With Week 1 in the books, we decide which games to overreact to and which ones to chalk up to a weird offseason as teams still find their footing.
Welcome to The MMQB’s Week 2 power rankings! We’re doing things a little differently this year. For years we’ve had the MMQB Power Rankings Poll, in which a panel of our writers and editors rank each team 1 through 32 and we tally up the points. (See our preseason poll here.) This year we’ll be taking turns with the power rankings most weeks and breaking the poll back out at a few key points in the season. My number came up first, so here I am with Week 2.
Of course, what do you care? I know nobody is reading the intro to a power rankings post. I could tell you that I spent my Sunday aboard an alien spaceship or that I have the latitude and longitude coordinates for a treasure chest full of gold and jewels buried in the Montana wilderness and you would scroll right on past to see where I’ve ranked your favorite team.
So let’s get right to it. Join me as I endeavor to decide which Week 1 games I should overreact to and which ones I should disregard because it was a weird offseason and teams are still finding their footing. Confirmation bias is a beautiful thing.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Houston 34-20
Next week: at Los Angeles Chargers
Honestly, I might have kept the Chiefs in the No. 1 spot even if they’d lost to Houston. They are that good. Of course, they didn’t put me in a position to have to do that—reminding everyone exactly how good they are with a win on the season’s opening night.
2. New Orleans Saints (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Tampa Bay 34-23
Next week: at Las Vegas (Monday)
This was one of my toughest decisions to make, picking between New Orleans and Baltimore for the No. 2 spot. In the end, I went with the Saints. Partly because I had them second going into the season, and they didn’t do anything to deserve being bumped. They also beat a better opponent in Tampa Bay than Baltimore did in Cleveland.
3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Cleveland 38-6
Next week: at Houston
The Ravens went 14-2 last season, but spent this offseason answering questions about their second straight disappointing playoff loss. They are in the unenviable position of having to go through the entire regular season without being able to prove their doubters wrong until the playoffs start, but it was encouraging to see them pick up where they left off last regular season when they were thrashing teams.
4. Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
Last week: Win at Atlanta 38-25
Next week: vs. New England
I was very high on Seattle coming into the year, picking Russell Wilson to win MVP and giving them the honor of losing to the unstoppable Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Then I was mildly disappointed to see how popular they were in the official MMQB staff predictions. Turns out some of my [smart] coworkers agree with me, and we should all feel good after Wilson’s big Week 1.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Last week: Win at New York Giants 26-16
Next week: vs. Denver
This is such a fun defense to watch. They gave up a couple long drives against the Giants, but every few snaps there would be a handful of defenders in the backfield at once or three guys waiting in the area of an intended pass. Ben Roethlisberger’s return significantly raises the team’s floor, but the defense is what gives them a high ceiling.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Last week: Win at Minnesota 43-34
Next week: vs. Detroit
We all know the narrative surrounding Green Bay coming into this season. They were not given the respect a 13-3 team with a Hall of Fame quarterback would normally earn, but they clearly looked like a team of that caliber when they went into Minnesota this weekend. Some of the other teams in the NFC’s second tier struggled in their openers and I have Green Bay as one of the week’s big winners.
7. New England Patriots (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Miami 21-11
Next week: at Seattle
That was a very encouraging debut for Cam Newton in New England. We’ve wondered forever what it would look like when they turned the page on the Tom Brady era, and it’s no surprise that coaching staff is capable of building a scheme around their new star’s unique skill set. I can’t get over the fact that the Patriots are fun and I’m enjoying this. How did this happen?
8. Buffalo Bills (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. New York Jets 27-17
Next week: at Miami
The weekly horse race between the Bills and Patriots in the AFC East has the potential to be a highlight of the season. The Bills took care of business against a listless Jets team, with the full Josh Allen experience on display. I’ll give the Patriots the edge for this week, but they are tied at the hip for now.
9. Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Dallas 20-17
Next week: at Philadelphia
I liked what I saw from the Rams’ offense Sunday night, even though they only came away with 20 points. I will also admit that I may have underrated them this offseason. The beauty of our anonymous poll was that you didn’t know where I rated anyone. But I wanted to be honest with you, reader. While we all rightfully focus on division games, the NFC has a deep pool of teams fighting for those seven playoff spots, and the Rams’ win over Dallas could prove to be very important come the end of the season.
10. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
Last week: Win at San Francisco 24-20
Next week: vs. Washington
The Cardinals were such a popular sleeper team last spring and over the summer that I think they were almost post-hype when everyone made their actual predictions just before the season. Everyone is going to hop back on the bandwagon now, as they should after one of the more impressive wins of Week 1. You can’t overreact too much to Week 1, but look at the NFC: The 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Vikings and Bucs all lost. With great vibes in Arizona this week, I’m sliding them into the top 10!
11. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Los Angeles Rams 20-17
Next week: vs. Atlanta
Everyone came out of Sunday night’s game talking about Michael Gallup’s OPI, but even before that play I thought it was notable how frequently Dak Prescott looked to Amari Cooper, throughout the game and on their crucial drive that fell short. He got more than double the number of targets of anyone else on the team, when I would have expected a little more balance. We all know this team has plenty of talent, but the injuries in Week 1 are a real concern.
12. Tennessee Titans (1-0)
Last week: Win at Denver 16-14
Next week: vs. Jacksonville
It’s hard to know what exactly to make of a game that obviously would’ve had more breathing room if Stephen Gostkowski hadn’t missed four kicks. But sometimes you just take the W and move on. The Titans can be happier Tuesday morning than the seven teams right below them on this list, which all started their seasons off in the loss column.
13. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Arizona 24-20
Next week: at New York Jets
Losing a home division game is never a good way to start the season, but especially in a really competitive NFC West that any of the four teams could win. To state the obvious, the George Kittle injury is potentially very alarming. The receiver group is already banged up, and he’s a great blocker in the run game, which is what the Niners would rather do anyway.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Washington 27-17
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Eagles suffered one of Week 1’s most disappointing losses, given the combination of their preseason expectations (particularly at this very website), their opponent and the size of the lead they blew. With four of their next five games against the Rams, 49ers, Steelers and Ravens, they’ll need to get healthy and/or figure things out with a patchwork offensive line or else they may find themselves trying to dig out of a hole like they did down the stretch last season.
15. Minnesota Vikings (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Green Bay 43-34
Next week: at Indianapolis
That loss was much worse than the final score shows. Aaron Rodgers has torched plenty of teams over the years, but I had higher hopes for the Vikings’ defense. But Minnesota did make history Sunday, as Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen became the first teammates to both have an octopus in the same game. (Listen, if you put me in charge of the power rankings, this is the analysis you’re going to get.)
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
Last week: Loss at New Orleans 34-23
Next week: vs. Carolina
The Bucs went all-in to win this season with Tom Brady, and right now I’ve got them perfectly middle of the pack. But obviously you can downplay the loss because they played the Saints. And you’d think Brady’s offense should get better as he and his teammates get more familiar with each other.
17. Houston Texans (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Kansas City 34-20
Next week: vs. Baltimore
I still think the Texans are capable of having a really good season. It may not have felt like it on Thursday night, but I want to judge them against teams that aren’t the Chiefs. Kansas City is going to make a lot of teams look overmatched this year. Still, I moved Houston down a few spots accordingly.
18. Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Seattle 38-25
Next week: at Dallas
I feel about Atlanta a lot like I feel about Houston. I think they ran into a Russell Wilson buzzsaw, and they should look better against most other teams. Next week will obviously be another test for a team that kept fighting after a brutal start last year.
19. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Jacksonville 27-20
Next week: vs. Minnesota
I was not as optimistic as some of my coworkers about the Philip Rivers experiment in Indy, but I was willing to keep an open mind. A disappointing loss to Jacksonville is not a promising start for a team I already had outside the playoff picture.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0)
Last week: Win at Cincinnati 16-13
Next week: vs. Kansas City
Wait, wait, wait, you’re telling me the Chargers won a game on a blown field goal at the end of the game? The Chargers escaped Cincinnati with a win, and now we’ll see if they spent the whole summer cooking up anything special for Kansas City.
21. Las Vegas Raiders (1-0)
Last week: Win at Carolina 34-30
Next week: vs. New Orleans (Monday)
The Raiders hung on for a win in Carolina, but this week feels like it will be the official start of the Las Vegas era—christening the new stadium against the Saints on Monday night. Of all the games that would be enhanced by the NFL’s usual sellout crowds, this one would be high on the list. (That said, we pour one out for the fans in Oakland whose team moved away.)
22. Denver Broncos (0-1)
Las week: Loss vs. Tennessee 16-14
Next week: at Pittsburgh
I have the Chargers, Raiders and Broncos as total toss-ups to come in second place in the AFC West. But for one week, at least, I’ll put the two teams that squeaked out wins against bottom-tier teams ahead of the team that (thanks to three missed field goals) took a playoff contender down to the wire.
23. Chicago Bears (1-0)
Last week: Win at Detroit 27-23
Next week: vs. New York Giants
The narrative of Nick Foles looking over Mitchell Trubisky’s shoulder is not even week-to-week, but half-to-half. But if Trubisky strings together a few more like the second half against Detroit, he can quiet the skeptics for at least a little while.
24. Detroit Lions (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Chicago 27-23
Next week: at Green Bay
D’Andre Swift, man. That can’t be how anyone pictures their first NFL game going. But for some of his teammates who’ve been around the block, and those poor fans, it must have felt sadly familiar and predictable to lose in that fashion. Some people are bullish on a Matthew Stafford–led turnaround under Matt Patricia, but they aren’t good enough to give away games.
25. New York Giants (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Pittsburgh 26-16
Next week: at Chicago
The Giants were overwhelmed by the Steelers for much of Monday night (Saquon Barkley rushing 15 times for 6 yards gives you some idea) but I thought Daniel Jones showed some promising signs. There’s really a lot of talent in the league right now. I look at plenty of teams in the teens and twenties and think they’ll be higher until I actually sit down and rank them. The same goes for individual players, actually:
26. Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Last week: Loss at New England 21-11
Next week: vs. Buffalo
There is some concern that the Dolphins unexpectedly winning five games last year may have recalibrated expectations for 2020 unrealistically. Let’s remember they are still undergoing a major rebuilding project. Tua Tagovailoa is merely the first of several prizes they hope to land in the draft, and they shouldn’t have to rush him onto the field just because some people think they can challenge for a 7-seed.
27. Washington (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Philadelphia 27-17
Next week: at Arizona
The NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise stumbled through a memorably embarrassing offseason, but a Week 1 win was a surprising twist. The most important thing for the team this season is finding out what they have in Dwayne Haskins, and it looks like that pass rush will give him a chance to win some games.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
Last week: Win vs. Indianapolis 27-20
Next week: at Tennessee
Imagine not rooting for the 2020 Jaguars. Couldn’t be me.
29. Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Baltimore 38-6
Next week: vs. Cincinnati (Thursday)
That was such a disaster against Baltimore, that now you have to wonder if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the Browns get right back on the field Thursday night. Now they’ll face a rookie quarterback in his first road game (does that matter this year?) and first short-week game (that seems like it would). They’ll need to score more than six points though.
30. New York Jets (0-1)
Last week: Loss at Buffalo 27-17
Next week: vs. San Francisco
Adam Gase is on the hottest seat of any coach in the league, and this seems to be unraveling faster by the day. When a season starts out with this much negativity, how often does it ever turn around?
31. Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Las Vegas 34-30
Next week: at Tampa Bay
The Teddy Bridgewater Era is off and running, with 30 points in Week 1. But do him a favor and give the ball to Christian McCaffrey on fourth-and-1 with the game on the line.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Last week: Loss vs. Los Angeles Chargers 16-13
Next week: at Cleveland (Thursday)
Joe Burrow was dropped in a tough spot, starting Week 1 having not gotten a snap in a preseason game (no matter how much his team tried to prepare him). But Bengals fans had to feel good about what they saw from him leading the team down the field on what was nearly a game-winning (and should have been a game-tying) drive. This year is merely about showing promise. I felt bad putting them last, but with Washington and Jacksonville earning wins, somebody had to fall.