September 19, 2017 - 7:14 pm
Updated September 19, 2017 - 7:23 pm
Review-Journal NFL reporter Gilbert Manzano begins his weekly NFL rankings this week.
1. Chiefs (2-0). Andy Reid’s playbook has opened up with the addition of rookie running back Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs don’t stop attacking defenses with their array of weapons. When Travis Kelce is scoring on shovel passes, you know things are dandy in Kansas City. And watch out for the defense with Justin Houston back to his 2014 form.
2. Raiders (2-0). The Raiders aren’t the comeback kings this season. They’re jumping out to big leads and icing games by the start of the second half thanks to Oakland’s revamped rushing attack with Marshawn Lynch. The Raiders could be built for a long postseason run, but the secondary might be an issue. They’ll be tested against Kirk Cousins and the Redskins on Sunday.
3. Falcons (2-0). No Super Bowl loss hangover for Atlanta. The Falcons are still unstoppable on offense with a balanced attack. The defense continues to improve, but the loss of stud linebacker Vic Beasley could hinder the Falcons’ momentum.
4. Broncos (2-0). A few weeks ago, the Broncos were picked by many to finish last in the AFC West. They appear to be contenders again with quarterback Trevor Siemian playing at a high level. The Denver defense shut down star running backs Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott in back-to-back weeks.
5. Patriots (1-1). It’s hard to keep the defending champions out of the top five in September. Yes, they have injury concerns, but Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick always find a way back on track. Expect James White, Rex Burkhead and Phillip Dorsett to pick up the slack.
6. Steelers (2-0). Pittsburgh’s Killer Bs attack has had a slow start, but the rising defense has had its way against the Browns and Vikings to open the season. Eventually the Steelers’ offense will explode.
7. Lions (2-0). Putting the Lions this high wasn’t easy after their late-season meltdown in 2016. But they appear to be an improved team with Matthew Stafford playing like the highest-paid quarterback. Ameer Abdullah is finally producing in the backfield, and Ziggy Ansah is terrorizing offensive lines.
8. Ravens (2-0). The Ravens might have the best defense of the young season after shutting out the Bengals and forcing the Browns into five turnovers. Terrell Suggs has found the fountain of youth to go with the young playmakers. The offense is still a question mark and took a big hit after the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda.
9. Packers (1-1). The Packers got exposed by the Falcons again. An explosive offense and a blitz-heavy pass rush seem to be the formula for slowing Aaron Rodgers. Even with all the concerns at offensive line and defense, Rodgers usually finds a way into the postseason.
10. Seahawks (1-1). The Seahawks still have a premier defense, but the offense is holding them back. Russell Wilson and company produced only 12 points at home against the lowly 49ers. The Seahawks might be lucky to be playing in the weak NFC West.
11. Panthers (2-0). Carolina is off to a good start thanks to the defense only giving up three points per game. Cam Newton will have to shake off a slow start if the Panthers want to return to the playoffs.
12. Eagles (1-1). Philadelphia had a tough matchup last week against the Chiefs, but its rising defense still had its moments. Carson Wentz could lead the Eagles to an NFC East crown.
13. Cowboys (1-1). Dallas took two steps back after getting dominated by a top defense on the road. Luckily for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, they don’t play in the tough AFC West. Should be an easier matchup this week against the Cardinals.
14. Titans (1-1). The trendy pick to win the AFC South showed up last week and stopped all the momentum the Jaguars had after Week 1. Marcus Mariota and his explosive offense proved why Tennessee is the division favorite.
15. Buccaneers (1-0). Jameis Winston’s struggles on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” probably made many jump off the Tampa Bay bandwagon. The Bucs looked like a wild-card team with a balanced attack on both sides of the ball against the Bears.
16. Vikings (1-1). Minnesota easily could be in the top 12, but Sam Bradford’s out-0f-nowhere knee injury could hurt the Vikings’ playoff hopes. Mike Zimmer is staying mum on the extent of the injury. The Vikes have no shot with Case Keenum under center.
17. Dolphins (1-0). Miami opened the season with a close victory over the Chargers. Two things are clear: The Dolphins will run often with Jay Ajayi and take many shots down the field with Jay Cutler.
18. Chargers (0-2). The Chargers might be a little too high because of their winless record, but there’s no doubt they’re talented. They continue to have bad luck, losing on two down-to-the wire missed field goals.
19. Redskins (1-1). We still don’t know which Redskins team will show up on Sundays. Last week, Kirk Cousins didn’t have his best game, but they still scored 27 points on the road.
20. Rams (1-1). The Rams dropped a close one to the Redskins at home, but at least they continue to score. That wasn’t the case a year ago with a dreadful offense.
21. Jaguars (1-1). The biggest overreaction of Week 1? The Jaguars’ so-called top defense. Jacksonville took a beating versus the Titans in Week 2.
22. Texans (1-1). Throwing it in DeAndre Hopkins’ direction 60 percent of the time isn’t going to win a lot of games. At least that Houston defense is still very good.
23. Cardinals (1-1). The Cardinals rallied against the punchless Colts. That doesn’t say much. Arizona is sorely missing David Johnson.
24. Giants (0-2). Most overrated team entering the 2017 season? The Giants. New York addressed its offensive line and running back troubles by adding more wide receivers.
25. Bills (1-1). If LeSean McCoy is limited to fewer than 10 rushing yards, that usually means the Bills lost. That was the case last week against the Panthers, but Buffalo should be happy with the defense.
26. Saints (0-2). So the Saints continue to get rid of Drew Brees’ weapons while getting worse on defense. Yeah, New Orleans has a whole lot of problems.
27. Bengals (0-2). Cincinnati might be the biggest disappointment of the young season after not finding the end zone in two home games.
28. Bears (0-2). The Bears have a good front seven. That’s about it.
29. Browns (0-2). Cleveland’s best receiver, Corey Coleman, went on injured reserve because of a hand injury. It never gets better for the Browns.
30. 49ers (0-2). San Francisco, got anything better than Brian Hoyer?
31. Colts (0-2). Might be time to shut down Andrew Luck for the season. Get a top pick, Indy.
32. Jets (0-2). The quest to 0-16 continues for Gang Green.