Bleacher Report

2023 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 2?

BR NFL Staff

The first full week of the 2023 NFL season was many things.

It was sloppy, in part because of rainy weather. But with a shorter preseason in which many starters don't play, some teams tend to come out of the gate rusty.

It was surprising. Few people expected the Detroit Lions to upset the reigning Super Bowl champions in the season opener. Even fewer thought the Cleveland Browns would hold Joe Burrow to 82 yards in a blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals, or that the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would beat the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.

Week 1 was also enlightening. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers looked like the class of the NFL in blowout wins. The Seahawks and New York Giants didn't look like playoff teams in lopsided defeats.

When what we thought we knew about the NFL crashes into the reality of the league, it usually shakes things up. It assuredly did in Week 1.

As is the case every week here at Bleacher Report, NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski have come together to sift through a wild Week 1 and slot the NFL's teams from No. 32 to No. 1.

The former hasn't changed. But there's a new top dog.

32. Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

Zach Ertz AP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr

Last Week: 32

Week 1 Result: Lost at Washington 20-16

Given that the Arizona Cardinals acquired quarterback Joshua Dobbs only a few weeks ago, there were a handful of positives in Sunday's loss to the Washington Commanders.

The Cardinals stayed in this game until the end, which is a testament to their defense. But Dobbs threw for a pitiful 132 yards, while the Cardinals averaged only 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, had 210 total yards and converted only four of 14 third-down tries.

After the game, veteran tight end Zach Ertz told reporters that he thinks the Cardinals will get better as they acclimate to their new quarterback.

"We're learning together," Ertz said. "We've only been together with each other now for about two weeks playing. We see the game similarly, so we're just going to keep working and keep stacking. This should be the worst performance we have as an offense."

The reality is that Arizona's offense is short on firepower, the offensive line isn't great, and Dobbs is a so-so backup on a good day. It's hard to see where wins are going to come from.

If the Cardinals are 1-7 halfway into the regular season, they'll have to decide whether putting Kyler Murray out there once he's healthy enough to play is really the wisest course of action.

31. Houston Texans (0-1)

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Last Week: 30

Week 1 Result: Lost at Baltimore 25-9

It's hardly surprising that C.J. Stroud lost his professional debut against a Baltimore Ravens team that is a perennial playoff contender on the road.

Stroud had an up-and-down first start. He went 28-of-44 for 242 yards, got sacked five times and lost fumble. However, he didn't throw an interception, and he showed some rapport with both young wideout Nico Collins and veteran Robert Woods.

Stroud was the first to admit to reporters afterward that he has work to do as an NFL starter.

"I feel like, of course, it wasn't what we wanted," Stroud said. "I've got to be better overall, make more plays and protect the football. I've got to be better in the huddle and things like that. I had some positive things, but I've got to keep growing from here and keep getting better."

"There's really only so much Stroud can be expected to do," Davenport said. "His wide receiver corps is arguably the weakest in the entire NFL, and opposing defenses are going to stack the box, put the clamps on running back Dameon Pierce and dare Stroud to beat them through the air.

"This year is going to be more about learning than winning, but that may be for the best. A second consecutive year with the second overall pick could get the Texans some wideout help next season in Stroud's old Ohio State buddy, Marvin Harrison Jr."

30. Chicago Bears (0-1)

Justin Fields Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

Last Week: 29

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Green Bay 38-20

The Green Bay Packers don't have Aaron Rodgers anymore. The Bears have a revamped defense and better skill-position weapons. This was supposed the year that they would exact a measure of revenge by starting the season with a win over the hated Packers.

Or not.

The total yards were fairly equal (329 to 311 in favor of the Packers). The Bears actually ran more plays (70 to 60). But when the time came for a big third-down conversion or a key play, it was the same old Bears.

Chicago converted just three of 13 third downs, while the Pack went 9-of-16 Justin Fields was better passing the ball than he was last season, but he committed a pair of back-breaking turnovers.

The game marked Chicago's 11th straight loss and 10th straight divisional defeat. After the game, veteran safety Eddie Jackson told reporters that the Bears have to shake it off, get back to work and try to get a win in Tampa next week.

"You've just got to let truth soak in," Jackson said. "As much as it hurts, as bad as it feels we've got to come out, there's still 16 more games left. We've got to come out tomorrow, look at the film, put the corrections in and just have that in our mindset that we can't ever let that happen again."

Tell yourself whatever you need to, Ed.

29. Carolina Panthers (0-1)

Bryce Young Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Week: 25

Week 1 Result: Lost at Atlanta 24-10

The Carolina Panthers had to know rookie quarterback Bryce Young would go through growing pains this season.

They didn't have to wait long for them.

Young had his moments, including his first career touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst. But he also managed only 3.8 yards per attempt, threw for just 146 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions to Falcons safety Jessie Bates III on what was essentially the same (bad) decision.

After the game, Young was the first to admit that his debut left much to be desired.

"I did a poor job of taking care of the ball and managing certain situations," Young told reporters. I'm going to try to grow and learn from this."

The loss wasn't all on Young, though. The receiving talent around him isn't scaring anyone, and it isn't Young's fault that the Panthers were gashed for five yards per carry on the ground.

But this is a mediocre-at-best team with no margin for error. To start stacking wins, Young will have to considerably raise his level of play.

28. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Anthony Richardson Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Last Week: 31

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Jacksonville 31-21

For the Indianapolis Colts, the 2023 season is less about winning games than it is about developing young quarterback Anthony Richardson.

In that regard, Sunday's game was about as encouraging as the Colts could have hoped.

Richardson wasn't flawless, and he suffered a knee bruise late in the game. But the No. 4 overall pick completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 223 yards, led the Colts in rushing and scored both through the air and on the ground.

While addressing the media after the game, head coach Shane Steichen said he was impressed by Richardson's first NFL start.

"I thought he played solid. I did," Steichen said. "You know what, I'll take the fault for that interception right there, second-and-10 or whatever. It was a Cover 2 deal, and we didn't have a great route called there. Got to be better there. I thought he managed the game well. I thought he did some good things. Really encouraged with his progress and what he did."

The Colts still have problems, including a disastrous situation at running back. But Richardson and Indy gave the Jaguars a game in Week 1.

If he can build on that performance, it will mean more for the team in the long term than a few losses in the short term.

"Despite all of the proclamations to the contrary, Richardson was ready to be a Week 1 starter," Sobleski said. "Richardson played better than fellow rookies Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. In fact, he became the first player in NFL history to pass for 200 yards, run for 40 more, throw a passing touchdown and score once on the ground in his debut, according to StatMuse NFL. He added to the record books as the youngest player in the Super Bowl era to pass and run for a touchdown in a game, per CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr.

"More importantly, the rebuilding Colts are fun and feisty. They gave the reigning AFC South champs everything they could handle. Indy still has its limitations, but it's clear the team is now building in the right way."

27. Denver Broncos (0-1)

Courtland Sutton Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Last Week: 21

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Las Vegas 17-16

Things were supposed to be different in Denver this season. With new head coach Sean Payton in town, Denver's league-worst scoring offense was going to start racking up points. Quarterback Russell Wilson was going to look more like the perennial Pro Bowler we saw in Seattle and less like the player who struggled so mightily in 2022.

Wilson didn't throw for a tom of yardage (177) against the Raiders, but he threw only seven incompletions in 34 attempts, tossed two touchdown passes and posted a passer rating of 108. However, the Broncos' ground game gained only 94 yards on 22 carries.

All told, Denver amassed just 260 yards of total offense. After the game, wide receiver Courtland Sutton made it clear to reporters that Denver isn't interested in improved play unless it results in wins.

"We started off hot, but unfortunately, we weren't able to get the job done,'' said Sutton. "At the end of the day, the moral victories, I'm kind of just pushing those to the side. It's more of just getting the job done, and we weren't able to get that done."

"The Broncos had their chances to win this game—Wil Lutz missed an extra point and a long field goal," Davenport said. "And if you're the glass-half-full type, there were improvements relative to last year's mess of a team.

"But at the end of the day, there may not be that much separating last year's Broncos from this year's. Both are also-rans who will finish under .500 and be non-factors in the AFC West."

26. Tennessee Titans (0-1)

Ryan Tannehill Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Last Week: 22

Week 1 Result: Lost at New Orleans 16-15

The Tennessee Titans have a quarterback problem.

This isn't necessarily news in Nashville. There's a reason why the Titans used a second-round pick this year on Kentucky's Will Levis. But the problem was impossible to miss in a Week 1 loss to the Saints in which the Titans were held out of the end zone.

Ryan Tannehill is no longer a capable NFL starter.

Against New Orleans, Tannehill finished 16-of-34 for 198 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. He posted a dismal passer rating of 28.8.

While addressing the media after the game, head coach Mike Vrabel wouldn't single Tannehill out.

"It was the coaching, the quarterback play, the line play, the defensive play, everybody," he said. "It's never going to be about one guy. We've got to block better, we've got to get into routes better, we have to get open quicker and we have to throw better. Everybody's tied in."

Vrabel can try to paint the loss any way he wants. But the reality is that Tennessee nearly won this game despite Tannehill's terrible performance. Had he been even a below-average quarterback, the Titans wouldn't be sitting at 0-1.

If the 35-year-old continues to play this horrifically, it's hard to imagine where wins are going to come from. At some point, the Titans will have to make a change.

25. Washington Commanders (1-0)

Sam Howell Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Last Week: 24

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Arizona 20-16

Sometimes, a team just has to take an ugly win and accept it. They count the same as the pretty ones.

Washington's four-point victory over the Arizona Cardinals, who may well be the worst in the NFL team, qualifies as an ugly win.

After the game, second-year quarterback Sam Howell admitted that if the Commanders are going to make any noise in a loaded NFC East, he and the offense must play better.

"Offensively, we could've played a lot better," Howell told reporters. "Turnovers, penalties, sacks—just a lot of things I think I can do better. Definitely a lot to clean up on the offensive side of the ball."

Howell was making only his second career start. But he finished 19-of-31 for 202 yards with one touchdown, one interception, one lost fumble and a passer rating south of 80. He was sacked six times, and the Commanders were held under 250 total yards in offense and turned the ball over three times.

Against the hapless Redbirds, those kinds of mistakes can be overcome. And next week's trip to Denver appears to be winnable given how the Broncos looked in Week 1.

But after that comes a home date with the Buffalo Bills and a trip to Philadelphia to play the defending NFC East champions. If the Commanders play against those heavyweights the same way they did against the Cardinals, those games could quickly get out of hand.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

T.J. Watt AP Photo/Matt Durisko

Last Week: 14

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 30-7

The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is that in his first game after an injury-marred 2022 campaign, superstar edge-rusher T.J. Watt exploded for three sacks against the San Francisco 49ers.

The bad news was literally everything else that happened Sunday.

After looking like one of the NFL's sharpest teams in the preseason, the Steelers were humiliated at home by San Francisco. They allowed running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to go off, and they had no answer for Niners quarterback Brock Purdy.

After shining in the preseason, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled, tossing a pair of interceptions. Running back Najee Harris was a total non-factor, picking up 31 yards on six carries.

The Steelers were outclassed in every way imaginable in front of their own fans. Head coach Mike Tomlin was blunt in his assessment of his team's Week 1 performance.

There's a lot for the Steelers to clean up ahead of their Week 2 home game against the Cleveland Browns, because they can't afford to open the season with back-to-back losses at home.

"To put it mildly, the Steelers have a lot of work to do before they can compete with perennial playoff contenders," Moton said. "Despite all the playmakers around Pickett, he threw for 232 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the 49ers, averaging five yards per pass attempt. The Steelers defense also gave up points on four consecutive drives at the start of the game, which allowed the 49ers to jump out to a 20-0 lead.

"Pittsburgh has quality talent on both sides of the ball, but the coaching staff has to put it all together to get the most out of this squad."

23. Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

Matthew Stafford Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Last Week: 28

Week 1 Result: Won at Seattle 30-13

Heading into the season, the Los Angeles Rams looked like a shadow of the squad that won Super Bowl LVI. After an exodus of veteran talent, the Rams seemed a lot closer to rebuilding than having any sort of postseason aspirations.

Someone apparently forgot to tell the Rams that, because they waltzed into Lumen Field on Sunday and waxed a Seahawks team that made the postseason last year.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished 24-of-38 for 334 yards despite being without star receiver Cooper Kupp, told reporters afterward that he wasn't surprised by the result.

"I think we're excited because we put the work in. I think the cherry on top of this is getting to see y'all reaction to it," Stafford said. "I think the big thing for us, though, is we care about it because we put the work in. It wasn't given to us."

Head coach Sean McVay echoed a similar refrain.

″I couldn't care less what's said outside," McVay said. "There might be some change in narratives and that doesn't affect any way that we'll go about our business right now."

The Rams still have holes on both sides of the ball. This win doesn't make them a real threat to San Francisco in the NFC West.

But teams who have the Rams coming up on the schedule are likely looking at that matchup differently now.

22. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Bijan Robinson John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Week: 26

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Carolina 24-10

When the Atlanta Falcons took the field Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, all eyes were on rookie running back Bijan Robinson, the first player at his position drafted in the top 10 since Saquon Barkley in 2018.

Robinson had a solid debut, finishing with 16 touches, 83 yards and his first career touchdown. But folks who thought Robinson's arrival would relegate Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier to irrelevance were mistaken, at least for one week. Allgeier rushed 75 yards on 15 carries and scored twice.

We saw what will likely be the recipe for the Falcons on Sunday, and it looked an awful lot like their recipe last year. They led the league in rushing attempts last year, and they ran the ball 26 times against just 18 pass attempts against the Panthers.

Of those 18 pass attempts, Desmond Ridder missed on just three. He finished with a passer rating of 111.8.

This ground-and-pound attack may work against lesser opponents like the Panthers. It may even keep the Falcons in the conversation in the weak NFC South. But it's hard to see this Falcons team beating quality opponents with a game plan in which wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts combine for two catches and four targets.

21. New York Giants (0-1)

Daniel Jones Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last Week: 15

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. New York Giants 40-0

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones needs a hug—and a chiropractor.

What was supposed to be an opportunity for the Giants to open the season with a statement win over their hated rival became one of the most lopsided losses in the history of the rivalry. The Giants managed less than 200 yards of offense, while the Cowboys tallied seven sacks and scored touchdowns on defense and special teams.

Moton isn't ready to hit the panic button yet, but Sunday's blowout exposed the Giants as a team with real problems.

"How many ways can we say that the Giants took an embarrassing loss in the Sunday Night Football lights? Because the Cowboys beat them in every way possible," he said. "Perhaps we won't see the Giants overachieve like they did last season, but New York has now lost to Dallas in 12 of the last 13 meetings between these teams. The Cowboys have had Big Blue's number for a while now, but this lopsided matchup revealed some concerning flaws in this Giants squad."

"The Cowboys may field a top-10 unit for the third consecutive year under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn," he went on. "But if the Giants don't solve their offensive line issues, the Arizona Cardinals, who recorded six sacks against the Washington Commanders on Sunday, will also make life difficult for quarterback Daniel Jones in Week 2."

20. Las Vegas Raiders (1-0)

Jakobi Myers Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Last Week: 23

Week 1 Result: Won at Denver 17-16

A one-point win against a so-so Denver team isn't going to make or break the 2023 season for the Las Vegas Raiders. But this is a team looking to establish some positive momentum and build something.

The Raiders did that in Week 1.

"The Raiders' 17-16 win over the Broncos didn't produce a ton of highlight moments, but the connection between quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers deserves some attention," Moton said. "With nine receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns, Meyers showed he can take advantage of one-on-one opportunities while Davante Adams draws most of the attention in coverage."

"While the defense still needs work in close-out moments," he continued, "Garoppolo made a statement in his Raider debut to ice the game. After he threw a red-zone interception, the precision-passing signal-caller led a touchdown drive on the following possession and sealed the win with an eight-yard scramble for a first down.

"On Sunday, Garoppolo shined in clutch moments, which is a positive sign for Las Vegas' 2023 season outlook."

The question for the Raiders is whether they can build on this performance, because their schedule is about to get interesting. Vegas heads to Buffalo next week to face the Bills before a home date with the Steelers, a trip to Los Angeles to battle the Chargers and a Sin City showdown with the Packers.

If the Raiders earn even a split in those four games, maybe there will be reason to believe.

19. New England Patriots (0-1)

Mac Jones Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Last Week: 19

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Philadelphia 25-20

There are no such things as moral victories in the NFL. But after falling behind 16-0 to the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in the blink of an eye, the New England Patriots rallied and made a game of it in the second half.

Quarterback Mac Jones rebounded from an early pick-six to top 300 passing yards with three touchdowns. After the game, the plays he didn't make resonated the most with him.

"I feel like in the most critical times, I played my worst. I know I can do it. I've done it before," Jones told reporters. "I let the defense down and I'll have to live with that."

While some see a Patriots team that didn't give up, Sobleski sees mediocrity.

"Bill Belichick's aura is starting to wear off, because the Patriots are a middling football team," he said. "Unlike previous Belichick teams, New England came out Sunday flat and unprepared. They were quickly overwhelmed by mistakes, and the Eagles capitalized with 16 first-quarter points.

"To the Patriots' credit, they didn't lay down after the inauspicious start. Jones and Co. did attempt a comeback that ultimately fell short. However, issues along the offensive line can't be overlooked. The running game came out flat, and questions about New England's playmakers remain.

"It could be a long season in Foxborough since the rest of the AFC East is loaded."

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

Baker Mayfield Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Week: 27

Week 1 Result: Won at Minnesota 20-17

Heading into the 2023 season, few people expected much from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No one was more aware of that than new starting quarterback Baker Mayfield.

"The key pieces that were a huge part of that Super Bowl run, and their success recently, they're all still here," Mayfield told Rick Stroud the Tampa Bay Times prior to Week 1. "It's a different hunger because, unfortunately, the narrative is that Tom (Brady) is gone, and we suck."

That narrative may have changed a bit after the Buccaneers went into Minnesota and knocked off a Vikings team that went 13-4 and won the NFC North last year.

Mayfield finished 21-of-34 for 173 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Buccaneers gave up a huge day to Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, but just about everyone does that. Tampa also held the Vikings to only 2.4 yards per carry and forced three Kirk Cousins turnovers.

As Mayfield noted, most of the talent that helped the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl a few years ago is still in town. If Mayfield can be a capable quarterback and avoid making critical mistakes, the Buccaneers could be a real factor in the NFC South.

"Tampa Bay deserves credit for orchestrating a fourth-quarter victory in Sunday's contest with the Vikings, courtesy of a Chase McLaughlin 57-yard field goal," Sobleski wrote. "The Buccaneers entered this season with many projecting them to be one of the NFL's worst teams. They still could be. But they went to Minnesota and snatched a win from the reigning NFC North champs, who won 11 one-score games last year.

"The offense didn't play particularly well, and the defense surrendered 369 yards. Yet Tampa played mistake-free football, won the turnover battle and got a boost from its special teams."

17. Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

Kirk Cousins David Berding/Getty Images

Last Week: 17

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Tampa Bay 20-17

The Minnesota Vikings entered the 2023 season aiming to repeat as NFC North champs, prove that last year's 13-win season wasn't a fluke and improve defensively over last year's 31st-place finish.

Strictly in terms of yards allowed, the Vikings accomplished that last goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs had only 242 total yards and went 6-of-17 on third down.

However, the Vikings' offense let them down in critical moments. Quarterback Kirk Cousins racked up 344 passing yards, but he also committed three turnovers, including a goal-line interception.

After the game, head coach Kevin O'Connell stood up for his quarterback while speaking to reporters.

"Didn't mind the decision," he said. "We'll take a look if location could've been better. I want him to be aggressive. We fit that ball in there and score and everyone thinks it's great execution."

Still, it's hardly the start to the season Cousins and the Vikings were looking for. They're now headed to Philadelphia on a short turnaround to face an Eagles team that destroyed them last year.

16. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

Geno Smith Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Last Week: 12

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 30-13

Seattle's home opener was supposed to be a celebration.

The Seahawks and their fans were going to celebrate the return of linebacker Bobby Wagner. They were going to thump an overmatched Los Angeles Rams team that lost several veteran stars in the offseason. Good times would be had by all.

Instead, the only good times were had by the Rams.

The story of the game was third downs. The Rams converted 11-of-17 third-down attempts, while the Seahawks did so only twice in nine tries.

Seattle's defense, which struggled mightily against the run last year, surrendered only 2.3 yards per carry. But Matthew Stafford shredded the Rams for 334 yards through the air despite top wideout Cooper Kupp being on injured reserve.

It was a bizarre showing that left Davenport with serious doubts about Seattle's viability as a playoff contender.

"Overreacting to one game is an easy trap to fall into," he said. "But watching the Seahawks lose by three scores to the Rams is what you call a red flag. Seattle couldn't stay on the field. Geno Smith threw for all of 112 yards. The Seahawks had 180 yards of total offense. And all of this came against a five-win team of which very little was expected this season."

"Now, Seattle has to play three of the next four on the road, with two of those games coming against 2022 playoff teams," he contained. "The one that isn't is next week's trip to take on a Lions team that just beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead.

"It may not be panic time yet—but panic time ain't far off."

15. Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Jordan Love Bears Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last Week: 20

Week 1 Result: Won at Chicago 38-20

For years, the Green Bay Packers have dominated their rivalry with the Chicago Bears. First it was Brett Favre who gave Chicago nightmares. Then it was Aaron Rodgers.

Jordan Love appears to have picked up right where they left off.

Granted, the Bears aren't a good football team. But Love looked less like a young quarterback making his second career start Sunday and more like a grizzled veteran once again dispatching an overmatched rival with relative ease.

Love threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, and he was helped by a huge game from running back Aaron Jones, who amassed 127 total yards and a pair of touchdowns.

After the win, Love told reporters that it felt good to finally be the guy in Titletown after holding a clipboard for Rodgers for so long.

"It's definitely been a long time coming for me, three years as a backup," Love said. "Just watching, learning and growing, seeing this team work, it feels good to be out there leading those guys and be out there playing with them finally and coming out with a dub is just what we wanted."

It's just one win against a Bears team that doesn't appear markedly better than the one that had the league's worst record in 2022. But given what else we saw happen in Week 1, the Packers just might be for real in the NFC North.

14. New York Jets (1-0)

Xavier Gipson Elsa/Getty Images

Last Week: 11

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Buffalo 22-16 (OT)

Sometimes, football is just weird.

When Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a potentially serious foot injury on the first series of the game, it would be entirely understandable if Jets fans just threw up their hands and said, "Well, here we go again."

To be clear, that could be a devastating injury in the long-term. But in the short-term, the Jets didn't quit. Running back Breece Hall eclipsed 100 rushing yards in his first game back from an ACL tear. New York's defense stepped up in a massive way, harassing Bills quarterback Josh Allen into four turnovers. And when rookie Xavier Gipson took the first punt of overtime back 65 yards for a score, the Jets put the finishing touches on one of the more improbable wins in recent memory.

It left Davenport both exhiliarted and conflicted.

"First off, massive credit to everyone on the Jets from head coach Robert Saleh to quarterback Zach Wilson to defensive tackle Quinnen Williams for not packing it in when Rodgers went down. It's a testament to the team's resilience and Saleh's coaching. But let's be brutally honest—if Rodgers is done so are the Jets as a serious contender in the AFC. And to have a season that had such promise come off the rails so quickly is just a gutpunch for a fanbase far too used to being popped in the stomach."

13. New Orleans Saints (1-0)

Derek Carr Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Last Week: 18

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Tennessee 16-15

It wasn't the most exciting game of Week 1 by any stretch. But the first game of the Derek Carr era in New Orleans ended with a win, which is what matters most.

Carr topped 300 passing yards with a respectable passer rating of 96.1. He showed good rapport with wide receiver Chris Olave, who hauled in eight of Carr's throws for 112 yards.

After the win, Carr told reporters that all that mattered to him was having more points than the Titans at the end.

"I'm glad we won. That's all I wanted to do," said Carr. "That was one of the more physical games I've played in my 10 years. ... We showed that we could win the ultimate physical type of game."

"The Saints edged the Titans 16-15, and Carr threw for 300-plus yards for the 34th time in his career," Moton wrote. "New Orleans had mostly a well-rounded performance, and the offense should look even better once running back Alvin Kamara returns from his three-game suspension for violating the league's personal-conduct policy."

"However, the Saints must work on their red-zone efficiency, which has been an issue in Carr's career, "he continued. "If you exclude the final drive, which ended in victory formation, New Orleans scored a touchdown on only one out of three red-zone trips. Against better offensive teams, the Saints will need to finish more drives with six points rather than settle for field goals."

12. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

Joey Bosa Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last Week: 10

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Miami 36-34

The Los Angeles Chargers had quite the game offensively against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. They put up well over 400 yards of offense and 34 points.

Quarterback Justin Herbert didn't post huge numbers, but he was efficient, finishing 23-of-33 for 228 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Chargers gouged the Dolphins for a whopping 230 yards on the ground, with Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley both finding the end zone.

But once again, in a big game against a quality opponent, the Chargers came up short. This time, it was the Los Angeles defense that folded under pressure.

"When he served as the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator in 2020, Brandon Staley called plays for the No. 1 defense in both points and total yards allowed," Moton wrote. "Since becoming the head coach of the Chargers, his units have ranked 20th or worse in points and yards allowed.

"On Sunday, the Chargers gave up a whopping 536 yards and 8.2 yards per play to the Miami Dolphins. And no, we shouldn't cut Los Angeles any slack because wideout Tyreek Hill is an elite playmaker. He ate the Chargers defense alive with 11 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns Sunday."

"While we can assign blame to a number of general factors that highlight the Chargers' defensive futility, Staley's defensive expertise has to make a better impact with stars such as Derwin James Jr., Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on his side of the ball."

11. Cleveland Browns (1-0)

Myles Garrett Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Week: 13

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Cincinnati 24-3

The Cleveland Browns haven't had a ton of success over the past few years, but for whatever reason, they've had Joe Burrow's number. Entering Sunday's matchup in Cleveland, the Browns had won four of five meetings with the NFL's newly minted highest-paid player.

Make that five out of six, and about as good of a start to the season as the Browns could have dared hope for.

Deshaun Watson finished only 16-of-29 for 154 yards with one touchdown and an interception, although the weather played a part in those stats. Watson added a score on the ground, and he outplayed Burrow by a sizable margin.

Cleveland's new-look defense under coordinator Jim Schwartz was the big story of the day. The Browns completely dominated one of the NFL's most potent offenses. Burrow threw for just 82 yards. Cincinnati had just six first downs. And the Bengals pulled Burrow from the game with about four minutes to go.

It was a fantastic opening to the season for the Browns, but things don't get any easier from here. Next week, Cleveland travels to face a Pittsburgh Steelers team that's seething after getting waxed at home by the San Francisco 49ers.

10. Detroit Lions (1-0)

Jared Goff Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Last Week: 16

Week 1 Result: Won at Kansas City 21-20

It's important not to read too much into one game at the beginning of a season. One victory does not guarantee a Super Bowl trip. One loss does not mean the season is lost.

But for a Detroit Lions team that hasn't won a playoff game since 1991, going into Arrowhead Stadium and knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions was a big deal.

To most observers, this was quite the upset. But after the win, Lions head coach Dan Campbell told reporters he didn't view it that way.

"We expected to win this game," said Campbell,. "We came in here, knew what we needed to do, knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we did that. We won."

"Yes, the Chiefs were short Chris Jones and Travis Kelce in this game," Davenport said. "But the Lions won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Detroit ran the ball effectively. Jared Goff didn't make mistakes. And most importantly, at no point during the game did the moment look too big for the Lions.

"We may not know yet whether the Lions are a Super Bowl contender. But one thing has been settled: These Lions are legit."

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)

Calvin Ridley Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Last Week: 7

Week 1 Result: Won at Indianapolis 31-21

The Jaguars entered the 2023 season with something rare in Duval County—lofty expectations.

Given those expectations, Sunday's uneven performance against the rival Colts was somewhat surprising. But as the game moved into the fourth quarter, the Jaguars settled down and took care of business before emerging with a 10-point win.

One of the stars of Sunday's win was wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who caught eight passes for 101 yards and scored in his first game action since 2021. Ridley told reporters that he was happy to be back out there catching passes, but he was even happier to see his new team get a win.

"I am so happy we got the win. I am a win-first type of player," Ridley said. "When I go out there, I want to play good, but I want to win games. It feels so good, we work so hard all week and all camp to go out there and we want to win the games. I thought it was fun and obviously we have to get way better, but I thought it was fun and we got the W."

If Sunday was a warmup of sorts and an opportunity for the Jaguars to get loose, next week brings the litmus test. In Week 2, the Jaguars will play host to the team that bounced them from the postseason last year: the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

8. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

JK Dobbins Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Last Week: 9

Week 1 Result: Won vs. Houston 25-9

The Ravens handling the Houston Texans with relative ease isn't surprising. Baltimore is considered a Super Bowl contender by some. Houston, um, isn't.

But the Ravens didn't play especially well in this game. While head coach John Harbaugh was proud of his team's effort level, he told reporters there's also a lot to work on ahead of next week's date with the rival Bengals.

"There's so many things that we need to work on and get better at, and that's what we'll do starting on Monday," Harbaugh said. "I'm excited with the win. I'm proud of the way the guys played."

There were positives. Rookie Zay Flowers caught nine passes for 78 yards in his debut and showed No. 1 wideout potential, and Baltimore's defense allowed only 3.1 yards per carry. But the Ravens averaged just 3.4 yards per carry themselves, and Lamar Jackson committed a pair of ugly turnovers.

The Ravens were also dealt a major blow in the backfield. After finally looking fully healthy for the first time since tearing his ACL in 2021, running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending Achilles tear.

For a team that relies on the run much as the Ravens, their inability to stay healthy in the backfield has been both an ongoing issue and a major problem.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Joe Burrow Jason Miller/Getty Images

Last Week: 3

Week 1 Result: Lost at Cleveland 24-3

After signing a five-year, $275 million extension that made him the NFL's highest-paid player, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow told reporters that while all that scratch was nice, he was focused on the season to come.

"Means a lot," Burrow said Saturday in a press conference, per the team's website. "I work really hard to perform well on the field and think a lot about how I handle myself and how I can be the best me for this organization. And so to be rewarded for that, it means a lot to me. But, a lot more to do."

Based on how Burrow played Sunday in Cleveland, it appears that maybe he was up late Saturday counting all his money. Because both he and the Cincinnati offense were absolutely terrible in a blowout loss.

Now, a Week 1 loss hardly defines the season. Burrow has had all kinds of problems beating Cleveland, winning just once in six tries. The Bengals have lost four of their past five season openers, but that hasn't stopped the team from advancing to the Super Bowl in 2021 and the AFC Championship Game last year.

But losing is one thing. Getting blasted by an in-state rival in a game where Cincinnati had just six first downs and 142 total yards of offense is another.

And now there's going to be considerable pressure to tighten things up in a hurry ahead of next week's home opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

"The Bengals never looked right against the Browns," Sobleski said. "Burrow missing a month of training camp and all of the preseason certainly played its part. But rustiness and continual rain throughout the contest are merely excuses. The bigger concern in Cincinnati is that the Browns defense manhandled a talented Bengals offense. Burrow threw for 82 total yards.

"His average of 2.6 yards per pass attempt is the worst single-game performance of his professional career by a significant margin. Cleveland applied pressure and shut down the Bengals' talented wide receivers, with 49 total receiving yards between Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The Bengals are talented, but they need to get on track."

6. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Josh Allen Elsa/Getty Images

Last Week: 4

Week 1 Result: Lost at New York Jets 22-16 (OT)

When the Buffalo Bills saw Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers carted from the field at MetLife Stadium, the team had to feel like this one was in the bag. Cruise control time.

But as the game progressed, Bills quarterback Josh Allen became intimately familiar with one of the great truths of the NFL.

Turnovers are the kiss of death.

In a week where a number of highly paid quarterbacks had miserable 2023 debuts, Allen staked a claim to the biggest clunker of them all—236 passing yards, one score, three interceptions (all to Jets safety Jordan Whitehead) and one lost fumble.

Now, a considerable amount of the credit for Allen's implosion belongs to a Jets defense that is among the best in the league. But this has become an increasingly troublesome trend with Allen—in his zeal to make something happen offensively, he turns it over. Becomes his own worst enemy.

Now, this loss is hardly the end of the world, especially in a week where the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals also lost. But after Kansas City was upset in Arrowhead and the Bengals laid an egg in Cleveland, this was a chance for Buffalo to stake an early claim to the title of best team in the AFC.

Instead, they played a sloppy game and lost to a backup quarterback.

5. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

Tua Tagovailoa Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last Week: 8

Week 1 Result: Won at Los Angeles Chargers 36-34

There was no shortage said and written about what the Miami Dolphins might be capable of in 2023—if quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could stay healthy.

Sunday in Los Angeles, we got a glimpse of what that might be—and it was impressive.

Tagovailoa eviscerated the Chargers defense for 466 yards and three touchdown passes. Two of those scores went to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who exploded for 215 yards and two scores on 11 catches.

All told, the Dolphins piled up a whopping 536 yards of offense. Some may have been surprised by that offensive explosion from Tagovailoa, but Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel wasn't among them.

"That's kind of what I expected to happen just with the work that he's done," McDaniel told reporters. "... He's as coachable of a player that I've ever been around in my life. If you want to be a big-time quarterback on a big-time team, which I know is the way he looks at it, the cost is real."

To be clear, Miami's defense didn't exactly light the world on fire—the Dolphins allowed 433 yards and 34 points of its own. But if the Miami offense can come close to this kind of eruption on a weekly basis, the Dolphins are going to be a tough out.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)

Kadarius Toney Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Last Week: 1

Week 1 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 21-20

The Kansas City Chiefs are done. Finished. Not only will Kansas City not defend its Super Bowl title, but after losing at home to the Detroit Lions, the Chiefs will also be lucky to even make the playoffs.

That's all ridiculous, of course. But it was essentially the panic level of some in the fanbase after a Chiefs team short its best defensive player (defensive tackle Chris Jones) and top offensive weapon (tight end Travis Kelce) fell by one point to a Lions team that is no joke this season.

Part of the reason for the loss was a disastrous game for the Chiefs wide receivers, especially Kadarius Toney. In the game, Toney tallied more drops (three) than touches (two). He gained zero yards, and one of those drops led to a pick-six by Lions safety Brian Branch.

However, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he still has faith in Toney.

"I have trust in KT. He missed a lot of training camp," Mahomes said, via the team's transcript. "Obviously, he wanted to play and fought in rehab hard so he could play. Stuff is not always going to go your way, obviously, he would have wanted to catch a few of those in the game, but I have trust that he is going to be the guy that I go to in those crucial moments, and he's going to make the catch and win us some games like he did last year and get him more and more reps. I'm sure that those drops will disappear."

That faith needs to extend to the Chiefs as a whole. One loss aside, this is a team that has repped the AFC in three of the last four Super Bowls.

The Chiefs will be fine.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Jalen Hurts Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Last Week: 2

Week 1 Result: Won at New England 25-20

Early in Sunday's win over the New England Patriots, it appeared the Philadelphia Eagles were going full juggernaut. Philly raced out to a 16-0 lead in the blink of an eye, buoyed by a Darius Slay interception return for a score.

But then a funny thing happened. The Eagles defense started letting the Patriots move the ball. The Philly offense bogged down and had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. The Eagles still logged a road win over a quality opponent in less than ideal conditions, but they didn't pile up the style points doing it.

While addressing reporters after the victory, head coach Nick Sirianni allowed that while he'll take any win he can get, there are things that need to be fixed.

"Was it our cleanest opportunity? No. We've got a lot of things to clean up," Sirianni said. "We didn't finish some drives late in the game."

Davenport viewed the game through a similar lens.

"Early on, it looked like the Eagles were going to win by 40," he said. "And lousy weather played a part. But a funny thing happened on the way to a blowout: The Philadelphia offense bogged down, with Jalen Hurts managing fewer than 200 passing yards and tight end Dallas Goedert being held without a catch. The defense started allowing scores. And the Eagles found themselves in a close game. Credit to them for winning, but it wasn't a performance that screamed, 'Best team in the NFC.'"

2. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)

Micah Parsons Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last Week: 6

Week 1 Result: Won at New York Giants 40-0

Sunday's night's NFC East showdown in New York was supposed to be one of the biggest contests of Week 1.

It turned into the week's biggest butt-kicking—and a showcase for Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense.

To say the unit dominated New York doesn't begin to cover it. Parsons and the pass rush made Daniel Jones' life a living nightmare, sacking him seven times and hitting him countless others. The Giants could do nothing offensively, tallying all of 171 yards and converting just five of 16 third downs.

It was a stunning performance—to everyone but Parsons.

"I saw this before anybody," Parsons told reporters. "I said I can't wait to get to New York. I knew it was coming. With 'execution meets preparation,' there is no one that can beat it. We've already felt this. We've been to war before. We knew the standard."

It was also enough to (nearly) vault Dallas into the No. 1 spot in Davenport's Power Rankings.

"I won't lie—after watching the Cowboys make Jones and the Giants cry for four quarters, I very nearly put them in the top spot," he said. "The performance was that dominant. But I need to see just a little more from the Dallas offense before I can rank the team ahead of San Francisco. For all the talk of how stacked the AFC is in 2023, the two best performances of Week 1 both came from NFC teams—and they earned the top two spots on my board."

1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)

Brock Purdy Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Last Week: 5

Week 1 Result: Won at Pittsburgh 30-7

Per Cameron Hogwood of Sky Sports, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy said before Sunday's game that he's aware there are those who question whether last year's "Mr. Irrelevant" can repeat his stunning success as a rookie. But his plans for 2023 are the same as a year ago—go out and win football games.

"At the end of the day, I just want to go out and play football and I want to win," he said. "I may not be the stereotypical 6'6" quarterback who's throwing the deep ball and doing all this crazy stuff. But I find ways to win and I help. I like to think that I help everyone around me get better."

If Sunday's win over the Steelers was any indication, Purdy's no fluke—and the Niners are one of the best teams in the NFL.

There was very little that didn't go well against the Steelers. Purdy threw a pair of touchdown passes and posted a passer rating of 111.3. Both running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had huge games. And the San Francisco defense held the Steelers to 239 total yards and seven points.

"It's important not to overreact to one game," Davenport said. "But it's also hard not to be impressed by the ease with which the 49ers dissected the Steelers on the road. Sunday. The offense was sharp and efficient. The defense was as dominant as ever, even with edge-rusher Nick Bosa working his way back into game shape after an offseason holdout. Given what we saw in Week 1, the NFC is a three-team race—the Niners, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are just on another level."

"In order to be the top-ranked team, a squad must play its way to the top," Sobleski added. "The 49ers did just that, with a dominating effort against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Already considered one of the league's best teams, Kyle Shanahan's team controlled the contest from the outset. McCaffrey and Aiyuk showed tremendous playmaking ability, with 298 combined yards from scrimmage. Purdy didn't miss a beat despite coming off a torn UCL in his right elbow. And the defense dominated a Steelers offense that looked great during the preseason. With the Philadelphia Eagles' struggles during a tight Week 1 win, the Niners immediately established themselves as the NFC team to beat."

   

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