Week 1 has come and gone, and what a week it was. An overtime Thursday night game between two AFC powerhouses, a six touchdown performance by Drew Brees, an offensive explosion by the defensive minded Ravens, a nail-biter on Sunday night and two near upsets on Monday night.
If week one is any indication, the 2009 NFL season is going to be one to remember.
*Teams ranking from previous week in ( ).
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (1)
The Steelers defense showed why it was number one in the league last season, but they will be without Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu for three to six weeks due to a knee injury.
As for the offense, they showed they are capable of winning games even if they have to throw it over 40 times. Straight up, this team is dominant on both sides of the ball and will contend for their NFL record seventh Super Bowl title.
2. New England Patriots (2)
What an odd performance by the Pats. For the first 56 minutes they looked like an average football team for the most part. Then in the final four minutes they looked like the Patriots we’re all accustomed to.
In all honesty though, they had no business winning that game. There is no doubt they have the potential to be the best team in the league, but until the Steelers slip up, the Pats remain No. 2.
3. San Diego Chargers (3)
The Chargers avoided a first week upset with a late comeback win against the Raiders. San Diego is notorious for getting off to slow starts, but once this team gets going they are one of the most talented teams in football.
They should remain near the top of the rankings all season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (7)
The Eagles put up 38 points on a decent Panthers defense, but their leading passer only threw for 79 yards and their leading rusher only ran for 64 yards. The Eagles defense and special teams accounted for two of their five touchdowns.
However the biggest story of this game is the injury to Donovan McNabb. McNabb cracked a few ribs, and despite head coach Andy Reid saying there is a possibility McNabb will play in week two, there is a chance he will be out for at least a couple weeks.
5. Green Bay Packers (5)
The switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense looks to be just what the Packers needed. Their defense played extremely well overall and had four interceptions, two of which were nearly returned for scores.
If they can find a way to stay healthy, something they did not accomplish last season, they have a legitimate chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
6. Atlanta Falcons (4)
Michael Turner did not play like most thought he would, but Matt Ryan did what he does best, and that’s play solid football and win. It’s hard to believe he is only one game removed from being a rookie because he looks like a seasoned veteran every time he takes the field.
The addition of TE Tony Gonzalez is going to pay huge dividends for this team. Their defense is still suspect, but I believe this is still a top team in the NFC.
7. New York Giants (8)
There was nothing special about the Giants performance, but a win is a win.
Eli Manning played well and young wideouts Steve Smith and Mario Manningham look like they could be solid options in replacing Plaxico Burress. The ground game wasn’t really there but that’s in part to the solid D of the Redskins.
Nothing flashy about the Giants, but there is no reason to believe they won’t be a legitimate NFC contender.
8. Baltimore Ravens (6)
Despite playing against a poor defense, the Ravens looked good in their first game. Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards and three scores and RB Ray Rice carried 19 times for 108 yards.
Giving up 24 points to the Chiefs, who were without QB Matt Cassel, is a bit of a concern. Nonetheless, I still think the Ravens can be a legitimate contender.
9. Minnesota Vikings (10)
Adrian Peterson is hands down the best running back in the NFL. The Browns did a nice job containing him in the first half, but Peterson finished with 180 rushing yards and three scores.
Brett Favre only threw for 110 yards, but with a solid defense and stellar running game, Favre will not be asked to do more than he has to. Despite Peterson’s performance I stand behind my prediction that they will not have a very successful season. For now though, they do crack the top 10.
10. Dallas Cowboys (16)
I must admit Dallas really impressed me. Their defense wasn’t great but Tony Romo and the offense were clicking. Romo threw for 353 yards and three scores.
Many people weren’t sure how they would play without Terrell Owens, but it appears that the Cowboy wideouts are more than willing to answer the call. If their defense can improve, they may go farther than most people think.
11. New Orleans Saints (13)
Drew Brees and the Saints offense picked up where it left off. Unfortunately for them, so did their defense. Nonetheless, Brees threw four touchdowns in the first half and six for the game.
However, beating the Lions is nothing special and giving up 27 points to them is not acceptable.
Jeremy Shockey did score two touchdowns, (two more than he scored all of last season) which just makes the Saints that much scarier on offense. If this team can ever play some decent D, they could be elite.
12. Indianapolis Colts (12)
No. 2 WR Anthony Gonzalez left the game with an injury. That could prove costly for the Colts, but with star pass catchers Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning still has plenty of weapons.
Beating the Jaguars isn’t overly impressive but the Colts always seem to find a way to win and can be as dangerous as anyone if they make the postseason.
13. Tennessee Titans (14)
Despite losing, the Titans still played extremely well. Two failed field goals in the first half did them in. Nonetheless, the way they hung in with the defending Super Bowl Champions on the road was very remarkable.
The defense is still dominant and the running game will improve. It’s hard to say a team that went 13-3 could be a sleeper the following year, but that’s the case with Tennessee. Rookie WR Kenny Britt had an impressive debut with four catches for 85 yards.
14. New York Jets (21)
The Jets were one of the most impressive teams in week one. Their defense pitched a shutout against a very good Texans offense. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez played extremely well, and Thomas Jones ran for over 100 yards and two scores.
It’s only been one week, but the Jets may be for real. I’m not sure they can compete with the Patriots, but a wildcard berth is a possibility.
15. Seattle Seahawks (18)
Seattle is another team that impressed me. I know the Rams are terrible, but aside from their running game, the Seahawks have a very solid offense now that their receivers are mostly healthy.
If their defense can hold their own, they could definitely surprise some people and win the NFC West.
16. Houston Texans (11)
I was extremely disappointed in the Texans. I picked them to win their first division title this year, and though I am not jumping off the bandwagon yet, they better turn things around in a hurry.
They ran for under 40 yards and barely reached 200 yards of total offense. It doesn’t get any easier for them next week however, as they play the Titans.
17. Arizona Cardinals (9)
I won’t say the Cardinals are going to become the Cardinals we are all accustomed to, but I will say I believe they will be the mediocre team that finished 9-7 last year.
There is no doubt their offense can score, but their defense truly is not that great and they still lack a reliable running game. And there is always the possibility Kurt Warner will get hurt or that his age will catch up to him for a three or four game stretch.
The curse of the Super Bowl loser is likely to strike again, as the Seahawks will challenge the Cards for the division.
18. Buffalo Bills (19)
Ever since the signing of Terrell Owens, I have loved this team. I know they have been 7-9 three years in a row, but I believe this team can finally make the playoffs.
With that said, they have no shot at the playoffs if they can’t hold an 11-point lead in the final four minutes of a game. Fred Jackson filled in nicely for the suspended Marshawn Lynch.
We’ll find out if this team is for real depending on how well they bounce back from an extremely tough loss.
19. Chicago Bears (15)
Chicago nearly stole a game in their week one effort against the Packers, but were unable to overcome a career-high four interceptions from QB Jay Cutler.
Devin Hester had a nice game but it’s clear the Bears are going to have to rely on sophomore RB Matt Forte. The Bears defense looked excellent, but star LB Brian Urlacher missed the second half with a wrist injury and has reportedly had season ending surgery.
The Bears have some talent but with the lack of depth at wide receiver and the loss of Urlacher, they are likely looking at a third place finish in the NFC North.
20. San Francisco 49ers (31)
Even though I don’t think the Cardinals are very good, going into Arizona and beating them is still impressive. I am not sold on the 49ers, mostly because beyond Frank Gore I just don’t think they have a whole lot on offense.
The defense is decent and may keep them in a lot of games. I don’t think they have a shot at the playoffs, but if that’s the Cardinal team we’re going to see week in and week out, anyone outside of St. Louis could take home the NFC West.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (26)
Maurice Jones-Drew will have to carry the load all season for this team, and as good as he is, he won’t be able to do it. He’s never been the feature back and with a mediocre quarterback and lack of talent at the other skilled positions, teams will stack the box against MJD and the Jags will be in for a long season.
Their defense kept them in this game but they are going to have to score more than 12 points a game if they want any chance at the division title.
22. Carolina Panthers(17)
Don’t worry, DeAngelo Williams owners, your star running back will still have a monster season. However, Steve Smith owners may want to look elsewhere. He’s still a great receiver but I believe Jake Delhomme will be benched in the near future, which will hurt Smith’s value.
The Panthers are a decent team on both sides of the ball, but they play in a tough division and I just don’t see them winning more than seven or eight games. And oh yes, seven turnovers a game is not going to get the job done.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)
The Bucs played far better than the final score indicated. They were right in the game with the Cowboys until early in the fourth quarter.
I still think it could be a rough year for Tampa, but Cadillac Williams ran for 97 yards on only 13 carries and WR Michael Clayton hauled in five catches for 93 yards. Nonetheless, this team just doesn’t have the talent level of the rest of the division.
24. Washington Redskins (23)
The Redskins are a fairly talented team and would compete for a division title in most divisions. Unfortunately for them, their own division is not one of them.
The other three teams they play with are far superior and finishing the season at 8-8 would be something to be proud of.
25. Miami Dolphins (24)
The Dolphins were the most improved team in the league last season, going from one win to 11. However I predicted they would suffer a set back this season and though it’s only been one week, it appears I might actually have gotten something right for once.
They couldn’t run the ball and their passing game was average at best. I just can’t see this team being overly successful this year.
26. Oakland Raiders (27)
The Raiders hung tough with the Chargers. If they can get that kind of defensive performance every week, they will be a competitive team.
They most likely will not make the playoffs, but their division as a whole is relatively weak, and if they pull off a couple upsets or the Chargers pull off a couple choke jobs, anything is possible.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (28)
Brodie Croyle played exceptionally well considering he wasn’t sure if he was even going to play until the morning of the game. Larry Johnson was never able to get going but the Chiefs battled their hearts out against a tough AFC opponent.
With a healthy Matt Cassel I think the Chiefs might be able to pull off a couple upsets this year, but it won’t be enough to compete for the playoffs.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (20)
I had high expectations for this team this year, if you can call 8-8 high expectations. With a healthy Carson Palmer I thought they would put up decent points.
However, it took them over 59 minutes to put up any points against one of the league’s worst defenses. Looks like it may be another typical, disappointing season for the Bengals.
29. Denver Broncos (30)
For those that missed it, the Broncos beat the Bengals on one of the craziest catch and runs you will see all season. Thanks to that bizarre play, the Broncos emerged victorious in one of the dullest games of the week.
Running the football will be a struggle for Denver, but Kyle Orton did play fairly well, albeit against a weak defense. I still don’t see this team winning more than about five games all year.
30. Cleveland Browns (29)
The Browns are just flat out a bad football team. I love Brady Quinn, and Braylon Edwards has great potential, but they have very little running game and almost no defense. This team is likely to have a top five pick in next year’s draft.
31. St. Louis Rams (25)
Steven Jackson should still have a nice year for fantasy owners, but beyond that there is nothing positive about the Rams. Their offense is extremely weak and their defense is just as bad.
It’s hard to go backwards after a 2-14 season, but this team could pull it off. Their only saving grace is they play in a relatively weak division.
32. Detroit Lions (32)
Giving up 45 points is not good. However the Lions did put up 27 of their own. They were forced to throw most of the game, mostly nullifying solid RB Kevin Smith.
This team is still the worst team in the league for now, but at least it appears they will be somewhat competitive.