The NFL is officially back in our lives, which means for the next five months we’ll be constantly bickering over whose favorite team is best. Power rankings are an inevitability, so I’ll be putting together mine every Tuesday.
Rankings will be based on a number of factors, but the main overarching question when I decide on the order will be “If these teams played on a neutral field, who’d win?” So I won’t be overreacting to upsets and flukey results. One team beating another does not guarantee a higher ranking. And with it being Week 1, I’m not going overreact to a small sample size. This week’s ranking is very much influenced by my preseason perception of these teams. So, don’t be surprised when the Browns are still a few spots ahead of a team that just pounded them by 30 points.
These are tier-based rankings. And instead of writing a few inane sentences on each team, I’ll highlight one team from each tier and give them a little more attention.
With that out of the way, let’s rank some teams…
Tier 1: No one team should have all that power
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
It’s the Patriots league. The rest of the teams are just here to keep them busy.
1. Patriots (1-0, Point Differential: +30)
I’m not ready to start throwing around the U-word just yet, but this is the best Patriots teams we’ve seen since that 16-0 regular season in 2007. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. Now he has the best (and deepest) receiving corps in the league. Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick. And now he has a versatile front seven and a secondary featuring defensive backs of every shape and size, giving the defensive mastermind the chess pieces he needs to put together those legendary gameplans of his.
On Sunday night, the Patriots looked like the best team in the NFL. Now we’re dropping Antonio Brown, the league’s best receiver, into this, and I’m not sure which AFC team is capable of giving them a competitive game. The Chiefs can certainly score with New England, but the Pats have a secondary that can match up with Andy Reid’s never-ending supply of weapons. The Ravens look awfully dangerous but I don’t know if I trust Lamar Jackson against a Belichick defense just yet. The Chargers are talented but they are also the Chargers.
Every other AFC team has at least one glaring weakness. The Pats have none. The one big concern heading into the season was how the offense would look without Rob Gronkowski after failing to adequately replace him. It didn’t seem to matter in Week 1. Brady completed only one pass to a tight end and the offense did not sputter. New England simply increased its usage of 20 personnel (2 RBs, 0 TEs, 3 WRs) and 10 personnel (1 RB, 0 TEs, 4 WRs), and the passing game looked better than ever. Brady averaged 0.46 Expected Points Added per dropback.
In their first game since @RobGronkowski’s retirement, the