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NFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Aaron Rodgers restores Packers

Tie a bow on Week 1. A green-and-gold one, that is.

After an opening week that featured the defending champs holding on late against a certifiable challenger, an upset worth a million Bucs and a Monday night double-header, the main takeaway was the ridiculousness of Aaron Rodgers and the comeback that was. We've seen him play on one leg before -- in the playoffs, no less. And we've seen some delightful throws, like the laser to Greg Jennings in Super Bowl XLV. Yet, Sunday night's heave to Geronimo Allison was one of the best long balls I've ever seen, right up there with Manning-to-Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI, the year after Rodgers' Super Bowl MVP showing.

Right on, Aaron. Perfect pic.

Now, as far as the game itself, it definitely makes my top five greatest games at Lambeau. Here's the unofficial list, off the top of my head:

1) The Ice Bowl.
2) The Packers' 48-47 win over the Redskins in a 1983 Monday night thriller.
3) Green Bay's 26-20 win over the Vikings in 2000, punctuated by the Favre-to-Freeman "He did WHAT!?" moment in 2000.
4) 2003 wild-card game: Matt Hasselbeck's (faulty) proclamation and Al Harris' pick-six.
5) This Sunday night: Rodgers' one-legged comeback.

Thoughts? @HarrisonNFL.

Elsewhere in the NFC ...

Don't think Cowboys coaches trust the QB1, or the passing game, nearly as much as they did the former QB1. (Aside: @MarcusMosher is an excellent follow.)

For the full NFL rundown, take a peek below. The Browns moved up (gulp). We have a new No. 32. If you watched Sunday's games, you saw that coming. Would like to see your take. Send along ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: For more in-depth analysis on the updated league pecking order, tune in to NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET for the "NFL Power Rankings" show. Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts in a tweet to @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.

Previous rank: No. 1

Ugly, ugly, ugly annnnnnnnnd ... a win. That's all that matters, right? If you're scoring at home, Philadelphia hasn't lost a game that counts since early last December. (No, we're not counting that Week 17 snooze-fest against the Cowboys that mattered nada.) Thought the Eagles secured last Thursday's win multiple times, only to suffer through them playing footsie on a punt, logging a few tight end drops and committing the most airheaded neutral-zone penalty of all time. All of which darn-near derailed the defending champs. But ... they ... just ... keep ... winning.

Previous rank: No. 2

The Rams stay parked in the 2 spot, as their second-half effort in Oakland revealed how tough an out this group will be all season long. Loved all the play-action Sean McVay was calling with a fourth-quarter lead and the Raiders anticipating a steady diet of Todd Gurley runs. Maybe, as Booger McFarland pointed out on the ESPN broadcast, it might seem McVay got a little cute with all the throws late, but that was keeping Paul Guenther's D guessing. Just wait until L.A.'s defense gets accustomed to playing with one another.

Previous rank: No. 4

 Impressive Vikings debut for 
 Kirk Cousins, even if everything didn't go perfectly for the home-town purple. What had to look picture-perfect for the SKOL faithful: 
 the young buck taking Jimmy G to the house. If 
 Mike Hughes turns out to be a player, look out. Pair him with 
 Xavier Rhodes, 
 Harrison Smith, 
 Andrew Sendejo and 
 George Iloka, and well, holy crap ... what a group that is. 

Previous rank: No. 5

 Close call. Yet, 
 unlike last year, the 
 Patriots start 1-0. So much to cull from their opening-day win over the 
 Texans, though the end of the first half was fascinating. Up 14-6, New England got a tipped punt from 
 *running back* 
 Jeremy Hill. Hill ran the next two plays, out of I-formation (a classic running set), in the 
 *two-minute* offense. What? Next, 
 Rex Burkhead got blown up on a running play and fumbled, with the ball bouncing right into 
 Chris Hogan's hands. Then 
 Tom Brady launched a seam throw into double coverage that Gronk caught (sorta), 
 only to juggle it as he hit the ground. With the replay booth asleep at the wheel, Brady got the next play going before the previous one could be reviewed. 
 Phillip Dorsett morphed into Stanley Morgan the rest of the drive, scoring a touchdown just before halftime to put the Pats up 21-6. 
 **Side note:** Sad to hear about Hill's 
 season-ending ACL tear on Monday. There's something especially excruciating about Week 1 injuries. 

Previous rank: No. 6

 Gutty win for the Jags, who outlasted the 
 Giants and a feisty new kid at tailback. The defense came up big when it had to, 
 scoring points when the offense couldn't and stopping 
 Saquon Barkley on a key fourth-and-short in the third quarter. Part of the reason for the offense getting stuck in neutral was 
 Leonard Fournette's 
 uncooperative hamstring. Without him, it's up to 
 Blake Bortles and the passing game, which wasn't there in the second half on Sunday. Still think this team will miss 
 Marqise Lee, no matter how much folks talk up 
 Keelan Cole (three catches for 54 yards). 

Previous rank: No. 9

 Aaron Rodgers' performance will be remembered just like 
 the Emmitt Smith shoulder game and the 
 Michael Jordan flu game, both of which have resonated with fans for over two decades. A showing like that sticks to your ribs. 
 The Packers' win was also one of the top games I've ever seen that was played at Lambeau Field (see intro). Outside of recognizing Rodgers' gem, I would concur with game analyst Cris Collinsworth regarding the Green Bay secondary. DC Mike Pettine has enough formidable players back there now to tinker and experiment -- he can utilize six defensive backs whenever he wishes. Should make a huge difference this year. 

Previous rank: No. 8

 Falcons move up despite 
 the season-opening loss due to ugly performances from the 
 Saints and 
 Steelers. Not to mention, these guys had a real challenge Thursday night. 
 *You* try going into the home of the world champs, having your best running back 
 limping on the sideline, losing your defensive enforcer 
 for the season 
 *and* going against a crowd ready to douse its Pabst Blue Ribbon on your head. (Side note: Does anyone say "world" champs anymore? My pro football preview magazine from 1958 does.) Safety 
 Keanu Neal's torn ACL is huge, but I don't think any of the below teams are better than Atlanta. And 
 Falcons fans can no longer say I hate their team. 
 ***UPDATE:** After publishing, the Falcons announced that Deion Jones has been placed on injured reserve with a foot ailment. Dan Quinn expects Jones to return this season, but the star linebacker will be out a minimum of eight weeks.* 

Previous rank: No. 11

Tried to catch as much of Cowboys-Panthers as I could Sunday. Every time I looked up, Carolina was out-hustling, out-hitting and out-working the famed visiting team. Despite a score that was seemingly competitive for most of the contest, Dallas, frankly, never looked to be in the game. The Panthers' defense doesn't get as much respect as it used to, but Carolina put the kibosh on the Cowboys' "attack" all afternoon, save for a fourth-quarter drive to pull the game to within one score. Downside on Sunday: Daryl Williams going down and Greg Olsen re-fracturing his foot, two big setbacks which account for Ron Rivera's squad not being higher up on this pecking order. It's your time to shine, Ian Thomas.

Previous rank: No. 16

Whoa. That was a shellacking Baltimore put on Buffalo on Sunday. We don't see a team get its butt kicked like that in the big leagues too often. Poor Nathan Peterman had no answers. Didn't really have any questions to ask, either. It was all elements, purple and -- ultimately -- pine in his face, as the Ravens defense didn't let the Bills breathe. Buffalo posted all of 153 yards of offense. All day. That's not the stat of the week, though. This is: All three of Baltimore's free-agent WR acquisitions -- Willie Snead, John Brown and Michael Crabtree -- scored touchdowns. That's what we call a free-agent haul in these here parts.

Previous rank: No. 7

You knew it wasn't going to be easy for the Steelers on Sunday in Cleveland, whether because of the Le'Veon Bell distraction, the slick field or the fact that Pittsburgh has played plenty of knuckleball affairs there over the years (like last year's opener). All the highlight shows pointed to the Chris Boswell miss, but Ben Roethlisberger was throwing more farts than darts for much of the game. He suffered through three picks and a forward fumble that acted like one. Back to Boswell: Sure, he missed a clutch kick, but 42-yarders on slick grass are not exactly gimmes.

Previous rank: No. 17

Sunday moment: The Chiefs, up two scores on the Chargers late in the third quarter, are driving ... Kansas City has Tyreek Hill (who already had gone off multiple times), Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt at its disposal. So Patrick Mahomes goes where? How about Anthony Sherman, running a fullback wheel route to perfection, with a perfectly laid-in ball that puts the Chiefs up by 19 points. What a throw from Mahomes on what evolved into a banner day. Oh, yeah, Eric Berry didn't play. It really mattered.

Previous rank: No. 3

Large drop for the Saints, who entered the season as bona fide Super Bowl contenders, according to many folks. The plummet has much to do with the defense, which found itself in the deep abyss of Ryan Fitzpatrick-is-white-hot-and-torching-my-team territory against the Bucs on Sunday. When the ball wasn't going to Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson was the man. When it wasn't DJax, O.J. Howard was making plays, including a 35-yarder. Evans and Jackson both caught home-run balls. New Orleans might have to catch a few breaks during the rest of Mark Ingram's four-game suspension. Otherwise, coordinator Dennis Allen's defensive unit will get gassed. No run game + track-meet-style football = exhausted defensive players.

Previous rank: No. 12

Just when it seemed the Texans could be on the verge of getting blown out, they climbed back into the game against the Patriots with timely defense and special teams play. The explosive brand of offense we saw from Deshaun Watson last year? Nowheresville on Sunday. The sophomore phenom looked anything but phenomenal, going 17 of 34 for 176 yards, with a touchdown and a pick. Most alarming was the figure of 5.2 yards per attempt. Last year, Watson owned one of the highest figures in the league in that category, with 8.3 per throw, albeit in just seven games. Key sequence: the Patriots' touchdown drive right before halftime, when the replay booth did not review Gronk's "catch." Inside of two minutes, the replay official should have been Johnny on the spot. Instead, New England received a gratuitous spot of the football.

Previous rank: No. 10

Saddest part of the Chargers' loss to the Chiefs was not Joey Bosa's absence (or the absence of the defense as a whole), and it was not starting a big, fat 0-1 in the AFC West. Nope, it was all the red jerseys in the Bolts' "home" crowd. I noticed the dispiriting sea of cherry while watching the replay of Tyrell Williams' fourth-quarter touchdown grab. The defense was awful, but at least the kicking game made up for it by botching a kick late in the fourth quarter.

 **Throwback Tuesday:** The Bolts shank early season field goals. 
  Shocking. Well, it's clear Bosa will be missed as long as that foot injury lingers. Meanwhile, the offense put up gobs of yards and points, so that won't be the problem this year. Still, starting the season with a divisional home loss is hardly the ideal way to embark on the road to 
 Super Bowl LIII. 

Previous rank: No. 14

Slight drop for the Giants, mostly for failing to seize the game when the visiting Jags were playing with one arm ... er, one hamstring ... behind their back. Once Leonard Fournette went out in the second quarter, Jacksonville stalled. The game was there for the taking. After Saquon Barkley got stopped on fourth down midway through the third quarter, Big Blue went punt, punt, pick-six, touchdown, punt, turnover on downs. This against a tired Jags defense that barely got any rest while Blake Bortles and the offense faltered.

Previous rank: No. 15

While Bears fans are feeling the hangover of too many first-half Jagerbombs and/or one of the worst collapses in recent memory, let's try to look at the big picture. Chicago has a good enough team to win 10 games for the first time since the Brian Urlacher/Lovie Smith era. Moreover, it took an otherworldly game from Aaron Rodgers for the Bears to be brought down in Lambeau. The running back, wide receivers, offensive line, pass rush and linebackers on this team are stout. It's up to Mitch Trubisky to take the next step, and it's up to the corners to play better. ( Catch the ball!) I think both will happen.

Previous rank: No. 26

So ... of all the rankings handed out in last week's file, I felt I was hardest on the Redskins. And obviously now, with hindsight, I regret that. It happens. There is only one No. 20 slot. So, even if you believe that a team like Washington belongs there, chances are that five other squads feel right at that spot, as well. Thus, the Redskins just fell victim to a numbers game. On Sunday, though, the 'Skins turned all of the numbers in their favor, cruising past the Cardinals, 24-6, in Glendale. Alex Smith was efficient and effective. Adrian Peterson racked up 166 yards of offense despite reportedly being 50 years old. Chris Thompson played like, well, Chris Thompson. Then there was Jordan Reed, who scored a touchdown -- and who remains in the prayers of fantasy football owners across the country. (Please stay healthy. PLEASE.)

Previous rank: No. 20

Small move for the Broncos, who secured the home win Sunday ... but didn't look all that impressive in doing so. Well, with Von Miller being an obvious exception. Denver's dynamic edge rusher went on a KhalilMackgotwhat? rampage, sacking the ever-elusive Russell Wilson three times. The concern -- and this is coming from someone who watched much of the game with a Broncos fan -- was the erratic play of Case Keenum. The 30-year-old quarterback is supposed to be THE difference with this team in 2018. That same Denver fan swears that undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay is special -- as in, more special than third-round pick (and preseason darling) Royce Freeman.

Previous rank: No. 28

Bucs fans would probably like to see Tampa even higher than No. 18, but we need to see more than one stirring week from Dirk Koetter's outfit. That said, a nine-spot jump is significant in these here rankings. Storming the Superdome and beating the hyped Saints is no small feat. And it was no fluke, either: The Buccaneers controlled the game throughout. Two concerns, though. To start, the reconstructed defense gave up 40 points and 475 yards of offense. That first point bleeds into the second, which is that Ryan Fitzpatrick can't be expected to play like Dan Fouts -- with that Dan Fouts beard of his -- every week. The D must get some stops. And actually, upon further thought, Fitzpatrick's beard more resembles those dudes in the Sam Adams commercials, but whatever. That beard got the game ball on Sunday.

Previous rank: No. 29

Give it up for Sam Darnold, man. How many Jets fans were howling expletives after the first throw -- and first pick-six -- of Darnold's official NFL career? It takes resolve to do that on your first play then bounce back to perform effectively. Then again, Darnold's defense did manage to pick off five balls of their own. Robby Anderson did his part. Isaiah Crowell isn't as fast as Anderson, but he sure is faster than the Lions' safeties. Holy cow.

Previous rank: No. 21

Cincy stuck it out Sunday in Indy. Was the road win indicative of a playoff run? Maybe not, but give the Bengals some credit for fighting their way back into a contest in which they were down 13-3 and 23-10. The offense moved in a David Klingler-ly way much of the first half -- before Andy Dalton got the passing game going. While far from an air raid, a few dump-offs to Joe Mixon garnered valuable yardage, and eight Bengals caught passes from their redheaded leader. Don't forget about the bend-but-clutch defense in the second half, either.

Previous rank: No. 19

Even the most ardent 49ers fan knew that Sunday in Minnesota was going to be one helluva challenge. Safe to say that was the best defense Jimmy Garoppolo has faced in his young career -- even better than the Jags unit he toppled last December. And when a defensive master like Mike Zimmer has an entire offseason to prepare for Garoppolo's strengths and otherwise ... well, that's when you get three picks (with one being sixed). Regrettably, and ironically, what stuck out the most Sunday was how much this offense could've used former Viking Jerick McKinnon, particularly in the passing game. Next up: the home opener vs. Detroit.

Previous rank: No. 23

'Tis the season for unpretty wins. Between four-plus hours of weather delays, multiple turnovers and a so-so showing from Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins survived the Titans to kick off the season at 1-0. This was the longest same-day delay I can remember. (In fact, at seven hours and eight minutes, it was the longest game since the 1970 merger, according to the Elias Sports.) Makes you wonder if the Dolphins played UNO in the clubhouse to pass the time as lightning shut down Hard Rock Stadium. The cruddiest part for an athlete during a delay like that: the body cools off, which is not a great thing for the body to do smack dab in the middle of a football game. Trying to stay loose and warm for a few minutes on an exercise bike is one thing. These guys could've binge-watched "Cobra Kai" and had time left over to sit on their hands. Gritty win.

Previous rank: No. 13

Before you freak out over the free-fall and slander my good name, Titans fans, consider the situation. Marcus Mariota is banged up. As are BOTH of his tackles. Then you have the best player on the entire offense out for the season. Delanie Walker is one of those All-Pro-caliber players who never gets the accolades but balls out each and every week. Still believe in this Tennessee defense, which was fantastic on third down and forced turnovers. The D just didn't get much help from the Titans' offense, other than one big run by Dion Lewis and a 31-yard reception from Luke Stocker.

Previous rank: No. 22

No imagination. The debacle in Carolina was hardly Scott Linehan's masterpiece -- or, as Cowboys fans will tell you, hardly far from the norm. Linehan exited stage left after the pitiful offensive display with nary a word. Of course, it's difficult to blame the OC when the quarterback can't hit the broad side of a barn. Watch some of the throws Aaron Rodgers made Sunday night, then watch Dak Prescott's display Sunday. His miss of an open Deonte Thompson on fourth-and-10 late pretty much sealed the deal. It wasn't a horrible throw, and a few Twitter followers contended Thompson could've caught the ball. In reality, Prescott waited a split-second too long for Thompson to fully come out of his break, didn't move at all in the pocket, then released right when Julius Peppers was on him. With no weapons on the outside, no tight ends and an offensive line missing its rudder, Jason Garrett's group is going nowhere.

Previous rank: No. 18

That was horrible. That was horrible. That was horrible. That was horrible. That was horrible. (One for every Lions pass that was intercepted.) At least when the Bills got blown out, Nathan Peterman was making his third career start against a standout defense, on the road, in the elements. Detroit got whupped, at home, by a team whose quarterback was making his first career start. The Lions could legitimately be 0-5 going into the bye.

Previous rank: No. 24

The Raiders hung with the Rams for the bulk of three quarters before a tired defensive front could no longer penetrate nor get pressure. The latter will clearly be an issue for Jon Gruden's team all season. And Derek Carr will certainly not be the "Bride of Chucky" with late turnovers, like the pop fly right into linebacker Cory Littleton's mitts. There were positive signs for Oakland, like the blunt-force trauma Marshawn Lynch was inflicting on linebackers and defensive backs. Also, Jared Cook looked like Dave Casper and Todd Christensen out there. Good grief.

Previous rank: No. 27

 Doug Baldwin's injury has this team dropping one spot. Otherwise, Seattle 
 gave the Broncos all they could handle in Denver, more so than many pundits expected. Thought the 
 Seahawks could've run the football more than they did, giving just 14 carries to the running backs. Seattle's Sunday outcomes will apparently rest on 
 Russell Wilson's shoulders again this year. Speaking of stars ... How about 
 Earl Thomas setting up that 
 Will Dissly touchdown by 
 jumping in front of a Case Keenum throw like he's done it his whole career? (Because he has.) Oh, and that's 
 Will Dissly, blocking TE. 
 Will Dissly, Dissly bear. 

Previous rank: No. 30

Of course. The game had to end in a tie Sunday. Otherwise it wouldn't have been the latest error-fest in a long line of Steelers- Browns error-fests. Cleveland's new-look defense revealed itself early and often in this contest, producing six takeaways in this AFC North slugfest. Unfortunately, while Tyrod Taylor didn't give away the ball nearly as much as his counterpart, he underthrew open receivers too often, especially in the fourth quarter. In fact, his lone interception came on an underthrow to Josh Gordon. The Browns are not yet viable enough to win when their quarterback misses those opportunities. But they are good enough to tie.

Previous rank: No. 32

For someone who has not played meaningful football in 20 months, Andrew Luck fared pretty well on Sunday. Tough loss in front of the home crowd, no doubt. However, seeing Luck play (and throw 53 passes without any kind of setback) was encouraging. He's still not pushing the ball vertically much, outside of a nice 26-yard scoring toss to Eric Ebron. The old Luck-to- T.Y. Hilton exchange was evident, as well, bringing back shades of 2016 with a short touchdown strike in the third quarter.

Previous rank: No. 25

Oof. If not for the drubbing of the Bills, more people would've noticed how the Cardinals flew into a windshield Sunday afternoon. Arizona generated all of 213 yards of offense, with one third-down conversion and one (late) touchdown. New head coach Steve Wilks comes from a defensive background, most recently in Carolina. Super. His defense got throttled through the air and sea, until the Redskins called off the dogs in the fourth quarter. The Cards were so bad, I can't even get the phrase right. Air and land.

Previous rank: No. 31

It could've been worse. EJ Manuel could have backed up Nathan Peterman on Sunday. Took some grief from Bills fans for placing them 31st last week. Turns out I did rank them wrong. Now what? Does Sean McDermott go to Josh Allen? Is that even fair to the rookie first-round pick, given the state of the offensive line? By the way, Buffalo's scrimmage-yards leader was Marcus Murphy. It's OK if you've never heard of him. Oy vey.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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