After its defense impressively locked up Dallas and Pittsburgh, the Jaguars are finally looking like a team capable of making some postseason noise. And while you can make plenty of excuses for the Steelers' awful offensive performance Monday night, there's no dismissing Jacksonville's sudden maturation. From the rise of wide receiver Reggie Williams as a capable offensive weapon to a defense that lacks a great deal of name recognition plus a healthy Fred Taylor, the Jaguars head into this week's showdown against Indianapolis with some uncommon top five rankings swagger.
Here's a look at the rest of the league.
THE TOP 12
1. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) – Losing offensive lineman Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack for several weeks hurts long-term continuity, but Seahawks fans will be pleasantly surprised by Chris Spencer as Womack's replacement. This week's game against the Giants should say plenty about whether the Seahawks can maintain their NFC supremacy.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2-0) – Even if only for a short period, losing the threesome of defensive end Dwight Freeney, kicker Adam Vinatieri and wide receiver Brandon Stokley is significant. Particularly with Jacksonville coming to town and looking like it's ready to push the Colts for division supremacy.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) – It was good news that David Pollack's broken neck isn't career threatening, but it leaves the Bengals with a thin corps of linebackers. They're really missing Odell Thurman, who is two contests into a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0) – The defense looked dominant as the Jaguars have beaten two of the league's best teams. If Jacksonville beats the Colts this week, it will have a great argument for the rankings' top spot.
5. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) – The defense is propping this team up right now. Quarterback Steve McNair has to find some consistency. We'll see if this team is truly playoff material against San Diego in two weeks.
6. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) – The Falcons wasted little time getting Morten Andersen on the phone. He might be 46 years old, but he would have converted all four of those field goals from 40 yards and in on Sunday.
7. Chicago Bears (2-0) – Quarterback Rex Grossman deserves a big pat on the back. And so do the Bears for sticking with him. It's nice to see tight end Desmond Clark involved in the offense again and wide receiver Bernard Berrian making good on his skills.
8. New England Patriots (2-0) – The offense is clearly still making adjustments in the passing game. Getting Chad Jackson into the mix is huge, but the Patriots might be best served getting Laurence Maroney 20-plus touches a game.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – Jacksonville has a stiff run defense, but limiting running back Willie Parker to only 11 carries in a game that was up in the air deep into the fourth quarter? Of all the times to rest an offense on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Monday didn't seem to fit.
10. San Diego Chargers (2-0) – It's still early, but general manager A.J. Smith is looking pretty good for sticking with quarterback Philip Rivers. And when is a running back-starved team going to step up to the plate and pry Michael Turner loose?
11. New York Giants (1-1) – If Amani Toomer can be a consistent No. 2 wideout, this offense will be scary. Pair Sunday's stunning comeback with his last-second drive against Denver last season, and Eli Manning looks like he's got a little John Elway in him.
12. Minnesota Vikings (2-0) – Even with the win over Carolina, it's going to take a victory over Chicago to wash out all the skeptics. The 113-yard rushing effort by Chester Taylor should erase at least some of the doubts about whether he can be a centerpiece running back.
New Orleans Saints (2-0) – The stars couldn't have aligned more perfectly for the return to the Superdome and New Orleans. Say what you want about the Saints getting off to a good start against bad competition. Opening the season with two road wins is tough to do in the NFL.
THE MUDDLED MIDDLE (in alphabetical order)
Arizona Cardinals (1-1) – The offensive line still looks terrible. And at times, so does Kurt Warner. Hit him a few times, make him move his feet, and his decision-making goes down the drain. After watching him against Seattle, I wouldn't be surprised if we see Matt Leinart starting late this season.
Buffalo Bills (1-1) – Ryan Denney's three-sack day against Miami is something the team has long sought. We'll find out how good this team is if the offense gets careless with the ball (no turnover through two games).
Carolina Panthers (0-2) – The special teams gimmick was a ridiculous call by the coaching staff, and the Panthers suffered. But the bottom line: wide receiver Steve Smith makes this team special. And considering what they look like without him, it might be a good idea to get that contract extension done.
Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – Losing wide receiver Terrell Owens for a couple of weeks might be a good thing for the Cowboys. It would be nice to see running backs Julius Jones and Marion Barber become more of a focal point in the offense.
Denver Broncos (1-1) – Wide receiver Javon Walker is looking better, but where is the deep threat on this team? No wideout has caught a pass longer than 24 yards. You can bet that has something to do with the sputtering run game.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) – The Chiefs played admirably without quarterback Trent Green, and they have the bye week to simmer over the costly turnovers. But if coach Herm Edwards doesn't stack up a couple of wins against San Francisco and Arizona in a couple of weeks, things are going to get testy fast in Kansas City.
Miami Dolphins (0-2) – Quarterback Daunte Culpepper is playing bad football, but the fans calling for Joey Harrington have to be nuts. Considering he's still working his way back into a rhythm after last season's injury, he'll be allowed at least a half a season's worth of mistakes before Nick Saban eyes the panic button.
New York Jets (1-1) – Jerricho Cotchery's touchdown was simply amazing, but has anyone noticed that Laveranues Coles is leading the league in receiving after two games? Brad Childress and Sean Payton have gotten off to good starts, but of all the rookie head coaches, Eric Mangini is doing more with less.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) – Losing to the Giants hurts, but any assertions that it could break Philadelphia mentally are absurd. The loss of defensive end Jevon Kearse is a crushing disappointment, but it's going to give Trent Cole a chance to shine nationally, and give Jerome McDougle one last shot.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – The fumbling issues need to be resolved, but Frank Gore is looking more and more like a franchise back. With the 49ers staying competitive now, how much better will they be when the offensive line gets healthy?
St. Louis Rams (1-1) – That St. Louis offense is looking remarkably mediocre for the amount of talent it possesses. New scheme or not, there is no reason this team should be ranked 24th in the league in passing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – Clearly, quarterback Chris Simms still has a long way to go when it comes to decision making. But the problem starts with the running game. This should be a run-first team … not a Simms-throwing-50-passes team. Getting Carnell Williams back on last season's track should be priority No. 1.
Detroit Lions (0-2) – You will never see such an amazing collection of malcontent, selfish prima donnas than the Lions had last year. But even with Charles Rogers gone, that hasn't stopped Roy "Strike a Pose" Williams and Mike "Poster Boy" Williams from being embarrassments.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
28. Cleveland Browns (0-2) – A veteran in that locker room needs to tell Kellen Winslow to shut his big fat mouth. Try playing half a season before you start telling the coaching staff how to call plays.
29. Houston Texans (0-2) – Weren't the defensive additions designed to slow down Indianapolis? Even more, Samkon Gado or Ron Dayne? In hindsight, maybe addressing the running back spot with the first pick in the NFL draft would have been a good idea.
30. Green Bay Packers (0-2) – Defensive end Aaron Kampman and wideout Donald Driver deserve more credit than they get at their positions. Now can we stop talking about this Brett Favre trade nonsense?
31. Tennessee Titans (0-2) – Team members sound frustrated already, and Billy Volek's benching (and subsequent trade to San Diego) in favor of a poor-playing Kerry Collins certainly must have plenty to do with it. And with Miami, Dallas, Indianapolis and Washington next on the schedule, the Titans are staring at an 0-6 start going into the bye. Smart money says that's when Vince Young takes over, just in time for the game against his hometown Texans.
32. Oakland Raiders (0-2) – Now we find out if quarterback Andrew Walter has got the goods that had the franchise so confident it bypassed Leinart and Jay Cutler in the draft. And speaking of confidence, LaMont Jordan needs to start making something happen soon, no matter how much of a mess the offensive line has been.