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My 2017 NFL Power Rankings Week 1
NFL Rankings Week One
Well, well, well…football is back. Finally. At long last our Sundays are just a bit more meaningful. I suppose you could say that about Thursday nights as well, but let’s face it, Thursday NFL games are hot piles of garbage for the most part. Anywho, I’m not going to droll on for a long intro here. It’s one week in and these are the first rankings of the new season. I’m sure you’d rather get right to the point.
1. Green Bay Packers (1-0) ~ Any team led by Aaron Rodgers is a legitimate contender. If their defense continues to harass quarterbacks like they did to Russell Wilson on Sunday this could be a very dangerous team. For me, the cheeseheads are the cream of the crop.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) ~ By now you know about Kareem Hunt so I’m going to skip over the rookie’s impressive, record-setting NFL debut. I’m going to instead turn my focus to the loss of safety Eric Berry to an Achilles injury. The All-Pro will miss the rest of the season and that is a huge black cloud in the otherwise sunny sky that is the Chiefs feelings after dismantling the champs in New England.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) ~ What we’re doing here is not over-reacting. Yes, they barely hung on to beat a Browns team coming off a 1-15 season that started a rookie quarterback and was without this year’s number one overall draft pick Myles Garrett. But they DID pick up the win. A divisional game on the road is never easy. The Steelers will have better performances ahead of them this year.
4. New England Patriots (0-1) ~ What we’re doing here is not over-reacting. Yes they lost their home opener, but it was to a Kansas City team that won 12 games last year and is a legitimate threat in the AFC again. The Pats will be fine. They seemingly always are. Oh, and the last three times they lost their season opener? Yeah, you guessed it. They went on the win the Super Bowl.
5. Oakland Raiders (1-0) ~ The darlings of last year’s NFL season collectively broke America’s heart when Derek Carr went down with a season-ending injury. We all knew that meant the Raiders postseason hopes were all but shattered. Carr is back and the Raiders are picking up right where they left off with a nice season-opening win on the road in Tennessee. Up next is their home opener against the woeful Jets. I’m not saying the Raiders will be 2-0, but I’m not not saying it.
6. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) ~ Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games until a judge overturned it wreaking havoc across the NFL and fantasy teams alike. As long as he can play the Cowboys should be a team to reckon with in the NFC. That said, it’s not all ok Zeke’s shoulders. Fellow second-year standout Dak Prescott will look to avoid the sophomore slump and lead Dallas to another division title.
7. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) ~ OK, so, if you read what I wrote about the Steelers, you can apply the same time of logic here. Sort of. I mean, they weren’t playing a divisional opponent. And they also weren’t against a rookie starter making his NFL debut. But, they did have to hang on against a team that was very bad just last year. That said, a win is a win and the Falcons avoided the Super Bowl hangover trap game.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) ~ That five-game losing streak to the Redskins is no more. Carson Wentz through for two scores and over 300 yards which makes an Eagles fan like me really, really excited for the season. But, like a true Eagles fan, I’m skeptical. Wentz missed out on quite a few opportunities to blow the game open. A much bigger test awaits the Eagles this weekend in Kansas City. I’ll have a much better feel for where my team is after that game.
9. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) ~ It wasn’t pretty. They were held without a touchdown. Their offensive line was nearly non-existent. The run game is a mess. Silver lining? The defense played well holding Rodgers and company to just 17 points on their home turf. Lambeau is a tough place to play. The Seahawks should have a much easier go of things this coming week when they play host to San Francisco.
10. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) ~ Sam Bradford looked like a Hall of Famer, but I’m going to chalk that one up to the fact that the Saints’ defense can’t stop anyone. What I think is more likely to continue this season is what we saw from rookie running back Dalvin Cook who scooted for 127 yards, which broke Adrian Peterson’s club record for most rushing yards in a debut. I expect a lot out of the former Florida State standout.
11. Carolina Panthers (1-0) ~ Everyone is talking about how bad Cam Newton looked in his season debut after the former MVP missed most of the preseason. Sure, he only completed 56% of his passes for 171 yards and had just three yards rushing, but this was essentially his preseason warmup. It came against the lowly 49ers, but so what? You play who you play. And up next is a Buffalo Bills team that I’m certainly not sold on. As Newton’s shoulder improves, so will his numbers.
12. Detroit Lions (1-0) ~ Matthew “Moneybags” Stafford earned his paycheck on Sunday as he rallied the Lions to a victory by throwing for nearly 300 yards and four scores. Stafford usually plays well at home so I will reserve judgment until I see the outcome of Monday night’s game in New York against the Giants.
13. Denver Broncos (1-0) ~ Once again the Broncos defense saved the day by blocking a late field goal to preserve the win over San Dieg….er, Los Angeles. The Chargers to be exact since there are TWO teams in L.A. That defense will be key if the Broncos want to compete in a brutally tough division.
14. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) ~ Maybe I’m being a little hard on Baltimore considering they went on the road and shutout a divisional opponent. Maybe I’m concerned that Danny Woodhead is going to miss some time. Maybe I’m also concerned that Joe Flacco completed just nine passes. Maybe they’ll shut me up and do more of the same to another divisional opponent when Cleveland comes to town Sunday.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) ~ Kind of weird writing about a team that hasn’t played yet, considering 30 of the other 31 teams have a game under their belts. Oh well. The Bucs came close to the playoffs last year and I think they break through this season. They may not win the NFC South, but I think a wild card spot is realistic.
16. Tennessee Titans (0-1) ~ Much like Tampa Bay, the Titans came close to the playoffs last year. Much like Tampa Bay, I expect the Titans to claim a playoff spot this year. Unlike Tampa Bay, I expect the Titans to win their division. The AFC South is weak and ripe for the taking. Tennessee should have enough to take it.
17. New Orleans Saints (0-1) ~ Drew Brees was held in check, but the defense is the real issue here. Three straight 7-9 seasons have the Saints in an interesting predicament as their veteran signal-caller is in the last year of his contract. They signed Adrian Peterson as well which, really, made no sense to me. Do they not trust Mark Ingram? Anyway, until they fix the defense, this will be a team forced to win shootouts.
18. Miami Dolphins (0-0) ~ Last year Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins to the playoffs, but it was backup Matt Moore who started in the playoffs as Tannehill was injured. This year? Tannehill is out again, this time for the whole season. Instead of turning to Moore they went out and coaxed Jay Cutler out of retirement. Whether or not that $10 million gamble works out can only be told by time. And that time begins Sunday in Los Angeles.
19. New York Giants (0-1) ~ Everyone knew the Giants offense was going to take a step back without Odell Beckham Jr in the lineup. What everyone didn’t know was just how far of a step back they would take. The output was abysmal in Dallas and they mustered only a field goal and had just two first downs in the first half. They will have to hope that was a fluke or the G-Men could be in real trouble real early.
20. Los Angeles Rams (1-0) ~ It isn’t the Greatest Show on Turf, but the Rams hung a whopping 46 points on a hapless Colts team all the while playing stellar defense without their best defensive player, Aaron Donald, on the field. One game does not determine the season, but the Rams looked damn impressive under new head coach Sean McVay.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) ~ Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook weren’t the only rookie running backs to have nice debuts. Leonard Fournette ran for an even 100 yards and a score in Jacksonville’s surprising win over Houston. A major factor in that victory was a franchise-record 10 (ten!) sacks. The Jags will need more of the same from their defense and potential star runner when you factor in that All-Pro wideout Allen Robinson tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the year.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) ~ Denver has owned the Chargers lately, specifically Philip Rivers. This time he had a chance to redeem himself as he tossed three touchdowns and had the Chargers in position to tie the game with a field goal that was eventually blocked. How very Chargers of them. I'm not sure how to describe using Chargers as I just did, but I know it fits here.
23. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) ~ All-world running back David Johnson has a dislocated wrist that will keep him out until December. The season may be long, but it's safe to say Arizona's season is all but over.
24. Washington Redskins (0-1) ~ Gone are Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. In is Terrelle Pryor who looked lost at times running routes. He had a nice 2016, but he is still learning the position of a wide receiver.
25. Buffalo Bills (1-0) ~ In what looks like a rebuilding year for the Bills, this may be the high water mark. They handled a Jets team that doesn't look like they belong in the NFL. The Bills, however, may not have many more wins in them the rest of the way. The longest playoff drought in the NFL is sure to continue at least one more season.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) ~ Andy Dalton turned the ball over five times and the Bengals were shut out at home by a division rival. You almost can't start the season worse than that. So, if you are a Bengals fan, at least you have to think they can only go up from here.
27. Houston Texans (0-1) ~ Coach Bill O'Brien has named rookie Deshaun Watson the starter for Thursday's game against the Bengals. The Tom Savage era is officially over after just one half. A very, very bad half.
28. Chicago Bears (0-1) ~ Mike Glennon and the Bears nearly pulled off the unthinkable by sinking Atlanta. They had three shots at the end of the game and could not punch it into the end zone. This Bears team, injuries not withstanding, might have more bite in them than I anticipated.
29. Cleveland Browns (0-1) ~ They won just once all of last season and nearly matched that win total in their first game this year. The Browns are young and will have some growing pains, but they won't be doormat they were just a year ago.
30. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) ~ The Colts were without Andrew Luck (their best offensive player) and Vontae Davis (their best defensive player) so they were in trouble going into their game against the Rams. Then the floodgates opened. Luck may not be back for a few more weeks, and with what they've seen from Scott Tolzein, the Colts may soon have Jacoby Brissett under center.
31. San Francisco 49ers (0-1) ~ People are talking about how the Niners kept Cam Newton in check. I'm looking at the scoreboard and seeing a team that lost at home by 20 and did not get into the end zone. It's going to be another dismal year by the bay as the 49ers wait out the Kirk Cousins situation in Washington.
32. New York Jets (0-1) ~ With a serious shot at finishing the season 0-16, one has to wonder why the Jets are not playing Christian Hackenberg. Josh McCown is not going to make this team incrementally better and he is at the tail end of his career. Play the kid. See what you've got. That way you can see if a quarterback is the best decision with what could be the top pick in next year's draft.
That's all she wrote folks. Or that's all I wrote. He. I brought this on myself didn't I.....Anyway.... Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them right here. Or if that's not good enough you can follow/harass me on Twitter @therichwhiteguy. It wouldn't be the biggest waste of your time.