Week 2 is in the books and it looks like the AFC West is shaping up to be the best division in the league.
The Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are all undefeated and occupy three of the top four spots on this week’s power rankings, which take into account a team’s actual record, what their record should be based on points scored and allowed — also known as their Pythagorean win percentage — and how much better or worse their opponents are in relation to an 8-8 team. A good team playing against good opponents will be near the top while those who struggle against mediocre or poor teams will trend toward the bottom. A more detailed description of the method can be found in the Week 1 rankings.
|Rank||Team||Power Rank (1 to 100)||Change in rank from last week|
|1||Oakland Raiders (2-0)||73||3|
|2||Denver Broncos (2-0)||72||6|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)||71||4|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)||71||-1|
|5||Atlanta Falcons (2-0)||69||0|
|6||New England Patriots (1-1)||67||5|
|7||Baltimore Ravens (2-0)||66||-1|
|8||Carolina Panthers (2-0)||63||1|
|9||Green Bay Packers (1-1)||63||-7|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)||62||6|
|11||Dallas Cowboys (1-1)||60||-10|
|12||Detroit Lions (2-0)||59||0|
|13||Miami Dolphins (1-0)||53||2|
|14||Seattle Seahawks (1-1)||50||3|
|15||Buffalo Bills (1-1)||49||-2|
|16||Minnesota Vikings (1-1)||49||-6|
|17||Washington Redskins (1-1)||48||7|
|18||Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)||48||-4|
|19||Tennessee Titans (1-1)||46||9|
|20||Arizona Cardinals (1-1)||44||3|
|21||New York Giants (0-2)||42||-3|
|22||Houston Texans (1-1)||41||3|
|23||Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)||40||-2|
|24||New Orleans Saints (0-2)||39||-5|
|25||Los Angeles Rams (1-1)||36||-3|
|26||Indianapolis Colts (0-2)||34||1|
|27||Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)||34||-1|
|28||Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)||32||-8|
|29||New York Jets (0-2)||25||1|
|30||Chicago Bears (0-2)||24||-1|
|31||Cleveland Browns (0-2)||22||0|
|32||San Francisco 49ers (0-2)||18||0|
You can debate whether the Raiders deserve the top spot after victories over the 1-1 Titans and 0-2 Jets, but they are scoring a league-high 3.6 points per drive, the best scoring rate in the NFL through two games since the 2008 Denver Broncos (4.0). Quarterback Derek Carr ranks seventh in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (67.2) and lines up behind the third-best pass-blocking unit in the NFL this year. Maybe its defense undercuts them at some point but for now Oakland is deserving of the top spot.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, were demolished by the Broncos on Sunday, 42-17, with their offense producing 22 fewer points than expected based on the down, distance and field position of each of their offensive plays. That dropped them 10 spots in the rankings to 11th.
Their division rival, the New York Giants, meanwhile, are the best 0-2 team yet rank 25th overall per Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. Despite their winless record, they’re still a more potent team than the one-win Jaguars, Texans and Rams. Of course, that might not help them this week against the Eagles.
Using the data above, here are this week’s picks against the consensus point spreads from multiple sports books in Vegas. We start with the featured matchups of Week 2.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-6)
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles, 63 percent
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles -6
I don’t know if this is the beginning of the end for Eli Manning, but he sure is trending in the wrong direction. Three seasons ago the Giants quarterback was averaging 6.74 adjusted net yards per pass. Now, at almost 37 years old, he is averaging 4.31.
That’s putting extra strain on Big Blue’s defense. Opposing offenses are starting their drives on the Giants’ 34-yard line, the third-best starting field position in the NFL this season and a six-yard decline from last year. It’s also the difference between opponents scoring 1.3 or 1.1 points per drive, respectively. That might not sound like much, but considering there are an average of 21 drives per team per game, that’s equivalent to gifting the other team more than a field goal.
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers (-9)
Winner: Green Bay Packers, 71 percent
Pick: Green Bay Packers -9
The Bengals’ Achilles’ heel is their offensive line. Their run blocking is the worst in the league per Pro Football Focus and their pass protection isn’t much better (fourth worst). That’s going to be a big problem against a Packers defense that features edge rushers such as Nick Perry (10 total sacks, hits and hurries in 2017), Clay Mathews (six pressures) and interior lineman Mike Daniels (five pressures, six stops at or behind the line of scrimmage). Daniels suffered a minor hamstring injury Sunday night but shouldn’t miss much time, if any.
Oakland Raiders (-3) at Washington Redskins
Winner: Oakland Raiders, 65 percent
Pick: Oakland Raiders -3
Oakland rookie defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has started the season strong — he has two hits and three hurries with two solo tackles and an assist through two games — and will need to continue his performance against Washington center Spencer Long, especially when the Redskins call a running play.
When running up the middle, Redskins running backs are averaging 7.6 yards per carry, the highest behind any position along the offensive line.
Unfortunately for Washington, top running back Rob Kelley suffered a rib injury in the second quarter Sunday and missed the rest of the game, although he is considered “day-to-day.” The Redskins will need their backs in top shape to take the pressure off the team’s passing game, which has scored seven points fewer than expected (ninth worst) after taking into account down, distance and field position.
The remaining games
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
Winner: Dallas Cowboys, 62 percent
Pick: Dallas Cowboys -3
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Winner: Baltimore Ravens, 65 percent
Pick: Baltimore Ravens -3.5
Denver Broncos (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Winner: Denver Broncos, 63 percent
Pick: Denver Broncos -3
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-6)
Winner: Carolina Panthers, 64 percent
Pick: New Orleans Saints +6
Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) at Chicago Bears
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers, 72 percent
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -7.5
Cleveland Browns (-1) at Indianapolis Colts
Winner: Cleveland Browns, 55 percent
Pick: Cleveland Browns -1
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Detroit Lions
Winner: Detroit Lions, 62 percent
Pick: Detroit Lions +3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TBD) at Minnesota Vikings
Winner: Minnesota Vikings, 63 percent
Pick: Minnesota Vikings, depending on the spread
Line info is being delayed based on the health of Vikings starting QB Sam Bradford. If Bradford is out, our model favors the Bucs with 57-percent confidence.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-13.5)
Winner: New England Patriots, 69 percent
Pick: New England Patriots -13.5
Miami Dolphins (-6) at New York Jets
Winner: Miami Dolphins, 67 percent
Pick: Miami Dolphins -6
Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Winner: Tennessee Titans, 56 percent
Pick: Tennessee Titans -2.5
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Los Angeles Chargers
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs, 69 percent
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -3
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Winner: Los Angeles Rams, 64 percent
Pick: Los Angeles Rams -2.5
More on the NFL