NFL Power Rankings Week 2: Eagles’ D remains elite

Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins (left), and Ronald Darby celebrate their win. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The champions stay on top until somebody knocks them off. That’s pretty much the golden rule.

And so after an eventful Week 1 in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles remain No. 1 in our NFL Power Rankings after holding on to beat the Atlanta Falcons in last Thursday’s opener. While the Nick Foles-led offence struggled to move the ball (Philly Special 2.0, notwithstanding), it was the Philadelphia defence that sealed the win.

So they stay at the top. But after that every spot is up for grabs in a new season, so let’s get to it.

This week, the panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, as well as staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Emily Sadler.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2018 record: 1-0

It wasn’t pretty on Thursday night, and a lot can be made of Atlanta’s troubles in the red zone, but the Eagles were in control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball all night long. Nick Foles has to be better, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be in Week 2. (GL)

2. Los Angeles Rams

2018 record: 1-0

They are who we thought they were: A sharp, dynamic offence led by the best running back in the league and a defence that will make you pay for your mistakes. (Just ask Jon Gruden.) (ES)

3. New England Patriots

2018 record: 1-0

Sunday’s game against the Texans was never really in question, but the Patriots now head to Jacksonville for an AFC title rematch in what may be Tom Brady and Co.’s biggest test of the season. (GL)

4. Minnesota Vikings

2018 record: 1-0

In a game in which the Vikings never trailed, newcomers Sheldon Richardson and Kirk Cousins looked like perfect fits. The Vikings have a chance to take an early lead against their only challenge for the division title against the banged-up Packers this week. (DB)

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 record: 1-0

The good news: The stout Jags defence held the Giants to 324 total yards. The bad news: Their own offence mustered just 305, and a defensive touchdown proved the difference in the game. T.J. Yeldon filled in admirably after Leonard Fournette left with a hamstring injury, but this team needs its No. 1 running back healthy to move the chains. (CB)

6. Kansas City Chiefs

2018 record: 1-0

Hello, Patrick Mahomes! The second-year quarterback was simply unstoppable against the Chargers, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns and making the Chiefs must-watch TV every Sunday from here on out. (ES)

7. Green Bay Packers

2018 record: 1-0

The legend of Aaron Rodgers continues to grow. Now the question is, will he be able to play and, if so, how well and for how long? The DeShone Kizer cameo should be nearly as concerning as Rodgers injury. (DB)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

2018 record: 0-0-1

Le’Veon Bell continues to hold out, but James Conner proved to be a more-than-capable stopgap and one of the feel-good stories of Week 1 after overcoming cancer to become an NFL starter. That pesky tie against the Browns may come back to haunt them when jockeying for playoff seeds in the AFC, though. (DB)

9. New Orleans Saints

2018 record: 0-1

The Saints got torched for 48 points in Week 1, nullifying the 40 their offence put up. But 2017 started the same way, as New Orleans went 0-2 before going 11-3 the rest of the way and winning the division. They get the Browns at home this week, which provides a nice bounce-back opportunity. (CB)

10. Carolina Panthers

2018 record: 1-0

The Panthers’ win over Dallas was ugly, but that’s thanks largely to the Panthers’ defence, who held the Cowboys to eight points and just 264 total yards. Meanwhile, Carolina needs more out of its playmakers as outside of Christian McCaffrey (95 combined yards), no one did much to help Cam Newton put points on the board. (CB)

11. Atlanta Falcons

2018 record: 0-1

Another tilt with the Eagles, another bout of red-zone-itis. Atlanta actually outgained Philadelphia on the opening Thursday night of the season, but got stopped short of the goal line on four of five attempts within the Eagles’ 20. The offence bears little resemblance right now to the one that helped the Falcons lead the league with 540 points in 2016. (CB)

12. Baltimore Ravens

2018 record: 1-0

No team changed their outward perception and expectations in Week 1 more than the Ravens. Most impressive was their rebuilt receiving core as John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead all caught TD passes. The Ravens have a short turnaround before taking on the division-rival Bengals. (DB)

13. Denver Broncos

2018 record: 1-0

After a dismal 2017, things are looking up in Mile High Stadium thanks in large part to a dominant Von Miller. Miller had a day: three sacks, two forced fumbles and seven tackles. Case Keenum, meanwhile, gave the team what they so desperately needed last year: a capable starting QB. (ES)

14. Washington Redskins

2018 record: 1-0

More of the same from Alex Smith, who continues to be undervalued despite another surgically efficient game in Washington’s dominant win over Arizona. And how good did Adrian Peterson look? A blast from the past. (GL)

15. Seattle Seahawks

2018 record: 0-1

After ending his holdout midweek, Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas made an early impact as one of the last men standing in a destructed Legion of Boom. Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes but also two interceptions — though he was too busy getting sacked (six times!) to work his usual magic. Now with a trip to see Khalil Mack and Da Bears coming up, there’s work to do on that O-line. (ES)

16. Los Angeles Chargers

2018 record: 0-1

The Chargers have heavy expectations this year, and are still carrying the weight of late losses of seasons past as they attempt to shed their can’t-win-when-it-counts reputation. While their Week 1 loss — in the division and at home, no less — did not exactly provide a boost of confidence for those betting on L.A. to finally reach their potential, it’s nothing to worry about just yet. They’ll right the ship in Buffalo this Sunday. (ES)

17. Houston Texans

2018 record: 0-1

While it was good to see DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt back on the field in Week 1, neither made the impact Texans fans hoped they would. Watson had an interception and a fumble while Watt registered zero sacks or tackles for loss. Silver lining: though they lost by a touchdown, the team managed to win the second half against the Patriots 14–6. (CB)

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2018 record: 1-0

Has to be said: If the season ended right now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your offensive player of the year and MVP. After completing 75 percent of his passes for 417 yards and four TDs in a surprise Week 1 road win, he has a passer rating of 156.3. That may not hold up. (CB)

19. Miami Dolphins

2018 record: 1-0

The Dolphins were the beneficiaries of two long delays against the Titans, prevailing in one of the weirdest games in recent memory. We’ll get a better idea of who Miami really is next Sunday against the Jets. (GL)

20. Tennessee Titans

2018 record: 0-1

A miscue-heavy loss to the Dolphins is only the beginning of the bad news for the Titans. If Blaine Gabbert has to play much — Marcus Mariota’s elbow injury is still being evaluated — this could be a very long season in Tennessee. (CB)

21. San Francisco 49ers

2018 record: 0-1

After an off-season of huge hype surrounding Jimmy G, the face of the 49ers got humbled — and fast — by the powerhouse Vikings, who limited his pass completion to just 45.5 percent and intercepted him three times, including a pick-six. Chalk it up to growing pains for a rebuilding team that could rebound this Sunday against the Lions. (ES)

22. Cincinnati Bengals

2018 record: 1-0

Second-year running back Joe Mixon is clearly the focus of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new offence, and it paid off in Week 1. Cincinnati finished last in the league in total yards and second last in rushing yards last year, so Mixon’s return to form is a very good sign. (DB)

23. New York Jets

2018 record: 1-0

A pick-six was a nightmare start for Sam Darnold, but the rest of his Jets debut played out like a dream as New York dominated the Lions in every phase of the game. (GL)

24. Chicago Bears

2018 record: 0-1

Khalil Mack was the story early, but if the Bears want to compete in a loaded division Mitch Trubisky is going to have to be better at closing out games. He started 7-7 for 104 yards, but went just 16-28 for 67 yards the rest of the way. (DB)

25. New York Giants

2018 record: 0-1

The Giants were in tough against a Jaguars defence that is still as dominant as ever, but New York should take solace in staying in that game until the end. Sunday night’s matchup against Dallas will be a much better measuring stick of where this Giants team is. (GL)

26. Indianapolis Colts

2018 record: 0-1

Andrew Luck is BACK! The franchise pivot who missed all of 2017 completed 39 passes for 319 yards and two TDs. But the Colts’ defence is back, too, and they got eaten alive by Joe Mixon (5.6 yards per carry) and a Bengals offence that didn’t exactly put a scare into too many teams in 2017. (CB)

27. Dallas Cowboys

2018 record: 0-1

There were plenty of concerns surrounding the offensive line entering the season, and those concerns proved valid in Sunday’s painful loss to the Panthers. Until the Cowboys are healthy up front, Dak Prescott — who was sacked six times — is going to struggle. (GL)

28. Oakland Raiders

2018 record: 0-1

The Jon Gruden era (take two) started with a rousing touchdown run from Marshawn Lynch, but eventually fizzled out at the hands of quarterback Derek Carr. Gruden’s game plan was good, but Carr’s execution was not — i.e. no touchdown passes, three interceptions and a pick-six — and just further exposed the club’s flawed payroll priorities. (ES)

29. Arizona Cardinals

2018 record: 0-1

The Cardinals couldn’t get anything going on offence until the final minutes of their loss to Washington. Despite the dreadful season debut, Week 1 of 2018 was still better than the 2017 edition as star running back David Johnson came out unharmed. (ES)

30. Cleveland Browns

2018 record: 0-0-1

They managed to get a tie, but in terms of protecting the QB it was the same old Browns. Tyrod Taylor was pressured 28 times and on those plays he was 5-15 and sacked seven times. Luckily Myles Garrett was dominant against the run and pass, and the defence as a whole gives Hue Jackson something to build on. (DB)

31. Detroit Lions

2018 record: 0-1

New head coaches finished 0-7 in Week 1 so it’s too early to freak out over Matt Patricia’s Lions tenure. His first order of business is jump-starting a running game the Lions thought they fixed in the off-season. In their 48–17 loss, Detroit gained just 39 yards and averaged 2.8 yards per carry. (DB)

32. Buffalo Bills

2018 record: 0-1

As tough as it was for Nathan Peterman against the Ravens, it’s still too early for Josh Allen to take over the Bills offence. Bringing him along slowly might mean a really tough season in Buffalo, but it could make all the difference for the rookie pivot long-term. (GL)

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