Tier 1: The Super Bowl Contenders
1: Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 1)
The yearly tradition of ignoring wins an losses to the dismay of some in the comments arrives early this year. The reality is that if this is the worst loss we have this season we’ll be in good shape.
Really the only concern coming out of the game was the receivers, but even then the panic is slightly overstated. Toney is not going to have drop issues like that again, and the fact he had all those drops perversely proves that he was able to get consistently open. If he makes those catches we’re talking very differently. Yes the receivers would still be below the standard we want (especially Skyy Moore), but it wouldn’t be considered a season-altering disaster.
But besides that the offensive line looked great (at least to me, apparently some people disagree) and the defense shut down one of the top offenses from last year even without Chris Jones. If that performance is consistent (which, not to be negative nancy, I am skeptical of) then the Chiefs will be even better than last year.
2: Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 2)
I’m keeping the Bengals here for now despite getting absolutely embarrassed by the Browns because Burrow has always played poorly against Cleveland. They have a tough game against Baltimore this week, so another loss doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll drop, but they have to at least look better.
3: Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 3)
Yes the Bills lost to Zach Wilson and looked horrible doing so, but they did last year as well so I’m willing to give them a little benefit of the doubt. That being said there were reasons to believe they could be on the decline this year so they are on extremely thin ice going into their next game against the Raiders.
4: Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 4)
5: Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 5)
I wasn’t the only one high on Miami coming into the year, but it was definitely a minority opinion. Through one game their offense looks as scary as ever. Old friend Tyreek Hill had Chiefs fans flip flopping on the trade all over again with his monster 211 yard day, and Tua has an early lead in the MVP race with 466 yards on a 10.4 yard per attempt average. Yes they gave up a lot of points, but offense tends to be much more consistent than defense, and that offense is not one I look forward to going against.
Tier 2: The Playoff Contenders
6: Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 7)
The Cowboys are another team that I, along with a surprisingly large minority, really liked as a potential Super Bowl team. They certainly looked like it on a rainy Sunday night in New York. But I don’t think we should get too excited, they were just playing Daniel Jones after all.
7: San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 9)
8: Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 10)
For some reason the Bears were favored by 1 over the Packers last week. That’s one of those once-in-a-decade lines that you have to jump on, and I regret not putting more money on the Packers. I missed on the opportunity to have an AG party with the kettlecorn and Vanilla Coke on the house.
That being said, Love looks way better than everybody else except me thought, but he isn’t Rodgers or Favre. So they remain a team that’s good but not dominant.
9: Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 11)
The Eagles had a poor showing against New England. Yes they won, but that was because of some early luck. I already had them lower than most, but if they continue to look bad they’ll drop quickly.
10: Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 26)
I, like everybody else, was down on the Rams. But I did say that I felt people were a bit too confident that they were bad. That’s why they get to enjoy a dramatic jump in the rankings. Outside of last year McVay has always put out a good team, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they’re good again this year.
11: Washington Commanders (Last Week: 12)
12: Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 13)
13: Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 14)
That was such a Chargers game wasn’t it? A back and forth affair that they barely lost. But that being said Herbert wasn’t quite as good as you’d think given the score. The Chargers mainly depended on their running game to score points. Passing is king in the NFL, so that’s concerning for them moving forward if they want to take a step and actually win a playoff game.
14: Detroit Lions (Last Week: 16)
Congrats to the Lions on one of their biggest wins in 30 years. Maybe I’m just a grumpy hater, but I actually think that game was a bit concerning for them if their goal is to go to their first ever Super Bowl (which it should be).
First of all, they were playing a team without two of the best players in the NFL in Kelce and Jones. While that’s still a very good team, it does lessen the shine a bit.
But the bigger problem is that they were still incredibly lucky to win. They needed all 4 of Toney’s drops to get an extremely narrow 1 point victory, even including the pick-6 that was obviously a huge shift in the game.
The 14 points scored on offense is also a big problem. Maybe the Chiefs defense is massively improved (I hope so), but I really doubt that this unit minus Chris Jones is really that dominant. Only being able to muster 14 points when you’re supposed to have one of the top offenses in the NFL is a really bad sign.
All that being said the Lions team I saw on Thursday is the same Lions team from last year. Meaning they will be decent, but still more of a fringe playoff team than a real contender.
Tier 3: The Less-Than-Good Teams
15: Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 8)
I had the Seahawks as a potential Super Bowl team, and in the first half everything was fine. But in the 2nd half they gained just 3 yards and allowed the Rams to score on every drive. Maybe they can bounce back, but with their lack of history I can’t give them the benefit of the doubt.
16: Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 15)
17: New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 18)
18: Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 19)
Not many people are talking about the Titans and Saints game, but despite the close score Tannehill’s performance was very concerning. He threw 3 interceptions and he could have very easily thrown more. On top of that he missed a couple of wide open receivers. It may be rust, but if that’s how he plays the whole season the Titans might be a contender for Caleb Williams.
19: Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 20)
20: New England Patriots (Last Week: 27)
21: Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 17)
22: Houston Texans (Last Week: 21)
23: New York Giants (Last Week: 22)
24: Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 23)
25: Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 24)
26: Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 25)
It’s funny how many popular dark horse teams there were this offseason. Pittsburgh was yet another one, but as you can tell from the rankings I didn’t buy into them. After getting clobbered by San Francisco I’d say this was one where I got it right.
27: Chicago Bears (Last Week: 28)
Last week I asked in befuddlement what exactly everybody was so excited about with the Bears. This week I asked in befuddlement what exactly everybody was so excited about with the Bears.
Yes they added a bit of talent, but at the end of the day Justin Fields is one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL and they’ll never be any sort of real contender while he’s taking snaps.
28: New York Jets (Last Week: 6)
As of this writing, there’s no update on Rodgers. Regardless of if his injury is serious or not it seems likely he’ll be out next week, which is what these rankings are based on.
Zach Wilson may be the worst quarterback in the NFL. So even though the Jets have a fantastic roster it’s hard to put them above many other teams.
29: Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 29)
30: Denver Broncos (Last Week: 30)
Congrats on to the Browns on their win. They’ll probably get another one against the Bengals. But Watson still struggled and most weeks they’re not going to have this insane matchup advantage.
Denver is more interesting. Their fanbase seems to be split. On the one hand their 17-16 loss (the same score they lost by in week 1 last year) is demoralizing, especially considering it was against the Raiders at home. On the other hand, some fans are arguing that the 16 points is deceptive, it was actually a good offensive game! Believe it or not I actually think they have a good point, but it does fail.
The argument is that because they only had 6 drives (8-10 is more normal) that 16 points on so few drives is actually good on points per drive. Which is true, 2.7 points per drive is really good (for comparison the Chiefs were at 2.71 last year). However, one problem with that argument is that the Raiders also only had 6 drives (excluding the end of half where they only kneeled), and 17 points on 6 drives is even better. Does that mean the Broncos D is horrible? (In fact, the Raiders could have easily scored more points if Jimmy G didn’t throw a redzone interception and they didn’t run out the clock to end the game deep in Denver territory.)
But that good offensive performance in itself was deceptive. Yes Wilson looked a bit better, but all 3 of their scoring drives benefitted from an automatic 1st down by penalty. One was an offsides on 4th and 1. Another was a roughing the kicker on a punt. Only the third was even arguable as a product of the offense since it was pass interference, but even then it was questionable. The Broncos were very lucky to get those 17 points.
But even beyond that, this was clearly an offense built on minimizing Russell Wilson. You could argue that’s what made him successful in Seattle, but his statline was still awful.
Overall I just can’t buy into the Broncos yet.
Tier 4: The Terrible Teams
31: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 31)
32: Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 32)
Both of these teams did better than expected in week 1. Tampa Bay actually beat the Vikings (with a little help from lady luck but still) and the Cardinals made it competitive with Washington. If they keep it up I might have to get rid of this tier again.