The 2022 NFL season is officially upon us, and NFL Power Rankings return with it. We know very little after just one week of real football, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a few first-impression judgments about the 32 NFL teams.
As Chad Johnson said, though, Week 1 is just an extension of the preseason, where the starters get meaningful snaps.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 6 | Trying their best out there
It would take a significant miracle for any of these teams to sniff the playoffs this season.
32) New York Jets
Well, the New York Jets game against Baltimore went about as well as one would think. Joe Flacco starting an NFL game in 2022 isn’t a good time for anybody, including Flacco, who is as much of a statue in the pocket as one could be.
While the Jets made improvements to their secondary in the offseason, Devin Duvernay had their number in contested situations, and Lamarcus Joyner botched his quarters coverage responsibility that led to a 55-yard Rashod Bateman touchdown.
There’s no reason Mike White shouldn’t get a shot to start for this football team, either to improve his value as a backup elsewhere or to cement his backup status in New York.
31) Atlanta Falcons
Death, taxes, and the Falcons … Falconing. Honestly, Merriam-Webster should make it a verb at this point. If there is a possibility of losing a football game late, usually up by more than a score, Atlanta somehow finds a way.
Atlanta dominated for 75% of the game. With less than 12 minutes left, they led 26-10. However, Michael Thomas reminded everyone that he exists, scoring twice on contested red-zone plays. Atlanta allowed 57 yards on five plays in just 29 seconds with no timeouts. But that’ll happen when one allows a 40-yard reception on the first play of the drive, despite having cornerbacks and safeties playing from depth.
30) Houston Texans
The Houston Texans battled against the Indianapolis Colts for 70 minutes, which is what we predicted would happen in our game preview. In fact, they dominated for the first 45 minutes before falling a bit flat and allowing the Colts to climb back from down 14 points in the fourth quarter.
The good news is that Davis Mills looked sharp in the first contest of his sophomore season in the league. The Texans’ rushing attack was never going to be strong, even with the addition of Dameon Pierce, who flashed in the preseason.
Houston feels a bit like the Lions, a team that’s outmatched but feisty enough to stay in games.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars probably should have beaten Washington today. However, as well as they moved the ball and turned over Carson Wentz and the Commanders, going 2/5 in the red zone and 3/14 on third down can derail an otherwise solid performance.
There’s still something missing in this offense, even with the new faces on the depth chart and coaching staff. While Trevor Lawrence is very strong in some areas, he remains a bit inconsistent in his ball placement, and the Jaguars receivers don’t always finish plays.
However, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones both showed their worth in Week 1, which must continue for this offense to find some success moving forward.
28) Detroit Lions
If we know anything about the Lions, it’s that they’re going to battle till the very bitter end. We laughed when Dan Campbell first talked about biting kneecaps. But we know this underwhelming roster will battle for their coach.
Despite the loss, they hold steady in the NFL Power Rankings because of the stumbles from the Jets and Jaguars. The defense struggled to contain Jalen Hurts on the ground, as they did a season ago in their 44-6 loss. But the offense looks to have a little something with an improved receiving corps and still solid offensive line.
27) Chicago Bears
There isn’t much to learn from either the Bears or the 49ers in their Week 1 matchup. They played on a dog park splash pad in Chicago, where neither quarterback had a proper grasp of the football.
But it was Chicago’s defense that made the plays in the second half to turn the tides. They turned San Francisco over twice and didn’t allow the Niners’ backs to beat them in the run game after Elijah Mitchell went down early with an injury.
The playing surface was so bad that both teams remain “wait and see” until we can see them a few times in non-monsoon conditions.
26) Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys’ defense held its own against a good Buccaneers offense, but they were on the field for most of the game because the offense struggled to get anything going. Dak Prescott played one of the worst games of his career, and the lack of receiving weaponry was obvious every time he dropped back to pass.
Dallas led the league in penalties a season ago, and they decided to try and rival that in Week 1. They had nine penalties, many of which were of the dead-ball variety. Their anemic offense wasn’t helped by those penalties, four of which were from right tackle Terence Steele.
Losing Dak Prescott for an extended period makes the Cowboys one of the worst rosters in the NFL. It will take until Weeks 3 & 4 to know for sure just how bad, but it certainly doesn’t look good for their playoff hopes.
25) New York Giants
The New York Giants beat the AFC South winner and top seed in the AFC playoff race a season ago, but they’ll need to put some consistent weeks together before they rise too far in the NFL Power Rankings. They had a rather pedestrian game overall, but a few massive Saquon Barkley runs in the third and fourth quarter helped propel them past the Titans.
The defense took a suspiciously “bend don’t break” approach in Week 1. That’s not something we’re accustomed to seeing from a Wink Martindale defense. But aside from a massive Sterling Shepard reception, the passing attack struggled against a strong Tennessee secondary. Unless Daniel Jones starts playing more consistently, they won’t continuously find offensive success.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 5 | Very fringe playoff hopefuls
It may feel weird to see New England in here, but the offense looked disjointed against Miami. Two teams played each other in a “mid off,” and another played a bad team.
24) Washington Commanders
Washington Commanders fans have already participated in the Carson Wentz experience this season. In fact, the season opener may have been the VIP version of it. Wentz threw four touchdowns and two interceptions in the game. In the fourth quarter alone, he threw two ugly picks and followed them up with two downfield bombs for touchdowns.
Jahan Dotson made a huge play to finish his second touchdown, which was the game-winner. The best news for fans has to be the team’s third-down performance in Week 1 on both sides of the ball. The Commanders converted on 70% of their third downs and held Jacksonville to just 25%. Both statistics plagued the team a season ago.
23) Carolina Panthers
It wasn’t easy to distinguish between the Panthers’ and Browns’ offenses in Week 1 against one another, which is why they find their tags touching in the NFL Power Rankings. Both offenses faced talented defense. Despite the final score, both offenses looked inept throughout the contest.
Baker Mayfield was only sacked four times, but he was under siege for most of the game, and he was inconsistent as a result. The Panthers also couldn’t find any balance. Carolina only managed 2.8 yards per carry against the Browns’ defensive front.
22) Cleveland Browns
Jacoby Brissett must play better. The Browns’ passing attack didn’t have many open windows against the Carolina defensive backfield, but even when they did, Brissett looked off more often than not.
That’s especially disappointing because the rushing attack was as good as advertised. Nick Chubb ran 22 times for 141 yards on the day and looked just as explosive and elusive as ever. Stopping the run was something we thought could be an issue given the team’s lack of talent on the defensive interior, but the early returns there are strong.
21) New England Patriots
Bill Belichick is the greatest head coach in NFL history. It’s not easy to bury his team, but this Patriots roster and coaching staff could finally be too much for “The Hoodie” to overcome. Jakobi Meyers and Jonnu Smith helped Mac Jones out today. Still, the rest of the offensive weapons failed to impress against a Dolphins secondary that lacked Byron Jones and fielded multiple banged-up defensive backs.
Then, there was the defense. Kyle Dugger is the definition of a playmaker. Adrian Phillips and veteran Devin McCourty make for an awesome duo. But they can’t play the two outside cornerback spots. And nobody could match up with Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle today.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 4 | Wait and see
The Pittsburgh Steelers tried everything they could to lose to Cincinnati. However, they came out on top in the end, thanks to some outstanding play on the defensive side of the ball and an outrageous individual effort from Minkah Fitzpatrick. They started underneath many of these teams, but we couldn’t ignore their Week 1 win.
20) Seattle Seahawks
The Monday Night Football game was a bit slow. The Seahawks only ran 49 offensive plays, averaging 5.2 yards per play over. Geno Smith was incredibly efficient, completing over 80% of his attempts, but the offense lacked the explosive downfield element we got used to seeing with Russell Wilson and the duo of D.k. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
If you haven’t been paying attention until Monday Night, hopefully, you saw that this isn’t the Legion of Boom defense, in talent or deployment. Seattle ran a lot of two-high safety looks a season ago, and that continued against their former QB on Monday Night.
The ceiling for this team is probably still pretty low, but the team is more talented than many gave him credit for before the season.
19) Tennessee Titans
You can’t lose to an inept Giants team that throws you a gimmie interception in the end zone and keep your status. The Titans probably aren’t the 20th-best team in the league. They’re almost undoubtedly much higher, but they were awful in Week 1 against a bad football team.
Football is weird. The ball bounces in weird directions. Tennessee dominated most of this matchup. However, they let Saquon Barkley pull a Derrick Henry on their defense. After rushing for 42 yards on seven carries in the first half, Barkley put up 122 yards on 11 carries in the second.
18) Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts ran 90 offensive plays, tallied over 500 yards of offense, and could only manage 20 points. And one of their two touchdown drives was from 20 yards out as they received the ball off a Texans fumble. They finished 2/5 in the red zone and 1/3 in goal-to-go situations.
In a division that saw Tennessee lose to the New York Giants, the Colts had an opportunity to go one game up on their perceived divisional competition and notch a divisional win – they squandered both opportunities. Frank Reich and Marcus Brady must find ways to help the Colts finish drives.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
It was finally going to be the first time the Pittsburgh Steelers stumbled to a losing record in Mike Tomlin’s illustrious 16-year head coaching career. But Pittsburgh went out and turned over Joe Burrow more times than some people can count on one hand.
And all that happened before the game got really weird. The NFL is better when the games are chaotic, like college football. And the end of this game felt like a wacky college game.
The offensive line struggled, and Mitchell Trubisky was as underwhelming as expected. Yet, the defense caused problems for Cincinnati all game long, which will keep Pittsburgh in games this season if they can continue on that trajectory. Unfortunately, they may have lost T.J. Watt for an extended period with a potentially serious pec injury.
16) Arizona Cardinals
After starting strong in 2021, Arizona couldn’t manage that in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022. A defense that finished sixth in defensive EPA a season ago didn’t feel like a borderline top-five unit, even at the time. The Andy Reid-led Chiefs offense exploited that to begin the season.
Underwhelming would be an understatement. The Chiefs ran 66 offensive plays. They converted 33 first downs. When you average a first down on every other play, you’re probably going to score a lot of points.
It’s difficult to get a feel for the Cardinals’ offense based on Week 1, as the game didn’t have a normal flow. They got behind early and had to play from behind the whole way. Things won’t get much easier next week as they face the Raiders in Las Vegas.
15) New Orleans Saints
Hiring Dennis Allen as head coach might have been a bad move, even if it was the only move they could make. The Saints have been as consistent a defense as any in his tenure as defensive coordinator. But as a head coach, he cannot have his eyes and ears inside the defensive meeting rooms the same way he once did.
Maybe their defense just had an off week. Maybe it was difficult to game plan against Marcus Mariota’s legs. But if the Saints want to reach their potential, this defense has to come together and be better.
Meanwhile, the Saints offense looked a bit more like the Saints offense of old, throwing the ball 34 times to only 19 rushes. We also got to see a little bit of the gunslinging Jameis Winston, who narrowly missed out on a few turnovers in his first game. But having weapons like Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry is a huge plus from a season ago.
14) Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos outplayed the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, but they came away from the 12th Man with a loss in the end. In the end, the game came down to two teams who largely played well against one another until things really mattered in the red zone.
Denver went 0-4 in the red zone on Monday night. They even had a strong outing on third down but couldn’t finish when it mattered. Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offense moved the ball well through the air and on the ground, but Seattle’s defense stymied them on the goal line three separate times.
The Broncos also need to clean up their penalty problems and some of their situational coaching. Opting for the 64-yard field goal was questionable at best.
13) Las Vegas Raiders
There weren’t many truly dominating performances in Week 1, and the Raiders game against the Chargers is included in that grouping. Derek Carr won’t throw three interceptions every week, and the Raiders won’t play against Justin Herbert every week (although they will play him again, and a combination of Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson four times.)
The Chargers looked dominant for a while but then started “chargering,” as they do. The game ended up close at the very end, with the Raiders ready to pounce at almost every opportunity through the air, only to come up short in the end.
It’s too early to get a feel for how this defense will respond to the schematic changes from Gus Bradley to Patrick Graham. Things got ugly for them early, but they settled in during the second half.
12) Miami Dolphins
Miami was one of the few teams with a truly impressive performance in Week 1. They got up on their division rivals early and only let off the gas a bit after halftime when the offense slowed down. They’ll need to finish their red-zone opportunities moving forward, but Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have proven their big-play ability.
But it was the Dolphins’ banged-up secondary that really shined during the game. Aside from Jakobi Meyers, the New England receivers struggled against the Miami cornerbacks. Davante Parker couldn’t find any separation, and the Patriots offense continually tried attacking Xavien Howard early in the game to no avail.
Miami’s defense will face a very different test against the Baltimore Ravens a week from now.
11) San Francisco 49ers
While it is tough to make any definite statements about the 49ers’ offense and Trey Lance after playing in a monsoon with what seemed to be inches of water pooled up on the field, Lance’s inexperience showed on an interception he threw to Eddie Jackson. Veteran QBs will keep a safety in the middle of the field when they know they’re going to throw an in-breaking route to a side. Instead, he took his drop and stared down the target, and Jackson undercut the route.
But all the missed throws can’t really be judged because the weather was truly abhorrent in Chicago. Elijah Mitchell’s injury is concerning, given San Francisco’s inability to keep running backs healthy in recent history. They’ll face the Seattle Seahawks next week at home to try avoiding an 0-2 start to the season.
10) Philadelphia Eagles
It wasn’t always pretty against the Lions in Week 1, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but the Eagles got the job done in the end. Additionally, their rushing attack looked as strong as ever. Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts each had 90 rushing yards and averaged over five yards per carry.
Philadelphia’s passing attack is still a work in progress, but adding A.J. Brown to the receiving corps is already paying dividends. He caught 10 passes for 155 yards in his Eagles debut. They allowed 35 points, but they just added Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and this defense will evolve as he picks up more of their playbook.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 3 | The good rosters that laid eggs
The three teams in this category were all highly rated before the season. However, each team played very poorly in Week 1 and dropped accordingly.
9) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams ran into an absolute buzzsaw on Thursday Night Football to open the season. They will not lose by 21 often, they just happened to play the best team in the NFL, and they happened to play well. The Rams aren’t dead in the water by any means, but there is reason to be concerned about the team.
The offensive line took a massive hit losing Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett. That showed in both pass protection (seven sacks) and the run game (2.9 yards per carry). The Bills’ defensive front is like a Special Forces unit, so it won’t always be so difficult, but Sean McVay must find a way to protect his quarterback.
8) Green Bay Packers
The Packers were horrific on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers was uncharacteristically flustered by the lack of Davante Adams, but more because he was missing his two best offensive linemen. He made a few uncharacteristic mistakes and did not get much help from an underwhelming receiving corps without Allen Lazard. Christian Watson dropped a downfield dime that was probably going to be a touchdown, too.
The Packers defense struggled to keep track of Justin Jefferson, which seems like it shouldn’t be possible, and Minnesota had much more success on the ground than we expected. Minnesota will face another test in Philadelphia next week. That should give us more insight on which of those two teams, if not both, are the real deal.
7) Cincinnati Bengals
Much like the Packers, the Bengals feel like a good football team that simply laid a Week 1 egg. Joe Burrow probably won’t throw four interceptions in a single game again for the rest of his career. The team also probably won’t have to worry about not having a long snapper most weeks. But even if they’d won, they’d still have dropped in the NFL Power Rankings after a sloppy opener.
The defense had a strong showing, but the Steelers’ offensive depth chart isn’t necessarily a juggernaut. Weird things happen in football. Any time 11 people are trying to accomplish a task, things can go wrong quickly on a given play, day, or week. But with a talented Cowboys defense on the docket next week, things won’t get much easier for the Bengals offense.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 2 | Good teams who looked impressive
The teams in Tier 2 either took care of business against bad teams or won against another good roster.
6) Minnesota Vikings
If the Minnesota Vikings offensive line can move opposing defensive fronts with any sort of consistency in the run game, this could be a very dangerous team. Justin Jefferson is unfair, and Adam Thielen is showing he can still be a solid No.2 receiver in the league. C.J. Ham made his presence felt today, paving the way for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison at fullback.
The defensive front was getting such consistent pressure it’s tough to know if this secondary can hold up long-term, but they had success in Week 1 against the reigning back-to-back MVP. But we saw a strong 49ers front seven a season ago carry a mediocre secondary to the NFC Championship.
5) Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens showed up on the first Sunday of the NFL season and took care of business exactly how they were supposed to. They faced a vastly inferior Jets team and thoroughly dominated them. The Joe Flacco Bowl went as expected, with Flacco often doing his version of running for his life.
The Jets don’t lack firepower. Michael Carter had a strong day rushing the ball, and they have receiving weapons. However, Baltimore’s defensive backfield is very strong. Marcus Williams is in a bit of a new role after leaving New Orleans, and the early returns were outstanding in Week 1.
4) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers dominated their game against the Las Vegas Raiders, but they’re still the Chargers. They ended up trying to give the game away to the Raiders in the end. Losing Keenan Allen didn’t help, but other receivers stepped up in Allen’s absence.
Meanwhile, Justin Herbert continued to play like an alien. He finished the day 26 of 34 for 279 yards and three TDs. He also curiously had four rushing attempts, two of which looked eerily similar to Josh Allen, except without Allen’s unabashed physicality.
The defense had its ups and downs, but we didn’t get a good view of their rushing defense that was so offensive a season ago. The Raiders only ran the ball 13 times in their 56 offensive plays.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay’s defense suffocated the Dallas offense for the entire game. They held Dak Prescott to 14 of 29 passing for just 134 yards and an interception. Antoine Winfield Jr. played down in the slot and in the box quite a bit in Week 1, making his presence felt there. The Buccaneers’ defensive line had a field day with the Cowboys’ offensive line, and the secondary didn’t let the opposing receivers breathe.
Tampa’s passing attack suffered after losing Chris Godwin and Donovan Smith to injuries, but Leonard Fournette had himself a day against the Dallas defense. He averaged six yards per carry on 21 touches. Tampa Bay heads to New Orleans for a divisional matchup against the Saints next week.
NFL Power Rankings: Tier 1 | The Elite dominators
Only two of the elite rosters in the league dominated their opponent in Week 1. Both played team’s that are supposed to compete for playoff spots in the NFC.
2) Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were the most impressive team on Sunday and would have been the most impressive team of the week if the Bills didn’t exist. But they are the recipients of the most impressive stat award. Of their 66 offensive plays, 33 went for a first down.
Their offense put their foot down and didn’t let off the gas until the game was already over. Their lack of pass-rush talent will be something to monitor as they face teams with more serviceable offensive lines.
But Patrick Mahomes appears to be on a war path. He was incredibly sharp against the Cardinals, and offensive architects Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy were on fire against Arizona.
1) Buffalo Bills
It’s easy to get hyperbolic about the Bills. They’re not the 1985 Bears defense, but this is probably the best defense we’ve seen in the NFL since the height of the Seattle Seahawks Legion of Boom. Von Miller adds a layer to the Bills’ defense that they didn’t need but went out and got anyway. And he made his presence felt immediately with two sacks against his former team.
Josh Allen started off a bit slow, but the second half was reminiscent of his performance against Kansas City in the Divisional Round a season ago. He’s still evolving as a passer, which is the scariest part of his game. If the Bills can find a consistent rushing option that isn’t Allen (because of the injury concern), this team could be as close to unbeatable as we’ve seen in recent years.