The first week of the season is a special time for jumping to conclusions. But our weekly power rankings are here to provide you with some stability. Some.
Jim Harbaugh's team struggled to run the ball against the Packers. The 49ers missed tackles, took penalties and mishandled the clock. But they still managed to win. Colin Kaepernick's outing with a career-high 412 passing yards and three touchdowns was the most impressive part of the show.
Seven touchdowns in one game. It's the least talked about thing from Week 1, but we're getting used to Peyton Manning writing his name in the record book, with ink. He might not be done with gaudy stats thanks to a little help from the schedule. The Broncos only face four more playoff teams from last season.
The final score wasn't what I expected, but Seattle beat an improved Panthers defense in a 1 p.m. Eastern time slot. That's not easy for a West Coast team. Russell Wilson played a sharp game, with 320 passing yards and one touchdown. Better yet, Wilson's 33 attempts topped his mark in all but three game last season ... and he had a 75 percent completion rate to boot.
Rust kept a road game against the Bills much closer than it would have been otherwise. By the end of the month, the Patriots should be the efficient, humorless football machine we've come to expect. A new crop of receivers doesn't seem to be a problem either.
Last season, a 2-3 Broncos team used a second-half comeback to beat the Chargers on Monday night in Week 6. Denver didn't lose again for the rest of the season. Will a Monday night comeback win over the Chargers be a similar launching pad for the Texans?
The good news: The defense looked much better against the 49ers. The bad news: They still lost.
The Falcons-Saints rivalry is one of my favorites in the NFL right now, one that actually features hard-fought football games. Even against last season's historically inept Saints defense, these two teams split the series. That makes it hard to decide if the Saints defense is really as good as it was last week or if the Falcons offensive line was really as bad as it looked.
Even if New Orleans' defense isn't this good, Drew Brees seems to be in his usual form.
Jay Cutler thinks Marc Trestman's offense is "ballsy." A fair assessment, but after Lovie Smith's tenure, just playing offense with a purpose probably feels liberating. Even more incredible: Cutler didn't get sacked in this game. That hasn't happened since Week 13 last season.
10. Baltimore Ravens
We spent a lot of time during the preseason praising Ozzie Newsome for rebuilding his team's defense with a package of shrewd draft picks and free agent moves. There were glimpses of just how good that group can be, especially the defensive front. It still might take another week or two for the whole thing to gel to the point where it's not allowing 49 points and seven touchdown passes. As for the offense, yeah, I just don't know.
Two interceptions, even one that bounced of A.J. Green's hands, won't do anything to calm the debate about Andy Dalton's quarterbacking abilities. Fortunately, quarterback debates are rational affairs, a place free of easy labels.
Another year, another fourth-quarter comeback from Andrew Luck. He'll need to pull a few more of those out of his hat if the defense keeps playing like this.
13. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys got their first win in five tries against the Giants inside the walls of Jerry World. And for once it was the other team that kept turning the ball over.
14. Detroit Lions
Early returns on Reggie Bush are positive. Imagine what we'd be saying if he hadn't had two touchdowns called back. More impressive was how the Lions shut down Adrian Peterson after his 78-yard touchdown run. The combination of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh delivered on their preseason hype too. I wonder if the defense is good enough to hold on through an inevitable suspension for Suh this season?
Operation Patience went from just another RGIII-branded slogan to Washington's official motto on Monday night. The reigning Rookie of the Year struggled, and, naturally, speculation about the health of his knee is set to run wild. Also, preseason play might in fact serve some purpose.
16. Miami Dolphins
Let's not get too carried away. It was only the Browns. Nevertheless, I liked what I saw from Ryan Tannehill, especially how he handled a tough Cleveland pass rush. That's important considering Jonathan Martin was helpless against oncoming defenders.
I wanted to put the Eagles higher than this. Baby steps. The NFL world saw something different on Monday night. Even if our college football friends are used to offensive innovation, it will take time for The Shield and all those sworn to protect it to come to terms with it. (Someone please check on Pete Prisco). The question I have is whether or not Michael Vick can stay healthy in this system for a full season.
18. St. Louis Rams
Good thing someone on the St. Louis sideline decided covering Larry Fitzgerald in a cushy zone was a bad idea. Carson Palmer and Fitzgerald took advantage of the Rams' celebrated defense for 80 yards and a touchdown, and it almost cost St. Louis its NFC Cinderella status.
A nice start to the Andy Reid era, but beating Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars only counts for so much. Let's see what the Chiefs can do with the Cowboys coming to town this week and a trip to Philadelphia the week after that.
The defense is worlds better than it was last year, thanks largely to an upgraded defensive line and another season of Luke Kuechly backing them up. Unfortunately, the offense doesn't look any less confused than it did last year.
21. New York Giants
One of the biggest losers of the week, falling almost 10 spots. I won't be surprised to see Tom Coughlin get his team straightened out. Then again, I won't be surprised if they keep muddling through the season.
22. Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker still doesn't inspire confidence. However, the plan to rebuild the offensive line and center the offense around the running game is going exactly as planned. That's good news for the Titans, not to mention Mike Munchak.
If it seems like the Steelers are always dealing with offensive line injuries, it's because they are. Instead of the tackles, this time it's center Maurkice Pouncey.
The Lions did exactly what they were supposed to do, keeping Adrian Peterson in check and making Christian Ponder do all the work. It turned out exactly how everyone predicted it would.
Not exactly how you want to lose a game ... to the Jets. Josh Freeman didn't help his case with a 48 percent completion rate, but neither did Greg Schiano whose team almost had this one in the bag.
The improvement Carson Palmer brings to this team is going to be short-lived as long as Levi Brown is starting on the quarterback's left side.
27. New York Jets
It's hard to find much to complain about from Geno Smith's debut. And stop with the Wildcat plays, Jets. It's 2013.
Another second half collapse on Monday Night Football is no way to forget about Norv Turner and A.J. Smith.
29. Buffalo Bills
Taking the Patriots down to the wire is a nice start for the Bills.
30. Cleveland Browns
Offseason predictions in danger of collapsing: 1) Brandon Weeden's breakout, 2) Norv Turner as offensive savior, and 3) a defense that will make the Browns a contender in the AFC North. At least the defense does look sharp.
31. Oakland Raiders
I still don't think Oakland's going to win very many games this season. Terrelle Pryor at least looks like he'll be fun to watch and a needed rallying point for fans.
We have a new basement team this week, and this is exactly where they belong. And don't be fooled by the misperception that Chad Henne is a better temporary solution than Gabbert. He is not. But at least he's better than Tebow. Things will get better in Jacksonville ... eventually.