NFL Week 1 Power Rankings

Week 1 NFL Power Rankings 

by Thierno Bah

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

The Chiefs are running it back and they once again field one of the most talented teams in the league with two x-factors. The first is continuity, which is even more valuable considering this is the COVID offseason. And the second is the undisputed best quarterback in the league: Patrick Mahomes. No matter what problem the Chiefs may face this year, Mahomes is bound to have an answer. Not to mention the fact that they have finally added the bellcow back to replace Kareem Hunt in this offense with Clyde Edward-Helaire who had over 100 yards in his NFL debut. Teams beware because the defending Super Bowl champions are probably even better.

2. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

Most roster talent in the NFL. I am one to think that the Browns will be a much-improved team this season and the Ravens made them look silly. This team is loaded on all fronts and has the chemistry returning from their 14-2 team last year. Lamar Jackson’s continued improvement in the drop-back passing game will be the key to whether this Ravens team can get over the playoff woes and make the Super Bowl run they have been built for.

3. Seattle Seahawks (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

If trades were judged based upon one game then the Seahawks certainly won the Jamal Adams trade. The star safety out of LSU was all over the field whether it was getting pressure on Matt Ryan or stopping receivers in the flats for no gain. His stats line looked ridiculous with 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, and 2 QB hits. If the Seattle defense can play at this level, they will be a Super Bowl favorite in the NFC. Also: Russell Wilson!

 

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

A lot of the older quarterbacks in the league were not as crisp this opening weekend. This leaves some concerns for the Steelers with their veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning from an elbow injury that cost him all of last year. After starting slow Monday night, Big Ben started to look more like himself, and if the Steelers can get a vintage Roethlisberger season while returning a defense that rated at the top of the league last year, then they may have something to say about the Ravens repeating as AFC North champions. Also, James Connor’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise, because Benny Snell looked like the real deal, rushing for his first 100-year game after only 1 rushing attempt all of his rookie season.

5. New Orleans Saints (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

In the battle of the elder, the Saints prevailed but New Orleans cannot be ecstatic about what they saw from Drew Brees. The Saints roster has all the making of a Super Bowl team, but can they get enough out the 41-year-old Brees down the field to lead them to another NFC South crown. Brees wasn’t awful on Sunday, but I would not say he was great either, as he failed to go for 200 yards, something that we have come to expect as an automatic with Brees. The Saints have talent all over their roster, and this may be crazy to say, but I believe Drew Brees may be the only thing that can hold them back.

6. Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

Aaron f-ing Rodgers. All of the talk of Jordan Love this offseason has certainly motivated the 16- year veteran. Rodgers looked just as elite as he did a decade ago, tearing apart the newly put together Minnesota defense for 364 yards and 4 TDs.

7. Buffalo Bills (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

The Buffalo Bills looked really good Week 1, but it’s hard to gauge due to the fact that they were matched up against the anemic Jets. One big takeaway is that Josh Allen had 46 passing attempts, and he was really great throwing the ball. Ideally, Buffalo does not want to be throwing that many times, but if we can see this level of production from Allen that bodes well for the Bills. Now if we can just figure out how to get him to stop fumbling the ball.

8. Tennessee Titans (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

Congratulations to Stephen Gostowski for his game-winning field goal. Tennessee should still cut him, but you have to feel good for the guy for being able to redeem himself after a horrible game with 4 missed kicks. Tennessee will be a team that wants to play close low-scoring ball control games, and for this to be an effective strategy, they have to have a reliable special team.

9. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

Previous Rank: –

The Super Bowl hangover is still in play. The lack of receiver combined with the lackluster play of Jimmy Garropolo is not a good omen for the San Francisco offense. Seeing George Kittle limp off the field definitely does not help, as he was their only true weapon in the downfield passing game that was healthy enough to suit up. The Niners will have to rely on their run game and defense to get them through this stretch of injuries, and if anyone is capable of scheming something up for lackluster talent it’s Kyle Shanahan. Back-to-back games in the Meadowland against the Jets and Giants will be great opportunities for the Niners to get back to their winning ways of a season ago.

10. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

Great win by the Cardinals. They still fall below the 49ers on my power rankings even though they took them down in the head to head, but that’s more out of respect for the defending NFC champions. Do not be surprised if they jump them in the coming weeks. Kyler Murray looks poised from the sophomore jump into elite territory that we have seen in recent years from Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. He had an amazing statistical day against a good 49ers defense passing for 230 yards and rushing for over 100 yards as well until a couple of kneel-downs at the end knocked him back down to 91. It helps Murray to have added a top 3 receiver in DeAndre Hopkins who debuted with 14 receptions for a measly 150 yards. Houston sure should be happy to have gotten that guy out of the locker room!

11. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

Previous Rank: –

The first game for the Cowboys under Mike McCarthy looked awfully similar to the Cowboys under Jason Garrett last season. The pass interference call was unfortunate, even though I thought it was the right call, but that cannot be the excuse for why they lost. This Cowboys team has more than enough talent to challenge for the NFC crown. Anything short of the NFC East title would be a massive disappointment. With three elite receivers in Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb complementing Ezekiel Elliot, who looked like he has his burst back, in the run game this team should be putting up 30s week in and week out. You cannot win the game on paper though, they have to go out and execute to prove the people who see this talent correct.

12. New England Patriots (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

Tom Brady or not, BIll Bellischick will continue to field a well-coached defense for as long as he strolls the sidelines. The Patriots secondary looked just as elite as they did last year. They consistently got their hands on the ball and came away with three interceptions. Cam Newton and the offense looked formidable as well, particularly in the run game with the implementation of the read-option and other QB runs. If not for a fumble into the endzone by N’Keal Harry, the Patriots would have put up 28 points. Josh Mcdaniels’ ability to marry the option game with play-action passes will keep defenses on their toes all year long. With the Patriots still being in a pedestrian AFC East, they should still have the inside track on a playoff berth, especially since the NFL decision to add a 7th seed goes into effect this season.

13. Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

The Rams may not be as talented as they were a couple of seasons ago, which saw them end up in the Super Bowl, but when you look around the top-end talent is there. Any defense that features Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald will be a nightmare for any offense to deal with, even a team with solid line play like Dallas. If the Rams can keep their guys healthy this year, they should end up a solid team. Sean McVay will be able to compile enough offense, as they move to a running back by committee approach. But if injuries start to pile up, I am not sure this team, which has a $34 million dollar dead cap bill, will enough depth to keep up in the best division in football

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)

Previous Rank: –

The Buccaneers are clearly a team feeling the impact of the COVID offseason. With an entirely new offense, the lack of real-time reps was felt as Tampa had penalties, consistently leaving them behind the chains. The Tom Brady pick-6 was… yikes, but overall I felt he looked decent as far as arm strength and accuracy. Brady would be the first person to tell you he needs to be better, and with time we shall see if this offseason’s Dream Team can find a way to bounce back. A week 2 matchup against Carolina should be just what the doctor ordered for this Buccaneers team.

15. Denver Broncos (0-1)

Previous Rank: –

Denver showed me something on Monday Night despite the loss. Going into the season there was reason to be concerned when Von Miller went out with a season-ending injury, but Denver’s defense did not look like they missed a beat. They managed to keep things tough for Derrick Henry, even though he ran for over 100 yards, it took him over 30 carries to get there with a >4 yard/carry average. Drew Lock played ok, but getting his number one receiver, Cortland Sutton, should help the offense out. Now only if they can figure out how to teach Vic Fangio how to call his timeouts, maybe they’ll have something going for them.

16. Las Vegas Raiders (1-0)

Previous Rank: –

The Raiders delivered a solid game in their debut under the Las Vegas name. Derek Carr was solid and Josh Jacobs is the same bowling ball he was all last season. The big question for the Raiders in whether they can truly compete this year is how well their defense could play. Their defensive line and secondary are littered with young players in their rookie or sophomore season. They were only able to muster 1 sack and gave up a 75-yard touchdown. They face the ultimate test next week with Saints coming to town on MNF to open their new stadium.

17. Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

Previous Rank: –

Minnesota had a devastating end to the first half. They gave up 13 points in the last minute before going into half time and that was basically the game. This forced them to go away from the run game that they want to use in the second half. The defense for Minnesota is slightly concerning after they gave up 522 total yards and 43 points. Danielle Hunter, their best pass rusher, did not suit up so that will be a shot in the arm when he returns, but will it be enough. All of Minnesota’s cornerbacks are aged 23 or younger with several of them being rookies. Mike Zimmer is going to have to get to work if he wants to field the type of defense he is accustomed to in the 2020 season.

18. Atlanta Falcons

Previous Rank: –

Fourth down is something that Falcons coaches will surely be preaching about in practice this week. The down haunted the Falcons all afternoon. On offense, the team failed on all 4 of their attempts, including a fake to a safety who predictably fumbled after taking a hit right on the ball. And defensively after getting Seattle to a 4th-and-5, Falcons fans had a flashback to last year with the secondary getting burned down the left sideline by DK Metcalf for a long touchdown. This offense knows it will have to convert and put points on the board, because the Falcons defense may once again be in for a long season.

19. Philadelphia Eagles

Previous Rank: –

In 2017, when the Eagles went on their Super Bowl run, the offensive line was the strong point of the team. Oh how far they have come? In a bad way. The line struggled to protect Carson Wentz badly, giving up 8 sacks and 15 QB hits in their first game against the Washington Football Team. There were a couple of sacks that may have been on Wentz for holding the ball for too long, but the majority of them were on the line and not being able to hold up in protection. With respect to the Eagles, they were dealing with injuries to 3 of their five starters in Andre Dillard, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson. But unfortunately for Philly, only Johnson is slated to come back this season.

20. Washington Football Team

Previous Rank: –

It turns out if you take a defensive lineman in the first round of four straight drafts, you will be able to build a great defensive line. Those Washington rushers were like sharks on the hunt with only a battered Eagles line between them and their prey totaling 8 sacks. The offense wasn’t great, but they gave them enough coming back from a 17 point first-quarter deficit to get the job done. This Washington front will be a problem for teams all season long, with Chase Young having the Nick Bosa effect that we saw in San Fran a season ago.

21. Houston Texans

Previous Rank: –

The Texans were as flat as any team in the league on kickoff weekend. I do not want to overreact too much to their performance on Thursday night, because I think the Chiefs will make a lot of teams look that bad throughout the course of the season. A positive takeaway for Houston is that David Johnson looked spry and Will Fuller produced a 100-yard game. Hopefully, those two will stay healthy because the teams do not have many offensive weapons outside of those two. It certainly did not help that DeAndre Hopkins was in a different uniform raking up career-high stats, I’m sure Deshaun had to be a little depressed watching his guy go to work in different colors.

22. Indianapolis Colts

Previous Rank: –

The Colts had the worst loss of week one without a shadow of a doubt. There is no excuse for this team to lose to Jaguars teams that are clearly tanking by getting rid of their veterans in favor of playing younger guys. It is very unfortunate that Marlon Mack went out with an injury and is going to miss the season, but that does not excuse the play selection. The whole point of signing Phillip Rivers was to put him behind an elite offensive line with the support of the run game to help support his game. Last season showed us that Phillip Rivers is not the guy who can go out there and carry a team to victory with his arm due to his poor decision making. The Colts had to learn that lesson the hard way, because at this stage of his career if Rivers is getting 46 attempts in a game he will throw at least a couple to the other team.

23. Chicago Bears

Previous Rank: –

The Bears get to feel good about their win this week, but I happen to think this was a lot of smoke and mirrors. The Lions should have won that game several times over, but the comeback has bought Mitchell Tribusky at least one more week to be a starter for this team. Trubisky was able to make some plays on the move when executing the comeback, but I still believe the Bears are at their best when limiting his production in the downfield passing game. If Trubisky winds up throwing 36 times every week, then this will be another long winter for Bears fans in Chicago.

24. Detroit Lions

Previous Rank: –

There is only one thing harder to understand than how Detroit managed to squander a 17 point lead at the start of the 4th quarter, and that is how DeAndre Swift managed to drop the game-winner in the endzone. The Lions showed promise but their execution down the stretch of the game was very questionable. After Chicago cuts the lead to 10 at 13:39 in the 4th, the Lions come out on their next drive and pass three straight times going 3-and-out. The Bears got the ball back with 10:44 on the clock which was plenty of time to score twice. The Lions compounded the clock management issues with a missed field goal and an interception that gave Chicago two short fields allowing the Bears to climb back and ultimately pull through. Matt Patricia has really struggled with the game management aspect of coaching, as the Week 1 Lions strike again.

25. Miami Dolphins

Previous rating: –

Dolphins fans and the rest of the NFL world are patiently waiting for the beginning of an era. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid QB who can go en fuego at times, but make no mistake the Dolphins are Tua Tagovioloa’s team, and after three Fitzpatrick interceptions it is just a matter of time before Tua’s number is called. The Dolphins defense looks much improved over last season after an offseason filled with transactions on that side of the ball. Jerome Baker was everywhere finishing with 16 tackles and a sack. If they can get some offensive play, they will be a competitive team throughout the course of the season.  

26. Cleveland Browns

Previous Rank: –

The Browns disappointing in Week 1, is anyone really surprised? Well, actually yes I kind of am surprised. The Ravens are a great team and will make a lot of teams look like non-Power 5 opponents going into Tuscaloosa on a Saturday night, but the Browns are not supposed to be one of those. If you recall, in their early-season game last year, the Ravens suffered their worst loss of the season. Not saying I expected that to happen but the Browns should have at least been competitive. Baker Mayfield still struggles to find a connection with WR O’dell Beckham Jr who finished with only 3 catches for 33 yards. His drop on a 3rd-and-2 late in the first half was compounded with a missed field goal. And then the shot in the foot got even worse when Baltimore marched down the field for a TD in only 41 seconds to take a 24-6 lead into the half, with the game ending at that moment. If the QB-WR connection does not materialize, maybe Beckham will be on the move again, because he is way too talented (and paid at essentially $15 million per until 2023) to be producing as if he’s a number 3 receiver.

27. Los Angeles Chargers

Previous rating:-

Josh Kelly and Austin Ekeler. The Charger wasted no time replacing Melvin Gordon in their backfield tandem. The rookie out of UCLA had some impressive runs between the tackles, with Ekeler continuing to excel after his great season a year ago. The Chargers passing game will be a problem, however. We’ve seen Tyrod Taylor before, and we know that at best he is a game manager. Taylor was the very definition of that on Sunday going 16/30 for 208 yards 0 TD 0 INT. Against the Chiefs of the world, who they happen to see next week and later in the season, that will not be nearly enough.

28. New York Giants 

Previous rating:-

The Steelers defense can make any offense look out of sorts but for the Giants to have any chance this year they have to be better at protecting Daniel Jones. The second-year quarterback showed some promise with accurate throws down the field but he stands no chance if he cannot be protected correctly. He was pressured all night getting hit 8 times and taking 3 sacks. Unfortunately for them, they are getting no breaks with the Khalil Mack and the Bears defense coming to town next week.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Previous rating:-

Great win but it’s clear the direction the franchise is going. The Jaguars have been shipping off veterans left and right in favor of youth and draft picks. That youth shined on Sunday with their first-round pick CJ Henderson recording his first interception and their second-round pick Leviska Shenault recording his first touchdown reception. Great win but I am not sure it is something that is sustainable.

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Previous rating:-

Joe Burrow’s rookie year will be a long one. Although Cincy has some talent at the skill positions, the offensive line is a problem. Just like in his first touchdown, we’ll be seeing Burrow running for his life a lot this season. The Chargers got after the top pick in last year’s draft with 3 sacks and 6 QB hits. Burrow still managed to stay poised and had the team in the position to win. Unfortunately, an OPI ripped away the win, and to make matters worse Randy Bullock missed a chippy to send the game to OT. (Hope the calf is healing well Randy, I’m sure it was an excruciating injury!)

31. Carolina Panthers

Previous rating:-

The Panthers offense was a pleasant surprise in Week 1. Even without the full offseason, Teddy Bridgewater looked comfortable in the newly formed Panthers offense. They were able to both run and pass effectively in Joe Brady’s, the offensive coordinator for LSU’s historic offense a season ago, his first game as an NFL offensive coordinator. Christian McCaffery picked up right where he left off as well with 134 total yards and 2 TD. Unfortunately from Carolina, their defense struggled to contain the Raiders. They start 4 rookies and several other younger players, and I do not think they will be able to get enough stops to win many games this year. They had 0 sacks and 0 QB hits, and in a division that features Brees, Brady, and Ryan that will certainly not cut it.

32. New York Jets

Previous rating:-

The Jets are well on their way to being the worst team in the league this season. I have zero confidence in Adam Gase as a head coach, with Sam Darnold and the offense showing no progress since he was hired as a head coach. In a league where teams are doing everything they can to maximize their winning chance while their quarterbacks are on their rookie deals, Sam Darnold managed to post a 19.3 QBR on a scale of 1 to 100. That tells you all we need to know.

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