NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 2?
Week 1 of the NFL season is tough; I don't care how impressive your team is. Even after the preseason, teams aren't sure what they are. They're even less sure what their opponent is going to be.
I know I wasn't a superstar quarterback in the NFL, but take it from me: Teams are going to see wrinkles they don't expect and have issues they don't anticipate. This is why we end up seeing wild mistakes and plays and bizarre scores.
I felt a lot better heading into Week 4 than I did Week 1.
Picking games is hard too, for these same reasons. I missed plenty of my Week 1 picks, and I under- or overestimated a number of squads. You'll find plenty of movement from last week's power rankings. With all of Week 1 now behind us, let's take a look at how all 32 teams stack up.
32. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week's Ranking: 32
It's worth noting the Colts don't have the worst roster in the NFL. However, they have a bottom-10 roster paired with a quarterback situation that is embarrassing.
There's no reason to take pity on the Colts, though. They knew Andrew Luck was coming off shoulder surgery and did nothing to strengthen the position. Scott Tolzien is an average backup who started the opener because Indianapolis refused to properly prepare. Because of this, it's hard to feel sorry after the 46-9 loss.
In addition to having issues at quarterback, the Colts were hampered by offensive mistakes and poor management from the sideline. Rookie running back Marlon Mack had a would-be touchdown in the first quarter that officials ruled out at the 1-yard line. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano didn't challenge the call—Mack appeared to have broken the plane—and a touchdown was kept off the board.
There aren't many positives to take away from Indianapolis' defensive performance. The best news there is the Colts are another week closer to getting cornerback Vontae Davis back into the lineup.
31. New York Jets
Last Week's Ranking: 30
If you've read anything about the Jets in the offseason, you know the big concern coming in was the offense. We saw why in the season opener.
While Josh McCown is the best quarterback on the roster, he isn't surrounded with nearly enough talent. The Jets lack premier skill-position players, and the offensive line is a work in progress at best. While McCown is a smart veteran, he isn't the kind of quarterback who elevates the players around him.
The defense didn't dominate against the Bills. There are pieces in the secondary, but the strength of the defense is the defensive line. However, the line was pushed around in the run game, which was a bit surprising.
The other problem defensively was that when the Jets did give up passing plays—they were solid in coverage, for the most part—those plays were often long ones.
This is still one of the better defenses in the NFL, but when it fails to dominate a game, the Jets don't have enough on the other side of the ball to win with consistency.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week's Ranking: 26
It's been discussed that my good friend is new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Well, I'm sure if I asked him, he'd admit he deserves some of the blame for his debut loss. He went for it in some questionable 4th-and-short situations, including an early one that gave the Panthers a short field.
Shanahan doesn't deserve all the blame, though. There are deficiencies on this roster; the 49ers were outmanned.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer was under pressure a lot in this game—and the play of guard Zane Beadles is concerning. However, Hoyer also made some mistakes himself, including a costly interception. He struggled to hit the big play, even when San Francisco was able to get guys open downfield. This was a question mark with him heading into the season.
Defensively, the 49ers have some talented pieces but not nearly enough of them. San Francisco better hope it can get rookie linebacker Reuben Foster back sooner than later because he may already be the best player on the defense.
San Francisco was able to keep things close in the first half, but this one was over in the middle of the third quarter.
29. Houston Texans
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Week 1 was bad for the Texans. The offense was horrendous, even after Bill O'Brien pulled Tom Savage.
Was it premature to pull Savage? Yes. We've seen it from O'Brien before, though. He pulled Hoyer for Ryan Mallett in the 2015 opener only to go back to him later in the season. The Texans traded up to draft Deshaun Watson, however, and when an offensive line is playing that badly, having a more mobile quarterback will help.
Watson didn't play decidedly better than Savage. He did lead a touchdown drive, but the score came only after a pick-six was nullified by a Jaguars penalty. Neither quarterback had weapons that would scare a defense—aside from DeAndre Hopkins, of course—and with both tackles from 2016 missing, the line was a joke.
There was a lot of emotion for the Texans in this game following Hurricane Harvey, though, so maybe the poor offensive play was an aberration.
The Houston defense played well. It was just on the field way too much. Even a great defense can play poorly when worn out. My only concern with the defense is that Leonard Fournette and Co. were able to pound the ball up the middle with consistency.
This is still a stout Texans defense. With this offense, however, it needs to be phenomenal to win. The defense is gassed, and the Texans play again Thursday. Yikes!
28. Cleveland Browns
Last Week's Ranking: 29
I'm sorry to say this, Browns fans—I know how much you would have loved a Week 1 win over the Steelers—but the 21-18 loss almost felt like a win. If I were a fan, I'd be excited about what I saw.
Was rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer perfect in his debut? No. He held the ball too long at times, resulting in seven sacks, and he threw a bad interception. However, he looks like he belongs on an NFL field. He played well from the pocket—a lot better than he did at Notre Dame last year. He also had some nice throws and never seemed rattled.
Cleveland should have expected more success from its running game. The Steelers' front seven is terrific, but a better run game would have helped Kizer. Dropped passes, like the big one by Kenny Britt in the second half, also hurt the rookie.
Fans should also be excited by the Browns defense.
It took quite some time for Ben Roethlisberger and the vaunted Steelers offense to get into a rhythm. Even then, the Steelers offense only produced 14 points. It's fair to wonder if Cleveland might have won this game with Myles Garrett in the game and with Joe Haden not playing for the opposition.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week's Ranking: 31
This is what we've been wanting to see from the Jaguars for the past couple of years. The defense was suffocating against the Texans. The running game pounded the Houston defense, and quarterback Blake Bortles didn't have to shoulder much of the offense.
Hopefully, this is a recipe the Jaguars can cook up every week this season because star wideout Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year. He's been the one guy who bailed Bortles out of bad situations the past two years.
Let's go back to that defense, which was beyond impressive. The Jags sacked Houston quarterbacks 10 times. Offseason acquisition Calais Campbell had four of those sacks himself. The Texans offense was never able to get into a rhythm and didn't produce a touchdown drive until after starter Tom Savage was pulled for rookie Deshaun Watson.
Jacksonville won the war in the trenches on defense and did the same on offense. The power running game was what we thought it could be. This is the benefit of adding Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin to this team. One game into 2017, and the Jaguars already appear more physical and more disciplined than they ever did under the last regime.
26. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week's Ranking: 28
Rams fans have to be pumped about what they saw from the debut of Wade Phillips' defense. Even without Aaron Donald, the unit was able to do some great work. Robert Quinn guided the pass rush, and Trumaine Johnson altered the game. He has a pick-six and a forced fumble.
Who cares if the Rams were picking on Tolzien and the Colts? This defense looks legit.
Of course, the real reason for fans to be excited is how the offense looked. There are still questions about second-year quarterback Jared Goff, but he did a lot of positive things he can build on. We also saw the beauty of having Sean McVay as a play-caller. Goff benefited from often having pass-catchers running free downfield.
Goff didn't wow in the game, but he looked a whole lot better than he did as a rookie. Running back Todd Gurley didn't do much (40 yards with a touchdown on 19 carries), but he ran hard and appeared close to breaking a few big ones.
Gurley may again be a factor if the Rams line can start opening holes with consistency.
This is a new regime for L.A., and the Rams look like a new football team.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week's Ranking: 23
Wow. What is there to say about the Bengals? It's not that the Bengals lost to the Ravens; it's that they were physically dominated by the Ravens.
The offensive line we were concerned about in the preseason became a real-life horror show. The Bengals might as well have put a "property of the Ravens" sticker on each lineman's helmet because the Baltimore defensive line owned Cincinnati for four full quarters.
Quarterback Andy Dalton never got into a rhythm. Part of this was due to pressure; part was from some poor decisions and poor throws. Offensively, the Bengals couldn't get anything going, and it was hard to expect them to be this physically outmatched.
Defensively, Cincinnati was good enough to at least keep the team in the game early. It gave the Bengals a chance. Once Jeremy Maclin caught a long touchdown pass in the second quarter, though, Cincinnati was facing an uphill battle.
You're not going to win when your quarterback is sacked five times and commits five turnovers.
24. Chicago Bears
Last Week's Ranking: 25
The Bears are going to be sick when they go back and watch the film from their game with the Falcons.
They outplayed the Falcons for the majority of the contest and should have won. They had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter and might have won it before then if not for blown coverage and an 88-yard touchdown to Austin Hooper.
Of course, that 88-yard play highlighted the concerning part of Chicago's roster. The secondary is questionable, and we saw coverage issues Sunday. The front seven, on the other hand, is tremendous and dominated the Falcons offensive line.
Mike Glennon played well in his Bears debut. He faced a fair amount of pressure but managed to stay composed. Rookie back Tarik Cohen also played well, and the Bears are going to need him moving forward.
Chicago already lost wideout Cameron Meredith for the season. Now, Kevin White may be out for the year with a collarbone injury.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week's Ranking: 18
The things that bothered me about the Cardinals last season—and I believed were fixed during the preseason—came back full circle in Week 1. The offensive line was shaky in pass protection, and it failed to open holes in the running game. And Carson Palmer looked like a quarterback on the decline.
Palmer was shaky in the pocket and too often seemed to be eying the Lions pass rush. His passes didn't have the pop we're used to seeing from him. In addition, he missed on some of the throws the Palmer we're accustomed to seeing would make.
He may struggle moving forward, especially if David Johnson's sprained wrist keeps him out a significant portion of the year.
The Arizona defense did some positive things, but it also got a firsthand look at how special Matthew Stafford can be when he gets into a rhythm. The Cardinals kept him off-balance for three quarters of the game, but once he got going, it was goodnight.
This may not have been the case had the Cardinals got more in the pass rush from guys like Markus Golden and Chandler Jones. The Lions couldn't run the ball, and when you make an offense that one-dimensional, you need to figure out how to bring pressure.
Arizona struggled to collapse the pocket, and Stafford produced yet another fourth-quarter comeback.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week's Ranking: 21
The Los Angeles Chargers faced tough circumstances for a season opener. They were on the road in a hostile environment, and they struggled to move the ball for much of the game against the Denver Broncos defense.
Getting into a rhythm was an issue, even though the Chargers were able to string together some explosive offensive plays late in the game.
The L.A. defense showed a lot of fight, especially when trying to come back in the fourth quarter. The game appeared virtually over when the team was down 24-7 and failed on 4th-and-short. However, the defense took over from there, forced turnovers, produced sacks and brought the Chargers back within striking distance.
The pass-rushing combination of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is going to intimidate a lot of quarterbacks this season.
Ultimately, costly mistakes doomed the Chargers. Philip Rivers threw a pick to open the second half that significantly altered the game. Casey Hayward dropped a would-be pick-six. Bosa jumped offsides, giving the Broncos a free play on the team's first touchdown. Poor clock management and no sense of urgency on L.A.'s final drive put the game into the hands of a rookie kicker on a 44-yard attempt. The end result was a three-point loss.
The Chargers weren't the more physical team through most of the game, but they didn't allow themselves to be pushed out of the contest either. If this team can learn to jell and stop committing self-inflicted wounds, it could be dangerous.
21. Buffalo Bills
Last Week's Ranking: 27
I've been critical of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison in the past, but he made me shut my mouth. The Bills did some creative things offensively that helped offset their lack of game-changers.
One game-changer the Bills do have, LeSean McCoy, never ceases to amaze. Even at 29, he's one of the slipperiest backs in the NFL. Buffalo doesn't have a lot of weapons, but the offense can still be scary when McCoy and tight end Charles Clay are healthy.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a running threat and a tremendous thrower of the football. He was effective Sunday, especially from the pocket.
Defensively, we saw the difference Sean McDermott makes. The group was more disciplined than it was under Rex Ryan, and that yielded results. The defensive line dominated the run game, and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde both had interceptions.
There was reason to wonder if the Bills had enough secondary talent after trading away Ronald Darby, but McDermott has found some guys he likes and who fit his system.
20. New Orleans Saints
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Well, the worst sequence and biggest mistake of the New Orleans Saints' night goes to head coach Sean Payton. His timeouts at the end of the first half when the Minnesota Vikings were backed up at their end of the field were a turning point.
With more time to work with, Minnesota ended up scoring with three seconds left and going into halftime with a 16-6 lead instead of a 10-6 advantage. Minnesota got a field goal to open the second half, and the 13-point lead changed the course of the game. That's a tough deficit to overcome in a tough environment against a tremendous pass rush—even with Drew Brees under center.
This is an improved New Orleans team, but it isn't yet good enough to overcome coaching errors. Brees was just OK against a stellar Vikings defense, though he was hurt by not having Willie Snead and losing right tackle Zach Strief to a knee injury. Many of his statistics came in garbage time.
I really like the talent the Saints have accumulated in their secondary, but the immaturity there showed. Until these guys settle in, that inexperience is going to be a problem when the offense isn't carrying its weight.
What I don't like is Payton using a running-back-by-committee approach. No one was able to get into a rhythm. Payton has said that rookie Alvin Kamara reminds him of NFL legend Marshall Faulk. If he really believes Kamara is that special, he needs to trust himself and play the kid.
19. Washington Redskins
Last Week's Ranking: 16
If you read what I wrote about the Redskins in the preseason, you know my concerns were the rhythm of the offense and the physicality in the trenches. Preseason observations don't always ring true, but in this case, those concerns remain.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was good but not great. He still doesn't appear to be on the same page with receiver Terrelle Pryor, and he had a bad interception in the red zone. The pick came as a result of pressure, and pressure was an issue much of the game. Philadelphia pushed around the Redskins offensive line throughout.
With Bill Callahan as offensive line coach—he is one of the best in the game—the Redskins should be able to get more from their ground attack.
Washington's defense did some positive things. It produced two sacks, a pick-six and held Philadelphia to just 58 rushing yards. However, it wasn't physical enough to disrupt the passing game. This is a bigger and more physical defensive front than the one we saw last year, but it's still a work in progress.
A bigger defensive concern is a lack of cover men in the secondary. There might not be anyone there who can consistently win one-on-one other than Josh Norman.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week's Ranking: 20
The Buccaneers had their game against the Dolphins moved to Week 11 because of Hurricane Irma. This means we won't get an idea of what kind of team the Bucs are until Week 2.
The silver lining for Tampa is the Bears won't have a clue what to expect from the Buccaneers, either. While Tampa Bay will have one regular-season game on film to watch to study the Bears, Chicago won't.
The Bears won't be completely flying blind when they head into Raymond James Stadium for Tampa's home opener next week, but they'll be close. The downside, of course, is the Buccaneers now have to play 16 games in a row with no bye week in between.
The Buccaneers were close to being a playoff team last season, and they added some intriguing pieces in the offseason. It won't be a shock to see them in the NFC South race at the end of the season.
17. Carolina Panthers
Last Week's Ranking: 24
I didn't think Cam Newton would be Superman after throwing just two passes in the preseason, but he looked pretty damn super to me. Whenever the Panthers have a healthy No. 1 on the field, they're going to have a chance to win.
With Christian McCaffrey and a healthy Jonathan Stewart in the backfield, this Panthers offense can do things it couldn't a year ago. Not only can Carolina pound the ball up the middle, but it can get the ball to running backs in space and attack downfield with receivers like Russell Shepard and Kelvin Benjamin.
Defensively, the Panthers have some versatility too. Carolina can attack off the edge with guys like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, and it can push up the middle with powerful tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. With a linebacking corps consisting of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson, there is a lot the Panthers can do up front.
The secondary is still a bit of a question, but against a team that couldn't take advantage, it isn't much of an issue. If the secondary can come together by midseason, the Panthers could again be a playoff team.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week's Ranking: 22
The Eagles were in a close game into the fourth quarter. However, their game against the Redskins shouldn't have been that close. Philadelphia dominated in the trenches all game long. If not for a tipped pass and a pick-six by Washington's Ryan Kerrigan, this would have been a much more comfortable win.
Carson Wentz continues to impress with his poise and command of the pocket. His ability to buy time, avoid pressure and push the ball downfield is special. He's helped tremendously by the new-look receiving corps and a strengthened backfield.
Washington held up well against the run, but Wentz was able to utilize Darren Sproles in the backfield. It's amazing how good Sproles still looks. I played against him when I was at Texas, and he still looks like the same little S.O.B. I faced as a senior.
It stinks the Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby to a dislocated ankle. The big question for the Eagles defense is if there are enough guys on the back end to match up man-to-man. The defensive line—with guys like Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry—can be special.
15. Tennessee Titans
Last Week's Ranking: 12
The question coming into the regular season was whether the Titans could get enough out of their passing game to win when opponents shut down the run game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota played well, but he didn't have enough weapons to answer this question positively against the Raiders.
The Titans have to be disappointed with how their run game performed, too. This was one of the league's best rushing attacks last season, and it generated just 95 yards against the Raiders.
The Titans defense was solid throughout. The Raiders have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, but Tennessee didn't let the game get out of reach until late. Is there enough talent in the secondary to consistently slow elite passing attacks? That's still a question.
This was a disappointing loss for the Titans. They should be considered favorites to win the AFC South. If they want to prove they're a playoff contender, they need to win games like this one. Beating Oakland would have made a statement.
14. Miami Dolphins
Last Week's Ranking: 9
There are a couple of positives for the Dolphins in having their game postponed. As is the case with the Buccaneers, the Dolphins won't be providing game film for Week 2.
The delay also gives new quarterback Jay Cutler another week to get into rhythm with his offense. If I'm Cutler, I'm glad the game was postponed instead of being played at a neutral site. This is a playoff-caliber team that can use home-field advantage in a 50-50 game like one against Tampa.
The Dolphins do have to endure 16 straight weeks of play now, but they'll at least get to keep home-field advantage. That's extra important because Miami is already giving up one home game to play in London.
The Dolphins made the postseason in 2016 but were forced to rely on backup quarterback Matt Moore in their playoff loss. Miami doesn't have Ryan Tannehill this season either, but Jay Cutler is as ideal a replacement as the team could ask for. He knows Adam Gase's system well and should have the Dolphins again competing for a spot in the AFC playoffs.
13. New York Giants
Last Week's Ranking: 3
It might be a different year, but this is the same old unimaginative Giants offense. This is why I've been saying Odell Beckham Jr. is the best receiver in the NFL and why he needs to get paid. Without him, the Giants are pathetic offensively.
If I'm Beckham, I'd milk this injury until New York makes a contract offer. Brandon Marshall was invisible all night, and the Giants had no go-to weapon Eli Manning could rely on.
Manning didn't play particularly well. He was under pressure a lot because of the atrocious offensive line, but he has to do more if he's going to be paid like Aaron Rodgers—and they're making almost the same amount this season.
The Giants defense was disappointing as well. It played well in the first quarter, but the Cowboys had their way with it too often after that. Now, did New York do enough defensively to win? Sure. New York won 20-19 in last year's opener against Dallas. Yet, this looked like a group that needs to play better.
The Giants have a great secondary, but Dak Prescott found holes in it. The Cowboys have a tremendous offensive line, but the Giants should have been able to create some pressure. They didn't. As a result, the Cowboys offense produced points while the hamstrung New York offense couldn't.
12. Denver Broncos
Last Week's Ranking: 14
The new offensive look the Broncos showed in Week 1 was impressive. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy put together a wonderful game plan against his former team. His addition seemed to noticeably help quarterback Trevor Siemian. A couple of late turnovers (one from Siemian, another from Jamaal Charles) marred what was otherwise a terrific night for Denver's offense.
Siemian delivered some big throws downfield and made some plays with his legs. With McCoy at the helm, this offense should be a lot more fun to watch.
Also noticeable was the revamped Broncos offensive line. Denver backs had holes to run throughout the game. C.J. Anderson was particularly impressive, not only when hitting the hole but with his balance and ability to run through arm tackles.
Other than one drive in the first half and a couple late in the game, the Denver defense was phenomenal. It was fast and caused chaos all night. The unit's biggest play, though, may have been Bradley Roby's interception to start the second half. That made things really tough for Rivers. The Broncos scored off the turnover, putting the Chargers in a two-touchdown hole. We all know how dangerous Denver's pass rush can be when playing with a lead.
The Chargers made things close, but the Denver defense stood tall with the game on the line.
The Broncos are going to be a better ballclub this year than last, and they're going to scare some people in the AFC.
11. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford probably just had the best game of his NFL career. He made some unreal throws downfield and some into really tight coverage.
Man, it's amazing what time in the pocket and a full offseason with the same team can do for a quarterback. Bradford is more in sync with the Minnesota offense, and the offensive line is vastly improved. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur deserves some credit too for devising a great game plan and orchestrating some big plays in the passing game.
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook is a game-breaker. Stefon Diggs played well and made some impressive contested catches. Adam Thielen can do it all. One question surrounding Minnesota in the offseason was whether or not it had enough offensive weapons. It appears the answer is yes.
The Vikings defense gave up some big plays in the preseason, which was concerning. However, the unit was terrific against New Orleans, especially once the team got a lead. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks were awesome with underneath pass coverage and against the run game. Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen caused problems for the Saints all night.
Minnesota looks like a legit team on both sides of the ball.
10. Detroit Lions
Last Week's Ranking: 13
OK. Does everybody believe me now when I say Matthew Stafford is one of the five best quarterbacks in football? I know that he and the Lions didn't play four great quarters. Stafford had a pick-six, but when it counted in the fourth quarter, he delivered.
Once again, Detroit had no running game. This win was all on Stafford. What else is new? His chemistry with Golden Tate was on full display, and this Kenny Golladay kid is for real. If the Lions want to be a legitimate playoff contender, though, they need to figure out how to spark the run game.
Defensively, the Lions did some positive things. Their three safeties snagged three interceptions. Detroit didn't manage to create much edge pressure, but the line has some big guys who were able to push the pocket from the middle. Sometimes that's just as effective.
Teryl Austin is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, so it's not surprising he's able to get solid production out of unspectacular defensive personnel. The Lions defense shouldn't be taken lightly.
9. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week's Ranking: 11
I've loved the Ravens all offseason. Loved them. So, what did I do? I went out and picked the Bengals to beat them in Week 1.
To be fair, the Bengals have had a lot of recent success against Baltimore, and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did miss the entire preseason. That's scary. When your defense pressures an offensive line the way Baltimore's did, though, you could put me back out there at quarterback and win.
Baltimore has had a solid front seven, but now the team has speed on the back end. This is a dangerous combination, as Cincinnati found out. When you rack up five sacks, four interceptions and a forced fumble, you didn't just dominate, you whooped ass.
This offense could prove to be dangerous as well, especially once Flacco gets back into the groove. The offensive line was beat up in the preseason, but with a healthy Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda, it looked effective against the Bengals.
The Ravens can pound the ball in the middle with Terrance West and Javorius Allen. They can stretch the field with weapons like newcomer Jeremy Maclin.
It sucks the Ravens lost Danny Woodhead, though. He was Flacco's best option when looking for pass-catchers out of the backfield.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week's Ranking: 8
The Falcons deserve a lot of credit for winning in Week 1. They were on the road, in a hostile environment, on a slow field that doesn't favor Atlanta's offense in a physical contest. It wasn't pretty, but they made plays when they needed to.
This doesn't mean there aren't still questions about the offense without Kyle Shanahan. The team's biggest offensive play came due to broken coverage—and you can't count on seeing that week in and week out. The offensive line was dominated up front.
Yes, this is still a dangerous offense with a number of weapons, but it's a long way from clicking like it did in 2016.
The front seven is an improved unit that managed to consistently pressure the Bears. Brooks Reed had two sacks. Vic Beasley brought way more pressure than his one sack would suggest.
It was the Falcons defense that won this game. With Atlanta's back against the wall late in the fourth quarter, the defense stopped four straight plays with goal-to-go, preserving the victory.
I'm sticking with my prediction that the Atlanta defense will be ranked higher than the offense by the end of the year.
7. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week's Ranking: 2
The Seahawks offensive line looked fine in the preseason. This and the play of Russell Wilson had me excited about the Seahawks coming into Week 1. On Sunday, the line looked just as bad as it did a year ago.
There's too much pressure on Wilson to win games on his own. He can't be the team's quarterback and its leading rusher every freaking game. We've been talking about this for three years, and I'm sick of it.
Now, the Packers defense played great, so don't get too worked up about the Seahawks only scoring nine points. That's not the big concern. The line is.
Defensively, Seattle played tremendously. The Seahawks got worn out and wore down but still held Green Bay under 20 points. Earl Thomas is playing like he's still in his prime, and this group is going to be fine.
A bigger concern is that Seattle players still struggle to keep their emotions in check. The Seahawks looked to take a 7-0 lead early with a Nazair Jones pick-six. That would have let the defense play with a lead, which it's built for. However, there was an unnecessary block in the back on Rodgers, and Jeremy Lane got himself ejected on the play.
Had Seattle played controlled, smart ball, that play might have changed the course of the game.
6. Green Bay Packers
Last Week's Ranking: 10
If you've paid any attention to me since I've joined Bleacher Report, you know that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is my favorite player in NFL history. My problem with the Packers is they put far too much pressure on him to win games by himself.
Rodgers keeps showing that no one can carry a football team like he can.
He did it again against a stout Seahawks defense. Rodgers was under pressure most of the day, but he kept buying time and throwing downfield. He also found mismatches pre-snap and got cheap yards by drawing the defense offsides. He does that as well as anyone in the league.
Packers fans should be most excited about the defense. Ahmad Brooks already looks like a smart addition. Mike Daniels was a monster, with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was even better than the stats would indicate because there isn't a statistic for wrecking a play.
The guys in the secondary who needed to improve after last year—like Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins—played well and stayed in the hip pocket of Seattle's receivers all game.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week's Ranking: 4
It took a while for the mighty Steelers offense to get going—give the Browns credit for that—but once it did, we all saw the magic that exists between Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. No one could stop Brown, even when everyone knew the ball was coming his way.
Brown was Pittsburgh's offense. This should change as Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant continue to get back into the flow.
Defensively, the Steelers may be turning a corner. Cameron Heyward was a force as usual. T.J. Watt? Wow. Having two sacks and an interception in an NFL debut is special.
The secondary did enough to prevent the Browns from mounting a comeback. However, the Steelers know there's a big difference in slowing Cleveland's passing attack and slowing a team like the Raiders or Patriots.
The big concern for Pittsburgh defensively, of course, is the injury suffered by Stephon Tuitt. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Pittsburgh fears he tore his biceps.
We shouldn't overlook the fact Pittsburgh's special teams unit scored a touchdown on a blocked punt. This is a team playing well in all three phases. It should only be a matter of time before the offense is back up to speed.
4. Oakland Raiders
Last Week's Ranking: 5
The Raiders defense was the question mark coming into this game. They have big guys up front, but the run defense was still ranked just 23rd a year ago. It seemed likely the Raiders could hand with Mariota and the passing game because the Titans' pass offense isn't scary.
As it turns out, the Raiders could hold up against Tennessee's vaunted run offense, too. The Raiders surrendered fewer than 100 rushing yards and made sure the Titans couldn't control the game on the ground.
Derek Carr is a special quarterback. When he's healthy, the Raiders are always going to have a chance to win. Michael Crabtree was solid. Amari Cooper was decent too, but he continues to drop way more passes than he should. That would annoy the crap out of me if I were his quarterback.
The Oakland rushing attack wasn't spectacular, but Marshawn Lynch did look good. He moved well for a guy coming off a year absence, and he ran with power. He was enough to help put the game away, even when the Titans knew the run was coming.
Tennessee is not a pushover. If the Raiders defense can consistently play like it did Sunday, this is a Super Bowl team.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Wow, did the Cowboys look good. A sophomore slump for Dak Prescott? Negative, Ghost Rider. He looked great against a terrific Giants defense, and he appears to be taking the steps I want to see from a young franchise quarterback.
Not only did Prescott throw the ball phenomenally, but he also had the vision needed to spread the ball around evenly to his key weapons. In addition, he managed to make some plays with his legs.
Speaking of weapons, the Cowboys better hope they can keep Ezekiel Elliott for the long haul because he changes what opposing teams have to do. The Giants gave up some big plays, possibly because they were too worried about stopping the run.
Some of those big plays came from Terrance Williams. He looked terrific. If he can be a legit No. 2 to Dez Bryant, Dallas is going to be tough to stop. Jason Witten continues to amaze at 35.
The Dallas defense was awesome too. Jaylon Smith looked as advertised, playing all over the field. The new pieces in the secondary fit and played well. DeMarcus Lawrence appears back to 100 percent, and Dallas needs him to be a big-time pass-rusher this season.
Dallas held Manning and the Giants to just three points. Even with no Beckham, that's impressive.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week's Ranking: 6
The Chiefs are the stars of Week 1. Not only did they knock off the defending Super Bowl champions on the road, they did so in convincing fashion.
The first thing I must do is praise quarterback Alex Smith. I've referred to him as Charlie Checkdown for years. Against the Patriots, though, he crapped all over me. He threw the ball all over the field and made the type of explosive plays we haven't seen from him since his Utah days.
Andy Reid also deserves praise for putting together this offensive game plan. What I saw on film was jaw-dropping—some sort of NFL/college hybrid offense on steroids. Tyreek Hill was amazing, per usual, and fans have to be pumped about rookie Kareem Hunt.
The Chiefs have some talented guys on defense.
Justin Houston looked like the Houston of old, and the Chiefs were able to get pressure on Tom Brady. The team also had enough talent—and a proper game plan—to take away the underneath throws New England typically thrives on. The team's fourth-down stop early in the game after Hunt's fumble changed the course of the contest.
That big play was made by safety Eric Berry, who unfortunately suffered a torn Achilles. His loss will be huge.
1. New England Patriots
Last Week's Ranking: 1
There have been plenty of overreactions to the Patriots' loss, but I'm keeping New England at No. 1 for now. This game was closer than the final score indicates, and this is a team with many new pieces still learning to play together.
New England had an opportunity to put the Chiefs in a big hole early in the game had the team not been stopped on fourth down. Doing so in front of a rowdy crowd celebrating a Super Bowl win could have changed the game.
This was the first of two un-Patriot-like failures on 4th-and-short. The second came with New England down 28-27. That too could have changed the game.
The Patriots defense did a lot of positive things but did have some miscommunications, especially in the secondary. Tyreek Hill's long score came when newcomer Stephon Gilmore and safety Devin McCourty weren't on the same page. These are issues that can be ironed out.
The Patriots are still great. It just so happens the Chiefs are also a top team and managed to have the better game Thursday night. Both of these teams are legitimate contenders in the AFC.