Two weeks of the 2023 NFL season are over, and more than a quarter of the league remains unbeaten. That's right: Nine different teams enter Week 3 with a 2-0 record. But just as appear more competent than others, it's fair to wonder which of the remaining "perfect" contenders is most likely to sustain success in the win column.
Knowing full well that things could change in a matter of another week or two, here's how we'd rank the 2-0 teams according to the "legitimacy" of their spotless record in the standings:
Sam Howell has shown lots of fight under center, and he's now 3-0 as a starter in Washington. But their two wins have required some ugly scratching and clawing with the Cardinals and Broncos, two of the least-regarded teams to open 2023. This team has the makings of a scrappy spoiler, but their mettle will really be tested in upcoming games with the Bills and Eagles.
It's been so far, so good for Arthur Smith's run-heavy script, which helped Atlanta cruise past the Panthers and then storm back against the Packers. Desmond Ridder's grit was particularly apparent in Week 2's upset of Green Bay. Like the Commanders, we just need a bigger sample size to fully buy in, and upcoming games (at Lions, vs. Jaguars) should help reveal the truth.
This is what happens when you set the bar extremely low. With Baker Mayfield replacing the retired Tom Brady, the Buccaneers were tabbed a potential laughingstock. Instead, Todd Bowles' defense has returned to form, clamping down on both the Vikings and Bears, while Mayfield has controlled the ball while feeding a motivated Mike Evans. At the very least, they are Grade-A feisty.
Derek Carr's Big Easy debut has not been very pretty, but Dennis Allen's defense has been so fast and physical it hasn't really mattered. And odds are, as the year goes, Carr will only get more comfortable, especially as weapons like Alvin Kamara return to the fold. This might still be a wild-card team at best, but if the "D" is really this good, they'll be a tough out all year.
The early returns on Todd Monken's offensive system are promising, with Lamar Jackson staying patient behind a sturdier front in a key win over the rival Bengals. Roquan Smith, Geno Stone and their defense remain opportunistic. The lingering questions, as per usual, mostly have to do with health. Odell Beckham Jr. is now banged up, and they're already down other starters.
The Super Bowl standard has lessened the shine on their record, as they've had to fend off comeback attempts from both the Patriots and Vikings. Star quarterback Jalen Hurts has been particularly mercurial -- a bit jarring after his ultra-smooth 2022. And yet, the run game exploded to life in Week 2, the defensive line remains a force, and they've got the passing-game talent.
Tua Tagovailoa has done everything so far to prove his early 2022 leaps were no fluke, airing it out with ease in back-to-back wins against the Chargers and Patriots. Coach Mike McDaniel just really knows how to utilize the speed at his disposal, and if Vic Fangio's defense keeps making strides as it did against New England, you're talking about a well-rounded title contender.
Speaking of well-rounded title contenders, there's probably no better-balanced team than in San Francisco. The Rams offered a scare in Week 2, but when everything is clicking, the 49ers aren't lacking anything: Brock Purdy remains reliable under center, Christian McCaffrey remains in peak multipurpose form and the defense has made plays when it matters most.
America's Team = Dream Team? OK, not so fast, but consider that Dallas has outscored opponents 70-10 through two weeks without really needing its Dak Prescott-led offense to explode. Prescott, by the way, did plenty against the Jets' elite "D" in Week 2, all while Micah Parsons and the Cowboys defense stole the show yet again. The premium playmakers they have are undeniable.