Football is back!
The NFL season got underway this past weekend with a blast. There were some surprises like Tampa Bay hanging 48 points on New Orleans in the Superdome to beat the Saints. Sam Darnold led the New York Jets to an impressive 48-17 win at Detroit. Miami’s win over Tennessee was still a surprise even with the Titans not having right tackle Jack Conklin and going through four hours of weather delays.
There were also some exciting games and moments such as Aaron Rodgers’ legendary comeback on one leg against the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack’s debut with the Bears — strip sack and pick-six. And then there was the goal-line stand by the defending Super Bowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles, to hold off Atlanta.
Those along with many more moments and results factored in this week’s NFL Power Rankings.
32. Buffalo Bills (0-1)
Buffalo was already the least-talented team in the NFL, but there was some hope with a turnaround in Nathan Peterman, the Bills could surprise a few teams and be a tough-beat much like the Jets were a season ago. Then Peterman was Peterman, completing 5-of-18 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions before being benched with 11:22 left in the third quarter. The Josh Allen era was ushered in to some degree — although Peterman still may start Week 2 — and the Bills lost by 44 points at Baltimore. Things may get a lot worse for Buffalo before they get any better.
31. Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
The Cardinals were the most uninspired team in Week 1. They looked unprepared for just about everything the Washington Redskins threw at them on both sides of the ball. It’s still puzzling how Sam Bradford continues to get the starting quarterback position wherever he goes. Nonetheless, it was clear that the Josh Rosen era is on the horizon and may be much-needed.
30. Detroit Lions (0-1)
Matt Patricia’s head coach debut was a complete nightmare. His quarterback, Matthew Stafford, was under distress much of their Monday night game against the Jets. While his offensive line failed him, Stafford was not much better throwing four interceptions including a pick-six. In a division that has a defense like the Bears and quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers, the Lions could be in store for a long season.
29. Oakland Raiders (0-1)
When you trade away Khalil Mack and then get beat by 20 points, No. 29 is just about the right spot for the Raiders in this week’s Power Rankings. Oakland should be a retooling to be a postseason contender, yet, the onset of the season appears Jon Gruden is orchestrating a rebuild.
28. Houston Texans (0-1)
Deshaun Watson put Sunday’s loss at New England on him. However, the Texans get a great opportunity to rebound with the banged-up Titans, New York Giants, and Indianapolis Colts on the slate the next three weeks.
27. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Andrew Luck seemingly knocked some of the rust off his shoulders, so to speak, throwing 53 passes in a Week 1 loss to Cincinnati. Luck didn’t show any hesitation but was forced to dance a bit around the pocket with his offensive line struggling to protect him. There are no restraints on his play, however, having a franchise quarterback coming off a major shoulder injury throwing the football 53 times, is a bit concerning. Well at least to me.
26. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)
It’s evident that any chance of Seattle being respectable this season hinges on the arm of quarterback Russell Wilson. Sunday’s game against Denver was all about how far Wilson could carry the team. He fell short Sunday and may fall short more often than not especially with his favorite target Doug Baldwin expected to miss time with a partial MCL tear.
25. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
Is it time to panic in Dallas after one loss? Hard to say, but while Carolina is really good, and the Cowboys defense held its own, Dak Prescott’s struggles looked more than just having a bad day. The routes the receivers were running, seemed as though the Cowboys won’t and cannot threaten defenses down the field through the air. Still, it’s just one game and for Dallas, who can run the football with the best of them, they cannot be easily dismissed this early in the season.
24. Miami Dolphins (1-0)
There were some encouraging signs out of the Dolphins’ 27-20 win over the Titans even with Tennessee being banged up and the equalizing weather conditions. Ryan Tannehill and Co. will be put to the test again next week as they travel to East Rutherford to meet the Jets.
23. New York Giants (0-1)
The Giants have nothing to drop their heads down on, not many teams look good against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two things that stuck out in their 20-15 loss to the Jags, Saquaon Barkley is every bit worth the hype that follows him, as displayed on his 68-yard touchdown run. And, Odell Beckham has not missed a beat, catching 11 passes for 111 yards against the league’s best secondary.
22. Chicago Bears (0-1)
Blowing a 20-0 lead stings. However, blowing a 20-0 lead to Rodgers shouldn’t linger. There are a handful of quarterbacks that you just tip your hat to. Meanwhile, Mack makes the Bears an elite defense. Just imagine how good they will be when he gets in football shape?
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Ryan Fitzpatrick had the game of his life. Through his 417 yards and four touchdown tosses, Tampa showed how dangerous offensively they can be with either Fitzpatrick or the suspended Jameis Winston. They’ll need to, because the back end of the Bucs defense is the weakest link of the team. Shootouts like Sunday’s win may be the norm this season for the Bucs.
20. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
The 49ers showed they are close against the vaunted Vikings, but in a loaded NFC, close won’t be enough, at least not this season. Still they have a sound defense, coaching, and quarterback that make them a threat on any given Sunday.
19. New York Jets (1-0)
The Sam Darnold era got off to a forgettable start with a pick-six on his first NFL pass. However, he settled down and showed why the Jets are excited about their future. 2017 first-round pick Jamal Adams proclaimed the Jets’ “Culture has changed” and he is absolutely right. It started last season and seems to be ready to progress this season with their quarterback of the future leading the way.
18. Cleveland Browns (0-0-1)
The Browns defense is really, really, really good. And that’s the biggest reason they start off the season so high in these Power Rankings. They forced five turnovers of Ben Roethlisberger and that’s not just a fluke. Remember the way they manhandled Nick Foles and the Eagles in preseason? With conservative quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor and a defense that can physically dominate for much of a 60-minute game, Cleveland will be a tough beat this season.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)
Raise your hand if you’ve seen this movie before. The Chargers are the Chargers and nothing more. Injuries have swept through the roster, including edge rusher Joey Bosa who missed Sunday’s season-opening loss to Kansas City. Another year, another possible slow start only for Phillip Rivers to lead the Chargers on a momentum-building finish, chasing a playoff berth. Again, I ask, have you seen this movie before?
16. Tennessee Titans (0-1)
Already without Conklin, the Titans lost tight end Delanie Walker for the season with a serious ankle injury that looked gruesome on video. Quarterback Marcus Mariota also got banged up in Sunday’s loss at Miami. How healthy Tennessee may be will be the difference in them taking another step forward after their postseason run a year ago or the Titans regressing.
15. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
The jury is still out on whether or not Sunday’s win was fool’s gold, but the Ravens seem poised for another run at the postseason after coming up short last year losing their grip on the playoffs in the final week of the season.
14. Washington Redskins (1-0)
Credit head coach Jay Gruden for having his team so well prepared on the road. Arizona played uninspired, but the Redskins had a lot to do with that. The run game was dominating, the defense smothered the Cardinals and Alex Smith protected the football. As a coach, one cannot ask from much more out of his team. That recipe could keep the Redskins in a lot of games and that may bode well in an NFC East that could be wider open than many predicted based on how healthy Carson Wentz becomes.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
Cincinnati is one of the more underrated teams in the NFL. In Week 1, running back Joe Mixon displayed why he was so highly coveted before his off-the-field incident that caused him to tumble some in the 2017 NFL Draft. The defense played well going against a returning Luck, and Andy Dalton played well enough to win. Of course, how well Dalton plays is how far the Bengals go, but in a weak AFC, Cincinnati should not be overlooked.
12 Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
Speaking of Alex Smith, it’s safe to say the Chiefs are not missing the efficient quarterback, at least not right now. While the Redskins will treasure what they have in Smith, the Chiefs are treasuring how different Patrick Mahomes is from Smith. On Sunday against a Chargers defense that is still talented with the injuries they have, the Chiefs offense ran amuck in L.A. They still had the run-pass options (RPOs) as they had before with Smith, but Mahomes also attacked the defense down the field. Tyreek Hill is a monster at wide receiver and depending on how well the young Chiefs defense can hold up, Kansas City still may be a playoff team.
11. New Orleans Saints (0-1)
When an offense scores 40 points in a game, that usually equates to a win. That was not the case on Sunday for the Saints against the Buccaneers. The offense has no issues, but the defense?
They got torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick. There’s a lot of kinks still in the armor, and for New Orleans to make the postseason for the second season in a row those have to be ironed out in a loaded NFC.
10. Denver Broncos (1-0)
Case Keenum made his Broncos debut to mix reviews. He threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns. However, he also threw three interceptions. If not the turnovers, Denver could have handedly defeated Seattle. Keenum protecting the football could be an issue. Nonetheless, Von Miller is the best at getting after the quarterback. Expect the Broncos to compete for the playoffs deep into the season.
9. Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
The Falcons’ psyche has to be bruised some after losing the Eagles in the season opener similar to the way they lost to them in January during the NFC Division Round playoff game. Two goal line stands are what separates the Falcons from the Eagles. And now, Atlanta is faced with shaking off last Thursday’s defeat while trying to overcome two significant injuries to their defense. Safety Keanu Neal is done for the season with a torn ACL and now news comes that inside linebacker Deion Jones is headed to injured reserve with a foot injury.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)
Roethlisberger cannot turn the football over five times many games and expect to still avoid losing. T.J. Watt’s blocked field goal in the waning moments of overtime is the only reason the Steelers did not lose, yet, leaving the game with a tie. The AFC North is much improved from a season ago, and Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense need to wake up. It appears Le’Veon Bell is not coming through the locker room doors any time soon, so they’ll need fix whatever without Bell’s safety net.
7. Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Week 1 showed the Packers how good they can be and just how bad they can get. They’re a Super Bowl contender with Rodgers under center. They’re picking in the top-10 of the 2019 NFL Draft if he isn’t under center. Simple as that. Sure, that can be said about a lot of teams losing their quarterback, but Green Bay has proven their days of having some hidden gem at backup quarterback are over. DeShone Kizer still has some ways to go in his development, so it is imperative the Packers offensive line keeps Rodgers upright.
6. Carolina Panthers (1-0)
It was sloppy, but the Panthers got the W, and its defense may have exposed America’s Team in the process. Cam Newton has to get better throwing the football, but as long as Luke Kuechly is manning the middle of Carolina’s defense, they are true contenders for Super Bowl LIII.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
Just when you want to write off the Nick Foles-led Eagles, they fight through a huge win and turn from perceived pretenders to contenders. On paper with Foles under center and no Alshon Jeffery Philadelphia had no business beating Atlanta last Thursday. Then again, they had no business beating the Falcons last year in the playoffs or the Vikings or the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but they did.
4. New England Patriots (1-0)
The Patriots defense dominated Watson and the Houston Texans for much of their Week 1 game. The final score of 27-20 was not the true indication of how dominant the Patriots were. While they lost running back Jeremy Hill to a torn ACL, they still have Tom Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick leading the defense. That’s a “Super” combination.
3. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
The Kirk Cousins era started off without a hitch. Cousins looked primed for the moment, dissecting the 49ers defense to build a 24-6 lead. Minnesota got the quarterback they always wanted for this defense and now it’s all about displaying how good they truly can be week-by-week. This upcoming Sunday will be another test for Cousins and the Vikings as they travel to Green Bay to face Rodgers, if he is healthy, and the Packers in what is growing to be one of the league’s bitter rivalries.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
Jacksonville is off to a 1-0 start after bullying the Giants in Week 1. Their only slip-up was the 68-yard touchdown run by Barkley. But that’s fixable moving forward. The league’s best defense is enough to win a Super Bowl, and the offense has proven even with Blake Bortles at quarterback to be enough to win games. Their road to Super Bowl LIII has a potential early roadblock next week as they host the Patriots in what will be a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.
1. Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
The Rams conquered “Beast Mode” on Monday night, flexing their muscles for the rest of the world to see. The Rams are loaded at nearly every position on the field and add one of the best younger minds in head coach Sean McVay, they currently sit atop of the NFL Power Rankings.