Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. The league’s elite teams are on the 10 level, while the bottom-feeders find themselves on the 1 level. We’ll indicate which teams are moving up and down from the Week 1 comparison as we go, and since it’s early in the season there’s quite a bit of volatility in terms of movement this week.
10 – Green Bay Packers (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints – The Packers, led by Clay Matthews’ second-straight three sack game, thumped the Bills 34-7. It was a game Green Bay was supposed to win, and the Pack took care of business in an impressive way. If their defense plays well, Green Bay’s going to be incredibly hard to beat. The Saints jumped off to a quick start on Monday Night Football and then held on for a 25-22 win in San Francisco. That’s a solid win and a sign that the Saints ain’t going away.
9 – Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots – After an impressive road win against the Jets, the Ravens lost 15-10 to the Bengals, but we won’t dock Baltimore for losing in that situation. Joe Flacco must play better, but to be fair he was facing one of the league’s best cornerback tandems. The Texans came back from a 17-point deficit and pulled out an overtime win in Washington. The defense is a concern, but Brian Cushing returns in two weeks, which will help. For now, Houston’s a scary offensive team. So are the Colts, who rebounded from a Week One loss in Houston to destroy the Giants 38-14 at home. That’s the kind of dominant performance the Colts have been known for, and it shows their street cred as a really good team. The Patriots blew a halftime lead and lost at the Jets, but that’s a tough division game that’s no shame to lose. Next week’s home game against the Bills should set the Pats right.
8 – Dallas Cowboys (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers (UP TWO LEVELS) – The Cowboys lost a home game against the Bears to fall to 0-2, and now it’s time to reevaluate how good Dallas’ backs are and Dallas’ defense is. The Cowboys are still just a game back in their division, so all is not lost, but they need to turn things around, and a game at Houston next week isn’t exactly a good place to do that. Miami won at Minnesota with an impressive defensive display, and they look like a real contender. Games against the Jets and Pats the next two weeks will test that hypothesis, but we believe. Pittsburgh’s defensive dominance against the Titans gave them a win that was never really in doubt even though the Steelers had to turn to third-string QB Charlie Batch for most of it. That’s an elite defense, and when Ben Roethlisberger returns, the Steelers will be really scary.
7 – Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers – We discussed why the Vikings’ ship is sinking and why the Falcons remain at this level in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bengals rebounded from a stinker in Week One to beat the Ravens at home, which continued their AFC North dominance. The Bengals might not be a great team, but they’re a good one. The Giants had their stinker this week against the Colts, and it’ll be interesting to see how they rebound next week at home against Tennessee. The Giants have talent, but they must perform better against the run than they did Sunday night or Chris Johnson will run wild. The Jets got a huge win against the Patriots after a slow start, and Mark Sanchez made some big plays. But Sanchez will be tested again at Miami this week, and if he reverts to his Week One form the Jets’ contender prospects will take a big hit. The Eagles almost gave up a big lead in Detroit, but they got a road win with Michael Vick. The big question is whether Andy Reid’s stated decision to return to Kevin Kolb next week at Jacksonville is the right one. The Chargers rebounded from a Week One fiasco at Kansas City by dismantling the Jaguars 38-13. San Diego is still the most talented team in the mediocre AFC West, and it’s not really close.
6 – Chicago Bears (UP TWO LEVELS), San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans – The Bears built on their ref-aided win over Detroit with an impressive win at Dallas. Jay Cutler is off to a great start, and if he continues to play near this level he’ll make Chicago a playoff contender. The Titans played a great defensive game but couldn’t get the offense going against a tough Steelers defense. After getting pulled this week, Vince Young needs to play well against the Giants next week so that Kerry Collins talk doesn’t start in earnest. The 49ers fell to 0-2 but showed their potential in a home game against the Saints. They were once again killed by silly mistakes like bad snaps and slow play-calling, but in the NFC West, they’re not falling that far behind. They’re still the most talented team in their division.
5 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UP TWO LEVELS), Washington Redskins – We talked about why the Buccaneers are shooting up the comparison in Rise/Sink/Float. The Cardinals got blown out in Atlanta, and Derek Anderson’s foibles are looming larger and larger. Bad quarterback play could take down a team that has contended in recent years, but the major defensive losses the Cards suffered in the offseason aren’t helping either. Washington jumped out to a lead over Houston but couldn’t hold on. The Redskins have more offensive pop than in recent years because of Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb, but their defense must play better if the Redskins are to really become playoff contenders. For now, Washington is a dangerous team but not a real contender – at least not yet.
4 – Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL), Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks – The Panthers didn’t just lose a home game to the Buccaneers – they looked terrible. Maybe the switch to rookie QB Jimmy Clausen will help, but Carolina also needs more consistency defensively. The Broncos rebounded from a Week 1 road loss to Jacksonville with a home win against the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Jaguars looked awful on the road in a blowout loss to San Diego. Jacksonville, Denver, and Seattle all look like teams that will be feisty at home but will struggle on the road. Oakland eked out a home win over the sad-sack Rams, but that doesn’t mean all is right in Raider land. The Lions showed a ton of offensive firepower, but the defense still can’t stop anybody. Detroit has added talent, but the back seven on defense is still an Achilles heel that requires attention. The Chiefs moved to 2-0, although beating Cleveland isn’t reason to rejoice. QB Matt Cassel isn’t setting the world on fire, but the Chiefs have a solid running game and a decent defense, and that’s getting the job done for now. We still don’t see the Chiefs knocking off the Chargers, though – although a home win against the 49ers this week could start to change our minds.
3 – Cleveland Browns – The Browns played another close game but lost at home to the Chiefs. The Browns are staying in games, but they haven’t found a way to pull out a win yet. Until they do, they remain near the bottom of the league.
2 – St. Louis Rams – The Rams lost another nail-biter, but despite Sam Bradford’s talent their doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect much out of them yet. Beating the Redskins at home next week would change that perception.
1 – Buffalo Bills – The Bills got hammered on the road, showing that they have very little chance of winning against a good team, especially away from home. That doesn’t bode well for their game at New England next week.