NFL power ranking, 2021 post-week 1 edition (previous ranking in brackets):
1. Buccaneers (1): Bad start by a defense who was the true MVP of Super Bowl 55. But when you have QB Tom Brady and a bunch of offensive skill players who could have served as a starting lineup in Pro Bowl 2017, OK for the D to take an early mulligan.
2. Chefs (2): The redesigned offensive line generally held up well – especially given the fact that three inexperienced NFL players were making their debut – as did Kansas City’s propensity to fall into double-digit holes before making it through in any way. spectacular.
3. Rams (6): The Matthew Stafford-Sean McVay marriage seemed like everything it was meant to be – through a match anyway. Stafford’s best 156.1 Week 1 QB score is the highest in league history for a rookie player with a new team.
4. Browns (3): Their last two games were at Arrowhead Stadium, where they gave the Chiefs all they can handle. Now imagine if Cleveland had WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup… or just a punter who could line up a snap.
5. Saints (16): New NBC football analyst Drew Brees joked (right?) Sunday: “I guess apparently that’s what the Saints missed.” He was referring to QB successor Jameis Winston, who hit the pitch – an ability that should open up any attack and most importantly help RB Alvin Kamara. Is this offense really better? So far, everything is fine considering what New Orleans just did to the Packers… and under sub-optimal circumstances.
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6. Seahawks (10): Glass half empty – QB Russell Wilson has been sacked three more times (to shame, O-line). Glass half full – the defense shone in Indianapolis and scored three sacks on their own. Considering what just happened to their next opponent, Tennessee, expect D to take the lead in the sack after Week 2.
7. Cardinals (21): If we run offensive and defensive players of the year after Week 1, there’s a good chance Arizona both gave the opening day performances of QB Kyler Murray (5 TDs) and OLB Chandler Jones (5 sacks).
8. Steelers (17): They were hardly dominant in the Buffalo upheaval. But solid defense, re-engagement and opportunistic special teams could once again take Pittsburgh far.
9. Cowboys (14): An encouraging start for QB Dak Prescott after shining in his first game in 11 months… although a much less encouraging start for a restarted defense that simply needs to be average but fell short in Tampa despite four turnovers.
10. Invoices (5): The offensive line saw QB Josh Allen get hit eight times, fire three and get six penalties against Pittsburgh. Otherwise, it was stellar.
11. 49ers (9): Are they the team that led Detroit 38-10 in 2.5 quarters, or the one that held on for a 41-33 win… and is already facing another wave of injuries after losing CB Jason Verrett against a torn ACL and RB Raheem Mostert to his own end-of-season knee surgery?
12. Dolphins (11): Where was fourth-year TE Mike Gesicki? Two targets, no catches, while hitting a ball in the air which cost QB Tua Tagovailoa a choice. Ge-ill.
13. Chargers (12): Quite an impressive start to 16 games (4,673 passing yards and 32 touchdowns) for quarterback Justin Herbert … and he’s even winning close games now!
14. Packers (4): “It’s just a game,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers after Green Bay’s embarrassing loss to New Orleans. “We played badly. I played badly.… One game. We have 16.” If Rodgers is lucky, All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari (ACL) will be back for 11 of those games.
15. Bronco (18): Their 0.683 winning percentage in Week 1 is the best in the NFL since the 1970 merger, but that hasn’t helped them finish a season above 0.500 since 2016. But this team looks dangerous (and chic, coach Vic Fangio wearing an FDNY hat on the sidelines on Sunday).
16. Raiders (24): They did their best to create snake eyes for their debut in front of fans in Las Vegas, but eventually hit blackjack.
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17. Patriots (13): RB Damien Harris wasted a 100-yard day with a fumble in the fourth quarter that New England couldn’t recover from. Good luck getting out of Belichick’s doghouse, Damien …
18. Ravens (8): Their apparent defensive degradation could be much more of a problem than their exhausted backyard after spitting out what should have been a 1W week.
19. Titans (7): Lieutenant Taylor Lewan has been blamed for the offensive struggles, but that doesn’t explain why Tennessee’s defense is still being beaten like a drum.
20. Bengals (28): And now we know why rookie Evan McPherson was the only kicker drafted in 2021, his FG winning in overtime after 53 yards in the fourth quarter. Ice.
21. Washington (19): Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick set a record by making a Week 1 start for his sixth different club before suffering a hip injury that could cost him at least half the season. But it could be a beacon of hope for the WFT as they take an in-depth look at Taylor Heinicke, who may have a long-term future here.
22. Eagles (30): No team racked up more yards in Week 1 than Philadelphia’s 173, a good indication the offensive line is back and could fuel a better-than-expected season.
23. Panthers (23): The revival of QB Sam Darnold and the return of RB Christian McCaffrey naturally attracted a lot of attention, but the Carolina defense opened the season with a stifling performance (6 sacks, 252 yards allowed).
24. Vikings (15): When you commit ten penalties for 116 yards, and your best player (RB Dalvin Cook) fumbles in overtime? Puppy No warning signs for the campaign you want.
25. Foals (20): Carson Wentz became Indianapolis’ fifth different starter in Week 1 of the past five seasons. The Colts lost the first five games.
26. Bear (25): While the world is obsessed with making rookie QB Justin Fields the starter, few are talking about Chicago’s bad offensive and defensive line.
27. Texans (32): Delighted to see rookie coach David Culley and QB Tyrod Taylor, neither exactly flush with NFL luck, come out the gate with such a decisive victory on their Houston debut.
28. Jets (27): Darnold’s NFL debut (September 10, 2018) marked the last victory for the NYJ in September. His debut with the Panthers marked the Jets’ 10th straight loss in the month.
29. Lions (31): Dan Campbell’s accusations showed that there wouldn’t be any quitting in them… tough as it must be to stay engaged when you’ve given up at least 30 points in seven straight games.
30. Giants (22): QB Daniel Jones spat the ball for the 40th time. Joe Judge threw the timeouts. RB Saquon Barkley is not (yet) himself. Even the defense stinks. Otherwise, all is well for a team that hasn’t gone over 0.500 since 2016.
31. Falcons (26): They looked like a team that should have drafted Fields fourth overall and started all over again, right?
32. Jaguars (29): [Air horn sounds.] Better hydrate, Coach Meyer, looks like it’s going to be a long – very long – season here in the big leagues.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.