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Mason's Week 2 Power Rankings: Why the Browns struggle

32. CLEVELAND (0-2)

Last week:32

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 30 - Defense: 20


Actually, the pertinent number is 26 -- as in Cody Kessler will become the Browns' 26th starting quarterback since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Kessler is also the Browns' fifth starting quarterback in their last five games, following Johnny Manziel (Week 16, 2015), Austin Davis (Week 17, 2015), Robert Griffin III (Week 1, 2016) and Josh McCown (last week).

So consider this: By Sunday afternoon, the Browns will have had as many starting QBs in their last five games as ...

... The Steelers in their last 101 games ...

... The Broncos in their last 114 games ...

... The Ravens in their last 145 games ...

... The Bengals in their last 220 games ...

... The Chargers in their last 257 games ...

... The Patriots in their last 316 games (which by that point will include projected Thursday starter Jacoby Brissett) ...

... The Packers in their last 418 games, going back to Week 4 of the 1992 season.

Kessler will be the Browns' 26th starting quarterback since 1999, when the franchise returned to the league after a three-season hiatus following the original club's relocation to Baltimore. For comparison's sake, that's as many starting quarterbacks in 18 seasons as the Broncos have had in the last 37 years -- and the Packers in the last 53.

31. CHICAGO (0-2)

Last week:29

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 31 - Defense: 10

It isn't just that the Bears lost to Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, a desultory effort only brightened by the magic feet and moves of Eddie Royal. Most of their fans stampeded for the exits early in the fourth quarter.

30. BUFFALO (0-2)

Last week:25

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 22 - Defense: 25

There is no consistency to their offense, which was bailed out by big plays, but ranks 27th in first downs per possession. Their defense, however, has been consistently lousy, ranking 27th in yardage allowed per series and 28th in first downs per possession.

29. WASHINGTON (0-2)

Last week:26

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 27 - Defense: 21

How many times do you think opponents say, "You like that?" to Kirk Cousins after a pick, a sack, a deflection or whatever?

What I hear in my head whenever I watch Kirk Cousins play: — Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 20, 2016

28. MIAMI (0-2)

Last week:23

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 27 - Defense: 21

I find it interesting that their last three regular-season road games have been at the other three corners of the lower 48 states: San Diego (Week 15 of last year), Seattle (in Week 1) and New England.



Last week:20

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 16 - Defense: 27

One step forward, two steps back. Their thumping at San Diego called to mind last year's losses -- right down to the touchdowns after the game had been decided.


Last week:19

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 12 - Defense: 31

It doesn't matter how it happens; giving up 73 points in two games is a ticket to ruin.

25. NEW ORLEANS (0-2)

Last week:22

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 10 - Defense: 26

After being gashed by the Raiders, New Orleans' defense held the Giants without a touchdown. But a blocked field-goal return rendered that moot.

24. LOS ANGELES (1-1)

Last week:31

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 32 - Defense: 9

The offense cut its three-and-outs from seven to three, so there's that. There's also the fact that Zubaz-and-grunge-era speed merchant Alexander Wright remains the last player to score a touchdown in a regular-season game played in the city of Los Angeles.


Last week:24

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 29 - Defense: 4

Their defensive stats are skewed by the shutout of the Rams in Week 1, but this is still a feisiter-than-expected team that nearly mounted a successful comeback at Carolina last week and will pull off a surprise or two going forward.

22. SAN DIEGO (1-1)

Last week:28

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 7 - Defense: 18

The best first-half team in the league through two games -- combined score: Chargers 42, opponents 3 -- is the league's fourth-worst after halftime, with a minus-21 point differential in the second half and overtime exceeded by only the Browns and Bears.

21. DETROIT (1-1)

Last week:14

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 6 - Defense: 29

Just two of the Lions' last 11 opponents have come into the game with a winning record -- and they were both the Packers, for games in Weeks 10 and 13 of last year. That is guaranteed to become two of 13, since the Lions' next two opponents are the 1-1 Packers and 0-2 Bears. Between those games and the Lions' three-game October homestead against the Eagles, Rams and Redskins, it's now or never.


20. TENNESSEE (1-1)

Last week:27

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 20 - Defense: 16

It took a year, but Dick LeBeau is starting to get results with a defense that has allowed just one touchdown in two games. In six red-zone series, the Titans have allowed just 19 of a possible 42 points; only Seattle and Pittsburgh are better.

19. OAKLAND (1-1)

Last week:15

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 1 - Defense: 32

Dead last in total defense, dead last in passing yardage allowed per game, dead last in passing yardage allowed per play. Worse, they're allowing 5.2 more yards per possession than anyone else in football, and 19.3 more yards worse than the league average.

18. ATLANTA (1-1)

Last week:30

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 5 - Defense: 28

The Falcons were staring down the barrel of an 0-6 start, with the Panthers, Broncos and Seahawks looming after this Monday's game in New Orleans. Now they can draw confidence from an offense that appears to be more than just Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones.

17. TAMPA BAY (1-1)

Last week:12

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 25 - Defense: 19

Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense were stymied by the age-old tactic used against young quarterback: crank up the pressure and force quick throws. Without the time to get set, he missed open receivers and struggled against Arizona. With the Rams, Broncos and Panthers up next, the pressure looks unlikely to ebb.

16. DALLAS (1-1)

Last week:12

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 8 - Defense: 24

Dak Prescott is playing within himself and the scheme; he has no touchdown passes -- but no interceptions or fumbles, either, and he's displayed patience in the pocket and an ability to feel the rush.


Last week:18

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 17 - Defense: 2

2-0 is 2-0 and Carson Wentz has looked the part of a composed leader, but you don't get to play the Browns and Bears every week. Pittsburgh's visit this Sunday offers the first glimpse as to whether the Eagles are for real.



Last week:18

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 14 - Defense: 12

It looks as if the Giants' massive investment in their defensive line has paid off, and that might be enough to get them back to the top of the NFC East. But the offense has been a disappointment, accounting for just two touchdowns.

13. BALTIMORE (2-0)

Last week:16

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 18 - Defense: 6

Every time you think Cleveland has suffered enough from the Ravens' talons for the last 21 years, the new Browns find yet another way to fall short against their ancient Lake Erie shoreline predecessors.

12. NEW YORK JETS (1-1)

Last week:13

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 9 - Defense: 23

A dangerous, diverse offense with proven veteran weapons in Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker is about to get tested with a daunting five-week stretch against the Chiefs, Seahawks, Steelers, Cardinals and Ravens.

11. GREEN BAY (1-1)

Last week:9

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 19 - Defense: 15

Aaron Rodgers had a career regular-season quarterback rating of 106.5 when he and the Packers arrived in Denver for a Nov. 1 game last year. From that night forward, his rating has been a modest 82.0. The Packers' offensive line remains shaky, giving up six sacks in two games.

10. KANSAS CITY (1-1)

Last week:7

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 23 - Defense: 17

Spencer Ware's productivity -- 304 yards from scrimmage in two games -- is encouraging, but if the Chiefs keep averaging two giveaways a game, they won't go far beyond .500.

9. SEATTLE (1-1)

Last week:5

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 28 - Defense: 3

The things Seattle needs to do to compensate for its sieve-like offensive line, it can't do as long as Russell Wilson is hobbling. The Seahawks' cumulative scoreline through two games is 19-15 against them; it's old-school football, and it could continue for a while.


8. MINNESOTA (2-0)

Last week:11

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 24 - Defense: 5

The news could have been worse on Adrian Peterson, but couldn't have been much better for Sam Bradford in his Vikings debut. Still, Carolina is not the foe you want to see without the offense's top gear. Bradford and Stefon Diggs were on the same page last Sunday; they'll need to stay there, because the Vikings' best hope of a Queen City upset rests in their hands.


Last week:6

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 21 - Defense: 14

It has been a surprise that the Bengals have been unable to get their ground game going; look for them to try and crank it up against a Broncos run defense that ranks just 24th in rushing yardage on both a per-game and per-carry basis.

6. HOUSTON (2-0)

Last week:10

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 26 - Defense: 1

The formula is similar to Denver's: a crushing defense that can make big plays picking up for an offense that can move the ball, but has short-circuited to cost itself scoring chances. The Thursday night game in New England and new quarterback Jacoby Brissett offers a rare scenario in the recent history of the NFL: for a road team to go into Foxborough expecting to win.

5. ARIZONA (1-1)

Last week:8

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 15 - Defense: 13

Credit Bruce Arians for not being satisfied after his team overcame its Week 1 hiccup with a 40-7 thumping of Tampa Bay. "We should have had 50," he said Monday. A plus-7 turnover margin through two weeks is also helpful, and leads the league.


Last week:4

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 13 - Defense: 8

The Steelers defense looks better than it has in the last four seasons, which could be the key to a potential Super Bowl run.


  1. CAROLINA (1-1)**

Last week:3

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 11 - Defense: 7

Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen combined for 230 yards and three touchdowns on 12 receptions as the Panthers rampaged through the 49ers for 529 yards -- although they took 14 possessions to do it in a game that featured six turnovers and the kind of jarring, start-and-stop pace that induces whiplash.

2. NEW ENGLAND (2-0)

Last week:2

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 4 - Defense: 22

New England's offense did not crumble after Brissett replaced the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, averaging 32.0 yards and 2.4 first downs per series, right around the league averages of 32.7 yards and 1.86 first downs, respectively. League-average production with a No. 3 quarterback with no previous experience and no Rob Gronkowski can keep the Patriots afloat for their next two games without Tom Brady; if they split them, they'll be in the race for home-field advantage for the duration.

1. DENVER (2-0)

Last week:1

Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 3 - Defense: 11

Just three of the offense's 18 non-kneeldown possessions have ended in three-and-outs, and the Broncos' consistent offense is reflected in the league's second-best figure in net yardage per possession (42.9) and first downs per possession (2.5).

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