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What a week of change in the NFL.
Drew Brees is out for weeks. Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year. And Eli Manning is out of a starting job. Yes, the inexorable march of time is playing its tricks on us mortals once more. Well, everyone except Tom Brady. Seriously, what’s with that guy?
As you might expect, serious injuries at the game’s most important position wreaked havoc on the league and our Power Rankings. Let’s dig into the madness. As always, please reach me at @danhanzus if you are internet mad.
NOTE: The previous rankings referenced in the lineup below are from the Week 2 Power Rankings.
No. 3 Here were
Patrick Mahomes’ final five completions of the first half against the Raiders:
42-yard TD to
32 yards to
43 yards to
a 27-yard TD to
Travis Kelce and
a 39-yard TD to Robinson. Superman stuff. Mahomes threw for an astounding 278 yards and four touchdowns
in the second quarter alone and finished a game with more than 350 yards and four-plus touchdowns for the fourth time in 18 career starts. Oh, and he turned 24 today. Happy birthday, MVP. Kansas City’s defense — which
Derek Carr labeled
as “really good” after the game — deserves credit after holding Oakland scoreless in the final three quarters. Answer me this: Who (besides New England) has a chance of beating this team if Mahomes stays healthy and Steve Spagnuolo’s defense develops into an above-average unit?
No. 2Drew Brees’
thumb injury took a lot of juice out of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game rematch between New Orleans and Los Angeles, but don’t hate on the
Rams if they don’t feel any less pleased about
a convincing win. The offense remains out of sync when compared to the best times of the last two seasons under Sean McVay, but Sunday brought progress. The most impressive play?
A gorgeous 57-yard rainbow from
Jared Goff to
Brandin Cooks to set up L.A.’s opening field goal.
Cooper Kupp, meanwhile, has not skipped a beat following reconstructive knee surgery. He’s been Goff’s favorite receiver this season, leading the team with 19 targets. His
66-yard catch-and-run to the goal line showed speed and power that backs up the offseason reports that he’s
more explosive now than he was before the ACL tear. The
Rams are 2-0 and have yet to hit their stride. Good place to be.
No. 6 The
Cowboys are locked in.
Sunday was a complete effort on both sides of the ball, but let’s call special attention to the offensive line, which plays a lot like the Dallas lines that dominated the trenches earlier this decade.
Ezekiel Elliott went for over 100 yards with a score, and
Dak Prescott was sacked once and hit only twice by an overmatched
Redskins front seven. Prescott, perhaps emboldened by his star running back and ace blocking, is playing with MVP-like confidence. He had another big game against Washington, throwing for three touchdowns, averaging 9.0 yards per attempt and rushing for 69 yards, which included a career-high
42-yard sprint in the second quarter. Promising second-year wideout
Michael Gallup is going to miss time
with a knee injury, but enter
Devin Smith, the star-crossed former
Jets second-round pick, who channeled his blazing Ohio State days on a
51-yard touchdown reception.
No. 9 It wasn’t nearly as easy as it was
against the Dolphins in Week 1, but the
Ravens are 2-0 nonetheless after
beating the Cardinals on Sunday.
41-yard deep shot to
Marquise Brown on third-and-11 late in the fourth quarter was the play of this game, defined by a perfectly thrown ball and great sideline catch. Brown is the guy who takes the top off the defense, but he’s far from Jackson’s only weapon. Tight end
Mark Andrews now has two 100-yard games in two tries, and
Mark Ingram is — just like in his
Saints days — a fine second-banana running back. The Numero Uno Banana? Well, that would be
Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries. That yardage total wasn’t inflated by one breakaway; rather, it was a series of 8, 10, 12 and 14-yard runs that slowly broke Arizona’s back.
This Sunday brings us Lamar vs. Mahomes at Arrowhead. Buckle up.
No. 8 For the second consecutive week, we saw how having
Russell Wilson on your side in a close game can make all the difference. Wilson’s numbers
against the Steelers were excellent (29 for 35, 300 yards, 3 TDs), but I was most impressed by how the QB closed out Pittsburgh after the
Steelers scored a touchdown to pull within two. After taking over at his own 25 with 5:34 to play, Wilson converted a pair of first downs on passes to tight end
Will Dissly and receiver
Tyler Lockett, then scrambled 10 yards for a third first down, scrambled again for 9 yards (a play wiped out by penalty),
then scrambled once more on third-and-16, picking up 15 yards to set up
Chris Carson for the game-clinching fourth-and-1 conversion. Art. Speaking of Dissly, the 2018 fourth-round pick was targeted five times and finished with five catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Another hit for general manager John Schneider.
No. 10 What a strange, strange game. The
Packers ripped off touchdown drives of 75, 63 and 33 yards to start the day against the
Vikings … then were shut out the rest of the way, gaining just 164 more yards in an eventual
21-16 win. Had the
Vikings not repeatedly shot themselves in the foot (and been on the wrong end of three questionable OPI calls), Green Bay probably loses this game. So, yes, we saw progress in the Aaron Rodgers-Matt LaFleur marriage in Week 2 — but not nearly as much as one would expect, given how the game started. For the second straight week, it was Mike Pettine’s defense that took the
Kevin King’s fourth-quarter interception in the end zone preserved Green Bay’s lead with five minutes to play, and after another
Packers three-and-out, the D got one last stop to finish off Minnesota.
No. 5Nelson Agholor had the game in his hands … he just couldn’t hold onto it.
Carson Wentz’s perfectly placed dart down the far sideline with two minutes to play hit his receiver in stride, but Agholor dropped what would have been a sure touchdown. (For what it’s worth, Agholor confirmed he lost it in the lights in the postgame, but
still took accountability.) When
Zach Ertz was stopped one foot short of a first down deep in
Falcons territory, it was the final painful chapter in a frustrating loss to the
Falcons. It’s a shame, too, because this was one of the more enjoyable Wentz games ever. The quarterback struggled mightily in the first half and lost two of his top playmakers,
Alshon Jeffery and
DeSean Jackson, to injury, but he nearly brought the
Eagles all the way back with
of money throws in high-leverage spots. It was a reminder that,
even in defeat, Philadelphia is in good hands. Now the
Eagles have to get healthy after a punishing Sunday.
No. 11 How can you not feel happy for
This is the astonishing ingredient ever%sentence_ending
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