Top 5 Busts among 2014 NFL Free Agent Running Backs

toby-gerhart-free-agent-bustIt’s no secret that the value of NFL running backs has dropped in recent years. Part of this appears to be the emphasis on passing in the league, meaning quarterbacks, receivers and star tight ends are making more money. Another reason why is because most teams go with a running back committee approach because of how tough it is for one player to carry the mail these days. And who can when they’re consistently being hit by 300-pound lineman, 250-pound linebackers and 220-pound safeties.

Regardless, the value of free agent running backs doesn’t figure to go up when looking at the 2014 NFL class. There are some very notable busts this season (through Week 12), and you can check out the top 5 below.

1. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-year deal, $10.5 million

Toby Gerhart just goes to show what a difference it can make running over exhausted defenders who’ve been dealing with Adrian Peterson, versus doing the same in the first quarter. The 6’0″, 231-pound bulldozer has moved about as fast as a bulldozer, putting up just 2.6 yards per carry. His 59 carries for 154 yards look especially bad when considering how Denard Robinson has been flourishing at RB.

chris-johnson-jets-bust2. Chris Johnson, New York Jets: 2-year deal, $8 million

While Johnson hasn’t been the worst player on this list, he’s easily underperformed the $4 million a year that he’s getting. Through 10 games he has a decent 4.2 YPC average, but has also managed just 360 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. It’s pretty clear from this season that the 29-year-old is long removed from the days when he set an NFL Combine 40-yard-dash record with a blazing 4.24 seconds.

3. LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-year deal, $3.85 million

From the once-fast to the never-fast, LeGarrette Blount seemed like a bargain backup for Le’Veon Bell. Sure he’s fairly slow (4.6 forty), but at 250 pounds, Blount has made a career out of running people over. Of course, you have to get the ball to do this, something that didn’t happen in Week 11 for the 27-year-old. So Blount left the game against Kansas City early and was promptly cut the following Monday. He finished the season with a pedestrian 266 yards and 2 TD’s on 65 carries.

ben-tate-cleveland4. Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns: 2-year deal, $6.2 million

Tate is somewhat like Gerhart’s case, except that he actually had some good performances in Houston when Arian Foster missed games. That said, he seemed like a great fit for a Cleveland Browns team desperately wanting to establish a ground game. After missing several games early, the 5’10”, 220-pound back got going with 202 rushing yards and 2 TD’s combined against the Steelers and Titans. However, coach Mike Pettine started turning more to rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, thus making Tate unhappy with his committee role. After expressing his frustration, Tate was quickly given walking papers.

5. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: 1-yr, $1.75m / Maurice Jones-Drew: 3-yr, $7.5m

Oakland must be the place where (once) great running backs go to die. The one good thing about these two guys is that they’re at least still on the team. However the bad thing is that McFadden and MJD have only gained 393 and 70 rushing yards respectively through 11 weeks. With the season winding down and the Raiders still being winless, don’t be surprised if they give rookie Latavius Murray a good look over the last few games.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 3 (Sept. 18, 2014)

Denver Broncos v Buffalo BillsAre the Buffalo Bills the NFL’s surprise team this year? Few would have guessed this coming into the season since the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 14 seasons, and haven’t had a winning record in 9 years. But they are certainly looking the part of a changed team after beating Chicago on the road, and walloping Miami 29-10 last week.

Buffalo faces yet another good opponent in San Diego, and this matchup will reveal more about just how much they’ve improved. The Bills have already improved quite a bit in our power rankings as they represent the biggest jump.

1. Denver Broncos (2-0); beat Kansas City 24-17, moves up one spot – Few expected the Broncos to be challenged at home after the way that Kansas City played in Week 1. This was especially the case since the team was missing Jamaal Charles. Nevertheless, give Denver credit for beating a division rival and maintaining their unblemished mark.

2. Seattle Seahawks (1-1); lost to San Diego 30-21, drops one spot – A bit of a disappointment here as Seattle couldn’t seem to cover Antonio Gates as he caught three touchdown passes. Of course, Percy Harvin’s second-quarter fumble didn’t help matters – this was a huge momentum-shifter. But while the defending Super Bowl champs’ bid for perfection may have ended early, a road loss to San Diego is no reason to get alarmed.

3. New England Patriots (1-1); beat Minnesota 30-7, moves up two spots – With the NFC’s elites looking rather mediocre last weekend, we see another AFC team near the top. New England was great on both sides of the ball – intercepting Matt Cassel four times – en route to a blowout. Stevan Ridley showed that he’s not in Bill Belichick’s doghouse by rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown.

darren-sproles-eagles4. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0); beat Indianapolis 30-27, moves up two spots – Nick Foles had yet another poor first-half performance, only to help the team come roaring back in the second half. The Eagles deserve praise for fighting back in what looked like a Colts victory. Darren Sproles was more than impressive out of the backfield, racking up 152 receiving yards on just seven catches.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat Atlanta Falcons 24-10, moves up two spots – The Falcons are a much-improved team, which is why this is a very good victory for Cincinnati – especially without A.J. Green on the field. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have quickly made their case for being the league’s top young backfield. And let us not forget how dominant the defense was against Atlanta.

6. San Francisco 49ers (1-1); lost to Chicago Bears 28-20, drops three spots – How San Francisco lost this one is beyond us. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead and were ahead 20-7 going into the fourth quarter. However, five turnovers, 16 penalties and a big drop near the end doomed San Francisco. Oh yeah…and they also let Jay Cutler throw three touchdowns in the last quarter. We pity the Niners at practice this week with Jim Harbaugh.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1); beat New York Jets 31-24, moves up one spot – The Packers offense couldn’t have started off any slower, and the defense couldn’t have started any worse. Green Bay finally put two and a half quarters of good football together, capped off by Jordy Nelson’s 80-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. His 209 receiving yards were the third most in a game in Packers’ history.

8. Carolina Panthers (2-0); beat Detroit 24-7, moves up two spots – Against the Giants in Week 1, Detroit’s offense looked unstoppable. Against the Panthers, they looked lost, which is only a testament to how dominant Carolina’s front seven is. Greg Hardy going on the exempt list until at least mid-November really hurts. However, this defense isn’t all about Hardy, as just 21 points allowed and 6 forced turnovers through two games indicate.

9. New Orleans Saints (0-2); lost to Cleveland Browns 26-24, drops five spots – The Saints, who as always came into this season with Super Bowl aspirations, couldn’t have envisioned a worse start to the season. The offense was sluggish in the beginning, and the defense failed to make plays when it mattered. Case in point: the Saints’ pass defense on Andrew Hawkins’ big reception at the end that set up a game-winning field goal.

jay-cutler-bears10. Chicago Bears (1-1); beat San Francisco 28-20, moves up two spots – The Bears played one great quarter of football and took advantage of a San Francisco team that was hellbent on beating itself. So we’re not ready to predict a Super Bowl parade in Chicago just yet. Nevertheless, this was a very good victory for this team, especially stepping up when so many of their defenders went down with injuries.

11. Arizona Cardinals (2-0); beat New York Giants 25-14, moves up two spots – Playing a terrible Giants team allowed Arizona to survive both their first game without Carson Palmer and a road contest. This team will be relying much more on Andre Ellington now that Jonathan Dwyer has become the latest NFL player embroiled in a domestic abuse case.

12. Indianapolis Colts (0-2); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 30-27, drops three spots – Bad officiating and poor play-calling cost the Colts what should have been a victory. The decision to run the first two downs on Indianapolis’ last drive was baffling. They should get a victory this week in Jacksonville, however, the Colts are still starting off in an 0-2 hole.

13. San Diego Chargers (1-1); beat Seattle Seahawks, moves up two spots – There weren’t may people who called the win over Seattle. As mentioned in the introduction, Gates had an amazing day, helping Philip Rivers to also finish well with 287 yards and three touchdowns. They’ll now head out to Buffalo with plenty of confidence after beating the defending champs.

14. Buffalo Bills (2-0); beat Miami Dolphins 29-10, moves up 12 spots – Like everybody else, we underrated Buffalo coming into the season and thought that their win in Chicago was a fluke. But then they came out and dismantled our darkhorse favorite for the AFC East crown. C.J. Spiller showed just why he’s so dangerous on a 102-yard kickoff return while Sammy Watkins caught 8 passes for 117 yards and a TD.

bernard-pierce-ravens-201415. Baltimore Ravens (1-1); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 26-16, moves up two spots – So much for Bernard Pierce being benched for ineffectiveness as he rushed 22 times for 96 yards. Justin Forsett added eight carries for 56 yards, completing a backfield that could make fans forget Ray Rice.

16. Miami Dolphins (1-1); lost to Buffalo Bills 29-10, drops two spots – After a huge win over New England, Miami followed this up with a dud against the Bills. Their coverage on Spiller’s kickoff return was poor at best. And now they have to contend with Knowshon Moreno’s elbow injury. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into last year’s situation, where the team can’t string together consistent performances.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1); lost to Baltimore Ravens 26-6, drops six spots – A highly disappointing performance on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh – especially from their lineman. The three turnovers added to the dismal offensive output while the linebackers and safeties got burned several times in coverage. Is this just another 8-8 Steelers team?

18. Atlanta Falcons (1-1); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 24-10, drops two spots – We expect the Falcons to be a player in the NFC South race. But after putting up little fight against Cincinnati, they haven’t shown too much so far. Matt Ryan was under pressure from a strong Bengals front seven all game, leading to 24-for-44 passing, three interceptions and being sacked three times. With no real running threat, Atlanta is a team that will live and die by the pass.

19. Detroit Lions (1-1); lost to Carolina Panthers 24-7, drops one spot – It seemed that nothing was really working for Detroit last Sunday. Their run game was stuffed and Matt Stafford didn’t get many good looks downfield. Give the nasty Carolina defense some credit here, but also consider the Lions’ three turnovers.

alex-smith-kansas-city20. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2); lost to Denver 24-17, drops two spots – We weren’t expecting big things from the Chiefs this season. But their performance against Denver without Jamaal Charles was commendable. After a disastrous three-interception outing in Week 1, Alex Smith turned in a strong, scrappy effort with 255 passing yards and 42 rushing yards. He’ll have to do far more of this with Charles out.

21. New York Jets (1-1); lost to Green Bay 31-24, drops one spot – Even when Geno Smith led the Jets to an early 21-3 lead over Green Bay, many fans probably had a feeling that the Packers would have the last laugh. And that’s exactly what happened as the Packers stormed back from an 18-point deficit to beat the hapless Jets. To add insult to injury, Jeremy Kerley’s game-tying, 37-yard touchdown catch was wiped out because New York called a timeout from the sidelines.

22. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); beat Tennessee 26-10, moves up six spots – Maybe Dallas isn’t going to be so bad this year. DeMarco Murray powered his way to 167 yards and a TD on just 29 carries. With such a balanced offense, Tony Romo was better able to manage the game and, most importantly, avoid throwing any interceptions.

23. St. Louis (1-1); beat Tampa Bay 19-17, moves up one spot – All bets were off on Austin Davis leading the Rams to a victory on the road. However, in his first-ever start, Davis turned in a decent game by completing 22-of-29 passes for 235 yards. Most importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions and got the team in position for a TD and four field goals.

24. Houston Texans (2-0); beat Oakland 30-14, moves up one spot – If you’ll remember, the Texas started 2-0 last year, only to lose the next 14 games. Somehow, though, we feel that this year is different. This is especially the case if Arian Foster stays healthy, as he rushed for 138 yards and a score on 28 carries. But there needs to be some victories over teams besides the Skins and Raiders before they move up.

25. Tennessee Titans (1-1); lost to Dallas Cowboys 26-10, drops four spots – Tennessee’s run defense, which held up so well against the Chiefs, was absolutely obliterated by Dallas. The Boys rushed for over 200 yards, with Murray leading the way during his 167-yard effort. Meanwhile, the Titans rushed just 13 times total, which pretty much tells you everything about why Tennessee was dominated at home.

26. Minnesota Vikings (1-1); lost to New England 30-7, drops three spots – Losing Adrian Peterson to a child abuse case comes at a very bad time for the Vikings. Now opposing defenses can virtually ignore the run game, or force Matt Cassel to beat them…it doesn’t really matter.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2); lost to St. Louis 19-17, drops five spots – In most cases, having a rusher like Bobby Rainey go for 144 yards on just 22 carries is a recipe for victory. But that wasn’t the case for Tampa Bay as they found a way to lose this one. It seems like they’re going to find a lot of ways to lose in 2014.

28. Cleveland Browns (1-1); beat New Orleans 26-24, moves up one spot – The defense played very well against the Saints’ dynamic offense, not allowing Drew Brees many opportunities. Plus the rookie backfield of Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell continues to carry the load, as evidenced by their combined 30 carries and 122 yards. We don’t foresee the playoffs this year, however, Cleveland has refused to roll over for superior opponents.

29. Washington Redskins (1-1); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 41-10, moves up two spots – Maybe it’s that they played the Jacksonville Jaguars, maybe it’s Kirk Cousins finally taking over the quarterback reigns (or a lot of both), but Washington looked pretty good in this blowout. Cousins threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns while Alfred Morris rushed for 85 yards and another pair of scores.

30. New York Giants (0-2); lost to Arizona 25-14, drops three spots – It seems like a really long time ago when Eli Manning won those two Super Bowls. The Giants blew a golden opportunity to get their first win at home against Drew Stanton and the Cardinals. Is a Tom Coughlin-led revival in the cards this season, or just another non-playoff year?

31. Oakland Raiders (0-2); lost to Houston Texans 30-14, moves up one spot – More than anything, this year just seems like an opportunity to season Derek Carr, who passed for 263 yards and a TD, and rushed for another 58 yards. Of course, as his two interceptions indicate, the rookie will make plenty of mistakes.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2); lost to Washington Redskins 41-10, drops one spot – This isn’t all Chad Henne’s fault because the O-line is playing terribly (also see Toby Gerhart’s 2.0 YPC). But Jacksonville might as well give the superior Blake Bortles an opportunity soon because this season is already getting out of hand.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 2 (Sept. 11, 2014)

percy-harvin-seahawksWe started the season by ranking Seattle number one, and there’s little reason to back off that prediction one week into the season. The Seahawks dominated the Green Bay Packers last Thursday to the tune of a 36-16 blowout. They’ll have no shortage of weapons either as Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two TD’s, Russell Wilson threw for 191 yards and a pair of TD’s and Percy Harvin gained 100 combined yards, almost dividing them equally between the air and ground.

Okay, now that we’ve ruined any element of surprise about who’s number one, there were definitely some changes in other spots of our rankings. That said, let’s take a look at the Week 2 NFL power rankings.

1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Green Bay 36-16, retains same ranking – Seattle picked up right where they left off last season by blowing out another high-profile opponent. We didn’t get to see much from Richard Sherman – only because Aaron Rodgers avoided throwing his direction the entire game. Sherman’s presence is one reason why the Seahawks had little trouble shutting down Green Bay’s uptempo offense as they looked unbeatable at home.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Indianapolis 31-24, retains same ranking – Denver’s first-half defense looked scary in holding the Colts to just a touchdown. However, they also let Indianapolis back into the game. Peyton Manning continues finding the open man, wherever they may be. This time, it was tight end Julius Thomas as he scored three touchdowns.

3. San Francisco 49ers (1-0); beat Dallas Cowboys 28-17, retains same ranking – Even without Aldon Smith, San Francisco made the Dallas offense look bad by getting in Tony Romo’s face and contributing to his three interceptions. Running back Carlos Hyde looks like a new player to watch this season as he rushed for 50 yards and a TD on just seven carries.

4. New Orleans Saints (0-1); lost to Atlanta Falcons 37-34 (OT), moves up one spot  – Despite a loss – a road loss to a division rival mind you – the Saints move up as everybody else around them also lost. The offense has gotten even better with the addition of rookies Brandin Cooks and Khiry Robinson. The main concern here, though, is the cornerback situation. Playing against elite Falcons receivers didn’t help mask this concern either.

5. New England Patriots (0-1); lost to Miami Dolphins 33-20, drops one spot – Another road loss to a tough division rival here. But it’s concerning how the Patriots were completely dominated in the second half after going into the locker room with a 20-10 lead. The offense is loaded with talent, however, they’ll have a tough time winning if the defense continues allowing players like Knowshon Moreno to rush for 134 yards.

nick-foles-eagles6. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 34-17, moves up one spot – It seems like the Eagles should be moving up a little higher based on their blowout victory. But the worrisome aspect is how they were down 17-0 going into halftime against a Jacksonville team that isn’t markedly improved. Nick Foles was especially off, although he rallied to throw for 322 yards and one touchdown.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat Baltimore Ravens 23-16, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 77-yard touchdown pass with five minutes left to help earn Cincinnati a very nice road win. The only complaint here is that the Bengals left a lot of points on the board in the first half, settling for five field goals. If they’d just converted on some key third downs, they could have ended this game early, rather than allowing Baltimore to hang in there.

8. Green Bay Packers (0-1); lost to Seattle Seahawks 36-16, drops one spot – It felt right to give Green Bay a chance when discussing this game in our last power rankings. However, even with their scoring ability, they were no match for a Super Bowl champion opening up at home. The Packers are definitely a team that has a chance to stay in the hunt, but they’ve got some improving to do if they’re going to win a road playoff game.

9. Indianapolis Colts (0-1); lost to Denver Broncos 31-24, retains same ranking – We won’t fault Indianapolis too badly for losing by a touchdown at Mile High. But this one got ugly in the beginning, with the Broncos going up 24-0. Andrew Luck definitely looked every bit a top-5 quarterback, though, in leading his team back. Luck finished the day going 35-for-53 with 370 yards, 3 total touchdowns and 2 INT’s. He can do better, but this was an impressive day for a guy with few weapons around him.

10. Carolina Panthers (1-0); beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-14, moves up two spots – Despite Cam Newton sitting out with a rib injury, Carolina bolted out to a lead in this one and never looked back. The front seven looks amazing again while Kelvin Benjamin had a fantastic rookie debut with 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. It’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers can repeat last year’s success in a loaded NFC South division.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0); beat Cleveland Browns 30-27, retains same ranking – Despite a win, this was a somewhat disappointing home debut for the Steelers. They jumped out to a 27-0 lead, only to be outscored 27-3 afterward. Pittsburgh’s run defense was especially bad against a Browns team that racked up 183 yards on just 30 rushing plays. If the Steelers are to challenge Cincinnati for the AFC North crown, they’ll have to defend much better.

jay-cutler-buffalo12. Chicago Bears (0-1); lost to Buffalo Bills 23-20 (OT), drops two spots – Few would’ve predicted this upset with the Bears playing at home. Chicago opened well after going up 17-7 by halftime. However, they got little pressure from their expensive defensive line, which now includes Jared Allen. And Jay Cutler made some crucial throwing errors as Buffalo clawed back into this one. Fred Jackson’s 38-yard run, which ended at the Bears’ 1-yard line, set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winning field goal.

13. Arizona Cardinals (1-0); beat San Diego 1-0, moves up two spots – The Cardinals came alive in the fourth quarter to score 12 points and take this one away from San Diego. Carson Palmer picked apart a weak Chargers secondary for 304 yards and two TD passes. There was initially some fear that Andre Ellington would miss time for Arizona, however, the running back contributed 53 yards on 13 carries and looks fine.

14. Miami Dolphins (1-0); beat New England 33-20, moves up two spots – In a discussion on NFL prop bets, we liked the Miami Dolphins as darkhorses to win the AFC East. Well, it’s too early to call good on this prediction, but they’re definitely on the right path with a victory over the Patriots. The Miami D-line really came alive in the second half to put pressure on Tom Brady and halt New England’s attack.

15. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Arizona Cardinals 18-17, drops two spots – San Diego went from an anemic first-half performance, to quickly scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter, to letting Arizona score a couple touchdowns in the fourth. Losing this game on the road isn’t such a terrible thing, but the Chargers are definitely hating how they lost.

NFL: AUG 16 Pre-Season Colts v Falcons16. Atlanta Falcons (1-0); beat New Orleans 37-34 (OT), moves up three spots – We want to move the Falcons up more following the win against New Orleans, but we’ll have to see how all aspects of their team develop. One thing’s for sure, though – the passing game is back! Matt Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, and Julio Jones and Devin Hester combined for 215 receiving yards.

17. Baltimore Ravens (0-1); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 23-16, drops three spots – The run game is a mess in Baltimore after they booted Ray Rice from the team. Now, 29-year-old journeyman Justin Forsett will be starting while Bernard Pierce was surprisingly benched. As long as this keeps up, Joe Flacco will have to keep chucking the ball 60+ times a game.

18. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat New York Giants 35-14, retains same ranking – It’s hard to tell if the Lions defense is any better, seeing as how New York’s offense is so bad. But the offense definitely looks upgraded with Golden Tate there to take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson in the receiving corp.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1); lost to Tennessee 26-10, drops two spots – The Chiefs are a candidate for this year’s most de-improved team – if only because their schedule will be far tougher. Of course, a home game against the Titans shouldn’t be that tough, although Kansas City made it that way. With Dwayne Bowe and RT Donald Stephenson suspended, and LB Derrick Johnson and DT Mike DeVito lost to Achilles injuries, things only look to get worse. Their one saving point is that they still have Jamaal Charles.

20. New York Jets (1-0); beat Oakland Raiders 19-14, moves up one spot – A win over the Raiders has to be worth something, right? The defense played well, as expected. But the offense also looked pretty efficient, with Geno Smith going 23-for-28 on passing attempts with a touchdown. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson also combined for 170 yards on just 23 carries.

21. Tennessee Titans (1-0); beat Kansas City 26-10, moves up three spots – Credit the Titans with going into a playoff team’s den and taking away a solid victory. It’s still early to tell just how good Tennessee is, especially with questions surrounding their running game. However, Jake Locker looked strong while racking up 266 passing yards and a couple of TD’s.

josh-mccown-bucs22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1); lost to Carolina Panthers 20-14, drops one spot – This is definitely one case where the score makes things look closer than they were. Tampa Bay’s new-look offense was stifled early on, and Doug Martin did not look good at all (9 rushing yards on 9 attempts) before getting hurt. Josh McCown’s results were pretty mixed as he threw for 183 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s.

23. Minnesota Vikings (1-0); beat St. Louis 34-6, moves up three spots – We don’t want to get too excited about this team until after they play New England. However, you can’t deny that they had a very good start at St. Louis. WR Cordarelle Patterson looks like a big-time weapon for this offense as he rushed for 102 yards on three carries and added 26 receiving yards.

24. St. Louis (0-1); lost to Minnesota Vikings 34-6, drops four spots – The year couldn’t have started any worse for the Rams. Just two weeks after losing Sam Bradford for the season, Shaun Hill exited this game with a thigh injury. That leaves inexperienced Austin Davis in the driver’s seat. Can Zac Stacy and the running game get anything going?

25. Houston Texans (1-0); beat Washington 17-6, moves up two spots – Last year, Houston won their first two games before going 0-14 the rest of the way. So let’s not get too excited about this victory. Nevertheless, their defense was pretty outstanding – especially the $100-million-man J.J. Watt. He had a sack, blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble in this contest.

26. Buffalo Bills (1-0); beat Chicago Bears 23-20 (OT), moves up two spots – Hard to see the Bills being much better than last year. However, seeing is believing, and they looked good against Chicago. The key to this season will be E.J. Manuel’s confidence and if the second-year QB can develop into a leader.

27. New York Giants (0-1); lost to Detroit 35-14, drops four spots – People wondered if the offense would truly be as bad as it looked in the preseason. And these questions were put to rest as the Giants unleashed a truly awful offensive performance. Eli Manning highlighted this performance by throwing for 163 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

28. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); lost to San Francisco 28-17, drops three spots – The score doesn’t put into account how bad the Cowboys were outclassed in the first quarter. They eventually did some good things after the game was out of hand, but this team looks poor on both sides of the ball right now.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27, moves up one spot – Hats off to the Browns for putting up a fight after going down by four scores in the early going. Brian Hoyer moved the offense and generated 230 passing yards and one touchdown. Rookie Terrance West also looked strong while piling up 100 rushing yards on 16 carries.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 34-17, moves up one spot – Based on whether you go with the first or second half, the Jaguars are either a top-10 team or the league’s worst team. Allen Hurns had the best debut out of any rookie after collecting four catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Jacksonville won’t win much if Toby Gerhart continues averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry.

31. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Houston Texas 17-6, drops two spots – Tough call here on if the Redskins or Raiders are worse. We’ll give Washington the benefit this week because they do have some players who’ve been great in the past – RG III and Alfred Morris. Plus, they should pick up a couple of wins in the weak NFC East.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-1); lost to New York Jets 19-14, retains same ranking – Derek Carr played fairly well in his rookie debut, going 20-for-32 en route to 151 passing yards and two touchdowns. But the run game was just awful as it managed only 25 yards on 15 carries. Headed by veterans Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, this unit has got to do better.