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Week 2 Power Rankings

San Francisco's Dr. Frankentstein has created Alex Smith 2.0.

With week 2 in the books, it’s time to present updated win projections for each team. I kept half of the league’s teams at the same win total as last week, gave one additional win to one-quarter of the league, and took one win away from the remaining eight teams.

This week, the 49ers move in to the top spot. More on the remarkable transformation of Alex Smith tomorrow, but right now San Francisco will be the top team in most power rankings. With a great defense and an efficient offense, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers losing many games. San Francisco has held a 4th quarter lead in 19 of 20 games under coach Jim Harbaugh, and was tied in the 20th (against Baltimore). The only reason the 49ers may not win 12 games is that they could fall victim to the same trap that catches some teams that succeed with a conservative offense juxtaposed opposite an elite defense: a couple of random bounces can turn the game. These defensive-heavy teams generally live on the edge, with only a small margin for error most weeks.

San Francisco 49ers12111Alex Smith led the NFL in interception rate and in sacks in 2011; so far his interception rate is lower and his sack rate is higher in 2012. These metrics may be related.
New England Patriots1213-1I suspect that I will regret dropping them a win because the Patriots occasionally stumble early, but a home loss to the Cardinals can not go unpunished.
Houston Texans11101No, destroying Jacksonville didn't tell us anything we didn't know. But dominating the bad teams is the sign of an elite team, so I'm happy to bump them this week. Some tough games coming up, but Houston shouldn't be afraid of any opponent.
Pittsburgh Steelers11101I don't know if he's going to get MVP recognition, but I've been very impressed with Ben Roethlisberger in 2012. This is subjective, but I sense a lot of maturation to his game vs. where he was even two years ago. Steelers defense will be elite once they're healthy.
Green Bay Packers11110Aaron Rodgers is currently 25th in the NFL in ANY/A. He's 27th in NY/A. Until Rodgers gets back to his old form, 11 wins is the ceiling for this team, but I'm not going to drop them after a win against the Bears.
Philadelphia Eagles10100It's just perfect that Andy Reid's Eagles are the first team to ever start the season with two one-point wins. A 16-0 season followed by a division round blowout loss to the Giants would have Philly fans calling for Reid's head. Big win against the Ravens, but I was already high on the Eagles.
Baltimore Ravens10100Joe Flacco was fantastic in the first half and then miserable in the second half. I kind of feel like we might see this comment again this year. Ravens still look like a 10-win team, and a road loss to an NFC team doesn't hurt too much.
Denver Broncos10100Peyton Manning showed that he's got some rust to shake off, but the Broncos still look like a 10-win team to me. 5-1 in the division is attainable.
Atlanta Falcons1091Falcons have already notched two wins and looked pretty good doing it. The schedule isn't easy, but Atlanta isn't going to be an underdog very often.
Chicago Bears910-1The Bears blocking scheme looks like it was devised by the guy who came up with the Randy Ratio.
New York Giants990As my friend Mike Tanier tweeted during the game, the Giants condensed a typical season into 1 game against the Bucs. Eli Manning can take the Giants far, but let's not forget that New York has a brutal schedule and the Giants only won 9 games lats year.
Detroit Lions990Detroit needs to beat Tennessee and Minnesota the next two weeks, because the schedule is filled with landmines after the bye. The key to being a playoff team is taking care of business against the bad teams.
San Diego Chargers990The Chargers looking good early doesn't suit them well, as no one is talking about them. What is Norv Turner thinking?
Dallas Cowboys990A disappointing loss after a big win? No, my opinion of the Cowboys didn't change this week. I expect this to be a top-10 offense and at worst an average defense, which gets me to 9 wins.
New York Jets990Losing to the Steelers doesn't change much for the Jets. Neither will a win against Miami this weekend, if they get it. If not….
New Orleans Saints89-1I still like the Saints offense, but the defense looks downright dreadful. I expect them to beat the Chiefs but lose to the Packers, so putting them at 7-5 after that is a nod to how good the offense can be. But this is far from a good team right now.
Seattle Seahawks880Seattle has a tough schedule but I like the makeup of this team. Very good defense, strong running game, and I think Russell Wilson can get them 8 wins. Yes, this was the comment from last week.
Carolina Panthers880Huge for the Panthers to erase some doubts and knock off the defending division champs. But this is a difficult schedule to maneuver and even if Cam Newton has a monster year the Panthers might only get 8 wins.
Cincinnati Bengals770The next four games: @Washington, @Jacksonville, Miami and @Cleveland. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals were 1-5 or 5-1 at the end of that stretch. For now, they are a mediocre team in a tough division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers770I don't get the sense that Tampa Bay is quitting on anything this year. They are far from complete on either side of the ball, and most weeks will be difficult. The next two weeks take them to Dallas and then home for Washington; a split would be a success there.
Buffalo Bills761Bills notched a win and looked good doing it. The schedule is manageable and C.J. Spiller looks like a star. A loss in Cleveland this week would drop them back to 6 wins, but I don't see that happening.
Arizona Cardinals761Had them at 6 wins last week, and you can imagine that that none of those wins were projected to come against the Patriots. But still not convinced about this offense, hence just a one-game bump to 7 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs67-1They've now been outscored by 204 points in their last 20 games. I kind of doubt the prescription for that is Drew Brees.
Washington Redskins67-1The loss of Brian Orakpo is huge, but at least Washington still has Ryan Kerrigan! Losing to the Rams drops the Skins, but Robert Griffin III is for real.
St. Louis Rams660Impressive performance against the Redskins. 6 wins is a nod to Jeff Fisher, as I think the Rams are one of the least talented in the league. Yes, this was essentially the same comment as last week.
Miami Dolphins651Their remaining schedule is workable. Games against the 3 bottom feeders of the AFC South and Cincinnati will let us know if Miami is on their level or a tier above. Reggie Bush is second in the league in rushing.
Tennessee Titans56-1No bigger disaster so far in the NFL than the Tennessee Titans. They might need to split against IND/JAX just to get to five wins. Chris Johnson looks lost while the defense is struggling. Don't expect any leniency this week when former coach Jim Schwartz brings his Lions to town.
Oakland Raiders56-1Raise your hand if you thought Darren McFadden would stay healthy but be ineffective. Oakland has just two offensive touchdowns and Dennis Allen looks overwhelmed as a head coach. Allowing 263 rushing yards to Miami was embarassing.
Minnesota Vikings56-1Their last six games feature 4 against the Bears and Packers and one against the Texans. Minnesota might need to go 4-4 over the next 8 weeks if they want to finish with 5 wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars550A loss in Indianapolis this weekend would be devastating. I'm not sure if they win more than two games outside their division (remaining non-division schedule is GB/CHI/DET; AFC East; CIN, @OAK).
Indianapolis Colts541Andrew Luck is too good to keep them at 5 wins. A playoff berth might be too much, but they can end up with the second best record in the division.
Cleveland Browns440Brandon Weeden looked much better and Trent Richardson looked great. Now the Browns look like a decent team with a brutal schedule instead of a bad team with a brutal schedule. Must-win game against the Bills this weekend ahead of road games against the Ravens and Giants.

**Update. It occurred to me that it would be easy to calculate remaining strength of schedule based on the projected wins I’m giving to each opponent. So I did that. The Saints and Giants have the toughest remaining schedules, while the Steelers and Packers have the easiest slates.

0.549New Orleans Saints
0.545New York Giants
0.536Minnesota Vikings
0.536Arizona Cardinals
0.536St. Louis Rams
0.531Seattle Seahawks
0.527Washington Redskins
0.518Carolina Panthers
0.513Dallas Cowboys
0.513Philadelphia Eagles
0.513Cleveland Browns
0.509Baltimore Ravens
0.496Cincinnati Bengals
0.496Detroit Lions
0.496New England Patriots
0.496San Diego Chargers
0.496Miami Dolphins
0.496New York Jets
0.496Oakland Raiders
0.491Atlanta Falcons
0.491Tampa Bay Buccaneers
0.491Chicago Bears
0.487Tennessee Titans
0.482Buffalo Bills
0.482Kansas City Chiefs
0.478Denver Broncos
0.478San Francisco 49ers
0.478Houston Texans
0.473Indianapolis Colts
0.473Jacksonville Jaguars
0.451Pittsburgh Steelers
0.451Green Bay Packers
  • Ben

    Kind of hard to explain but the mobile version of your site is twice as wide as it needs to be with the right half just grey. You’ll understand if you go on the site on a mobile device.

    • Chase Stuart

      Thanks Ben. I see what you’re saying — I’ll look into it.

    • Richie

      In Firefox (for me, at least) the site is about 10% too wide.

  • K.L.

    I’m not sure if you meant this, but the way you wrote the Washington section implies that Orakpo and Kerrgian are out for the year. Orkapo and Carriker, not Kerrigan, are done for the season. Interesting read as usual.

    • Chase Stuart

      The correct way to submit this comment is:

      You are an idiot! You mistook Kerrigan for Carriker! You are an idiot!

      Thanks for the heads up. I have since updated and re-attempted to do a witty comment.

  • DB

    Hi Chase – I’m not a Cards fan, but I think a lot of people are underestimating this team. The Cards are 9-2 over their last 11 games including wins against the 49ers and Bengals last year and Patriots this year, teams who made the playoffs last year. There is no team that is better over this stretch of 11 games. Assuming their recent success will continue and looking at the Cards upcoming schedule, they could reach 6 wins before the halfway point of this season. After week 7 of this year, the Cards schedule becomes considerably more difficult, but I could see them reaching 9 wins which could get them on the edge of the playoffs. Right now the Cards are beating all the inferior teams and also a smattering of the good ones.

    Obviously, the Cards offense is a huge question mark, but that defense looks like it’s top 5 and has been playing that way for quite some time now.

    • Chase Stuart

      With Arizona’s offense, I don’t think there are too many “lock” games. Agree that the defense is very good, but they have a very hard schedule. On the positive side, I don’t think I’ll drop them from 7 wins if they lose this week.

      • DB

        Fair enough. I’m going to go out on a very far limb a predict a 6-1 record after week 7 for cards. Oh and by the way, way back in 1986 I predicted the 11-1 Jets would fail to win another regular season game. That was the last time I was right about anything.

    • Richie

      Since their offense seems bad, and the QBs keep getting flip-flopped and playing poorly, it is difficult for most people to take them as a good team. But they are playing well on defense. Hard to know if it will last.

      But this pattern reminds me of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Every week we couldn’t figure out why they were winning. Lots of crazy wins. Lots of bad QB play and switching of QBs. Also, a Lombardi Trophy.