Two weeks into the season and one thing stands clear: parity appears to be on the rise. That, or over two weeks, the good teams have played each other and the bad teams have played each other, making the league seem so .500.
That said, there are definitely some surprise teams and some question marks.
My Surprises: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs - Both teams are 2-0 and both have beaten teams that ended the 2009 season on strong notes (Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers, respectively). Oh, and they've both beaten the Cleveland Browns. So were do these teams stand? Well, they're some of the last undefeated teams, so kudos to them. I'm feeling .500 seasons for both of these squads, which is a tremendous improvement over last season. So while I don't think either are going to be Super Bowl, or even playoff, contenders, I think both teams will have pretty mediocre seasons- and that's definitely a step forward for both franchises.
My Question Marks: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers - All three teams were projected to win their divisions during the preseason, or at least were "assured" of playoff spots. I'll admit, I was on all three bandwagons. What now? They're all 0-2. They've put themselves in some pretty deep holes, but it's nothing the 49ers can't rectify, coming out of the NFC West (and they looked like a quality team against the New Orleans Saints). The Vikings and the Cowboys, on the other hand, are in much more difficult divisions. They need to show some kind of life next week, or else their season will have a very disappointing end.
See my Rankings after the jump!
32. Buffalo Bills - Sorry Buffalo, but you don't have an offense of a defense.
31. Cleveland Browns - They've lost to two teams who picked in the top 5 in the NFL draft. Not a good start.
30. St. Louis Rams - They need to surround Sam Bradford with more weapons, other than Steven Jackson. At least the teams they lost to weren't the worst in the league- just close to it.
29. Detroit Lions - Two heartbreakers in two weeks. They're a very competitive squad, but without Matt Stafford, I don't know if they'll be able to finish a game.
28. Oakland Raiders - Hey, they picked up a win! But it might be one of their only wins of the season.
27. Carolina Panthers - 0-2 and don't know what to do.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars - They're at the bottom of a very strong division.
25. Arizona Cardinals - No quarterback, no...well, yeah. It's a big problem.
24. Seahawks - One week after blowing out the 49ers, they lost to a team that sold every one of its top players. Ouch. Consistency, please?
23. Denver Broncos - Hey, they sold all their top players and they're 1-1. This team won't be a competitor for 2-3 more years, but at least it might become a competitor.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - The reemergence of Michael Vick gives this team hope- and he's the perfect quarterback for this offense. Except they barely held on to a win against the Lions. They need a statement game.
21. Minnesota Vikings - How many games will Brett Favre single-handedly lose?
20. Dallas Cowboys - 0-2, but they've been competitive. They just haven't been able to close a deal.
19. San Francisco 49ers - If they had a Week 1 Grudge Match, there's no way they'd lose to the Seahawks. Alex Smith looked solid against the Saints (his picks were all deflected by his own receivers). He has accuracy and he has weapons- and any defense with Patrick Willis will compete.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This team is 2-0. They're extremely young and they're playing well together. I sense a great season in the next year or two.
16. Chicago Bears - They're 2-0, but only because they "beat" a Detroit Lion team. That said, they had an impressive win against the Dallas Cowboys and have the potential to be a solid team this season.
15. Tennessee Titans - They've beaten the Raiders, but lost to a team using their 3rd string quarterback. This team is impossible to read. stop Chris Johnson and they have no chance of winning.
14. Atlanta Falcons - They exploded last week against the Arizona Cardinals and put on display their potent offense. They have wild card written all over them.
13. San Diego Chargers - They had a good rebound game, after a disappointing Week 1 loss. They just need to piece everything together.
12. Kansas City Chiefs - 2-0 and looking pretty. Matt Cassel still needs to play well in order for this team to win the AFC West. The running game is solid, but they need balance in order to succeed. But how about their defense? Young, talented and ready to roll.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers - 2-0, but down to the 3rd string quarterback. They might be able to beat the Bucs, but they'll face a huge challenge in Week 4.
10. Cincinnati Bengals - After a hideous Week 1, the Bengals had a great division game victory against a Super Bowl contending team.
9. New York Giants - They suffered a disappointing loss on Monday Night Football, but they remain the most solid team in the NFC East.
8. Baltimore Ravens - Flacco got flustered in Week 2. Can he rebound? Even though has has the ability to make the big plays, he needs to show that he can do it consistently.
7. New England Patriots - They smoked the Bengals, only to get humbled in Week 2 by the best defense in the league. Bill Belichick needs to go back to the drawing board and relearn how to adjust to opposing teams' schemes. No way the Patriots make it to the playoffs unless they figure out how to adjust.
6. Miami Dolphins - They're 2-0 and they have some solid playmakers. Chad Henne still needs to find a groove, but they're an extremely balanced team in every facet of the game.
5. New York Jets - The Jets lost a close game with some bad calls to the Ravens and had a convincing win against the Patriots. Opposing defenses shouldn't give Mark Sanchez as much space to work with, but he has shown that he can make the passes if he's given the time and space.
4. Indianapolis Colts - After a tough Week 1 loss, they rebounded with a solid victory on Monday Night Football. Any team with Peyton Manning is a contender- no question about it.
3. Houston Texans - Surprise, surprise? 2-0, beat the Colts and a strong Redskins team. Will they regress to their norm? I think they may, but they're playing very good football right now and match up well against a lot of AFC teams.
2. Green Bay Packers - Owners of an extremely potent offense, I feel like the Packers are set to become the Indianapolis Colts of the NFC. Lots of offense, okay defense, and a star quarterback at the helm.
1. New Orleans Saints - Super Bowl champs, still undefeated. Can't dethrone them just yet.