NFL power rankings: Upset-filled Week 1 doesn’t dramatically alter poll

Detroit Free Press

Sometimes, Week 1 of the NFL season is incredibly meaningful. Sometimes, it’s not.

Take last season, for instance. The Green Bay Packers got absolutely throttled in their 2021 opener, losing 38-3 to a New Orleans Saints team playing its first game without Drew Brees.

The Saints were considered a middling team entering the season — they went on to finish 9-8 — and the instinct by some was to write off the Packers, especially after Aaron Rodgers reported late to training camp following a dramatic offseason in which he contemplated retirement. (Sound familiar?)

All the Packers did was go on to win 13 of their final 16 games, the NFC North title for the third straight season and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers’ season finished in disappointment when they lost a divisional round playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, but few expected them to reach the heights they did in the immediate aftermath of that loss.

The Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans started their 2021 seasons off in similarly disappointing fashion, losing home games before rebounding to win 11 and 12 games, respectively, and their divisions in the AFC.

It’s with that history in mind that I put my Week 2 NFL power rankings together. I try hard not to read too much into openers. As Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said last week, more teams lose openers with the mistakes they make than win them by making great plays, which maybe explains some of the results we got.

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The Denver Broncos losing to the Seattle Seahawks (after fumbling twice on the goal line) in what was supposed to be Russell Wilson’s revenge game.

The New York Giants, with a healthy for once Saquon Barkley, beating a Titans team expected to contend for the AFC South.

The Houston Texans tying the other AFC South contender, the Indianapolis Colts, despite a huge day from Jonathan Taylor.

And the Chicago Bears beating the San Francisco 49ers on the small lake that was Soldier Field.

I did not think much of the Seahawks, Giants, Texans or Bears entering the season, and I still have all four teams in the bottom third of my power rankings for now. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe one or more of those teams will finish the season a playoff contender. But it’s Week 1, far too early to give anyone a crown.

Week 2 NFL power rankings

1. Buffalo Bills (1-0)

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

4. Los Angeles Rams (0-1)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0)

6. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

7. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

8. Green Bay Packers (0-1)

9. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

10. New Orleans Saints (1-0)

11. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

13. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

14. Las Vegas Raiders (0-1)

15. Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1)

16. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

17. Tennessee Titans (0-1)

18. Cleveland Browns (1-0)

19. New England Patriots (0-1)

20. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

21. Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

22. Detroit Lions (0-1)

23. Washington Commanders (1-0)

24. Seattle Seahawks (1-0)

25. Denver Broncos (0-1)

26. Chicago Bears (1-0)

27. New York Giants (1-0)

28. Houston Texans (0-0-1)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

30. New York Jets (0-1)

31. Carolina Panthers (0-1)

32. Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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