Tier 1: The Super Bowl Contenders
1: Kansas City Chiefs (Week 1: 1)
Yes the Chiefs had a rough game on Thursday, but the sign of an elite team is having a rough game against a quality opponent and still winning. And not just winning, but making it not even particularly close (my definition of close is having the ball with an opportunity to tie or take the lead at the end of the game).
One issue is that we’re starting lose players, especially on defense. As of writing Butker is still day-to-day, while Willie Gay and Trent McDuffie are both out multiple weeks. I don’t think they add up to enough to make a major difference, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.
2: Green Bay Packers (Week 1: 2)
Last week I was about to move the Packers down, until I remembered that they always struggle in week 1. I’m glad I did as they looked like themselves in their annual tradition of beating up Chicago on national television.
3: San Francisco 49ers (Week 1: 3)
This is why I didn’t panic drop the 49ers. Their 27-7 win was even bigger than it looked since the Seahawks scored their 7 on a blocked field goal. As for Trey Lance being injured, I never considered him to be any better than Garoppolo so it doesn’t effect their ranking. Their loss against the Bears was an obvious fluke.
4: Buffalo Bills (Week 1: 5)
People were upset about me ranking the Bills low, but the reality is that they are pretty firm in this tier while the teams above them were not. In short I do think the Bills were better than 5th, I just didn’t know which teams will end up dropping below them. As long as they keep doing what they’ve done the first 2 weeks they’ll rise as the teams ahead of them drop.
Tier 2: The Playoff Contenders
5: Philadelphia Eagles (Week 1: 7)
Ranking the Eagles this high is a sort-of bold choice, which is why I was so eager to see them play an actual quality opponent in the Vikings, and if anything they made me look bad for not ranking them higher. I’m not quite to the point of putting them in the contender category (they were playing primetime Kirk Cousins after all), but they’re very close.
6: Los Angeles Chargers (Week 1: 8)
7: Las Vegas Raiders (Week 1: 10)
Yes the Raiders lost, but the Cardinals aren’t as bad as the Chiefs made them look and the Raiders were the better team that lost on a super flukey fumble. But 0-2 isn’t a good look and they need to start turning moral victories into actual victories.
8: Miami Dolphins (Week 1: 20)
9: Baltimore Ravens (Week 1: 4)
10: Los Angeles Rams (Week 1: 11)
A big move for the Dolphins, although most of that is just the other teams looking less than impressive. But going into this game I thought it would answer a lot of questions for both them and the Ravens and it did.
When you have a game where there’s a huge comeback like this it’s usually clear that one team is better, but the other team got a bunch of fluke plays to either build a big lead or to overcome the lead. For example, in the largest comeback ever between the Oilers and Bills the Oilers were clearly the better team, but suffered a ton of injuries which allowed the Bills to come back. When the Chiefs came back against the Texans in the playoffs the Texans had built that lead on the back of a number of fluke plays so when they ended the Chiefs’ superior talent came through.
In this case, both sides got fluke plays, but the Dolphins were clearly the better team in my mind. The Ravens got a kickoff return touchdown, a fluke interception, and most of their offense was on a handful of big plays like a long Lamar run and a slant that went the distance. On the other side Tua, while not as good as the statline, actually looked like a real quarterback and was able to consistently take advantage of Hill and Waddle’s talent.
That being said I’m still not 100% sold on the Dolphins. One game is one game, and while Tua did look better it could easily be a fluke in itself. But for now I feel better about them than anybody below them.
11: Tennessee Titans (Week 1: 12)
12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1: 14)
13: Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 1: 19)
14: Arizona Cardinals (Week 1: 17)
15: Minnesota Vikings (Week 1: 16)
16: Cincinnati Bengals (Week 1: 6)
I’m not fully giving up on the Bengals yet. Losing to both the Steelers and Cooper Rush Cowboys is brutal, but they were both extremely close. I still think they have a chance to figure out this offensive line issue.
Tier 3: The Less-Than-Good Teams
17: Seattle Seahawks (Week 1: 18)
18: Denver Broncos (Week 1: 9)
19: New England Patriots (Week 1: 21)
20: Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 1: 15)
After the draft I had the Bronco’s ranked 20th, a ranking that I decided to back track on. I could maybe excuse losing to the Seahawks as a fluke game the Seahawks were pumped to win. While the Broncos did beat Houston, it was way more difficult than it should have been for a team that considers themselves a contender.
21: Indianapolis Colts (Week 1: 13)
22: Washington Commanders (Week 1: 22)
23: New Orleans Saints (Week 1: 23)
24: Carolina Panthers (Week 1: 24)
25: Cleveland Browns (Week 1: 25)
I hate overreacting to 2 games here with the Colts, but what am I supposed to do? They have played 9 quarters of NFL football (well, 8.7 but we’ll round up) and have scored 0 points in 7 of them. And it’s not like they were going against great teams. The Texans look as horrible as always and while I do think the Jaguars are improved they’re still not exactly contenders either. At this point just playing the Chiefs close will be seen as a major victory.
Tier 4: The Terrible Teams
26: Dallas Cowboys (Week 1: 26)
27: Detroit Lions (Week 1: 27)
28: New York Giants (Week 1: 29)
29: New York Jets (Week 1: 28)
30: Atlanta Falcons (Week 1: 30)
31: Houston Texans (Week 1: 31)
32: Chicago Bears (Week 1: 32)
The Giants may be 2-0, but I am completely unmoved. They remind me of the Panthers last year. They started an even better 3-0, but I refused to rank them higher and eventually they proved me right. Maybe the Giants actually are good, but it’s going to take a bit more until I buy into them.