After week two of the NFL season, the NFC still looks like the weaker conference by a wide margin.  This week, Chicago and Tampa Bay made the biggest jumps, each moving up five places, and the Giants fell the farthest, dropping five places.  Here are the full rankings for the NFC following week two.

16.  St. Louis Rams (last week: 16, even, season high 16, season low 16)-  The Rams haven’t lost by big points in either game so far, but they haven’t been impressive, either.  Still, there’s a chance they could show some improvement before all is said and done.  But in order to get out of last place, they need to beat someone.

15.  Carolina Panthers (last week: 13, fell two spots, season high 13, season low 15)-  This is another team that, were it not for a horrendous QB issue, could be much higher.  Rookie Jimmy Clausen gets the start this week after Matt Moore lost the spot from poor play.  Last week, they got beaten pretty soundly at home by Tampa Bay.  Can a rookie QB turn things around?  Don’t count on it.

14.  Arizona Cardinals (last week: 11, fell three places, season high 11, season low 14)-  The Cardinals were totally dominated in Atlanta last week, and that may be a sign of things to come.  The defense is bad, the offense is worse.  Their only saving grace is playing in the worst division in football.  The NFC West has yet to beat anyone outside of its division.  Wonder if they can coax Kurt Warner out of retirement?

13.  Detroit Lions (last week: 15, up two spots, season high 13, season low 15)-  The Lions move up two places despite losing to the Eagles.  Still, they scored 32 points, rookie back Javid Best is a star in the making, and this team may have an actual bright future.  Stafford, Best and Johnson could be the second coming of Aikman, Irvin and Smith in the next couple seasons.

12.  Dallas Cowboys (last week: 8, fell four spots, season high 8, season low 12)-  Has anyone been more disappointing this season than Dallas.  They are poorly coached, mistake prone, and probably not quite as talented as people thought.  Losing to Chicago in Dallas last week hurt, and now they visit Houston.  If the offensive line doesn’t get it together, this will be a five-win season, at best.  So much for playing at home in the Superbowl.

11.  San Francisco 49ers (last week: 12, up one spot, season high 11, season low 12)-  If they only could have stopped turning the ball over last week, this team could have beaten New Orleans handily.  But the couldn’t, and they didn’t.  Still, they have the most potential in the west, but can they get it together? They may be the only team in the division who could get above 8-8, but only if they start winning soon.

10.  Seattle Seahawks (last week: 7, fell three places, season high 7, season low 10)-  After soundly beating the 49ers in week one, Seattle went out and stunk it up in Denver.  How many ways can I say the NFC West is just awful?  Last week, the four teams all lost by a combined score of 112-57.  Are we sure every division winner should get in the playoffs?

9.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week: 14, up five places, season high 9, season low 14)-  The close win against Cleveland in week one didn’t convince me, but the big road win in Carolina has started to change my mind.  I still don’t think these guys are a playoff team, but Josh Freeman is playing very well, and the Bucs look to be back on the rise.

8.  New York Giants (last week: 3, fell five places, season high 3, season low 8)-  In retrospect, I likely overrated these guys after the win against Carolina.  Peyton Manning and the Colts really exposed them for what they are, a generally middle of the road team on both sides of the ball.  Eli Manning may have a Superbowl ring, but he is a hollow shell of the player his brother is.

7.  Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 9, up two spots, season high 7, season low 9)-  Oh, Andy Reid and his quarterbacks!  Do you think Donovan McNabb is happy to be out of that circus?  Still, Reid made the right call sticking with the hot Michael Vick.  However, the defense was thrashed by the Lions.  No matter how Vick plays, if that doesn’t improve, there will be no playoffs for Philly this year.

6.  Minnesota Vikings (last week: 4, fell two spots, season high 4, season low 6)-  Sure, the Vikings are 0-2 and Brett Favre looks like a turnover machine, but change a few plays, and Minnesota is 2-0 despite their injury troubles.  The defense is playing well, and I have to believe they’ll get it together on offense eventually.  If they somehow lose to Detroit this week, however, and it’ll make for a big drop.

5.  Chicago Bears (last week: 10, up five spots, season high 5, season low 10)-  After a so-so performance against Detroit in week one, the Bears looked to be average or below.  Then they went into Dallas and handled the Cowboys.  Their offense is clicking, Jay Cutler looks like an all pro again, Matt Forte is on track for a great year, and the Bears could take Minnesota’s place as the second best team in the North.

4.  Washington Redskins (last week: 5, up one spot, season high 4, season low 5)-  Yes, they lost last week in overtime to Houston, but they should have won.  A Hail Mary to Andre Johnson, and a Washington missed field goal  Couple that with McNabb’s emergence last week, and Washington may be poised to take control of the East.

3.  Atlanta Falcons (last week: 6, up three spots, season high 3, season low 6)-  The Falcons looked bad against Pittsburgh, but then everyone has so far.  Matt Ryan and the boys got healthy in a hurry against Arizona last week to the tune of 41-7.  That’s the kind of beating that can get a team on a roll.  If they beat the Saints this week, they are on their way.

2.  Green Bay Packers (last week: 2, even, season high 2, season low 2)-  It was tempting to put the Pack in the top spot this week after their blowout of Buffalo and after the way the Saints played in San Fran, but I didn’t.  Blow out a better team than Buffalo, and they’ll get there.  They’ve won their games by a combined score of 62-27, and look for all the world like the best team in the entire league.

1.  New Orleans Saints (last week: 1, even, season high 1, season low 1)-  Until they lose a game, the defending champagne will stay number one.  If they don’t play better than last week, that loss could be coming from Atlanta.  Oddly, it looks like the offense might be the problem this year, and Reggie Bush is set to miss some time.  The Saints are discovering that repeating may be harder than winning it all in the first place.


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