The NFL is back and so are our weekly power rankings! Join BetAmerica Extra columnist Zack Rhodes as he slices and dices all 32 teams and ranks them in order according to their Week 1 performance and Week 2 outlook.
1. New England Patriots (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
With the Antonio Brown soap opera continuing to play out on a day-by-day basis, it’s now unclear whether the talented wide receiver will ever catch a pass from the great Tom Brady. However, even if AB never takes the field for the mighty Patriots, the dynasty will continue to roll along as Brady and Belichick chase their seventh ring.
Coming off their 33-3 dismantling of the Steelers in Week 1, New England looks ahead to an unbelievably easy six-game stretch that includes a trip to Miami, two games against the Jets, road games at Buffalo and Washington, and a home match-up against the Giants. Whether you like it or not, you might as well get used to it now, the Patriots are set up for another championship run and considering their favorable schedule, a second 16-0 regular season isn’t out of the question.
2. Dallas Cowboys (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Admittedly, I may be a little too high on Dallas, but if you read my MVP piece, you know one of my major investments this season is in Ezekiel Elliott having a historic campaign and reminding us of the value that a three-down back brings to a championship contender, especially when he has a dominant offensive line to run behind. And make no mistake about it, the Cowboys have all the ingredients to make a Super Bowl run this year, as Jerry Jones has finally put the pieces together and matched what was already an upper echelon offensive unit with a talented defense that features a strong defensive line led by DeMarcus Lawrence, a great trio of linebackers, and an improved secondary.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 4, 2019
The one hole that remains is at safety, so Jeff Heath will have to step his game up and Xavier Woods will have to continue to improve. However, having the highly regarded Kris Richard (who previously coached the Legion of Boom) coaching the secondary certainly helps.
Speaking of development, Dak Prescott continues to get better, as the savvy signing of the very underrated Randall Cobb will only help the Mississippi State product as he establishes himself as an elite quarterback. With the NFC seemingly wide open this year, the opportunity is there for Dallas to finally end the Super Bowl drought.
3. Los Angeles Rams (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
It wasn’t an overly impressive performance in Week 1 for the NFC defending champions, but it was encouraging to see Todd Gurley close out the game strong in the fourth quarter and as long as Sean McVay is at the controls and Aaron Donald is running circles around opposing offensive linemen, the Rams are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Los Angeles welcomes the Saints to town this Sunday in the marquee game of the week, which will go a long way in determining who in fact is the top dog in the NFC this year.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Even though he missed with one of his patented no-look passes, Patrick Mahomes showed little rust in the season opener against the Jaguars, as the reigning MVP hooked up with the rejuvenated Sammy Watkins for three touchdowns and the Chiefs rolled to an easy Week 1 win. Things will get a bit tougher with star receiver Tyreek Hill out for up to six weeks with a collarbone injury. Questions also remain about a shaky Chiefs defense, but the Chiefs clearly remain a major player in the AFC. Looking ahead, I can’t wait until Week 3 when Lamar Jackson and the Ravens travel to Kansas City in what will be a great showcase for two of the most entertaining and electric play-callers in the league.
5. Chicago Bears (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
Yes, the Bears were awful in their season-opening loss against the Packers and yes, the very questionable Mitch Trubisky reminded us why he was a back-up at UNC until his junior season. However, I’m not letting one disappointing performance deter too much from this Chicago squad, especially with that defense. Led by star linebackers Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith, the Bears D looked like they had 13 guys on the field at times against the Packers, making the great Aaron Rodgers look very ordinary for much of the game.
This is a special defense and I have confidence the clever Matt Nagy will figure things out on offense as the Bears travel to Denver this week to take on their former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Look for Nagy to get rookie running back David Montgomery more involved moving forward. I think the Iowa State product can play a big part in getting this Chicago offense on track.
6. New Orleans Saints (1-0 SU and 0-1 ATS)
It may have been ugly, but a win is a win as the Saints squeaked out a 30-28 victory over the Texans on Monday night with kicker Wil Lutz nailing the game-winning 58-yard field goal as time expired. And perhaps I have New Orleans a bit high to start the season, but we’ll know exactly where this Saints team fits within the NFC picture over the next couple of weeks as Sean Payton’s squad faces a brutal upcoming three-game stretch that includes the road game against the Rams this week, staying on the West Coast and having to play at Seattle in Week 3, and then back home to face off against the Cowboys.
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) September 10, 2019
After two years of heartbreak, the Saints are undoubtedly motivated to make one last Super Bowl run with Drew Brees still playing at an elite level, but the schedule is daunting and questions remain about a defense that was picked apart at times on Monday by Deshaun Watson. I have a feeling New Orleans may take a few steps back in the early part of the season, but this will still be a team to be reckoned with come playoff time.
7. Baltimore Ravens (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Lamar Jackson was undoubtedly the star of Week 1 with his flawless performance against the hopeless Dolphins, as the former Heisman winner became the youngest player to have a perfect passer rating in league history. Jackson is easy to root for, and it should be another fun week with Kyler Murray and the Cardinals traveling to Baltimore this Sunday. The true test of Jackson’s progression as a signal-caller will come in Week 3 with the aforementioned game at Kansas City.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0 SU and 0-1 ATS)
It was certainly a rough start to the season as the Eagles fell behind 17-0 to the Redskins in Week 1, but Philly showed its championship mettle by storming back with a couple of throwback bombs to DeSean Jackson. With Nick Foles now gone, Carson Wentz holds the keys to Philadelphia’s season, and if Sunday was any indication, the Eagles will be just fine. I think we’ll actually get a few more answers about Philadelphia this week as they travel to Atlanta to take on an angry Falcons team that is looking to rebound this season after being decimated by injuries last year.
9. Tennessee Titans (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
How good was Delanie Walker’s channeling of Dennis Green after Tennessee’s statement win over the Browns on Sunday? And honestly, the ageless tight end had every right to be pumped up about his team’s performance, as the Titans showed they might just be the class of the AFC South now that Andrew Luck has retired. I have a feeling some may think I have Mike Vrabel’s team ranked too high, but I think the Titans are solid from top to bottom and are the favorites to win the division.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0 SU and 0-0-1 ATS)
Melvin who? The former Wisconsin star can’t be feeling good about his decision to hold-out after his back-up Austin Ekeler racked up a career-best 154 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns in the Chargers’ hard-fought victory over the scrappy Colts in Week 1. It’s not going to be easy with Gordon holding out and star safety Derwin James sidelined for three months with a stress fracture in his foot, but the Chargers are going to have a say in the AFC come December, especially if they can finally get off to a good start this year, which is likely as Los Angeles plays Detroit and Miami in two of the next three weeks.
11. Minnesota Vikings (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Tough as nails Mike Zimmer is one of my favorite coaches in the league and he had to love his team’s dominant win over Atlanta in Week 1, which featured an aggressive and attacking defense and a healthy Dalvin Cook, who might be the key to the Vikings’ season. Minnesota was one win away from going to the Super Bowl two years ago and if Cook can stay on the field, they might just find themselves in a similar situation this season.
12. Seattle Seahawks (1-0 SU and 0-1 ATS)
I have to admit, this is where things started to run together a bit as I found it hard to differentiate the middle of the road teams. However, the Seahawks came out ahead of the average bunch, largely because Russell Wilson is still running around and making plays in Seattle. The defense isn’t what it used to be and Wilson doesn’t have a ton of help at the skill positions, but the winning culture remains. That culture will be tested early though, as Seattle travels to Pittsburgh this week and then welcomes the Saints and the Rams to town in two of the following three weeks.
13. San Francisco 49ers (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Although the performance wasn’t perfect, this promising 49ers squad showed things are headed in the right direction in their season-opening win against the Bucs. Jimmy G needs to continue to find his footing as he returns from injury, but I like the weapons he has to throw to in tight end George Kittle and a group of young, talented receivers. The defense, led by savvy veteran Richard Sherman, showed they are capable by picking off Jameis Winston three times and returning two of them for touchdowns. All in all, I really like the direction this 49ers franchise is heading.
14. Houston Texans (0-1 SU and 1-0 ATS)
I was tempted to put the Texans a bit higher after watching their impressive performance in New Orleans on Monday night, but the defense remains a question mark, the offensive line allowed their star quarterback to be sacked six times, and Bill O’Brien is still their coach.
Deshaun Watson is a KING and Bill O’Brien cannot be allowed to toy with his career as a play caller & GM. pic.twitter.com/eYb1sleVij
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 10, 2019
However, I’m president of the Deshaun Watson fan club and with the best receiver in the game, DeAndre Hopkins, continuing to catch everything thrown his way, Houston is going to have plenty to say in the AFC South this year.
15. Green Bay Packers (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
In perhaps the most unimpressive win in Week 1, the Packers come in at No. 15. I remain skeptical that young head coach Matt LaFleur brings anything game-changing to the table and I’d like to see the Packers defense repeat their Thursday night performance against a team that doesn’t have Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Fortunately for us, we’ll get that chance as Green Bay hosts the Vikings this week and then plays the Eagles and Cowboys in two of the next three weeks. One thing is for sure though, you’re always going to have a chance with Aaron Rodgers behind center.
16. Atlanta Falcons (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
I may be a bit too high on the Falcons after their disappointing loss to the Vikings on Sunday, but this is largely the same team that was up 28-3 on the Patriots in the Super Bowl three years ago and is a squad that was absolutely decimated by injuries on defense last season. Dan Quinn is a great defensive mind with some talented young players on that side of the ball, Matt Ryan can still get it done, and Julio Jones is a game-changer as long as Steve Sarkisian isn’t calling the plays. We’ll know a lot more about what kind of team Atlanta is going to be this season after its home game this Sunday night against Philadelphia.
17. Indianapolis Colts (0-1 SU and 0-0-1 ATS)
In their gritty loss to the Chargers in Week 1, the Colts showed they aren’t going to fold just because their franchise quarterback decided to walk away from the game. GM Ryan Grissom deserves a ton of credit for rebuilding this Indianapolis franchise from the ground up, as the Colts now have a dominant offensive line, an improving defense led by young stars Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker, and a solid quarterback in Jacoby Brissett who showed why the Colts signed him to a two-year, $30 million contract. The Colts were dealt a serious blow with Luck’s shocking retirement, but they’re going to be a tough out all season.
18. Cleveland Browns (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
I have to admit, I was one of the many that bought into the hype surrounding the Browns. I think GM John Dorsey has done an outstanding job of assembling talent in Cleveland, but Delanie Walker & Co. reminded all of us that football often comes down to controlling the line of scrimmage and playing disciplined and intelligently. The Browns did neither on Sunday and paid for it. And it’s only going to get tougher for the unproven Freddie Kitchens with the Browns facing a daunting upcoming six-game stretch that features four road games, including trips to Foxborough, San Francisco, Baltimore and the Meadowlands to face the Jets this Monday night.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
Outside of the Dolphins, I don’t know if a team looked worse than the Steelers in Week 1. Bill Belichick once again coached circles around Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger looked old, and Pittsburgh proved that you don’t get better when you lose two of the most talented players in the league. Despite the discouraging result to open the season, all hope is not lost on a Steelers team that has a nice young nucleus of talent on defense and a capable group on offense. But clearly, they need to start to put the pieces together and do it quickly before things get out of hand.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
With new quarterback Nick Foles now sidelined until at least November with a broken collarbone, the Jaguars should probably be ranked a little bit lower, but I still think this defense is capable of being a force and rookie Gardner Minshew has some moxie to him that still gives Jacksonville a fighting chance this season. That is, as long as they don’t actually throw blows on the field like Myles Jack. We’ll see just how much fight they have with crucial divisional games against Houston and Tennessee coming up.
— patrick (@PatDStat) September 11, 2019
21. Carolina Panthers (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
It feels like Carolina’s championship window may have closed as Cam Newton continues to battle lingering injuries and the Panthers D is no longer the dominant unit it used to be. However, the Panthers are a prideful veteran squad and they do have young Christian McCaffrey to help take the load off Cam. Just like in their close season-opening loss to the Rams, the Panthers will hang tough for much of the season, but their championship aspirations may unfortunately be a thing of the past.
22. Oakland Raiders (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
Now that the Antonio Brown chapter is closed, the Raiders are moving forward and they took a positive step in the right direction in their season-opening victory over the Broncos. With their sights set on their new home in Las Vegas next year, Jon Gruden’s guys will be competitive this season, which is a big step up from the debacle that was 2018.
23. Redskins (0-1 SU and 1-0 ATS)
This is a team that I actually think can surprise some people in the latter part of the schedule, but in the interim, it’s going to be tough sledding for Jon’s brother Jay as his team welcomes in Dallas, Chicago and New England to FedEx Field over three of the next four weeks. Case Keenum was great in Week 1, but if he struggles at all, I’d love to see what rookie Dwayne Haskins can do.
24. Broncos (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
I think it’s safe to say that Baltimore made the right move in giving the keys to Lamar Jackson and letting Joe Flacco go to Denver. Although certainly an improvement from Paxton Lynch and the rest of the bums Denver has had in recent years, Flacco isn’t the game-changer that the Broncos need on offense. However, their defense is a salty, proud bunch that will keep them competitive in plenty of games.
25. New York Jets (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
Despite absolutely imploding in their disappointing home loss to the Bills, I’m still optimistic about this young Jets squad that has some cornerstone pieces in Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell on offense and C.J. Mosley, Jamal Adams, and Quinnen Williams on defense.
Can you feel my energy? And that’s not a rhetorical question, I want answers… pic.twitter.com/BAY3fBnJoV
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) September 7, 2019
However, Adam Gase and his crazy eyes and smelling salt highs don’t inspire much confidence, especially when New York faces a devastating upcoming schedule that includes two games against the Patriots, games against the Cowboys and Eagles, and the Monday night contest this week against the Browns. Much like in Week 1, the young Jets are in for some hard landings this season.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
With new coach Bruce Arians providing a fresh start, talented wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and a very capable tight end in O.J. Howard, I really thought Jameis Winston was in for a breakout season. Those dreams were quickly crushed as Winston resorted back to the highly questionable decision-making that has cost him on and off the field throughout his career. I still think the Bucs will make some noise this year and they’ll get a chance to get on track over the next two weeks with games at Carolina and then home to face the Giants.
27. Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1 SU and 1-0 ATS)
The #1 pick struggled for much of the game in his pro debut, but his talent finally took over late, as Kyler Murray shined in the fourth quarter and led a comeback attempt that ultimately led to an unsatisfying tie. Things will be bumpy as Kyler and hotshot coach Cliff Kingsbury adjust to the pro game, but there will be plenty of highlights too. One of which will be this week as Heisman trophy winners Kyler and Lamar face off.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
The Bengals were certainly one of the surprises of Week 1, as their gritty one-point loss in Seattle reminded us that Andy Dalton is decent and skill players like Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, John Ross, and Tyler Boyd are capable at the NFL level. Cincinnati won’t be chasing championships anytime soon, but they will absolutely be competitive throughout the season.
29. Detroit Lions (0-0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
Poor Matt Stafford. The former #1 pick is destined to suffer in Detroit for the rest of his playing days, especially if Matt Patricia continues to call the shots. The Lions have some nice pieces, but the puzzle is never going to be properly put together as long as the current coaching and management staffs remain in place.
30. Buffalo Bills (1-0 SU and 1-0 ATS)
It may not have been pretty, but the young Bills deserve credit for hanging tough against the Jets after getting down 16-0 and pulling out the comeback victory. Buffalo’s defense is legit, but I just can’t get behind a team led by Josh Allen. The Bills will play tough all season and are likely to pull off a couple upsets, but growing pains will persist on the offensive side of the ball.
31. New York Giants (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
I feel bad for Matt Stafford in Detroit, but I weep for Saquon Barkley. It’s a true travesty that his unending talent has to be wasted on what has become a joke of a franchise as they fumble through Eli Manning’s departure and are led by clowns like GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur. I’ll gladly eat my words if Daniel Jones turns out to be the second coming of Peyton Manning, but completing 80% of your passes in the preseason against third and fourth stringers means absolutely nothing. Let’s see what he does when guys like Demarcus Lawrence and Fletcher Cox are trying to take his head off.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-1 SU and 0-1 ATS)
The Dolphins should be relegated to the SEC after their embarrassing performance against the Ravens in Week 1. It’s only going to get worse as Miami plays New England, Dallas and the Chargers over the next three weeks. As many Floridians can attest to, when it rains, it pours.