It’s easy to be optimistic about your team’s chances in August. After all, you just watched them spend half a year adding players that will hopefully make the team even better than it was a year ago.
Even the New England Patriots won Super Bowl 51, then spent the offseason adding players that looked to make the team even scarier than it was during a year that ended with a Lombardi Trophy.
But the first week of the year can damper some of that optimism. For the 15 teams that picked up wins, hopes can soar sky high.
After the first week of the 2017 season, here are the teams that are feeling more hopeful than others and the teams that feel significantly less hopeful than they did a week ago.
The biggest winners from Sunday were probably the Jaguars, who surprising dominated the Houston Texans. It feels like Jacksonville is pegged as a preseason darkhorse every year, but Blake Bortles kept people from being sold on the team in 2017.
Still, 10 sacks for the defense and 100 yards rushing for Leonard Fournette makes the Jaguars a team worth worrying about. They played like bullies and beat down the Texans to the point that Tom Savage got yanked at halftime. Bortles is still a liability, but the Jaguars didn’t look like a joke at all.
The Rams had an even bigger margin of victory than the Jaguars, though it’s a little easier to dismiss because the Colts looked awful in every aspect. Scott Tolzien made the same mistake to the left side of the field three times with two passes intercepted and returned for touchdowns.
Even so, Indianapolis’ failures couldn’t hide the fact that Jared Goff looked much more comfortable and the Rams offense moved better than it did all of last year. There will be stiffer tests, but there’s reason for Los Angeles to be optimistic.
Beating the Super Bowl champions and holding arguably the best quarterback ever to zero touchdowns is a hell of a way to announce to the world that the Chiefs are still a contender. After back-to-back trips to the playoffs, the Chiefs aren’t surging the way the Jaguars and Rams are, but the win over the Patriots didn’t look like the Kansas City of old.
In particular, it didn’t look like the Alex Smith of old. While the Chiefs drafted his replacement in April, Smith looked like the best quarterback in New England and finished Week 1 with 368 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
New England Patriots
It’s far from panic time in New England, but there are legitimate concerns about a team some thought would go 16-0.
The biggest problem is the team’s defensive line that was gashed by Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt and couldn’t get to Alex Smith. If you didn’t already know: Never count out Touchdown Tom. But the Patriots look much more beatable now than many expected.
The Seahawks started the 2016 season with some dubious offense in the first couple weeks and struggled to protect Russell Wilson, but still managed to put together a 10-5-1 record. So maybe it’s too early for Seattle to give up hope.
But it’s hard to be too optimistic about the team considering it has the same exact problems it did a year ago and Wilson is still running for his life.
It’s not like many pegged the Bengals to be a Super Bowl favorite, but what the hell was that? Andy Dalton threw just seven interceptions in 2015 and eight in 2016, and he already has four after one game in 2017. He even intentionally threw a pass out of bounds on fourth down.
It was actually a pretty decent game for the Cincinnati defense in the 20-0 loss, but it’s hard to believe in the team after it was a scoring offense that finished No. 24 in the NFL last year that dragged them to a 6-9-1 record.
Full hope rankings
With that, here are the full hope rankings for Week 2 with the teams ordered from the most hopeful to the least hopeful about the current state of the franchise. Keep in mind, these aren’t typical power rankings and hope can mean different things for different teams.
Both the Browns and the Patriots lost in Week 1, but there are much more reasons for Cleveland to take positives away from a 21-18 loss to the Steelers than New England has to take from a loss to Kansas City.
No the Patriots aren’t the 22nd best team in the NFL, but it’s perfectly reasonable for 21 other teams to feel better about their outlook than New England does after Week 1:
Hope rankings, Week 2
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||-|
|4||Los Angeles Rams||-|
|8||Green Bay Packers||-|
|13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-|
|21||New York Giants||-|
|22||New England Patriots||-|
|23||Los Angeles Chargers||-|
|24||New Orleans Saints||-|
|29||New York Jets||-|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||-|