Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015-16 NFL Season Power Rankings (Week One)


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo__X

THE ELITES

#01
Tennessee Titans 
Season Point Differential: + 28

At this juncture in the season, nobody has the Titans pegged as Super Bowl Champions. That said, their throttling of Tampa Bay over the weekend  is nonetheless a reason for Tennessee fans to be more than ecstatic, as new franchise QB Marcus Mariota (who tossed more touchdowns than incompletions and finished the game with a perfect quarterback rating) turned in what may very well be the single greatest rookie debut performance in NFL history. The rest of the season may tell an entirely different story, but for one week, at least? The Titans played better football than any other team in the National Football League.


#02
New York Jets
Season Point Differential: +21

There was a LOT of doomsaying when Geno Smith get sucker-punched out of the starting QB position during training camp, but the Jets actually played incredibly well with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Despite four fumbles (which only produced one turnover), New York's passing game and ground game looked equally good, while the defense definitely kept the pressure on a hapless Johnny Football. Either this Jets team is a LOT better than marketed or the Browns are a LOT worse than we had all assumed.

#03
Cincinnati Bengals
Season Point Differential: + 20

Andy Dalton and the boys pretty much had their way with the Raiders on Sunday, racking up nearly 400 yards of total offense. Both halfback Jeremy Hill and receiver Tyler Eifert had two TDs a piece, while Cincy's defense limited Oakland to just 266 yards and forced two turnovers. We'll see how the Bengals fare against tougher competition this weekend, as the Cats play host to Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. 

#04
San Francisco 49ers
Season Point Differential: +17

What the hell happened here? After an offseason fire sale that saw the Niners give up even their punter, San Fran was supposed to be in competition for worst team in the entire league. Alas, on Monday night the 49ers drubbed the Vikings 20-3, with running back Carlo Hyde stuffing it in twice for 168 yards. Even more impressive, the SF defense had Terry Bridgewater eating dirt no less than five times, holding A.P. and the Vikes to just a field goal. 

#05
Buffalo Bills
Season Point Differential: +13

The new look Bills pulled off the biggest upset of week one, manhandling Andrew Luck and the Colts 27-14. Tyrod Tyler was 14-for-19 on passes, racking up a stellar 10.3 yards per toss average while the impressive Buffalo D held Indy to just 64 yards on the ground. Yeah, the secondary did give up quite a bit of yardage by air, but they also did more than enough to prevent Luck from converting those into points, too. Week two's hootennany against the Pats is going to tell us A LOT about whether this Buffalo team is for real or just another Bills squad that starts off strong, only to peter out as the season chugs along. 

#06
Arizona Cardinals
Season Point Differential: +12

Carson Palmer, returning from a late season injury, threw for more than 300 yards and racked up three touchdowns in the Cards 31-19 win over the Saints in week one. The defense, which lagged at times in 2014, looked much improved, registering two sacks and five tackles for losses on the day. Another pleasant surprise for Arizona? Their unheralded running back corps more than doubled the yardage put up by New Orleans, with Andre Ellington scoring a touchdown and averaging 5.8 yards per touch. 

#07
Carolina Panthers
Season Point Differential: +11

Cam Newton looked solid against the Jags in Carolina's 20-9 victory over the weekend, but the real star for the Panthers was their no-name defense, which recorded five sacks, six hits on Blake Bortles and no less than eight tackles for losses. Things will certainly be interesting this Sunday, as the Panthers test their mettle against a Texans squad whose quarterback situation remains quite possibly the shakiest in the NFL. 

#08
Green Bay Packers
Season Point Differential: +8

It was a much closer game than anticipated against the Bears on Sunday, but even lobbing a relatively subpar 189 yards on the day, 2014 MVP Aaron Rodgers still managed to hit the endzone three times. The run game was OK, but what really sealed the W for the Packers was their defense: they managed to sack Jay Cutler twice, pick him off once and smack the holy hell out of him five times in a 31-23 victory. 

THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS

#09
New England Patriots
Season Point Differential: +7

All of the DeflateGate and HeadsetGate brouhaha aside, the Pats looked exquisite in their 28-21 opening night victory over the Steelers. Alas, even with Tom Brady tossing four TD passes, the team did show a few glimmers of weakness; primarily, in the form of a rushing attack that could only foster 80 yards on the day, as well as a secondary that allowed Big Ben to rack up 351 yards in the air. 

#10
Miami Dolphins
Season Point Differential: +7

The Fins defense looked terrific on Sunday, as they held the Redskins to just 10 points and limited Kerry Cousins to only 196 passing yards. However, as good as Miami's passing game may be, the run game (totaling just 74 yards on the day) could certainly use some improvement, as could the offensive line, which allowed Ryan Tannehill to get sacked three times. 

#11
Kansas City Chiefs
Season Point Differential: +7

Alex Smith looked great in the Chiefs 27-20 win over the Texans, racking up three touchdowns and 243 passing yards. The KC defense also looked tight, recording one INT and five sacks. Alas, the run game appeared a little lethargic, with Jamaal Charles accumulating a disappointing 57 yards on 16 carries. 

#12
Denver Broncos
Season Point Differential: +6

The Broncos got a win over Baltimore, but their 19-13 victory sure was fugly. Denver wasn't able to score any offensive touchdowns, with Peyton Manning throwing an INT and accumulating a stunningly low 175 passing yards on the day. Really, Denver's D was the only thing keeping them in this one: tonight's game against the Chiefs is going to tell us a lot more about what kind of team the Broncos are really going to be this season. 

#13
San Diego Chargers
Season Point Differential: +5

San Diego came roaring back from a 20-point deficit to stun the Lion at home on Sunday. In the process, QB Phillip Rivers racked up 400 yards and two touchdowns (along with two interceptions), while Kennan Allen registered a league-best 166 receiving yards. Alas, the defense did give up two sacks, and the run game -- despite Danny Woodhead's two TDS in the dirt -- did look a little weak at times. 

#14
St. Louis Rams
Season Point Differential: +3

It took the Rams overtime, but they managed to upset the reigning NFC champs on Sunday with a resounding 34-31 victory at home. Nick Foles wound up with almost 300 yards, passing for one TD and rushing for another. The receiving corp also looked really good: Jared Cook had 85 yards on just five receptions, while Benjamin Cunningham recorded 77 yards on just four. 

#15
Atlanta Falcons
Season Point Differential: +2

Under new head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons' D looked downright incredible against Philly on Monday night ... well, for two quarters, anyway. While the Falcons did play a lot less impressively in the third and fourth quarters, their offense -- led by Julio Jones, who recorded two TDs and 141 yards -- did just enough to squeak by the Eagles, 26-24. 

#16
Dallas Cowboys
Season Point Differential: -1

Tony Romo is known for cracking under pressure, but he managed to engineer a game-winning TD drive with just seven seconds left Sunday evening against hated rivals the New York Giants. His 356 yard day (which included three TDs), however, only slightly overshadows three costly turnovers, and a run game that really struggled throughout the contest. This team is going to have to play a lot more consistently if they want to upend the Eagles, whose lightning fast offense has the capability to slow the Dallas D to a standstill this weekend. 


THE MIDDLE-OF-THE-PACK

#17
New York Giants
Season Point Differential: -1

Eli and the G-Men had Sunday's game against the Cowboys in the bag, only to witness their defense shrivel up and die with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. Needless to say, the other Manning is going to have to play much better ball if this team has any aspirations of winning the hyper-competitive NFC East -- that the team had zero receiving TDs last weekend ought to scare the ever-loving crap out of the N.Y./N.J. faithful. 

#18
Philadelphia Eagles
Season Point Differential: -2

It took a while, but eventually, Sam Bradford and the Eagles offense got rolling against the Falcons on Monday night. Unfortunately, the 336 yards by air only translated into one touchdown and two costly interceptions in the team's two-point away game loss. Sitting at 0-1, the Eagles have PLENTY to prove against arch-rivals Dallas this weekend, in what should be a high-scoring, offensive showcase. 

#19
Seattle Seahawks
Season Point Differential: -3

Russell Wilson had 251 passing yards in the Seahawks' unexpected overtime loss to the Rams, throwing one TD pass and one interception. While the defense forced four turnovers, the "Temple of Boom" just wasn't able to capitalize on them, and the run game -- in which Marshawn Lynch galloped for 74 yards but no touchdowns -- looked very underwhelming. 

#20
Detroit Lions
Season Point Differential: -5

The Lions basically gave the Chargers Sunday's game, as they blew a double-digit lead and completely shit the bed offensively for two whole quarters. The Donkey Kong Suh-less defense looked aggressive at times, but it is clear this team ain't the dynamic D they used to be; equally concerning for D-Town? Matthew Stafford's inconsistent play, Calvin Johnson's disappointing 39-yard day and a run game that -- regardless of Ameer Abdullah's 24-yard sprint -- looks to be among the weakest in the league. 

#21
Baltimore Ravens
Season Point Differential: -6

Joe Flacco played like absolute crap in week one's loss to Denver, scoring zero TDs, chunking two INTS and throwing for a comically low 117 yards on the day. The running game fared poorly, as well, resulting in just 73 rushing yards. And if that wasn't bad enough? They also lost one of the anchors of their defensive unit, Terrell Suggs, for the remainder of the season. 

#22
Houston Texans
Season Point Differential: -7

The quarterback situation in Houston is an absolute mess, but that didn't stop WR DeAndre Hopkins from having a strong showing over the weekend. He had two TDs on two receptions in Houston' 27-20 loss to Kansas City, accumulating 98 yards on just nine catches.And of course, it's hard to say much anything bad about the team's defense, especially J.J. Watt, who racked up two sacks, three QB hits and six tackles for losses all by his lonesome. 

#23
Washington Redskins
Season Point Differential: -7

All things considered, the Skins played reasonably well in their opening week loss to the Dolphins. While the run game looked solid, the passing game requires quite a bit of work: Washington mustered less than 200 yards by air on Sunday, with just one TD reception on the evening. 

#24
Pittsburgh Steelers
Season Point Differential: -7

The Steelers outran and outpassed the Pats on in week one, but they still lost by a touchdown to the reigning Super Bowl champs. Big Ben also got roughed up, being sacked twice and hit five times. Still, the receiving corps looked dynamite, especially Antonio Brown, who had 133 yards and one touchdown on nine receptions.

ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT

#25
Chicago Bears
Season Point Differential: -7

Matt Forte was easily the highlight for the Bears in Sunday's loss to the Packers, as he ran for 141 yards and one touchdown. The passing game, however, showed a lot of weak spots, as the receiving corps could hit paydirt just once, despite Jay Cutler racking up 225 yards. 

#26
Jacksonville Jaguars
Season Point Differential: -11

Unfortunately for Jaguars fans (both of them), Jacksonville played like the Jacksonville we all now and chortle at on Sunday, as Blake Bortles chunked two INTs and finished the game with a lackluster 54.5 quarterback rating. Things are unlikely to get any easier this Sunday, as in-state rivals Miami (and their hyper-potent defense) comes to town. 

#27
New Orleans Saints
Season Point Differential: -12

Drew Brees' 355 yards only amounted to one touchdown (and an INT) in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. New Orleans' backs only barely managed 50 yards on the ground, and only Brandon Coleman (in a receiving corps that also includes Mark Ingram and Marques Colston) was able to find the endzone. This weekend, the boys from the bayou will get a chance to hit .500 when they square off against divisional rivals Tampa Bay, along with a certain lobster-stealing, alleged co-ed-raping number one draft selection. 

#28 
Indianapolis Colts
Season Point Differential: - 13

First, the good: Andrew Luck posted 243 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo on Sunday. The bad? He also got picked off twice, sacked two times and his Colts wound up losing the game 27-14. Indy's receiving corps still looked good, but the run game needs a lot of work. Even more pressing?Improving a  largely anemic defense that had zero sacks, no INTs and successfully defended just three passes all evening. 

#29
Minnesota Vikings
Season Point Differential: -17

As a plus, the Vikings had 231 receiving yards against the Niners on Monday night. As a negative, Minnesota wasn't able to convert any of those yards into TDs, and the run game was even worse: Adrian Peterson, in his big "comeback" performance, was only able to muster a paltry 31 yards on 10 carries. 

#30
Oakland Raiders
Season Point Differential: -20

2015 was supposed to be the "turnaround" point for the long-stagnant Raiders, but they played like the same old Silver and Black on Sunday, failing to get much of a running or passing game going and playing like absolute garbage on defense (this, when their star rookie player wasn't having his head bashed in by Pacman Jones.) Making matters worse, starters Derek Carr, Nate Allen and Charles Woodson all left the game with injuries; sorry, Raider Nation, but it doesn't look like this year is going to represent a reversal of fortune whatsoever. 

#31
Cleveland Browns
Season Point Differential: -21

Sunday was not a very good day for Johnny Manziel. He completed only 13/24 passes, tossed an interception, fumbled the ball twice and finished the game with 75.3 QB rating. Unfortunately for the Browns faithful, Josh McCown played only marginally better, failing to find the endzone on eight passes. Travis Benjamin looked good at times, but nobody else in the receiving corps looked to impressive, and the less said about the run game, the better. 

#32
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Point Differential: -28 

Everything that could've gone wrong for the first overall pick of the 2015 Draft did just that on Sunday, as Jameis Winston turned in an abysmal showing against the Titans. His very first play, he chunked a pick six, got sacked four times, finished just 16 out of 33 passes and wrapped up the game with a pathetic quarterback rating of just 64. This weekend, the FSU standout gets a shot at redemption against an aged Saints squad; pending he puts up an equally atrocious showing in week 2, the comparisons to another quarterback drafted first overall are all but inevitable...

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