tells me to move them down further, but I'll give them a week or two to try to sort out their receiving corps before writing them off entirely.|
|Washington Redskins||(10)||(5)||(0-1) RGIII is clearly not quite right yet.|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(11)||(11)||(0-1) Week one mulligan. Get those penalty issues fixed, and we'll speak no more of this.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||(12)||(17)||(1-0) A revelation on Monday Night. It's only one week, so I can't rocket them up to the top-10 quite yet -- but if they steamroll San Diego, I may have no choice.|
|New Orleans Saints||(13)||(14)||(1-0) Hey, a somewhat functional defense! That's a refreshing difference.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||(14)||(12)||(0-1) That...that was ugly. And with Pouncey out, and the running game decimated, they might enter freefall soon.|
|Chicago Bears||(15)||(13)||(1-0) Not actually dropping them; they've just got trapped in the wash of teams moving up and down.|
|Atlanta Falcons||(16)||(15)||(0-1) A replay of the end of the NFC Championship Game was not how the Falcons wanted to start their season.|
|New York Jets||(18)||(17)||(1-0) Congrats on the win -- you don't move up, because I already had you super high, but it's a good start.|
|Cleveland Browns||(18)||(19)||(0-1) In the AFC North, you can't put anyone down too low just yet; they're all tied for first place!|
|Detroit Lions||(19)||(20)||(1-0) Ignore the highlight reel -- the Lions did a good job of bottling up Adrian Peterson this week.|
|New York Giants||(20)||(21)||(0-1) We'll call this a week-one mulligan, as well -- I doubt they'll turn the ball over six times each week.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||(21)||(26)||(1-0) It WAS just the Jaguars, but no one looked better than the Chiefs on Sunday.|
|San Diego Chargers||(22)||(18)||(0-1) Maybe Norv Turner wasn't the problem, after all.|
|Miami Dolphins||(23)||(28)||(1-0) Mike Wallace is already complaining about not getting the ball enough. It's week one, you just won, maybe hold off on that talk.|
|Arizona Cardinals||(24)||(22)||(0-1) Larry Fitzgerald should be sending all the gift baskets in the world to Carson Palmer.|
|Indianapolis Colts||(25)||(24)||(1-0) A playoff team really shouldn't sweat it that much against a team like the Raiders.|
|Dallas Cowboys||(26)||(23)||(1-0) Since these rankings are in order of playoff probability, the Cowboys get dinged until I see that Tony Romo's OK.|
|Tennessee Titans||(27)||(32)||(1-0) Are they better than this, or did they catch the Steelers as their running game fell apart? Too soon to tell, I'm afraid.|
|Oakland Raiders||(28)||(25)||(0-1) Hey, being entertainingly bad is an upgrade to what they've been in recent history.|
|Buffalo Bills||(29)||(31)||(0-1) Gotta give them credit for hanging in with the Patriots for so long.|
|Minnesota Vikings||(30)||(29)||(0-1) This is what I was afraid of -- bottle up AP, and they don't have much else to go to.|
|St. Louis Rams||(31)||(30)||(0-1) Unless I'm way off on how good the Cardinals are, a team touted as a big sleeper shouldn't have that much trouble at home.|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||(32)||(27)||(0-1) Let the 0-16 watch begin! Home games v. San Diego, Arizona, Buffalo, and Tennessee seem winnable, but would you favor the Jaguars in any of them?|
1. Green Bay
2. Seattle (up from #5)
3. Philadelphia (new to the list)
5. San Francisco (down from #3)
6. Washington (down from #2)
Dropped out: Tampa Bay
1. New England
3. Houston (up from #4)
4. Cincinnati (up from #6)
5. Miami (new to the list)
6. Tennessee (new to the list)
Dropped out: Baltimore, Pittsburgh
Playoffs: Still too early to do anything but go with straight seeds, followed by New England. Green Bay in the Super Bowl.