NFL Power Rankings Week 1: Teams That Will Soar After Early Dominance

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 05:  wide receiver Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter with teammate wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 against the New York Giants during the 2012 NFL season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 5, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season brought with it some intriguing games that went down to the wire, but it also provided big wins that will undoubtedly shake up the landscape of next week's power rankings.

While we saw many teams that proved to be unprepared for the start of the regular season, we also saw just as many teams firing on all cylinders that are ready to make an early surge for the Super Bowl.

Preseason NFL power rankings are just about as useless as the preseason college football Top 25, so Week 1 always shines a great deal of light onto who is for real and who's seeming to take a step back in 2012.

Let's take a look at teams who will undeniably soar in the rankings prior to Week 2's action.


Washington Redskins

We all knew that the Redskins would be a new-look team with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III at the helm, but not many people expected them to flourish like they did Sunday against the New Orleans Saints with a 40-32 victory.

The Saints, who didn't look like they took a step back after a tumultuous offseason, had to play from behind the entire game because RGIII just wouldn't cool down and couldn't be stopped by any means. When he wanted to throw it, he threw it. When the throw wasn't there, he scampered around for first downs and made our jaws collectively drop.

His weapons on offense seem to be buying into head coach Mike Shanahan's new system with their rookie star, and the hype is certainly paying off for RGIII and his 'Skins so far. 

Expect the Redskins to force their way into the Top 15 after a very strong road win in New Orleans.


New York Jets

The New York Jets had all the looks of a team going nowhere fast as they headed into the 2012 regular season, but they showed no signs of that Sunday.

In a 48-28 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills—yes, they scored 48 points, that's not a typo—they seemed to be on point in every aspect of their game. Mark Sanchez looked calm and collected, nothing like the quarterback we saw down the stretch in 2011 and in the preseason.

The run game looked solid with Shonn Greene nearly breaking the century mark and getting into the end zone, and they even utilized poster boy Tim Tebow in the run game somewhat successfully. Their defense picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times and looked explosive.

Maybe the Jets just needed ESPN's round-the-clock coverage of their training camp to conclude before they could really get rolling. Or, maybe we've been giving New York a lot of negative talk that is suddenly unwarranted.


Dallas Cowboys

Dallas is another one of those teams that gets a lot of negative talk, but much of it is just due to their unreal amount of exposure and disappointing 2011 season. They showed little of what they showcased last season in a 24-17 win against defending champion New York Giants that wasn't as close as the score indicates.

Tony Romo has been called washed up and past his prime recently, and he proved his doubters wrong in Wednesday night's NFL season opener. Romo finished 22-for-29 with 307 yards and 3 TDs. 

His receiving corps is coming together strong as well, as Dez Bryant is showing glimpses of No. 1 receiver potential and Miles Austin doesn't seem to have lost a step. On top of that, they have their own emerging star in Kevin Ogletree, who caught eight balls (including 2 TDs) in the season opener.

The run game finally seems settled with hard-nosed RB DeMarco Murray, and their defense swarmed all over Eli Manning's offense Wednesday.

Simply put, this team doesn't have very many holes, and this season could very well be the season that they finally break the barriers and make a deep playoff run.