Each week, national NFL writer Mark Maske will provide his ranking of the league’s 32 teams, and after the first week of games, there’s already some notable movement.
2. Green Bay Packers (1-0) | Last Week: 5
WR James Jones, re-signed after he was released by the Giants, provided a nice boost to the Jordy Nelson-less offense with four catches for 51 yards in the opening win over the Bears. Fellow WR Randall Cobb, playing with an ailing shoulder, had only 38 receiving yards.
3. Arizona Cardinals (1-0) | Last Week: 6
Maybe the Cardinals, not the Seahawks, are the team to beat in the NFC West. QB Carson Palmer made a seamless return to the lineup from last year’s season-ending knee injury by throwing for 307 yards and three TDs in the victory over the Saints.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) | Last Week: 8
The Bengals were efficient in making the Raiders look like last season’s Raiders. Cincinnati has a chance to build an early cushion in the AFC North with Pittsburgh and Baltimore dealing with some issues.
5. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) | Last Week: 2
This time, the Seahawks handed the ball to RB Marshawn Lynch in a key short-yardage situation. And it didn’t work. But there are bigger issues. The Seahawks need to get holdout S Kam Chancellor back into the fold. And if anyone figures out what the deal was with that kickoff in OT, please tell the rest of us.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) | Last Week: 12
Few talk about the Chiefs being a top contender in the AFC. But they’re capable of that, especially if Jeremy Maclin puts up numbers worthy of a No. 1 receiver. He didn’t do that in the opener. But the Chiefs didn’t need it against the Texans.
7. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) | Last Week: 9
RB DeMarco Murray is long gone. WR Dez Bryant is on the shelf with a broken bone in his foot. QB Tony Romo pretty much will have to be the MVP of the league for the Cowboys to remain at the level they attained last season. He worked late-game magic Sunday night against the Giants. Now comes a trip to Philadelphia.
8. Denver Broncos (1-0) | Last Week: 10
QB Peyton Manning certainly had his issues against the Ravens, leaving plenty of room to wonder if he indeed has another season of passing greatness in him. But the Denver defense was superb. It might have to remain that way all season for the Broncos to keep pace with the top contenders.
9. Miami Dolphins (1-0) | Last Week: 13
DT Ndamukong Suh’s debut produced zero sacks, two tackles and two on-field incidents that drew scrutiny but so far no punishment by the league. More is expected of him. The same can be said for the Dolphins as a whole after they allowed the outmanned Redskins to remain in the game into the fourth quarter. But as many in the Dolphins’ locker room said, a win is a win, particularly when it comes on the road.
10. St. Louis Rams (1-0) | Last Week: 20
The win over the Seahawks signals that the Rams just might be for real. But let’s not get carried away just yet. Remember, they beat the Seahawks and Broncos at home last season and still didn’t reach .500. It’s time to see if the Rams can follow up their big victory by going on the road and beating even a far-from-imposing opponent like the Redskins.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) | Last Week: 7
The Steelers moved the ball well on offense at New England in the opener even without RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Martavis Bryant and C Maurkice Pouncey. But they didn’t take advantage of their chances and their defense had no answers for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
12. Buffalo Bills (1-0) | Last Week: 18
The Rex Ryan era in Buffalo is off to a fine start with the impressive opening triumph over the Colts. Now the Patriots are coming to town, meaning that Ryan is likely to be at his verbal-sparring best this week.
13. San Diego Chargers (1-0) | Last Week: 14
It could be a compelling three-way race in the AFC West and the Chargers kept pace with the Chiefs and Broncos. QB Philip Rivers made the big throws when it counted against the Lions. If it was the Chargers’ final opener in San Diego, it was productive.
14. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) | Last Week: 4
Someone tell Frank Gore and Andre Johnson that the season is underway. They were major parts of the group of veteran additions that is supposed to help QB Andrew Luck make this a Super Bowl team. They were practically invisible in Buffalo. There’s still plenty of time for the Colts to work things out. But that was an ugly beginning.
15. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) | Last Week: 3
Losing in Denver was bad enough. Losing LB Terrell Suggs for the season was way too much. That will make things far tougher for pass rusher Elvis Dumervil without Suggs around to help out.
16. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) | Last Week: 22
A 17-point halftime lead disappeared but the Falcons regrouped and managed to hold off the Eagles on Monday night in Atlanta. QB Matt Ryan made a couple poor throws but he managed to get the ball to WR Julio Jones often enough to make things work.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) | Last Week: 11
The Eagles got things going in the second half against the Falcons but made things too difficult on themselves with their first-half struggles. Coach Chip Kelly told reporters during the preseason that he wasn’t worried about K Cody Parkey. But Parkey’s missed FG with about 2-1/2 minutes left and QB Sam Bradford’s tipped-ball interception with a little more than a minute to play kept the Eagles from escaping with a win.
18. New York Jets (1-0) | Last Week: 23
The Jets’ win over the Browns helped the AFC East to a 4-0 beginning in Week 1. Things might not be quite so easy this time around for the Patriots, the winners of six straight and 12 of the last 14 division titles.
19. Carolina Panthers (1-0) | Last Week: 26
The Panthers managed to get by in Jacksonville but there still were ominous signs. No WR reached even 60 receiving yards as the group continues to try to find its way without Kelvin Benjamin.
20. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) | Last Week: 28
The 49ers gave a competent performance Monday night that was surprising, it seemed, to most outside the Bay Area. The offseason was all about who was leaving the team. But Jim Tomsula won his first game as Jim Harbaugh’s head-coaching successor. And a defense that lost Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox kept the Minnesota offense and Adrian Peterson in check all night.
21. Detroit Lions (0-1) | Last Week: 16
Some Lions players seemed almost offended to be asked during the preseason whether they could remain among the league’s top defenses without Ndamukong Suh. Well, save the indignation. That didn’t look like a top defense Sunday in San Diego. It’s a valid question and the Lions will have to prove they can do it.
22. Tennessee Titans (1-0) | Last Week: 31
Prized rookie QB Marcus Mariota was close to perfect in his first NFL start. But what happens next is what really matters. Nobody seems to understand that better than Mariota. He could face Johnny Manziel on Sunday in Cleveland.
23. New York Giants (0-1) | Last Week: 21
The Giants had to go way out of their way not to win on Sunday night at Dallas, from QB Eli Manning telling RB Rashad Jennings in the huddle not to score to calling that third-down pass play from the 1-yard line to Manning throwing the ball away instead of taking a sack to keep the clock running. It’s the kind of squandered chance that you don’t get over easily. But the Giants must move on.
24. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) | Last Week: 15
Adrian Peterson’s return to the NFL was unproductive for him and the Vikings in Monday night’s defeat at San Francisco. An offense featuring Peterson and second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater is supposed to look better than that.
25. Houston Texans (0-1) | Last Week: 17
It didn’t take long for Coach Bill O’Brien to revisit his decision of Brian Hoyer over Ryan Mallett at QB. That’s not a promising early sign about the offense being able to do its part and give J.J. Watt the help he needs to make this a playoff team.
26. New Orleans Saints (0-1) | Last Week: 19
QB Drew Brees threw for 355 yards in Arizona. But the Saints still managed only 19 points and the defense had its troubles with Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ offense.
27. Chicago Bears (0-1) | Last Week: 24
The remaking of QB Jay Cutler by the Bears’ new coach, John Fox, and new offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, is not off to a great start, as he had a passer rating of 67.5 in the opening loss to the Packers.
28. Cleveland Browns (0-1) | Last Week: 27
Few figured it would be Johnny Manziel time at QB in Week 1. But it happened, thanks to the concussion suffered by Josh McCown. Manziel wasn’t good overall but at least showed a bit of promise. He could start this weekend against the Titans and if he were to play well, there would be little reason to go right back to McCown.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) | Last Week: 29
QB Blake Bortles provided signs during the preseason that he was ready to make a big leap forward in his second NFL season. It didn’t happen in the opener.
30. Oakland Raiders (0-1) | Last Week: 25
The supposedly new-look Raiders, unfortunately for them, resembled the same, old Raiders in the opener. At least second-year QB Derek Carr appears not to be seriously hurt.
31. Washington Redskins (0-1) | Last Week: 30
The Redskins deserve some credit for going into a hostile territory like FedEx Field and managing to keep the game against the Dolphins close. But QB Kirk Cousins continues to be plagued by interceptions and now he’ll be without deep-threat WR DeSean Jackson.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) | Last Week: 32
Wasn’t Jameis Winston supposed to be the more NFL-ready QB in comparison to Marcus Mariota? It didn’t look that way in their season-opening duel. That game means little to Winston’s long-term development. But it underscored that he and the team around him have a long, long way to go.