Before you sharpen your pitchforks, a short note on how we’ve come to rank the teams as we have: all NFLTR writers have compiled their own NFL power rankings, which we’ve compiled and averaged in the list below. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and feel free to agree, disagree, or roast us in the comments below.
#1) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers walked away with a very solid win over the Packers. While many have focused Anquan Boldin’s stellar debut and Colin Kaepernick’s passing yards, I think the 49ers OC Greg Roman deserves a lot of credit. GB was clearly focused on the run, so almost everything they did was designed to exploit that. First-round pick Eric Reid played a hell of game as well. I don’t think there’s anyone question that 49ers looked like the best team in the league after Sunday. They get the Seahawks this Week 2.
#2) Denver Broncos ( 1)
Peyton Manning, as great as he is, throws some of the ugliest touchdown passes. This of course is nitpicking one of the greatest quarterback performances of my lifetime. Denver’s passing attack is good enough to mitigate their average rushing attack and even their lack of pass rush. Their cornerbacks played really well in Thursday’s game, so that too is a big positive for them moving forward. The Broncos will be up against the Giants in Week 2 for the next installment of the Manning Bowl.
#3) Seattle Seahawks (1)
Not exactly the type of performance you would expect from a Super Bowl-caliber team, but it’s worth noting that the Panthers defensive front-seven has become a pretty solid unit. Seattle only managed to gain 60 yards on the ground, which was probably due to Panthers manhandling of their offensive line. Russell Wilson still managed to tally 320 yards passing and a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. They’ll obviously need a better effort when they take on San Francisco Sunday night.
#4) Green Bay Packers
For all the talk about the 49ers gashing Green Bay’s secondary with Anquan Boldin, the Packers were up 28-24 with six minutes left on the road against one of the best teams in the league. SF has had their way with the Packers the past few years, so it’s still not much of a consolation, but I think this is as bad of a loss as some are making it. Their defense is much better, especially their massive defensive line. I would probably cut both safeties right now based on the fact that they appear to have no ability or instincts. GB needs to get a better push upfront from their offensive line to create some space for Eddie Lacy. They get the Redskins in Week 2.
#5) New England Patriots
Reports from Tuesday morning have indicated that the Pats are likely to be without Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Zach Sudfeld and Aaron Dobson for Week 2’s game. New England dominated the time of possession against the Bills, but still needed every minute to pull out a victory. Buffalo was able to generate a solid pass rush and get into Tom Brady’s face throughout the day. The Pats will have to turn to Steven Ridley, despite the fact that he was benched for fumbling. I still believe NE is a solid team moving forward, but there’s some adversity for them to deal with at the start of the season. NE gets the Jets in Week 2.
#6) New Orleans Saints ( 6)
For as bad as the Saints defense looks on paper, they played pretty well against a very good opponent. New Orleans can count on Drew Brees tosses touchdowns against the Falcons defense, but they needed their defense to make a few plays to pull out this win. NO generated three sacks and two turnovers which proved to be just enough to secure a divisional victory. The Saints have a winnable stretch of games ahead as they take on the Buccaneers, Cardinals and Dolphins in the next three weeks.
#7) Houston Texans ( 1)
It’s hard to reward a team for the kind of effort they made during Monday’s tight win over the Chargers. At one point, they were losing 28-7 to a team picked be among the worst in the AFC. Still, Houston managed to make a number of plays in the second-half, which included an incredible pick-six from Brian Cushing. I still believe the Texans are a competitive team, but I don’t they’re anywhere near as good as the Broncos. I can’t wait to see them against the Colts later this season. Houston gets the Titans in Week 2.
#8) Atlanta Falcons (2)
As bad as losing a divisional game to your No. 1 rival is, the Falcons still should enough throughout that game to be considered one of the best teams in league. In fact, they had a chance to take the lead at the very end of the game. Roddy White’s ankle sprain is a little concerning for them moving forward, but Steven Jackson managed to average seven yards per carry, which is very positive for them moving forward. They’ll get the Rams, Dolphins and Patriots in the next three weeks, so we’ll have to see how they respond to the Week 1 loss.
#9) Chicago Bears ( 10)
The Bears offensive line held one of the best defensive line units in the league without a single sack. That’s just astonishing. I mean this has been unit where it’s safe to chalk up five sacks against a strong defense before the game even starts. On top of that, Jay Cutler actually looked more disciplined and comfortable throughout the game. The Bears get the Vikings and Steelers who are both coming off of disappointing efforts in Week 1. There’s a chance Chicago could start the season 3-0.
#10) Philadelphia Eagles ( 12)
Watching Chip Kelly’s NFL offense was incredible to say the least. It’s not overly complicated in its design, but it is effective at keeping opposing defenses off balance. It’s still just one game, and the Redskins were able to rebound get within a single score in the second-half, so I’m not ready crown them just yet. But it’s almost impossible to not recognize this team’s upside. The pace at which they run their offense is going to be an issue for every team in the league. Teams will pick up on what PHI is doing as the season plays out, but they still need execute on the field. Michael Vick took a lot of hits last night, so we’ll have to see how he holds up this season. The Eagles will be up against the Chargers and Chiefs in the next two weeks.
#11) Dallas Cowboys ( 3)
While the Cowboys walked away with a big divisional win Sunday night, they were gifted an inordinate number of turnovers throughout the game and still only managed to win by five points. The Giants even benched their starting RB. There were some great takeaways from this victory, but I do believe that they’re a little overrated at No. 11 overall. We’ll have to see how things go against the Chiefs and Rams in the next two weeks.
#12) Detroit Lions ( 6)
The Lions played a really solid game against the Vikings and the highlights being showed would almost have you believe that Adrian Peterson led the Vikings to a win. Reggie Bush tallied 191 yards receiving and rushing, while Joique Bell managed to score two touchdowns. If you remove Peterson from the game, it’s a blowout and we’re talking about how bad Christian Ponder really is. The Lions were my team to watch out for in the NFC North and they clearly lived up to expectations. Detroit gets the Cardinals, Redskins and Bears in the next three weeks.
#13) Cincinnati Bengals (6)
Despite losing a close game on the road to Chicago, the Bengals still look like the best team in the AFC North. Everyone in the division managed to lose their first game, so CIN loss isn’t a huge setback or anything. On top of that, the Bengals have fewer concerning issues the other teams. Andy Dalton still needs to take a step as a quarterback. Thankfully, he can rely on A.J. Green being awesome. The Bengals managed to use their tight ends quite well throughout the game, so that is something I’ll be watching in the coming weeks. Their defensive line needs to play better simply because their talent far exceeds their Week 1 production. The Bengals get the Steelers, Packers and Browns in the next three weeks.
#14) Baltimore Ravens (4)
Baltimore has already brought in some veteran players for workouts since their poor showing against the Broncos. Losing Jacoby Jones on a special teams play really hurts. Ed Dickson was a big letdown in Week 1, as were Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley. Joe Flacco looked rusty throughout the game and even the defense didn’t play well. It’s only one game against a very good team, but they need to focus on improving their passing attack in the coming weeks. I still think the Ravens are a playoff team. They get the Browns and Texans in the next two weeks.
#15) Kansas City Chiefs ( 5)
We don’t want to overreact after one blowout win against arguably the worst team in the league, but the Chiefs did put together a complete effort. The defense was smothering, which probably isn’t a huge shock, and their Alex Smith-led offense was pretty efficient. No team has an easier remaining schedule than KC. They’ll be up against three straight NFC East opponents in the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants. If they could walk away with two wins in those games, they would be a great shape to secure a playoff spot.
#16) Indianapolis Colts (3)
Just like the Chiefs, it’s really hard to get excited about beating the Raiders at home. In fact, it’s a little disappointing that the Colts were only able to win that game by four points. It’s rare to win a game and drop three spots in the rankings, but other teams proved a lot more in Week 1 than the Colts did. The Raiders defensive front isn’t considered to be even an average unit, so the four sacks allowed by the Colts offensive line is quite concerning. Andrew Luck took a beating last season and it appears as though nothing has changed. On top of that, the Colts defense allowed over five yards per carry to the Raiders! IND gets the Dolphins in Week 2 and the 49ers in Week 3.
#17) Washington Redskins (8)
This could be a bit of an overreaction on our part. After all, Washington managed to fight back in the second-half and make this game. There’s no question that RGIII was rusty last night and the defense had a tough time keeping up with the Eagles ridiculous pace. Things should get easier for them as the season plays out, so I’d expect them to finish much higher than No. 17. WAS goes on the road to a Packers team coming off of a tough loss. Their offensive athleticism could be a big plus against the Packers defense, but they’ll much better execution.
#18) St. Louis Rams (3)
Here’s another team that managed to win their Week 1 game, but dropped a few spots in our rankings. It’s worth noting that Arizona was winning this game in the fourth quarter before STL was able to tie the game and win on a field goal. The two teams were actually pretty evenly matched in terms of their production throughout the game. STL defensive line proved to be a difference maker as they contributed four sacks. Robert Quinn alone had three sacks and two forced fumbles. No team has a harder three-game stretch ahead of them as they’ll be up against the Falcons, Cowboys and 49ers.
#19) Miami Dolphins ( 2)
While the rushing attack for the Dolphins was underwhelming to say the least, their defense was able to take advantage of a good matchup. Ryan Tannehill played all right. It would have been great to see a little more production, but the Browns defense is better than some would suggest. MIA isn’t going to have easy matchups every week, so they’ll need better offensive production in the coming weeks. The Dolphins get the Colts, Falcons and Saints in the next three weeks.
#20) New York Giants (9)
Six turnovers pretty says all you need to know about the Giants Week 1 performance. You can’t reasonably expect to win a game with that many mistakes. The Giants have already brought in a number of veteran RBs for workouts this week. David Wilson will still be a part of their offense moving forward, but his leash is as short as they come. Despite the mistakes, the Giants only lost to the Cowboys by five points. If this team can clean a few things up, they could easily contend for the NFC East title. They’ll have a great test in Week 2 when they take on the Broncos.
#21) Carolina Panthers ( 3)
The Panthers lose their Week 1 game and Cam Newton accounts for the fewest yards of his NFL career and they somehow manage to move up three spots? Strange. Clearly, the fact that they were able to stay in the game against the Seahawks factored into their ranking. CARs front-seven looks much improved, as they held Marshawn Lynch to just 43 yards rushing. HC Ron Rivera told reporters that their game plan was lacking after they focused strictly on short passes. Hopefully, they’ll make some adjustments and take their shots down field in the coming weeks. The Panthers get the Bills in Week 2.
#22) Arizona Cardinals ( 3)
Sticking with teams who lost Week 1 and are on the climb, the Cardinals move up three spots for hanging around on the road against the Rams. Their offensive line let them down again, but it’s hard to not be optimistic about the Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald connection moving forward. I said before the start of the season that ARI will not be the worst team in the NFC by the end of the season. They get the Lions and Saints in back-to-back weeks.
#23) Pittsburgh Steelers (6)
This was about as bad of performance as I’ve seen from the Steelers a long time. The Titans were honestly the better team last weekend across the board and that seems ridiculous to say. Just 32 yards rushing from the Steelers? What is that? David DeCastro dives on Maurkice Pouncey’s knee and knocks him out for the season. Big Ben was sacked five times and the Titans beat PIT in time of possession by ten minutes. I think this is a liberal ranking on our part. That was an atrocious showing by PIT. For much credit as Mike Tomlin gets for being a great coach, this is an inexcusable performance. He’ll need to make some adjustments right away or this team is looking at a top-ten draft pick. The Steelers get the Bengals and Bears in back-to-back weeks.
#24) San Diego Chargers ( 3)
So the Chargers do nothing to dispel their label as the biggest chokers in the league. And we reward them by moving up three spots? Personally, I had them lower, but they did show some positives last night. Phillip Rivers played a strong half of football before imploding. I really like Donald Butler, who will get paid at the end of the season, even if it’s not by the Chargers. D.J. Fluker had his moments and the rest of the o-line did a pretty good job on J.J. Watt. Things don’t get easier for SD as they get the Eagles in Week 2. The Chargers defense looked gassed against the Texans offense in the fourth quarter, so this could end up being a blowout.
#25) Buffalo Bills ( 3)
It seems like it’s an annual tradition for the Bills to nearly beat the Patriots to start the season. There has been a lot of changes to their organization as a whole and yet the results look eerily similar. Buffalo’s defensive line played pretty well and was nearly enough to salt away a win. First-round pick E.J. Manuel has some great plays too, but a poor performance C.J. Spiller was a little discouraging. The Bills get the Panthers in Week 2.
#26) Minnesota Vikings (10)
Just take Adrian Peterson off this team and we’re talking about maybe a four win team at best. I mean, you’re probably already aware of this, but just watching what he does for this team is truly shocking. It’s getting to the point where you could make the case that Peterson is the single most valuable player to his team every year. Christian Ponder is an NFL backup at best. Thankfully for the Vikings, Blaine Gabbert was selected ahead of him, so they can always point to the Jaguars as being a bigger embarrassment. The Vikings have another road game in Week 2 as they travel to Chicago.
#27) Tennessee Titans ( 3)
The Titans move up three spots after their win over the Steelers. They were clearly the better team in this game, but it’s hard to give them a ton of credit for beating a team that played that poorly. This probably isn’t fair to TEN, but it’s going to take more than a single performance to push them up the rankings. They have a better test next week when they take on the Texans.
#28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5)
The Buccaneers are most likely being punished for the simple fact that they lost to the Jets. If Lavonte David doesn’t commit that penalty, we probably have them five spots higher. Either way, it wasn’t exactly the best showing for the Bucs. TB committed a staggering number of penalties and allowed the Jets to gain more yards. This was Geno Smith’s first NFL game and they allowed it to be much closer that should have been simply based on their overall talent. Another disappointing game and there’s going to be a lot of buzz regarding Josh Freeman getting benched.
#29) New York Jets ( 1)
The Jets probably deserve to be higher than this. They did beat a team with some quality players, even though it took a fortunate penalty to do so. I think the Jets will probably finish the season better than people expect. They get the Patriots on short week, but reports have indicated that the NE could be without Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Zach Sudfeld and Aaron Dobson, which is a big plus for New York. If they can pull out an upset, the Jets would be in for a big rise up the rankings.
#30) Cleveland Browns (4)
I think you could make the case that the Browns deserve to be lower than the Raiders based on their Week 1 performance. So much for the talk of Norv Turner working his magic with Brandon Weeden. The Browns gave up six sacks while Weeden contributed three interceptions. They were playing the Dolphins, so it’s not as though they were up against a Super Bowl contender. The Browns will now go on the road for their next two games against the Ravens and Vikings. Unless they’re able to turn things around in the coming weeks, it appears as though this will be another long season for Browns.
#31) Oakland Raiders ( 1)
Terrelle Pryor actually made this roster respectable, which is really saying something. OAK only lost by four points on the road against the Colts. That’s shocking to me. This weekend will be the battle of futility as they take on the Jaguars. OAK will likely be a solid favorite in this game, which says a lot about the state of the Jaguars. After Week 2, the Raiders can go back to getting pushed around by the Broncos and Redskins.
#32) Jacksonville Jaguars (1)
Jacksonville managed to score two points in Week 1. That’s all I got for positives regarding this team. Blaine Gabbert isn’t their quarterback next year. Chad Henne will start against Oakland now that Gabbert needed 15 stitches on his hand. It will be interesting to see if this team is capable of winning a game.