Oliver's NFL rankings: Week 1
This Week | Last Week | Team (Record) 1 | 3 | CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-0): If Cincinnati had been mentioned as the NFL's No. 1 team as recently as two years ago, the thought would have been dismissed with ridicule and disbelief. Times have changed, everybody. The losing days of the 1990s and the early 2000s now are a distant memory in Cincy-town. The Bengals started the season with a solid road win against a good Kansas City team at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the NFL's toughest road venues. These Bengals are for real. 2 | 6 | PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-0): It was an impressive opening-night win for the Steelers without QB Ben Roethlisberger, stretching the NFL's longest winning streak to nine games against a quality Miami team. The Steelers have won 32 of their past 39 games dating back to the start of the 2004 season. Pittsburgh has a tough road game at Jacksonville this week before its Week 3 AFC North showdown at home against Cincinnati. 3 | 10 | JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-0): Is it safe to say that the Jaguars are the new kings of opening day? The Jags have a 9-3 franchise record in their season openers, and not many of their opening wins were more impressive than their 24-17 victory over previous No. 1 Dallas, which hasn't been too bad itself on opening day. The Cowboys' 31-15-1 (.674 winning percentage) record on opening day is second-best in the NFL behind the Jags. 4 | 1 | DALLAS COWBOYS (0-1): The expectation for the Cowboys to sustain the No. 1 position may have been premature, but they put together a solid performance on the road against a solid top 10 team. The Cowboys will have their opportunities to recover, so we don't drop them far after one road loss to a tough Jacksonville team. 5 | 2 | MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-1): The Dolphins were placed high in the preseason rankings based on good faith and potential to be the league's sleeper team this year. Leading the defending Super Bowl champions in the fourth quarter, on the road, showed Miam's promise, but failing to finish off the victory shows the Dolphins' lack of prime-time experience. Miami can bounce back quickly with games against bottom-dwellers Buffalo, Tennessee and Houston the next three weeks. 6 | 8 | SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-0): Is it possible that Seattle is suffering from a Ford Field complex? The Seahawks almost laid an egg in their season-opening return to the venue of their Super Bowl XL loss. Nine points to begin the season isn't much for a team that led the NFL in scoring last year. But the 'Hawks showed moxie - not to mention a tough defense - to get the win, and nobody throws back road victories in the NFL. 7 | 9 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-0): It can already be told that the Patriots are not the same team that NFL observers were labeling a dynasty two years ago. Squeaking by the Bills at home is no reason to go around beating chests, but then again, it showed the Patriots still know how to pull out victory when they don't play particularly well, and this is still a very solid New England team. After all, in 2003, the Patriots lost to the Bills 31-0 on opening day, and still managed to finish the season with a 15-game winning streak and a Lombardi trophy. 8 | 11 | INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1-0): The Colts, playing a nationally-televised night game on opening weekend for the third consecutive year, showed Eli and the Giants that Peyton is the true giant in the Manning clan. For all that's worth, the Colts have been consistently one of the top teams in the NFL for the last four seasons, but they don't even have a conference championship to show for it. Will this be the year that the Colts finally clear the hurdle? Considering their playoff demises of the past two years, they have to continue to prove it on a weekly basis to climb in these rankings. 9 | 15 | CHICAGO BEARS (1-0): The Bears have been doubted after a lackluster preseason but they turned the doubters on the their heads after this weekend. Not only did the Bears go to Lambeau Field and get a road divisional win off the Packers, but they did it in blowout and shutout style. With their easy schedule, the Bears already could be on their way to repeating as NFC North champions. 10 | 16 | ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-0): This new edition of the Cardinals is reminiscent of the Rams and Colts teams of recent years. Especially with displaced QB Kurt Warner and HB Edgerrin James at the helm. Offensively, the Cardinals will definitely bring excitement this year to a team that historically couldn't ignite a spark on the offensive front. What's even more significant is that the Cardinals won their first opening game since 1999 in their first opener at home since moving to Arizona in 1988. 11 | 17 | SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (1-0): The Chargers went into Oakland's Black Hole and took the Raiders to school in a 27-0 Monday night blowout in the final game of Week 1. In 2005, the Chargers were famous for blowing leads late. They left nothing to chance against the Raiders and took care of their business early and often. San Diego's defense was dominant and could take the Chargers a long way this season. 12 | 18 | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0) It's a fresh start in 2006 for the Eagles, who had little trouble pasting the Houston Texans on the road in their open. It's still is yet to be determined if the Eagles have earned their stripes in a T.O.-free environment, but Donte Stallworth appears to be the home-run threat they were missing after Owens was suspended last season. Philly's first true test will come this weekend at home against defending NFC East champion New York. 13 | 20 | BALTIMORE RAVENS (1-0): The Ravens came out of opening weekend with the most surprising result, returning to Raymond James Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl XXXV victory and shutting out the Buccaneers in impressive 27-0 fashion. Big wins such as that mean big movement in these rankings, and the Ravens now are a team that should be on everybody's radar. 14 | 7 | DENVER BRONCOS (0-1): It's not as bad as it seems for the Broncos after their 18-10 opening loss to upstart St. Louis, even though it's a tear through the fabric of establishing themselves as a true Super Bowl contender this year. The Broncos will have to recover quickly with Kansas City, New England and Baltimore up next on the schedule. 15 | 4 | TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (0-1): What happened to the defending NFC South-champion Buccaneers last weekend? Getting shut out at home on opening weekend by an opponent that went 6-10 the previous season is not a good way for a playoff contender to get started. 16 | 21 | ATLANTA FALCONS (1-0): The Falcons went to Carolina and got the win that they needed to re-establish themselves as a force in the NFC South. Many observers have been lukewarm regarding the Falcons, overlooking their talent because after their underachievement in 2005, but don't forget this team played in the NFC Championship Game just two seasons ago. 17 | 22 | MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0): The last three times the Vikings have started the season with a win, they continued their early-season dominance with opening runs of 5-1, 6-0 and 7-0. The Vikings will love that kind of recent history to repeat itself this year. A big win at Washington indicates the Vikings will be a challenger to Chicago in the NFC North. 18 | 5 | WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-1): Prior to last week's game, the Redskins had won four season-opening games in a row. Now it's time for a little self-evaluation with a road game at Dallas looming. The Redskins didn't get a whole lot of offense going against the Vikings, and John Hall let them down again by missing the kick that counted. 19 | 14 | NEW YORK GIANTS (0-1): Much to the dismay of the Big Apple, this season could turn out to be a big worm for the Giants. Having one of the toughest schedules this year while possibly being over-rated could lead to big trouble. 20 | 23 | ST. LOUIS RAMS (1-0): It was an impressive opener for the Rams, starting off the season with a victory against perhaps their toughest non-divisional opponent. The Rams are re-inventing themselves, winning decisively against the high-scoring Broncos with six field goals accounting for all of St. Louis' points. 21 | 12 | CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-1): The Panthers lost at home to begin the season for the third consecutive season. They bounced back to make the NFC title game last year, but a weak start could make it tougher this time around. Road games at Minnesota and Tampa Bay the next two weeks will tell a lot about where the Panthers are headed. 22 | 13 | KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (0-1): It's hard to figure out which Kansas City team will show up on Sunday. Losing quarterback Trent Green didn't help, but the offense that carried that Chiefs last year didn't do much in their home opener against Cincinnati. And that offense will have to do a lot this year to keep Kansas City in contention. 23 | 24 | NEW YORK JETS (1-0); The Jets took their first step to efface their 2005 crash landing by taking a good road win in Tennessee to begin a new season. Now they have to prove what they can do against a good team. Hosting three-time defending AFC East champion New England this week will be a much better measure of where the Jets are headed. 24 | 19 | BUFFALO BILLS (0-1): The Bills played the Patriots tough on the road. Now they must do the same at Miami this weekend - with a different final result - or quickly fall behind the pack in the AFC East. 25 | 30 | NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-0): Too bad every weekend can't be opening weekend for the Saints. They have won two consecutive openers despite winning only two of 15 in between. Before proclaiming Reggie Bush as the new savior for a team with big trials, remember that they defeated the Browns. But it was an impressive road victory for a revamped team with a new coach. The Saints, however, should call back in a couple weeks before we can activate their place in the contender zone. 26 | 25 | OAKLAND RAIDERS (0-1): It's almost expected for the Raiders to lose now – they've lost six in a row dating back to last season and nine of their last 10. We still think this team has some talent, but you wouldn't have known it by watching their opener against San Diego. 27 | 26 | DETROIT LIONS (0-1): Let's give the Lions credit for hanging with the Seahawks. But that's all the credit that they are getting. They still managed to not score a touchdown at home. Detroit has to start turning performances like that into victories to make any noise or impact this season. 28 | 27 | CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-1): The Browns are the least-inspiring team in the NFL as of late, especially in their recent expansion incarnation. It appeared they might be on the upswing this year under second-year Romeo Crennel, but losing their opener 19-14 at home to New Orleans was no way to get started. 29 | 28 | SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-1): The 49ers showed some offensive spark with a nice comeback effort against the Cardinals in their opener, but San Francisco still finds itself with another week on the loser's edge. The Niners looked both good and improved in several areas at Arizona, but they still have to find a way to start winning before they look good and improved in these rankings. 30 | 29 | TENNESSEE TITANS (0-1): The Titans, much like a lot of the teams at the bottom of the rankings, are re-inventing themselves while trying to return to past glory. The Titans wasted a good opportunity to get themselves into the winning column against the Jets in Week 1, and those chances don't figure to be coming around much this season. 31 | 31 | GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-1): Brett Favre should retire at the end of the season - or maybe he shouldn't even wait that long. In fact, he should have retired last year. The Packers don't intimidate anybody anymore, and this team just looked plain bad in its opener at home. If that Packers can't be better than 26-0 losers to long-time rival Chicago in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field on opening day, it's going to be a long season in Green Bay. 32 | 32 | HOUSTON TEXANS (0-1): The Texans, playoff hopefuls entering the 2005 season, find themselves a long way from the postseason and still searching for an identity at the start of 2006. After a promising rise in the first three seasons of the franchise, the Texans are 2-16 in their last 18 games and headed nowhere.
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