Power Rankings. Love ’em or hate ’em, they exist. I’m personally part of the former crowd. I love reading power rankings, seeing where my team falls, and reading all the (admittedly futile) attempts at justifying each team’s placement. Creating one of these in Week 1 seems like begging for punishment and ridicule, yet I am always drawn to try my hand at the challenge of ranking all 32 NFL teams… so I did. Unlike most “professional” power rankings, I wrote this with the explicit knowledge that I am pulling all of this out of my, um… let’s say “rear.” As a fan of football and the discussion thereof, however, I enjoyed this exercise in assigning numerical values pertaining to power, as they relate to NFL teams. Am I a bit of a football nerd? Why yes. Yes I am. If you think you might be one too, you should try writing power rankings sometime. It’s surprisingly difficult, yet thought-provoking.
So without further ado, I present my meaningless, biased, and likely incorrect Week 1 Power Rankings.
- San Francisco 49ers: This defense is designed to dominate, and that’s exactly what it did to the Packers offense. Alex Smith is poised and mistake-free. He is proving himself to be more than just a game-manager.
- Baltimore Ravens: Offense. Defense. The Ravens have both in spades. Ray Lewis should be advertising for “Ageless Male” products. It is possible that he may never die.
- New England Patriots: We hate them, but they are (let’s face it) a really good football team. Their O-Line is depleted, but now they’re making up for that with a suddenly dominant run game. WHY? HOW? *Grumble grumble.* Happy to see Brady messing up his pretty face, though.
- Houston Texans: The defense is elite. Arian Foster is made of steel. As long as Schaub avoids mistakes, this team could own the AFC.
- Green Bay Packers: It’s not a sin to lose to the 49ers, but doing it at home hurts when you’re the Packers. After Week 1 they have as many losses as they had last season. They will still be in the playoffs, but their defense needs vast improvement if they want to go any further.
- Atlanta Falcons: Best offense in the league? It’s very possible. It would help to have a better run game to balance the pass, though it’s gotta be hard for Matt Ryan to resist throwing to the best receiving duo in the game.
- Denver Broncos: Denver looked questionable early on, but once the offense was turned over to Peyton there was nothing the Steelers could do to stop them. This is a very complete team with a clear path to the postseason, but success hinges on Peyton’s health.
- Chicago Bears: The defense taught Luck some important lessons, and the Cutler-Marshall combo is nigh unstoppable. Michael Bush and Matt Forte form a two-headed dragon-wolverine on angel dust… something no defense wants to face.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: This is still a good football team that should rebound from a forgivable loss. Peyton Manning’s play-calling seemed to revolve around Troy Polamalu’s actions, proving he is still a force in the defense.
- New Orleans Saints: Obviously surprising to see them fall to the Redskins, but I blame it on an inability to game-plan for RG3. This is still a good football team (despite the drama), though they now find themselves looking up at the Falcons. It may stay that way.
- New York Giants: If Victor Cruz catches the passes he dropped, the Giants win that game. I still think they’re the favorite to win their division, and Coughlin will get them back on track.
- Detroit Lions: The offense is as advertised, and Megatron is dodging the Madden curse so far, but that Detroit defense let the Rams get WAY too close for comfort.
- Dallas Cowboys: Yes, they beat the Giants, but Romo’s Cowboys have consistently been a roller-coaster team. One week they’re unstoppable, the next they’re the office flag-football team from a software company. They need to maintain success to earn more respect.
- Philadelphia Eagles: I don’t know where the Eagles hype came from this year, but they are apparently Super Bowl favorites, according to the media. I’m not sold. Any other team would have beaten them this week. The Browns handed them a gift.
- New York Jets: HATE. RAGE…. Ok, calm down. Maintain objectivity. Ahem. Unfortunately the Cortland Circus proved to have an excellent defense and a crafty coach. I think the offense’s performance is unlikely to be repeated, though. Tebow was a non-factor. Week 17… REVENGE.
- Washington Redskins: Credit where credit is due. Beating the Saints with a rookie QB is HUGE. The problem is that, by midseason, teams will learn how to plan for RG3. The rest of the Redskins season will depend on how RG3 and the coaching staff respond to that.
- Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green is a beast, and Dalton is developing. The defense is good. Unfortunately for the Bengals they’re stuck in the powerful AFC North with little chance to repeat last year’s playoff berth.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Great coaching by the Bucs, and execution by the defense, stopped Cam Newton in his tracks. There are still a lot of pieces that need to be put together, but this team is rebuilding the right way.
- San Diego Chargers: This is, however, a team in decline. Their ineptitude on MNF was only exceeded by an even worse performance by Oakland. The offense has lost its explosiveness, there is NO run game, and Norv Turner may find himself without a job soon.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Weren’t the Chiefs supposed to have a good defense? They need that defensive talent to coalesce into an actual unit quickly or there is no chance to contend this year. Matt Cassel needs to develop consistency or he won’t be starting next year.
- Buffalo Bills: This hurts SO much to rank them this low, but that’s just where we stand right now. Outcoached and outplayed in the Meadowlands, there’s some work to be done before Week 2. I still BILLIEVE the pieces are in place for a playoff run. Defense needs to show up, though.
- Arizona Cardinals: A win comes at a very large cost. Despite his misleading late game heroics, I’m confident that Kevin Kolb under center is going to hurt this team.
- Seattle Seahawks: This team will go as far as Russell Wilson takes them. He has the talent to give them a chance to contend, but he has a lot of lessons to learn in a very short period of time to make the postseason more than just a dream.
- Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton will regress this year. I called it before the game started and I’m sticking with it. He won’t surprise anyone this year, and as teams learn how to deal with him the losses will continue to stack. That team still needs a lot more weaponry to be legit.
- Tennessee Titans: Locker is lacking, but he needs the experience to grow. In a season or two he can lead the Titans. For now, they are rebuilding.
- Minnesota Vikings: With Adrian Peterson restored and Christian Ponder showing some spunk, I would love to rank them higher. Too bad they still look like a spindly-armed 9-year-old compared to the rest of the NFC North.
- St. Louis Rams: Kudos to the Rams for making it hard on Detroit. A loss is still a loss, however, and the Rams look to have a long season ahead.
- Oakland Raiders: As it stands, this is the least disciplined team in the league. Penalties, botched snaps, and blocked punts, the Raiders repeatedly shot themselves in the foot for all to see on MNF. The Chargers could barely manage an offense, but Oakland made sure they didn’t need one.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD is still the only bright spot on this team. Blaine Gabbert is admittedly improving, but too slow for it to matter this year.
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck proved he’s still raw, and the rest of the Colts team proved they’re still the team from last year. Luck will surely develop into a winner… whenever he happens to be part of an actual team of even middling competence.
- Cleveland Browns: It seemed like the Eagles were TRYING to lose, and the Browns still couldn’t pull it off. Brandon Weeden was embarrassingly bad. Trent Richardson was a drop of water on a raging fire of suck.
- Miami Dolphins: With the most watchable part of the season behind them (aka Hard Knocks), the Fins are looking towards a #1 performance… in the 2013 NFL Draft.
So there you have it! I’m interested to see what kind of discussion this generates. As much as I love to talk about my Bills, it’s good to widen the lens, at times, and look at the rest of the league in comparison. Agree or disagree, I am eager to experience your unbridled commentary and corrections.
See you Week 2! Let’s go Buffalo! Destroy KC! Climb my arbitrary rankings!