The first few days after Week 1 of the NFL season has wrapped are notoriously wrought with overreactions, excessive handwringing and general jumping to conclusions, so what better time to compile my power rankings?
You'll see some familiar names in the top three spots. Those didn't change this week because the Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers all had a big win this week. Pete Carroll's team handily turned aside a Packers team that many have pegged as one of the NFC's top contenders. Denver won too, and the final score in the Indianapolis game made it look closer than it really was. Concern over San Francisco's preseason struggles was nowhere to be found on Sunday against Dallas.
Keeping in mind the fact that a lot of weird stuff happens in Week 1, here's a look at how teams stack up. Some teams lost but didn't fall terribly far. Others lost and fell further when legitimate concerns developed about talent deficiencies, holes in depth spots, injuries or the like. Last week's ranking in parentheses.
1. Seattle Seahawks (1)
Seattle shrugged off concerns about a Super Bowl hangover and put together a convincing win against a Green Bay team that's been talked about as a potential contender to emerge from the NFC this year. The Seahawks mixed a strong rushing attack with an efficient pass game and a suffocating pass defense to handle their business. They stuck to their winning formula, and stick here at the top of the rankings.
2. Denver Broncos (2)
Peyton Manning and the Broncos got their 2014 campaign off to a strong start by beating a playoff team from last year, the Colts. They jumped all over Indy early, built a 24-0 lead in the first half, then held off a Colts comeback before winning 31-24. The Manning-to-Julius Thomas connection looks like it will be an even more deadly one this season, as the two connected for three touchdowns. The Broncos' new toys on defense showed up big as well.
3. San Francisco 49ers (3)
The Niners hit the ground running with a forced fumble and defensive touchdown on the Cowboys' first drive, then quickly parlayed three Tony Romo interceptions into 14 more points. San Francisco never looked back and coasted to a 1-0 start. The 49ers may be missing some key cogs from last year's squad for the first part of the season, but they're still among the teams to beat in the NFC. Colin Kaepernick looked efficient and accurate, Carlos Hyde flashed and the defense made it hard on Tony Romo the whole night.
Colin Kaepernick, Photo credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
4. Philadelphia Eagles (7)
The Eagles bounced back from a disastrous first half in which Nick Foles turned the ball over three times (fumbled twice and threw a pick), but came back from a 17-point second-half deficit to rattle off 34 unanswered points for the win. The defense performed well after halftime and shut out the Jaguars the rest of the way, and Foles, Jeremy Maclin and Darren Sproles did their part to get Philly back into it on offense. It wasn't the start the Eagles were looking for, but if the second half was any indication of what's to come, they'll be just fine, both offensively and defensively.
5. Green Bay Packers (4)
The Packers slide after dropping their opener to the Seahawks, but for now should still be considered among the NFC's elite group. Eddie Lacy's performance wasn't eye-popping statistically, but he ran with reckless abandon and according to ProFootballFocus' ratings, broke nine tackles on only 15 touches. Aaron Rodgers was stymied by the Legion of Boom and the Seattle pass rush, but history has shown that a sub-200-yard passing game will be few and far between for the potential MVP candidate.
6. New Orleans Saints (5)
The Saints came close to pulling out a Week 1 victory over the Falcons after Drew Brees led his offense 71 yards down the field in eight plays to take back the lead with just over a minute remaining, but Atlanta hit a game-tying field goal as time expired and then won in overtime. New Orleans did have a few things to feel good about though -- its offense put up nearly 500 yards, Brandin Cooks looks like a legit weapon and Drew Brees is as sharp as ever. Rob Ryan will look to get the defense back on track in Week 2.
Week 1 Review
What happened Sunday in the NFL
J.J. Watt and Matt Ryan were excellent on Sunday. Not so much for Tony Romo and Joe Flacco. That and more from an eventful opening Sunday of the NFL season.
Week 1 Review
7. Cincinnati Bengals (10)
The Bengals answered a furious Ravens comeback bid by retaking the lead late in the game with an Andy Dalton 77-yard touchdown bomb to A.J. Green. The Dalton-to-Green connection is alive and well, and Gio Bernard was featured with 14 carries and 10 targets through the air, finishing with 110 yards from scrimmage. The Bengals' defense confounded the Ravens for much of the game despite Baltimore's absurd 85 plays, including 62 passes from Joe Flacco.
8. Atlanta Falcons (14)
The Falcons made a statement in Week 1 that last year's 4-12 finish was a fluke, beating their division rival Saints while jumpstarting their offense. Matt Ryan threw for 448 yards, the run game was effective, and Julio Jones and Roddy White returned with a bang. If Atlanta can shore up its defense, it could return to prominence among the best in the NFL this year.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (13)
The Steelers put on an offensive clinic early on in their opener against Cleveland, amassing 364 yards of total offense en route to a 27-3 halftime lead, then held off the comeback Browns for a Week 1 win. Big Ben looked rejuvenated, Antonio Brown didn't skip a beat and Markus Wheaton emerged as a dangerous downfield option. Le'Veon Bell carried the load for the Steelers with 109 yards rushing and 88 yards receiving. The defense can't feel good about its second half, and will turn its attention to the Ravens in Week 2 Thursday.
10. New England Patriots (6)
The Patriots lost their opener to Miami after the Dolphins dominated the second half at home. Rob Gronkowski returned to the lineup, though, and was an immediate factor for New England. Tom Brady, flustered by protection issues all day, managed to distribute the football to eight receivers. The Patriots had issues defending the run and pass protecting, but Bill Belichick will work to correct those issues this week.
11. Indianapolis Colts (8)
The Colts fell behind big early on against the Broncos and needed a frantic comeback in the fourth quarter to make it a game. There are definitely positives to take away from the game, including a healthy and productive Reggie Wayne, a healthy and productive Dwayne Allen, and a seemingly healthy and productive Hakeem Nicks. The Colts couldn't guard Julius Thomas in the first half but held the Broncos to seven points in the second half, something to build on in Week 2.
12. Detroit Lions (18)
The Giants had no answer for Calvin Johnson -- not that many teams do -- allowing him two quick touchdowns from Matt Stafford, and the Lions ran away with the game from there. Uncharacteristic to what we're used to, Detroit ran a balanced attack, 32 throws and 30 rushes, and racked up 417 yards of offense (though to be fair the team will be looking to improve on the 2.5 yards per carry from this one). On defense, the Lions frustrated Eli Manning and the Giants all night, picking him off twice and holding him to a 53.0 rating. Is this a new, balanced team under new coach Jim Caldwell?
Calvin Johnson, Photo credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images
13. Carolina Panthers (17)
The Panthers beat a division opponent with backup quarterback Derek Anderson as their starter. That's a testament to their excellent defense of course, but also gives some hope that the Panthers' offense can do some things in 2014. Kelvin Benjamin looks like the real deal, Greg Olsen played well and a balanced attack was enough to grab a win on the road. The defense picked off Josh McCown twice and held him to 183 yards passing, so it doesn't look like Carolina has skipped a beat from last year.
14. Arizona Cardinals (16)
The Cardinals mounted a nice second-half comeback to win their Week 1 opener against the Chargers, making a statement to the world that despite some losses on defense, they're still a force to be reckoned with. Michael Floyd was a beast, rookie John Brown scored the go-ahead touchdown and the defense held when it needed to. Don't forget about them in the NFC West.
15. San Diego Chargers (11)
The Chargers can't feel great about giving up the lead with just over two minutes remaining, and Keenan Allen will have nightmares about his dropped pass (which was deflected) on fourth down that could have kept the game alive. Nonetheless, San Diego's defense flashed, the pass rush looked strong and rookie Jeremiah Attaochu impressed. Philip Rivers had a renaissance in 2013 but matched up against Arizona's strong defense, he was frustrated for much of the night. Regardless, Antonio Gates still looks just like Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd caught a touchdown pass and Keenan Allen had his chances. They'll head home to prep for the Seahawks.
16. Chicago Bears (9)
Jay Cutler threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns but was also picked off twice by the Bills, and Buffalo took advantage of those miscues, eventually beating Chicago in overtime. On the plus side, the duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery still looks deadly, Martellus Bennett got in on the action this week and Matt Forte accounted for a cool 169 yards of offense. The Bears will look to sort out their issues on defense this year, but their offense appears primed to produce big numbers.
NFL Week 1
NFL Week 1
17. Baltimore Ravens (12)
The Ravens ran 85 plays and Gary Kubiak asked Joe Flacco to throw the ball 62 times in a loss to the Bengals. The loss was almost a win, though, as a Steve Smith touchdown bomb with six minutes to go in the game gave Baltimore its first lead. With Ray Rice released, the running back duties (assuming they ever run much) fall to Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro. This team still has a strong core of defensive players, and if the secondary can rise to the occasion, the Ravens could get back on track as an AFC heavyweight.
18. Kansas City Chiefs (15)
Is there such thing as a Pyrrhic defeat? No? Just worse-than-normal loss? OK. Well that's what Week 1 felt like for KC. Not only did the Chiefs lose badly to the Titans, they lost Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson to season-ending injuries. Not all is lost though -- it's only one week, and Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles have a chance to get the offense back to where it was last season.
19. Minnesota Vikings (26)
In maybe the most surprising blowout of Week 1, the Vikings went in to St. Louis and just dominated the Rams. Cordarrelle Patterson looks like a breakout star, Matt Cassel was efficient if unexciting, and the defense just didn't allow the Rams to get anything done with their backup and backup's backup quarterbacks in action. Are the Vikings that much better this year under new coach Mike Zimmer, or are the Rams just that bad?
20. New York Jets (23)
The Jets didn't make it look easy, but they grabbed a win against the Raiders at home in the Week 1 opener. New York's defensive front looked dominant while holding Oakland to 1.7 yards per carry on 15 attempts, and the pass defense wasn't terrible either, limiting rookie QB Derek Carr to 151 yards passing on 32 attempts -- 4.7 YPA. Geno Smith held on to the ball to take a sack a few too many times but otherwise played with some efficiency, and the Jets absolutely pounded the rock on the ground with their two-headed running back monster of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. With 212 yards rushing at 6.2 YPA and a suffocating defensive line, that's a solid formula for the Jets that could help see them steadily move up these rankings this year.
21. Miami Dolphins (27)
Speaking of a punishing run defense, in maybe the most surprising game of the week, the Dolphins dominated the second half to knock off the Patriots. They were led by Knowshon Moreno (134 yards rushing, one TD) and Mike Wallace (seven catches for 81 yards, one TD) on offense and a seemingly unblockable Cam Wake on defense. Explosive plays on offense and a swarming defense that gets after the quarterback -- is Miami a dark horse this year?
22. Houston Texans (25)
J.J. Watt is really frickin' good. Even including quarterbacks, there might not be a more impressive player in the NFL right now. The Texans, with the help of Watt's dominating performance, stymied RGIII and the Washington offense, then ran the ball a lot and did just enough in the passing game to get the win. Jadeveon Clowney is lost for four to six weeks with a knee injury, but the Texans' depth on defense might be better than we thought.
23. Tennessee Titans (29)
Jake Locker looked smooth, calculated and in control as he guided his team to a win at Kansas City, which isn't an easy place to play. The Titans dominated time of possession in this one 37:44 to 22:16 on the legs of Shonn Greene, Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey, and Locker targeted eight receivers in the passing game. The Titans picked off Alex Smith three times and cruised the whole way. The Titans could be a surprisingly dangerous team this season.
24. Buffalo Bills (31)
The Bills move up quite a bit after their Week 1 upset over the Bears. Buffalo has spent a lot of draft capital on offensive playmaking weapons and it's finally starting to pay off for the team. EJ Manuel led a balanced Bills attack that targeted Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller predominantly, and the defense held up its end of the bargain, picking off Jay Cutler twice and forcing a fumble by Brandon Marshall. Manuel's effectiveness was nice to see after he struggled in the preseason. How many of you would have bet that the Dolphins, Bills and Jets would all win their Week 1 matchups?
EJ Manuel, Photo credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
25. New York Giants (20)
Eli Manning threw for a mere 163 yards and was picked off twice, and the Giants' defense didn't show much better as New York was blown out in Week 1 by the Lions. One bright spot was the run defense, which held Detroit to 2.5 YPC on 30 totes, but that obviously wasn't enough since the pass defense was exploited by Megatron and the Lions' dangerous pass catchers. The good news for the Giants is that Jason Pierre-Paul's injury was only a stinger, and he shouldn't miss much (if any) time in getting back on the field.
26. Dallas Cowboys (21)
The Cowboys turned the ball over four times in the first half -- a DeMarco Murray fumble and three terrible Tony Romo picks -- and against a tough team like the Niners, that's pretty much impossible to come back from. For its part, Dallas mostly limited what the Niners were trying to do in the second half, but it was way too little too late. The bright spot of Week 1 has got to be the Dallas run game, which produced 127 yards on 23 carries (5.5 YPC) against a team that was extremely good against the run last year. Tony Romo and the Cowboys will look to get back on track in Week 2.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)
The Lovie Smith era in Tampa Bay, complete with new uniforms, a few exciting new players and a revamped scheme, got off to a dud of a start with the Buccaneers' Week 1 loss to the Derek Anderson-led Panthers. Josh McCown made some sloppy, careless mistakes, throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice (both recovered), en route to a lackluster performance. The good news for Bucs fans is that it can't likely get worse on that side of the football, and Tampa Bay just has too much talent to play like that again.
28. Cleveland Browns (28)
The Browns, led by Brian Hoyer, mounted an impressive second-half comeback on the Steelers and nearly got themselves an upset win in Week 1. That fell short, but there are a few positives to take away from this game. At the front of my mind is the Browns' rushing output. In Kyle Shanahan's new zone-blocking system in Cleveland, the Browns put up 183 yards on the ground at a 6.1 YPC clip, which gives them a great chance to further develop their play-action passing offense. Look for Cleveland to move up in the rankings soon.
29. Washington (24)
Washington put up some yardage offensively against J.J. Watt and the Texans' defense in Week 1, but couldn't turn those yards into points, finishing with a lone touchdown. That said, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson can help Robert Griffin III right the ship in Week 2, and a strong run game buoyed by Alfred Morris and Roy Helu should support that as well.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)
The Jags looked to be putting together one of the most shocking upsets of the first week of action when they led the Eagles 17-0 going into the half, but defensive breakdowns and ineffectiveness on offense in the third and fourth frames foiled that plot. Still, the Jags are an exciting young team with interesting talent that should be on the rise this year, but it just didn't happen in Week 1.
31. St. Louis Rams (20)
The Rams were blown out at home, and blown out might be an understatement. Their quarterback situation has been thrown for a loop this year after losing Sam Bradford for the season. The Rams were forced to play third-stringer Austin Davis when backup Shaun Hill injured his leg, and unsurprisingly Davis wasn't very effective. Here's the good news: There's still a lot of talent on the Rams' roster, especially on defense. They've just got to find a way to get the most out of their players in Week 2.
32. Oakland Raiders (32)
The Raiders mounted a nice comeback against the Jets, but weren't able to stop New York's run game and couldn't get enough done on offense to pull out the win. Still, Derek Carr looked good at times and tossed two nice touchdown passes, so there's some cautious optimism in Oakland right now with what Reggie McKenzie is putting together.