11. Las Vegas Raiders
Carr caught an early case of Force it to Davante. I get it. Watched Rodgers do it for years. It’s an easy trap to fall into. His routes are so pristine that you think he’ll always be open after his next cut. But NFL defenders have a way of figuring you out when literally half your targets go to one guy. Maybe it’ll take some more time in Josh McDaniels offense to mix up his progressions.
12. Green Bay Packers
I should’ve started doing power rankings in previous years when I had more hope. I know, R-E-L-A-X. I will when I see a reason to put them back in my top 10. On paper, this should be the best secondary in the league, and somehow Justin Jefferson was wide open all game long no matter who attempted to cover him. I don’t know if Bakhtiari will ever be back in full form, but even 75% of Bakhtiari could change this team’s season. Lazard was missed in both the passing and running game, so getting him back should help.
13. Indianapolis Colts
Tying one of the worst rosters in the league isn’t a good look. But it’s not a loss, I guess. I still think the NFL would’ve done something about ties years ago if they hadn’t pushed into London. Even with his super-veteran status, Ryan will need at least some time to find a groove, so I’m not terribly worried about them. Taylor and Pittman were as advertised, so the main pieces are there. Though I do wish they’d put Taylor on a pitch count… 35 touches in week 1 isn’t a good look if you want him grinding out December.
14. Denver Broncos
I liked the 64 yard field goal call. Yeah, I said it. Tired of hearing how coaches should let their star QB, who looked mediocre all night, suddenly be the guy and convert a 4th and 6. Instead they decided to let their monster leg kicker give it a shot so they could shut up the 12s and run out of there like they stole something. And he barely missed it. Two yards to the right was the difference between Hackett trusts his kicker and Hackett doesn’t trust his QB. They played a fired-up Seattle team that I doubt we see again this year, and gave it a shot. They’ll be fine.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mitch managed the game, and I expect he’ll hold the spot as long as he keeps that up. More importantly, their defense played Steeler defense… if they keep that fire, this team could have an outside playoff shot. Najee will get it going eventually. I’m excited to see how much they can shock teams this year. Beating the defending AFC champs obviously got them a big power bump.
16. New Orleans Saints
Defense could use some work to come together like I know they can, but as long as Jameis is healthy, NO has a strong playoff hope. There’s so much talent here all riding on Winston’s health.
17. Atlanta Falcons
So, so close. Losing to a bitter rival at home in week 1 is a tough pill to swallow. But we learned enough from them to know Mariota will be fine, and Drake London is ready to contribute now. Once he starts taking pressure off Kyle Pitts, look out.
18. Carolina Panthers
Tough loss, but on the bright side, Baker looked comfortable and capable. But you can’t give up 200+ rushing yards and expect a win, even if it’s against the Browns. You know what they’re gonna do, so stack the box and make Brissett beat you. Poor coaching could be this team’s downfall. This is Rhule’s last chance, so he better clean it up.
19. Tennessee Titans
It’s hard to drop a team with Derrick Henry too far, but losing to the Giants deserved a big drop. They’re lucky Indy only pulled off a tie, cause winning the AFC South is likely the only playoff ticket for one of these teams. Tannehill looked solid, but I’m concerned Henry may have been overused in previous years. They need to find someone to help limit his touches, especially this early in the year.
20. Dallas Cowboys
No Dak for anywhere from 4 to 8 to who knows how many weeks. Even with Dak, they just looked boring. Time for the Tony Pollard show, or start angling for a draft pick. They need big plays, and that’s not coming from Zeke. That’s coming from Lamb and Pollard. The defense played at a high level right out of the gate, so Cooper Rush better be ready to have unwarranted high expectations placed on him.
21. Arizona Cardinals
In fairness, they played the Chiefs. But still, gross. Never really felt like James Connor was the savior they thought he was, and he’s not as good without Edmonds as a change-of-pace. I’m a little concerned that maybe Kyler was putting more time into film study before, but then they added the 4 hours a week thing to his contract and he was like… really? Only 4 hours? So now that’s all he’s doing.
22. Cleveland Browns
How lucky are the Browns with this early schedule? Long as this absurd run game keeps up, they could easily start 2-0 with their franchise QB still sitting at home. Dream scenario.
23. New England Patriots
I’ll give this block as much attention as Bill gives press conferences *slight awkward smirk*
24. Washington Commanders
Not sold. And now they get the Lions in week 2. They could be 2-0 and I’ll still feel like I know nothing about them.
25. San Francisco 49ers
If I was ever an oft-injured, mediocre QB looking for redemption, I’d want the team to use a high draft pick on my replacement. Then after one game in a downpour, I’d have the fans clamoring for my return. Seriously SF, give Trey a season to put it together.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Big time win at home against a good team, but I don’t buy it quite yet. There was an extra anti-Russ edge to this team last week, and I can’t imagine we’ll see that every week.
27. New York Jets
Long as Flacco in running things, they’ll have a tough time getting things going. I really like the Zach Wilson Jets, but they won’t be much until he’s back. Bring on Mike White!
28. New York Giants
I’m hesitant to push them up too high. Daboll definitely has them playing above their talent level, which isn’t surprising. All comes down to the health of Saquon each week.
29. Chicago Bears
Another winner I’m hesitant about. Games with pouring rain aren’t good indicators of future success, and it was against essentially a rookie QB.
30. Detroit Lions
Much as I like them, they really have to put together some Ws to get real respect. Same goes for…
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Even 2 or 3 wins for either of these teams in the first half of the season will be indicative of their progress.
32. Houston Texans
They should be higher than this after tying the Colts, but they just don’t have a roster I can see sustaining much momentum. Not that a tie carries much momentum.