NFL Power Rankings: Underrated Squads on the Rise After Week 1 Wins
Unsurprisingly, Week 1 of the NFL gave us all kinds of surprises.
Whether those surprises were good or bad, we were all given a reminder of just how unpredictable this league can be.
With that being said, let's take a look at updated power rankings along with some teams that exceeded expectations and are trending upward.
|2.||San Francisco 49ers||1-0|
|5.||Green Bay Packers||0-1|
|6.||New England Patriots||1-0|
|9.||New Orleans Saints||1-0|
|16.||St. Louis Rams||1-0|
|18.||Kansas City Chiefs||1-0|
|20.||San Diego Chargers||0-1|
|21.||New York Giants||0-1|
|23.||New York Jets||1-0|
|26.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0-1|
Detroit Lions (No. 14)
If you take a look at the box score, it will just look like another ordinary day for Adrian Peterson: 22 touches, 111 total yards, three touchdowns.
Ho-hum. No one can stop him.
When you break it down further, though, you'll realize the reigning MVP dominated the Detroit Lions defense for about 10 seconds but was downright stifled for the rest of the game.
Peterson once again proved he is more robot than human when he took the first touch from scrimmage 78 yards to the house to put the Vikings in front. But after that, he carried the ball 17 times for 15 yards.
That's 0.88 yards per carry for one of the most dangerous running backs in NFL history.
Unsurprisingly, he said after the game that the Lions boast "one of the best defensive fronts we're going to face all year," via Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com.
With Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh basically taking up the entire line by themselves and rookie Ziggy Ansah bringing pressure on the outside, you can expect to see this kind of brick-wall performance all season—minus the 78-yard runs.
Then you have the offense.
The Lions tallied 469 total yards in the home opener, and they easily could have scored many more points if not for a botched snap and the "Megatron" rule. Reggie Bush looked perfectly suited for the high-octane offense, and the role players contributed in big ways—and gave us elite celebrations, via the team's Twitter account:
Jim Schwartz's squad was massively disappointing last season, but there is enough talent on both sides of the ball to make the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins (No. 17)
The Cleveland Browns aren't going to be mistaken for a playoff team this year (although they are tied for first in the AFC North), but a road win is a road win.
Winning away from home is impressive no matter who lines up on the opposite side of the ball, especially when your defense looks as spectacular as Miami's did in Week 1.
The Dolphins held Cleveland to just 4.0 yards per play, the fourth-worst mark of the weekend. They picked off Brandon Weeden three times. They forced two fumbles. They held supremely talented running back Trent Richardson to a meager 47 yards on 13 carries.
And perhaps the most extraordinary performance came from Cameron Wake, who put together one of the best individual shows of the week, per Pro Football Focus:
Highest pass rushing grades for edge rushers so far, Robert Quinn (+8.0), Cameron Wake (+6.1) & Aldon Smith (+4.0)— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 9, 2013
The running game is going to have to be much better, but after a shaky first half, Ryan Tannehill went 12-of-20 for 174 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions in the second half, suggesting he's in line for a crucial second-year improvement.
This squad has far more depth and far more talent than many people realize.
New York Jets (No. 23)
I'm not going to go overboard here. It was a one-point home win over a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that was done in by one of the biggest boneheaded plays of the entire 2013 season (yes, it can already be dubbed that) by Lavonte David.
Nevertheless, it's at least time to remove Rex Ryan's squad from the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.
First, it's clear the Jets have their quarterback of the future in Geno Smith, who made a little bit of history Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Geno Smith is 1st rookie QB drafted in 2nd-round or later to pass for at least 250 yards and win on Kickoff Weekend since 1970 merger.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2013
Smith had his share of forgettable plays, but he got better as the game went on. He completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 256 yards (something Mark Sanchez did only three times last season), made plays with his legs (something Sanchez did only zero times last season) and looked incredibly composed leading the Jets on a game-winning drive in the final 30 seconds.
Who's Week 1 performance was most surprising?
And it was all against an improved secondary that featured Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.
Throw in the Jets' stout front seven (Doug Martin averaged just 2.7 yards per carry), and although there will be bumps along the way with an inexperienced and thin offense, this team is undoubtedly better than most originally believed.
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