Life is good. NFL football is finally back—and Week 1 was unsurprisingly full of surprises.
Rookie quarterbacks Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel—players most NFL analysts believed would need time to develop before they would be ready to win in the NFL—both played well. Manuel threw two touchdowns in a losing cause, while Smith led his team to an improbable victory.
The defending Super Bowl champs were humbled by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to get the season started on Thursday night. Baltimore was completely overrun from the second quarter until the end, losing 49-27.
Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders almost beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders might really have something with this young man, and it'll be fun watching him develop this year.
One thing that shouldn't have been a surprise was Robert Griffin III's rusty start. He was abysmal throughout most of the first half, but he looked better in the second half and fell just short of leading the Washington Redskins to a comeback win against Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles.
Here's a look at my NFL power rankings heading into Week 2, followed by a look at the teams that moved the most in Week 1.
|1||San Francisco 49ers||1-0|
|4||New England Patriots||1-0|
|5||Green Bay Packers||0-1|
|6||New Orleans Saints||1-0|
|14||St. Louis Rams||1-0|
|19||Kansas City Chiefs||1-0|
|20||New York Giants||0-1|
|21||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0-1|
|25||San Diego Chargers||0-1|
|28||New York Jets||1-0|
Before the season began, the Eagles were in the bottom half of my rankings.
After the show Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson put on in front of the nation on Monday Night Football, Philadelphia rocketed up the board and ended up at No. 10 in this week's rankings.
The Eagles are going to be difficult to contain on offense this year. Chip Kelly's frenetic playcalling is difficult to plan for, and his run-first mentality will open up big plays through the passing game all year long.
By halftime, Philly had run 53 plays for 322 yards and 21 first downs, as noted by CSN Washington, and the Redskins were helpless to stop the onslaught:
Just as impressive as the team's offensive output was the way the Eagles' defense attacked the line of scrimmage on running and passing plays. New defensive coordinator Billy Davis swarmed and confused Washington's offensive line all night long, and his players executed his plan to perfection in the first half.
This is a team that can make some noise in the NFC playoffs this year if it can stay healthy—and if Vick can continue to play turnover-free football.
The team that moved down the most in Week 1 was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who occupied a spot in my top 10 before the season began.
Not only did the Steelers get knocked off by the lowly Tennessee Titans in Week 1, but they lost three key starters to devastating injuries—center Maurkice Pouncey, inside linebacker Larry Foote and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, as noted by NFL Around The League and Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports:
From Mike Tomlin: Pouncey injured his ACL + MCL, will need surgery. LB Larry Foote ruptured his biceps. Costly loss for Steelers.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) September 8, 2013
More bad news for the Steelers: RB LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a torn ACL today.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 9, 2013
The team's offensive line was already shaky before Pouncey's injury, and it was helpless to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after he left the game. Tennessee sacked him five times and forced an interception.
Dick LeBeau's defense is going to need to carry the Steelers this year, which doesn't bode well for this team. Pittsburgh struggled to create turnovers a year ago and couldn't manage to create any in Week 1 against the Titans.
New Orleans Saints
After beating the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, the sky is the limit for the Saints. This team jumped from No. 16 all the way up to No. 6 with an eye-opening performance at home.
Drew Brees and his offense only managed to put up 24 points—4.8 points less than the average last year—but Rob Ryan's defense did a fantastic job holding Atlanta's offense in check.
Is New Orleans a top-10 team?
Head coach Sean Payton is going to have his team ready to rumble every single week, and his ability to call plays on offense is second to none.
Newly acquired outside linebacker Parys Haralson was one of three players to sack Matt Ryan, and rookie Kenny Vaccaro played well in his first NFL start.
This is a team on the rise, and nobody should be surprised if the Saints beat out the Falcons for the NFC South divisional title at the end of the year.
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