Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Two. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week One comparison.
10 – New York Giants (UP A LEVEL) – The Giants, Pats, and Steelers all entered the season with one major question mark. While the other two teams still have those queries, the Giants have found an answer to their receiving corps. Steve Smith has proven to be dependable, and Mario Manningham is emerging as a big-play threat. Right now, this is the most solid team in the league.
9 – New England Patriots (DOWN A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Patriots’ big question is their defense after it lost six starters in the offseason. New England’s D played OK last week against the Jets, but the offense could do little against one of the league’s strongest units. Part of that was due to the absence of Wes Welker, but you have to wonder if there’s a scheme trend the Jets and Bills uncovered. The Steelers’ running game continues to sputter, and the fact that this issue is tied to the problems the Steelers had up front last year is concerning. We’ll see if the Steelers can bounce back this week.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Ravens had one of the most impressive wins of the weekend in San Diego. It appears that their offense is developing into a true threat on its own. The Ravens’ D has given up 20-plus points in both weeks, which is not their usual level of stinginess, but with two wins few would argue. Atlanta moved to 2-0 with another solid home win. As the Falcons hit the road, we’ll start to learn more about whether they’re a good team or something more special. The Eagles and Titans both lost, and both normally stout defenses gave up a ream of points. They were playing good offenses, so we won’t overreact at this point. But if it happens twice for them, that’s a trend worth noticing.
7 – Green Bay Packers (DOWN A LEVEL), Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We floated the Saints last week, and we’ll move them up a level this week after another offensive explosion. Here’s the question that is still pretty big in my mind – is the defense any good? They’ve given up 20-plus points against two quarterbacks making their first NFL starts. Can the Saints buckle down against a more experienced passing game, or will they be gashed even more? The Colts have won two close games, and we’ll move them up based on that factor. But this is no longer a dominant team – the run game is up and down, and the defensive approach is problematic. The Packers’ D, which looked good in the opener against Chicago, looked bad against Cincinnati. We’ll move the Packers down until we see which is really their defensive personality. The Vikings have won two road games against terrible teams, so we still don’t know just how good they are yet, but so far, so good. It’ll be interesting to see the Vikings get tested. San Diego lost a home game to Baltimore, but the real problem is that their defense lost Jamal Williams and now must figure out how to stop the run without their best defensive lineman. That’s a huge loss that limits their defensive ability.
6 – Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers – Arizona needed a big win and got it at Jacksonville. While the Jaguars aren’t a good team, the fact that the Cardinals went on the road and were so efficient offensively was good sign. The Bears got a needed home win against the Steelers, and if they can win at Seattle this weekend they’ll move further up the rankings and make the NFC North incredibly interesting. The Cowboys competed with the Giants at home, but their flaws ultimately showed and kept them from getting a win. The Jets may be too low in these rankings, but so far their defense has looked better than any other in the league. CB Darrelle Revis staked his claim to being the best cover guy in the league with a second consecutive sterling performance. The Dolphins are a decent team, but they haven’t yet shown they are more than that. They need a win soon or else their cracks will start to look more significant. The 49ers followed up a big road win over Arizona with a rock-solid victory over Seattle at home. Mike Singletary’s squad doesn’t make a ton of mistakes and makes the most out of its talent. This is going to end up being a playoff team.
5 – Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Panthers looked much better against Atlanta but still lost. They need a win, and a trip to Dallas on Monday night isn’t going to be the easiest way to get one. The Bengals had an impressive performance in a win over Green Bay. So far, aside from one fluke play, Cincinnati has shown that it is a much better team than it was last year. After laying an egg in Week 1, Houston broke out offensively at Tennessee. If they can perform that way consistently, the Texans could be the surprise team everyone expected this year. Seattle lost at San Francisco, and there’s no shame in that, but if Matt Hasselbeck is hurt their playoff hopes are scuttled.
4 – Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Bills did what they should have done – beat a bad Bucs team at home. I’m still not sure they are a good team, but at least right now they’re competitive. The Broncos also beat up on a bad team, the Browns, at home. The Broncos D, which was in such flux this offseason, so far has looked good. If they can play well, the Broncos will remain a tough out. Jacksonville put up a stinker at home against Arizona, getting down 31-3 before making a cosmetic comeback. They need to establish an identity soon or else the season will be lost. I almost moved the Redskins down a level after their home win against the Rams, but we’ll give them credit for the win and leave them in place for now. Still, I’d be shocked if the Skins are more than a 6-10 team.
3 – None – There is a significant gap between the teams on level 4 and the teams on level 2. The teams on level 4 are 6-to-8 win teams; the teams on level 2 are 2-to-4 win teams.
2 – Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders – The Browns aren’t even competitive. They have few offensive weapons and not many defensive standouts either. The Lions again hung tough for about a half but didn’t have the horses to keep up with the Vikings. Still, there is hope for the Lions with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson around. The Chiefs lost to the Raiders at home, but neither team distinguished itself as anything more than a cellar-dweller. These teams’ best shot at a win is against each other, and that’s the definition of being on the same level.
1 – St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Rams are a terrible team, as they showed in their lackluster performance at Washington. And the Bucs don’t have much of a prayer right now either, as they showed in their uncompetitive loss against the Bills. One of these teams will soon be on the clock.