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AFC power rankings prior to week two

  1. New England Patriots –

For the second week in a row, the Patriots are in the top spot. After Sunday night’s domination of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a previously questionable defensive unit looked like a well-oiled machine with depth top to bottom and arguably the best secondary in the league. Seemingly ageless quarterback Tom Brady continues to dominate opposing defenses, throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett both contributed to Brady’s success and had huge games of their own. Now insert newly acquired All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown in the mix, and you have the offensive capability reminiscent of the Patriots’ 2007 squad. 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – 

On the first drive of the season, quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed no sign of slowing down from his MVP campaign last year as he connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Watkins had a monster game, catching all three of Mahomes’ touchdown passes. Speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill will miss time with a shoulder injury but that likely will not slow down the offense too much when you have a gunslinger that can put the ball absolutely anywhere.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers – 

The offense didn’t skip a beat without the presence of running back Melvin Gordon. Running back Austin Ekeler put up 58 yards and a touchdown on the ground while catching six passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. With Ekeler pacing the offense like that, it’s going to be a tough job for Gordon’s agent to make a case for his significance when negotiating for a new contract. Los Angeles AFC squad improves to 5-0 in games over the last two seasons without Gordon.

  1. Baltimore Ravens +5

It would be safe to say the whole “Lamar Jackson is a running back who can’t throw the ball” argument is out the window, right? Jackson completed 17 of 20 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns which, by the way, gave him a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. This team heard all the talk of the division belonging to Cleveland or Pittsburgh and came into the season with a chip on their shoulder.

  1. Houston Texans -1

The addition of tackle Laremy Tunsil was not enough to keep quarterback Deshaun Watson from running for his life in the backfield as he was sacked six times. Despite taking a beating, he put his team in position to win the game. In what should have been a game-winning drive, Watson needed only two plays to get the ball in the end zone and give his team the lead, but brutal defensive penalty calls got in the way of Houston starting 1-0. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees came from behind to defeat Watson’s team, who looked to be the better unit the entire game.

  1. Tennessee Titans +6

Add the Titans to the list of teams that came into the season with a chip on their shoulder. The league had eyes on the season opener to see how Browns’ duo of quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will work together, but the real story was head coach Mike  Vrabel’s Titans. Tennessee’s defense picked off Mayfield three times in their lopsided win over Cleveland. Suddenly, it looks like this team could be making a case for the division with the Colts and Jaguars being without their powerful signal callers, with Andrew Luck retiring and Nick Foles being out with a shoulder injury, and the Texan’s allowing Deshaun Watson to continually be roughed up in the pocket. As the season wears on, keep an eye on the longevity of Watson to be a key factor in this AFC South divisional race.

  1. Buffalo Bills +4

Following the head scratching contest between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, with the Bills turning the ball over four times and still managing to pull off the victory 17-16. Despite the woes on offense, quarterback Josh Allen and his crew were able to complete the comeback after being down 16-0. One plus for this squad is the constant pressure being placed on Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold, showing the upside for this quiet front seven.

  1. Cleveland Browns -3

A 30 point loss is not exactly how you would expect a “Super Bowl run” to begin. The Browns were humbled by a Titans team that played the offseason quite differently than Cleveland. First-year head coach Freddie Kitchens’ squad was outplayed for 60 minutes, following a significant amount of chin-wagging in the offseason. An ugly first loss doesn’t change the amount of blue-chip talent this team has up and down the roster. If this team has anything to prove, it’s how they can get back up when they’re knocked down. Or they can roll over and land another top-five draft pick and try again for next year.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers -3

Putting up three points in the first game without All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’veon Bell is a bad look for the Steelers offense. Take it with a grain of salt when you include the intangibles. It was a banner night for the Patriots at their home field where Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has never won. The atmosphere was electric for the Patriots and it would have taken greater force than the Steelers were able to muster for them to lose that game. Steelers faithfuls would do best to not lose hope though, as wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner will continue to develop for Mike Tomlin’s squad.  

  1. New York Jets -2

With a 16-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, after forcing four turnovers on defense, including a pick-six by middle linebacker CJ Mosely, head coach Adam Gase had a promising young season and squad in front of him. However, following a groin injury to Mosely’s groin injury and several mental mistakes, the Jets surrendered their 16 point lead to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. With starting quarterback Sam Darnold sidelined for the foreseeable future with mono, Gase’s squad will need to string together a couple of wins if they hope to be competing for a playoff spot come December.

  1. Indianapolis Colts +2

This looks like a team that does not want to take any steps backward before they go forward due to the shocking retirement of former starting quarterback Andrew Luck. They were able to compete for the whole game and forced overtime against an incredibly talented Chargers team. Running back Marlon Mack dominated with 25 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown. Although they couldn’t get the victory, it was a promising start to the season.

  1. Oakland Raiders +2

The drama surrounding the Raiders entering their final season in Oakland has been staggering. It seems as though they rallied behind the self-induced loss of wide receiver Antonio Brown following the nonsense and noise he’s caused. It’s still hard to imagine this team making much noise this season, but they are off to the right start.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals +2

Head coach Zac Taylor’s squad was not able to get the win in his head coaching debut, but they certainly came to play against a talented Seahawks team. The biggest standout for the Bengals in week one was the emergence of electric wide receiver John Ross as he paced the offense with seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. It is great to see Ross finally get into the mix and take a huge step in the right direction to become the guy the Bengals hoped he would be, providing a beautiful one-two combination when wide receiver A.J Green returns from injury.

  1. Denver Broncos -4

At what point does General Manager John Elway finally receive more criticism for not drafting a strong quarterback? Since the Broncos appearance in their last Super Bowl, with Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset with another Super Bowl ring, Elway has had a variety of quarterbacks under center, none of which have stayed on the roster more than three years. Wasting what could have been a dynasty, fueled by arguably the best defense of the decade in 2015 led by All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, Elway’s dedication to under appreciating the quarterback position has cost his Broncos at least one more championship. Fast forward four years, and the defense has aged with some of the once-key pieces gone, especially in the secondary. The options Elway has explored to take snaps under center are flat out embarrassing, but hopefully newly acquired quarterback Joe Flacco can turn it around for Denver.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars -8

With newly-acquired starting quarterback Nick Foles headed to the injured reserve with a broken collarbone, Jacksonville turns to its backup quarterback, rookie sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew, hoping the wannabe-gunslinger can capitalize on his new opportunity. If the defense shows up every week and running back Leonard Fournette continues pacing the team on the ground, Minshew should be able to guide this team to a fight with Houston for the division title. The defense cannot give up another 40 point game, though this one may be overlooked as the former league MVP Mahomes tears almost every defense apart.

  1. Miami Dolphins –

What’s the next step for a team that lost their opener 59-10 with players begging their agents to request trades to not be part of a rebuild? A matchup against the New England Patriots. If there is a silver lining, the Patriots likely won’t run up the score against head coach Brian Flores’ team, as Belichick has a great deal of respect for his former defensive play-caller.

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