A hot, 2-0 start has the Bucs moving up some NFL power rankings this week ahead of their much-anticipated showdown with the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football next week. Most national media outlets had the Bucs near the bottom of their power rankings to start the season, but a 20-17 upset against the Vikings at Minnesota and a 27-17 home win versus the Chicago Bears has caused some to take the unbeaten Bucs a bit more seriously.
Here are the current rankings for Tampa Bay heading into Week 3, and how high the Bucs have moved up since Week 2 – if at all. Some media outlets are bigger believers than others. And in case you are wondering, the Eagles are in the Top 5 of every national media outlet listed here.
CBS Sports: No. 11 – up 6 spots
Baker Mayfield has led this team to a 2-0 record as one of the surprising early teams. The defense has made a lot of big plays in two games.
ESPN: Bucs ranked No. 13 – up 12 spots
Mike Evans, the franchise-record holder in almost every receiving category, is currently in the final year of his contract. Evans and his agent gave the Buccaneers a Sept. 9 deadline on getting an extension done before the season, but no deal with reached, nor was one even offered in the final hours. There’s a real chance Evans plays somewhere else next season. At 30, he’s still producing at a high level, as evidenced by his 171 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 2.
Pro Football Talk: Bucs ranked No. 14 – up 5 spots
The post-Tommy Bucs are quickly becoming a great story.
NFL.com: Bucs ranked No. 21 – up 3 spots
Bucs QB Baker Mayfield – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Mike Evans is still dusting defensive backs. Shaquil Barrett remains a backfield wrecker. Baker Mayfield is out there slinging tough passes and barreling for first downs as a runner. Who are these guys? Well, the 2-0 Bucs are in some ways who they’ve been, even as the Tom Brady-led teams naturally kept their identity under his umbrella.
But the way Mayfield is playing — fearlessly and decisively — makes me think this team should compete in the wide-open NFC South. Mayfield has always had the ability to make game-changing plays, but his negative ones seemed to sting a bit more in the past. Through two games, however, he’s taken one sack (spinning out of several) and thrown zero interceptions. That’s a winning formula.
USA Today: Bucs ranked No. 22 – no movement
Good luck finding something more touching in the NFL space than OLB Shaq Barrett dedicating his season to his 2-year-old daughter, who drowned in April. His emotions were evident Sunday when he scored his first professional TD on a pick-six, then looked skyward.