NFL Power Rankings 2011: Ranking All 8 Divisions After Week 1
Following one week of the 2011 NFL season, all 32 teams have played a game, and a number of divisions have taken an unexpected turn.
In fact, one division is completely winless. Another one has a 4-12 team from a year ago in first place (with the best point differential in the league).
Factoring in the performances of the 32 teams in Week 1, as well as the expectations for the team this season, here are the eight divisions power-ranked from first to last in the National Football League.
1) NFC North
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers defended their Super Bowl title with a 42-point performance against the powerful New Orleans Saints. They are poised to win their first division title since the 2007 season.
The Chicago Bears were labeled by many as a fluke team last season when they reached the NFC Championship Game, but they showed a lot by blowing out the reigning NFC top-seeded Atlanta Falcons.
The Detroit Lions are everybody's sleeper team for the 2011 season, and they knocked off a 10-win team in game one.
The Minnesota Vikings could win anywhere from six to 10 games in 2011, but they started off 0-1 following a dismal debut performance from six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb.
2) NFC South
As expected, the New Orleans Saints fell to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers on the road in Week 1, but they put up a good fight, scoring 34 points and taking the game down to the final play.
The Atlanta Falcons put up a dismal showing against the Chicago Bears and host Philadelphia in a must-win game on Sunday Night Football.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost engineered a dramatic comeback against the Detroit Lions, but the biggest sleeper team from 2010 lost to the potential biggest sleeper team in 2011.
The Carolina Panthers lost to the Arizona Cardinals, but rookie Cam Newton threw for 422 yards in his NFL debut.
Ironically, all four teams started the season 0-1.
3) AFC East
The New England Patriots and Tom Brady appear to be on a mission in 2011, and they proved it by scoring 38 against the Miami Dolphins. Oh, and Brady threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns.
The Jets squeaked out an impressive come-from-behind victory against the Dallas Cowboys in the most exciting game from Week 1 of the NFL.
The Bills shocked the world by demolishing the reigning AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs 41-7 and currently boast the top point differential in the league.
The Dolphins put up a decent fight against the Patriots behind a strong performance from Chad Henne.
4) NFC East
Michael Vick and the Eagles weren't even close to their best against the St. Louis Rams, yet they still came away with an impressive 18-point victory on the road.
The Dallas Cowboys are out to prove that their 2010 season was a total fluke, but it begins with Tony Romo, who choked away their game against the New York Jets with a lost fumble and a costly interception in the fourth quarter.
The New York Giants are completely decimated with injuries and barely put up a fight against the Washington Redskins. They have virtually no chance of reaching the postseason this year, just a few months after having 10-win potential.
The Washington Redskins need to just take it one step at a time, and as of now, they're 1-0, even with Rex Grossman at quarterback.
5) AFC North
The Baltimore Ravens made a big statement by demolishing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. As of now, they still don't have bragging rights in the division, but it couldn't have gotten off to a better start for them.
The Steelers looked completely flat and lifeless against the Ravens in Week 1. They'll likely rebound and win 11 or 12 games this season, but this isn't the kind of start head coach Mike Tomlin wanted after their disappointing performance in last year's Super Bowl. I wouldn't want to be a Pittsburgh Steeler at practice this week.
The Browns were picked by many to win eight or nine games this season, but the fact that they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 is not a good sign. Where were you, Mr. Madden Cover?
The Bengals are still probably going to be the worst team, or one of the worst teams, in the league this season. They should enjoy this win while it lasts because there won't be many more.
6) AFC West
A good but not great start for the San Diego Chargers, as they beat the Minnesota Vikings by a touchdown on Sunday. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, they will easily win the division title this season.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the reigning division champions, yet they were probably the worst team in the NFL on Sunday. It would be difficult to argue that the 2010 season wasn't a complete and total fluke.
The Oakland Raiders looked to be a sleeper heading into the 2011 season, and a road game at Denver was the perfect test to begin the season. They passed, barely.
The Broncos really aren't going anywhere this season. It's a shame they aren't starting Tim Tebow. We all want to see how he can do.
7) AFC South
How could the Houston Texans not win the division this season? They already have a one-game lead over their biggest rival, who also lost their franchise player indefinitely.
The Colts are still probably better than the Jaguars and Titans, but they're a below-average team without Peyton Manning. Their game against the Browns next week will show if they're as bad as some think they are.
The Jaguars are 1-0 with Luke McCown, but they didn't exactly play a good team...
The Titans are 0-1, and star running back Chris Johnson really couldn't have contributed less after signing his huge contract last month.
8) NFC West
There really is no best team in the NFC West, so the Rams are going to be listed first because they're the team everybody is picking to win the division this season. They really couldn't have played worse to open the season, and they also lost a number of players to injuries.
The Cardinals are 1-0, and new quarterback Kevin Kolb looked sharp in his debut. Then again, they did beat the Carolina Panthers.
The 49ers and new kicker David Akers beat the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks pretty easily, but they're not much of a threat until they get a quarterback.
How can a team win the division one year and be absolutely nothing the next season without really getting much worse at all? Such is the case for the Seattle Seahawks, who should win about five games this season (which may put them just two games behind the division leader).