NFL Power Rankings Week 2
One down. Seventeen to go.
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. For me, it was one of the best opening weekends I’ve ever had, going 13-3 on Sunday with an array of big plays, totals and teasers all coming through with relative ease. In fact, if you include Saturday’s college football success, I had one of the best football weekends, +4,300 on Saturday and Sunday combined, in the 50-year history of this company.
Do you know what all that means a month from now?
The same goes for the rest of the Week 1 results on the field. It’s incredibly easy to overreact to the first game of the season, and it happens every year. But I feel pretty confident that you don’t remember how you did in the opening weekend last season or in 2019. Last week was just the first step in a very long journey, so while the wins and losses do have some tangible impact (those wins and losses count for the NFL teams, after all) they really don’t have the seismic impact that they are being treated with having.
One of the most difficult things about handicapping football, relative to other sports, is limited sample size. In baseball you have 162 games. In NBA and NHL, you have 82. In pro football you have 17. That’s it. Consider this: one season for a team in college basketball (roughly 35 games) is the equivalent of two full seasons of NFL football. That means that NFL outcomes can take on outside importance.
Don’t let that happen. It’s important to keep a level head and not get caught up being a prisoner of the moment. A month from now, everything that happened last week will have proper perspective and by that time the bobblehead media and Professional Overreactors will have something new to freak out about.
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Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) – It’s a bad sign for the rest of the NFL when the Bucs can play that poorly – four turnovers and 11 penalties – and still win. The problem with anyone trying to cash in on the Bucs is going to be finding any value. Tampa closed as nearly a 10-point home favorite against Dallas, and now they are laying out two touchdowns to a divisional foe. Tampa Bay is just 7-19 ATS as a home favorite.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) – The Chiefs are 8-2 straight up in their last 10 games overall but a woeful 2-8 against the spread. You simply can’t make any money consistently betting on this team. But I wouldn’t be in a hurry to rail against Patrick Mahomes, either, so the Chiefs are a “stay away” for me. Kansas City manhandled the Ravens in Baltimore last September, winning 34-20, and this week they will try to take out the Ravens for the fourth straight season.
3. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – A slightly below average offensive line is still the Achilles heel of this team. Buffalo still can’t run the ball, and its line got tossed around by Pittsburgh’s front seven. This team is still fine in the short term, though they may be a bit overrated. One touchdown in four red zone attempts won’t cut it. I attribute that more to the Steelers defense than any fundamental issues with Buffalo’s offense. The Bills are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games and 4-1 ATS on the road.
4. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – It will be interesting to see if the Browns bounce back quickly from their disheartening loss in Kansas City last week. The Browns should be able to bury an overmatched Houston squad this week. But only if they come to play, because this Texans squad isn’t a total pushover. The Browns are 17-42 ATS after a loss and 10-26 ATS against teams that are above .500.
5. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – The Seahawks were one of the teams hurt the most last year by not having fans in the stands. It is easy to forget just how big of a home field advantage this team enjoys, and it should be on display this weekend. The Seahawks are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home openers, and they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games overall.
6. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – The 49ers decided against flying back home prior to their game in Philadelphia this Sunday. Instead, they are holing up in West Virginia to stay in the Eastern Time Zone. They did the same thing last week in between games against the Jets and Giants in New Jersey, and the 49ers dominated both games. San Francisco is 7-1 ATS in the second of back-to-back road games if the opponent is not a divisional foe and 9-3 ATS in the second of back-to-back road games overall.
7. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – It was an easy ‘under’ call on the Saints in Week 1, and this team is going to play a vastly different style of football this season. The Saints are on a 9-1 ATS regular season run, and they are 8-1 SU in their last nine games against Carolina. New Orleans is just 2-9 ATS in their last 11 road openers, but they are 38-16 ATS in their last 54 road games overall.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) – I just kept waiting for the Chargers to blow it. After going 4-16 SU in games decided by a touchdown or less the last two weeks, I couldn’t help the nagging feeling that they were going to do something – turnover, missed field goal, absurd penalty – to hand the game to Washington. But Justin Herbert was sensational, and Brandon Staley already has the confidence of his guys. This team might be turning a corner.
9. Baltimore Ravens (0-0) – There is no way in hell that I am breaking the bank for Lamar Jackson. It has nothing to do with his fumbles or Baltimore’s Week 1 loss; I’m not going to crush them for losing in OT on the road in that environment. It has to do with the fact that Jackson is still an awful passer. He’s the neo-Vick. And once Jackson loses a step, he is going to be worthless.
10. Arizona Cardinals (1-0) – It was finally nice to see some different alignments and some relative creativity out of the Cardinals offense. Yes, Kyler Murray made plays. But they showed perfect balance, they spread the ball around, and they looked more unpredictable than at any point last year. The Cardinals are just 7-19 ATS as a home favorite and just 4-9 ATS overall when laying points, so be careful about jumping on the bandwagon too quickly.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) – “We’re not in this for style points. We’re in it to win it.” That’s Mike Tomlin in a nutshell, and that’s why I love that guy. The Steelers have a big situational edge this week. They catch the Raiders on a short week, off an emotional win, with Las Vegas having to come east and play in the Eastern Time Zone. Look for the Steelers to attack early.
12. Los Angeles Rams (1-0) – Meh. I’m still not as impressed with this team as everyone else. The Bears actually outplayed them in the first half of that game. And until a couple 75-yard drives late in the game, Chicago had actually outgained Los Angeles. The Rams are 4-1 ATS as a favorite and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games in September.
13. Tennessee Titans (0-1) – There is no doubt that Tennessee’s disjointed preseason played a role in their uneven effort in Week 1. I expect them to regroup quickly, especially on offense, and look for them to get back to basics and force feed the ball to Derrick Henry this week. The Titans are 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a double-digit loss.
14. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – It wasn’t that the Packers lost. It was the complete lack of urgency or cohesion that Green Bay showed while losing. That was bizarre. I would be extremely worried about them this week. They are facing a Lions team that is ready for a rock fight, and the Packers don’t look like they want to fight at all. I do think that playing on MNF works in Green Bay’s favor, though, because the primetime lights should bring out more of an effort.
15. Denver Broncos (1-0) – That was a clinical effort from Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos. Losing Jerry Jeudy to a high ankle sprain hurts because Courtland Sutton is nowhere near 100 percent. Look for Tim Patrick to pick up the slack this weekend. Denver is just 6-14 ATS as a favorite and just 1-4 ATS in their last five games after a win.
16. New England Patriots (0-1) – You have to feel bad for Damien Harris. He cost the team a chance at the win by fumbling inside Miami’s 15 in the final minutes. But prior to that, Harris had been a hero for this team, rushing 23 times for 100 yards and carrying the load to keep the pressure off Mac Jones. The Patriots have to figure out a way to push the ball down the field in the passing game; their dink and dunk approach is only going to work for so long.
17. Miami Dolphins (1-0) – These guys are tough. The Dolphins really don’t have a weakness at any position group, and they play things pretty tight to the vest. They aren’t going to beat themselves. The last time Miami faced the Bills, they got curb-stomped, 56-26. Something tells me this Dolphins team remembers and is going to want some revenge. Miami is 6-0 ATS at home and 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games as an underdog.
18. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) – It was encouraging that when Carson Wentz had time to operate, he was sharp. Wentz was accurate and decisive without being careless with the ball. The Colts got away from the running game too quickly. I don’t expect them to make that mistake again this week. Indianapolis is 0-6 ATS as a home underdog but is 10-1 ATS after a double-digit home loss.
19. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) – Bad karma. That’s all I could feel from this group. This team does not look like it is on the same page at all. Defensively, I couldn’t tell if the Bengals were that good or if Minnesota is still that soft. The Vikings are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games and 0-4 ATS on the road. They are 38-17 ATS after a loss, however.
20. Dallas Cowboys (0-1) – Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore saw weakness and attacked it on Thursday. As soon as Tampa Bay corner Sean Murphy-Bunting went out with an injury, Moore spent the final three quarters repeatedly throwing at his replacement, Jamel Dean. Moore must’ve targeted Dean at least 15 times, drawing penalties and making easy completions. We’ll see how Moore adjusts this week against the Chargers without an easy mark to pick on.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – It is easy to forget how solid this team is in the trenches when they are healthy. Philadelphia has three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line and two on the defensive line, and they can dominate people at the point of attack. Jalen Hurts looked comfortable and in control of that offense last week, and this team is going to be a handful.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (1-0) – God help the Raiders offense if anything happens to Darren Waller. Also, Kenyan Drake was healthier, fresher and more effective than Josh Jacobs on Monday. I have no idea why Jon Gruden kept forcing Jacobs into action when it was obvious that he was less than 100 percent. The Raiders are 7-17 ATS after a win, but they are 4-0 ATS in their last four games against the Steelers.
23. Chicago Bears (0-1) – I know every bobblehead media member wants Justin Fields ASAP. The Bears are smart not going to Fields because there is absolutely no way that I would start a rookie quarterback behind that offensive line. Chicago actually moved the ball well against the Rams. They got into Los Angeles territory on seven of their eight drives, with turnovers and fourth down flops costing them all kinds of points.
24. Washington Football Team (0-1) – Good riddance to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Look, I like the guy as much as anyone. He’s a character. But he is a trash NFL quarterback, and Washington is better off giving Taylor Heinicke a go. The ‘under’ is 7-2 in the last nine meetings with the Giants, and the last three meetings between these two have been decided by three points or less or in OT.
25. Carolina Panthers (1-0) – I gave Matt Rhule the benefit of the doubt last year because being a rookie head coach with an overmatched team during the COVID was unworkable. I have to say I wasn’t very impressed with his decision-making and game management against New York. That game should’ve been a three-touchdown blowout if not for some extremely questionable decisions.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) – The Bengals won that game against Minnesota because their defensive line routinely won one-on-one matchups with the Vikings line. The Bengals D-line will get another chance to feast on a weak offensive line this week in Chicago, so we will see if they can repeat that solid performance on the road. The Bengals are now an outstanding 37-17 ATS in their last 54 games in September.
27. Houston Texans (1-0) – I bet I was the only handicapper in the country that was all over Houston last week. They were my No. 3 NFL bet (after Carolina and Denver, both winners), and I loved watching the Texans pound Jacksonville. Much like Detroit and the Giants, these guys aren’t very good. But they are going to fight like hell each Sunday and will be a pretty active underdog.
28. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) – Penalties. Penalties absolutely crushed the Falcons in their 32-6 loss to Philadelphia. That game wasn’t nearly the blowout that the final score suggests. But 12 penalties, several in absolutely crucial situations or wiping out big plays, sunk this team. Atlanta is 14-3 ATS in Week 2, and the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings with Tampa Bay.
29. New York Giants (0-1) – Daniel Jones is trash. Yes, the offensive line is the worst in football. But that doesn’t excuse Jones. He misses way too many easy throws, and he is still a turnover machine, with his latest fumble the key play in New York’s blowout loss in Week 1. New York is 4-1 ATS in its last five against the Redskins. They are 19-7 ATS on the road and 20-6 ATS as a road underdog.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – The Jaguars have now lost 16 straight regular season games. They have a slight edge this week, though, as they catch a Denver team that will be playing its second straight road game in the Eastern Time Zone. The heat and humidity should also work in Jacksonville’s favor, and they are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in September.
31. Detroit Lions (0-1) – This defense cannot stop anyone. I mean anyone. They weren’t even close to stopping the 49ers, and this defense will routinely allow 30+ points. They are going to fight and claw each week, though, and opponents better be ready to stop the run, because the Lions are going to try to force it down people’s throats 40-50 times per game.
32. New York Jets (0-1) – The Jets don’t have many good players on the roster, and the ones they have are dropping like flies. Left tackle Mekhi Becton and safety LaMarcus Joyner were both injured on Sunday, and neither is likely to play in Week 2 against the Patriots. New York is actually 6-2 ATS at home against the Patriots, and the home team is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 in the last 13 meetings in this series.
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