NFL Power Rankings: Rams the cream of the crop
1. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) - Last Week: No.1
Fentress says: The Rams barely breathed hard in a 34-0 win over Arizona (0-2). Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aquib Talib have had opposing receivers on lockdown. However, the Rams have taken down Oakland (0-2) and the Cardinals. Let’s see what the Rams’ third-ranked defense does against a decent team in the Los Angeles Chargers, who are third in the NFL in total offense (445 yards per game).
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0) - Last Week: No.5
Fentress says: Jacksonville took it to the Patriots to become the AFC's leading Super Bowl contender (with all due respect to Kansas City). The Jaguars’ defense is already elite, but if quarterback Blake Bortles plays like he did Sunday with 377 yards and four touchdowns, Jacksonville could be impossible to beat.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) - Last Week: No.8
Fentress says: Quarterback Pat Mahomes II went off again, this time for six touchdown passes against Pittsburgh. He now has an NFL record 10 TD passes over his first two starts. If Mahomes is only half this good, KC will certainly be a Super Bowl contender. But the defense is bad, ranking last in the NFL. That needs to get fixed because Mahomes is not going to throw 80 touchdown passes.
4. New England Patriots (1-1) - Last week: No.2
Fentress says: The Jaguars have surpassed the Patriots in the AFC hierarchy, at least for now. If New England is to rise again it must discover a running game. Jacksonville's defense is built to handle Tom Brady with elite defensive backs and a nasty pass rush. The addition of oft-troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon smacks of desperation. But he could be a huge addition as the franchise’s best downfield receiver since Randy Moss.
5. Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1) - Last Week: No.4
Fentress says: The Vikings spent a fifth-round pick last spring on kicker Daniel Carlson only to waive him after he missed three field goals at Green Bay. Ouch! That said, Minnesota is a competent kicker away from being 2-0. Minnesota might have the best duo of wide receivers in the NFL in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-0-1) - Last Week: No.7
Fentress says: The Packers, a week after making a dramatic comeback against Chicago, went out and blew a lead against Minnesota and were fortunate to escape with a tie. Still, a tie with Minnesota is worth more than most victories against much weaker teams. But, Green Bay’s pass defense was exposed by Kirk Cousin’s 425 passing yards and four touchdowns. Also, the Packers’ running game is a mess.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) - Last Week: No.15
Fentress says: Cincinnati has looked impressive. Quarterback Andy Dalton is off to his best start with a 108.5 passer rating. When he is right, that makes wide receiver A.J. Green elite. Consequently, Cincinnati ranks fourth in scoring whereas at this point last season, the Bengals were 0-2 and averaging 4.5 points per game. Cincinnati will have to make due for awhile minus running back Joe Mixon ,who will miss a few weeks with a knee injury.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) - Last Week: No.19
Fentress says: Is there a better story in the NFL than the rise of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick? He has a 151.5 passer rating with eight touchdown passes and one interception. At this rate, Jameis Winston won’t see the field this season. In fact, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is quoted as saying that Tampa Bay needs to stick with the hot hand.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) - Last Week: No.3
Fentress says: Carson Wentz is back this week and that means Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles returns to backup duties. It’s a good thing, too, because Foles has not played anywhere near where he was during last season’s playoffs. Philadelphia is averaging 19.5 points per game compared to 28.5 last year. Receiver is such a problem, that Philadelphia brought in Jeremy Maclin for a workout
10. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) - Last Week: No.9
Fentress says: Atlanta lost guard Andy Levitre (Oregon State) for the season, a blow to the offensive line. Defeating Carolina last week got the team back on track and now the Falcons take on New Orleans with a chance to go 2-0 in the NFC South. WR Julio Jones has just three touchdown receptions in his last 18 games. Atlanta won’t go far without Jones being a factor.
11. Carolina Panthers (1-1) - Last Week: No.6
Fentress says: Running back Christian McCaffrey had 20 receptions over the first two games to go along with 18 rushing attempts. But the speed back has yet to deliver on big plays. His longest reception went for 18 yards at Atlanta. His longest went for 15 yards against Dallas. Quarterback Cam Newton leads the team in rushing (100 yards). But is that a good thing.
12. New Orleans Saints (1-1) - Last Week: No.10
Fentress says: The Saints lost at home to Tampa Bay and then almost lost to Cleveland at home. They remain in the top 12 because it’s difficult to believe they will continue to play so poorly. The defense was awful against Tampa Bay and the offense wet the bed against Cleveland. We will know what this team is really all about this week.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) - Last Week: No.11
Fentress says: RB Le'veon Bell remains a holdout and WR Antonio Brown is pouting.
14. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) - Last Week: No.12
Fentress says: The Bengals may have exposed this team’s lack of defense.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) - Last Week: No.13
Fentress says: RB Melvin Gordon might finally live up to his potential.
16. Chicago Bears (1-1) - Last Week: No.16
Fentress says: Mitchell Trubisky has some Rex Grossman in him.
17. Denver Broncos (2-0) - Last Week: No.18
Fentress says: Improved defense is allowing Denver to win close games.
18. Miami Dolphins (2-0) - Last Week: No.21
Fentress says: Miami’s defense has been dominant.
19. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) - Last Week: No.17
Fentress says: The offense will find trouble in Seattle.
20. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) - Last Week: No.24
Fentress says: DEs Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are becoming a force.
21. Tennessee Titans (1-1) - Last Week: No.22
Marcus Mariota could miss another game.
22. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) - Last Week: No. 27
Fentress says: Rookie LB Darius Leonard named Defensive Player of the Week.
23. Houston Texans (0-2) - Last Week: No.16
Fentress says: DeShaun Watson is not the same quarterback he was last year. Yet.
24. Seattle Seahawks (0-2) - Last Week: No.20
Fentress says: Will welcome back up to four starters for Dallas.
25. New York Giants (0-2) - Last Week: No.25
Fentress says: Eli Manning has one TD pass in two games. Yikes!
26. New York Jets (1-1) - Last Week: No.23
Fentress says: Sam Darnold will take his lumps, but he’s showed promise.
27. Washington (1-1) - Last Week: No.26
Fentress says: The lack of perimeter weapons has been glaring.
28. Oakland Raiders (0-2) - Last Week: No.28
Fentress says: Coach Jon Gruden says the pass rush is lacking…and in Chicago.
29. Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) - Last Week: No.30
Fentress says: The Browns have greatly improved and look like a potential five-win team.
30. Detroit Lions (0-2) - Last Week: No.29
Fentress says: A 0-3 start is likely for a team that should be better than this.
31. Arizona Cardinals (0-2) - Last Week: No.31
Fentress says: Getting shut out with Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson on the roster is not.
32. Buffalo Bills (0-2) - Last Week: No.32
Fentress says: The team is so bad it's difficult to figure out how they made the playoffs last season.