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NFL Power Rankings Week 2: Who can beat New England? (probably no one)

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It’s overreaction week! Here is how I rank the NFL after the first week of the 2019 regular season.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In the first week of the 2018 season, there were five games where an eventual non-playoff team beat a playoff team. Tampa Bay Fitz-magicked New Orleans, Andrew Luck looked ordinary in a loss to Cincinnati, Carolina ran over Dallas, and the hobbled Aaron Rodgers stunned Chicago.

The Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks after Case Keenum led a game-winning drive in the dying seconds of the game. It may be too soon to panic. Or humble brag to all the haters you taunted all spring and summer. Or draw any meaningful conclusions.

Which doesn’t mean I won’t try.

The dumpster fires

32. Miami Dolphins

I’ve seen wet paper towels hold up longer than the Fish. Reports after the game surfaced that players want out. There’s 15 games of this to go.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

The good: homeless Baker Mayfield looked a lot better than a hapless rookie.

The bad: he played against the Chiefs defense.

The ugly: that defense got exposed.

30. New York Giants

I’ll admit I care about New York as far as one player goes, and his name is Saquon Barkley. This week, the Saquon Barkleys put up 149 yards on 15 touches.

For some reason, they stopped getting the ball.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

In other fantasy news, I put a claim in for John Ross in both my leagues. This won’t end well.

28. Washington

27. New York Jets

26. Buffalo Bills

If you liked the Tim Tebow experience, you’ll love what’s going on in Buffalo. Josh Allen threw two picks and fumbled twice yesterday. He also won the game. QBWINZ!

25. Denver Broncos

Be sure to check out my instant reaction to the Broncos’ 24-16 loss to the Raiders for more thoughts on this one.

24. Detroit Lions

23. Arizona Cardinals

Ties are one of those things I love about the NFL over college football. They force you to look beyond the win-loss column and try for context.

Sometimes, a tie is basically “not a loss,” which is almost a win. Other times it sure looks like you’re grasping mediocrity from the jaws of victory.

At halftime in the desert, Kliff Kingsbury’s revolution had run 29 offensive plays, scored three points, and managed 58 total yards. Kyler Murray had 41 yards and an interception while completing 37.5% of his passes. He was sacked three times. He ran the ball once for six yards.

They pulled out a tie.

Sliding...

22. Oakland Raiders

21. Chicago Bears

Were they exposed?

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

19. Pittsburgh Steelers

18. Atlanta Falcons

How long is Jameis Winston for Tampa Bay? Atlanta’s offensive line just lost its top draft pick indefinitely. Pittsburgh’s problems run deeper than Antonio Brown.

If things break right...

17. Indianapolis Colts

16. Tennessee Titans

15. Carolina Panthers

All four entered Week 1 with huge questions. All four looked far better than expected. Check out the things we learned for more on the Broncos.

Probably playoff contenders

Way back before there were aliens driving rocket ships or whatever they’re cooking up now, Dominic Toretto said, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.”

When it comes to the NFL, I disagree. It speaks volumes when a “good” team struggles with a bad one. That’s exactly why this muddled bracket got thrown into a little chaos.

14. San Francisco 49ers

Either Tampa Bay’s defense under Todd Bowles is better than expected heading into the season, or Kyle Shanahan has a $137 million problem under center.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Squeaking by the hapless Bungles is a bad look for Pete and the gang. Russell Wilson is one heck of a trump card, and D.K. Metcalf looks like an early contender for OROY, but that coaching staff is heavy.

12. Houston Texans

May be an overreaction, but I’m willing to eat some crow on this one. I’ve been low on them because their draft and offseason are so inexplicable. Still believe it will catch up to them... down the road.

This year’s team looks legit. Maybe. There is no tomorrow for Bill O’Brien in Houston. If he coaches like it (and Watson survives), they’re playoff contenders. Maybe.

11. Cleveland Browns

If you believe the Browns will be fine, there’s plenty of evidence to hang onto.

Baker Mayfield ran into an sneaky good defense. Dean Pees is one of the more underrated defensive coordinators in the league, and dialed up some pretty exotic looks to confuse the second year star. Cleveland had 18 penalties for 182 yards.

If you thought they were vastly overrated though, this game is probably exhibit A as to what you were preaching all summer. Mayfield was shown up by Marcus Mariota, who may not be the Titans starting quarterback next season. Tennessee’s top three receiving options averaged almost 29 yards a reception. Cleveland gave up 4 sacks to Sharif Finch, Logan Ryan, and the ageless Cameron Wake.

We’ll find out soon. The Browns have Adam Gase’s desperate Jets in week 2 before a 4 week gauntlet with the Rams, Ravens, 49ers, and Seahawks. If they’re serious about 2019 they’ll need to hit their bye with a winning record.

10. Dallas Cowboys

9. Baltimore Ravens

Both looked impressive against hapless victims.

8. Los Angeles Chargers

Who else expected L.A. to lose to the Colts because they had a punter kicking?

7. Minnesota Vikings

Mike Zimmer’s crew passed 10 times yesterday and won. This will be a week where the “run to win” truthers get off their rocking chairs to shake angry canes at the rest of us. They’ll remind everyone of the better days when CTE was a Chinese hoax and quarterbacks chewed gunpowder for breakfast.

6. New Orleans Saints

Early in the game I got caught up in Drew Brees dinking and dunking everywhere. I still wonder how much oomph he’s really got left, but Payton has surrounded him with the perfect supporting cast to make the most of what he does well. The 41-year old also knows every old-man-trick in the book to make the most of what he’s got.

5. Los Angeles Rams

Earlier this summer, Jared Goff was one of two quarterbacks at the center of an interesting thought exercise. With QB contracts around the league exceeding $30 million a year on average, some began to wonder when a savvy team would pass up paying their average arm in favor of more cap space for the parts of the roster that help them win.

NFL Week 1: What we learned from the first Sunday of the season

According to Next Gen Stats, only two quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers, threw into tight windows less often, meaning Sean McVay was scheming receivers open for his young quarterback. Goff had an Expected Completion Percentage of 69%. He completed only 59% of his passes, and that 10% deficit was the largest of the week so far.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys were the other team.

4. Green Bay Packers

I’m holding out my belief in the Packers based on two things: I’m stubborn, and Aaron Rodgers said this after last Thursday’s win:

“We’ve got a defense.”

Legit Super Bowl Contenders

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Twitter was celebrating the fact that Patrick Mahomes shredded the overrated Jacksonville defense. I was wondering how they allowed Gardner Minshew to slice them up with such surgical precision. The injury fill-in and fifth round rookie went 22 of 25 including 13 consecutive completions. He didn’t simply dump it off, either. The fifth round rookie out of Washington State averaged 11 yards a completion.

NFL: Preseason-Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City will face better QBs than this guy.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2. Philadelphia Eagles

My brother is an Eagles fan. He went through four of the five stages of grief in this game. At one point, he was telling me he was done with the NFL this year, and I had to tell him how Derrius Guice was averaging less than two yards a carry. They were going to struggle to ice the game, which meant Case Keenum had to keep scoring. He shrugged it off.

I looked like a prophet.

1. New England Patriots

This team gets Antonio Brown next week. Against the Dolphins. If ever there were a team to really hammer home how silly the idea of parity is, it’s New England. While the hapless fools in their division were playing patty cake, the Brady bunch made Pittsburgh look like the Dolphins.

There’s a legitimate chance this team enters its week 10 bye undefeated. Unless they have a serious rash of injuries, it’s hard to see who keeps up. Cleveland or Baltimore maybe. After the bye, they run into Philly. It currently seems like a Super Bowl preview, but go look up Bill Belichick’s record in rematch games.

Some things aren’t fair.

Which brings us to what may (or may not) be the biggest overreaction of Week 1:

When is the last time the end result of a season felt predetermined?