NFL Rank and File - Week 1
by James Deaux(NFL)
Posted on September 16, 2009, 1:08 PM
NFL Rank and File– Week 1
Why, yes—I do have my own weekly rankings for the NFL season. If you need a further explanation of what that entails, then you need to go to any major sports website and look right in front of you. When ranking each team, I take into account as many variables as possible—the outcome, offensive performance, defensive performance, opponent, coaching, and even the aftermath/outlook for next week. It was Week 1, so naturally, pretty much every game had a level of sloppiness to it. This means you shouldn’t read too much into these rankings since it is so early. Next week, I guarantee there will be teams shooting up and down the ladder, and everything will start to level out as we get deeper into the season. Let’s get to the rank and file:
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0): They simply owned Carolina—a team that went undefeated at home in the regular season last year—in every imaginable way. I was tempted to rank them second based on the absolutely stupid McNabb TD run that ended up with a fractured rib. It was certainly a dirty late hit by Carolina’s defenders, but the TD was meaningless at that point and just completely ill-advised. There is almost no chance they beat New Orleans next week without McNabb.
2.) New York Jets (1-0): I really, really wanted to rank them number 1, but something—no, I don’t know what—held me back. If they beat New England next Sunday, I don’t see how they will stay out of the top spot. Mark Sanchez just exudes an aura that he absolutely belongs in the NFL, and their defense could wind up a top 5 unit when all is said and done. Very impressive win.
3.) Atlanta Falcons (1-0): Think about this for a second: the Falcons pretty much manhandled the reigning AFC East champions despite barely any output from their running game, Matt Ryan missing at least two surefire TD passes, and in spite of the usually rock solid Jason Elam missing two field goals and an extra point. Chad Pennington was harassed the entire time, and the only points Miami scored were with 3:22 remaining in the game. If the Falcons’ Mike Peterson-led defense turns out to be an asset rather than a liability, then they can legitimately think about Super Bowl aspirations.
4.) Dallas Cowboys (1-0): Tony Romo is a man on a mission, and his performance against Tampa Bay was proof positive (a career-best 353 yards). It helps that he is surrounded by legit weapons everywhere. There may be something to the whole “T.O. being gone = good thing” sentiment. Shock of shocks.
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0): That was anything but an impressive win, but a win it was. (Even Hines Ward, the dude who never fumbles, had a fumble.) Pittsburgh’s offensive line is just atrocious—just ask their running backs, who can’t get into any lanes, and Roethlisberger, who is constantly flushed out of the pocket. Roethlisberger can’t be expected to throw the ball 43 times every game. He is certainly capable of doing it when necessary, but I don’t think you can rely on that as a crutch every game, which, if the O-line has anything to say about it, isn’t outside the realm of possibility. The other burning question: can their D survive up to 6 weeks minus Polamalu?
6.) Green Bay Packers (1-0): Sloppy as it was, Green Bay came away with an important divisional victory. Green Bay’s defensive questions can be silenced for at least one week after they intercepted Jay Cutler four times. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a memorable game by any stretch, but he doesn’t make dumb mistakes, and he’ll only get better from here. A repeat of, if not an eclipsing of, his 2008 stats should be easy.
7.) Baltimore Ravens (1-0): Joe Flacco shows no signs of a sophomore slump, but then again, it was against the pitiful Kansas City secondary. Should Baltimore fans be slightly worried that the Ravens surrendered 24 points to the lowly Chiefs? Their special teams’ play was absolutely brutal. Next week should be a great test for the offense, defense, and special teams when they travel to San Diego.
8.) New York Giants (1-0): As many times as New York was on Washington’s side of the field, this should have been a blowout. Lawrence Tynes was responsible for 11 of their 23 points. The defense looks fine, though, as Osi Umenyiora made his triumphant return to the field with a fumble return for a TD.
9.) New Orleans Saints (1-0): It would be criminal to rank them outside the Top 10 given how deadly their offense is, but they get the next-to-bottom spot in this group because they scored 45 points against a team that hasn’t won a real game since 2007. They also allowed said team to score 27 points. Drew Brees is a surefire MVP candidate, though.
10.) Minnesota Vikings (1-0): Okay, yes, it was against the lowly Browns, but Adrian Peterson had one of the greatest and most hilarious TD runs I’ve ever seen. (Hilarious in the sense that he made the Browns’ defense look like what it is—absolutely hapless.) They are going to need Favre to have more than 14 completions for just over 100 yards, though. Eventually, even Peterson will break down under constant 8-man fronts.
11.) Indianapolis Colts (1-0): Joseph Addai is done. Donald Brown should take over the #1 RB spot sooner rather than later. The loss of Anthony Gonzalez is a huge blow, too. Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne can expect double coverage a lot for the foreseeable future.
12.) San Diego Chargers (1-0): The Chargers can thank their lucky stars they were playing Oakland, because if they were playing a team that consistently plays well, they would have been destroyed. Philip Rivers had Raiders in his face all night long thanks to terrible O-line play, and they have to deal with several injuries now. The Bolts pulled it out in the end, but if they play anything like this against better teams, they will win the division with another 8-8 record.
13.) New England Patriots (1-0): See the first line from #11. Just replace “Oakland” with “Buffalo”. In all seriousness, they should have lost this game. And they would have were it not for Leodis McKelvin’s hideously ill-advised kick return. I have more faith in this team to rebound from their sloppy performance than I do San Diego, simply because of who is coaching each team. I’d be very worried about their defense, though, were I a Pats fan.
14.) Seattle Seahawks (1-0): It was a win that was expected by nearly everyone, but let’s see if Julius Jones rolls up that many yards when he has to face a decent defense next week. This team is going to have zero power presence at the goal line unless they get someone else to be the designated red zone vulture. Edgerrin James is not the answer.
15.) Tennessee Titans (0-1): I have to admit that I underrated their defense, but it’s a good chance that that performance was largely thanks to the Steelers’ awful O-line. They should bounce back and win at home against perennial disappointment, Houston, next week.
16.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-1): No way did I expect them to put up that many points (I predicted a shutout), so props to Brodie Croyle for keeping them respectable the whole game. This may be a team that could be better than anyone thought possible.
17.) San Francisco 49ers (1-0): I think it’s safe to say they pulled the upset of the week. I like the direction their defense is going, but this team just personifies the word “bland”. Vernon Davis, of all people, is their number one offensive weapon.
18.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1): They fought as hard as they could, but they never really had an answer for Romo and his cadre. Credit where credit is due, though—yardage-wise, that was their best offensive output since 2007.
19.) Buffalo Bills (0-1): Wow, was that ever a gut-wrenching loss. Everyone will (rightfully) blame Leodis McKelvin for his terrible special teams blunder, but it’s not like Buffalo’s offense was lighting up the scoreboard all night. This team has almost zero chemistry. During which week will T.O. have a verbal meltdown talking to the media? My guess is Week 4.
20.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1): Is the Curse of the Super Bowl Loser back? I think so. They have some worrying wide receiver injuries to deal with, and their defense isn’t exactly state-of-the-art.
21.) Chicago Bears (0-1): Things aren’t looking good for the Bears. They’ve lost their defensive captain for the year, their new quarterback had the worst game of his career, and their so-called wide receivers looked atrocious.
22.) Denver Broncos (1-0): In the long and storied annals of goofy NFL wins, the one the Broncos got on Sunday is way up there. What a horrible game.
23.) Washington Redskins (0-1): Jason Campbell is not an NFL-caliber quarterback. Never has been, never will be. Do you think Dan Snyder started sweating when he saw Albert Haynesworth lying on the ground motionless for several seconds there?
24.) Oakland Raiders (0-1): Stomach-churning loss for the Raider Nation here. Jamarcus Russell (12-30 passing, 47.6 QB rating) still has yet to prove he can be a capable NFL quarterback. There are positives that can be taken from this game, though. Whether they build upon them or just continue being the typical Raiders remains to be seen, however.
25.) Miami Dolphins (0-1): Things aren’t going to get any easier for this team with Indianapolis coming to town for Monday Night Football next week.
26.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-1): Can anything go right for this team? Ever? The game was lost on the Stokley touchdown, sure, but how do you score only seven points off of the Broncos’ horrific defense? The immaculate TD shouldn’t have even been a factor.
27.) Carolina Panthers (0-1): Magic number—11. The number of turnovers recent contract-extension-signee Jake Delhomme has committed in his last two games. Worse yet, after they lost Josh McCown to multiple leg injuries, this team could have gotten Jeff Garcia to back him up (and inevitably take his job), but they signed A.J. Feeley instead. Think John Fox is on the hot seat now?
28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1): Not a good start to the season, especially when Jack del Rio’s job is probably on the line this year.
29.) Houston Texans (0-1): The Texans have become the new age Arizona Cardinals—i.e., they are the sexy pick every year to make huge strides and even make the playoffs, and every year, they disappoint.
30.) Cleveland Browns (0-1): Joshua Cribbs is pretty much the lone bright spot on a hopelessly bad team.
31.) Detroit Lions (0-1): They were put in an impossible situation to open this year—versus the Saints at the Superdome. They gave a concerted effort, but this is going to be just another long year for Lions fans.
32.) St. Louis Rams (0-1): You can’t put out a woeful effort like that and expect to win anything. I do think it’s at least slightly unfair how they had to start out their schedule, though—at Seattle and at Washington before going home in Week 3. How did that get approved?