It’s still plenty early enough to be overreaction season, but after only two weeks there are a few teams that are running out of room on the hype train and others that look like they’ve already run off the rails.
The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t even wait until the end of September to make their first firing of the year, ditching offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after a 13-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Thursday. He was the first coordinator fired in the middle of a season in the Bengals’ 50-year history.
But other teams are feeling much better than the Bengals. The ones feeling the very best after two weeks all happen to come from the same division.
All aboard the hype train.
I talked about the Chiefs last week too after they beat the Patriots, but how can I not talk about them again? Kansas City is the epitome of a team riding high after two weeks.
If Alex Smith keeps playing this way, the Chiefs are going to be near the top of our hope rankings for a while.
Wait ... is Trevor Siemian actually good?
After two weeks he has a passer rating of 106.9 and he’s tied with Matthew Stafford for the league lead in touchdown passes. Surely, that’s going to slow down, right?
The Broncos are supposed to be the team with a dominant defense that carries a subpar offense. Who’s going to stop them if the offense can score five touchdowns like it did Sunday?
It’s AFC West week here in the hope rankings.
The Raiders’ win in Week 2 was the least impressive of the three in the race for the title in the NFL’s best division, but that’s just because it was against the New York Jets. Still, Oakland had the biggest margin of victory of the week and Marshawn Lynch had the time of his life. That alone is worth huge bonus points.
I can’t imagine being cranky enough to not love that guy.
The Giants can’t run the ball and can’t protect Eli Manning. The combination has made for a terrible offense that’s dragging down a good defense.
Fans let Ben McAdoo hear it for most of the night with boos and some poignant thumbs down
The Giants still couldn’t rely on Odell Beckham Jr. much in Week 2, so maybe he’ll provide a spark when he’s 100 percent. But there are problems in New York that Beckham just can’t fix.
From one of the most hopeful last week, to one of the least hopeful a week later. Yep, they’re still the Jaguars.
At least they came to their senses and signed a veteran quarterback who’s capable of immediately giving the team the boost it needs to take advantage of a good defense and powerful running back. Oh wait, no, it’s just Ryan Nassib.
Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers
This is a two-for-one special because the Bengals and 49ers were lucky enough to join the 2016 Rams as the only three teams in the last 10 years to get through two games of regular season play without scoring a touchdown.
The Rams finished No. 32 in both scoring and offensive yards last year, but there can only be one champion of offensive futility in 2017 and there are two early frontrunners battling neck and neck.
One is reportedly close to benching Andy Dalton and the other doesn’t really have an option after Brian Hoyer. Tune in next week to see if either can join the 1976 Buccaneers as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to go three weeks without a touchdown.
Full hope rankings
Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team.
There will be weeks where a bad football team can come away feeling good about their future, or a good team will show serious weaknesses that damper spirits — like, say, the Cowboys this week.
If you’re looking a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:
Hope rankings, Week 3
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||1|
|6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13|
|9||New England Patriots||22|
|15||Los Angeles Rams||4|
|19||Green Bay Packers||8|
|23||Los Angeles Chargers||23|
|26||New Orleans Saints||24|
|29||New York Giants||21|
|30||New York Jets||29|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||31|