NFL Power Rankings:
1, Rams (1-0): If you like defense, circle that Sept. 27 prime-time matchup between the Rams’ dream-team D and Mike Zimmer’s home-grown D.
2, Eagles (1-0): It wasn’t pretty, but they were the only returning playoff team to beat another returning playoff team (Atlanta).
3, Patriots (1-0): Much steadier start than last season, so no one is calling for Brady to be traded or Belichick to be fired. Stay tuned, though.
4, Vikings (1-0): Much room to grow, but a solid team win, including a quiet, calm-the-waters effort on special teams.
5, Jaguars (1-0): Nice road win, giving up 15 points to a Giants team with plenty of pop back in its offense.
Week 1: What happened?
Once upon a time, the NFL preseason was used to get the good players ready for the regular season. That was replaced by paranoia about revealing too much schematically, followed by overwhelming fear of good players being unnecessarily injured.
The solution is to do away with the traditional preseason, or knock it down to two games, cut ticket prices in half and bill it as a “futures” game — a la the NBA or MLB all-star games – so coaches can get a useful look at the young, eager scrubs they’ll eventually need to sign once the good players start falling to injuries.
When you stop laughing at the thought of the NFL giving up four weeks of full-price ticketing, I’ll continue …
The current NFL preseason creates a Week 1 situation in which no one – fans, coaches, players, and strangest of all, Vegas – really knows what’s going to happen with 32 newly-assembled rosters.
Case in point: The Saints and Drew Brees are favored by 9 ½ points at home against the Bucs and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Naturally, Fitzpatrick wins the 48-40 shootout, eh?
This makes the Vikings’ 24-16 victory over the 49ers more palatable. Yes, there were flaws. The offensive line needs to be better, particularly in the run game so that it doesn’t take four takeaways – including one at the Vikings’ goal line – to squeeze out a one-score win against an inferior opponent. The defense needs to tighten things up and not let fullbacks and tight ends run down the field with no one but their own shadow accompanying them. And the QB, Kirk Cousins, might have to complete a fourth-quarter pass at some point.
But the Vikings were one of seven returning playoff teams to open 1-0. So that makes them a top five team in this spot.
The other returning playoff teams to start 1-0: Eagles, Patriots, Rams, Jaguars, Chiefs and Panthers.
Meanwhile, two were humiliated in defeat: Saints and Bills.
One tied the Browns: Pittsburgh.
One lost a seven-hour, two-weather delay, 34-point fourth-quarter shootout in Miami: Tennessee.
And one lost on the road to the reigning Super Bowl champs: Atlanta.