Splash’s Power Rankings: Week 1

Splash’s Power Rankings: Week 1

by September 14, 2021 1 comment

Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. There was quite the shakeup near the top as five of the top eight lost during Week 1. With that said, all five teams are still in the top half. After all, one game, especially Week 1, does not define a season. If these teams continue to lose, they will fall as necessary. On a similar note, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent. Remember the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. Upsets are upsets for a reason.

Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars (-5)

While Jacksonville did trim the deficit to 16 by the end, it was one of the ugliest losses of the week. Jacksonville trailed by 27 with 17 minutes left in regulation and was down 23 until a touchdown with five seconds left. Trevor Lawrence‘s NFL debut did end with three touchdowns, but all three came while Jacksonville was down multiple touchdowns. There are few positives to take away, but at least this team is not supposed to compete yet.

No. 31: New York Jets (-2)

New York did trail by multiple scores for most of the afternoon, but they did get better as the game progressed. Zach Wilson had a rough start to his NFL career, but he was fairly sold down the stretch. Like Jacksonville, this team is not meant to compete just yet. New York falls to 31 as more of a technicality than anything. The bottom few teams are tightly packed.

No. 30: Atlanta Falcons (-6)

Atlanta was flat-out the worst team in the league on Sunday. The offense was horrific. The defense was somehow even worse. Atlanta came into play with an explosive offense and a defense with some solid pieces. The offense lacked any explosiveness, and the defense was torched. It is as ugly of a loss as a team can have, and there were zero positives.

No. 29: Detroit Lions (+2)

The Lions did show some fight at the end. They were down multiple scores for much of the second half, but they were interesting in crawling back. Detroit did lose, but there were some positive takeaways. Penei Sewell played well in his NFL debut. Amon-Ra St. Brown also made some plays. Detroit is bad, but they are a competitive bad team.

No. 28: Houston Texans (+4)

Tyrod Taylor had the game of his life. All three of Houston’s running backs scored a touchdown. Danny Amendola got in on the action with a touchdown. The defense even picked Lawrence off three times. Like Detroit, Houston is a bad team, but they do have prideful players littered around the team. Houston may only win a couple more games for the rest of the season, but they will make many games interesting.

No. 27: Carolina Panthers (+3)

Carolina took care of business. It was far from the cleanest of victories, but Carolina did enough. Sam Darnold had a reasonable debut, and the return of Christian McCaffrey was epic. Shaq Thompson had an excellent game. Carolina still projects to be a pushover, but they do have talented players on both sides of the ball.

No. 26: New York Giants (-3)

The Giants were just the worst team on the field on Sunday. They trailed by 20 until the final second of the game when Daniel Jones slipped in for a touchdown. Jones was passable for the most part, so that might be the brightest part of the day. As a whole, New York just faced a better team. Denver has one of the best rosters in the NFL, and they got a good performance out of Teddy Bridgewater. New York’s hands were tied.

No. 25: Philadelphia Eagles (+3)

Philadelphia manhandled Atlanta. After a close first half, Philadelphia ran away with a 17-0 second half. Jalen Hurts was excellent both through the air and on the ground. He looked polished, and he is a huge reason why Philadelphia moved up this week. As usual, Philadelphia had strong play in the trenches. Javon Hargrave was fabulous, and Philadelphia may not be as far removed from the NFC East title as preseason projections had them.

No. 24: Chicago Bears (-2)

At a certain point, quarterback play will kill the energy of a team. Andy Dalton is far from the worst quarterback in the NFL, but it is a tough ask for him to play like a top 20 quarterback. It was a disjointed 60 minutes for the Bears. The offense moved the ball at times, but they also tripped over themselves repeatedly. The Rams exploited Chicago’s defense. This is a corpse of a team.

No. 23: Cincinnati Bengals (+3)

The Bengals almost self-destructed, but they did enough to secure the victory. Overtime games can be fluky to some degree, but Cincinnati played well enough to force overtime in the first place. Joe Burrow looked excellent, and Ja’Marr Chase went for 100 yards in his NFL debut. The run defense held Dalvin Cook to just over three yards per carry.

No. 22: Washington Football Team (-3)

An Antonio Gibson fumble undid an otherwise solid performance. Washington kept a lid on Justin Herbert and the Chargers. While they did lose, the Chargers are the better team. William Jackson had a great debut, even securing an interception. As a whole, Washington is quarterback-dependent, but they have a talented roster.

No. 21: Las Vegas Raiders (+4)

The Raiders played quite well in Allegiant Stadium’s first game with fans. There were a handful of sloppy penalties, but Vegas did keep a lid on an otherwise explosive Baltimore offense. Daniel Carlson nailed a clutch 55-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, and Vegas eventually pulled out the victory in the extra frame. As a whole, it is a good win for the Raiders over an expected playoff contender.

No. 20: Dallas Cowboys (+0)

Dallas played exactly to expectation. The offense was great even without Zack Martin. However, when it mattered, the defense fell to the best team in the NFL. It was quite the valiant effort, and Dallas deserves quite a bit of praise. Dak Prescott looked sharp in his return, and Ezekiel Elliott had a tremendous game as a pass-blocker. Pending Washington’s quarterback situation, Dallas should be favored to win the division.

No. 19: Denver Broncos (+2)

As mentioned in the Giants blurb, Bridgewater was excellent for Denver. The defense played well as well. The running game was bottled up outside of a Melvin Gordon 70-yard run, however. Injuries bit Jerry Jeudy, but it is not a season-ending injury. As a whole, Denver has an incredible roster that just needs competent quarterback play. For Week 1, Bridgewater provided the competent quarterback play.

No. 18: Minnesota Vikings (-3)

Overtime games, as mentioned earlier, can be fluky. Without a heartbreaking fumble in overtime, the Vikings likely win the game. At the very least, they would have whittled the clock down and missed a field goal as time expired. Minnesota did not play particularly well, but overtime games are coin flips. One play went the wrong way for Minnesota, and they ended up losing.

No. 17: Indianapolis Colts (+0)

Seattle is just better than Indianapolis. Carson Wentz was not a catastrophe, so that is something for Indianapolis to build on. The division is up for grabs as Tennessee had a horrendous performance of their own. Indianapolis has enough talented players for this loss to not be much more than just a run-of-the-mill loss to a better team. There is room to grow for the Colts.

No. 16: Tennessee Titans (-8)

For the second consecutive game, Derrick Henry contributed little to the offense. Ryan Tannehill also had a fairly poor game, tossing an interception and losing two fumbles. Taylor Lewan had one of the worst performances in his NFL career. However, this is likely the nadir for the Titans. Arizona is a talented team with a potential star at quarterback. 25-point losses at home are ugly, but Tennessee can make progress.

No. 15: San Francisco 49ers (-1)

The 49ers fall only because a certain division rival is moving up. Otherwise, San Francisco played to expectation. The score ended up being much closer than it should have been, but San Francisco dominated most of the game. Jason Verrett was lost for the season, and Raheem Mostert will miss about half of the season. These injuries will hurt, but as long as San Francisco is healthier than in 2020, they should be fine moving forward.

No. 14: Arizona Cardinals (+4)

Chandler Jones had five sacks. J.J. Watt was excellent against the run. Byron Murphy was excellent. Kyler Murray had a sensational game. No matter how you slice it, the Cardinals had one of the most impressive showings of Week 1. However, they need to prove it can be a consistent occurrence rather than just a flash in the pan. This is quite the step in the right direction, though.

No. 13: Los Angeles Chargers (+0)

The Chargers played to expectation. The offensive line took massive strides against a good Washington pass rush. Justin Herbert looked good for the most part. Joey Bosa did Bosa things. However, the biggest key of the afternoon was Derwin James. After missing most of the last two seasons, James came back and was sensational. He earned a 90 PFF grade, and he is right back in the discussion of best safeties in the NFL.

No.12: New England Patriots (-1) & No. 11: Miami Dolphins (+1)

These teams will be graded together due to the resounding similarities. Miami won Week 1 in large part due to the manufacturing of turnovers. In a vacuum, New England is likely a tiny bit better, but Miami has superior weapons. The difference between these two games is minute, and they will likely flip spots for much of the season. However, round one did go to Brian Flores and the Dolphins.

No. 10: Baltimore Ravens (-3)

All things considered, Baltimore was unlucky to lose in the manner in which they did. They would have fallen several spots even if they had won (for the sake of argument, pretend Carlson misses the 55-yard field goal at the end of regulation). Either way, Baltimore has several problem spots to fix. The offensive line was horrendous, but this might be the worst it gets. After the obligatory loss to the Chiefs next week, Baltimore should rebound.

No. 9: Pittsburgh Steelers (+7)

The offense was quite horrendous for the most part. However, the defense showed up. Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Joe Haden all had spectacular weeks. This is the modern-day 85 Bears or 2000 Ravens. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is not a turnover machine, the Steelers will win a lot of games. This is an elite, once-in-a-decade defense.

No. 8: New Orleans Saints (+2)

New Orleans had the statement victory of Week 1. In a neutral-site game against Green Bay, the Saints thoroughly tattooed the Packers. Jameis Winston was unstoppable. Defensively, the Saints were elite on all three levels. It is only one game, but it is as good of a game as New Orleans could have asked for.

No.7: Buffalo Bills (-2)

Pittsburgh is an awful matchup for the Bills. No team in the NFL generates pressure like Pittsburgh, so it makes sense as to why Josh Allen and the offense had a poor day. The defense did play fairly well, but the Bills lost the game through offense and special teams play. However, Buffalo did enter the second half up 10, so it was not a 60-minute capitulation like the next team on the list.

No. 6: Green Bay Packers (-3)

Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers looked great. Other than those two, Green Bay was a shell of the team that went to the NFC title game eight months ago. Aaron Rodgers tossed a pair of ugly interceptions in one of the worst games of his career. If there is any positive for the Packers, the rest of the division lost. It is only Week 1, so Green Bay has plenty of time to fix issues.

No. 5: Seattle Seahawks (+4)

Seattle looked polished on both sides of the ball. Russell Wilson was dialing up the deep ball, and he connected with Tyler Lockett on two long touchdowns. Defensively, the Seahawks played very well. In recent years, Seattle has gotten off to hot starts, so take this performance with a grain of salt. However, this might be the year that Wilson puts it all together for a full season.

No. 4: Cleveland Browns (+0)

For three quarters, the Browns played nearly perfectly. Then, it unraveled. Nick Chubb fumbled. Jamie Gillan botched a punt. Baker Mayfield tossed a game-sealing interception. While all of this is bad, do not let three bad plays color your views of the game. Mayfield was sensational until the interception. The Browns were able to move the ball up and down the field unrestrained even without Odell Beckham. Cleveland is on the rise.

No. 3: Los Angeles Rams (+3)

Los Angeles took care of business. Matthew Stafford had an incredible Rams debut, hitting a pair of long touchdowns. The Rams also played well defensively with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey performing as their usual selves. Some of the other top teams stumbled this week, but the Rams used Week 1 as an excellent start to the season.

No. 2: Kansas City Chiefs (+0)

At a certain point, the Chiefs are unfair. Mahomes is one of the most ridiculous players in NFL history. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are close behind. Even Chris Jones is one of the best players in the NFL. Cleveland outplayed Kansas City for much of three quarters, but it did not matter in the end. Mahomes launched a missile to Hill, and all momentum swung toward Kansas City.

No. 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0)

While it was far from an easy win, it’s to be expected when Dallas matches up well with Tampa Bay. In the end, Tom Brady led the Buccaneers on a game-winning drive to start the season. Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski joined Brady in the turn-back-the-clock game. Defensively, Tampa was shaky, but they did just enough to stifle the Dallas rushing attack and force Dak Prescott to work for every conversion.


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