This may have been the most exciting Week 1 I have ever experienced. Upsets, overtimes, comebacks, and game-winners made for pure entertainment Thursday through Monday. Here is part two of my NFL power rankings heading into Week 2.
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16. Miami Dolphins (+1)
The Dolphins were able to get a close win over the Patriots in their opener. While it was a small upset in my eyes, I still would have liked to see more from the Phins in their victory. Namely, from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He continued his struggle of completing a pass when he gets past his primary read.
The defense looked solid in their return to the field, forcing multiple fumbles to keep themselves in the game. Now that Will Fuller returns to the WR core, hopefully, the defense will not have to handicap the offense much longer.
15. Tennessee Titans (-6)
Tennessee was embarrassed on Sunday. The Cardinals’ offense ran circles around the Titans’ depleted defense. On defense, Chandler Jones and company terrorized a weakened offensive line and wrecked any semblance of a game plan. If that trend continues, Derrick Henry may be hard-pressed to challenge for his third straight rushing title.
I mentioned Jones and his dominance, but just how impressive was his performance. Well for starters, his five sacks on Taylor Lewan led the left tackle to make a public apology to Titans’ fans on Twitter. While I respect the sentiment, it is never a good sign to start a season with an apology.
14. Dallas Cowboys (-2)
Yes, Dallas lost on Thursday night football to the reigning Super Bowl champs, but they lost in spectacular fashion. They seriously challenged to upset the Buccaneers, and, in his first game back from a season-ending ankle injury in 2020, Dak Prescott led the way.
Prescott looked great in his return to action, leading an ample Cowboys’ passing game. While it was disappointing to see Ezekiel Elliot’s lack of touches, it was certainly a game script situation. If Dallas looks as good as they did in Week 1 for the rest of the season, watch out league.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
Some of you may find it odd that I have the Chargers moving down after coming off of a victory. While I was not quite as impressed with LA as I anticipated being, this slide has more to do with the impressive performances the ascending teams had.
Justin Herbert looked solid in his 2021 debut, despite going against a stout Washington defensive front. Fortunately, he was helped by rookie LT Rashawn Slater, who showed out against star defensive end Chase Young. With Austin Ekeler seemingly healthy, the offense should continue to improve each week.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (+7)
I am not ready to say that I was totally wrong about Pittsburgh, but it is starting to look that way. Big Ben, while not his former self, looked more than capable of leading his trio of receivers past Buffalo.
The star of the game was inevitably the Steelers’ defense. They completely stifled one of the league’s most explosive offenses in 2020. In fact, they made Josh Allen look more like his 2019 self than his MVP candidate 2020.
11. Baltimore Ravens (-4)
It is disappointing to see a team’s game plan get wrecked by injuries. Especially ones that happen so close to the season. Baltimore, the league’s most run-heavy offense, was forced to rely on second-year back Ty’Son Williams. Williams, before his impressive performance on Monday, had zero career carries in the NFL.
The more disappointing part of the game to me was the defense. I had higher expectations for the unit, but once again, a last-minute injury to corner Marcus Peters could have had something to do with that.
10. Green Bay Packers (-6)
Green Bay got dismantled on Sunday. Famous Jameis and the Saints took their “home-field advantage” in Jacksonville as serious as it comes, en route to a 38-3 victory over reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. In fact, it looked like Jameis was the MVP candidate between the two.
I still do not know what exactly went wrong for the Packers. The Rodgers to Adams connection was not its usual game-changer. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon quickly fell out of the game script. Overall, it better just be a one-week SNAFU, or there could be trouble in Green Bay.
9. Seattle Seahawks (+2)
The Seahawks looked incredible against the Colts in their opener. Many assumed that Seattle may be at the bottom of the NFC West after a hectic free agency. They may want to rethink that now, after watching Russell Wilson cut up a strong Colts defense.
Not only that, but a typically weak Seahawks defense abused a renowned Colts offensive line. Yes, they were without a strong left tackle following Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, but it was still a telling performance for Seattle.
8. Buffalo Bills (-5)
I was really high on the Bills coming into the season. In fact, I, like most people, even had them pegged as a Super Bowl contender. While their season is far from over, they did not have a very inspiring Week 1.
Josh Allen looked less impressive than his 2020 self, while the defense struggled to finish the game against an aging Ben Roethlisberger. They can certainly still turn things around, but the Bills are trending in the wrong direction out of the gate.
7. San Francisco 49ers (+1)
The 49ers looked dominant out of the gate, racking up a quick 41 points on the struggling Detroit Lions. While they nearly gave it up late in the game, the impressive performance stands. If the Niners can find a viable replacement for Jason Verrett, hopefully, the defense can keep leads the rest of the season.
Jimmy G does not look like he is willing to give up the starting spot anytime soon. While that could be a good thing, Trey Lance will certainly push to get his playing time eventually. Either way, it looks like the 49ers are in good hands.
6. New Orleans Saints (+16)
The Saints were the most pleasant surprise of week one. They looked incredible as they destroyed the Green Bay Packers. Jameis Winston legitimately looks to be an MVP candidate if he can keep his strong play up.
The defense was suffocating, and I loved every second of it. This is truly the type of team that could make a big run in the NFC this year. Everyone doubted them after losing Drew Brees, but if they look that good without Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith… I would hate to face them with those two.
5. Arizona Cardinals (+10)
The Kyler Murray MVP Watch is on full display after his incredible performance in Week 1. Deandre Hopkins showed out once again, and the exciting play of Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore makes this offense unstoppable. Not to mention, the uncertain backfield of James Connor and Chase Edmonds amounted to over 150 total yards off of 32 touches.
Their defense, featuring current sack leader Chandler Jones, looked insane on Sunday, even without corner Malcolm Butler. Byron Murphy, Robert Alford, and Marco Wilson held down the fort very well against the likes of Julio Jones and AJ Brown.
4. Cleveland Browns (+2)
Yes, the Browns forfeited a great lead to Kansas City after dominating them early. Yes, it was disappointing to watch a few turnovers ruin an amazing run at the league’s best team. However, we can all appreciate just how close the Browns came to pulling it off.
A lot of people will point to Baker Mayfield when they talk about how this game ended. However, Baker was the reason they held the lead that they had in the first place. This is Baker’s team, and they are legit.
3. Los Angeles Rams (+2)
Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey may be the two best defenders in football. Together on this defense, they make this team nearly unstoppable. They certainly showed that on Sunday night.
Realistically, the Bears stood no chance from the start. Matt Stafford and the Rams were a match made in heaven. Their offense lit up the highly touted Bears’ defense from the very first play. This team could very well challenge Tampa Bay as the best in the NFC.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (–)
Tampa Bay showed out against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL’s first game of the season. Tom Brady looked vintage, and Antonio Brown joined him in that regard. With their incredible receiving core, Brady may just have his best season yet.
The defense also looked great despite facing a ridiculously talented Cowboys offense. Between Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the Buccs certainly had their hands full. However, they made it work somehow, and they will continue to do so all season long.
1. Kansas City Cheifs (–)
Goodness, I do not know what kind of magic Patrick Mahomes possesses, but it is spectacular. There truly is nobody like him in this league. Perhaps there never has been. He is incredible, and cannot be counted out for a second, no matter the score or situation.
The defense came up clutch against a very ample offense in Cleveland. Just when everyone thought that it was really all over for Mahomes and Company, they proved that, once again, they were the best in football.