The end of Week 2 finalizes the last time this NFL season we’re guaranteed to have just three overall records. Everyone in the league right now is 0-2, 1-1, or 2-0 — and from this point forward discussing the “best” and “worst” will turn into serious debates lasting the rest of the year.
Let’s dive in now to those three distinct records to look at who I think is the best, and the worst in each tier. Yes, the season is young, but it will be fun to come back and revisit these at the end of the year and see if early hunches about this season were correct, or if something wild happened and stunned us all.
The best 2-0 team in the NFL is the … Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you were banking on a Super Bowl hangover, well, looks like you’re going to need to wait until next year. The Buccaneers have come out in their first two games and shown they’re not resting on their laurels. After surviving a tough Week 1 against the Cowboys, Tom Brady and Co. avoided falling into a trap game against the Falcons, beating Atlanta 48-25 in a comeback.
I totally get why you might doubt Tampa here, because they haven’t been as convincing as you might hope, but they got out of the blocks really slow last year and came on strong late in the season. Defensively the Bucs are giving up more points that you want to see, but through two games Brady has thrown nine touchdowns. The team’s receivers are too much for most teams to deal with — and Bruce Arians is taking advantage.
Tampa Bay is the best, until someone knocks them off their perch.
The worst 2-0 team in the NFL is the … Carolina Panthers
Absolutely no shade here. Truth be told, it’s remarkable the Panthers are 2-0 at this point, and fans should be happy. Being the worst of the NFL’s unbeaten tier is far better than anyone expected for the Panthers, who were pegged by Vegas to finish with a 5-11 record this season.
The Carolina defense has been otherworldly through two games, and Sam Darnold has been good enough to win. Granted, it’s probably a little easier for the defense to look elite when you’re facing the Jets and the Saints, who have proven to be paper tigers.
Carolina has all the trappings of a 10-7 or 9-8 football team that finds its way into a Wild Card spot, and that’s a hell of a lot better than anyone expected.
The best 1-1 team in the NFL is the … Buffalo Bills
Whatever knock the team gets from losing by a touchdown to the Steelers is erased following a 35 point shutout against the Dolphins in Week 2. Don’t forget: A lot of people pencilled in Buffalo as a Super Bowl contender before the season began, then they kind of got forgotten after that first loss.
I have absolute faith that the only team that can destroy a deep playoff run for the Bills is the Bills themselves. The AFC East is soft, they’re surging forward now, and I don’t expert Josh Allen’s slump (he’s been really bad so far this season) will last.
I’m high on the Bills, but I’m also gritting my teeth as I say that.
Worst 1-1: New Orleans Saints
I have absolutely zero faith in the Saints, and nobody else should either. The only thing New Orleans has going for it is that week one drubbing of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, which now appears to be a factor of freak aberration, not skill.
Jameis Winston still looks like Jameis Winston. Alvin Kamara has struggled to make a major impact so far, and was utterly shut down against the Panthers. We’re all aware this is a team in rebuilding mode, but I still see a team that’s trending down after its heady win to open the season, not going in the right direction.
I’m fairly confident the rest of the year will prove this out.
The best 0-2 team in the NFL is the … Minnesota Vikings
I’ve discussed how there’s no reason Minnesota should be as bad as the team is, and that still holds. In each of their first two games the Vikings were one play away from winning. You could flip a coin and this team is 2-0, with a signature win over the Cardinals.
Trust me, I’m not buying into the idea that Minnesota is a legitimate threat in the NFC, not at all. However, they’re a hell of a lot better than 0-2, and the NFC North looks completely up for grabs. I fully expect this team can turn it around and make a run — that is, assuming the Packers don’t catch fire now they’ve turned the corner and obliterate everyone in their path.
Minnesota still has one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL is Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and that alone is reason I think this can get back on track. However, the team is about to hit a brutal five game stretch containing the Seahawks, Browns and Cowboys — which is definitely cause for some concern.
Worst 0-2: Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s not even close. Not even remotely close.
There are a lot of bad 0-2 teams in the NFL right now, but nobody feels closer to complete nuclear implosion than Jacksonville. Everything feels wrong and rotten about this team, from Trevor Lawrence struggling to get much help, to the defense which is folding at the drop of a hat, then factor in that the Jaguars lost to Houston and Denver, hardly world beaters, and you have a major problem.
Also, call me old fashioned, but when you’re making social media posts that sound like offseason motivation and it’s Week 2 … yikes.
I don’t know what will happen first: This team wins a game, or completely explodes and Urban Meyer leaves the NFL.