Introducing Check Down’s Weekly NFL Power Rankings! Instead of ranking each of the league’s 32 teams, Fronte and I will rank the NFL’s top eight squads. I mean, who cares who the 27th best team in the NFL is anyway? We want to talk about the teams in Super Bowl contention! Without further ado…
Record: 2-0; Point Differential: +15 (7th)
If being the defending Super Bowl champs is like holding the world’s heavyweight title belt in boxing, what have the Broncos done to lose the belt? As I wrote yesterday, the offense is doing just fine with Trevor Siemian at the helm and their defense continues to be the league’s most dominant unit. They’re still the best until proven otherwise.
Record: 2-0; Point Differential: +9 (10th)
Considering they have been without many of their key players thus far, New England has to be thrilled with their unbeaten start. Plus, the Patriots have arguably the most NFL’s most impressive win so far: A road victory at Arizona. They may slip in the coming weeks with Jacoby Brissett (who?) at quarterback, but they should be back to their dangerous ways once Brady, Gronk, and company all return in Week Five.
Record: 1-1; Point Differential: +18 (4th)
Like the Broncos in the AFC, Carolina still holds claim to the title of best team in the NFC, especially after they nearly put up fifty points on the 49ers. To think that they were a mere Graham Gano miss away from another undefeated start to their season.
Record: 1-1; Point Differential: +31 (2nd)
I suppose the panic after Arizona’s opening week loss to New England was a little premature. The Cardinals are still a force to reckoned with, especially since Larry Fitzgerald is playing like it’s 2009 again.
Record: 2-0; Point Differential: +30 (3rd)
With DeAngelo Williams leading the way, the Steelers certainly look one of the NFL’s more well-rounded teams. They’ll be even scarier once Le’Veon Bell returns after next week.
Record: 2-0; Point Differential: +12 (8th)
No Teddy Bridgewater, essentially no Adrian Peterson…no problem? Minnesota’s defense is making its case to be included among the NFL’s defensive elite. Big game on tap at Carolina in Week Three.
Record: 1-1; Point Differential: -7 (22nd)
Cincinnati’s eight-point loss to Pittsburgh is nothing to be ashamed of. The Bengals already own an impressive road victory over the Jets and they are still waiting for tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict to return. So far, so good for the defending AFC North champions–all things considered.
Record: 1-1; Point Differential: +1 (16th)
Sure, they let a Sam Bradford-led Vikings team get the better of them last week. Yet, in the overall scheme of things, that really wasn’t a bad loss for the Packers: They were in a hostile environment and up against a very good defense. They remain one of the NFL’s most formidable teams.
Week 3: at Philadelphia (2-0)
Despite sub-par performances from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the Steelers still found a way to emerge victorious against the Bengals on Sunday. Combining a prolific offense with an up-and-coming defense makes the Steelers the team to beat moving forward, especially with Le’Veon Bell returning from suspension in a week.
Week 3: at Cincinnati (1-1)
New year, same dominant defense. Thus far, the Broncos have held opposing offenses to just 173 yards per game and accumulated 8 sacks (both ranked 2nd in the NFL). As long as Trevor Siemian continues to play mistake free football, the Broncos’ defense will take them places.
Week 3: vs Houston (2-0)
Some people said they would only win two games without Tom Brady; now the Patriots have an opportunity to win all four. Once Brady and Gronk return, the Pats offense will be better than ever. The real question will be how their defense bounces back after allowing 389 yards and two touchdowns at the hands of Ryan Tannehill.
Week 3: at Buffalo (0-2)
The Cardinals bounced back from their Week 1 loss to a depleted Patriots team by crushing the Buccaneers 40-7. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have found the fountain of youth, while David Johnson is emerging as one of the league’s top running backs. This week, they’ll get to expose an already porous Bills’ defense.
Week 3: vs Minnesota (2-0)
Just as Mando said, the Panthers were a Graham Gano field goal away from starting the season off 2-0. In Week 2, Cam Newton & Co. asserted their dominance over a clearly inferior 49ers side. The team looks solid on both sides of the ball, but their secondary has clearly declined since 2015. Maybe they’re missing Josh Norman a bit more than they expected…
Week 3: at Carolina (1-1)
After joining the team two weeks prior, Sam Bradford looked completely in control of the Vikings offense on Sunday. If he can replicate that performance throughout the season, the Vikings are in store for a breakout 2016 campaign, especially when you consider how good their defense is.
Week 3: vs Detroit (1-1)
Despite dropping a close one to the Vikings, the Packers are still legitimate Super Bowl contenders. I have no doubt that their offense will bounce back from a pedestrian Week 2 performance. You know why? Because they have Aaron Rodgers and he’s a baaaaaad man.
Record: 2-0; Point Differential: +4 (13th)
The Giants are reaping the benefits from their off-season defensive upgrades. Couple that with their offensive production and you have a team that will contend throughout the season.
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