After careful consideration, I’ve decided to scrap my preseason power rankings from this point forward. Trying to set up a ladder before anyone’s played a down is fruitless. Moving on to Week 1!
1. Patriots (W 33-3 vs. PIT)
New England established dominance in their own conference once again. They add Antonio Brown tomorrow. God help us all.
2. Vikings (W 28-12 vs. ATL)
Mike Zimmer is a great football coach and Minnesota looked like a great-coached football team on Sunday. Last year, they feel well short of expectations. This year, after a year to learn and grow, they have no excuses. They showed up in a big game. Atlanta is one of the best offenses in the league. Minnesota bottled them and threw them with the rest of the trash. Dalvin Cook and the run game looked far better than last year. Arguably the best receiver duo in football, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the secondary, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr at linebacker and Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter at end. That’s a lot of problems. Now if Kirk can just start performing in prime time.
3. Saints (W 30-28 vs. HOU)
The Monday Night premiere provided week one’s best matchup. A thriller with two lead changes in the final minute. After all the years of Payton forgetting what a defense was, now he has one and the Saints are a Super Bowl contender because of it.
4. Chiefs (W 40-26 vs. JAC)
LeSean McCoy looked more than serviceable to me. Sammy Watkins played the best game of his career. He’ll have to have some more of those in Tyreek’s absence.
5. Texans (L 30-28 @NO)
They blew an 11-point halftime lead on the road and yet still had a chance to win. Up one, six seconds on the clock and Brees with possession at the 50, everyone knew what was coming next.
Except Bill O’Brien.
In a serious headscratcher, O’Brien called full prevent, a two man pressure with three defensive backs more than 20 yards off the ball. Brees took a gift-wrapped ten yards and kicker Wil Lutz kicked the game-winning points. The Texans looked excellent otherwise, with Deshaun Watson performing magic behind a turnstile of an offensive line. There’s no sugar-coating it. O’Brien cost his team a win and that’s one that’s gonna sting all year. This might be the year Houston makes it to a title game but if only O’Brien doesn’t mismanage it like his red zone offense.
6. Rams (W 30-27 @CAR)
Jared Goff’s progressions were off. He seemed out of sync the whole contest and yet, with their quarterback flustered, the Rams managed 30 points. Still lethal.
7. Cowboys (W 35-17 vs. NYG)
Dallas looked like a playoff team on Sunday.
A lot of teams will look like playoff teams when they play the Giants. Try to remember the context of the performance. The return of Travis Frederick gives the Cowboys arguably the best line in football.
8. Eagles (W 32-27 vs. WAS)
Philly’s start was troubling which is why they’re not higher on this list. The defense did not play well against one of the weaker offensive units in the league. This unsettles me. It’s a flaw Philly can’t afford to have if they want a legitimate chance at an NFC crown this year.
Carson Wentz, after shaking off the rust, looked like the MVP pick I slotted him for (My publishing schedule is off. I’m sorry.) and DeSean Jackson had quite the arrival back to Philly.
9. Packers (W 10-3 @CHI)
Offense looked bad but that wasn’t the story of the game for me. Hurdles arise with new coaching and playbooks but Mike Pettine returned as defensive coordinator and did excellent work with the improved unit given to him by general manager Brian Gutekunst. They looked like a swarm out there, something McCarthy rarely had or attempted to have while he was in charge. Defense is back in Green Bay and a more complete team makes for a more dangerous threat. It’s not a matter of when the offense gets going. It’s when and when it does, the league’s in trouble if Thursday night was any indication.
10. Bears (L 10-3 vs. GB)
When your defense holds Aaron Rodgers to ten points and you lose, all eyes turn to your offense. Mitch lost them this game. Hope it doesn’t cost them in the future. Also probably shouldn’t be giving Mitch the ball 45 times a game.
11. Ravens (W 59-10 @MIA)
If you started the entire Ravens offense in fantasy, you probably won your matchup. Was very impressive but remember the context. It was against the worst team in football.
12. Chargers (W 30-24 vs. IND)
I hope Melvin Gordon wasn’t watching on Sunday. The offense didn’t look serviceable without him; it looked great, running on all cylinders. Still, they blew a sizable lead. Would have liked to have seen them put up a more dominant performance.
13. Titans (W 43-13 @CLE)
Speaking of dominant performances, the Titans are outmatched on paper against Cleveland in every category except two: secondary and coach. Those two were the difference on Sunday. Well-coached teams beat bad-coached teams. #footballrules
14. Panthers (L 30-27 vs. LAR)
Christian McCaffrey put up one of my top-five performances of the week. That is one dangerous man. Meanwhile, Cam’s best days are behind him and you have to wonder if trigger fingers are getting itchy for a new franchise keeper.
15. Seahawks (W 21-20 vs. CIN)
Jadeveon Clowney looked good in a Seahawks uniform. It’s a shame that offensive line is still unsteady. They might want to think about doing something about it sometime. Maybe give the franchise quarterback the ball occasionally.
16. Falcons (L 28-12 @MIN)
Atlanta has a great offense but will struggle when they play more complete teams. Minnesota is a better team because they have a defense. Atlanta has struggled to develop defensive continuity due to injury. The clock is ticking on Dan Quinn. If there aren’t improvements with the defense this year, injuries or not, he should be let go.
17. Colts (L 30-24 @LAC)
Just because Andrew Luck is gone doesn’t mean the Colts season is over, even Colts fans think it is. They are a well-coached team and well-coached teams generally last until the end. Had Vinatieri not left seven points off the board, Indy would have nailed a huge road win against one of the best teams in the AFC with a backup quarterback. Teams and fans alike would be wise not to overlook them.
18. Bengals (L 21-20 @SEA)
Your 2019 passing leader through week one is…Andy Dalton? He threw for 418 yards, a career-high? Hmm.
19. Redskins (L 32-27 @PHI)
I told you not to underestimate Washington’s defense (I know the preview isn’t up yet. My publishing schedule got messed up. Sorry.) and they came to play Sunday. Washington was up 17-0 on the road against Philly. Then their coach showed up.
Jay Gruden is the definition of mediocrity and should have been fired two years ago. He should have been fired Monday morning after putting a healthy Adrian Peterson on the inactive list, a move that caused immediate karma for Gruden when Guice injured his other knee mid-game. Guice’s future in the league is now dismal at best, a player never capable of getting healthy and Washington has likely pissed (has pissed off everyone else in the locker room, including Trent Williams) the only man who wants to carry the football for them. Excellent asset management. Probably why the team is in Washington. It’s par for the course.
20. 49ers (W 31-17 @TB)
Jimmy Garroppolo has issues with his throwing mechanics. He was paid an exorbitant amount of money and made a franchise quarterback before he was truly groomed for the position. San Francisco has a promising young core and a great coach (the Shanahan system is a proven philosophy) but, similar to Chicago, can only go as far as their quarterback allows.
21. Steelers (L 33-3 @NE)
The Steelers’ coaching staff had months to plan for this game and this is what they came up with. A sweep on third and one, five wide on 4th and one and a field goal on the goal line. Teams that do those three things don’t win. The whole coaching staff should have been axed after last year and they’re only giving Steelers Nation more ammunition. Not one facet of the team looked ready on Sunday night.
22. Bills (W 17-16 @NYJ)
Buffalo was outplayed for three quarters and their offense was running on fumes. The fourth quarter came around and suddenly there was fuel. Do not overlook the Bills defense. This game should have been a blowout but the unit kept them in it. Josh Allen is mediocre (who could have saw that coming) but that defense is anything but.
23. Lions (T 27-27 @ARI)
The Detroit Lions were performing. It was unbelievable. The Detroit Lions were winning a game they should have been winning handedly, though not with much help from Kerryon Johnson (RIP, fantasy teams). An 18-point lead in the fourth quarter would surely be enough.
It wasn’t. Detroit squandered the lead, went to overtime and tied with a team they had outmuscled for three quarters and change. A must-win for Detroit, they couldn’t help but go full Lions. That’s why the Lions are the Lions. They take any potential opportunity and squander it. Matt Stafford’s never gonna win a playoff game, is he?
24. Jaguars (L 40-26 vs. KC)
At some point, the real Jacksonville Jaguars need to stand up. A team this stacked on defense shouldn’t be giving up 40 at home to Kansas City. Kansas City is an elite offense, don’t get me wrong, but Jacksonville has so much talent on defense. They should be able to do better than that. First rounders and established veterans all over the defensive line, linebacker corps and defensive backs. The reason the team continues to fall short is because of poor coaching. Jacksonville’s had poor coaching for a long time, even when they won the division in 2017. Marrone’s cowardice blew a ten-point fourth quarter lead in Foxborough and the team hasn’t recovered since. They need new leadership and with new signee Nick Foles potentially missing the year with injury, now would be the time to do it.
25. Raiders (W 24-16 vs. DEN)
Despite all of the drama and losing their best player days before their opener, Oakland came out and…played a good football game? Wow. Truly caught off guard by this one. The Jon Gruden contract is an ugly behemoth and bar the guy winning multiple Super Bowls during his tenure, is a loss for the organization. However, for the team to perform like that through all the scrutiny and press coverage was inspiring. Josh Jacobs looked like a first rounder for the first time in his career and the Raiders gave up no sacks against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Give credit where credit is due.
26. Browns (L 43-13 vs. TEN)
Cleveland had the better quarterback, receivers, running backs, offensive line, defensive line and home field advantage.
They lost by 30.
Even when all the cards are in their favor, the Factory of Sadness spurts out more glorious content for family and friends everywhere. Cleveland looked like a team coached by a guy overwhelmed by the moment. Refball was alive and well. Cleveland better get on track fast or this season will eclipse the 0-16 Browns for the most Browns season in Browns history.
27. Jets (L 17-16 vs. BUF)
The Jets commanded this game for three quarters. They had four takeaways in the first half and the defense scored a pick-six and a safety.
They also missed an XP and a field goal. Had they not, they likely would have won. Still, the Jets defense put up an excellent performance and the Jets reverted to typical Jets and buttfumbled a win.
28. Cardinals (T 27-27 vs. DET)
The revolutionary Kliff Kingsbury and prodigal son Kyler Murray were getting stomped on by Detroit. 58 yards of offense in the first half and 100 after three. They were who we thought they were. Until they weren’t.
Arizona mounted an 18-point fourth quarter comeback to push the game to overtime, where the teams would trade field goals before time expired, rendering the match a draw. Arizona had stolen a tie in a game they had every right to lose.
29. Giants (L 35-17 @DAL)
The Giants looked great on their first drive. Not so much the rest of the way.
30. Buccaneers (L 31-17 vs. SF)
Bruce Arians might have come to clean up Tampa Bay but first he’ll have to deal with Famous Jameis. Two pick sixes on Sunday were the difference.
31. Broncos (L 24-16 @OAK)
Was weird seeing Joe Flacco in another uniform. Offense was very bland against below average competition and defense was bad against one of the worst offenses in football last year. At one point in the game, ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore said, “Carr to throw. Why wouldn’t he?” A team with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the edges didn’t have any pressure, recording zero sacks. Through one week, looks like Matt Nagy deserves more credit for the Bears defense than Vic Fangio does.
32. Dolphins (L 59-10 vs. BAL)
The Dolphins gave up 59 points.
They weren’t just the worst team on Sunday. They were the worst-coached team on Sunday. Maybe Flores should spend less time on the playlists at his practices and more time on the practices.