NFL Week 1 Power Rankings
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and man, were there some crazy games.
To kick off the season, the Chiefs dismantled the Texans, who looked like they were missing a certain star receiver. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers looked overhyped against the Saints, while his replacement in New England proved some of his doubters wrong. The Eagles and Lions blew massive leads, but both showed some promise.
But it’s still week 1, and we don’t want to overreact. Do the Eagles suck, or is Washington clutch? Were the Cowboys overrated, or are the Rams back? I wanted to keep in mind the fact that we don’t know the reasons for a lot of these outcomes yet, and so I didn’t want to jump or drop anyone too much this week. That’s why the biggest movers only moved three spots. So if your team didn’t move up as much as you wanted it to after a big win, just tell them to keep it up, and you’ll see it reflected here.
Love them? Hate them? Let me know what you think by tweeting at me (@AidanCharde), and make sure you come back every week to see my updates.
32. New York Jets (Last week: 30) -2
I’m gonna be honest, I expected a little more from the Jets. Outside of a few defensive stops and one good offensive drive, the Jets mostly looked dead this weekend. Right now, Sam Darnold is looking like a bust. Granted, he’s had horrible coaching and probably just needs someone who knows what they’re doing for him to do well, but life isn’t always fair–look at Josh Rosen. Unfortunately for Darnold, even if Gase is gone this season, there’s no guarantee the new coach will want to keep him around past his rookie contract.
31. New York Giants (LW: 31) =
Saquon Barkley deserves better. Though I can be quoted as saying he was going to be a bust when he was drafted, I do still think he has a lot more potential than what he showed this weekend. The Giants did nothing to build around their young QB-RB duo, which could be one of the best in the league if they could get some protection from the offensive line. But Barkley can’t break out any big runs if there isn’t any blocking to open up a lane, and Daniel Jones is going to get hurt if he keeps getting hit on basically every single play. He made some nice plays under pressure, especially in the first drive after the half, but as we saw, he can only do it so many times before he throws a pick.
30. Cleveland Browns (LW: 29) -1
For the second year in a row, the Browns have managed to get slaughtered on opening day despite big expectations. They have one of the best rosters in the NFL, and yet they can only manage to score 6 points. I don’t care how good the Ravens are, OBJ and Jarvis Landry should be tearing it up against everyone! Come on, guys. I don’t have more to say other than it’s getting to the point where the team should really just scrap everything they have and go back to what’s familiar: the tank.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32) +3
I think it’s fair to say that the Jaguars surprised everyone, but no one looked more surprised than Philip Rivers and the Colts. Gardner Minshew had an incredible game, going 19/20 in a game that everyone counted them out of from the beginning. So why aren’t they ranked higher? Well, like I said above, we don’t know if this was a fluke or the norm. Maybe the Jags are contenders, but it might also be that the Colts are bad, or that Minshew really just had a lucky game. Maybe it was just that the Jags had the benefit of having fans in their stands. If this performance is repeated next week against the Titans, I’ll be surprised, but I’m not ready to count them out anymore.
28. Carolina Panthers (LW: 28) =
The Panthers might have lost, but they were oh so close to winning. And, like the Jaguars, it was in a game where almost everyone counted them out of. Teddy Bridgewater showed that he is good enough to be a franchise quarterback, and McCaffrey reminded us why he’s the best running back in the league. And their defense, while significantly worse without the help of Luke Kuechly, managed to play well enough to keep them in the game. That run defense needs some work though. Josh Jacobs is great, but if he can run for nearly 100 yards and 3 touchdowns, a lot of other players can too.
27. Miami Dolphins (LW: 27) =
The Dolphins looked good, but they were hurt by the lack of preseason. Tom Brady and Cam Newton are as close as you can get to being polar opposites. Yes, they’ve seen Newton play before, but not under Belichick’s system. And so they just didn’t look like they were ready to stop the scrambling quarterback, though they did keep his passing in check. On the offense, I would say that Fitzpatrick had a tough game, but he is not fully to blame for his three interceptions. The Patriots defense is unnaturally good, so I want to see how he does against a normal defense before calling for Tua. Plus, Parker looked good in the air, and Myles Gaskin looked like he could be their #1 back this season. A lot of hope, but still a few seasons to go before they can contend.
26. Detroit Lions (LW: 25) -1
Wow. The Lions have once again proven that they are the saddest team in the league. Victory was in their grasp. They were up 23-6 with just 14 minutes to play. Hell, they were up 23-13 with 3 minutes to play. And they did have a chance at winning it, but D’Andre Swift dropped the ball (literally) in the end zone. Matt Stafford and Adrian Peterson also looked like their old selves, and they couldn’t pull it out. I know they were missing Golladay, but the defense is definitely to blame for the fourth quarter. Hopefully they don’t let this loss get them down. They still played very well through the first three quarters, and they could have what it takes to sneak into the playoffs. Not if they end games like this, though.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 26) +1
The Chargers must have passed some of their bad luck onto the Bengals, because the way that they won that game seems eerily similar to the way they lost a lot of games in previous seasons. Tyrod Taylor did everything he could do to lose that game, but they got bailed out at the last second by a missed 31-yard field goal. Anthony Lynn should be ecstatic, but it doesn't change the fact that this team will not continue to win games in this division if Taylor continues to lead the team. I almost wish they lost, because then it’d be likely that we could see Herbert next week. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be put in until it’s too late.
24. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 22) -2
The Colts really blew it on this one. Philip Rivers did look (mostly) great in his Colts debut, and Nyheim Hines looked spectacular both on the ground and in the passing game, but Indy still couldn’t pull out a win. I don’t really know what went wrong for the Colts here, because they didn’t look like they were having any trouble moving the ball, and they did hold Minshew to under 200 yards passing, but this can’t happen if they want to win the division this year.
23. Denver Broncos (LW: 23) =
Drew Lock looked good in his first meaningful game, which is good news for the Broncos. He had a solid game, going 22/33 for 216 yards and a touchdown. And although Philip Lindsey didn’t do much, Melvin Gordon showed that he’s still one of the best backs in the league. But the offense didn’t do enough, only scoring 14 points in a game that they were lucky to be in thanks to 4 missed kicks by the Titans. Lock is going to need to do a lot more if he wants to keep Denver alive in an offensively stacked division.
22. Washington Football Team (LW: 24) +2
What a comeback. I can’t tell if Dwayne Haskins is clutch or if the Eagles just fell apart, but either way, the team looked really good. They sit alone atop the NFC East, which I don’t think anyone was expecting. I knew the Football Team would be a sleeper pick–especially in the worst divisions in the league–but I thought they were dead after going down 17-0. Now the question is if they can keep up the success in the rest of the season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 21) =
Joe Burrow had a very solid start to his NFL career and did all he could to win his first game. But unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as Randy Bullock missed an easy 31-yard kick to tie the game at the end of regulation. But they didn’t drop because I think the team still showed a lot of promise. This isn’t the same team that got the 1st overall pick, and with AJ Green back, the offense has the potential to explode this season. The defense looked good, but that was mainly due to the lack of any offensive production on the other side. I don’t think this team will make the playoffs, but in a few years, they could have some success.
20. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 20) =
The first Sunday Night Football game of the year did not disappoint. The Rams, although missing the lifeblood of their offense in 2017 and 2018, had a very promising running attack and a good enough passing game. Defensively, they struggled stopping Ezekiel Elliott, but that’s something that plenty of teams have problems with. And even though they won on a bad call, it was a key win for them to stay in the division that has three teams starting 1-0.
19. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 17) -2
This is something you’ll never hear me say: the Cowboys got screwed and deserved to win this game. Jalen Ramsey flopped, taking back a 47-yard gain on 3rd and 10. But even with that, I must say that I’m disappointed with how this offense looked. There was a lot of talk that Dak Prescott was going to blow everyone away, throwing to Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb, but none of them looked particularly spectacular. Maybe it’s because of rust, but my skepticism of the Cowboys offense has proven correct so far.
18. Chicago Bears (LW: 19) +1
Mitch Trubisky might not be better than Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, but this game proved that he deserves to be a starter in the league. The Bears had under a 2% chance of winning with 5 minutes left (according to ESPN), but managed to pull 14 points out of nowhere and snatch a win. Trubisky looked dead up until the fourth quarter, but something clicked in him as well as the defense, who came up with a few great stops. I don’t know if this team has what it takes to make it out of a tough division, but it’s a very good start to the season.
17. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 16) -1
Matt Ryan looked incredible, but the Falcons simply weren’t good enough to beat the Seahawks this weekend. Despite three receivers breaking the 100 yard mark, it seems that Russell Wilson was too much for the Falcons defense to manage. It was a tough loss for Atlanta, who are hoping to stay alive in the divisional race, but it’s not enough to count them out at all. As was shown last year, defense might win championships, but offense wins games, and this offense can certainly outscore opponents if they have to.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 14) -2
It’s probably too early to call Tom Brady washed up yet, but this game was not pretty for him or the “dream team” Buccaneers. With last year’s interception leader watching from the other sideline, Brady looked to try to one-up him with two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Outside of some garbage time production, Brady did not play well enough to beat the loaded Saints. The defense looked good, stopping Alvin Kamara behind the line several times (and letting him into the end zone twice, but shhhh) and holding Brees to under 100 yards at the half, but they have a lot to work on before next week.
15. New England Patriots (LW: 18) +3
While Tom Brady struggled on his new team, Cam Newton looked fantastic in his debut for New England. And even though I have said (and written) on multiple occasions that Newton would not fit in with the Patriots, I will fully admit that I was wrong. Of course, this could change in an instant if Newton gets hurt or if last week was a fluke, but it was fun watching him have fun. And it was great seeing the Patriots look very, very different from years past.
14. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 15) +1
Yeah, the Cardinals definitely won the DeAndre Hopkins trade. He looked as incredible as usual, drawing in 14 receptions for 151 yards. Kyler Murray actually only threw 80 yards to anyone else, which is impressive for Hopkins, but could be concerning in the long run for the Cardinals. While they did look great on both sides of the ball, the team could be in trouble if Hopkins gets shut down in a game, or gets hurt.
Side note: everyone called me crazy for picking the Cardinals over the 49ers last week. Well who’s laughing now?
13. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 13) =
The Raiders scraped out a win after blowing a 12 point 4th quarter lead, thanks to some great rushing by Josh Jacobs. Derek Carr didn’t look like anything special, but Jacobs nearly hit 100 yards and three scores. What’s more worrying is the other side of the ball. The Raiders only managed to sack Teddy Bridgewater once and let up a big 75-yard touchdown with under 9 to play that gave the Panthers the lead. Fortunately, the offense bailed them out, but that won’t happen every week.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 10) -2
I don’t want to rip on the Eagles too bad. They blew a 17 point lead, sure, but they are very banged up still. Their offensive line was decimated, likely why they let up 8 sacks, but they were also missing their top receiver and running back. But then again, they did manage to win four straight to end last season with what was basically their practice squad, and that was against much tougher competition. It was a hard loss for the Eagles, who want to take the NFC East for the second year in a row, something that no team has done since 2004.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 12) +1
Big Ben looked strong in his return from last season’s elbow injury and JuJu showed that he’s ready to be a #1 receiver again. But this game was far from perfect for Pittsburgh. Playing against a team as awful as New York, they should have blown them out of the water. And although they held Saquon to just 6 yards rushing, they also let the Giants stay in the game for far too long. If Cam Heyward didn’t intercept Jones’ goal line pass on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, this game could have ended very differently.
10. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 7) -3
What a horrible, horrible showing for Minnesota. This is a team that was expected to have one of the best defenses in football, and my fantasy team is mad at them for believing it (-9 points. Come on!). You should have known Davante Adams was going to be targeted more than anyone else, and yet they still let him pull in 14 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. Offensively, the Vikings looked passable. They can win games with the production they had there. But they are not winning this division if they can’t stop Aaron Rodgers.
9. Buffalo Bills (LW: 11) +2
Surprise surprise, the Bills demolished the Jets. Buffalo should easily win the AFC East with the way they played this weekend. Josh Allen looked like an all-pro, Stefon Diggs looked right at home, and the defense played mostly perfectly. And yes, Allen fumbled twice, but they overcame that challenge last season. If he can improve his accuracy, he’ll need to run less and therefore fumble less. But he also threw for 300 yards, the first Bill to do that in over 3 years. I’m looking forward to watching them play.
8. Tennessee Titans (LW: 9) +1
The Titans only moved up because I didn’t want to move the Bills up 3. Derrick Henry took the biggest load, rushing 31 times for 116 yards, and Corey Davis finally showed some promise, but the rest of the offense was mostly mediocre. They should have won this game way sooner, but two missed field goals, a blocked field goal, and a missed extra point will do that to you. I think the Titans have a good team, but they didn’t play as well as they could and didn’t capitalize on all of their opportunities.
7. Houston Texans (LW: 6) -1
I tried to defend Bill O’Brien for as long as I could, but I must finally admit that trading Hopkins was definitively a mistake. David Johnson did look good, showing flashes of his 2016 form, but the Texans were clearly missing a star receiver. Cooks, Cobb, and Fuller are all great receivers, but none of them have what it takes to be the top guy, and it really showed. And yeah, they were playing the best team in the league, but there are a lot of teams that can put up similar numbers to the Chiefs, and if they can’t keep up on offense, they’ll have to do much better on defense.
6. Green Bay Packers (LW: 8) +2
Aaron Rodgers made the Packers front office look silly for drafting Jordan Love. Either that, or they look like geniuses for lighting a fire under him. But the point is, Rodgers looked fantastic in virtually every way. But I don’t think the Packers can keep winning by just throwing to Adams. It’s only a matter of time before someone slows him down, and they don’t have another receiver that can play anywhere close to as well as him.
5. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 4) -1
The 49ers looked very different from the team that won the NFC last year. Richard Sherman, one of the top corners in the league, couldn’t do a thing to stop Hopkins from racking up a career high 151 yards, and Kyler Murray scorched their scary D-line for 91 yards and a touchdown. Offensively, they passed the ball way more than they’re used to, and it showed. Jimmy G only completed a little more than half of his 33 passes, and Raheem Moestert led the team in receiving by almost 50 yards.
4. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 5) +1
The Seahawks looked scary good in their win over Atlanta. That should concern everyone in their division, but the 49ers more than anyone else. The Seahawks just missed out on the division last year, and have a team that looks just as good this year. With the way San Francisco played this weekend, Seattle has a very good chance at taking the title back for the first time since 2016. Just keep letting Russell Wilson do what Russell Wilson does.
3. New Orleans Saints (LW: 3) =
While the Saints defense and special teams looked elite against the Buccaneers, the offense looked very different from the one the Saints have been known for in years past. And although they pulled out the win, it was in no part thanks to Michael Thomas or Drew Brees, who both put up numbers well below their usual standards. Thomas is also out for possibly multiple games with a high ankle injury, which isn’t going to help anyone. But Kamara and Taysom Hill looked fantastic, so I wouldn’t be too scared if I was Sean Payton.
2. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 2) =
As has been the norm recently, the Ravens throttled their unlucky opponent, who this week happened to be the Browns. Lamar Jackson proved that his MVP season wasn’t a fluke and the defense came up big multiple times with a pick and two fumble recoveries. No matter how good they look, though, the Ravens will still not be favored in the AFC until they can prove that they have what it takes to win in the playoffs. But that’s still 16 weeks away. For now, fear the Ravens.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 1) =
And, in a surprise to absolutely no one, the Chiefs come out on top of the power rankings. Everyone on the Chiefs looked incredible on Thursday, from rookies to veterans on both sides of the ball. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran himself right to the top of the ROTY conversation (and I know it’s only week 1 but still) while Pat Mahomes reminded everyone that he is the best quarterback in the league. And the defense, which has struggled in the past few years, actually managed to make some stops against a very solid offense. As opposed to the Ravens, who still haven’t proven postseason success, the Chiefs have shown they have what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and there’s not much standing in their way for a repeat.
Weekly Picks - Week 2
Bengals over Browns
Cowboys over Falcons
Bills over Dolphins
Bears over Giants
Steelers over Broncos
Packers over Lions
Titans over Jaguars
Vikings over Colts
Rams over Eagles
49ers over Jets
Panthers over Buccaneers
Cardinals over Football Team
Chiefs over Chargers
Ravens over Texans
Seahawks over Patriots
Saints over Raiders
Lock of the Week: Chiefs over Chargers