NFL Top 10 (Thru Week 1)

by Wayne Root

There really weren’t any surprises in the top two or the top six. This early in the season after one game, it just shows to expect the unexpected and that anything can happen on any given Sunday. Don’t worry if you don’t see your team as this Top 10 will play out with the real talent coming to the top in time for the playoffs.

After their showing against the Rams, there is no doubt they should be in this top spot. They sent a message to the rest of the league with that victory. Josh Allen played like an MVP favorite, and the Bills' front seven dominated the trenches, making life miserable for Matthew Stafford. On paper entering this season, it looked like Buffalo had the most complete team in football. One game in, the on-field product supports that notion

Who misses whom first? Will it be Patrick Mahomes missing Tyreek Hill first or Tyreek missing Patrick first?
Mahomes showed against the Cardinals that he can still play at a high level without Tyreek Hill. That offense will be just fine. Mahomes completed passes to nine different receivers and threw five touchdown passes, connecting with four different targets for scores. The heart of the attack remained Travis Kelce (8/121/1 on nine targets), but an eye-opening 2022 debut from Clyde Edwards-Helaire makes you wonder if Andy Reid’s new-look attack will turn the running back into the impact chess piece.

The Chargers had to play one of the most hyped and widely bet games of the week. The Chargers received impact performances from a host of newcomers in a promising 24-19 win over the Raiders. It was OLB Khalil Mack that had three of L.A.'s six sacks of a rattled Derek Carr at SoFi Stadium and was instrumental in defeating his former team. Justin Herbert was predictably great, finding ways to move the offense even after Keenan Allen left the game. With that passer in Justin Herbert and those pass rushers in Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, they have the two main things needed to win it all. Now they have a chance to show the Chiefs this week in a big early game. On their wish list for Thursday night vs Kansas City, will J.C. Jackson, the team's prized free-agent addition at cornerback, make his debut? The Bolts sure could use him with that Mahomes guy taking aim. 

An elderly Tom Brady has to get recognized for going into Jerry’s Place and coming away with a win. Dallas injuries or not. The defense really impressed against the Cowboys. But the banged-up offense looked off at times. The offensive line has injuries, which isn't a good thing going to New Orleans. Todd Bowles built his reputation as a defensive wizard and a 19- 3 final should ring out to other teams that the defense is there to match their offense. Did you notice Julio Jones in his Bucs debut? They’re hoping for a sudden impact from him The Bucs did suffer two injuries. 

The Vikings got off to an impressive start in beating the Packers in dominant fashion. The defense really impressed and Justin Jefferson was unstoppable. Jefferson, the third-year superstar was untouchable on Sunday against the Packers, piling up nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-7 win over the three-time defending division champs.
Give some credit to new coach and play caller Kevin O'Connell, who moved Jefferson around the field and appears ready to use his top receiver in more imaginative ways than previously seen in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins cupboard is filled and he’s one game up on the three-time defending division champs.

Baltimore's defense dominated, routinely collapsing the pocket on old friend Joe Flacco. When the Jets did move the ball, the Ravens bowed up near midfield and forced timely turnovers. It wasn't always pretty against the Jets, but Lamar Jackson got it going in the second half. It will get a lot tougher for this offense going forward. Jackson was on target as a passer, connecting on three scores -- two to Devin Duvernay, who delivered an intriguing performance for a team in need of playmakers. It remains to be seen if the bitter frustrations of 2021 are over. Let’s not get overly excited tho as they played the NY Jets. 

New No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Brown was an immediate-impact playmaker, piling up 10 catches for 155 yards on 13 targets. Meanwhile, the tandem of Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders rushing behind a stout offensive line has the potential to turn Philly into a matchup nightmare for any opponent. If Jalen Hurts can play like he did against the Lions, this could be a deep playoff team. The defense was not good, though, which has to be a concern.
This offense is going to be a problem for teams. The Eagles rolled up 455 yards on 10 possessions against the Lions in a 38-35 win. Hopefully their fourth quarter was an anomaly. 

The type of Jameis Winston performance against the Atlanta Falcons will make believers out of doubters. The polarizing quarterback was shut down along with the rest of the Saints’ offense for the better part of three quarters against the Falcons, but Winston went off on back-to-back drives that changed the game in the fourth quarter. Winston was 11 of 12 for 156 yards with two touchdown passes to Michael Thomas during that stretch, capping his day with a final march that set up Wil Lutz’s game-winning field goal. They fortunately found a way against the Falcons, but it wasn't pretty. What happened to a defense that was supposed to be so dominant? They better get it going against Tampa Bay.

Want a sign of the times in the shifting AFC East? Is this a meaningful stat? Tua Tagovailoa is now 4-0 in his career against Bill Belichick. Miami has surpassed New England -- Buffalo is the new target. The Dolphins beat the Patriots and never were really threatened, thanks to the defense. Tua Tagovailoa was good, but the offense still only scored one touchdown. Tyreek Hill and Tua Tagovailoa displayed the chemistry teased during the summer, connecting eight times for 94 yards on 12 targets which might not be enough moving forward. Melvin Ingram and Co. held New England’s undercooked attack to just 271 yards and a single scoring drive. 

Coach Mike Tomlin has to be in the lead for Coach of the Year after his offense and defense were tested on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers forced Joe Burrow into five turnovers, the front seven piled up six sacks and Chris Boswell’s long field goal secured an overtime win over the defending AFC champion Bengals. The defense came up big in the overtime victory over the Bengals. The loss of T.J. Watt is a damning blow to the defense, which will put more pressure on the offense.
The offense under Mitch Trubisky was pedestrian, Najee Harris exited the game with a foot injury but will return this week and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt appears likely to miss at least several weeks which would be a blow to any team. That only leaves coaching to give the game ball to for this win. 
Other teams that won and if they win back to back would possibly move up.  In no particular order:

A. Seattle 
B. Cleveland 
C. NY Giants
D. Chicago Bears
E. Washington Commanders 

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