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NFL Week 2 Power Rankings: Saints, Steelers soar after surprising openers, Packers take a major plunge

Original source (on modern site)

Pete Prisco also has the Bills and Vikings free-falling as five of his original top 10 lose

Sep 14, 2021 at 3:06 pm ET 2 min read

Mike Meredith / CBS Sports

The uncertainty of the NFL shows up every season, but to see five of the top 10 teams in my first Power Rankings go down in Week 1 is really disconcerting. Among those five teams were two in my top five.

The No. 2 team entering the weekend was the Buffalo Bills, my pick to win the Super Bowl. They are now 0-1 after a lackluster home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The No. 4 team was the Green Bay Packers, who looked even worse losing to the New Orleans Saints, as the offense looked pedestrian with Aaron Rodgers under center. 

Yes, it's just one week and we tend to overreact to the first week, but the openers for those two teams certainly aren't what most expected.

The flip side is there were some impressive Week 1 showings, with the Saints being the best of the group. I was also impressed with Arizona's blowout victory of a good Tennessee Titans team on the road and Seattle's road domination of the Indianapolis Colts.

That made for a lot of movement in this week's rankings, with the Cardinals now in the sixth spot and the Saints right behind at No.7. Seattle, who perhaps I underrated to start the season, makes a big jump from the 18th spot to No. 9.

There was a shakeup at the bottom as well. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who looked downright awful in their loss to the Houston Texans, are now at the bottom. The Jaguars looked lifeless, mistake-filled and Urban Meyer's NFL debut was far worse than what we saw from him on the college level.

It's only one game for all these teams, so try not to overanalyze it. Even so, the concerns for a lot of teams were obvious the first games out. Buffalo and Green Bay can fix their problems, so don't worry so much about them, but the teams at the bottom might stay there all season.

Last year, the Jaguars upset the Colts at home in their first game, but it proved to be their only victory of the season. Does that mean 16-1 is coming this season? No chance, but they probably aren't as bad as they looked in losing to the Texans and the teams that won in Week 1 probably aren't as good as they looked either.

 So don't overreact. I won't — even if my first top 10 was blown up after just one game for each team.

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1 Buccaneers The offense is going to be special this season, but the defense had some rough moments against the Cowboys. They have to be better than that if the Super Bowl repeat is to happen. -- 2-0-0 2 Chiefs Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs against the Browns, but the defense has to be better. They got pushed around at times. 1 1-1-0 3 49ers They jumped all over the Lions, but had to hold on to win for dear life. The defense has to be better than what it showed against Detroit. 3 2-0-0 4 Rams Matt Stafford showed in the opener that he will liven up the passing game for this Rams team with the deep shots. The defense was its usual stout self against the Bears. 4 2-0-0 5 Cardinals If Kyler Murray plays like he did against the Titans this season, the Cardinals will be a Super Bowl contender. The defense also impressed. 4 2-0-0 6 Saints They had the most impressive victory of the weekend in blowing out the Packers. The defense was truly impressive in limiting Aaron Rodgers. 13 1-1-0 7 Steelers Going on the road and beating the Bills was a heck of a day for the Steelers. The defense and special teams won that game, so the offense has to be better going forward. 14 1-1-0 8 Seahawks That was a nice showing on the road to open the season. 10 1-1-0 9 Bills They can quiet the Super Bowl talk for a week after losing to the Steelers at home. 7 1-1-0 10 Packers That was a terrible showing against the Saints. Aaron Rodgers looked like a shell of himself, which is not a good thing for a team so reliant on him. 6 0-1-0 11 Ravens Losing on the road on a Monday night isn't a disgrace, but now they get the Chiefs on a short week. The injuries are starting to become an issue. 4 1-1-0 12 Browns They have to learn how to win the big games. That's the difference between the Browns and the Chiefs. 7 1-1-0 13 Broncos The defense is going to carry this team early in the season, which we saw against the Giants. Now they get to face rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence for a chance to go 2-0. 4 2-0-0 14 Dolphins It wasn't a thing of beauty beating New England, but that shouldn't' matter. They found a way to get a good road victory, which is a good sign going forward. 1 1-1-0 15 Chargers Winning on the road on the East Coast to open the season is a good look. The defense looked much improved from a year ago. 5 1-1-0 16 Raiders It wasn't always pretty, but they found a way to win a tough one Monday night against the Ravens. The offense is going to be fun to watch, but it was the defense that made big plays late to really win it. 9 2-0-0 17 Football Team They lost Ryan Fitzpatrick in the opening loss to the Chargers, and he will be out for three weeks at least. That means it's Taylor Heinecke time against the Giants Thursday night. 4 1-1-0 18 Cowboys The offense will be fun to watch as we saw in Tampa. But this season will be decided by the defense, which wasn't good against Tom Brady. 4 1-1-0 19 Titans What was that against the Cardinals? They were embarrassed at home. They were bad on both sides of the ball. 9 1-1-0 20 Patriots Mac Jones did some good things against Miami, but just not enough to win his first game. He now heads to the road to face the Jets in a winnable game. 9 1-1-0 21 Colts The defense didn't play well against Seattle, which has to be concerning as they ready to play a good Rams team this week. They can't go 0-2 at home to open the season. 9 0-2-0 22 Eagles The Jalen Hurts era is off to a great start. He was impressive in beating the Falcons. If that continues, this team will be a playoff threat. 4 1-1-0 23 Panthers They did some good things in beating the Jets, but they have to be better than that going forward. It sure has to be good to have Christian McCaffrey back running the football. 5 2-0-0 24 Bears The offense isn't good enough with Andy Dalton, who didn't throw it down the field at all. It has to be Justin Fields time soon. 1 1-1-0 25 Bengals That was a big overtime victory over the Vikings for this young group. The fears about Joe Burrow are now alleviated after he played well in his first real game back from a torn ACL. 4 1-1-0 26 Vikings Losing on the road in an opener isn't a disaster, but the defense let them down. They have to be better on the back end. The good news is that nobody else in the division won either. 10 0-2-0 27 Giants The heat is already on this front office and coaching staff. The first game was a not a good look for Joe Judge and company and now they play on a short week to turn it around. 3 0-2-0 28 Texans Give coach David Culley credit. Through all the offseason adversity, he got his team to play hard and they blew out the Jaguars. They are in first place. Can you believe it? 4 1-1-0 29 Falcons The defense had issues against the Eagles, which we expected. But the offense needs to get it cranked up as well. This could be a long season for first-year coach Arthur Smith. 7 0-2-0 30 Lions They made it interesting against the 49ers, but they are still an undermanned team. The fact they fought back is a good sign for first-year coach Dan Campbell. -- 0-1-0 31 Jets It took them a while to get Zach Wilson going, but he did some good things late. The good news is they hung around and made it interesting late, which is progress. -- 0-2-0 32 Jaguars That was a terrible showing at Houston. The defense is terrible and the offense didn't come close to doing enough. Urban Meyer has a lot of work to do. 5 0-2-0

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