If it is way too early to draw conclusions from one football game (and it is), then it is way too early to rank all 32 NFL teams after one week (but we’re going to do it anyway).
Rationale rarely factors into the overreactions of Week 1 by overzealous fans and media. Unbridled optimism abounds around the winners, while exaggerated doom and gloom hangs over the losers. There’s no reasonable reality check for either instance.
So, for the first installment of the 2022 NFL Power Rankings, we’ll do the responsible thing of providing more context regarding each assigned number. Teams will be grouped into more descriptive tiers to better reflect where they stood going into the season and where they stand after one game. This is especially helpful for the muddled middle where there isn’t much difference between 1-0 and 0-1 — as well as 0-0-1.
A level above
1. Buffalo Bills (1-0): They made the loudest statement in justifying all the preseason Super Bowl favorite talk by stomping the champion Rams in the season’s curtain raiser.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0): Did you really think Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes weren’t going to figure things out after the Tyreek Hill trade?
3. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0): Justin Herbert deserves all the early MVP hype he’s getting. Just don’t forget about what all-world safety Derwin James does for Brandon Staley’s defense.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0): Todd Bowles will be content to lean on his defense and balanced offense until he needs Tom Brady to be Tom Brady and let loose.
No need to panic
5. Los Angeles Rams (0-1): Banner night couldn’t have gone any worse. Same goes for the problematic offensive line.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1): Joe Burrow compiled five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) and still engineered two late drives that should’ve resulted in the winning kick.
You have our attention
7. Baltimore Ravens (1-0): In his contract year, bag-hunting Lamar Jackson will have opponents reciting this famous John Malkovich line.
8. Minnesota Vikings (1-0): The Kevin O’Connell Effect is real. His Cooper Kupp Triple Crown encore is already off to an impressive start with Justin Jefferson (184 receiving yards, two TDs).
9. Miami Dolphins (1-0): Tua Tagovailoa improved to 4-0 against Bill Belichick, and yet he continues to be polarizing.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0): They’re as committed to the run as ever after Miles Sanders (96) and Jalen Hurts (90) powered a rushing attack that generated 216 yards in the win against Detroit.
Works in progress
11. San Francisco 49ers (0-1): Trey Lance gets this one mulligan after slipping, sliding and missing receivers in a wet Windy City.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (0-1): Davante Adams was exceptional in his debut in silver and black; Chandler Jones was not.
13. Denver Broncos (0-1): Nathaniel Hackett was right to not put the ball in the hands of his quarterback on fourth-and-5 … if his quarterback was Drew Lock.
14. Green Bay Packers (0-1): The wide receiver corps looked as deficient as Aaron Rodgers warned, but the upside on Christian Watson’s much-talked-about dropped TD: The speedy second-round pick was WIDE open.
15. Tennessee Titans (0-1): Todd Downing’s offense struggled again and Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal that would’ve beaten the Giants, but Derrick Henry had his fourth straight game (playoffs included) averaging less than four yards per carry.
16. Arizona Cardinals (0-1): The anticipation for their “Hard Knocks In Season” on HBO continues to grow after getting blown out by the Chiefs.
17. Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1): Rodrigo Blankenship might have missed his last field goal for the Colts with kicker tryouts reportedly taking place.
18. New York Giants (1-0): Welcome back, Saquon Barkley of old.
19. Chicago Bears (1-0): New head coach Matt Eberflus might be made mayor of Chicago if he beats the Packers in Week 2.
20. New Orleans Saints (1-0): Welcome back, Michael Thomas of old.
21. Washington Commanders (1-0): Did NOT see that coming from Carson Wentz.
Time to panic
22. New England Patriots (0-1): Mac Jones’ back scans came back “normal.” Still abnormal — the Patriots offense.
23. Dallas Cowboys (0-1): With or without Dak Prescott, the Cowboys were the only team in Week 1 to not score a touchdown. The Dallas defense, as great as it is, can’t carry the offense into the end zone.
Not as bad as expected
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0): They were lucky to escape Cincinnati with the win, but Mitch Trubisky looked surprisingly capable as Mike Tomlin’s starting QB.
25. Seattle Seahawks (1-0): Geno Smith might’ve already delivered the line of the season after Monday night’s emotional win against ex-Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-0): The 1-2 RB punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and a dominant defense will keep the Browns in games.
27. Houston Texans (0-0-1): Lovie Smith, you absolutely had nothing to lose by going for the W and not settling for the tie in OT.
As flawed as advertised
28. Carolina Panthers (0-1): They managed just 54 rushing yards with a healthy Christian McCaffrey.
29. Atlanta Falcons (0-1): It’ll be a big problem if Marcus Mariota struggles to complete passes to franchise tight end Kyle Pitts (seven targets, two catches for 19 yards vs. Saints).
30. Detroit Lions (0-1): No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson was credited with one assist in his NFL debut. That’s it.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1): Trevor Lawrence can’t be making hopeless fourth-quarter heaves like this in Year 2.
32. New York Jets (0-1): Joe Flacco or Mike White? Does it really matter?