Two weeks is not enough to determine whether teams are true contenders or pretenders in the NFL, but as we approach Week 3 of the 2021 season, a number of clubs already have a head start on a march to the postseason. Seven different teams, to be exact, are undefeated after two games. But which of them would we currently deem "for real?" And which of them are probably destined to trip up down the road? Here, we've ranked all seven of the 2-0 teams:
Teddy Bridgewater has looked great, and Vic Fangio always boasts a feisty defense, but it's hard to envision Teddy maintaining his big-play pace when he's not going up against wayward clubs like the Giants and Jaguars. That doesn't mean Denver will bow out of the playoff race; they've got the makings of a wild-card contender. But the hot start is probably more a tease than a promise.
Speaking of teases, how often have the Raiders surprised with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr, only to fold when it matters most? The latter certainly looks at ease slinging it around the yard, and Vegas' defense has been surprisingly effective so far. But they've got a tough second-half schedule in a division that might feature three other playoff contenders. They're going to need full health and their best efforts to keep this up into December.
Give credit to their defense, which limited the upstart Eagles to 11 points in Week 2; and Jimmy Garoppolo, who was smooth in the opener and made some clutch throws after a slow start in Philly. But they've nearly lost to two semi-rebuilding teams, their secondary is very thin, and the injury bug is still buzzing. An eventual Trey Lance emergence would change things, but for now, they feel like the least explosive of the NFC West contenders.
Can you believe Sam Darnold's team ranks this high? The ex-Jets signal-caller has looked calm and collected in new scenery, and more than that, Carolina's young defense has taken an even bigger leap than expected. You'd probably trust Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers structure more than Darnold, Matt Rhule and Co. here, but the Niners are also in the crowded NFC West, making them more vulnerable to slip-ups. Don't look now, but they seem like a legitimately balanced contender.
Chandler Jones isn't going to get five sacks every game, as evidenced in Week 2, but as long as Kyler Murray is under center, they're going to be hard to contain. The offense is just loaded, and that goes a long way in 2021. Only the Buccaneers have scored more points through two weeks, which means Arizona is a lethal weapon, even in a tight division race.
All that Matthew Stafford hype sure looks justified, because Sean McVay has at his disposal a strong-armed and recharged veteran to guide maybe the NFC's best offense this side of the Bucs and Cardinals. They've already proven they can win in multiple ways, and their defense, in its first year post-Brandon Staley, still has foundational pieces. We are buying Rams stock.
It's the easy answer, but it's the right one. Tampa Bay nearly lost its opener to Dallas because it couldn't stop Dak Prescott, but it didn't matter because Tom Brady, at 44, is apparently still entering his prime. Then, in Week 2, Todd Bowles' unit came back to life with some game-changing turnovers, while Brady just casually tossed another five touchdowns. These guys are so good, and it starts at the QB position, the most important in the game. Who would be shocked if they make another deep run?
Excited for the biggest NFL schedule in history? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to favorite the your favorite team so you don't miss a thing!
2021 NFL jerseys now available
The new NFL season is here! Win or lose, you can shop jerseys, shirts, hats, and much more to support your favorite team. Shop here and show your colors.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.