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NFL Power Rankings: The Bills and Chiefs Dominate Week 1

Week 1 is in the books, and Buffalo and Kansas City separated themselves from the field. But how far did hot teams like the Vikings and Chargers climb? And how far did the Cowboys fall?

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Welcome back to The Ringer’s NFL Power Rankings, where we no longer have to speculate about what teams could be, but get to react (or maybe overreact) to what happened in Week 1. The biggest change from last week is that now we can see the Dallas Cowboys are on fire. But not the good kind of fire. We’re talking left-your-tailgate-grill-on-in-the-parking-lot-and-torched-eight-cars kind of fire. Other NFC powerhouses (like the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams) slid a bit after blowout losses, but nothing tops the Cowboys getting blown out on Sunday Night Football and losing Dak Prescott to a thumb injury, to boot. On a more positive note, Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins are significant risers after their Week 1 performance. Check out the rest of my updated power rankings below as we march on to Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season.

Betting odds are from FanDuel.

The Best of the Best

1. Buffalo Bills (last week: 1)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -850
Week 1 Result: Beat the Rams, 31-10

Josh Allen played a near-perfect game in a blowout win over the reigning Super Bowl champions. The defense allowed 3.7 yards per play, good for second best in Week 1, without star cornerback Tre’Davious White. The Bills are quite plainly the best team in the NFL.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 3)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -300
Week 1 Result: Beat the Cardinals, 44-21

No Tyreek Hill, no problem. Patrick Mahomes completed passes to nine different receivers in a 360-yard, five-touchdown performance in the Chiefs’ win over Arizona. And the Kansas City defense followed suit, limiting Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to 4.5 yards per play. Now, no other defense in the NFL will likely show the Chiefs offense as many blitzes and single-high looks as Arizona did in Week 1, so let’s not project an 85-touchdown season for Mahomes just yet. But early returns for the Hill-less offense and an improved defense are abundantly positive.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week: 2)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -1200
Week 1 Result: Beat the Cowboys, 19-3

Every Buccaneers game this season will be a weekly ad for the TB12 diet. In his age-45 season, Tom Brady looks as good as ever, and his supporting cast is right there with him (though we are somewhat concerned that receiver Chris Godwin is already injured again, this time a hamstring). Tampa Bay enters Week 2 as the favorite to win the NFC at plus-280, and I’m still buying it at that price.

4. Los Angeles Chargers (last week: 6)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -225
Week 1 Result: Beat the Raiders, 24-19

Justin Herbert is a top-three quarterback in the NFL, and the defense is showing massive improvement from last season. Buy the hype. This Chargers team is legit and they’ll get a chance to prove it when they face the Chiefs on Thursday night.

Flawed Deep Postseason Contenders

5. Green Bay Packers (last week: 4)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: -280
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Vikings, 23-7

Aaron Rodgers threw for 133 yards, no touchdowns and had two picks in a 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 1 last season and went on to win the league MVP award. But this year’s blowout loss to the Vikings feels different. The offensive line is plagued by injuries, Davante Adams plays for the Raiders, and Green Bay’s supposedly stacked defense gave up 184 yards to one player (Justin Jefferson). The Packers need offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins back healthy and literally any receiver to step up to maintain deep postseason contention. It’s wild that Rodgers’s Peaky Blinders haircut was the lone highlight of their season debut.

6. Los Angeles Rams (last week: 5)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: -220
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Bills, 31-10

The Rams drop just one spot in these rankings despite the blowout loss at home against Buffalo, but they’ll be in a free fall if we see more of the same against Atlanta in Week 2. The offensive line, which lost both Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett this offseason, was disastrous. Matthew Stafford was under pressure on 19 dropbacks against Buffalo, per PFF, which is more pressure than he faced in any game all last season. Whitworth’s replacement at left tackle, Joseph Noteboom, allowed a team-high eight pressures in the season debut; Whitworth allowed 20 in 18 games last season. That can’t continue if the Rams have aspirations for a Super Bowl repeat.

7. Baltimore Ravens (last week: 8)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -215
Week 1 Result: Beat the Jets, 24-9

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens beat up on the Jets’ secondary to cruise to a 24-9 win in Week 1, but a stifled rushing attack and mounting injuries remain a concern. Without running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore averaged just 3 yards per carry with Kenyan Drake as its lead rusher (31 yards). Offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, who started in place of Stanley, and cornerback Kyle Fuller will miss the rest of the season after suffering season-ending injuries in Week 1. (For James, the Achilles tendon injury is especially heartbreaking. Injuries limited him to three games with the Broncos in 2019, he opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns, and then tore his Achilles while training in the 2021 offseason. Sunday’s game in New York was only his fourth game since 2018.) The Ravens need to stay healthy and run the football effectively if they’re going to be Super Bowl contenders, and we just haven’t seen either ring true yet.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (last week:7)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +110
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Steelers, 23-20 in overtime

Joe Burrow and the Bengals looked dreadful out of the gate. The offense scored just three points and committed four turnovers, including a Minkah Fitzpatrick pick-six, on their opening five possessions on their way to an early 17-3 deficit. With nowhere really to go but up, Burrow and the rest of the offense improved as the game progressed, but the sheer volume of miscues—most notably a blocked PAT at the end of regulation and a missed field goal in overtime—gave Pittsburgh enough life to eke out a win on the road. The Bengals are a lot better than their Week 1 performance and should get back on the playoff track as Burrow and the new offensive line get more comfortable.

Should-Be Playoff Teams

9. Minnesota Vikings (last week: 11)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -230
Week 1 Result: Beat the Packers, 23-7

In this collection of 20 preseason power rankings aggregated by René Bugner, only Football Outsiders was higher on the Vikings than I was entering Week 1. And after a dominant 23-7 win over the Packers, I’m moving them up two spots to no. 9. First-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, who is currently plus-800 to win Coach of the Year, led an offensive fireworks show against what many of us thought would be one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson connected for 184 yards and two touchdowns in a truly dominant display that should prove sustainable with O’Connell pulling the strings.

10. Denver Broncos (last week: 10)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: TBD
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Seahawks, 17-16

I know it’s tempting, but let’s not hit the panic button yet in Denver. When the smoke clears from all the hot takes about Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle and Nathaniel Hackett’s truly bonkers end-of-game decision-making, what we’ll see is that there was plenty to like about Wilson’s debut for the Broncos. He was efficient in moving the offense down the field—the Broncos averaged 6.8 yards per play—and Denver outgained Seattle by 169 yards in the second half. The problem was red zone efficiency, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, losing two fumbles at the goal line, and general sloppiness (like multiple delay of game penalties).

11. San Francisco 49ers (last week: 9)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: -140
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Bears, 19-10

Pump the brakes on any 49ers hate. Yes, Trey Lance was inconsistent, but we shouldn’t forget he was making just his fourth start in a football game since 2019 and was playing in a driving rainstorm on a near-unplayable field in Chicago. Pull your punches until we see more of Lance and this 49ers team in better conditions, and stop clamoring for Jimmy Garoppolo (at least for now).

12. Philadelphia Eagles (last week:13)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -380
Week 1 Result: Beat the Lions, 38-35

The preseason hype surrounding the Eagles is still very real, and the final score isn’t indicative of how much the Eagles dominated this game against Detroit. ESPN’s win probability model gave the Eagles a 73 percent chance or better to win after they went up 21-7 in the second quarter. Allowing D’Andre Swift to go off for 144 yards rushing is a bit of a concern, but nearly everything else skewed positive for the Eagles in Week 1. Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders both recorded 90-plus yards rushing, and new wideout A.J. Brown caught 10 passes for 155 yards in a stunning debut for Philadelphia.

13. Miami Dolphins (last week:17)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -116
Week 1 Result: Beat the Patriots, 20-7

I predicted on The Ringer NFL Show last week the Dolphins had potential to be one of the biggest risers in these rankings, and now here we are: up four spots after Week 1. Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t a game-breaker by any means, but he didn’t have to be against the Pats. Tagovailoa went 22-of-33 for 270 passing yards and a touchdown in his 2022 debut, and new wideout Tyreek Hill led the team in targets (12), receptions (eight), and receiving yards (94). I’m all in on this Mike McDaniel–Tagovailoa pairing, especially with the team’s improved offensive line and receiving corps.

14. Arizona Cardinals (last week: 14)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +176
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Chiefs, 44-21

Why the hell did the Cardinals blitz Patrick Mahomes on 54 percent of his dropbacks? You’d think a team coached by Kliff Kingsbury (Mahomes’s college coach) and DC Vance Joseph (who previously coached against Mahomes when Joseph was the head coach in Denver) would know better than to blitz Mahomes that much. Their defensive game plan killed the Cardinals’ chances, as Mahomes threw four of his five touchdowns while facing more than four rushers. The Cardinals offense, meanwhile, ranked 27th in yards per play (4.5) in Week 1, hardly an inspiring start for a unit that was looking to get more explosive. Kyler Murray is one of the league’s top quarterbacks, and the team has enough of a supporting cast offensively and defensively to be competitive. But they just can’t get out of their own way.

15. Tennessee Titans (last week: 15)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +174
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Giants, 21-20

Losing to the Giants may have some rushing to the panic button for the Titans, but I’m still buying them at plus-174 to make the playoffs and plus-200 to win the AFC South. The good news for Tennessee is that the pass rush came through in this game, even without Harold Landry III, who is likely out for the season with a torn ACL. Per Pro Football Focus, no quarterback was under pressure on a higher percentage of his dropbacks than the Giants’ Daniel Jones in Week 1.

On the Bubble

16. Indianapolis Colts (last week: 16)

Record: 0-0-1 | Make Playoffs: -230
Week 1 Result: Tied with the Texans, 20-20

The Colts were asleep at the wheel for three quarters against Houston, but they woke up in time to rally from a 20-3 fourth-quarter deficit and avoid a loss. Favored by seven points in the contest, the Colts obviously underperformed against the Texans, but new quarterback Matt Ryan appeared to grow more comfortable in the offense as the game went on. And the defense still held the Texans to fewer than 4.5 yards per play. Indianapolis should vault up these rankings if they can avoid sloppy starts moving forward.

17. New Orleans Saints (last week: 18)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -114
Week 1 Result: Beat the Falcons, 27-26

It was a slow start for New Orleans, but the finish was stunning. Trailing 26-10 with 12:41 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jameis Winston, who briefly left the game with “pain everywhere,” put together three consecutive scoring drives, ending with two Michael Thomas touchdowns and Wil Lutz’s game-winning field goal. The Saints will be a tough out if they can make their Week 1 fourth-quarter magic a routine.

18. Dallas Cowboys (last week:12)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +250
Week 1 result: Lost to the Buccaneers, 19-3

YIKES. It turns out losing key offensive players La’el Collins, Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and Connor Williams all in the same offseason isn’t great. Injuries to Tyron Smith, Michael Gallup, and James Washington make matters worse. And now Dak Prescott will undergo thumb surgery and miss six to eight weeks. The Cowboys’ preseason odds to make the playoffs, per FanDuel, flipped from minus-225 to now plus-250. Head coach Mike McCarthy is a meme. The Disaster Cowboys are the dog in a house engulfed by flames, but this isn’t fine.

19. Cleveland Browns (last week: 20)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: +124
Week 1 Result: Beat the Panthers, 26-24

Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett was as advertised—conservative (he finished Week 1 with the lowest yards per attempt average of any starter) and turnover prone. The only reason his stat line wasn’t a total disaster was that he was bailed out of two would-be interceptions, first by one of the dumbest pass interference penalties I’ve ever seen committed and then on a drop by Carolina safety Myles Hartsfield. A stalwart defense led by Myles Garrett (two sacks and three tackles for loss), heavy doses of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (who combined for 187 rushing yards), and a clutch rookie kicker (Cade York, FTW) saved Cleveland from disaster. That will be the key to victory for the Browns until quarterback play improves.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (last week: 19)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +230
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Chargers, 24-19

The Raiders are who we thought they were. Derek Carr is talented but imperfect, and Davante Adams is still one of the best receivers in the NFL. Nearly everything else is a massive work in progress, especially the offensive line, which allowed six sacks (three by former Raider Khalil Mack) as the Raiders rotated four different combinations of linemen throughout the game against the Chargers. Carr can’t throw three picks, fumble the ball twice (the Raiders were lucky to recover both), and take that many sacks if the Raiders are going to win consistently, but that—and the team’s struggling no-name secondary—doesn’t look like it’ll be changing anytime soon.

21. New England Patriots (last week: 21)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +192
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Dolphins, 20-7

The Patriots’ Week 1 performance did nothing to calm preseason fears surrounding first-year offensive play caller Matt Patricia and the offense. The team’s stable of running backs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, and quarterback Mac Jones (who may have suffered a back injury) was responsible for two turnovers in the loss to Miami. A lot needs to change in a hurry for Patricia and Jones to put together a winning season in New England.

Long Shot Playoff Hopefuls

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: 22)

Record 1-0 | Make Playoffs: +225
Week 1 Result: Beat the Bengals, 23-20 in overtime

Mike Tomlin rightfully celebrated an improbable overtime win in Cincinnati, but the Steelers’ long-term prospects remain bleak. Star pass rusher T.J. Watt suffered a pectoral muscle injury and will miss, at minimum, six weeks, and starting running back Najee Harris and cornerback Levi Wallace each left Sunday’s game with injuries. The Steelers offense averaged just 4.4 yards per play in Mitchell Trubisky’s Steelers debut, tied for the fourth-lowest average in Week 1. Tomlin isn’t going down without a fight, but optimism is hard to come by in Pittsburgh even after the upset win.

23. Washington Commanders (last week: 23)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: -104
Week 1 Result: Beat the Jaguars, 28-22

Carson Wentz threw two fourth-quarter picks in a span of less than three minutes against the Jaguars. It didn’t end up dooming the Commanders this time, but that’s not going to get it done against better teams. The low end of the Wentz roller coaster is what cost Indianapolis a playoff berth last season, and it will cost the Commanders in the future if the turnovers continue. If the Commanders are going to be in the playoff mix, they’ll need more of Wentz’s upside, like the two absolute dimes that went for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

24. Seattle Seahawks (last week: 30)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: +430
Week 1 Result: Beat the Broncos, 17-16

I’m an idiot. I recently predicted on The Ringer NFL Show that I was initially too low on the Seahawks, and here we are. Geno Smith, an improved offensive line, a well-coached defense, a spry Rashaad Penny, Pete Carroll, you name it—they all exceeded preseason expectations. Only two teams (Falcons and Texans) had lower odds to have the worst record in the NFL than the Seahawks before upsetting the Broncos as 6.5-point home dogs in Week 1. I’m still not buying them to make the playoffs, but they’re far from the league’s doormat.

25. New York Giants (last week: 27)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: +138
Week 1 Result: Beat the Titans, 21-20

I’ll say it, the Brian Daboll era in New York is going to be freaking awesome. Every Week 1 clip of the new Giants head coach should spark hope for Giants faithful. He held Daniel Jones accountable for an awful red zone interception, showed extreme confidence with his decision to go for two later in the fourth quarter, and let loose with the boys in the locker room following the comeback win. Daboll also unleashed a version of Saquon Barkley we haven’t seen in years. Barkley averaged 9.1 yards per carry, rushed for 164 yards—the most of any running back in Week 1—scored a touchdown, and had the game-winning two-point conversion off a shovel pass from Jones. The Giants won’t be a playoff team overnight, but the culture Daboll is building appears sustainable and significant, and a much-needed step in the right direction.

26. Carolina Panthers (last week: 25)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +400
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Browns, 26-24

What a frustrating week for Carolina. The defense allowed just 4.8 yards per play against the Browns, while Baker Mayfield led the offense to 17 fourth-quarter points to nearly pull off a comeback against Cleveland. The effort was good, but not good enough after falling behind 14-0 in the second quarter. The offense was miserable early—just 13 total yards on the first five drives; Carolina can’t afford slow starts if it’s going to win games in 2022, and neither can Matt Rhule if he’s going to coach this team through the end of the season.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (last week: 24)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +430
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Commanders, 28-22

The Jags were one of four teams that allowed more than 300 passing yards in Week 1, a total that includes 134 yards and two passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone in the loss to the Commanders. Combine that sort of defensive meltdown with an inconsistent offensive performance—the OL struggled, and Trevor Lawrence threw a pick with 1:10 remaining—and it’s a reminder of just how far the Jaguars have to go.

28. Chicago Bears (last week: 29)

Record: 1-0 | Make Playoffs: +270
Week 1 Result: Beat the 49ers, 19-10

I’m not sprinting to jump on the Chicago bandwagon until the team dries off and plays well in better weather, but there’s still reason for optimism at the start of the Ryan Poles–Matt Eberflus era. The offensive line performed way better than anyone expected against a talented San Francisco defensive front, and the Bears were able to do just enough to beat a sloppy 49ers team in sloppy weather conditions.

Eyeing the No. 1 Pick

29. Detroit Lions (last week: 26)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +410
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Eagles, 38-35

Lions bettors rejoiced in a familiar beautiful backdoor cover late in the fourth quarter, but the bottom line is that while the Lions might have made it interesting late, the Eagles were in constant control of this game. Running back D’Andre Swift (144 rushing yards, 9.6 yards per carry) led an offense that exceeded preseason expectations, but the defense had simply no answers for the duo of Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown. Detroit allowed 455 yards of total offense, the third-most of any team in Week 1.

30. Atlanta Falcons (last week: 31)

Record: 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +1320
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Saints, 27-26

We might not have the chance to do this very often this season, so we’ll start by saying a few nice things about the Falcons: Marcus Mariota and Cordarrelle Patterson (120 rushing yards) thrived in Arthur Smith’s play-action-heavy offense in Week 1, and Atlanta’s secondary, led by corners A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward, was dominant early against the Saints. Even the offensive line, a perceived weakness for the Falcons, held up extraordinarily well against the Saints’ front seven.

But all of the surprise positives washed away in what is seemingly a constant negative for Atlanta: the fourth quarter. ESPN’s win probability model gave the Falcons a 95 percent chance of winning when Younghoe Koo made a field goal to give Atlanta a 26-10 lead with 12:41 left in the fourth quarter. Then the Falcons collapsed in a way only the Falcons can, allowing 17 unanswered points to lose 27-26. Smith turning heel in his postgame presser really put an exclamation point on late-game disappointment overshadowing any early optimism.

31. Houston Texans (last week:32)

Record: 0-0-1 | Make Playoffs: +1600
Week 1 Result: Tied the Colts, 20-20

We’ll give the Texans credit for the grittiness and spunk they showed in building a 20-3 lead over the heavily favored Colts. But this isn’t a good team, and TBH we’re still not over Lovie Smith’s decision to punt to preserve a tie in overtime rather than risk losing.

32. New York Jets (last week: 28)

Record 0-1 | Make Playoffs: +1020
Week 1 Result: Lost to the Ravens, 24-9

Zach Wilson won’t start until Week 4 (or later), and the defense is still giving up too many big plays. The Jets are the league’s punching bag right now.