Week two of the NFL season brought a few surprises and some notable rearrangements to the rankings.  Obviously, because of the small sample size, upheaval will be common over the first few weeks.  This week in the AFC, Pittsburgh and Miami climbed the most, each moving up three places, and Tennessee was the big loser, dropping four slots.  Here’s the complete AFC rankings after week two.

16.  Buffalo Bills (last week: 15, fell one spot, season high 15, season low 16)-  The Bills were totally thrashed on the road by Green Bay.  Unlike week one, where they were at least competitive, last week’s game was a blow out from the get go.  That’s good enough for last place.

15.  Cleveland Browns (last week: 16, up one spot, season high 15, season low 16)-  Despite losing at home, the Browns still moved up in the list.  They’ve lost two games to currently undefeated teams by a total of five points.  Unlike Buffalo, they haven’t been run off the field.

14.  Jacksonville Jaguars (last week: 11, fell three spots, season high 11, season low 14)-  After getting handily thrashed in San Diego last week, Jacksonville takes a plunge down the rankings.  They looked pretty good beating Denver in week one, but the Chargers exposed them as a mediocre team. 

13.  Oakland Raiders (last week: 13, even, season high 13, season low 13)-  So Jason Campbell has already lost his starting job to Bruce Gradkowski, and Darren McFadden is showing signs of being a top flight back.  The Raiders won a close game over the lowly Rams last week, but more results are needed before they can move up.

12.  Denver Broncos (last week: 14, up two spots, season high 12, season low 14)-  The Broncos brought Seattle back to Earth last week with a big home win, which earns them a trip up the list.  Kyle Orton is playing very well, keeping the Tim Tebow supporters at bay for the moment.  Denver may not be a good team, but for now, they’ve earned this spot in the rankings.

11.  Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 12, up one spot, season high 11, season low 12)-  If Matt Cassell wasn’t such a lousy quarterback, the surprisingly undefeated Chiefs would be higher on this list.  The running game is fantastic and the defense is playing well.  Still, without a better passing game, these guys are going nowhere fast.

10.  San Diego Chargers (last week: 10, even, season high 10, season low 10)-  They looked great against Jacksonville, but when all is said and done, that might not mean much.  The joke that is the Vincent Jackson negotiations is just making them look vindictive, which will ultimately affect how other players perform.  They are clearly the best team in either western division, but 9-7 may take that honor, or possibly worse.

9.  Cincinnati Bengals (last week: 9, even, season high 9, season low 9)-  The Bengals won a close one over the Ravens, who are once again having offensive troubles.  They may yet move much higher up this list, but I’m not convinced that they can consistently beat the best teams.  Carson Palmer hasn’t been the same QB since the knee injury of a few years ago, the receivers are old and the running backs are still retreads.

8.  Tennessee Titans (last week: 4, fell four spots, season high 4, season low 8)-  The Titans looked so good after week one and so bad after getting beat up by Pittsburgh last week.  Vince Young getting benched by Jeff Fisher may not bode well for the rest of the season.  Even so, the Steelers defense is playing out of their minds, so we’ll see how Tennessee does this week.

7.  New York Jets (last week: 8, up one spot, season high 7, season low 8)-  Impressive win over New England last week makes up a bit for the putrid offensive performance the previous week against Baltimore.  Mark Sanchez looked like a real quarterback again, and the Jets got back in the East race.  A win over Miami this week would have them in first with wins over their top two divisional foes.  Can they pull it off on the road?  Maybe.

6.  Baltimore Ravens (last week: 3, fell three spots, season high 3, season low 6)-  Losing a division game to Cincinnati hurts, but not as much as the continued poor play of Joe Flacco.  This was supposed to be the year that the offense caught up with the defense in Baltimore.  Hasn’t worked out that way so far, but there’s still a lot of talent and time to turn it around.

5.  Indianapolis Colts (last week: 7, up two spots, season high 5, season low 7)-  Peyton Manning is in mid-season form and looks like he might make yet another MVP run.  He’ll have to keep that up to make up for the defensive struggles and lack of a running game, but if any QB in the league can pull it off, it’s the elder Manning.  Handing a beating to little brother Eli takes some of the sting away from the loss to Houston.

4.  New England Patriots (last week: 2, fell two spots, season high 2, season low 4)-  The Pats looked average against the Jets last week, and in the second half against Cincinnati in week one.  So, are they the world-beaters of the first half of week one or the mediocre team ever since?  It’s likely somewhere in between.  This team still has issues that need to be resolved before I can comfortably say that New England is back.

3.  Miami Dolphins (last week: 6, up three spots, season high 3, season low 6)-  Sure, the offense hasn’t clicked yet, but winning in Minnesota helps.  There are signs that the Dolphins might be on the way to putting up more points, but the next three weeks may tell the tale of the season with games against the Jets, Patriots and Ravens.  If they manage to win at least two of those three, there should be little doubt that Miami is a legitimate threat for the Superbowl.

2.  Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: 5, up three spots, season high 2, season low 5)-  Even without Big Ben, Pittsburgh has looked good so far, especially on defense.  They’ve embarassed Matt Ryan and Vince Young in consecutive weeks, and are developing a reputation as quarterback killers.  In a few weeks, Ben will be back from suspension, and if the offense matches the defense, watch out!

1.  Houston Texans (last week: 1, even, season high 1, season low 1)-  For a while last week, it looked as though Houston was going to lose both the game and the top spot on this list.  But a furious late rally against Washington changed all that.  Those are the kinds of early season wins that teams build championship runs behind.  Even still, the Texans have to get their pass defense in order.  They can’t keep giving up 400 yards a game, because however good their offense is, eventually, that will catch up to them.  But for now, they’re still number one.


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