Week 1 Power Rankings: NFC East Flexes Muscles, While AFC Goes Through Phases

Owen MunroCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2008

1. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) (LW: NR) - There isn’t much to say about the Cowboys and what they did on Sunday, as they did exactly what everyone thought they would. The Browns’ pass rush was non-existent due to the amazing play along the offensive line. Tony Romo looked great, as did the running game. TO looked like TO, I could go on and on. No doubt they top my rankings this week.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) (LW: NR) - The proclaimed “sleepers” of the NFL were completely dominated in every aspect of the game by the Steelers. Willie Parker, amidst calls for Rashard Mendenhall along the goal line, punched in touchdowns from seven, thirteen, and four yards out, helping the Steelers to a 38-17 thrashing of the Houston Texans. Everything looked great on all aspects for the Steelers, an excellent sign.

3. Green Bay Packers (1-0) (LW: NR)
- The fans who had proclaimed Aaron Rodgers a bust before a single start could eat a mouth full of crow today. Rodgers looked outstanding for Green Bay, throwing for 178 yards, rushing for a touchdown, and earning a 115.5 quarterback rating. Ryan Grant and the offence looks like they may need another week to get into it, but Green Bay looks like they are going to start from where they left off.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) (LW: NR) - The questions may still come firing out regarding Donovan McNabb, but if Sunday was any consolation, I think those questions can be put to rest rather easily. Passing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against an underrated Rams secondary is very impressive. Westbrook had some fumbling issues, but he had a nice game, and what can I say about Desean Jackson? Kids a beast. The Eagles looked damn good.

5. New York Giants (1-0) (LW: NR)
- Say what you want, but the Giants looked like they had no problems with a sputtering Washington offence. On the other hand, the Giants weren’t the squeaky clean unit they were in the playoffs, either. For all the people wondering what Eli Manning will be like this year, you got a good idea; confident, looking good, but still making a few too many mental errors, which could put the G-Men away early against some top notch defensive teams.

6. New York Jets (1-0) (LW: NR) - “Broadway Brett” had a satisfying debut for most Jets fans. He controlled the pace of the game, and got it done when he needed too. Combine that with his bag of tricks and antics he pulled, he played very well. Cotchery looks like the next up and coming star, and the defence was able to stifle a game winning drive by Chad Pennington for the win.

7. New Orleans Saints (1-0) (LW: NR)
- The Saints had a convincing win against a tough divisional opponent, which includes Joey Galloway, a man who had ripped apart their secondary the last five or six times the teams met. Sunday? Galloway was held to six receptions for 56 yards, a big improvement for a Saints team that revamped their defence for situations like this.

8. San Diego Chargers (0-1) (LW: NR)
- Let’s hope people don’t take this the wrong way, but I think the Chargers ran into some unfortunate luck at the end of Sunday’s game with the Panthers. While Jake Delhomme carved up the secondary on the game winning drive, the Chargers looked particularly impressive on offence, especially Phillip Rivers, who was nearly flawless in the second half.

9. New England Patriots (1-0) (LW: NR) - Don’t let the quarterbacking situation in New England fool you. Matt Cassel is a long time backup quarterback, but if there is anyone who has picked up the little tidbits along the way and can put them to full use, it’s probably Matt Cassel. A veteran quarterback will be needed, but the Pats still have Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell for now.

10. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) (LW: NR) - I’ll give the Colts a mulligan here. The interaction between Peyton Manning and  Jamey Richard was sub par at best, and the Bears gave the offence headaches all night. Oh, did I mention Kyle Orton played well? And that he’s 13-6 now as the Bears starter? Man, some real food for though there.

11. Buffalo Bills (1-0) (LW: NR) - Much like the Colts, I’m willing to give the Seahawks a mulligan. Matt Hasselbeck with his back problems, Julius Jones’ new start and the defence all lead to a pretty disappointing day. But on the other side of the field, the Bills looked in mid-season form, something you don’t often see from a team like Buffalo. The special teams was phenomenal (when is it not?) and the offence contributed very much. I really like the Bills this year.

12. Chicago Bears (1-0) (LW: NR)
- The days of the team that turned the ball over three times, had trouble stopping the run (and the pass) and only had a certain return man going for them, are over. Kyle Orton looked particularly good, and held onto the ball far better then Sexy Rexy had done all of last year. The numbers that support Orton are astonishing compared to Grossman’s. The D looks like it’s back in full force as well. Could last year just be a done year?
13. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) (LW: NR)
- While I was expecting more from Jared Allen, I guess I got what I wanted. He drew penalties, had a formidable pass rush going, and played the run game very well. You may not see it for the first few weeks, but once this defensive line is gelling, watch out. Adrian Peterson played well, and had a “truck stick” run that could in fact rival Brandon Jacob’s from Thursday night.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) (LW: NR)
- You can’t blame the Jack Del Rio. You can’t blame on David Garrard, or Fred Taylor, or Maurice Jones-Drew. And you certainly can’t lay the blame on that offensive line, who have taken more hits over the past few weeks then the Notorious B.I.G. Ok, maybe not, but the impact on this offensive line is going to have a strain on everyone.

15. Tennessee Titans (1-0) (LW: NR)
- I can’t imagine what must be going through Vince Young’s mind right now, but the Titans won, and that could be all that matters right now. Kerry Collins looks like he’ll get the start next week. Yes, Kerry Collins. Enjoy it while it lasts, Titans fans, because if VY is out for an extended period of time, you could be in for a big dip from this spot.

16. Arizona Cardinals (1-0) (LW: NR)
- It wasn’t picture perfect, but it wasn’t all that ugly. It was everything in between for the Cards, who already look like they have an upper hand on Seattle. Amidst his demand for a trade, Anquan Boldin played like his old self, catching eight balls for 82 yards and a touchdown. Tim Hightower looks like a good investment right now as well.

17. Carolina Panthers (1-0) (LW: NR) - I’ve never been high on the Carolina Panthers, or Jake Delhomme. But, it’s obvious he is the glue for the offence, and the display he put on in the final quarter against San Diego was great, and it gives the Panthers some hope for this season. One thing I did notice was DeAngelo Williams, who played aggressive and very well.
18. Denver Broncos (1-0) (LW: NR) - My sleeper at the beginning of the year, Denver certainly got off on the right foot. Jay Cutler played very well against a stacked secondary, and the run by committee approach took full flight last night. Andre Hall, Selvin Young and Michael Pittman all looked great in the ever so run friendly zone blocking scheme.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) (LW: NR) - Was this the game Jon Gruden was looking for from Jeff Garcia? Probably not, and Garcia probably knows he has to get his act together. Wait, isn’t he questionable for next weeks tilt with the Falcons? I wouldn’t look to much into it, but for the past three years, the previous division winner hasn’t repeated the following year.

20. Washington Redskins (0-1) (LW: NR)
- The Redskins offence wasn’t all that well executed, and it showed against New York. Is Jason Campbell your guy for the West Coast Offence? It depends. He went 13-0 at Auburn playing the system, but he has been in a different system seven of the past eight years. Is it possible for someone to have it worse off then Alex Smith?

21. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) (LW: NR) - Fact: Since 1981, only one new coach and quarterback combination had won their opening week contest. On Sunday, there was two, in Atlanta and Baltimore. Joe Flacco was adequate, and played well when he needed to. Granted Flacco had his way with a defence has mediocre as Cincinnati, he looks like something special.

22. Cleveland Browns (0-1) (LW: NR)
- The Browns’ pass rush was so non-existent against the Cowboys, Tony Romo had to run into a player to allow the Browns to total a sack. Derek Anderson played pretty iffy, and Braylon Edwards was more apart of the problem then not. We can probably all agree the Browns aren’t playoff bound with this schedule, but could it really be this bad, all year?

23. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) (LW: NR) - Well, there sure wasn’t any bright spots on Sunday for the Seahawks. And to top it off, Nate Burleson is the latest casualty to go down, as he went down for the year with a Torn ACL. Luckily the Seahawks get Deion Branch back, but they could be in deep trouble if they fall behind and Julius Jones looks terrible like he did on Sunday.

24. Houston Texans (0-1) (LW: NR) - There isn’t too much to say about the Texans’ performance on Sunday, other then they played amongst the worst of any team this week, and I think they really aren’t the team people are envisioning them to be. I could be wrong, and this could be Week 1, but eh, don’t color me enthused.

25. Miami Dolphins (0-1) (LW: NR) - If there is any consolation, Chris Berman thought they looked professional. Oh, and Anthony Fasano really is a beast. Oh, and Chad Pennington looks like he can take this offence somewhere. Too bad these three things don’t equate to much success this year. Bill Parcells still has a lot of work to do on the both sides of the ball.

26. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) (LW: NR) - My lowest ranked winning team, but with good reason. Michael Turner used his burners on his way to 220 yards, against the lowly pass defence of the Lions. Matt Ryan throws for a decent amount of yardage, and had a 60+ yard bomb on his first pass play of his NFL career. Again though, it was the Detroit Lions. Does this game really have any credibility?

27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) (LW: NR) - And I thought the Bengals fans loved the situation they were in, with regards to their offensive line. Boy, was I wrong! The Bengals looked horrible in protecting Carson Palmer, who was like a rock (almost literally) in the pocket. They couldn’t help Kenny Watson or Chris Perry in the run game, and to top it off, Ray Rice and his “juicy thighs” ran all over the defence.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) (LW: NR)
- The Chiefs actually didn’t look half bad on Sunday. On defence, they were able to keep the Matt Cassel led Patriots out of the end zone, and were actually a throw away from sending the game to overtime. Immediately I realize I said they were able to keep Cassel & Co. out of the end zone, but any esteem I can give Chiefs fans has to be a plus, right?

29. Detroit Lions (0-1) (LW: NR) - Feel free to hate on me when I say even Ernie Sims couldn’t help this defence out. Feel free to praise me when I say the Lions have arguably the best 1-2 punch of receivers in the NFL. Calvin Johnson looked like he was maturing at the end of last year, and he looks like he’s taken his game to a whole new level now, as well. Roy Williams, in a contract year, could have a career year as well.

30. San Francisco 49ers (0-1) (LW: NR) - Any team with Mike Martz is going to know they have to throw the ball, but you can’t say Mike Martz was enthused with J.T. O’Sullivan, after an average day, which consisted of four sacks, an interception, and 195 yards passing.  The whole team looked rather inconsistent, while the Cardinals had their way with an average line. Too bad average doesn’t get you anywhere in the NFL.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-1) (LW: NR) - “And biggest idiot goes toooooooo…  DeAngelo Hall!” Whatever happened to this secondary, I’d like to know. Jay Cutler carved up a usually reliable defence, en route to 300 yards through the air, and two touchdown passes. Darren McFadden was very average in his debut, while Zach Fargas looked good. However, games are not won by who looks good, and Al Davis can approve of that.

32. St. Louis Rams (0-1) (LW: NR)
- Bar none, there was no worse team then the St. Louis Rams. The defensive was unusually suspect, and Steven Jackson really couldn’t get anything going along the offensive line. Some tough breaks here and there, but overall, a disappointing effort from the Rams, disappointing indeed. 


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