The first week of the NFL season brought a number of unforeseen changes to the landscape of the football world. The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off the season by rolling over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in New England, putting an early end to the hopes of a perfect season that many thought would be attainable for Tom Brady and company. Other title contenders like the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked by lackluster opponents, while some others, like the Houston Texans, dissolved completely. Injuries have already begun to play a role, as stars like Eric Berry and David Johnson will miss significant time. The rankings have been shaken up mightily, and will likely change even more throughout the year.
- Kansas City Chiefs (1-0): Last Week: 11
The Patriot-haters were definitely happy with this one. Kansas City beat New England 42-27 behind offensive dynamos rookie RB Kareem Hunt and WR/KR Tyreek Hill as well as a surprising performance from QB Alex Smith. The stereotype for game-managers went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four scores.
2. Oakland Raiders (1-0): Last Week: 3
The AFC West gets another team up top, as the Raiders leapfrog the Falcons after beating a solid Titans team on the road. RB Marshawn Lynch received 18 carries that he turned into 76 yards in his first game in his comeback, and after showing flashes of Beast Mode, opponents should watch out.
3. Atlanta Falcons (1-0): Last Week: 2
In this position by default, the vaunted Falcons’ offense came up mostly flat in a near-loss to a weak Bears team in Chicago. On the bright side, second-year TE Austin Hooper is looking like a star in the making after racking up 128 yards and a touchdown.
4. New England Patriots (0-1): Last Week: 1
Up 27-21 entering the 4th quarter at home, QB Tom Brady finally got his first loss after leading in the fourth quarter in his career as the defending champs conceded 21 unanswered points down the stretch. However, the Patriots have won the Super Bowl three times after losing Week 1 during the Tom Terrific era, so all is not lost.
5. Dallas Cowboys (1-0): Last Week: 6
It seems like RB Ezekiel Elliott will play for the whole season, which bodes very well for the ‘Boys. However, it was the defense that stepped up for Dallas in their 19-3 triumph over the division rival Giants, as New York was held to just 35 yards rushing.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-0): Last Week: 7
In a defensive slugfest against Seattle at home, the Pack emerged victorious 17-9 behind a relentless pass rush. It was far from QB Aaron Rodgers’ best game, but beating a good team will never hurt.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0): Last Week: 4
Beating the Browns by just 3 points, especially when Cleveland’s quarterback has never taken an NFL snap before, is not something typically on the resume of a Super Bowl contender. However, first-rounder OLB TJ Watt is looking like a Defensive ROY candidate early as he recorded seven tackles, two sacks and an interception.
8. Seattle Seahawks (0-1): Last Week: 5
Will Seattle ever fix their offensive line issues? QB Russell Wilson was consistently under duress, and the Seahawks’ running backs could only muster a total of 53 yards on the ground. FS Earl Thomas seems to be back to his playmaking self, though, as his 11 tackles led the team.
9. Carolina Panthers (1-0): Last Week: 10
Beating San Francisco is nothing to call home about, but a 20 point margin of victory on the road deserves a small bump up. QB Cam Newton didn’t play particularly well, but rookie RB Christian McCaffrey displayed the versatility that caused Carolina to take him with the eighth overall pick.
10. New York Giants (0-1): Last Week: 9
Losing 19-3 to your fierce rival is not the best way to start a season, and the offense looked totally flat. Getting Odell Beckham, Jr. back from injury will be a huge boost, but Paul Perkins and the running backs need to get their act together.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0): Last Week: 17
The Eagles went on the road and looked great against a solid Redskins team, as Carson Wentz’s performance showed why he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. The much-maligned Nelson Agholor finally demonstrated why he was a first round pick, outplaying free agent pickups Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith by racking up six grabs for 86 yards and a touchdown.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0): Last Week: 14
Did not play Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma.
13. Baltimore Ravens (1-0): Last Week: 24
Overlooked heading into the season, the Ravens marched into enemy territory and dismantled a Bengals team that was expected to contend for the playoffs. Led by CJ Mosley, the defense was reminiscent of the Ray Lewis era, as they picked off Andy Dalton four times and caused a fumble loss once.
14. Detroit Lions (1-0): Last Week: 20
A big fourth quarter performance from the highest-paid player in the league in Matt Stafford was good for a comeback victory over a solid Cardinals team. However, it was the defense that stole the show, as the Lions held David Johnson to just 23 yards on 11 carries and picked off Carson Palmer three times.
15. Tennessee Titans (0-1): Last Week: 12
Though they kept it close against Oakland, the Titans were gapped in the fourth quarter. The run game, which was the top threat for the offense last year, was only able to total 95 yards as DeMarco Murray struggled.
16. Denver Broncos (1-0): Last Week: 21
Almost blowing the victory at the end of the game against the Chargers, a clutch blocked kick gave Denver the late W despite dominating most of the game. Trevor Siemian looked solid enough to give the Broncos hope that they could make a run at the Wild Card with him.
17. Minnesota Vikings (1-0): Last Week: 22
The Saints closed the gap at the end, but the Vikings spoiled Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota behind sterling performances from Sam Bradford and rookie Dalvin Cook. Bradford had a career day, throwing for 346 yards and three scores, while Cook racked up 137 all-purpose yards.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0): Last Week: 26
Heading into a fired-up NRG Stadium to face the two-time reigning division champions who were playing with a beaten city’s hopes on their backs, the Jaguars absolutely dominated. Fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette ran all over the Texans star-studded defense, while the Jags’ revamped defense totaled 10 sacks and two defensive touchdowns.
19. Arizona Cardinals (0-1): Last Week: 15
Losing David Johnson, the best offensive player on the team, will be a huge loss for the next two to three months. Carson Palmer is continuing to show signs of decline, as he threw three picks en route to a 53.2 quarterback rating.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1): Last Week: 16
The Chargers were one Younghoe Koo kick away from sending the game away from overtime on Monday night, as they once again wound up on the wrong side of a one-possession game. Melvin Gordon had his hands full against a tough Denver defense, gaining only 3.0 yards per carry.
21. Houston Texans (0-1): Last Week: 8
Losing 29-7 at home to the cellar-dweller Jaguars is not the start of the season the Texans, who were viewed as a decent quarterback away from Super Bowl contention, were looking for. Bill O’Brien has not yet revealed whether DeShaun Watson or Tom Savage will get the start on Thursday night, but he has stated that the five players currently in concussion protocol will not play, adding to the Texans’ injury problems.
22. Washington Redskins (0-1): Last Week: 13
The Redskins couldn’t get anything going on offense against Philly, as the running back of duo of Robert Kelley and Chris Thomson combined for 34 yards on 13 touches. The absences of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon were apparent, as neither Terrelle Pryor or Jamison Crowder could get anything going with Kirk Cousins.
23. Miami Dolphins (0-0): Last Week: 23
Did not play Week 1 because of Hurricane Irma.
24. New Orleans Saints (0-1): Last Week: 19
Getting demolished in the passing game by Sam Bradford is never a good sign. The Saints’ defense has been inept at stopping the aerial game for years, and Drew Brees and company have to be ready for another sub-.500 season.
25. Los Angeles Rams (1-0): Last Week: 27
Despite their best player in Aaron Donald continuing his holdout, the Rams defense punished the Andrew Luck-less Colts offense in a 46-9 win in a partially-empty LA Coliseum. Jared Goff finally had a good game, completing 21 of 27 passes for 306 yards and a score, and showed a connection with rookie wideout Cooper Kupp.
26. Buffalo Bills (1-0): Last Week: 28
The Bills got the win in Week 1, but their inability to roll over a hapless Jets squad at home showed they will not contend this year. LeSean McCoy will make fantasy owners happy, however, as he totaled nearly 160 all-purpose yards.
27. Chicago Bears (0-1): Last Week: 29
Pushing the Falcons to the brink was an encouraging start for a Bears team that few expect much out of. Rookie Tarik Cohen put on a show, though it is unlikely he will push Jordan Howard for carries. Losing Cameron Meredith and Kevin White for the season will probably be the nail in the coffin for Chicago, however.
28. Cleveland Browns (0-1): Last Week: 30
DeShone Kizer looked really good for a guy who plummeted late in the draft process, as the rookie kept the Browns close to last year’s AFC runner-up all game. He needs to get rid of the ball quicker, as he was sacked seven times.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1): Last Week: 18
The only team shut out in Week 1, the Bengals’ performance could mean a Marvin Lewis exit sooner rather than later. Andy Dalton threw four picks and Joe Mixon was a non-factor, but the defense did get pressure on Joe Flacco.
30. San Francisco 49ers (0-1): Last Week: 31
The 49ers got off to an inauspicious start in the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era, as they were manhandled by the Panthers at home. The Brian Hoyer-led offense poses very little threat, but young safety Jaquiski Tartt played well in what could be a rising defense.
31. New York Jets (0-1): Last Week: 32
As long as Josh McCown is starting in the NFL, whichever team he is playing for is not going to win games. The 38 year-old averaged just 4.8 yards per attempt and threw two interceptions.
32. Indianapolis Colts (0-1): Last Week: 25
With Andrew Luck’s return still up in the air, the Colts are definitely the worst team in the league. The Rams’ defense outscored the Colts as a whole, and Jared Goff carved up their defense like soft butter.