Week One Power Rankings: Steelers Have Loose Grip On Top Spot
Week Two starts in just a few days, so here are my current rankings based on how teams played last week, in addition to where they were ranked coming out of last year.
Feel free to share your thoughts but keep in mind this is just one spectator’s opinion. I did not get to catch all of the games this week so if you feel your team was falsely represented let me know.
The run game was lousy, the passing game took forever to get going, and the defense gave up a lot of big plays. Still, to take the win in a close one from last year's best regular season team does speak volumes.
The loss of Polamalu will hurt, but the Bears don’t seem complete enough to compete with elite teams just yet.
Prediction: Pitt 2-0
Before you cry fowl for seeing a 0-1 team here, keep in mind they took the reigning champs to overtime. However, the best running team last season could do nothing against Pittsburgh’s aggressive schemes.
Collins looked more poised and comfortable than last season, but those passes need to come out more quickly if he is going to survive. They pretty much have a bye week this Sunday, as the inept Texans roll into town.
Prediction: Tenn 1-1
3. New York Giants
The running game looked solid unless you count all the flops on short yardage downs. One of the biggest RB’s behind one of the best lines? What is the problem here?
Either way that defense looked great, and having Osi back will scare most offenses. If Eli can find a reliable receiver to open up the passing game, this team can go as far as they want.
Tough test this week in Dallas, a team New York generally has issues with.
Prediction: NY 1-1
They can run, pass, blitz, and force a handful of turnovers. Is there a more complete team out there right now? The answer would have been a resounding “No!”, except that star QB McNabb is out an indefinite amount of time.
The offense struggled to score with Kevin Kolb, and I don’t see him or Garcia running the offense nearly to the effect McNabb can. They have a tough test this week as the offense of the century comes rolling into town.
I doubt Philly can match Brees point for point, so unless they get massive pressure, this could be ugly.
Prediction: Philly 1-1
The defense looked sloppy. They let surgically repaired Cadillac Williams run all over them, and created very little QB pressure as well.
The offense got going later than Wade Phillips would have liked, and only time will tell if those wideouts can perform that well against a real secondary. Luckily they have a good test this week, as New York boasts one of the best pass rushes in the game, as well as a decent secondary.
Prediction: Dallas 2-0
6. New Orleans
Even though they opened against the lowly Lions, Drew Brees has spent each week in the Bayou stating his purpose: He can pass on anyone.
He will continue that trend this week facing a suspect Philly secondary, which would have been a great matchup except that McNabb is now a spectator.
As long as his o-line gives him a few seconds, he will find an open target with his wide arsenal of deep threats. If Philly’s backup QB cannot find a rhythm, this could get ugly.
Prediction: NO 2-0
7. Green Bay
The offense that so many were praising in the preseason never seemed to find solid footing in their first test. That did not matter however, as the defense absolutely steamrolled the Bears running and passing game.
Against one of the better defenses in the league, the Pack rarely made a mistake and will have much more room to make a statement this week against a hapless Bengals squad.
Prediction: GB 2-0
Peyton Manning has another chance to prove he can be just as effective as Tom Brady with no-name receivers. Gonzalez is out and Harrison is still a free agent. That leaves Wayne on an island with fresh faces Garcon and Collie to try and fill some large shoes.
The defense can practically take a breather this week as Miami boasts as one-dimensional an offense as the Jags, without the run defense to boost it.
As Long as the new d-line can stop the run, the Colts should coast to victory.
9. New York Jets
Mark Sanchez looked impressive in his debut, but that was also against a team that looked lost and confused throughout the contest. You can bet New England will be better prepared, and has far more talent to make up for miscues.
This could be a close one, and look for the Pats to blitz the rookie until he submits. Sanchez has shown a knack for making quick reads, and that will be truly tested against one of the best defensive minds.
Prediction: NYJ 1-1
10. New England
The Pats looked very rusty throughout the game, never putting the Bills into a chokehold. They seemed so concerned with T.O. that they quite simply disregarded everyone else. What Buffalo lacked in deep threats they made up for by dumping the ball off to speedsters on underneath routes and burning the NE secondary.
The Jets can run a similar style offense, especially if Leon Washington is at full speed.
They also have a top 10 defense, so Brady will need to be his usual composed self.
Prediction: NE 2-0
Matt Ryan looked composed, and the Gonzalez trade is already paying dividends. But if they look as bad running the ball this week against Carolina, the Panthers have a weapon the Fish did not, and that is an offense.
Even if Delhomme struggles, the Falcons defense is not nearly as efficient as Philly’s, so don’t think this game is already a lock for either team.
Prediction: ATL 1-1
Brett Favre might not have suited up, as he was a mere afterthought to AP’s second half blowout. After both teams looked lost and confused for much of the first half, Adrian “all-day” Petersen took over, especially on a highlight reel run during which he tossed aside defenders to proclaim his authority as the league’s best runner.
It will only get easier for the entire team this week as they travel to Detroit.
Prediction: Minn 2-0
After firing their O-coordinator and doing practically nothing in the preseason, Trent Edwards and company came out firing against their hated rivals, and no one looked more surprised than Tom Brady. That no-huddle offense sent the defense reeling and the offense struggling to keep up.
If they can somehow maintain this until Lynch comes back, they could be the surprise of 2009.
They face a team that looked lost last week, so the Bills could be at .500 heading to week 3.
Prediction: Bills 1-1
Jay Cutler made tons of mental and physical errors, the receivers ran strange routes, and the running game was a non-factor. The defense lost three starters to injury, including team captain Brian Urlacher for the season.
Things look bleak, and Cutler’s nonchalant attitude worries me. They have another tough test as they host reigning champs Pittsburgh and their bruising defense.
Prediction: Bears 0-2
The Ravens have a top notch defense and a second rate offense. Right? Wrong.
In a strange flip flop, the Ravens put up over 400 yards of offense and allowed Brodie Croyle to carve them up. They were barely able to come out with a win, thanks in large part to Flacco’s rocket arm and the running of Ray Rice.
Do not expect such a gift from San Diego, as they boast a defense chalk full of playmakers, in addition to a first rate offense.
If the defense does not find its footing, this team may fall fast.
Prediction: Bal 1-1
They were several missed opportunities from upending the Colts. The problem? They cannot pass the ball, and Jones-Drew has no consistent backup.
Even with a stalwart run defense, the Jags still allowed Peyton Manning to throw for 300 yards, and a lot of those went to Reggie Wayne. The Colts lose their number two wideout, and you still have trouble?
This could be a thin team all over, and that does not bode well. They play Arizona this week, another pass happy team who will be hungry for a win after blowing one to the Niners.
Prediction: Jags 0-2
17. San Francisco
The offense looked hapless, but the defense looked ferocious. An above average secondary with a top flight linebacking corps looks pretty tough. If Frank Gore can get yards, this team can take off.
Still not sold on Shaun Hill as a starter, but with Alex Smith and Nate Davis behind him, options are limited. If Crabtree will just show up, look out. This could be their year in the very weak NFC West.
They face the Seahawks, who were hardly able to choke out 28 points against a hapless Rams squad.
Prediction: SF 2-0
18. San Diego
The Chargers did not seem prepared for Oakland to field a football team, and their second half adjustments barely helped them squeeze out a victory. Things could be tougher this week, especially if Baltimore can figure out how to play defense.
If they cannot, Phillip Rivers is Brodie Croyle times 100. If it comes down to offense, no way the Ravens can play keep-up with the Chargers.
Until the D adjusts to the loss of Rex Ryan, things could go south in a hurry.
Prediction: SD 2-0
The Raiders running game looked top notch, and if they would just have run in the second half, things might have been dramatically different.
Instead they handed the reigns over to JaMarcus Russell, and he proved time and time again he is not ready to handle the responsibility.
They have an easier matchup this week against a much less talented defense. If the running game stays on track and Russell can game manage, this team should find their footing.
Prediction: OAK 1-1
Campbell is clearly not the answer at QB, and I see now why team management wanted to get Cutler. Campbell never looked comfortable, and the running game was ineffective, making it impossible for him to play game manager.
The defense did not look nearly as scary as people thought, even with a healthy Haynesworth trying to implode the Giants O-line. They have a chance to get back on track however, as they host the cellar-dwelling Rams.
Prediction: WAS 1-1
21. Kansas City
Is the Chiefs offense that good or is the Ravens D that bad? It has to be one or the other.
I believe Todd Haley can make any QB work in his system, but watching Croyle look like a surgeon out there was ridiculous.
The running game looked sloppy, and Larry Johnson looked like he was out to prove no one wrong that his age is catching up to him. This team faces a hungry and gritty Oakland team, who are ready to run all over someone after narrowly losing grudge match with the Chargers.
Prediction: KC 0-2
22. Tampa Bay
You let receivers like Crayton and Austin run circles around your secondary and you can bet you will be near the bottom of my list.
A run-first offense featuring a running back carousel will not work against most teams, and the passing of Byron Leftwich looks decent at best.
No pass defense and a so-so run game? Not good for Bucs fans, especially in the pass happy NFC South.
They have a medium test this week, as the newly unveiled no-huddle Bills play host.
Prediction: TB 0-2
23. Carolina: I believe this team played well below their talent level, and will spend this week ironing out the kinks. It is clear Delhomme will struggle with zone blitzes, and he has nothing in that area to worry about in week two.
They play a suspect Atlanta defense, one they should have no trouble running and passing on. The difference must come from the backfield however, as Williams and Stewart need to get going early and often to take pressure off the turnover machine at QB.
If the game gets close, things could get ugly as Delhomme does not appear to be the clutch QB he was this time last season.
Prediction: Car 1-1
Matt Schaub and the offense looked lost, the defense could not slow a rookie in his debut, and they let Thomas Jones run all over them. They have several questions to answer, and I doubt they will get those taken care of against a tough Tennessee defense.
Prediction: Houston 0-2
We saw two teams in the two halves last week, and depending on which one shows up, their week two matchup with San Fran could go south in a hurry or end with the Hawks ahead by a couple of scores.
Matt Hasselbeck looked like a veteran QB in a new scheme, and I hope the coaches can iron out those kinks this week before he is thrown in front of the Niners suddenly aggressive defense.
If Seattle can get on the board early and often, they will have a shot. If not, they have neither the offensive or defensive depth to keep up with such a hungry team.
Prediction: Seattle 1-1
The running game looked okay, the passing was dreadful, and the receivers ran the wrong routes. Also, the defense forgot to show up in the second half.
Hold AP to barely 50 yards in the first half and then allow 130 in the second half? Are you kidding me? Get Shaun Rogers in conditioning right now, because one half per game is not going to cut it.
Cleveland gets a shot at redemption as they travel to Denver to try to win the battle of the most hapless team in orange.
Cincy is the current owner of that dubious honor.
Prediction: Browns 1-1
27. Denver: They are being praised for holding Cincy’s “talented” offense in check for 90 percent of the game. Are you serious?
Then they will face another one of the best offenses in the game as they play host to the Browns, the team who had to keep their QB a secret so that the Vikings could not gameplan properly.
How did that pay off? Ah yes, Quinn was able to come up with the team’s only offensive touchdown during garbage time late in the fourth, while Minnesota was in the prevent. Some hero.
No matter who prevails, no one comes out of this matchup a winner.
Prediction: Denver 1-1
The Dolphins turned the ball over multiple times, were ineffective running the ball, and the wildcat no longer fools anyone. They did manage to stop Atlanta’s first rate running attack, but that will not help them with Peyton Manning.
Watch the Colts pass all over the fish, and if their defense can stop the running of Brown and Williams, things could get ugly in South Florida real quick.
Prediction: Miami 0-2
29. St. Louis
The Rams were able to accomplish nothing against a Seahawks team that looked lost for most of the first half. If you cannot run, pass, block, tackle, or cover better than the other team, you better have one hell of a kicker to bail you out of scoreless games.
Problem was the Rams were the only team shutout in week one, which does not bode well for defensive guru and new head man Steve Spagnolu.
They travel to Washington this week and will likely return home winless and with more questions than answers. The offseason moves to get younger may be backfiring, but let's see if the defense can get going before we start calling them the lambs again.
Prediction: STL 0-2
They looked absolutely awful. They are supposed to be the reigning champs, and instead they look like the Cardinals of old. The line can't block, the QB can't throw in time, the receivers can't get open in time, the running game can't find holes, and the defense does not seem overly concerned with opposing passing games.
They get a chance to redeem themselves this week against the Jags, but anything less than a blowout will leave fans wondering. Unless Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells can somehow find running lanes, Warner better remember how to distribute the ball with speed and ease or he will be on a stretcher by midseason.
They should be much much higher on this list, but as long as they play this badly, they will get no rating help from talent.
Prediction: Cards 1-1
They are ranked higher than the Lions only because they have won a game in the last 18 attempts. This team is currently ineffective in every facet of the game.
A late TD drive in the fourth caps a game you probably should have won, but you blow it by giving up a catch to a wideout on a tipped ball who then runs 60-plus yards for the score? Wow.
They now get to play the Packers who will be looking to stomp all over the Bengals in an attempt to make a statement.
If the Bears defense could barely corral the Pack’s talent laden roster, I do not see the Bengals having any luck.
Prediction: Cincy 0-2
They could not win at all last year, and this season already looks bleak. Opening against red-hot Drew Brees and you get a second game against AP? Wow.
Not many teams would do well with that schedule, and I expect Detroit to fall on their face trying.
The Vikings boast one of the best run defenses in the game, which should slow down an already overrated Kevin Smith. That leaves Matt Stafford to try to handle things on his own, and we saw how well that went last week.
The Lions have three chances to avoid being winless this year, and that is when they face the Rams, Browns, and Bengals in weeks 8, 11, 13. Prior to that, I wouldn’t bet on anything but another mark in the loss column.
Prediction: DET 0-2
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