Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
We begin in the AFC by wondering how the New England Patriots could beat the Miami Dolphins by only 43 points.
1). New England Patriots
The defending Super Bowl champions have won their first two games by a combined score of 76-3, albeit against the underperforming Steelers and pitiful Dolphins. But that shouldn’t matter. The offense hasn’t really hit its stride yet, so it doesn’t really matter how long the NFL will allow Antonio Brown to play. The Pats are on their way again.
2). Kansas City Chiefs
Pat Mahomes may have played the greatest quarter in the 100-year history of the league on Sunday. He threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns in the second quarter against the Raiders. And if you do the math, that’s like 1,100 yards passing for the game. If didn’t matter that the Chiefs didn’t score in the other quarters. It was just fun to watch.
3). Baltimore Ravens
After two weeks we can conclude that Lamar Jackson is not all-run-no-pass. The quarterback has had an impressive start with both his arm and legs. He gained 120 yards rushing on Sunday and threw some beautiful strikes, catching his receivers in stride. The Ravens are looking like AFC North champions.
4). Houston Texans
Despite what we’re learning about the dysfunctional Jaguars, Houston’s win on Sunday was a step in the right direction after the disappointment of their opening-week loss in New Orleans. Deshaun Watson was relatively quiet; he let running back Carlos Hyde do much of the work. But the Texans defense is certainly effective
5). Indianapolis Colts
Look, Jacoby Brissett is not Andrew Luck, never was, never will be. But if you stand him side-by-side with all of the QBs in the AFC, you’ll discover that he can more than hold his own. The Colts are going to be OK, unless Adam Vinatieri’s strange descent into mediocrity continues. He’s been a kick in the pants.
6). Buffalo Bills
It took the Bills only two weeks to win the New York state championship with consecutive road wins over the Giants and Jets. It’s clear they are the only one in the AFC East with any chance of beating the Patriots. And even though Josh Allen is improving, it continues to be their defense which will lead the way.
7). Cleveland Browns
If it’s not the $190,000 watch, it’s the tinted visor. There is always something going on with Odell Beckham’s wardrobe that the NFL seems to have trouble with. Of course, the Browns could care less. His return to MetLife Stadium on Monday night was nothing short of fabulous with a one-hand catch and electrifying catch-and-run for a TD. The Browns are back!
9). Los Angeles Chargers
If you are a Chargers fan, you had to be ripping the hair out of your head on Sunday watching them blow so many opportunities to win a winnable game in Detroit. They had two TDs called back. They missed two extra points. Philip Rivers threw an awful interception to end a later fourth-quarter drive. Just terrible.
10). Tennessee Titans
The problem with the Titans has always been their inconsistency. You can’t count on them to stack great games. In their loss to Indianapolis, Marcus Mariota threw for only 154 yards. His QB rating dipped under 100. He always seems to struggle with his traction. And as long as that goes on, his team will suffer the consequences.
11). Cincinnati Bengals
After giving the Seahawks such a good game in the season opener, we had Zac Taylor penciled in as the best rookie coach in the NFL. In just one week he looked like he’d sapped all the Marvin Lewis from this team and finally gotten them back on track. And then came the 49ers. The Bengals allowed 572 yards on defense, 259 on the ground. Yikes.
12). Denver Broncos
Never mind all of the ridiculous officiating during their game Sunday against the Bears. That’s no excuse. Denver’s defense still has no sacks and their attack wasn’t good enough to score one more point than the Bears, who have one of the most pedestrian offenses in the league. Sure, Joe Flacco is the answer. Right.
13). Pittsburgh Steelers
We don’t quite know what to say about the Steelers. This is a franchise that just doesn’t lose their first two games. But worse yet, now they’ve lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season and will replace him with Mason Rudolph, who is not to be confused with Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield. It’s possible they can turn things around and acquiring cornerback Minkah Fitzpatick from the Dolphins will help.
14). Jacksonville Jaguars
We credit coach Doug Marrone for having the guts to go for two at the end of Sunday’s game. If Leonard Fournette had been able to push himself in, the entire mood of the organization would be different today. But he didn’t and the one memory we take away from the afternoon was the site of cornerback Jalen Ramsey threatening to punch Marrone. We can’t believe this is a Tom Coughlin team.
15). New York Jets
We can’t decide what’s more hideous, the Jets new black uniforms or their quarterback situation. It’s Week 3, they are 0-2 and now are left with a third-string quarterback, Luke Falk. It’s already close to midnight for this sad sack organization. Their flight has been canceled.
16). Miami Dolphins
We may be watching the worst team in the 100-year history of the league. They have been outscored 102-10 in the first two weeks and both games were at home. What’s worse? They open the road season this week in Dallas, which is playing great. Take the Cowboys and the points.