By David Helman
FOX Sports Dallas Cowboys Writer
Let’s get angry.
The first 16 games are in the books, and we can finally start evaluating this 2022 season. What else is there to do jump to conclusions about who’s good and who’s bad based off one game?
There’s no one way to do power rankings, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to base the ranking as much off Week 1 as possible, without worrying too much about preseason expectations.
Let’s get to it:
The Bills entered the season as the Super Bowl favorite, and they delivered on that hype by boat-racing the defending champs in their own stadium on Banner Night. You can’t open a season stronger than that.
Bills expose Matthew Stafford’s Rams in 31-10 Week 1 win
The Buffalo Bills spoiled the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl banner reveal party with a dominating 31-10 win, something many fans did not expect. Josh Allen dominated despite throwing two interceptions, finishing with 353 total yards and four touchdowns.
Not to be outdone by the Bills, the Chiefs beat down a 2021 playoff team in a 44-21 drubbing of Arizona. Patrick Mahomes looks like he’s going to be just fine without Tyreek Hill, judging by his five touchdown passes against the Cardinals.
This is flawed logic, but it’s hard to ignore the opposition when you’re evaluating Week 1. We won’t truly know what any of these teams are for several more weeks, but we do know that Justin Herbert and the Chargers faced off against one of last year’s playoff teams — a team that added Davante Adams in the offseason — and came out on top. We’ll see how well it ages, but it’s a nice-looking win here in mid-September.
Not the prettiest effort from Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense, but it doesn’t matter when your defense so thoroughly dominates a game. The Cowboys didn’t exactly look like a juggernaut, but it’s still impressive that Todd Bowles and his Buccaneers defense were able to hold them without a touchdown.
At this exact moment in time, we don’t know how good the 2022 Packers are. But we do know the Vikings absolutely dominated the reigning NFL MVP in one of the most impressive wins of the week. Justin Jefferson looks like he’s ready to take over the league.
Justin Jefferson goes for 184 receiving yards, two TDs in the Vikings’ victory against the Packers
Justin Jefferson couldn’t be stopped against the Packers, as he went for 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns to help the Minnesota Vikings grab a 23-7 victory.
It was a bit of a ho-hum day at the office for Baltimore, and they still managed to get a 15-point road win. It’d be a huge development for Lamar Jackson if young receivers Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay can build off Sunday’s hot start.
Beating Detroit isn’t going to raise a ton of eyebrows, but the Eagles were in control for the vast majority of Sunday’s win. More importantly, Jalen Hurts got out to a solid start.
I’m willing to give the defending champs the benefit of the doubt, given the amount of talent returning from last year. But man, everyone on that offense not named Cooper Kupp has some work to do.
Nothing about Mike McDaniel’s debut was particularly noteworthy, but the Dolphins were in control throughout against a divisional rival, and Tua Tagovailoa looked decent enough.
It’s way too early to press the panic button on the Packers — we’ve learned that lesson by now. Still, it’s fair to say that this offense was banged up and ineffective in Minnesota, and it’s going to take quick development from some young players if that’s going to change.
Not the prettiest effort, especially on offense. But you don’t apologize for a road win against the defending AFC champions. If the Steelers’ defense can continue to get takeaways the way it did against Joe Burrow, it can keep their offense in a lot of games.
We’re not big on penalizing teams for tough losses. The Raiders opened their season by going on the road to face one of the league’s most talented rosters. They played it close, getting the ball close to midfield with a chance to win the game before Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack did their thing. There’s no shame in that.
The Bengals have to feel like they aged five years in one afternoon. Props to Joe Burrow and Co. for clawing back out of a 17-3 deficit, but five turnovers ain’t going to get it done. It’d probably be smart to clean up those special teams issues, too.
Credit to the Saints for rallying from a 16-point deficit in just 12:41 of game time to give Dennis Allen a debut win. But that doesn’t completely absolve them of how lifeless they looked through three quarters.
15. Cleveland Browns
It took just one week for Carson Wentz to give his new fanbase the full spectrum of Carson Wentz Moments. He threw jaw-dropping touchdowns as well as mind-numbing interceptions, though he did ultimately rally Washington for a win against Jacksonville. Buckle up for a wild ride, Commanders fans.
Carson Wentz throws four touchdowns, leads Commanders to 28-22 victory in Washington debut
Carson Wentz had himself a debut for the Washington Commanders, throwing for 313 yards and four TD in the 28-22 victory.
17. Chicago Bears
It’s hard to know what to make of a game that took place in two feet of standing water, but the Bears were projected to lose by a touchdown and came away with a two-possession win. It definitely wasn’t pretty, and an undermanned offense has a ton of work to do. But in Week 1, just take the win and keep pushing.
By any logical metric, the 49ers look like a better team than the Chicago Bears — but they didn’t prove it at Soldier Field on Sunday. As time goes on, we’ll have way more data to accurately slot teams in the power rankings. But going off one game, we’re not going to rank them above a team that just beat them by nine points.
19. New York Giants
The New York Giants looked … fun? Time will tell how good they are, but Saquon Barkley looked like his old self and new head coach Brian Daboll got gutsy with the late decision to go for two and the win. It’s been a long time since the Giants were a fun watch, so this is certainly a step in the right direction.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Give it up for the only 1-0 team in the NFC West – just like we all predicted. In all honesty, Monday night’s win against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos was an ugly fumble-fest, but you should never apologize for an NFL win. Kudos to Geno Smith in particular for a rock-solid start that helped the Seahawks upset their former franchise QB.
This is Frank Reich’s fifth year in Indianapolis. Across that time, he is now 0-4-1 in Week 1. The previous four losses came against teams that finished with losing records, and Houston is widely expected to be one of this year’s worst teams. Tying the Texans isn’t a season ender, but the consistent early struggles are a head scratcher.
22. Tennessee Titans
Most people thought the Titans might take a step back in a crowded AFC, but it still stings for last year’s No. 1 seed to catch a home loss to one of the worst franchises over the last five years. It’s hard to imagine Tennessee running the offense it would prefer without better results from the run game.
This was a game that bad teams lose. The Jags committed silly mistakes and had missed opportunities, and Washington made them pay. There were bright spots, though. Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd look like dudes.
24. Detroit Lions
The Lions gave it their all in a scrappy, one-possession loss — which is a narrative that should sound familiar by now. It’s still a fair guess that this Detroit team is going to take its share of lumps, but the Lions continue to give the impression that they’re not going to lie down for anyone.
Burn the tape and try again. The Cardinals got run off their own field, but at least they can take solace in knowing the Chiefs are one of the NFL’s most consistent teams. Week 1 isn’t an indictment of an entire season, but what a disgusting start.
26. Denver Broncos
So many questions. Why did Denver give Russell Wilson all that money, only to settle for a 64-yard field goal? Why did Nathaniel Hackett save all of his timeouts until it was too late? How did the Broncos make four trips to the red zone and come away with just six points? Gross, all the way around.
It never really felt like the Patriots were in this loss to the Dolphins past the midway point of the second quarter. A blah effort from the offense, which needs to hope Mac Jones is healthy for Week 2.
28. Dallas Cowboys
It would be hard to draw up a worse start to a season. The Cowboys were the only team in the league that failed to score a touchdown, and they lost Dak Prescott to a broken thumb for good measure. Even when Prescott was healthy, his offense looked abysmal. Now, Dallas will have to turn things around without him for the foreseeable future.
Who deserves more blame: Dak Prescott or Jerry Jones?
Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor, LeSean McCoy and David Helman decide who is at fault for the Dallas Cowboys’ abysmal loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers eventually got their act together, piecing together three second half scoring drives. But woof, that first half was brutal and helped set the stage for a heartbreaking loss.
30. Houston Texans
Credit the Texans for surprising the league with a hard-fought tie against a team that was heavily favored to beat them. Penalize the Texans for playing so conservatively in overtime, ensuring that we’d all be annoyed by their record for the rest of the year.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Just when you think the Falcons have run out of ways to pull a Falcons, they do it again. Atlanta was en route to one of the most surprising and impressive results of Week 1, and they choked it away in a span of 10 minutes.
32. New York Jets
Rarely do NFL games go exactly according to script, but this was an exception. The Jets didn’t score to cut the deficit to 24-9 until the final minute of regulation.
David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter @davidhelman_.
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