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AFC Power Rankings: Jaguars Take Top Spot From Pats … For Now

Presenting the first AFC power rankings from Tiebreaker.com

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0)

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It’s impossible to underestimate how important Sunday’s win over the Patriots was. It brought a sense of redemption for last season’s crushing loss in the AFC Championship game. But it also should provide an infusion of confidence as things move forward. This team Tom Coughlin oversees and Doug Morrone coaches seems to have it all – if you believe in Blake Bortles.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

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Many quarterbacks are off to great starts, but none quite like what Pat Mahomes has accomplished. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns, six last week against the Steelers. And he has thrown them to seven different receivers, four to Tyreek Hill, and hasn’t been intercepted. Mahomes’s 10 TDs are the most ever by a single player through the first two games of a regular season. You’ve got to love the Chiefs.

3. New England Patriots (1-1)

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Perhaps the Patriots don’t deserve such a high ranking after the first two weeks, especially after the way the Jags handled them. But until proven wrong by more compelling evidence, the Pats are still the team to beat in the AFC East, still have Tom Brady and still have a Dr. Frankenstein (Bill Belichick) capable of turning mere mortals into monster talents. Welcome to New England, Josh Gordon.

4. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

Look, we all know Western Connecticut is probably capable of thrashing the Bills at this point of the season. But the Chargers appear to be ready to compete for the postseason, particularly if Philip Rivers continues to play as efficiently as he did against Buffalo (23-of-27, 256 yards). Rivers has completed 73.1 percent of his throws thus far.

5. Miami Dolphins (2-0)

The Dolphins also benefit from our generosity. We like the way they defused the highly-charged Jets on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill has completed over 73 percent of his throws, as well, but he’s no Brady. Joe Flacco or, perhaps, Mahomes. And his weapons are nowhere to seen on the NFL’s leaderboards. Call it giving the team the temporary benefit of the doubt.

6. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

If you watched the Ravens loss to the Bengals last Thursday, you probably remember how shabbily the offensive line protected Flacco. He was sacked and the Ravens paid for it. In fact, since the start of last season, the Ravens are 8-3 when Flacco is flattened less than twice in a game. So why are they rated so high this week? Because Flacco is still a better quarterback than Andy Dalton and Case Keenum.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: The Bengals have not won a playoff game in Marvin Lewis’ 15 years as their coach. Do you believe in miracles? No. Make that a double no now that RB Joe Mixon, currently second in the NFL in rushing, will miss a few weeks with an injured knee. But we like the ferocity of the Bengals defense. It has an edge to it.  Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is among the league leaders in tackles

8. Denver Broncos (2-0)

If Brandon McManus had missed that field goal with six seconds left that beat the Raiders 20-19, perhaps the outlook for this team would be much worse. Give Keenum credit for keeping the offense on point in the second half, which put Denver in position to win. Von Miller is still a beast, already the NFL’s sack leader with four

9. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

There is no player we’d like to succeed more this season than Andrew Luck. When one the league’s great players needs to miss a year because of injury, it’s certainly unfortunate. But for the Colts to win again it’s going to take more than Luck’s renaissance as a lethal passer. It’s going to take defense, something the team hasn’t played for some time. They showed it beating Washington last week. Let’s see it against the Philadelphia Eagles.

10. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

It was nice that the Titans beat the Texas last week with Blaine Gabbert playing quarterback. But Gabbert threw for only 117 yards. For this team to be successful, its going to take a large dose of Marcus Mariota and the bad news is that his elbow injury, which causes numbness in his fingers, is not close to being better. Uh, oh. They play the Jags next.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1)

The Steelers may be the most dysfunctional team in the NFL right now and it has nothing to do with their passing game. They punched holes in the Chiefs defense last week behind a smoking-hot Big Ben who threw for 452 and three touchdowns. But without holdout LeVeon Bell they had only 25 yards rushing. Antonio Brown is in trouble for missing a meeting and their defense stinks.

12. Houston Texans (0-2)

This team seemingly has so much talent with J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, but something always seems to go wrong.  Like on Sunday, for example. Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (accent Clown) was inactive and hanging out on the sidelines when he decided to get into the face of Titans tight end Luke Stoker, who bumped into Clowney after a first-down catch. Clowney confronted Stoker and drew a 15-yard personal foul. That’s Texans football.

13. New York Jets (1-1)

The biggest fear of Jets’ fans came true on Sunday. Blasting the Detroit Lions in the Monday Night opener was, in fact, an aberration. The Lions are terrible and the Jets’ win only proved they are one or two steps above. The loss to the Dolphins notwithstanding, we still love Sam Darnold. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will be the next Jets’ Super Bowl championship.

14. Oakland Raiders (0-2)

Did you see Jon Gruden’s face get all mashed-up after the Broncos beat the Raiders with a field goal with six seconds to play? Not much has changed with the guy since last we saw him wearing a headset. Oakland’s defense has been unable to put any pressure on quarterbacks (two sacks). And this makes Gruden unhappy since Derek Carr has completed 80.6 percent of his throws.

15. Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)

With any luck, of which the Browns have had none of since the start of the 2016 season (1-32-1), they could be 2-0 by now. They could have beat the Steelers. They should have beat the Saints. They have been much more competitive this season – Tyrod Taylor has thrown for more yards than Dak Prescott. But for now, it’s guilt by association.

16. Buffalo Bills (0-2)

Holy cow, what has happened to the Bills? They have been outscored 78-23. Things are so bad that veteran cornerback Vontae Davis actually retired at halftime of their 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Maybe first-round pick Josh Allen may help someday at quarterback.  But he’s not much better than the unexceptional Nathan Peterman right now.

 

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