Max Teply’s Week 2 NFL Power Rankings and Predictions

After an upset filled week one, here is where every NFL team stands, plus previews and predictions of every week two matchup.



NFL team helmets are displayed at the NFL Headquarters in New York December 3, 2015. An impact absorbing helmet, a cushion for artificial turf and a rubberized tether that slows the speed of the head snapping back after a collision were products named winners of a research challenge co-sponsored by the NFL. Three separate innovation challenges are providing up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, identify and protect against brain injury. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Football is officially back, and a wild week one is in the books. Eight of the 16 games were decided by one possession or less, including one tie. There was plenty of drama, with four missed game-winning kicks and a few upsets. This week, in addition to the power rankings, I will be previewing and predicting every week two matchup. The power rankings look quite different this week, so let’s get right to it.

Each team’s record and ranking from the previous week are listed in parentheses.

Tier 6: the pit of sadness

#32. New York Jets (0-1, 27)

#31. Dallas Cowboys (0-1, 13)

Tier 5: the scrappy underdogs

#30. Houston Texans (0-0-1, 31)

#29. Chicago Bears (1-0, 32)

#28. Seattle Seahawks (1-0, 28)

#27. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1, 30)

#26. Atlanta Falcons (0-1, 29)

#25. Detroit Lions (0-1, 25)

Tier 4: longshot playoff contenders

#24. New England Patriots (0-1, 21)

#23. New York Giants (1-0, 26)

#22. Carolina Panthers (0-1, 23)

#21. Washington Commanders (1-0, 24)

#20. Cleveland Browns (1-0, 22)

#19. Arizona Cardinals (0-1, 17)

#18. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0, 19)

#17. Tennessee Titans (0-1, 15)

Tier 3: serious playoff contenders

#16. Las Vegas Raiders (0-1, 14)

#15. Miami Dolphins (1-0, 18)

#14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 20)

#13. New Orleans Saints (1-0, 12)

#12. Minnesota Vikings (1-0, 15)

#11. Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1, 11)

#10. San Francisco 49ers (0-1, 10)

Tier 2: Super Bowl Contenders

#9. Los Angeles Rams (0-1, 6)

#8. Green Bay Packers (0-1, 5)

#7. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1, 8)

#6. Denver Broncos (0-1, 9)

#5. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0, 7)

#4. Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 4)

Tier 1: Super Bowl favorites

#3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0, 3)

#2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0, 2)

#1. Buffalo Bills (1-0, 1)

Week 2 previews and predictions:

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chargers defense turned over Raiders quarterback Derek Carr three times in an important 24-19 week one win. The Chiefs demolished the Cardinals 44-21 last week and are clicking on all cylinders heading into an important early season divisional matchup. The Chargers offense will have to step up their game if they hope to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and company, and they definitely have the potential to do so. However, top wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a hamstring injury against the Raiders and is out this week. Mahomes and the Chiefs, based on their week one performance, have more fire power than the Chargers, especially with Allen out of the picture. I expect Kansas City to win, although it should be a competitive game between two great quarterbacks.

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Chargers 27

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Patriots and Steelers, two heavyweights of the 21st century, square off as shells of their former selves. The Pats looked lossless in a 20-7 loss to the Dolphins in week one. The offense was nonexistent, and the defense, while solid, is not the dominant force it once was. Moreover, quarterback Mac Jones suffered a back injury, and it is unclear whether he will be able to play this week. On the other side, the Steelers pulled off a week one upset of division rival Cincinnati, thanks to five Joe Burrow turnovers and two costly missed kicks late in the game by the Bengals. The fact that Pittsburgh only won by three points, despite forcing all those turnovers, tells you all you need to know about their offense. Making matters worse, edge rusher T.J. Watt tore his pectoral muscle in the fourth quarter and will miss significant time, although he is not expected to need surgery. This will probably be a low-scoring defensive battle. I’ll give the nod to the Steelers, the slightly more talented team who also has home field advantage in this one.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Patriots 16

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants:

Last week, Baker Mayfield had a chance to get revenge on the Browns, the team that traded him over the offseason, but he and the Panthers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, losing on a last second field goal 26-24. Mayfield struggled early in the game, but he did improve as the game went on, although it turned out to be too little too late. The Giants, on the other hand, pulled off a week one upset of the Titans on the road, scoring a touchdown and then converting a two-point conversion to take a one-point lead with just over a minute left. The Titans got into field goal range, but kicker Randy Bullock missed from 47 yards out as time expired, giving the G-Men a 21-20 win. Saquon Barkley totaled 194 yards and a touchdown, a promising development after he struggled with injuries over the past couple years. This is an intriguing matchup between two promising young teams. My hunch is that Carolina carries their second-half momentum from last week into this game and pulls out a close win, but it could go either way.

Prediction: Panthers 23, Giants 21

New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns:

The Browns barely held off the Panthers in week one, thanks to their running game and rookie kicker Cade York. The passing game, engineered by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, was not inspiring. The Jets were crushed 24-9 by the Ravens in week one. Their offense, led by veteran Joe Flacco, was unwatchable all game long. Neither of these teams will be interesting to watch until they get their starting quarterbacks back – DeShaun Watson for the Browns, and Zach Wilson for the Jets. The Browns should win this game because of their running game and their defense.

Prediction: Browns 24,  Jets 13

Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens:

Both of these teams won big in week one. The Ravens dispatched the hapless Jets, and the Dolphins handled the Patriots. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense wasn’t at the top of their game, but they did more than enough to beat New York. The same goes for Miami. One of these offenses will have to take a step forward this week, and I think that the Ravens, led by a more talented quarterback, are more likely to do so than Miami. This, coupled with playing this game at home, gives Baltimore a slight edge here.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Dolphins 23

Washington Commanders @ Detroit Lions:

The Lions narrowly lost in a shootout against the Eagles last week, falling 38-35. Detroit has had a reputation of being one of the most scrappy teams in the NFL ever since Dan Campbell took over as head coach, and they certainly lived up to it in week one, clawing back from a 17-point second-half deficit to have a chance to win late. Washington started fast against the Jaguars, scoring two first quarter touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead. Jacksonville struck back with 22 unanswered points to take a 22-14 lead in the third quarter, but Carson Wentz and the Commander offense answered back with two more touchdowns to win 28-22. Wentz threw for over 300 yards with four touchdowns, but he also turned the ball over twice in customary Wentz fashion. This should be a good game that could go either way. I’ll take Washington’s superior talent to lead them to a close win, but a scrappy team like the Lions could pull off an upset at any time.

Prediction: Commanders 24, Lions 23

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Colts started the season off slowly, falling behind the lowly Texans 20-3. However, they were able to get into gear in the second-half, coming back to tie things at 20. However, Indi missed a potential game winning field goal in over time, and the game ended tied. Jacksonville narrowly lost to Washington. Trevor Lawrence had a promising performance to open the season, throwing for 275 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He also missed open receivers on multiple occasions and had one receiver drop a pass that would have been a touchdown, so there is definitely some room for improvement. The last time these teams faced off, the Colts were a win away from securing a playoff birth. However, the Jags stole the show, shocking Indi with a blowout win. The Colts will not want to repeat that performance. This should be a high scoring game, but expect Indi to make big plays when they need to in order to get the win.

Prediction: Colts 30, Jaguars 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints:

Last week, the Buccs cruised to a 19-3 win over the disastrous Cowboys. Their defense was dominant, and the offense was on cruise control for most of the game. The Saints didn’t have such an easy time, narrowly edging out a win over the Falcons on a last second field goal. However, New Orleans seems to have Tom Brady’s number of late. They beat Tampa Bay in both meetings last year, including a 9-0 shutout in Tampa late in the season. The Saints will do their best to continue the trend, but Brady and the Buccs will be motivated to win this one, and they have the more talented roster. The Saints could pull off another upset, but I think the Buccs will take the win this time around.

Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Saints 17

Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams:

The Falcons surprisingly dominated the Saints for the first three quarters of their week one matchup, but things took a turn for the worse in the final period. After taking a 26-10 lead into the fourth quarter, Atlanta ended up losing 27-26. Blowing fourth quarter leads is nothing new to Atlanta, but still. The Rams were crushed by the Bills 31-10 in their season opener. The game was tied at halftime, but the LA offense couldn’t get anything going in the second half. After having surgery on his throwing elbow over the offseason, Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and took seven sacks in the beatdown. Luckily for the Rams, they have a chance to get back on track this week with a matchup against a much less talented Falcons team. LA won’t be able to solve all their problems in one week, but they should still win this one relatively easily.

Prediction: Rams 27, Falcons 20

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers:

The Seahawks pulled off an exciting upset of the Broncos in Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle. Denver lost two fumbles right at Seattle’s goal line in the third quarter, and Denver opted to try a 64-yard field goal for the win with 20 seconds left, but Brandon McManus’ kick sailed wide left, gifting the Seahawks a 17-16 win. Although they got lucky, Seattle did play better than expected. Quarterback Gino Smith opened the game by completing his first 13 passes and threw two first half touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up or if this game was just a fluke. The Niners disappointed in week one, losing to the Bears 19-10. The game was played in heavy rain, so that could have been part of the reason why San Fran’s offense struggled, but they still have some big question marks that will have to be answered if they hope to stay in the top 10 of my power rankings much longer. I still have confidence in coach Kyle Shanahan however, and with this game being played in San Francisco, the Niners should be able to handle business against Seattle.

Prediction: 49ers 26, Seahawks 17

Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys:

Poor Cowboys fans. Week one couldn’t have been any worse for Dallas. They were embarrassed by the Buccs, scoring just three points, and to make matters worse, quarterback Dak Prescott broke his hand in the fourth quarter and will miss 6-8 weeks. Cooper Rush, a journeyman backup, will start in the meantime. The Bengals also lost in week one. Joe Burrow was awful for the first three quarters, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. However, he seemed to return to form in the fourth quarter, throwing a touchdown to Jamar Chase as time expired to put his team in position to win. Unfortunately, the extra point was blocked and the game went to overtime, where another missed kick gave the Steelers a chance to win. A player as talented as Burrow won’t play that poorly very often, so I’m not worried about him. If they can get their kicking game straightened out, the Bengals should be just fine. Expect them to rebound in a big way against the pitiful Cowboys.

Prediction: Bengals 30, Cowboys 13

Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos:

Although the Texans were able to tie a good team in the Colts, they didn’t end the game on a good note, blowing a 20-3 second half lead and missing a potential game winning kick in overtime. They were also outgained by 200 yards by Indianapolis. The Broncos actually didn’t play all that badly in their loss to the Seahawks, besides for the two goal line fumbles, a host of unnecessary penalties, and some questionable coaching decisions. If they can work out the kinks and start playing cleaner football, they should be just fine. I expect Denver to roll in their home opener.

Prediction: Broncos 31, Texans 17

Arizona Cardinals @ Las Vegas Raiders:

Both of these teams had underwhelming performances in week one. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw three bad interceptions against the Chargers. Vegas’ offensive line is a mess, and they struggled against Los Angeles’ elite pass rush. The defense kept the Raiders in the game, but they won’t win many games if the offense plays that badly. The Cardinals were demolished by three touchdowns against the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes carved up the Arizona defense like it was butter. Kyler Murray struggled until garbage time. Although he doesn’t have great receivers around him, he should be able to elevate the offense, given the $230 million contract he was given in the offseason. I think he will have extra motivation to show why he deserved such a large contract, so I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that he leads the Cards to a close upset win on the road.

Prediction: Cardinals 28, Raiders 27

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers:

The Packers played terribly in week one, losing to the rival Vikings 23-7. Aaron Rodgers did not throw a touchdown, as he struggled to connect with underwhelming receivers while facing a tough Minnesota pass rush. The defense was no better, as Minnesota’s superstar receiver Justin Jefferson torched them for 186 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers had an even worse performance in week one last year, losing to the Saints 38-3. They ended up winning their division. I expect them to rebound in a similar fashion this year, once their offensive line gets healthy and Rodgers gets on the same page with his young receivers. The Bears stunned the 49ers in a week one rain game, playing great defense and making some timely plays on offense in the second half to pull out a 19-10 victory. However, I expect Green Bay to show Chicago who’s boss this week. Rodgers never loses to the Bears, and he’ll have extra motivation after last week’s face plant.

Prediction: Packers 27, Bears 16

Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills:

The Bills showed why they are Super Bowl favorites in week one, demolishing the defending champs 31-10. Josh Allen played near perfect football, throwing just five incomplete passes all game, one of which was a drop by receiver Isaiah McKenzie that resulted in an interception. Tennessee lost to the Giants in heartbreaking fashion last week. The offense couldn’t get much going, especially in the second half against a middling Giants defense. They won’t want to start 0-2, but they just don’t have the firepower to keep up with Buffalo.

Prediction: Bills 28, Titans 20

Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles:

The Vikings picked up a big week one win over the Packers. The offense and defense both looked great. The Eagles put up 38 points on the Lions but also gave up 35 and nearly squandered a three score lead in the fourth quarter. The Birds are at home for this one, but I think Minnesota wins. Their offense is more prolific, and their defense looked better last week against much better competition. It should be a close game between two good teams, but I think Minnesota comes out on top.

Prediction: Vikings 27, Eagles 24