With one NFL weekend in the history books, it’s time for the inaugural Power Rankings Money in the Banana Stand-style. Unlike many pundits, I’ve watched every play from every game last weekend. I somehow doubt that will make my future predictions more accurate.
32. Indianapolis Colts 0-1 Projected Final Record 3-13
Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell spit in the face of their fans, their players, and fantasy addicts everywhere when they flagrantly threw away a chance at perfection in 2009. Karma has no expiration date. Expect continued and permanent retribution from the football gods.
Welcome to the final draft legacy of former NFL luminary Bill Polian:
2006 Pick #30 Joseph Addai, 2007 Pick #32 Anthony Gonzalez, Pick #42 Tony Ugoh, 2008 Pick forfeited for right to select Ugoh, 2009 Pick #29 Donald Brown, 2010 Pick #31 Jerry Hughes.
The Colts were starting to slide with Peyton at the helm. Without him, they’re the least talented team in football.
31. Cleveland Browns 0-1 Projected Record 3-13
Which do you think is most horrifying for Browns fans? A) Mike Holmgren, Football Czar. B) We just lost a game where Andy Dalton played one half, Bruce Gradkowski played the other, and we couldn’t stop either of them. C) Ben Watson and Evan Moore are 1A and 1B in the passing game.
30. Minnesota Vikings 0-1 Projected Record 3-13
Perhaps no one in Minnesota was alive last year when Washington made it blatantly clear that both Rex Grossman and John Beck were better than Donovan McNabb.
29. San Francisco 49ers 1-0 Projected Record 4-12
When you get two kick return TDs and almost lose to a squad coached by Pete Carroll, that’s a pretty good indication you’re going to be in season long contention for the No. 1 overall pick.
28. Seattle Seahawks 0-1 Projected Record 4-12
Pete Carroll’s resume: Sucked as an NFL Head Coach. Had all collegiate wins vacated for cheating. Hired by Seattle and given the kind of power that doomed Mike Holmgren’s tenure.
27. Kansas City Chiefs 0-1 Projected Record 3-13
Todd Haley famously proclaimed upon arriving in K.C. on the heels of a 2-14 season that you should be able to win that many games with a roster comprised entirely of street free agents. Due to his game management and Scott Pioli’s drafting acumen, they may be in a position to see if that’s the case this year.
26. Denver Broncos 0-1 Projected Record 3-13
Unless John Elway is planning to suit up and play next week, he has absolutely no value to the organization. Here’s an idea: Since hiring a 34-year old megalomaniac didn’t exactly work in terms of personnel acquisition, try hiring someone with a background in personnel (you know, instead of a celebrity).
25. Cincinnati Bengals 1-0 Projected Record 5-11
You have to like the Green/Simpson/Gresham triumvirate.
24. Carolina Panthers 0-1 Projected Record 4-12
If Cam Newton got to play the Cardinals every week, he’d be a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Of course, so would Big Mike Williams.
23. Tennessee Titans 0-1 Projected Record 4-12
If you just lost to Luke McCown and the Jaguars, is it too early to see what you have in Jake Locker?
22. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-0 Projected Record 5-11
With Luke McCown leading a run-based offense in the era of passing juggernauts, one has to wonder if the Jags could sell out the local high school stadium. This team should be awesome in 2015 once Blaine Gabbert has gotten some experience, and they’ve drafted 3 more WRs.
21. Arizona Cardinals 1-0 Projected Record 9-7
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 NFC West Champions. Is this too early for Whizenhunt to perform his yearly defensive coordinator execution?
20. St. Louis Rams 0-1 Projected Record 8-8
If you have Danario Alexander, Donnie Avery, and Mike Sims-Walker at your disposal, it takes a real failure of imagination to feature Brandon Gibson as your No. 1 WR. Of course, Josh McDaniels seems to hail from the Mike Martz school of player evaluation.
19. New York Giants 0-1 Projected Record 6-10
Every day that passes, the Giants 2007 Super Bowl looks like a bigger fluke. The G-men are basically a less talented, less interesting version of the Cowboys. It’s time the Giants fire Tom Coughlin and trade Eli Manning. You’ve got about as much chance of winning another Super Bowl with Coughlin and Eli as you do with Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer.
18. Buffalo Bills 1-0 Projected Record 7-9
The Bills are a fun team with Ryan Fitzpatrick. They know they’re middle of the pack at best, which gives them license to approach the weekly game plan with aplomb.
17. Miami Dolphins 0-1 Projected Record 6-10
Like a number of impressive teams in Week One, the Dolphins finally seemed to have grasped that the NFL is a passing league. Hopefully they don’t turn back into a pumpkin in games they actually have a chance to win.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-1 Projected Record 6-10
Almost as overrated as the Chiefs a year ago, Raheem Morris actually suggested the Bucs should have stayed with their boring game plan and allowed themselves to be humiliated instead of switching to a no huddle and trying to win.
15. Oakland Raiders 1-0 Projected Record 9-7
The Raiders are finally on the upswing, although Week One was a sobering reminder that their passing offense is woefully short of playoff caliber.
14. Washington Racial Slurs 1-0 Projected Record 9-7
The Shanahans aren’t known for their people skills or ability to design a defense. But when you can make Rex Grossman and Tim Hightower look like stars, the genius appellation doesn’t seem entirely misplaced.
13. Atlanta Falcons 0-1 Projected Record 9-7
This may seem low based on one bad loss, but the Falcons would now have to finish 9-6 against a fairly difficult schedule just to reach it. I like Matt Ryan’s leadership and the Falcons new offensive philosophy, but their QB only has mediocre arm strength and accuracy.
12. Chicago Bears 1-0 Projected Record 10-6
The Bears aren’t particularly deep on defense, but they could be elite if they avoid the injury bug. Despite their delusional faith in Roy Williams, this offense could also take a big step forward this year.
11. San Diego Chargers 1-0 Projected Record 11-5
If you need late heroics to defeat Minnesota, feel free to schedule your vacation during the second round of the playoffs.
10. New York Jets 1-0 Projected Record 10-6
For all their big-spending ways, the Jets seem to take a step back on offense every year. A lousy QB, mediocre offensive line, pedestrian RBs, and geriatric WR corps is not the cast of a team about to take the next step. Like Raheem Morris, Rex Ryan suggested his team should have run the ball more in the aftermath. Because sticking to your tough guy mentality is waaaaay more important than winning.
9. Dallas Cowboys 0-1 Projected Record 10-6
The Cowboys absolutely hammered a supposedly talented Jets team on the road and lost in ways only a star-crossed, Jerry Jones-owned team can lose. At least the serious injuries suffered when Bryant and Demaryius Thomas were needlessly returning kicks last year taught the Cowboys a lesson. I mean, it’s a good thing Dallas didn’t lose in Week 1 because their phenom got hurt returning a punt. If they had, I bet Jerry would have been pissed.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers 0-1 Projected Record 10-6
Every offseason the Steelers appear engaged in an epic battle with Indianapolis to see who can downgrade their offensive lines more. Pittsburgh may have won this one. Unfortunately for Indy, they only have about 5 players could make the Steelers 53 man roster.
7. Houston Texans 1-0 Projected Record 12-4
At this point, a failure to go 6-0 versus the AFC South might be grounds for an immediate Kubiak dismissal. The Texans head man is one of the NFL’s best offensive minds and worst game managers. This is one team that needs a breakthrough performance by its HC more than anything else.
6. Detroit Lions 1-0 Projected Record 11-5
When Brandon Pettigrew dropped an easy touchdown and then a tipped Stafford pass fell into the arms of Aqib Talib for a Pick-6, it looked like business as usual for the Lions. Then they embarked upon a scorched earth campaign that must have recalled Sherman in Atlanta for any 170 year-olds watching. The Lions still have a lot to prove, but if you wait until after they’ve definitively proven it, how helpful is that from a prognostication standpoint?
5. New Orleans Saints 0-1 Projected Record 10-6
Injuries threaten to make this an uphill battle for New Orleans, but it helps that their entire division is winless after one week. Even in comeback mode, putting up 400 yards passing against the Packers elite D is impressive.
4. Philadelphia Eagles 1-0 Projected Record 10-6
The Eagles weren’t nearly as dominant on a play-by-play basis against the Rams as the score indicated. Can they develop the type of consistency on offense that defines teams like the Packers, Patriots, and Saints? Will they hold a team under 120 yards rushing this season?
3. Baltimore Ravens 1-0 Projected Record 13-3
The Ravens are the epitome of a well-run organization. Loaded everywhere, if they can get anything from their secondary receivers, this team could be a juggernaut. Elite NFL teams simply do not get pummeled the way Baltimore abused Pittsburgh this weekend.
2. New England Patriots 1-0 Projected Record 14-2
After winning 3 Super Bowls in the span of 4 years with under-talented squads, you never would have guessed that the Patriots would turn into chokers, but that’s almost the only explanation for their losses in the 2007 and 2011 playoffs. The Patriots may not be as good as Green Bay, but they’re head-and-shoulders above any AFC squads. Tom Brady is almost even money to set the NFL’s single season passing yardage record.
1. Green Bay Packers 1-0 Projected Record 13-3
The Packers have a brutal schedule and manage to drop a few games each year due to special teams meltdowns or game management fiascos. Despite that, Ted Thompson has built a behemoth. Assembling this much talent was never supposed to be possible in the free agency and salary cap era.