NFL Week 1 Power Rankings: New Orleans Saints Back On Top After Crazy Opening Week

September 14th, 2010 – by John Ritter

Before the season started, Bodog released a prop bet considering which, if any, NFL team would go a perfect 16-0 during the regular season. The usual suspects were at the top of the list like Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Diego and Dallas after terrific ’09 campaigns that saw all three win at least 12 games and make the playoffs. But after a less-than-glimmering opening weekend, it’s likely that a few bankrolls took a tumble along with the momentum of the league’s top teams in this week’s NFL Power Rankings.

It was a weekend that saw seven of last year’s 12 playoff teams start 0-1.

Among the four mentioned for Bodog’s prop bet, only the Saints got past opening day without a loss, and even they didn’t look all that sharp with just 14 points. New Orleans scored 14 or less only once last year.

Actually, Several teams didn’t wow like we thought they would (looking at you Cincinnati and Green Bay), while others were surprisingly good (Seattle, Kansas City and Tennessee).

Shame on us for buying into the Cowboy hype and placing them at the top of the preseason power rankings, but still, did anyone see a seven-point effort against Washington coming? With that ugly offensive line situation, maybe everyone should have. The Redskins defense could be one of the best in the entire league, but Dallas killed itself, plain and simple. In our Week 2 Power Rankings, the Cowboys sag, while several other surprise teams eek into the mix. And now, it seems, a handful of those up-and-comers from a year ago look poised to make some serious noise in the power rankings.

One of those teams, the Houston Texans took a huge leap in the AFC South by blasting the Indianapolis Colts. The last time Houston beat Manning & Co. in came via a last-second field goal by Kris Brown. This time, there were no last-second heroics needed. But the impressive thing was Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson weren’t needed. Hailed for a daunting passing attack, the Texans front line dominated the line of scrimmage and allowed Arian Foster to gain huge chunks of property in the second half. Foster only had 40 yards in the first half, but exploded for another 181 in the second. Just imagine what kind of season is in store when the passing game gets in the mix.

We really want to jump on Kansas City because the team looks loaded with young, fast playmakers. But the Chargers laid an egg in last year’s opener against the Raiders, too, so we’ll wait and see if the Chiefs are for real or just caught San Diego at a good time.

And give credit to the Pittsburgh Steelers for hanging on to beat a good Atlanta team sans Ben Roethlisberger. Going 2-2 with him gone would be welcomed, and now that seems like a given with Tampa Bay on the Week 3 NFL Matchups.

Week 1 Power Rankings

1. New Orleans Saints – Like we said, the Saints only scored 14 or fewer once last year, and that was in the regular season finale with Mark Brunell at quarterback. But with Indianapolis and Dallas losing, we appreciate simply winning against last year’s NFC North champ, and don’t expect the points to sag for long. San Francisco is on deck, followed by Atlanta, Carolina, Arizona, Tampa Bay and Cleveland. An 8-0 start is likely.

2. Green Bay Packers – With Ryan Grant out, the Packers’ offense wasn’t as smooth as advertised, although Brandon Jackson was serviceable. Aaron Rodgers admitted he wasn’t happy with his game, but God, is it good to have Clay Matthews on your side. Last year’s top defense was cut up by Mike Vick, but still held on with a huge fourth-down stop late in the fourth quarter. All things considered, the Pack still looked like the top team in the NFC North.

3. New England Patriots – We didn’t mention them in the opening blurb, but probably should have. Tom Brady looked energized, the Pats scored on offense, defense and special teams and all-in-all whipped the Bengals at home. Allowing 345 pass yard from Carson Palmer probably wasn’t in their best interest, and all the contract disputes could be meddlesome down the road. But none of those issues affected the outcome and Brady-to-Welker looked smooth as ever.

4. Houston Texans – Probably the biggest jump made over the weekend, literally and figuratively, was made by Houston. Can’t remember a time the Colts were whipped that badly with Manning behind center. He was actually quite good, but not enough to excuse the troubles on defense. Arian Foster is a shooting star after gaining 231 yards on the ground, and finally gives the passing game some relief. Look out, because the Texans could be the this year’s Saints.

5. New York Giants – Conceivably, the G-men could be ahead of Dallas right now but both could be 0-1 if New York wasn’t essentially handed the game by Matt Moore. The Panthers’ new starting QB threw three picks into the end zone, and stifled numerous scoring drives. The Giants passing defense was miles better, but we could just be grading on a curve right now. Running game didn’t sparkle, but Hakeem Nicks is really building a rapport with Eli Manning. The New Meadowlands Stadium opener was a success and New York is in first place for now.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning managed to throw for a whopping 433 yards and three touchdowns and still lost. That doesn’t happen often. What that essentially says is his heroics aren’t going to cut it without help. Bob Sanders’ season is in real jeopardy again and the Colts need to do something about that defense quickly.

7. Baltimore Ravens – Hard to tell if the Ravens’ defense was that good, or if the Jets’ offense was that bad. Baltimore held New York to just one third down conversion all night (which came on the last drive of the game), and completely overloaded Mark Sanchez. Ray Rice was inconsequential, but Joe Flacco made good decisions and recovered well from a messy first half.

8. Tennessee Titans – Pleased with the way Chris Johnson ran the ball after signing a bigger deal in August. More surprised with how bad the Raiders looked, but that’s another story. Vince Young controlled the offense pretty well and finished with the weekend’s top passer rating. Javon Ringer looks like a good back-up to Johnson. Only issue is allowing Darren McFadden to gain over 100 total yards when defense was supposed to be better at stopping the run.

9. Dallas Cowboys – As long as the Cowboys minimize the bone-head plays, they can be a top-3 team again. Tony Romo seemed to control the offense pretty well, and moved the ball between the 20s. But the Cowboys looked to be the most undisciplined team in the league next to San Francisco on Sunday.

10. San Diego Chargers – Ew. Not a good start for the reigning AFC West champs. Rainy night, wet field and a track meet happening right before their eyes. The Chargers started slow last year before winning 11 in a row, so maybe this isn’t a code red situation. But they looked completely overwhelmed against Kansas City on Monday Night Football, and didn’t have near the playmakers.

11. Minnesota Vikings

12. New York Jets

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

14. Miami Dolphins

15. Atlanta Falcons

16. Cincinnati Bengals

17. Seattle Seahawks

18. Kansas City Chiefs

19. Philadelphia Eagles

20. San Francisco 49ers

21. Jacksonville Jaguars

22. Washington Redskins

23. Carolina Panthers

24. Chicago Bears

25. Arizona Cardinals

26. Denver Broncos

27. Detroit Lions

28. Tampa Bay Bucs

29. St. Louis Rams

30. Oakland Raiders

31. Buffalo Bills

32. Cleveland Browns

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