NFL Power Rankings: Detroit Lions and Biggest Movers After Week 1
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The Detroit Lions made the biggest leap in the Week 2 NFL power rankings, but they weren’t the only team moving up and down the list.
Philadelphia also surprised a lot of people in Week 1 with an impressive road victory over the defending NFC East Division champs. Is that a signal of a power shift in the division, or will teams catch on to Kelly’s plan and adjust accordingly?
Another team on the rise was the New Orleans Saints, a group I rated highly in my pre-Week 1 rankings. The Saints beat one of the top teams in the NFC, proving once again that their offensive prowess and bend-but-don’t-break defense can win football games.
But just how high did these three teams and others climb and how far did losing teams drop? Read on and you’ll get a breakdown of each steam’s standing in this week’s list.
*Teams making the biggest move are discussed in greater detail and highlighted by bold and italicized text. Also, change in position is annotated in [brackets] after each team's record.
1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) [N/A]
Colin Kaepernick proved he can beat the Green Bay Packers defense with his arm as well as his legs in Week 1. Anquan Boldin looked unstoppable, and so did his team in its opening-week win over the Pack.
2. Denver Broncos (1-0) [+1]
Peyton Manning is 37 years old and still breaking records. The additions of Julius Thomas and Wes Welker don’t bode well for the rest of the AFC this season. Denver's defense was also surprisingly stout even without Von Miller rushing the passer.
3. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) [-1]
The Seattle Seahawks came as advertised in Week 1. Their dominant defense kept Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers bottled up to keep it close. Russell Wilson stepped in and did the rest.
4. New England Patriots (1-0) [N/A]
An early scare to Buffalo and an injury to Shane Vereen make the Pats a team potentially on the slide next week. We’ll hold off projecting any movement before teams prove they can get the better of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
5. Green Bay Packers (0-1) [+1]
Even in a loss, the Green Bay Packers answered some questions in Week 1 against San Francisco. Still, not being able to run the ball effectively may hurt them again in the playoffs—they’ll make it that far, at least.
6. New Orleans Saints (1-0) [+6]
Sean Payton’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time for the New Orleans Saints. They responded in a big way with a momentum-building win over divisional rival Atlanta in Week 1.
Many might not have put as much stock as I have in the Saints in the early going, but after their showing against the Falcons, I’m even more on board. Beating Atlanta at home was a great start to regaining their championship form.
Despite their success, a better effort rushing and stopping the run will be needed if they have any real hopes of contending in a strong NFC. Their 2.8 yards per carry won’t get it done when Drew Brees meets the stronger pass rushes he’ll face.
7. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) [-4]
It’s much too soon to get down on the Atlanta Falcons. Last year, they dropped a game to the Saints in New Orleans and still won 13 games. Matt Ryan and his offense will make them contend in every game.
8. Houston Texans (1-0) [-1]
Matt Schaub proved he can still win games with his arm when the Arian Foster and Ben Tate train fails to leave the station. Houston’s highly touted front seven could do well for itself by being more disruptive in the backfield.
9. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) [-1]
It wasn’t pretty, but the Indianapolis Colts got some heroics by former No. 1 pick Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing upset at home. Establishing the run was important this year and they achieved that, albeit against a questionable Raiders defense.
10. Chicago Bears (1-0) [+3]
Jay Cutler, the oft-sacked and on-the-run quarterback everyone has come to revere, wasn’t sacked once against a competent Cincinnati Bengals pass defense. A.J. Green had his way with Chicago’s secondary, but there’s not much anyone can do about stopping him when he’s locked in.
11. Detroit Lions (1-0) [+13]
Until just before halftime, it felt like we were watching a repeat of 2012. Adrian Peterson gashed the Detroit Lions for a 78-yard touchdown and got into the end zone again early in the second quarter. The Lions were making some of the same mistakes that allowed the Minnesota Vikings to sweep them—although not outplay them—a season ago.
The second half told the tale about the changes this team has made this season. Despite the mistakes, the Lions utilized new acquisition Reggie Bush to make up for their miscues and earn a victory that they should have won instead of giving it away like they would have last year.
Their talented defensive front seven stepped up big, with exception to the 78-yarder, to spark hope that this Lions team may actually have the ability to win on both sides of the ball and be a competitive team again in 2013.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) [-2]
It’s time to give Giovani Bernard a chance. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was highly ineffective against the Bears, and the Bengals’ rushing game suffered as a result. Establishing that second dimension is vital for the Bengals to get the balance they need to contend against the tough defenses in the AFC North.
13. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) [+4]
DeMarco Murray stayed healthy all game and compiled a healthy 4.3 yards per carry and the Dallas Cowboys rolled in their new offense. Defensively, they bent but didn’t break, forcing six total turnovers to slow Eli Manning’s assault. New York was playing from behind, but there’s no excuse for giving up 500 yards of total offense.
14. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) [-5]
The Baltimore Ravens will find their running game eventually, but maybe not this week against Cleveland. Without it, Joe Flacco struggled to replicate his postseason success against the Broncos. There are some real concerns about this team’s secondary and leadership, too.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) [+12]
Chip Kelly passed his first test as an NFL head coach by knocking off a divisional rival and playoff team from a season ago. His high-tempo offense exploded in the first half with an alarmingly high 53 plays and never looked back.
Mike Vick looked rejuvenated and LeSean “Shady” McCoy earned his moniker by making defenders miss at every turn. DeSean Jackson also benefited from the new, quick approach, catching seven balls for 104 yards and a score.
The only question that remains is not if Kelly’s system will work in the NFL; it’s whether or not his players can hold up executing it for a full 16-game season.
16. Washington Redskins (0-1) [-5]
Positives for the Washington Redskins after Week 1 include Robert Griffin III getting better as he sees more action and the team not having to play the high-tempo Eagles offense every week. Leonard Hankerson was a pleasant surprise, but we’ll see if RGIII throws 49 passes in a game again—ever.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) [-1]
It’s hard to gauge the Kansas City Chiefs after Week 1. On one hand, they dominated another football team. On the other, it was the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.
18. New York Giants (0-1) [-3]
You can’t win many games when you turn the ball over six times. Running back is a definite problem area moving forward. And Eli Manning can’t throw for 450 yards every week, can he? Even if he did, would you want him to?
19. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) [-5]
Adrian Peterson’s first rush of the 2013 season looked much like what we expected—a 78-yard explosion for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. The rest of the game, though, was a glaring example of how limited the Vikings are with Christian Ponder at quarterback.
20. St. Louis Rams (1-0) [-2]
The St. Louis Rams look like a slightly better team than the Arizona Cardinals after one week. Sam Bradford really took some positive steps forward leading his team back from an 11-point deficit, though. Also, the Tennessee Titans look mighty foolish for keeping Jared Cook bottled up.
21. Miami Dolphins (1-0) [+1]
The Cleveland Browns don’t have a poor offensive line. Cameron Wake and his defensive teammates didn’t seem to notice while compiling six sacks and a plethora of pressures on Brandon Weeden in Week 1. If Ryan Tannehill can continue to stay poised in the pocket and find receivers, this Dolphins team could surprise in the AFC East this year.
22. Carolina Panthers (0-1) [+1]
What good is a new and fresh stout defense if your star quarterback lacks weapons to beat the other top defenses in the league? Cam Newton needs help; DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith aren’t enough and are both on the wrong side of 30.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) [-5]
Losing center Maurkice Pouncey with a knee injury was a devastating blow for a team already with offensive line issues. The Pittsburgh defense will keep the Steelers in games, but it doesn’t look good for them offensively with a porous unit upfront and an inability to run the ball.
24. Tennessee Titans (1-0) [+4]
Despite their visible defensive improvement this offseason, the Titans offense has some work to do. Luckily, it won’t have to see Pittsburgh’s defense again this season. Chris Johnson thanks the divisional alignment gods.
25. Cleveland Browns (0-1) [-5]
That wasn’t what everyone was expecting after a hopeful offseason. Norv Turner abandoned Trent Richardson and the running game in the second half, and Cleveland’s pass rush couldn’t make up for its poor secondary depth.
26. San Diego Chargers (0-1) [-1]
If I told you the San Diego Chargers blew a 21-point lead in the second half at home to start their season, would you be surprised? Their defense looked great, but their inability to sustain drives kept them on the field way too long and they wore out down the stretch.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) [-5]
For whatever reason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to play below their talent level. It’s looking more and more like Josh Freeman will be shown the door after his contract expires this summer.
28. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) [-2]
Despite the close loss, the Arizona Cardinals appear to be a much better team offensively with Carson Palmer behind center. Their lack of an effective running game will make it hard to win games, though, especially in the NFC West.
29. Buffalo Bills (0-1) [N/A]
If coach Doug Marrone can get C.J. Spiller rolling, the Buffalo Bills might be in business. Still, their rush defense is poor, and there are a lot of questions on their offensive line.
30. New York Jets (1-0) [N/A]
Thank Lavonte David, New York Jets fans. Many were predicting a very down year for the other New York team, and I still am, because bad teams find ways to lose close games. Tampa Bay kicked what appeared to be the game-winning field goal with 34 seconds left. New York tried really hard to lose, but the Bucs just wouldn’t allow it.
31. Oakland Raiders (0-1) [N/A]
Terrelle Pryor gives the Oakland Raiders immediately more legitimacy than they had a week ago. Now, we’ll see whether or not he can build on a strong start in Week 1 to produce results on the win-loss column.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) [N/A]
The Jacksonville “Baguars” are back. Kansas City completely outclassed the Blaine Gabbert-led Jags in all phases of the game. Maurice Jones-Drew is probably ecstatic he’ll be a free agent this summer.
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