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  • Ben Matthews

NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

32. (Last Week: 28) New York Jets

L17-27 @ Bills

Overmatched in all facets of the game, the New York Jets are the current favourites for the number 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Adam Gase is not a competent head coach in this league and the roster does not carry enough difference makers to be competitive against most teams.

They lost 17-27 against the AFC East favourite Bills but the result realistically could have been far more lopsided. The defense is devoid of talent and there were few bright sparks on offense save for Jamison Crowder who produced 115 yards on 7 receptions.

Le’Veon Bell exited the game early and continues to be an unwanted sideshow off the field. It is difficult to see where any kind of improvement is coming from with this team. The sweeping brush and a fresh start are needed in Jersey.


31. (29) Carolina Panthers

L30-34 vs Raiders

Teddy Bridgewater was okay, but a young defense struggled to contain the Las Vegas Raiders in a 30-34 defeat during week 1. It is a secondary bereft of true talent, with Eagles castoff Rasul Douglas and rookie Troy Pride Jr defending the perimeter whilst starting corner Donte Jackson is out.

Pride Jr was routinely abused on Sunday, giving up six completions (100% of passes thrown his way), for 106 yards and a touchdown. Furthermore, the team failed to sack Derek Carr once during the game – a huge concern as Tom Brady comes to town next week.


30. (32) Jacksonville Jaguars

W27-20 vs Colts

Minshew Mania continues but let us not get ahead of ourselves. Gardner played mistake free football in week 1 and led the Jaguars to an impressive victory over a sluggish looking Indianapolis Colts. Combined with a defense that was able to create multiple turnovers, the Jags have shown that they will not be an easy out for anyone. Indeed, our projection of ‘Tanking for Trevor’ may not be entirely accurate if they can continue to play this brand of football.

Among the many positives for the Jaguars was undrafted rookie free agent running back, James Robinson. Robinson ran for 62 yards on 16 carries – a record for an undrafted rookie running back on debut – showing excellent speed and burst and a willingness to explode decisively through running lanes.

Other notable rookie contributions were made by cornerback C.J. Henderson who had three pass breakups, an interception and five solo tackles and Laviska Shenault Jr, whose versatility will allow Minshew and the offense to get creative. There will be growing pains, but the future is bright.


29. (30) Chicago Bears

W27-23 @ Lions

What to make of that 4th quarter? It is quite easy to believe that it was more due to a Lions meltdown and thanks to a dropped pass in the end zone by D’Andre Swift. This is a false dawn and until the Bears find some truly consistent QB play, they will continue to be a team ranked in the bottom third of these Power Rankings, despite a reasonably sound defense.


28. (31) New York Giants

L16-26 vs Steelers

Some positives for sure, and OC Jason Garrett ensured that the Giants stuck to a balanced game plan despite Saquon Barkley and the run game being shut down. Garrett and head coach, Joe Judge will continue to try and iron out the turnovers from Daniel Jones’ game, but a panicked looking interception in the red zone, in the third quarter allowed Pittsburgh to begin to pull away.

The game was still close at that point and Big Blue will be encouraged by the play from rookie left tackle, Andrew Thomas. There were a few rookie growing pains, but he generally held up well against the Steelers pass rush. Corrections need to be made, but Joe Judge will be encouraged by the effort made by many of his players.


27. (26) Cincinnati Bengals

L13-16 vs Chargers

Joe Burrow passed the eyeball test. There were rookie mistakes, as expected, but there were exciting moments too that will have the Cincinnati faithful licking their chops for the future. Burrow showed off his mobility with a 23-yard scamper for a touchdown to officially begin his reign as face of the franchise. Later, the rookie QB made an unwise choice to toss a shovel pass straight into the arms of Melvin Ingram who along with Joey Bosa, had hassled the young passer all game.

A missed Randy Bullock field goal with time expiring in the fourth snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but there is something to build on here in Cincy. A.J. Green made a welcome comeback and was Burrow’s favourite target in week 1 and if Joe Mixon gets rolling then the Bengals could upset a few opponents during what is a rebuilding season.


26. (25) Miami Dolphins

L11-21 @ Patriots

Is it Tua Time? Not just yet – despite the temptation. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for three interceptions and had a poor game, but this was a Patriots defense that seemed to not miss a beat despite losing some key contributors during the off season. Miami also lost leading receiver DeVante Parker during the game and could not get going.

On the ground, it was surprisingly Myles Gaskin who led the team in carries with 9 in what could be a running game that needs a few weeks to find its identity. Rookie tackle Austin Jackson impressed throughout and did not allow a sack and the defense is coming together.

Standout linebacker Jerome Baker finished with an impressive 16 total tackles, sack and a QB hit and Brian Flores will ensure that this unit continues to grow. The Dolphins are still a little way off but are on the right track.


25. (23) Cleveland Browns

L6-38 @ Ravens

Steamrolled by the Ravens in week 1, the Browns looked like their familiar old self. Odell Beckham Jr looked disinterested at times, the pass defense was non-existent and special teams were atrocious.

Baker Mayfield could not seem to get on the same page as his receivers and whilst no one expected the Browns to beat the Ravens, the lack of competitiveness will worry new head coach, Kevin Stefanski.

A few positives to take from the game included how the Browns defended the Ravens run game in the first half and the fact that Myles Garrett was able to cause havoc at times in the Ravens’ backfield but the Browns need to step it up and play to their talent if they are to get the win over Cincinnati in week 2.


24. (24) Las Vegas Raiders

W34-30 @ Panthers

The Raiders won in week 1. They scored 34 points comfortably and Josh Jacobs is quickly becoming an elite back in this league. The second-year workhorse is the true engine of this offense and showed off his receiving chops with 4 grabs for 46 yards, crushing any doubts that he is in anyway one dimensional. Jacobs also ran for 3 touchdowns in a game winning performance where the Raiders cruised on offense.

The defense will be a concern until they can generate pressure as the unit went without a sack against a pedestrian looking Panthers team who managed to put up 30 points of their own. The Raiders are on the up but face a tough battle if they want to escape a daunting AFC West and give Las Vegas their first playoff team in year 1 in their new home.


23. (27) Washington Football Team

W27-17 vs Eagles

This website anointed the Washington D-line as a Top-5 unit during the off season. 8 sacks in week 1 underline this fact. Number one overall pick, Chase Young had an exciting debut, notching 1.5 sacks and 2 QB hits whilst leading pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan had two of his own, ably assisted by Matt Ioannidis (1) and the emerging pair Montez Sweat (1) and Jonathan Allen (0.5).

An emotional win for the Football Team, driven by an apparently rousing speech at half time by second year QB, Dwayne Haskins when 0-17 down drove the team to an impressive comeback win. Haskins will take great confidence from this performance but after a Philadelphia offensive debacle this weekend, it will be interesting to see if he can turn it up another notch in order to compete with the vibrant Arizona Cardinals team led by Kyler Murray in week 2.


22. (22) Atlanta Falcons

L25-38 vs Seahawks

Soft defense allowed the Seahawks to move the ball at will in week 1. The Falcons also moved the ball at will, with Matt Ryan throwing for 450 yards against a “bend but don’t break” Seahawks defense but the majority of their points were scored in garbage time after the team sunk to a 31-11 deficit. Russell Wilson was in complete control throughout and the Falcons had no answers.

Atlanta have a massive game against Dallas this weekend and falling to 0-2 could be too much to recover from in a division with the juggernaut Saints and a Buccaneers team that will be coming into week 2 with a serious chip on their shoulder.


21. (21) Detroit Lions

L23-27 vs Bears

This felt like typical Detroit. The Lions blew a 23-6 fourth quarter lead in a game that they should have closed out before the D’Andre Swift end zone spill. Seven seconds were left on the clock when the rookie had a gut-wrenching drop that would have been a triumphant start to his career. Swift will bounce back, but Matt Patricia is running out of time to build a successful team in Motor City.

The Lions head coach seems bereft of ideas and was unconvincing in his post-game presser; seemingly looking to transfer the heat from himself after being questioned about his game calling by making a bizarre claim about being responsible for a one of the all-time 4th quarter calls in Super Bowl 49. Unfortunately, this is not going to inspire confidence in Detroit and the hot seat is starting to get warmer.


20. (20) Los Angeles Chargers

W16-13 @ Bengals

The Chargers battled to a win in week 1 but were let off the hook by a missed Randy Bullock chip shot late in the game. Tyrod Taylor got the team over the line but was familiarly unspectacular.

The defense stood up well to the Bengals but were going against a rookie QB who was behind a poor offensive line. The Chargers won the turnover battle, but this 16-13 win is not a true indicator of where this team currently sits.

They feel like a middle of the pack type team and until they pull off an unexpected win, will not make many sit up and take notice. They have a chance to do that as they christen SoFi Stadium hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.


19. (15) Minnesota Vikings

L34-43 vs Packers

Mike Zimmer will have been extremely frustrated by what he saw at the weekend. The defensive mastermind saw his side concede the most points in a game since he took the helm in 2014. His defense has seen huge turnover during the past few months and Danielle Hunter has started the season on IR.

New addition, Yannick Ngakoue managed a single QB hit, but registered nothing else on the box score and the rest of the line mustered zero sacks and little pressure on a flawless Aaron Rodgers.

Rookie cornerbacks Holton Hill and Cameron Dantzler were routinely picked on and must be fast learners in order for Zimmer to be able to produce a team that will be competitive this year.


18. (13) Philadelphia Eagles

L17-27 @ Football Team

Carson Wentz was hurried all day thanks to an offensive line that has fallen from one of the league’s best into a patchwork shadow of its former self. Lane Johnson is the sole elite player remaining on the unit, and he missed the game due to an ankle injury. Johnson should be back this week, alongside potential breakout running back Miles Sanders, but Wentz also must play better.

An improved running game will help, but he needs to prove that he can put this team on his shoulders when needed and avoid the kind of turnovers he made on Sunday. Wentz had two interceptions and two fumbles and did not inspire confidence and his task will only get more difficult next week when Aaron Donald comes to town.

The Eagles surrendered a 17-point lead at half time and looked poor on defense. Improvements will be made next week as they welcome back Javon Hargrave and Derek Barnett but facing a rejuvenated Rams will be a tough task as they look to avoid starting the season 0-2.


17. (14) Indianapolis Colts

L20-27 @ Jaguars

Let us hope that this is not the state of things to come for Indianapolis; a fourth quarter meltdown by Philip Rivers. Questions will only get louder as to whether Father Time has caught up with the ex-Chargers quarterback if he continues to look shot during key moments. Rivers piled up the yards but must ensure that he clinches games like this where the Colts are expected to win if Indianapolis plan on making any serious noise in the AFC this year.

The Colts suffered a major blow in their running game as Marlon Mack is now lost for the season and so the backfield is now Jonathan Taylor’s to lose on early downs. Nyheim Hines grabbed the headlines in the box score with 2 TDs, but Taylor looked every bit as advertised.

The Colts are still an extremely talented team, but the class of the AFC will sense their vulnerabilities.


16. (12) Denver Broncos

L14-16 vs Titans

Not quite in sync. This was highlighted by Vic Fangio's poor clock management late in the fourth quarter. Fangio failed to use any of his three time outs as Tennessee were on the march and Derrick Henry was draining the clock which resulted in only a handful of seconds for Drew Lock to manufacture some kind of miracle Hail Mary play.

The fact that Courtland Sutton missed the game hurt as Lock missed his primary target and the Broncos will look to get Jerry Jeudy more involved moving forward as the rookie looked impressive when touching the ball barring a couple of concentration drops. Juking defensive backs and smooth route running was the name of the game for Jeudy: an area in which we already knew he excelled.

Noah Fant looked great, catching 5 balls for 81 yards and a teeder. A sophomore leap appears a certainty for the tight end. Defensively, the Broncos have real potential despite the lack of star pass rusher, Von Miller. Josey Jewell was constantly buzzing around and Jurell Casey looked awesome in his Denver debut. Rookie corner Michael Ojemudia also looked impressive, having an interception chalked off due to an unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Andrew Johnson, who himself is beginning to garner wider recognition as an emerging top linebacker within the NFL.

The Broncos couldn’t get newly acquired Melvin Gordon going until the fourth quarter and an injury to Phillip Lindsay will be a concern, but there was enough in this performance to suggest that if Fangio can jump start his offense and begin to manage the game a little better, then the Broncos will be a challenge for many.


15. (11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

L23-34 @ Saints

Is the decline for real? Tom Terrific had his moments in the battle of veteran, future Hall of Fame QBs but came out on the wrong side of a decidedly one-sided game. It was an uneven performance that wavered from an ugly pick-six early in the game, to the odd big-time throw and another interception later on due to a communication breakdown between Brady and Mike Evans.

All is not lost in one game though and the TBxTB project conjured enough promising sparks to potentially ignite a franchise into relevance as the season progresses. An 0-1 start against their main divisional rival will not help, however. A week 2 matchup facing a young and inexperienced Carolina Panthers should allow Brady and Bruce Arians to get rolling.


14. (19) Los Angeles Rams

W20-17 vs Cowboys

The Rams christened their new home with an excellent win against a strong Dallas Cowboys team. It was a solid performance on both sides of the ball and Jared Goff did enough to get it done. The recipe was to minimize the mistakes, make quick completions and to rely on his playmakers to generate the YAC. For the most part it worked, but Goff will have to make more plays downfield as well as in the red zone as the season progresses to give the Rams a chance to succeed.


13. (18) Arizona Cardinals

W24-20 @ 49ers

Kyler Murray is surging. In fact, the Cardinals have all the hallmarks of a team on the rise. Murray threw for 230 yards against the 49ers and added another 91 with his feet in a performance where he routinely gashed one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2019 who have just come from a Super Bowl appearance.

DeAndre Hopkins had a debut for the ages with 14 catches for 151 yards and had a seamless transition into an offense that looks primed to become one of the best in the league before too long. The toughest division in the NFL and an inconsistent defense prevents the Cardinals from being ranked higher. For now.


12. (17) New England Patriots

W21-11 vs Dolphins

Well, what to make of this? Cam Newton looked back to his irrepressible best in week 1, but there were also times when he took some legitimate hits to his Superman-esque physique.

This was reminiscent of his injury riddled tenure in Carolina and needs to be monitored. It is certain that Bill Belichick will look to limit these kind of attritional situations that puts his new Quarterback in jeopardy and it will be interesting to see if the game plan is dramatically altered in week 2 as the Pats take on the Seahawks; a team who is well versed in how to defend Newton.

The defense looked effective despite losing key members due to opt-outs and departures elsewhere and will ensure that the floor of this team does not slip into the lower echelons of the league.


11. (16) Tennessee Titans

W16-14 @ Broncos

Kicking woes plagued the Titans in 2019. Last season, Tennessee only managed 8 of 18 field goals, missing more than they made. This trend continued in week 1 for the Titans as future Hall of Fame kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed two field goals and also had another one blocked. Despite this, Gostkowski managed to compose himself for the game winning chip shot in what was an underwhelming game overall for the Titans’ offence.

Tannehill attempted 43 passes in the game which is not sustainable for a game manager type QB and Derrick Henry plodded for 116 yards on 31 attempts. Henry will not be allowed to run roughshod over defenses this year in the way he did last, and so the Titans need to find a spark. A.J. Brown is supposed to be the one to provide this, but the second year wideout looked subdued, mustering 5 catches for 39 yards and failing to get loose for any big gains which is what the Titans will need to keep defenses off kilter.

The defense will keep this team in games and Jeffery Simmons in particular looked great, having a number of goal line stops with Jadeveon Clowney a perfect partner in crime on the D-line. Pass rusher Harold Landry, too, looks to be taking the next step in his development. This D only conceded 14 points despite a stupid ejection for Rashaan Evans early in the game and will continue to go from strength to strength.

Unfortunately though, it is doubtful as to whether the offense can hang with the elite teams in this league.


10. (8) Houston Texans

L20-34 @ Chiefs

A shaky start. The Texans looked a tier below their opponents, the Chiefs in week 1. That we already knew but it is now apparent that the gap is wider than first thought. David Johnson looked better than he did in his final two years with Arizona with 7 yards per carry and will be key to the offensive identity of this team moving forward.

Watson struggled under pressure for large parts of the game and could not get anything going downfield to burners Will Fuller and the newly acquired Brandin Cooks. Fuller did pass the century mark in receiving yardage and was the only recipient of a 30+ yard pass from Watson, but there just was not the consistent deep threat for the Texans quarterback with which he usually thrives.

Jacob Martin secured the only sack of the game for Houston and this is a key area in which the team must improve in future weeks if it is to compete seriously for a banner.


9. (9) Dallas Cowboys

L17-20 @ Rams

A loss for Jerry Jones and Big D, but this is not one that will be overly concerning. A questionable pass interference call on Michael Gallup killed their chances, but Dallas took care of the ball well throughout the game, Zeke looked like his old self as he was just shy of a century of rushing yards to start the season and CeeDee Lamb's five receptions hinted at what is to come for the highly touted rookie.

Injuries to Leighton Vander Esch, Cam Erving and Blake Jarwin will concern the Dallas faithful however and Atlanta next week should offer a yardstick of their true potential in a game where they will likely be favoured.


8. (10) Pittsburgh Steelers

W26-16 @ Giants

It took a little while for the offense to get going, but Big Ben rode out of the Big Apple with a comfortable win. Some early season rust was bound to occur after such a long injury absence for Roethlisberger, but the veteran QB kicked into gear quickly enough to see off New York. The game was close for three quarters, but the connection that Big Ben showed with Juju Smith-Schuster felt like they have not missed a beat despite not having played together for over a year.

Bud Dupree was a standout all evening as he has two tackles for a loss and a pass breakup. Dupree does not garner the same national attention as his running mate, T.J. Watt, but is every bit as effective and looks set for a huge season.


7. (7) Green Bay Packers

W43-34 @ Vikings

Back in 2014, Aaron Rodgers told the Green Bay fans and media to R-E-L-A-X. On Sunday, Rodgers was outstanding in what could be a curtain raiser for a 2020 revenge tour after being talked of as a player on decline throughout the off season by a large proportion of the NFL media.

Admittedly, Rodgers had two rookies in Cameron Dantzler and Holton Hill to pick apart, and clearly could sense blood in the water towards the end of the first half as he unleashed a pair of exceptional TD strikes to Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers consistently burned the Vikings secondary and proceeded to rack up 43 points for his team in what is a record number conceded by a Minnesota team on an opening week in their history.

In an off season bereft of significant offensive additions, Rodgers was able to lean on Davante Adams who finished the game tying a franchise record with 14 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, there will be much stiffer tests than this for the Packers and 24 of the Vikes’ points came in 4th quarter garbage time, but for now the team from Titletown can enjoy an early season surge that they will look to extend in week 2 against their inconsistent division rival Detroit Lions.


6. (6) Buffalo Bills

W27-17 vs Jets

They seem to be on a mission to take the AFC East. Josh Allen looked good with both his arms and legs and hooked up early and consistently with new weapon, Stefon Diggs. Diggs finished with 8 catches for 86 yards in a game where Allen spread the ball around amongst his top three receivers as Cole Beasley and John Brown also finished with over 50 yards a piece.

If Allen can continue to progress as a passer then the division is there for the taking. The Jets did not put up much of a challenge and there will be more difficult matchups ahead, but the Bills are cooking right out of the gate.


5. (5) San Francisco 49ers

L20-24 vs Cardinals

This team will only go as far as its mediocre quarterback can take them. Despite carrying over much of its impressive defense from a year ago, the 49ers looked decidedly pedestrian against an emerging Arizona Cardinals team on Sunday.

Jimmy Garoppolo finished with 259 yards on 19 completions with a large chunk of this yardage coming from a 76-yard short pass over the middle to Raheem Mostert in the first quarter. Other than that, the maligned QB completed a mere 4 passes to his wideouts for 41 yards. The return of both Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk from injuries will provide Jimmy G with more weaponry as the season progresses, but in an ultra-competitive NFC West these additions to the wide receiving corps may be too little, too late.

The health of safety valve George Kittle is also up in the air as we head towards week 2 as the superstar tight end was forced to leave the game due to a knee sprain in the first half. Kittle returned to action but was not targeted in the second half of the game.

The much-vaunted defensive line struggled to create genuine pressure, with both Arik Armstead and Dee Ford underwhelming. Nick Bosa operated at his relentless best, but the absence of DeForest Buckner is already being felt.

The secondary struggled badly too, with Emmanuel Moseley unable to get near the ball in coverage and being picked apart to the tune of nine receptions on 13 targets for 82 yards.


4. (4) Seattle Seahawks

W38-25 @ Falcons

An impressive and convincing opening week win over Atlanta solidifies Seattle as one of the teams to beat in the NFC. Jamal Adams had a debut for the ages with a team leading 12 tackles, 2 QB hits and a sack. The stat line does not tell the whole story though, as Adams continually wreaked havoc around the line of scrimmage throughout the game.

Do not let the 25 points scored by the Falcons fool you as two TDs were scored during garbage time as the Seahawks led 31-10 with only ten minutes to go.

If the Hawks can manufacture a pass rush with their front four and commit to the Seahawks-Twitter groundswell that implores Pete Carroll to #LetRussCook, then the Seahawks are a scary proposition and could blow teams away in a manner that is unusual for a traditionally run-first team that likes to keep games tight.

Oh yeah – whilst on the subject of Russell Wilson – the perennial MVP contender threw for 4 TDs with only 4 incompletions on 35 attempts on Sunday, finishing with a passer rating of 143.1. A dominant start to the season for the elite QB.


3. (2) New Orleans Saints

W34-23 vs Buccaneers

New Orleans get a slight knock here due to an uneven outing, despite a win over divisional rivals Tampa Bay. This is in anticipation as to how an injury to Michael Thomas could affect them moving forward. There were struggles on offense as Alvin Kamara had just 16 yards on 12 carries, but this was only week 1.

Can the Saints and Sean Payton scheme a more explosive game plan if needed in case Thomas misses time? The roster is one of the most complete in the league and they will continue to be amongst the favourites in the NFC, but toppling this team will appear doable if they continue to look as vulnerable as they did in week 1.


2. (3) Kansas City Chiefs

W34-20 vs Texans

The rich keep getting richer. As if the Chiefs’ offense was not explosive enough, they went out and drafted the best running back in college in Clyde Edwards-Helaire and he hit the ground running – literally. Edwards-Helaire had 138 yards on a whopping 25 carries and was trusted with goal-to-go duties right out of the gate.

The Champs were not at their inimitable best but still managed an easy win against fellow AFC contenders, the Houston Texans. Could they repeat? They are certainly early favourites.


1. (1) Baltimore Ravens

W38-6 vs Browns

Lamar Jackson continues to get better. That is a fact even after an MVP winning season in 2019 as the third year QB is showing more and more pocket passing poise as his experience grows. Jackson has said that he still has areas in which he would like to improve and that is a scary proposition to the rest of the NFL.

A matchup with Kansas for the AFC appears likely in January and it is Baltimore’s defense that could be the deciding factor this year. Patrick Queen had an excellent rookie debut and Calais Campbell remains one of the most impactful defensive linemen in the league despite his climbing years.

It was a rout for Baltimore as they manhandled the Browns with a 38-6 beatdown but Houston and Deshaun Watson should provide a sterner test in what will be a further tune up for John Harbaugh and his team’s Super Bowl credentials.


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