NFL Power Rankings: Behind too-early MVP candidate Josh Allen (seriously), the Bills are dangerous

Frank Schwab
·14 min read

Josh Allen had 249 yards passing in a half, 417 yards and four touchdowns for the game, and yet it was a run that had everyone talking.

Allen is a big dude, he likes to run and he’s not fun to tackle in the open field. Near the end of the first half, Allen eluded the pass rush, took off running and met up with Miami Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the open field. Van Noy is a very good player, and he got run over by Allen. Then Allen ran through defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. That was a highlight that Bills fans will be enjoying for a long time.

Oh, the passing. Let’s not forget that. Allen was 15 of 22 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions ... before halftime. After the Dolphins took a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter, Allen threw two touchdowns, including a pretty 46-yarder to John Brown, to put the game away. It was exactly the type of performance the Bills wanted when they drafted Allen with the seventh pick of the 2018 draft.

If you hadn’t watched the Bills play in Week 1 and just paid attention to social media, you might not have known Allen is off to a great start this season. Allen looked good last week in a win over the New York Jets, though a one badly missed pass in the end zone is what went viral. Then Allen was better in the second game.

Allen is the kind of player people will always argue about. Since many draft experts didn’t like Allen before the draft, they will refuse to admit a mistake and will focus on every missed throw he makes. And there are some bad plays; Allen still has some inaccurate throws. He likely always will. But he has also improved each year and is harnessing his physical gifts to become a playmaking quarterback on a very good Bills team. It’s crazy to start talking about MVP in Week 2, but if you are having that conversation, you have to include Allen in it.

Allen leads the NFL with 729 passing yards. He has six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 75 yards rushing. Week 2 is way too early to talk about MVP candidates, but it’s also fair to say that if Allen plays anywhere near this level all season, he’ll be in the mix. Russell Wilson is the obvious two-week MVP, if there is such thing, and Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and others will likely pass Allen in the race before the year is over. But Allen doesn’t need to be the best quarterback in the NFL for the Bills to be good. If he’s even in the top eight or so, Buffalo can compete with anyone. And Allen looks like he could be at least in that range.

Buffalo is going to be in contention for an AFC East championship, trying to break the New England Patriots’ streak of 11 in a row. They have a one-game lead after the Patriots came up just short at Seattle on Sunday night. If what we’ve seen out of Allen the first two games is a sign of what he’ll be this season, Buffalo might be thinking bigger than just an AFC East title.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) congratulates wide receiver John Brown (15) after Brown scored a touchdown. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) congratulates wide receiver John Brown (15) after Brown scored a touchdown. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Here are the power rankings after Week 2 of the NFL season:

32. New York Jets (0-2, Last Week: 32)

Good to know that Adam Gase is tired of his team getting its “ass beat.” He might want to get used to it. Here’s what they have coming up: at Colts, vs. Broncos, vs. Cardinals, at Chargers, vs. Bills, at Chiefs, vs. Patriots. What is the best possible record after that stretch, 2-7?

31. Carolina Panthers (0-2, LW: 31)

Christian McCaffrey is going to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain and let’s be honest: The Panthers are very unlikely to have any playoff hopes left when he’s ready to return. So there might not be much reason to rush him back. That makes for a rough first season for new coach Matt Rhule.

30. Washington Football Team (1-1, LW: 28)

It’s promising that Washington gave exciting rookie Antonio Gibson 13 of 22 running back carries. Teams like the Jets and Lions should not be giving carries to 30-something veterans, and at least Washington seems to understand it’s far more beneficial to see what Gibson has rather than giving Peyton Barber or J.D. McKissic more playing time.

29. Detroit Lions (0-2, LW: 25)

In the past five quarters, the Lions have given up 63 points. They allowed Aaron Jones to pile up 236 total yards on Sunday. They get the Cardinals and Saints, a couple of explosive offenses, next. Here’s where you can logically wonder if Matt Patricia’s defense has to show some progress for him to keep his job, but that assumes the Lions ownership is paying attention.

28. New York Giants (0-2, LW: 27)

We’ll find out a lot about Daniel Jones this season. With no Saquon Barkley the rest of the way, it’s on Jones to deliver. It hasn’t been pretty yet in his second season, but he has faced tough defenses vs. Pittsburgh and Chicago. The situation isn’t ideal going forward, but the Giants will learn how good their quarterback is.

27. Miami Dolphins (0-2, LW: 26)

Mike Gesicki had eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. We’ll start with that because there’s not much more positive to say about Miami. If the Dolphins lose to the Jaguars on Thursday night, and Tua Tagovailoa is healthy enough to play, I’m not sure why you’d give Ryan Fitzpatrick another start.

26. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2, LW: 30)

Joe Burrow is going to be really good. There were plenty of impressive moments for the rookie, and one of them was that he got hit hard a few times and never seemed rattled. It’s really hard to believe Burrow won’t be a top-end quarterback based on what we’ve seen.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, LW: 29)

James Robinson, an undrafted rookie who looks very good, is why teams like the Lions and Rams shouldn’t have used second-round picks on running backs. Robinson’s 164 rushing yards ranked seventh in the NFL through Sunday’s games.

24. Denver Broncos (0-2, LW: 23)

Von Miller and Courtland Sutton are done for the season. A.J. Bouye, Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay are on the shelf for a while. The Broncos had such high hopes two weeks ago, and now it seems like their season is done. The NFL can be cruel.

23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2, LW: 16)

Stefon Diggs is valuable, but he’s not that valuable. Kirk Cousins was fantastic last season, and without Diggs this season, he was awful in Week 2. Cousins had 113 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 15.9 passer rating. The only good news is that Cousins started slow last season and turned it around.

22. Houston Texans (0-2, LW: 17)

Will Fuller wasn’t targeted Sunday, as he was apparently dealing with a hamstring injury. It’s fairly remarkable how fragile Fuller is. We all figured he’d miss time with injury, but he was supposed to last more than one full game as Houston’s new No. 1 receiver.

21. Atlanta Falcons (0-2, LW: 18)

The Falcons’ choke was as improbable as it gets. ESPN’s win probability put Atlanta at a 99.9 percent chance to win at one point very late in the game. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, only 10 other times in the past 20 seasons has a team blown a game in which it had that high of a win probability. Dan Quinn has survived before when it seemed like he was going to be fired, but this really might be the beginning of the end.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2, LW: 14)

At some point, we have to ask how good Doug Pederson is. He was great during the Super Bowl season, but in hindsight, maybe then-Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich deserved more credit. Since then, the Eagles have underachieved. Had they not backed into a playoff spot each of the past two seasons, we’d be much more critical of Pederson.

19. Cleveland Browns (1-1, LW: 24)

Regardless of how we should feel about the Browns signing Kareem Hunt — nobody has mentioned the video of him shoving and kicking a woman in a long time, and that lack of true accountability is why some teams don’t mind taking on controversial players — he and Nick Chubb form a 1-2 duo that nobody can match. If they both stay healthy, the Browns might end up with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, LW: 22)

I’m not sure what to make of Anthony Lynn saying Tyrod Taylor is still his starter if he’s 100 percent. Maybe it was him putting off answering the question or Lynn didn’t want to be disrespectful to Taylor after he was hospitalized Sunday. If Lynn was being genuine and plans to start Taylor, after first-round draft pick Justin Herbert played well vs. the Chiefs, I have no idea what to say.

17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, LW: 12)

Mike McCarthy had one weird game. He has gone overboard on ditching his conservative approach. He tried a pair of fake punts and a two-point conversion attempt when the Cowboys were down nine points and probably should have just kicked the extra point. Even at the end, McCarthy’s decision to sit on the ball and settle for a 46-yard field goal could have turned out terribly. McCarthy is very lucky the Cowboys got a miracle win.

16. Indianapolis Colts (1-1, LW: 21)

The Colts are giving up only 208 yards per game. Entering Monday’s games, no other defense was allowing fewer than 300 yards per game. The Jaguars and Vikings, the Colts’ two opponents, each put up 30 points when they weren’t playing Indianapolis. Maybe the Colts have a really good defense.

15. Chicago Bears (2-0, LW: 15)

David Montgomery had his best game as a pro, with 127 total yards and a touchdown. Montgomery needs to keep playing like that because there’s not a ton else to love about the offense. The Bears have two very close wins, and no team will turn down 2-0, but they’ll need to play better.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, LW: 19)

It’s not easy to take a year off from the NFL and play well right away. The last time Rob Gronkowski played like the future Hall of Famer was the 2017 season. He looked like he lost something in 2018 (though he finished with a flourish) and then was out all last season. He came back and has just two catches for 11 yards, including no catches in Week 2.

13. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0, LW: 20)

Whatever comes next, Monday night’s win over the Saints in the Las Vegas home opener will be a victory that has a special place in franchise history. And don’t sleep on the Raiders; maybe what comes next is going to be better than we expected before the season. This is a fun team.

12. Arizona Cardinals (2-0, LW: 13)

Rookie first-round draft pick Isaiah Simmons played just seven snaps on defense against Washington and his only stat was a special-teams tackle. Simmons is talented, and it’s surprising how little he’s playing. The Cardinals haven’t needed him yet but they’ll likely require some contribution from him before the season is done.

11. San Francisco 49ers (1-1, LW: 8)

Part of the Super Bowl hangover is that it’s tough to avoid bad injury luck two straight years. The 49ers had some injuries last season. They have all the injuries this season. Nick Bosa isn’t coming back, but guys like Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, George Kittle and Raheem Mostert should return relatively soon. The 49ers just have to hold on until they get some players back.

10. New England Patriots (1-1, LW: 9)

Too often, in many things in life, we judge results and not the process of making the decision. The Patriots’ best play is Cam Newton at the goal line. He’s great in that area of the field. The Seahawks made a great play and stopped it. It happens. The call was just fine.

9. Tennessee Titans (2-0, LW: 10)

Ryan Tannehill’s last nine regular-season games: 22 touchdowns, two interceptions, 127.3 passer rating. He has had only two games with a passer rating under 100, and the lowest was 92.2. At some point, we’ll have to start giving him some credit.

8. New Orleans Saints (1-1, LW: 3)

It’s hard to lose a player like Michael Thomas. Playing the Raiders in their first game in Las Vegas was a tough spot. Still, it’s concerning they were completely outplayed after taking a 10-0 lead. No cause for panic yet, and I’m not dropping them too far, but it’s possible the Saints aren’t quite as dominant as expected.

7. Los Angeles Rams (2-0, LW: 11)

Sean McVay did a great job self-scouting in the offseason. The Rams’ offensive revival has been due to many factors, including the use of faster tempo, spreading the ball around, less predictability in personnel groupings and also committing to making late 2019 breakout Tyler Higbee a focal point of the offense. There’s a reason McVay is so highly respected.

6. Green Bay Packers (2-0, LW: 7)

Aaron Jones’ big day will lead to more discussion about what the Packers should do with his contract. If they pay him, it makes taking A.J. Dillon in the second round of the draft look like a waste. And running back contracts rarely work out. If they don’t pay Jones, they’re moving on from a highly productive player and could regret it, at least in the short term. It’s a tough spot to be in.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0, LW: 5)

The Steelers probably should have put the Broncos away sooner than they did, but they’re still 2-0 and should be significantly favored in three of their next four games (vs. Texans, at Titans, vs. Eagles, vs. Browns) before the first of two fantastic matchups against the Ravens.

4. Seattle Seahawks (2-0, LW: 6)

If Russell Wilson wins an MVP this season, at least part of the reason is the rest of the NFL let DK Metcalf fall to late in the second round of the 2019 draft. Metcalf got the best of last season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore, on Sunday night. He might already be a top-10 receiver.

3. Buffalo Bills (2-0, LW: 4)

Stefon Diggs put up 153 yards and a touchdown Sunday. It’s reasonable to think they overpaid in the trade to get Diggs from the Vikings, but it was a bold, aggressive move for a team that saw its window to win a division title (and maybe more) opening up. It’s hard to find a difference-making receiver like Diggs, and they won’t come cheap if they are available.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0, LW: 2)

The best part of the Chiefs’ comeback win on Sunday might be that it didn’t take any luster off of their Week 3 matchup against ...

1. Baltimore Ravens (2-0, LW: 1)

The Chiefs-Ravens game next Monday night is going to be a beauty. No football fan should miss it.

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