NFL unpredictability is real, and it’s spectacular.
With the first two weeks of the regular season in the history books, the 2023 season has been a prime example of the pure unpredictability of sports that make even the most minute detail exciting. Who would have ever thought, for example, that Joe Burrow and his Bengals would be sitting at 0-2 after two sputtering offensive performances? And nobody could have predicted Baker Mayfield’s Buccaneers winning their first two contests to lead the NFC South.
One thing unpredictability makes difficult is the practice of ranking each team. Who knows how the story of the season will progress from this point, but I’ve made my best effort to rank the teams according to what we have seen thus far in 2023.
1. Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 2)
The Cowboys completed the sweep of New York teams with a 30-10 blunt force beatdown of the Jets on Sunday. The Cowboys have looked extremely impressive through the first two weeks, but will it last? For at least one more week it will, as the Cowboys take on Arizona. However, the 49ers game in week 5 looms as a true test for this squad.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 1)
While it was no blowout by any means, the 49ers took care of business on the road against the Rams. They drop a spot only because of Dallas’s domination through two weeks.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 3)
As Chris Jones and Travis Kelce returned to action Sunday, the Chiefs beat a solid team in the Jaguars despite another questionable performance from the offense. The KC defense looked fantastic, holding the Jags to only 9 points for the duration of the game. The Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes led offense should come around shortly.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 4)
While Minnesota made the final minutes of Thursday Night Football more interesting than they should have been, the Eagles offense (and more importantly, Jalen Hurts) showed signs of life, while the run game flourished. As the Eagles continue to shake off the rust, they’ll take any win, pretty or not.
5. Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 6)
The Ravens are 2-0, and their 27-24 win over the Bengals puts them in prime position in the AFC North. Lamar Jackson is set for a bounceback year, making the Ravens one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC, as well as the NFL at large.
6. Buffalo Bills (Prev: 7)
After a strange week one loss to the Jets, the Bills looked like themselves in week 2, blowing out the Raiders at home. The Bills should be a strong contender in the AFC.
7. Miami Dolphins (Prev. 8)
We all knew the Miami offense would be good with Tua Tagovailoa healthy, but what we didn’t guess was how good the defense would be. Quietly, the Dolphins defense has gathered star talent at every level, and could be the reason Miami does far better than anyone expected.
8. Detroit Lions (Prev: 5)
Perhaps riding a bit too high after a major upset the week before, the Lions stumbled in Week 2 at home against the Seahawks. While it should bring Detroit down to earth a bit, there aren’t long term concerns, especially with the loss coming at the hands of a solid Seattle squad.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev. 9)
The Jaguars offense was nowhere to be found against the Chiefs on Sunday, but the defense held an explosive Kansas City attack to only 17 points. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but the Jags showed they can play with anyone, even with an offensive no show.
10. New Orleans Saints (Prev. 13)
The Saints snagged another ugly win on Monday night, but at least it was a win. Star RB Alvin Kamara returning in week 4 should immensely help a mediocre New Orleans offensive attack.
11. Tennessee Titans (Prev. 14)
The Titans pulled out a major win on Sunday, knocking off the Chargers in Nashville. Yet again, a Titans attack led by Derrick Henry and a solid defense put Tennesee in position to make some noise, at least in the regular season.
12. Seattle Seahawks (Prev. 19)
Seattle bounced back from a surprising home loss to the Rams in a big way, knocking off the Lions on the road in week 2. With week one jitters seemingly behind them, the Seahawks are primed for a run at an NFC wildcard spot
13. Los Angeles Rams (Prev. 21)
Despite losing on Sunday, the Rams once again looked impressive in a tough game against the 49ers. Head coach Sean McVay should never be underestimated, even with a poorly built roster on paper.
14. Atlanta Falcons (Prev. 18)
The Falcons quietly have improved to 2-0, coming back to knock off the Packers in Atlanta. The Atlanta running game and defense is legit, which makes the Falcons significant players in the NFC South.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (Prev. 11)
It’s not panic mode yet for the Chargers, but a loss to the Titans to drop to 0-2 has got the Chargers faithful grinding their teeth and nibbling at their already long worn out fingernails.
16. Green Bay Packers (Prev. 15)
Packers QB Jordan Love looked good once again, but the Packers fell to the Falcons on the road. There’s no cause for major alarm yet- Atlanta is a solid team, and the Packers were missing many of their key offensive players, WR Christian Watson, RB Aaron Jones, and LT David Bakhtiari to name a few. Green Bay should be fine.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev. 20)
Coming off an embarrassing loss to the 49ers to kick off the season, Pittsburgh held off the AFC North division rival Browns on MNF. The Steelers scored two defensive TDs, and yet still were in a tight game to the end. The Pittsburgh offense needs to wake up, and quickly.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (Prev. 10)
The first two weeks of the season have been an absolute disaster for the Bengals, as every facet of the game looks rusty and ineffectual for Cincinnati thus far. There’s time to turn it around, but the patience of Bengals faithful is running thin.
19. Cleveland Browns (Prev. 12)
While the Browns lost the game on Monday night, they lost so much more than just the contest. Star RB Nick Chubb, the backbone of Cleveland’s offensive attack, suffered a gruesome knee injury, and has since been declared out for the season. While the Browns defense can keep them in most games, Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland passing attack no longer have the safety buffer of Chubb to help them.
20. Tampa Bay (Prev. 26)
I’m not quite ready to fully buy into the Bucs yet- but Baker Mayfield is making people believe with two straight wins to start the year. Let’s see if it continues.
21. New York Jets (Prev. 16)
Zach Wilson looked like Zach Wilson, and the Jets offense looked like it did when Zach Wilson was the QB last season. Not very encouraging for a team that had Super Bowl aspirations.
22. New England Patriots (Prev. 17)
Through two weeks, the script has been the same for the Patriots. Play a good team, keep it close, but still lose when all’s said and done. The Patriots will win some games they shouldn’t, but they’ll also lose games they should win.
23. Indianapolis Colts (Prev. 25)
The Colts looked good again on Sunday, blowing out the Texans to improve to .500. Rookie QB Anthony Richardson’s health after exiting the Texans game with an apparent concussion will be a major storyline to follow for the Colts.
24. Washington Commanders (Prev. 27)
The Commanders won again! 2-0 in the Josh Harris ownership era with a comeback win over the Broncos. Tougher games are ahead for this Washington squad, but the victories should be enjoyed to their fullest in the present.
25. Denver Broncos (Prev. 24)
Well… they led 21-3 in the 2nd quarter on Sunday! Best not to talk about what happened after that point.
26. Las Vegas Raiders (Prev. 22)
The Raiders were shellacked by the Bills on Sunday, confirming that which we all thought to be true. Las Vegas is mediocre once again.
27. Minnesota Vikings (Prev. 28)
The Vikings are now 0-2 after falling to the Eagles on Thursday night in a game that was not as close as the final score seemed to show. Vikings fans are in for a long year.
28. New York Giants (Prev. 23)
While the Giants did actually win on Sunday, going down 28-3 to the Cardinals at any point of a game feels like a loss. The Giants have major work to do to get back on track
29. Carolina Panthers (Prev. 29)
The Panthers kept it close against New Orleans on Monday night, but couldn’t get it going offensively. 2023 looks like a learn and grow type of season for this young Panthers squad.
30. Houston Texans (Prev. 31)
They got blown out by the Colts to fall to 0-2. Looking like a very long year and another high draft pick is in store for the Texans.
31. Chicago Bears (Prev. 30)
It does not matter how open the WRs are if Justin Fields cannot throw them the football.
32. Arizona Cardinals (Prev. 32)
The Cardinals led 28-3 at halftime of their game against the Giants on Sunday, and yet still managed to lose to fall to 0-2. The tanking is real.