Photo courtesy of Mark J. Terrill | AP Photo
Week 1 of the NFL season kicked off with a bang as the slate of NFL games from Thursday to Monday saw many wild and chaotic finishes that left many fans either ecstatic or angry. Joe Burrow threw four interceptions, yet was a blocked extra point away from defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Alas, the Steelers won in overtime. The Denver Broncos lost in Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle after Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett made some of the most bewildering game management decisions I have ever seen. Buffalo made a statement on opening night as they thrashed the defending champion Los Angeles Rams 31-10.
After a bizarre opening weekend, here are my top 10 NFL teams entering Week 2.
10. Miami Dolphins (1-0)
Previous Ranking: N/A
While the Miami Dolphins were far from the most impressive team in Week 1, they showed promise with their new cast of weapons and coaching staff. In what has become a stable tradition in the NFL, the Dolphins beat down the New England Patriots under the south Florida sun 20-7. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a solid debut with 94 yards on receptions and WR Jaylen Waddle broke the game open with a 42-yard touchdown pass on a 4th & 7 in the second quarter. While the defense was as advertised, the running game put up a disappointing 65 yards. Improvements will have to made if they are to walk away from Baltimore with a victory on Sunday, a place the team has not won at since 1997 when Dan Marino was still the quarterback.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
Previous Ranking: N/A
After a surprise playoff appearance in 2021, expectations were high on the Philadelphia Eagles entering this season with the additions of WR A.J. Brown and talents throughout the defense. The Detroit Lions put up a good fight and almost came back from a 38-21 fourth-quarter deficit. Alas, the Eagles held on to win 38-35 and were ultimately in control for most of the game. Brown’s debut was spectacular with 155 receiving yards on 10 catches while James Bradberry had a pick six in his Philly debut. The running game, which was the NFL’s best statistically in 2021, picked up where it left off with 216 total rushing yards and four touchdowns. For their home opener, they will host a Monday Night Football showdown against the Minnesota Vikings, who themselves had a solid showing in Week 1.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Previous Ranking: 3
Yes, Burrow threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while getting sacked seven times. Cincinnati lost the game against their hated rivals but I must give proper perspective. Ask Josh Allen and the Bills how great Pittsburgh can look Week 1 as the Steelers won at Buffalo 23-16 to open the 2021 season. The Bengals, who were without their long snapper Clark Harris, had kicking issues that are uncommon to a team that kicked two game-winning field goals in the last postseason. On top of all of that, Tee Higgins suffered a concussion early in the game, giving Burrow one less option to throw to with T.J. Watt in his face on nearly every play. The Bengals have little reason to worry going forward as the competition will not always be as fierce. They will attempt to bounce back when they face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, a team who will be without their starting QB for the next few weeks.
7. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
Previous Ranking: N/A
The Kevin O’Connell era in Minnesota could not have gotten off to a much better start as US Bank Stadium was the host of a Vikings beatdown of the hated Green Bay Packers 23-7. Justin Jefferson showed why 2022-23 might be the season he asserts himself as the best wide receiver in the NFL as he started it off with 184 yards on nine receptions and two touchdowns. Minnesota’s revamped pass rush sacked Rodgers four times and were throwing off his rhythm all afternoon long. However, the struggles for the Vikings throughout Kirk Cousins’ tenure has been in primetime. With a new coach, they hope to exorcise those demons as they travel to Philly for a MNF showdown.
6. Los Angeles Rams (0-1)
Previous Ranking: 1
What was supposed to be a night of celebration for the Rams quickly turned into a showcase for the Bills, this season’s Super Bowl favorites. Matthew Stafford was sacked seven times and Jalen Ramsey allowed a perfect passer rating on throws where he was the main man in coverage. Cooper Kupp put up a statline typical of his 2021-22 production with 128 yards on 13 receptions and a touchdown, but the number-two receiver, Allen Robinson, could not get anything going as he was targeted only twice. The lack of a second option hurt the Rams on Thursday but ultimately, the Rams are still contenders until proven otherwise. Their opportunity to right the ship comes on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
5. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 9
Against their old QB Joe Flacco and the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens took care of business against the New York Jets on the road 24-9. Lamar Jackson continues to show why the running back narrative should no longer exist with three beautiful touchdown passes, including an incredible no-look touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay. However, the victory came at a cost, even with their starting running backs set to return within the next four weeks. Left tackle Ja’Wuan James and cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered season-ending injuries on Sunday. The Ravens will have to keep winning without them moving forward as they will host the Dolphins on Sunday.
4. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 8
Nine different players caught at least two passes from Justin Herbert in Sunday’s 24-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Herbert spread the ball around in an incredibly efficient performance with three TD passes, zero interceptions and 279 yards. What was even more impressive for the Chargers was their much-maligned defense from a year ago showing up to make crucial stops against the Raiders. Khalil Mack sacked Derek Carr three times in his Chargers debut to go along with the rest of the defense intercepting him three times. The Chargers will need him to play that well on Thursday as they head to Kansas City for their first of two showdowns against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs this season.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 5
In what may be the beginning of the final season of Tom Brady’s legendary career, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers controlled the Dallas Cowboys 19-3 to start 1-0. Despite a banged up offensive line, the unit held up well against a solid Cowboys front seven, allowing only two sacks that were the result of incredible moves from star Micah Parsons. Leonard Fournette took the pressure off Brady with 127 rushing yards on 21 carries. Luckily for Tampa Bay, Chris Godwin and left tackle Donovan Smith avoided serious injuries and will be available later in the season. The Buccaneers will take on an opponent that has beaten them in the last seven regular season matchups, the New Orleans Saints, on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 4
If Week 1 proved anything that is certainly not an overreaction, it’s that Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are in a league of their own over everyone else in the NFL (can we see them face off again now please). Even without Tyreek Hill, Mahomes looked as good as ever with an absurd statline of 30/39 completions for 360 yards and five TDs. The Arizona Cardinals looked like a FCS school playing Alabama as they were dominated by a Chiefs juggernaut hoping to begin and end their season with a victory in Glendale, Arizona (site of Super Bowl 57). Up next, Mahomes gets to battle Herbert in the debut of Amazon Prime’s coverage of Thursday Night Football.
1. Buffalo Bills (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Von Miller has won Super Bowls with the Broncos and Rams while being a Hall of Fame caliber pass rusher. He joined the Bills this offseason in hopes of guiding them to their first Super Bowl title. Miller made a great first impression against the Rams as he sacked Stafford twice, contributing to the Bills total of seven for the game. Allen and the offense overcame four turnovers as the Wyoming product threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns with 56 rushing yards in the 31-10 win. Buffalo showed why they are the Super Bowl favorites this season with a 21-0 edge over the Rams in the second half. Next up for the Bills will be their home opener against the Tennessee Titans on Monday, a team that has beaten them the last two seasons.