As it does every year, Week 1 has the habit of making us all out to be fools.
You, dear reader, have the option of sweeping your failed predictions and doomed hot takes under the rug, never to be spoken of again. You delete the tweets, scrub the text chains, tell your friends they simply misheard you when you said the Jaguars would make Patrick Mahomes look like Tyler Thigpen. You escape … unscathed.
Me? I have these damn Power Rankings, which serve as a living, breathing testament to my eternal naivety. This is my burden. This is my fate. Still I forge on.
Let’s get to it.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 1
Sometimes football just seems too easy for this team. The Patriots shocked the world (actually, was anybody really shocked?) by agreeing to terms with Antonio Brown on Saturday. Then they turned around and delivered a clinical beatdown of the Steelers on Sunday night. Tom Brady spread the ball all over the field to seven different receivers, and the offensive line allowed the 42-year-old quarterback to be sacked only once all night. The offense was impressive, but it’s the defense that makes you think the Steelers are just the first of many teams bound to be on the wrong end of lopsided final scores involving the Patriots in 2019. The Pats have playmakers at every level of their D; the secondary wouldn’t even allow Ben Roethlisberger to pile up some decent garbage-time production in the second half. The Pats don’t care that you don’t like them. And they certainly don’t care about your fantasy team.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 2
A very nice start for the Rams, who picked up a road win against a tough Panthers team on an afternoon where quarterback Jared Goff was not overly sharp, their special teams were uncharacteristically sloppy and defensive tackle Aaron Donald had perhaps the quietest day of his career. Their heroes came elsewhere. Rams linebacker Cory Littleton stuffed the stat sheet with 14 tackles, an interception and forced fumble, which he recovered. (The fumble came on one of those plays where the defender straight up punches the pigskin out of the ball-carrier’s hands, always an underrated feat of savagery on the field.) Todd Gurley was part of a committee attack in the backfield, but still rushed for nearly 100 yards on 14 carries and iced the game with a pair of rushes coming out of the two-minute warning. This was a win that showed off Los Angeles’ enviable depth. The Rams have a lot of people who can beat you.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 4
Here’s the scary thing about the Chiefs: They went to Jacksonville and dropped a 40-burger on the Jaguars … and it still felt like they left points on the field. Patrick Mahomes looks like the MVP, LeSean McCoy looks like the Shady of old rather than old Shady, and Sammy Watkins looks to, at long last, be on the precipice of his breakthrough season. Watkins torched the Jags to the tune of nine catches for 198 yards and three TDs, and he’ll continue to see plenty of looks with Tyreek Hill on the shelf indefinitely with a shoulder injury. The Hill news is obviously the biggest negative to come out of the opener for Kansas City, but the team’s talent is so overwhelming that you don’t imagine the Chiefs will skip a beat. Jon Gruden thought he had a headache in Antonio Brown — now he has to plan for the Chiefs in Week 2. Knock on wood if you’re terrified.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 3
Wil Lutz for president. The kicker drilled a 58-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints past the Texans in the best game of Week 1. Lutz’s heroics came after Deshaun Watson put the Texans ahead and stunned the Superdome into silence with a two-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown strike to former Saint Kenny Stills. Given just 37 seconds and one timeout to work with, Drew Brees still managed to get the Saints into Texans territory, setting up Lutz for the game-winner. It was a rough night for the New Orleans defense, which sacked Watson six times, but gave up too many big plays through the air and surrendered 180 yards on the ground. The Saints never allowed more than 112 yards rushing in a game in 2018. A trip to L.A. to face the Rams next Sunday presents an even bigger challenge for the unit.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 5
I imagine there was a wave of sweet nostalgia washing over Philly fans as they watched DeSean Jackson blow the top off an opposing defense in an Eagles uniform again. Now 32, DJax is a decade removed from his NFL debut with the Eagles under Andy Reid, but he looked like pretty much exactly the same guy against the Redskins on Sunday. Carson Wentz greatly benefits from Jackson’s playmaking presence, and the wideout adds a dimension to the offense that already has proven playmakers in Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. Speaking of sweet Iggles nostalgia, Wentz looked a lot like the guy who tore the NFL apart in 2017 once Philly’s offense shook off the rust in the second half. Wentz is a legit MVP candidate and the Eagles are primed for a fierce battle with the Cowboys for the NFC East crown.
DALLAS COWBOYS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 7
All is right in Jerrah World. The Cowboys opened their season as they should: Beating up on a talent-deficient Giants team at home. Ezekiel Elliott looks a step slow (to be expected as he rounds into shape after a lengthy holdout), but the Cowboys didn’t need their star running back the way Dak Prescott was playing on Sunday. The fourth-year quarterback was as locked in as we’ve ever seen him, carving up the Giants for four touchdowns with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. People snickered when reports surfaced last month that Prescott wanted $40 million per year on his new contract. If Jerry Jones doesn’t get a deal done soon and Prescott keeps playing at this level, the QB will be asking for more. Meanwhile, Prescott’s receiving options go well beyond Amari Cooper: Michael Gallup looks like an emerging star, while Randall Cobb skipped through the Giants’ D like the Cobb of four years ago. Even Jason Witten, in his first game since the 2017 season, had a touchdown. Like I said, all is right in Jerrah World.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 12
Pretty much a perfect start to the season for the Vikings. Suffocating defense, a punishing ground game, and Kirk Cousins asked to be a facilitator rather than hero. Cousins threw just 10 passes against the Falcons, as Minnesota coasted to the finish line after building up a 28-0 lead in the third quarter. The hype around Dalvin Cook this offseason was absolutely warranted: The third-year running back piled up 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, looking very much like the missing piece for Minnesota’s offense. Backup Alexander Mattison also ran with purpose for a Vikings team that finished with 172 yards on the ground. Safety Anthony Harris starred on D with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. This is a well-balanced team that is going to make noise if it can stay healthy.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 9
That was not the resounding victory people expected with the Bengals coming to town for Week 1, but the Seahawks showed once again that having a guy like Russell Wilson behind center tends to make the difference in a close game. Seattle’s offense was kept quiet by a surprisingly stout Cincinnati D — the Seahawks didn’t pick up a first down in the first or third quarters. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was true to form in unfurling a conservative game plan, and you’d love to see more of a downfield attack from Seattle moving forward. How Tyler Lockett finishes with just two targets is beyond me, but the debut of rookie D.K. Metcalf (four catches for 89 yards on six targets; plus, he drew a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone) seemed to back up the summer of hype around the second-round pick.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 11
We knew the Ravens drew a favorable matchup in Week 1, but it wasn’t supposed to be that easy. Baltimore’s drive results by possession in the first half: TD, TD, TD, TD, punt (muffed by Dolphins), TD, TD. That last score came after John Harbaugh called for a fake punt — successfully executed — with the Ravens leading 35-3. Cold-blooded! The biggest storyline, of course, was Lamar Jackson, who become the first QB with five or more touchdown passes in a season opener since Peyton Manning (2013). He didn’t throw his first incompletion of the afternoon until the 3:31 mark of the second quarter. It won’t always be this easy — it may never be this easy again for Jackson — but it remains an incredibly impressive start to a sophomore season that just saw its expectations go through the roof. The schedule stays soft in Week 2 with a home matchup against the Cardinals.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 14
Well, that was … different. The Packers managed just 13 first downs — three fewer than their opponent — and averaged 3.7 yards per play against a suffocating Bears defense … and yet they’ll enter Week 2 at 1-0. You could see the excitement on Aaron Rodgers’ face during his postgame interview with NBC’s Michele Tafoya. Wait, this is what it’s like to not have to do everything by myself? This is way better! It was an unbelievable performance by Green Bay’s defense, and kudos to coordinator Mike Pettine, who just might have the dogs to take over games like the good old days when he was with Rex Ryan and the Jets. Matt LaFleur’s debut as Green Bay’s play-caller left much to be desired, but Packers fans should give the offense a mulligan and see how it looks outside of opening night at Soldier Field against the NFL’s best defense. Well, it was the second-best defense on Thursday.
CHICAGO BEARS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 6
First, the good news: You can safely dismiss any serious concerns that the Bears’ defense will take a substantial step back without Vic Fangio around. Chicago’s D, now led by coordinator Chuck Pagano, swarmed Aaron Rodgers for four quarters in Thursday night’s opener, holding the new-look Matt LaFleur offense to minus-12 yards in the first quarter and just 213 yards total. Take out one Rodgers deep heave to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and a 50/50 ball touchdown reception by Jimmy Graham, and Green Bay did practically nothing. But Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears’ offense was somehow worse. This is going to be a tough week for the third-year quarterback, who will get peppered with criticism that he’s the second coming of Rex Grossman — a.k.a., a middling QB who holds back an otherwise Super Bowl-ready team. This is unfair after one game, but great expectations bring added scrutiny. Remember when the Bears thought kicker was their only concern?
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 10
Melvin Gordon’s cosmically doomed holdout just encountered another setback. Austin Ekeler, who has replaced Gordon in the starting lineup, piled up 154 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Chargers began their season by knocking off the Andrew Luck-less Colts. Ekeler was part of a committee attack with Justin Jackson, who ran for 57 yards on just six carries. Philip Rivers showed no rust after a preseason spent entirely on the sideline, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest concern for the Bolts after Week 1? Their run defense, which was a major issue in their playoff loss to the Patriots in January and a problem again against a Colts team that went over 200 yards on the ground.
TENNESSEE TITANS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 20
Now that is how you send a Week 1 message. The Titans believe they’ve been overlooked as a contender in the AFC. Delanie Walker said as much in his much-publicized " They were who we thought they were" postgame commentary on the Browns, but people are paying attention now after Tennessee laid a 30-point whoopin’ on football’s most-hyped team. Speaking of Walker, the Titans offense looks totally different with its star tight end back in the mix after he missed all but one game last season due to injury. The fourth quarter play fake and touchdown dart from Marcus Mariota to Walker — the first of two Walker TDs — was a thing of beauty. Mariota played a clean and smart game — an underrated decision came late in the fourth quarter when Mariota scrambled out of the pocket and slid at the feet of Myles Garrett rather than take an unnecessary hit. This is a team to watch.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 8
That was a disheartening start to the season. The Steelers were manhandled by the "rival" Patriots, who were playing the game at another level on Sunday night. I expected the Steelers to ball out on offense even without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but it sure felt like they were short a playmaker or two as the Patriots began to pull away in Foxborough. Pittsburgh had four first downs and 87 total yards at the half and was held to three points in a season opener for the first time since 2001. James Conner couldn’t move the chains on the ground and JuJu Smith-Schuster struggled to get open before leaving the game late with a toe injury. It’s clear the Steelers have a lot of work to do in what could be a very important season for Mike Tomlin. They’ll get another stiff challenge when the Seahawks come to town in Week 2.
HOUSTON TEXANS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 13
What a glorious performance by Deshaun Watson against the Saints. Watson’s back-to-back money throws — first a sideline strike to DeAndre Hopkins (still a demigod), then a perfect end zone dart to Kenny Stills a moment before the New Orleans pass rush got home — put the Texans in position for an unlikely comeback win at the Superdome. Wil Lutz’s 58-yard field goal saved the day for the Saints, but it served as a reminder why Houston should still be viewed as the favorite in the AFC South. The Texans have Deshaun Watson and the other teams don’t. A less-glowing dispatch is in order for J.J. Watt, who failed to record at least one tackle or a quarterback hit for the first time in his career. Bad night at the office or consequence of Jadeveon Clowney no longer bringing attention on the other side?
CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 18
The Panthers hung tough against the Rams, but they never quite managed to steal the momentum or, ultimately, the game. Still, there were positives to take out of the loss. Cam Newton didn’t show any ill effects from his latest shoulder surgery, driving the ball downfield with good zip in an imperfect but promising performance. Christian McCaffrey, meanwhile, might have officially taken the crown from Cam as Carolina’s most valuable player. The third-year running back was a menace to the Los Angeles defense, piling up over 200 yards from scrimmage, including 10 receptions and a touchdown. The Panthers get blown out of this game if CMC isn’t at his best. Next week against the Bucs, keep an eye on Newton, who didn’t try to make any plays with his legs against the Rams. Was that an aberration, or a signal of a change in the QB’s playing style?
BUFFALO BILLS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 23
What a comeback by the Bills, who wiped away a 16-point deficit and stole a game in which they lost the turnover battle, 4-1. Credit goes to both an uncharacteristically blitz-heavy pass rush that never allowed Jets quarterback Sam Darnold to find a rhythm and to Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, who shook off two fumbles and two interceptions in the first half to lead Buffalo to 17 unanswered points on three consecutive drives in the second half. Allen’s go-ahead touchdown pass to John Brown with less than four minutes to play was a perfectly placed ball that showed off touch that Allen didn’t always exhibit as a rookie. Allen didn’t do it alone: Rookie running back Devin Singletary looked special, piling up 98 scrimmage yards on just nine touches. The Bills have a core in place to make some noise right now.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 19
The post-Andrew Luck Colts are not going to be a doormat. You got that feeling entering the season, and nothing changed after a hard-fought overtime loss on the road against the Chargers. The Indianapolis defense struggled to keep a very good Los Angeles offense in check, but Indy’s offense showed it can still put points on the board without their now-retired franchise passer. Jacoby Brissett played efficiently, T.Y. Hilton still produced like a star and Marlon Mack set a career high with 174 rushing yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run. One big concern comes at a place where you wouldn’t expect it: Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point and two field-goal tries. Frank Reich put his support behind Vinatieri, but it goes without saying that next week will be an important one for the future Hall of Famer.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 24
The 49ers are back in the turnover business on defense. They had four on Sunday against the Buccaneers, using those big plays to secure a 31-17 win over the Bucs in Tampa. Last season, San Francisco set NFL records for fewest turnovers created (seven) and interceptions (two). They picked off Jameis Winston three times in Week 1, running two of those picks back for touchdowns. If only the Niners could have the error-prone Winston on the schedule every week. Jimmy Garoppolo was OK in his first start since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last October, bouncing back after an early pick-six. His lone touchdown pass came on a pretty 39-yard strike to wide receiver Richie James, but Jimmy G did most of his work short of the sticks. You’d like to see more variety in the offense moving forward, and you suspect that will happen as Garoppolo knocks off the rust post-surgery.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-0)
Previous rank: No. 25
Antonio who? The Raiders looked just fine without their tempestuous would-be star wide receiver. In fact, they looked pretty great. Jon Gruden’s team took it to the Broncos at a raucous Black Hole, bullying Denver on both sides of the ball in a clean and efficient win. Speaking of clean and efficient, Derek Carr was nearly perfect behind center, finishing 22-for-26 while averaging a robust 10 yards per attempt. Tyrell Williams went over 100 yards with a touchdown in his debut as Oakland’s surprise No. 1 receiver, and the Raiders’ offensive line had no problem neutralizing Denver’s supposedly fearsome pass rush. Oakland’s defense also answered the bell, limiting the Broncos’ offense to three field goals and a late touchdown that functioned as lipstick on a pig for a moribund Denver attack. Maybe Jon Gruden still knows what he’s doing after all?
CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 15
Week 1 was an unmitigated disaster for the Browns. All that hype and optimism built up over the spring and summer was a distant memory by the time Cleveland fans were booing their team off the field at the end of the first half of a loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards, the most penalties they’ve had in a game since 1951. Baker Mayfield threw three fourth-quarter interceptions and left the stadium with his right wrist in a wrap after coming up wincing following an end-zone sack by Cameron Wake. (X-rays were negative.) The offensive line wasn’t as bad as advertised — it was worse, made weaker after Greg Robinson was ejected for kicking a Titans player. Hey, at least Odell Beckham got to show off his fancy watch. It’s certainly possible the Browns show up angry and dangerous against the Jets next Monday night, but it’s also possible they are in disarray as the season begins. Sunday was a reality check.
NEW YORK JETS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 22
A crushing opening loss for the Jets, who squandered a 16-0 second-half lead at home and became just the seventh team in 20 seasons to lose a game in which they won the turnover battle, 4-0. (Your fancy databases will insist on counting Quincy Enunwa’s blown lateral at the end of the game as a Jets fumble, but statistical pedantry like that has no home here.) A turning point came in the third quarter, when linebacker C.J. Mosley’s dominant Jets debut was cut short by a groin injury. Mosley left shortly before Buffalo hit a field goal. The Bills’ next two possessions with Mosley on the sideline: TD, TD. 16-0 to 17-16. As the defense wilted, Adam Gase’s offense was unable to answer the call. Sam Darnold repeatedly threw short of the sticks in the face of constant Buffalo pressure, and Kaare Vedvik missed a PAT attempt and field-goal try. The silver lining? Le’Veon Bell looked very much like his old self over 23 touches, showing his patented burst, wiggle and nose for the end zone.
ATLANTA FALCONS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 16
Bury the ball game for the Falcons. Dan Quinn’s team wasn’t sharp on either side of the ball against the Vikings, but it was the offensive line — a unit in which the team invested heavy resources in the offseason — that should present the most concern for the Falcons going forward. Matt Ryan was sacked four times and hit on seven other occasions, and the line created little daylight for running backs Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. Things went from bad to worse after the game, when Atlanta learned rookie guard Chris Lindstrom — one of two O-linemen picked by the Falcons in the first round — suffered a broken foot that will send him to IR. It won’t get any easier when a very tough Eagles team comes to Mercedes-Benz Field next Sunday night. Dan Quinn will begin to take some heat if Atlanta pulls another no-show.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 30
This was a promising start for the Bengals, even in defeat. Cincinnati walked into a hostile environment and went punch for punch with the Seahawks for four quarters. The final score doesn’t reflect it, but it felt like the Bengals were the better team, as contradictory as that might seem. The Bengals’ defense held Seattle to 233 yards of total offense, and Andy Dalton — in his ninth season and first game under new coach Zac Taylor — set a career high with 418 passing yards. Dalton reached that benchmark not with superstar receiver A.J. Green (out with an ankle injury), but instead with third-year pro John Ross, who played like the ace Green counterpart the Bengals expected him to be when they selected him ninth overall in 2017. It makes you wonder if we underestimated how much this offense will improve in the post-Marvin Lewis era. The next step for Taylor’s team is to figure out how to win games like this.
DENVER BRONCOS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 21
There weren’t a lot of positives to take out of Vic Fangio’s debut as Broncos head coach. Joe Flacco and the offense looked stiff and unimaginative, managing just three field goals and a late touchdown against a Raiders defense hardly projected to be one of the league’s best. The Broncos’ defense has been hyped up as a potential game-changing force under Fangio, but we saw nothing of the sort in Oakland. Von Miller and Co. didn’t have a sack, couldn’t produce a QB hit and were unable force a turnover. It was an invisible performance that surely left John Elway scratching his head. Denver is headed for its third straight season of double-digit losses if this is the product that takes the field every week. Looking for positives? Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders have the makings of a solid 1-2 punch at receiver. That’s all I got.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 17
The Jaguars could have played against an entire roster of Pennywise clowns and it wouldn’t have been as nightmarish as what actually transpired on Sunday at the Big Chlorine Tank. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs rolled up nearly 500 yards on Jacksonville’s vaunted defense, and Nick Foles suffered a broken clavicle one quarter into his Jags debut. With Foles headed to injured reserve (whether he returns or not remains to be seen), it’s more than fair to question why the Jaguars didn’t have a better backup plan in place at quarterback. Gardner Minshew played as well as could have hoped in relief — in fact, he was pretty damn great, given the circumstances — but it’s hard to imagine the sixth-round rookie (or the recently acquired Josh Dobbs) keeping Jacksonville in the AFC South race. Sometimes, it’s not too early to panic.
DETROIT LIONS (0-0-1)
Previous rank: No. 26
Yes, a tie is better than a loss … but this was still pretty damn bad. The Lions allowed the Cardinals to score 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, turning a sure win into a deeply unsatisfying push. This was a win the Lions needed, with the Chargers, Eagles, Chiefs and Packers next on deck. The fourth-quarter meltdown was a team effort, as the offense got too conservative and the defense suddenly lost itself. The biggest positive of Week 1? The Lions appear to have hit on their first-round pick. Tight end T.J. Hockenson went off for 6/131/1 in his debut, putting up the most yardage by any tight end in his debut since the NFL-AFL merger. Stafford’s been without a legit playmaker on offense since Calvin Johnson walked away after the 2015 season — Hockenson has the potential to fill that void.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 28
Things started extremely promising for the Redskins on Sunday. Case Keenum was locked in, and Washington built a 17-point cushion against the hated Eagles. But Carson Wentz and Co. woke up, and the Redskins’ defense was unable to stop the bleeding in an eventual 32-27 loss. Washington’s defense is supposed to be the strength of this team, but we saw too many missed tackles and blown coverage assignments during the second half, when the Eagles ripped off 300 yards of total offense and 25 points. The Redskins could not do anything on the ground — Derrius Guice managed just 18 yards on 10 carries, and Monday brought word he’ll miss more time with another knee injury. This should lead to Adrian Peterson rejoining the fray after a surprise scratch in Week 1, though coach Jay Gruden doesn’t seem to have much time in the day for All Day.
NEW YORK GIANTS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 27
Sunday’s game might end up being a snapshot of the Giants’ 2019 season in miniature. Saquon Barkley wins fantasy matchups with monster production. The talent-deficient defense gets carved up by good offenses. Evan Engram produces like an All-Pro tight end. Eli Manning looks perfectly competent on one series and like he’s one step from the retirement home in the next. And, yes, Daniel Jones looms over everything, the kid waiting for his turn to try to put a proud franchise back on track. Jones got a little bit of PT late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys, and the calls for his ascension to the starting lineup will only get louder if the Giants keep losing. Next up for Eli: a tough Week 2 matchup against a fierce Bills defense. Danny Dimes watch is on.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (0-0-1)
Previous rank: No. 31
Through three quarters, the Cardinals’ season opener was shaping up as a worst-case scenario. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray looked lost, and new coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t seem capable of pushing any of the right buttons. But then the Cardinals got hot, reeling off 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Murray flashed his enormous potential during the comeback, connecting on a 27-yard touchdown to David Johnson, another score to Larry Fitzgerald and a 2-point conversion pass to Christian Kirk to force the extra period. The Cardinals and Lions traded field goals in overtime, and that was that. Kiss your sister. I can tell you one person who didn’t sleep well on Sunday: cornerback Tramaine Brock, who should have had an interception late in overtime to set up a game-winning field-goal attempt. Instead, the Matthew Stafford pass clanked off Brock’s hands and fell harmlessly to the turf. Doh.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 29
Bruce Arians took the job in Tampa in part because he believed Jameis Winston could evolve into a star quarterback with the right guidance. After one week, Winston looks like the same inconsistent passer who has held back the Bucs for years. Winston threw three interceptions against the Niners in Sunday’s home opener, two of which were returned for touchdowns in a 31-17 loss. Two pick-sixes, one 14-point loss. Winston needs to be better. If you were lucky enough to watch this game live, you saw a game that included three fumbles, two interceptions, one blocked punt, four touchdowns negated by penalty and 12 total penalties … in the first half. Yes, this was not great football, and it’s clear the Bucs have a lot of work to do, with a Thursday night tilt at the Panthers next week.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-1)
Previous rank: No. 32
Worst Week 1 ever? The Dolphins welcomed the Ravens to their building on Sunday, then watched the visitors reel off six touchdown drives in the first two quarters of an eventual 59-10 loss. When Baltimore running back Mark Ingram skipped into the end zone untouched to make it 41-3 late in the second quarter, there was an audible murmur in the crowd at Hard Rock Stadium. Is this really happening? Are we this bad? Are we the only team that won’t get to experience FitzMagic? It won’t always be this bad, but it’s going to be a long season in Miami. Good on rookie head coach Brian Flores for getting that reported extra guaranteed year on his contract; hopefully Dolphins leadership is smart enough not to judge him on results alone in 2019. Meanwhile, pray for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Defenses will pin their ears back and come after the veteran quarterback, who will be throwing often and playing from behind always. Stay warm, Josh Rosen.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.
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