NFL Power Rankings: Best and Worst in the NFL after Week 1

Aaron F. SteinbergContributor IISeptember 11, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens returns a interception for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Week 1 brought us some surprises—the Redskins win, the Eagles performance and Baltimore’s point-total—but it’s important to remember these are power rankings, taking into account each team’s performance and figuring out who’s the best, while also realizing it’s only been one week. We can’t discount what we know about these teams from last season’s results and their changes in the offseason.

On the other side of the rankings, a few teams are vying for the last spots and that number one pick in the 2013 draft.

Here are the complete power rankings after Week 1’s close.

1. 49ers

Yesterday, I said the Patriots were the best team in the league.  Today, I’m flip-flopping. 

First, the Niners beat Green Bay.  They held the Packers to 22 points and had a pick on Aaron Rodgers, who only threw six all of last year.  Frank Gore continues to be a beast, running for 112 yards and 1 TD.  Alex Smith gets a lot of flack, and he did get sacked four times, but he went 20 for 26 with 2 TDs.  Which reminds me, what are people looking for out of him?  No, he’s not Tom Brady, but remember when 12 TD and 11 INT Trent Dilfer won the 2000 Superbowl with the Ravens and their punishing defense?  Alex Smith can lead the Niners to a Superbowl.

Second, Randy Moss played well with 47 yards and a TD.  This certainly helps the Niners’ receiving core catch up to the Patriots.

2. Patriots

The Patriots smoked the Titans.  Tom Brady had 236 yards and 2 TDs and Stephen Ridley looked fantastic, running for 125 yards and a touchdown.  The Pats still have their star TEs in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, both of whom found the endzone in Week 1. 

Additionally, New England’s defense had an interception and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.

New England’s offense is still likely better than that of Alex Smith and the 49ers, but I don’t think they would be able to score enough points against the Niners’ defense to make it count.

3. Ravens

Joe Flacco got to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons in the NFL and he picked up right where he left off against the Bengals.  He operated the Ravens’ new no-huddle attack as if he had been running it for years and finished with 299 yards and 2 TDs.  The Ravens beat the Bengals 44-13 in a blowout.

The Ravens defense is still as stacked as ever.  Without last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, Baltimore sacked Bengals QB Andy Dalton four times.  Ed Reed also had a pick-six and Ray Lewis forced a fumble.

Harbaugh said Flacco is “scary good,” but it seems like that’s actually the Ravens as a whole.  They are clearly among the NFL’s elite.

4. Texans

Houston handled Miami with ease.  Schaub had a solid 266 with 1 TD.  Arian Foster and Andre Johnson continue to be ridiculously good, combining for 3 TDs.  The Texans’ defense continued their dominance from last season, holding the Dolphins to a mere 275 total yards.

5. Packers

They lost to the Niners, but the Niners are the best team in the league and it’s just one game.  Aaron Rodgers had 303 yards, 2 TDs, and one pick. For anyone without the hyped-up expectations of Rodgers, it was a solid game.  This is still the team that went 15-1 last year.

6. Bears

Chicago dominated the Colts at home.  They had a rough streak at the end of last year with Cutler out and I think they’re a better team than their finish indicated.  Cutler looked good with 333 yards, 2 TDs, and one interception.  Forte is still a strong presence, and Brandon Marshall proved to be a great acquisition in the offseason, catching nine balls for 119 yards and one touchdown.  The Bears' defense was middle of the pack last year, but they looked great against the Colts as Tim Jennings and Chris Conte had some highlight reel interceptions on Andrew Luck.  The Bears look great if they can stay healthy.

7. Falcons

The Matt Ryan three-TD show highlighted the Falcons' Week 1 as Atlanta blew out the Chiefs.  Falcons receiver Julio Jones had a stellar game, posting 108 yards and 2 TDs.  Atlanta had a solid 2011 and an incredible 2010 regular season.  They could use some help from Michael Turner—who only had 11 carries and 32 yards—but with or without a strong ground game the Falcons should still have a big year.

8. Broncos

Peyton Manning is still incredible as evidenced by Denver beating the Steelers, who had the best defense in the league last year.  The Broncos made it to the playoffs with Tim Tebow at the helm last season.  Peyton Manning is clearly a better player and the Broncos are a top NFL team.

9. Cowboys

They didn’t look amazing in Week 1, but they beat the Giants who came into the season as the NFC East’s best team.  Tony Romo threw for 307 yards with three TDs and one pick.  Ogletree seems like an emerging presence, giving Romo another big target alongside Witten, Austin and Bryant.

10. Redskins

RG3! RG3!  The Skins and Robert Griffin III looked legitimate in Week 1, handing the talented Saints an unexpected loss.  RG3 is a rookie, so it’s not completely clear if the Skins can count on him week in and week out just yet, but it really looks like they are headed in a positive direction.

11. Saints

The Saints lost to the Redskins, yes, but it’s just one game.  Future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees still leads a high-powered offense, and Lance Moore had a big game with 120 yards and 1 TD.  Jimmy Graham is also incredibly difficult to stop and he had two circus catches over the Skins' secondary.

12. Giants

The Giants lost to the Cowboys, but they are the defending Superbowl champions and retain basically the same team.  It just seems like everyone else has gotten better.  New York, however, is no stranger to mediocre regular seasons followed by epic post-seasons.

13. Jets

The Jets blew away the Bills, and Sanchez looked great with 266 yards, three TD passes and only one pick.  Shonn Greene is a monster back, and followed up his 1,000 yard 2011 with 94 yards and a TD in Week 1. Rookie Stephen Hill looks like a future star at receiver.  Mark Sanchez, however, can be inconsistent and I don’t think the Jets will keep it up.

14. Chargers

The Chargers beat Oakland on Monday night, which is a win, literally and metaphorically.  But they didn’t have any great games from anyone on offense.  However, the defense made nine tackles for a loss and sacked Carson Palmer three times.

15. Steelers

Pittsburgh lost to the Broncos, but Denver is a legitimate contender.  The Steelers had the best defense in the league last year, and they need to get back to it to hold the future match-ups to less than 31 points.  They could also use a receiver or running back with better than 74 yards and a rebuild at the offensive line.  I’m not even convinced they’re this high, but the rest of my options aren’t great.

16. Lions

The Lions beat the Rams in Week 1.  Stafford threw for 355 yards, but he had three interceptions.  Stafford hasn’t really established himself as anything more than an average QB, but the Lions still have Calvin Johnson who can catch anything.  Kevin Smith had a good game with 62 yards on the ground and 29 in the air with a TD each way.

17. Eagles

The Eagles barely beat the Browns, and Vick had four picks.  However, they did win, and Philadelphia’s defense had four interceptions of their own.

18. Cardinals

The Cards beat the Seahawks, but the Seahawks have QB troubles.  The Cardinals do have Larry Fitzgerald going for them, which is nice, but John Skelton and Kevin Kolb need to be able to throw it to him.

19. Vikings

Minnesota beat the Jaguars in overtime thanks to rookie Blair Walsh’s perfect 55-yard field goal to send it into OT and a 38-yarder to win it.  Ponder looked good with 270 yards.  Adrian Peterson had 84 yards and two scores.  Still, the Vikings are far from an elite squad.

20. Bucs

Tampa Bay beat Carolina in a low-scoring affair.  Bright spot: rookie RB Doug Martin had 95 yards, averaging four yards a carry in his first NFL game.

21. Jaguars

Maurice Jones-Drew is back from his holdout, but didn’t play that well.  Blaine Gabbert did look solid, with 260 yards and 2 TDs.  The Jags lost to the Vikings, but it could have easily gone the other way.

22. Bengals

Cincinnati got crushed by the Ravens. But the Ravens, by my count at least, are the third best team in the NFL.  Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis did look good with 91 yards and a TD.

23. Titans

The Titans were beat badly by the Patriots and Jake Locker had a rough day, getting sacked twice, picked off once and fumbling to the Pats for a defensive TD.  The good news is the Patriots are among the NFL’s elite.  The bad news is the Titans still got smoked.

24. Rams

The Rams only lost to the Lions by four, and they lost because Stafford threw a touchdown to Kevin Smith with 10 seconds left.  However, it was the Rams offense that couldn’t take enough time off the clock and end the game.

25. Seahawks

The Seahawks only lost to the Cardinals by four, but they have to figure things out at QB.  Rookie QB Russell Wilson clearly had trouble seeing over the line to find an open receiver and he will most likely struggle this year.  The Seahawks may have made a mistake not starting Matt Flynn.  This also shows the oddity that is the NFL preseason.  Wilson won the starting job because of his fantastic numbers, but now that seems to mean very little.

26. Panthers

Perhaps the beginnings of a sophomore slump for Newton?  Carolina had over 300 yards but very few points and they lost to the unimpressive Bucs.

27. Raiders

Oakland continued its woes from last season with a Monday Night Football loss to the Chargers.  McFadden didn’t have much production on the ground, but had 86 receiving yards.  The most entertaining part of the game, however, had to be Oakland’s three botched punts after Pro Bowler Jon Condo was injured.  This could indicate the Raiders may have won without that extremely unusual occurrence, or that they are just doomed.

28. Chiefs

Kansas City lost to the powerhouse Falcons.  They had more yards than Atlanta—393 to 376—and had the ball longer, and still lost badly.  That’s not a good sign.  On the other hand, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis could be a great 1-2 running back combo, and S Eric Berry has the makings of a star defender. 

29. Bills

Buffalo lost badly to the Jets, yes.  But we know from last year that Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable of playing well and C.J. Spiller opened the season with a monster game, rushing for 169 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown.  Their potential and point scoring keeps them out of the bottom three.

30. Browns

The Browns barely lost to a Philly team that looked awful, and Brandon Weeden did not look anything close to the answer, completing 12 passes on 35 attempts, totaling 118 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.

31. Colts

The Colts lost to the Bears by a lot, but they are better than the Dolphins.  Andrew Luck had a mediocre debut, which would have looked far more normal if RG3 wasn’t a freak.  By the end of the year, he will be on his way to being a great QB.  Donald Brown is really powerful at running back, and Reggie Wayne still has a lot of game, catching nine balls for 135 yards. 

The Colts are bad, but not the league’s worst team.

32. Dolphins

Miami is the league's worst team.  They got beat badly by the Texans, and they have no elite players at any offensive position.  Rookie Ryan Tannehill threw for 219 yards with no TDs and three interceptions.  Although Reggie Bush is good, he still can’t play as a starting back in the NFL.

I don’t think the Dolphins can beat anyone this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 0-16.