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The CHARGED Elite: Week Two

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The AFC East is well-represented with the Pats and Jets in the top five and the Bills in the top 10.

The CHARGED Elite: Week Two

The NFL picture is still a bit foggy after two weeks of play.  There are a couple teams that have jumped in front of the pack (Patriots, Packers, Jets), teams that are clearly awful (Chiefs, Colts), surprise teams (Bills, Redskins), and a whole mess of teams in the middle of the pack.  There are some big rises and big falls as teams start to show what they can do the rest of the season.  Without further delay, here is the CHARGED Elite following week two.

1. New England Patriots (2-0, Last Week 3) - Great teams make their opponents pay for their mistakes, and that's exactly what New England did to San Diego on Sunday.  They stopped the Chargers on a big fourth and goal in the second quarter and then marched 99 yards for a touchdown.  Vince Wilfork intercepted Philip Rivers at the end of the half and the Patriots turned it in to a field goal.  It only took three short plays for Tom Brady to turn a Mike Tolbert fumble into six for New England.   

2. Green Bay Packers (2-0, Last Week 2) - While the Packers can score with anyone in the league, their pass defense has to be a concern moving forward.  With safety Nick Collins now out for the year, the secondary that has surrendered over 400 yards passing in each of its first two games is that much thinner.  But with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, good defense just might be scoring more than you give up.

3. New York Jets (2-0, Last Week 8) - Rex Ryan's team suffocated the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.  The only blemishes were some very bad interceptions thrown by Mark Sanchez and the lack of a solid performance by the ground game.  The loss of center Nick Mangold will only hurt the run game more, but as long as the defense keeps playing at this level, the Jets will be fine.

4. Houston Texans (2-0, Last Week 6) - It wasn't the prettiest win for Houston, but they took care of business on the road against a scrappy Dolphins team.  I expected Matt Schaub to absolutely shred a Miami secondary that gave up that huge week one performance to Tom Brady, but they controlled the game on the ground with Ben Tate rushing for another 100+ yards.  The pass rush also made it difficult for Chad Henne to operate.

5. Detroit Lions (2-0, Last Week 7)  Yes, they beat up on the woeful Kansas City Chiefs.  But it was an impressive beating nevertheless.  The defense is forcing a ton of turnovers early on which will go a long way as the season progresses.  And the Stafford-to-Johnson connection?  It's a thing of beauty.  

6. New Orleans Saints (1-1, Last Week 10) - How good is Drew Brees?  So far, Brees has just completed 67.4 percent of his passes and thrown for 689 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions.  Only four starting QBs have yet to throw a pick: Brees, Rodgers, Sam Bradford, and Andy Dalton.  That's right, Andy Dalton.  But Brees was instrumental for New Orleans in their big win over a Chicago Bears team that looked awfully good in week one.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1, Last Week 4) - Mike Vick suffered a concussion in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, and if he has to miss any time, which he likely will, the Eagles will be a much less dangerous team.  LeSean McCoy has been fabulous, as has Jeremy Maclin, but Vick represents the big play/something-out-of-nothing threat that backup Mike Kafka cannot replicate.

8. Baltimore Ravens (1-1, Last Week 1) - That was a let down.  Joe Flacco reverted to his inconsistent ways, Ray Rice couldn't get it going on the ground, and the defense could not stop Matt Hasselbeck and Kenny Britt.  We have seen both ends of the spectrum now for Baltimore, and they have to decide soon what end they are going to play at the rest of the year.

9. Buffalo Bills (2-0, Last Week 11) - We now know one thing about this Buffalo Bills team: they know how to take a punch.  After falling behind 21-3 at halftime (and missing a field goal as the half expired), Buffalo roared out of the gates to score touchdowns on all five of their second half possessions.  This team might not be ranked this high at season's end, but right now Ryan Fitzpatrick and co. are playing like a top-10 team.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, Last Week 12) - Ben Roethlisberger should be thanking whatever god he prays to.  That hit he took on Sunday looked like it could have been season-ending, but somehow Roethlisberger stayed in and managed the remainder of the game.  It's clear that Seattle is a third-rate team, but the Steelers didn't give them any chances and took care of business.

11. Atlanta Falcons (1-1, Last Week 16) - Matt Ryan didn't play a great game against the Eagles, but he made all of the important plays, especially some tight throws around the goal line.  "Matty Ice" was cool and composed as he and Michael Turner led the Falcons back in the second half.  It's a big win for Atlanta, who would have dropped to 0-2 with a loss.

12. Washington Redskins (2-0, Last Week 14) - Who would have thought that the only undefeated team in the NFC East after week two would be the Redskins?  Rex Grossman led the fourth quarter comeback and the rushing attack was much improved.  Tim Hightower and Roy Helu combined for 170 yards in Mike Shanahan's offense and looked much more comfortable.

13.  Dallas Cowboys (1-1, Last Week 15) - Big props to Tony Romo for orchestrating that comeback with a punctured lung.  He certainly silenced those critics that were all over him for at least one week.  More props to Miles Austin for picking up the slack with Dez Bryant out.  But Dallas has to get Felix Jones going sooner or later.  He has just 69 rushing yards after two games and hasn't really been a factor yet.  

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, Last Week 17) - Josh Freeman is the comeback kid.  The young QB led the Buccaneers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit for Tampa Bay's first win of the season.  As Cold Hard Football Facts notes, this is Freeman's eighth fourth quarter comeback of his career.  Those eight wins account for half of his career total.  Tampa has a poised quarterback, and it was good to see LeGarrette Blount rise from the dead for a couple of scores. 

15. San Diego Chargers (1-1, Last Week 9) - The Chargers could have beaten the Patriots on Sunday, but those timely errors really cost them.  And where was Antonio Gates?  But Ryan Mathews had another promising game for San Diego.  His 126 total yards were the third straight game, dating back to last year, that he had gained over 100 total yards.  His improved play will help Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, and the rest of that offense.

16. Chicago Bears (1-1, Last Week 5) - The offensive line issues are back.  Jay Cutler got sacked six more times on Sunday as the Bears offense sputtered.  First round pick Gabe Carimi went down with a dislocated knee, and if he misses an extended period of time Cutler is in trouble.  He's currently on pace to get sacked 88 times, which can't be good for his health.  O-Line coach Mike Tice has to figure something out fast.

17.  New York Giants (1-1, Last Week 23) - After that early Eli Manning interception, it looked like it was going to be another one of those games for the Giants.  But the defense picked them up, stopping St. Louis with a huge stand at the one-yard-line.  The pass defense was atrocious, but the Giants were opportunistic.  They recovered a fumble on a punt, Michael Boley took a dropped lateral in for a touchdown (and then proceeded to nail an unsuspecting patron) and the defensive line created just enough pressure to take Bradford and the Rams out of sync.  The return of Justin Tuck to the line was also huge.

18. Oakland Raiders (1-1, Last Week 13) - Surrendering that large halftime lead to the Bills has to sting, but credit Jason Campbell for twice putting the Raiders back in front in the fourth quarter.  Playing without playmakers like Jacoby Ford and Kevin Boss, Campbell and Darren McFadden had nice games against the Bills.  Will they be able to have the same kind of success against the Jets next weekend?

19. Tennessee Titans (1-1, Last Week (27) - Who needs Chris Johnson anyway?  The runningback has yet to make a real difference this season.  Matt Hasselbeck had a terrific game and he is getting to know Kenny Britt very well.  Britt has been targeted 23 times through two games, representing nearly a third of all Hasselbeck's looks.

20. Arizona Cardinals (1-1, Last Week 19) - The good news for the Cardinals is that Kevin Kolb and Beanie Wells are playing well so far.  Kolb has just one interception to four touchdowns, and Wells is averaging over 90 yards a game (with a 5.7 YPC) and two scores.  Those two have to play consistently for Arizona to have a shot this year.

21. San Francisco 49ers (1-1, Last Week 18) - The injury bug is going around the league, and San Francisco is not immune.  Their top receivers, Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree are both on the shelf.  Frank Gore and Alex Smith have not been able to overcome their loss, either.  Gore is only averaging 2.5 YPC and Smith hasn't been able to find any other targets downfield as teams stack up against the run.

22. St. Louis Rams (0-2, Last Week 21) - The Rams have not been able to translate yards into points.  They were moving the ball at will during stretches against the Giants but had to settle for field goals on three different trips to the red zone.  Josh McDaniels has to figure out a way to get Sam Bradford into the end zone to help out their defense a little bit.

23. Carolina Panthers (0-2, Last Week 26) - Cam Newton is pretty good.  He is currently second in the NFL in passing yards to Tom Brady with 854 yards, but he has also thrown the ball 83 times.  If he's passing that much, you would hope he throws for those kinds of numbers, almost like a volume shooter in basketball.  The Panthers need to try and work DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart into the offense, who combined for just 18 rushing yards against the Packers.  But with Newton there, this team has some potential.

24. Miami Dolphins (0-2, Last Week 22) - The defense sort of recovered after the abuse it took from the Patriots and Daniel Thomas had is first 100-yard rushing game for Miami.  But Reggie Bush took a step back and it seems like things just aren't totally clicking yet for the Dolphins yet.

25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2, Last Week 24) - Adrian Peterson has a monster game, Donovan McNabb throws for more than 39 yards, and the Vikings still fall.  The Minnesota defense gave up 14 points to Tampa Bay in the final 9:30 of the game.  

26. Denver Broncos (1-1, Last week 29) - Tim Tebow played... at wide receiver.  The bigger revelation at receiver for the Broncos was last year's third round pick Eric Decker.  He broke out for 5 catches, 113 yards and two TDs as the Broncos got their first win of the season.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, Last Week 25) - Andy Dalton is adjusting to NFL life more quickly than I thought he would.  The rookie was impressive against Denver, throwing for 332 yards, two scores, and completing over 65 percent of his passes in the process.  Some help from Cedric Benson on Sunday would have benefitted him, but Dalton is progressing nicely and is forming a nice partnership with fellow rookie AJ Green.

28. Cleveland Browns (1-1, Last Week 32) - Peyton Hillis went into Madden mode on Sunday and broke through for two scores against the Colts.  Cleveland was able to manage the game well against Indianapolis, keeping possession of the football for 34:34.  Colt McCoy played mistake-free, and that equals a Browns win.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, Last Week 20) - Where is David Garrard when you need him?  Luke McCown was absolutely horrific on Sunday, throwing four interceptions and producing zero touchdown-scoring drives against the Jets.  McCown is the only quarterback who started on opening day that hasn't thrown a touchdown pass.  Blaine Gabbert has to be better than McCown and his 1.8 QB rating, right?

30. Seattle Seahawks (0-2, Las Week 28) - The Seahawks became the first team to get shut out this season, so here here!  Seattle put up a measly 164 yards of offense and only picked up eight first downs.  Marshawn Lynch has been practically invisible the first two weeks, and the lack of running game hasn't helped Tarvaris Jackson a bit.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2, Last Week 31) - Things can only go up for the Colts after their loss at home to the Browns.  Oh, wait, they have to play Pittsburgh on Monday night next week.  At least Kerry Collins seems to have a nice thing going on with Reggie Wayne?  Adam Vinatieri is kicking the ball well?

32. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2, Last Week 30) - It appears that week one was not an outlier.  The Chiefs really are this bad.  Losing Jamaal Charles for the season isn't going to make things any better in Kansas City.  You usually have worst-to-first seasons in the NFL, not the other way around.  It looks like it's going to be a long season for Matt Cassel.

There you have it.  Agree with the list?  Disagree?  Let us know in the comment section, and check back every week for the newest installment of the CHARGED Elite.

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