1. 49ers (2-0): These aren’t your father’s Niners. This team, with all due respect to Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, have a mean streak and play with a chip. For the second straight week, the defense put the clamps on an NFC juggernaut — and throw those doubts away about Alex Smith. He’s not purely a game manager. The former No. 1 overall pick can beat you with his arm if he needs to, and having Vernon Davis at his disposal makes him dangerous.
2. Falcons (2-0): We knew Matty Ice’s offense was going to be prolific, but Mike Nolan’s defense was swarming and even had Peyton Manning scratching his head.
3. Texans (2-0): Houston never strays far from the script: sound defense, punishing run game. No one can stop Arian Foster and Ben Tate (184 yards combined).
4. Packers (1-1): Never sleep on the Pack. A week after their defense was heavily criticized, they charted seven sacks and four picks. Clay Matthews is still flexing over Jay Cutler.
5. Steelers (1-1): The transformation from ground-and-pound to air-it-out is complete. Ben Roethlisberger (275 yards, 2 TDs) found 10 different receivers.
6. Eagles (2-0): If the Eagles can figure out how to stop turning the ball over, watch out. The offense has racked up 942 yards in two weeks, while squeaking out two one-point victories.
7. Ravens (1-1): Blame the refs all you want, but they weren’t ready to play. Their offense couldn’t run the no-huddle and their defense had no answer for the no-huddle.
8. Cardinals (2-0): Smoke and mirrors? We’re not sure, but a win vs. Bill Belichick’s Patriots earns you respect. One thing is certain: The Cardinals’ defense is legit.
9. Patriots (1-1): Kellen Winslow is the new Aaron Hernandez —downgrade there — but Tom Brady will find a way. Remember, he led them on a game-winning drive only to see his kicker miss.
10. Broncos (1-1): Peyton Manning threw three bad picks, then nearly pulled off a classic comeback. Denver’s skill players are still adjusting to his Cobra Commander routine at the line.
11. NY Jets (1-1): The Jets aren’t as good as they showed vs. Buffalo, but not as bad as they were vs. Pittsburgh. More Wildcat, less Mark Sanchez? Ahh, the Tim Tebow experiment continues …
12. Cowboys (1-1): Flying out to the great Northwest to face one of the stingiest defenses in football is always a tall order. We’re giving the Cowboys a pass.
13. NY Giants (1-1): You don’t want to make Tom Coughlin mad (hide your kids, hide your wife when that red face of his comes out), and Tampa Bay did that.
14. Chargers (2-0): Why is an undefeated team this low? Well, with wins over underwhelming Oakland and Tennessee, we’re holding judgment. Sorry, Mr. Rivers.
15. Bears (1-1): Jay Cutler can look so good at times (especially when he’s not whining or yelling at his lineman). That was a tough game to watch and he didn’t make it any easier.
16. Panthers (1-1): That was more what we were expecting from Team Cam in Week 1. The most dynamic player in football (253 passing, 71 rushing) was sick of watching RG3 highlights.
17. Lions (1-1): Matthew Stafford really hasn’t been in sync yet this season, and the Lions have almost pulled two wins out. That’s a very encouraging sign.
18. Seahawks (1-1): When Seattle plays like they did against Dallas — with Marshawn Lynch running people over and safeties popping tight ends — this Seattle team can beat anyone.
19. Redskins (1-1): Skins had chances, an opportunity at OT was negated by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, then opted for and missed a 62-yard FG.
20. Bengals (1-1): Cincy won the Battle of Ohio, but it was probably closer than it should have been. Good news, Andy Dalton looked like the 2011 version.
21. Buccaneers (1-1): Trying to stomp Eli Manning, not cool. But we get what Greg Schiano is trying to do (restore toughness) and the players seem to be buying in.
22. Dolphins (1-1): Raise your hand if you saw this one coming? The Dolphins aren’t very good, but Reggie bush gives them enough firepower not to be terrible.
23. Rams (1-1): Sam Bradford out-dueled RG3 as Jeff Fisher continues to turn the Rams into one of the NFL’s most improved teams.
24. Colts (1-1): Some are calling Andrew Luck the new Peyton Manning … we’re not going that far, not yet. But the kid looked impressive against a mediocre team.
25. Saints (0-2): Extremely underwhelmed through two weeks. But we’re still not convinced Drew Brees can’t get this team together before the wheels completely fall off.
26. Vikings (1-1): Maybe they aren’t who we thought they were. Christian Ponder has looked sharp and Adrian Peterson is running at full speed.
27. Bills (1-1): C.J. Spiller. C.J. Spiller. C.J. Spiller. If you play fantasy football, that’s all you need to know.
28. Chiefs (0-2): We’ve never trusted Matt Cassel as the starter, and this team has way too much talent on both sides of the ball to be winless.
29. Raiders (0-2): Until they start feeding Darren McFadden the football – he is their best player after all – then it’s going to be a long, long season.
30. Browns (0-2): Almost beating the Eagles energized the downtrodden Brownies. The kids (Trent Richardson, 109 yards), Brandon Weeden (322 yards, 2 TDs) look like they can play.
31. Tennessee (0-2): What’s worse: their offensive line? Or Chris Johnson?
32. Jacksonville (0-2): Good news is Blaine Gabbert is hurt. Bad news is Chad Henne is his backup.