Yesterday at SB Nation we took a look at the nine teams still seeking their first win this season, ranking them by their playoff chances.
Now it is time to look at the teams on the other side of the spectrum.
Through two weeks, nine teams have yet to taste defeat. However, are all nine teams true contenders? Or are a few of them — or even more — just fooling us all early in the season.
Here are the nine unbeaten NFL teams through two weeks, ranked by their Super Bowl chances as voted on by the writers here at SB Nation.
9. Atlanta Falcons
Could the Atlanta Falcons be for real?
A pair of home wins — over the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers — have given Falcons fans some hope. But at the moment, we are not convinced. Questions about the offense and quarterback Desmond Ridder linger, and while Bijan Robinson is dynamic, we will need to see more from this offense before declaring them true contenders.
The next two weeks pose some challenges, as they travel to Detroit to take on the Lions, and to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. Two teams with playoff aspirations of their own. Should Atlanta split those game, or even find a way to take both of them, we’ll start to buy in.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons are not the only beaten team in the NFC South that has surprised this season.
Because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are right there with them.
Let’s face it, if you had the Buccaneers 2-0 to start the year, including a win on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, you were in the minority. But the Buccaneers followed that win with a solid victory over the Chicago Bears, and now people are starting to pay attention.
However, things get much tougher from here. Tampa Bay’s next five games? Home against the Eagles, at New Orleans, home against the Lions, home against the Falcons, and at Buffalo. Five games against teams with a combined 8-2 records.
How they fare through that gauntlet will tell us much more about this team.
7. Washington Commanders
The Commanders are a fun story thus far into the season. The offense looks not only explosive, but consistent with OC Eric Bieniemy calling plays and QB Sam Howell benefitting from a more spread out offense. The defense has taken a few lumps, but with the star power along the defensive line, they can flip any game on its’ head.
They did get the benefit of playing the Arizona Cardinals Week 1 and a very weird and depressing Denver Broncos team Week 2, but their next two games should give us a lot larger of a look at what this team is. They host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, then go to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. I want to believe in this team, but they have to show us against serious competition first.
6. New Orleans Saints
It definitely hasn’t been pretty, but the Saints are undefeated through two games. The one thing that’s stood out so far is how impressive the defense has played. The Saints are fourth in yards allowed per game and sixth in points allowed per game, and the defensive line has done this without former first round pick Payton Turner in the lineup. Head coach Dennis Allen is still one of the best defensive minds in the league, and that roster still has talent on that side of the ball.
Offensively is where the issues lie, especially in the pass blocking department. LT Trevor Penning has been rough to start the season, although you could chalk it up to playing a behemoth DL in the Titans and the Panthers defensive line. However, Carr is at his best when he’s not under pressure, and the line has to help him out. Carr also has been up and down. The connection with Michael Thomas and Chris Olave is there, but the inconsistencies that plagued him as a Raider traveled with him to the Big Easy. The Saints should be fine, but their ceiling is capped as long as Carr plays like he has in the first two weeks.
5. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens’ offense has found the juice.
For so long, fans and media analysts have clamored for the Ravens to give QB Lamar Jackson an offense with actual wide receivers running actual NFL concepts, and through two games, it’s gone swimmingly. Jackson and the Ravens have been efficient on offense, and the play of rookie Zay Flowers has given the offense more life. The defense has also been phenomenal, and remains one of the best units in the entire league. Even without star S Marcus Williams, the Ravens put the Bengals offense in a straitjacket on Sunday. That’s going to keep their floor high, while the offense shatters their team ceiling.
The only question here is health. The RB depth is already low, there have already been a few nicks and bumps along the OL, and the DB room has been hurt by injuries. Eventually that attrition is going to take hold, but getting the backups more playing time now will ease that. This is a capital G Good football team.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
The defending NFC Champions are 2-0, but things seem unsettled in Philadelphia.
The Eagles survived with a five-point win against the New England Patriots in Week 1, and followed that with another one-score victory at home against the Vikings on a short week. Jalen Hurts and the passing game have seemed off so far, as the quarterback has yet to throw for 200 yards in a game this season, and his Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 5.08 ranks 21st in the league among qualified passers through two weeks.
That’s below Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Desmond Ridder, Joshua Dobbs, and Sam Howell.
Certainly it is early, but the shaky start — coupled with what we have seen from a few other teams — has the Eagles a bit lower on this list than we expected at the start of the year.
3. Miami Dolphins
Lemme read off some stats to you:
The Miami Dolphins lead the NFL in yards per play at 7.3. The San Francisco 49ers are second at 6.3. A whole yard.
The Dolphins offense is first in passing yards per game. By almost 15 yards.
This is the best offense in football, with the playcalling and layering of Mike McDaniel combined with the threat of speed at every position. QB Tua Tagovailoa is playing some of the best football of his career, and it’s clear that they can get instant offense from anywhere on the field.
Defense has had its’ lumps, but there’s reason for optimism still. Key players have been in and out of the lineup, but they still have yet to put together a complete performance on that side of the ball.
Maybe being complete doesn’t matter though, when you can score 1 billion points per game.
2. San Francisco 49ers
For those who subscribe to the “error band” idea of football, you must love the San Francisco 49ers.
Right now the 49ers look like one of the few teams that can win in a variety of ways. They can score points in bunches — as they did in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers — and they can win the close games, as they did in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams.
If you look at both Offensive and Defensive Expected Points Added (EPA), you’ll see the 49ers near the front of the league, with just one team ahead of them:
October 8 will tell us much more about these two teams at the top, when the 49ers welcome the Cowboys to town. But at the moment, these two teams look like the class of the league.
1. Dallas Cowboys
In the interests of full disclosure, our dear friend RJ Ochoa of Blogging the Boys did not even vote in our rankings, having recused himself for fear of skewing the results.
It did not matter.
While it was not unanimous, as the 49ers also received some first-place votes, the Cowboys slid into the top spot. With good reason, starting with their defense. As we saw in Week 1, and yet again in Week 2, the Cowboys are able to torment opposing passers from the first play of the game, through the last.
That is often a winning recipe in the NFL.
Certainly we will know more about this team in a few weeks, as we are all looking ahead to their trip to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in Week 5. But right now, the Cowboys look like a legitimate Super Bowl team.