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As it does every year, Week 1 has the habit of making us all out to be fools.
You, dear reader, have the option of sweeping your failed predictions and doomed hot takes under the rug, never to be spoken of again. You delete the tweets, scrub the text chains, tell your friends they simply misheard you when you said the Jaguars would make Patrick Mahomes look like Tyler Thigpen. You escape … unscathed.
Me? I have these damn Power Rankings, which serve as a living, breathing testament to my eternal naivety. This is my burden. This is my fate. Still I forge on.
Let’s get to it.
NOTE: The previous rankings referenced in the lineup below are from the Week 1 Power Rankings.
No. 1 Sometimes football just seems too easy for this team. The
Patriots shocked the world (actually, was anybody really shocked?)
by agreeing to terms with Antonio Brown on Saturday. Then they turned around and delivered a
clinical beatdown of the Steelers on Sunday night.
Tom Brady spread the ball all over the field to seven different receivers, and the offensive line allowed the 42-year-old quarterback to be sacked only once all night. The offense was impressive, but it’s the defense that makes you think the
Steelers are just the first of many teams bound to be on the wrong end of lopsided final scores involving the
Patriots in 2019. The Pats have playmakers at every level of their D; the secondary wouldn’t even allow
Ben Roethlisberger to pile up some decent garbage-time production in the second half. The Pats don’t care that you don’t like them. And they certainly don’t care about your fantasy team.
No. 2 A very nice start for the
Rams, who picked up
a road win against a tough
Panthers team on an afternoon where quarterback
Jared Goff was not overly sharp, their special teams were uncharacteristically sloppy and defensive tackle
Aaron Donald had perhaps the quietest day of his career. Their heroes came elsewhere.
Cory Littleton stuffed the stat sheet with 14 tackles, an interception and forced fumble, which he recovered. (The fumble came on one of those plays where the defender
straight up punches the pigskin out of the ball-carrier’s hands, always an underrated feat of savagery on the field.)
Todd Gurley was part of a committee attack in the backfield, but still rushed for nearly 100 yards on 14 carries and iced the game with a pair of rushes coming out of the two-minute warning. This was a win that showed off Los Angeles’ enviable depth. The
Rams have a lot of people who can beat you.
No. 4 Here’s the scary thing about the Chiefs: They went to Jacksonville and
dropped a 40-burger on the
Jaguars … and it still felt like they left points on the field.
Patrick Mahomes looks like the MVP,
LeSean McCoy looks like the Shady of old rather than old Shady, and
Sammy Watkins looks to, at long last, be on the precipice of his breakthrough season. Watkins torched the Jags to the tune of nine catches for 198 yards and three TDs, and he’ll continue to see plenty of looks with
Tyreek Hill on the shelf indefinitely
with a shoulder injury. The Hill news is obviously the biggest negative to come out of the opener for Kansas City, but the team’s talent is so overwhelming that you don’t imagine the
Chiefs will skip a beat. Jon Gruden thought he had a headache in
Antonio Brown — now he has to plan for
the Chiefs in Week 2. Knock on wood if you’re terrified.
No. 5 I imagine there was a wave of sweet nostalgia washing over Philly fans as they watched
DeSean Jackson blow the top off an opposing defense in an
Eagles uniform again. Now 32, DJax is a decade removed from his NFL debut with the
Eagles under Andy Reid, but he looked like pretty much exactly the same guy against the
Redskins on Sunday.
Carson Wentz greatly benefits from Jackson’s playmaking presence, and the wideout adds a dimension to the offense that already has proven playmakers in
Zach Ertz and
Alshon Jeffery. Speaking of sweet Iggles nostalgia, Wentz looked a lot like the guy who tore the NFL apart in 2017 once Philly’s offense shook off the rust in the second half. Wentz is a legit MVP candidate and the
Eagles are primed for a fierce battle with the
Cowboys for the NFC East crown.
No. 7 All is right in Jerrah World. The
Cowboys opened their season as they should: Beating up on a talent-deficient
Giants team at home.
Ezekiel Elliott looks a step slow (to be expected as he rounds into shape after a lengthy holdout), but the
Cowboys didn’t need their star running back the way
Dak Prescott was playing on Sunday. The fourth-year quarterback was as locked in as we’ve ever seen him, carving up the
Giants for four touchdowns with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. People snickered when reports surfaced last month that Prescott wanted
$40 million per year on his new contract. If Jerry Jones doesn’t get a deal done soon and Prescott keeps playing at this level, the QB will be asking for more. Meanwhile, Prescott’s receiving options go well beyond Amari Cooper:
Michael Gallup looks like an emerging star, while
Randall Cobb skipped through the
Giants’ D like the Cobb of four years ago. Even
Jason Witten, in his first game since the 2017 season,
had a touchdown. Like I said, all is right in Jerrah World.
No. 12 Pretty much a perfect start to the season for the
Vikings. Suffocating defense, a punishing ground game, and
Kirk Cousins asked to be a facilitator rather than hero. Cousins threw just 10 passes
against the Falcons, as Minnesota coasted to the finish line after building up a 28-0 lead in the third quarter. The hype around
Dalvin Cook this offseason was absolutely warranted: The third-year running back piled up 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, looking very much like the missing piece for Minnesota’s offense. Backup
Alexander Mattison also ran with purpose for a
Vikings team that finished with 172 yards on the ground. Safety
Anthony Harris starred on D with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. This is a well-balanced team that is going to make noise if it can stay healthy.
No. 9 That was not the resounding victory people expected wi
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