New England dominated the Chargers on Sunday, but clearly it hurt the Chargers more than it helped the Patriots.
Like college football polls, people don’t like dropping teams when they don’t lose. New England barely took any spots away from the Colts, only passing them in MSNBC and SI, despite the Colts struggling against the Titans. However, the margin between the Colts and Patriots was so thin last week that it’s enough for the Pats to pass the Colts in the SuperPower Rankings, with added help from passing the Chargers in CBS for #2 and breaking the tie in USA Today.
Meanwhile, the Chargers slip after being the only other team in the top three in every single ranking before the season and after Week 1. By itself, having the offense struggle against the mighty Bears D and falling to the Patriots shouldn’t reflect too badly on the Chargers, and indeed the Chargers don’t fall that far (no fall in Fox and only a one-spot dip in ESPN), but the Chargers didn’t look like the third-best team in the nation against the Patriots. They fall to sixth in four rankings, eighth in the SI rankings, and fifth in the two Yahoo rankings, with the Steelers (in perhaps a bit of a hasty jump given the quality of their opposition), Broncos (also dubious given their reliance on last-second field goals against lowly Buffalo and Oakland), and Cowboys (the new #3) being the chief beneficiaries. The Chargers should be able to take a breather and allow people to get a true gauge of the state of their offense against the Packers.
Outside the top six, the Bears and Ravens remain strong while the surprises at 2-0 – the Packers, Niners, Texans, and Lions – divide the group. The first three are generally thought to be for real; the Lions, who have defeated two lousy teams in close games, aren’t. The Packers have the benefit of three of the four teams directly ahead of them in last week’s SuperPower Rankings losing, which basically guaranteed them a ticket to the Top 10. The Texans round out the Top 10 with the Niners close behind. One really divisive team is the Cardinals; three lists have them 15th or 14th, five within a spot of 20th, and one of the Yahoo lists has them as low as 24th.
The Bengals take a massive slip after their D played awful against the Browns. Either the D is going to be a massive seesaw from week to week or their strong performance Week 1 was more due to an iffy Ravens offense (they did lose McNair in the middle of the game). Which in turn, doesn’t reflect well on the Jets D. The Seahawks also fumbled away their Top 10 placement this week, setting up a game between teams that need recoveries from surprising losses, and the Saints take a big tumble after falling to lowly Tampa Bay – an upset I called, by the way.
At the bottom, the Browns’ win leaves the Falcons with the bottom spot all to themselves, although the Chiefs may have something to say about that. The Chiefs’ drop is mostly attributable to a number of surprises from the bottom; in addition to Cleveland, the Bucs won and the Raiders were a dubious timeout away from doing the same. The Dolphins and Bills also have to curse their former fellow cellar-dwellers, including Arizona’s stunning upset of the Seahawks.
Read the complete Consensus Power Rankings through Week 2 of NFL action here.