Who's (still) No. 1? It's the defending champs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 13, 2011



By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Ranger


Week 1 of the NFL season may have lacked drama, but it didn’t lack for great performances. The Ravens, Patriots, Eagles and Bears – all playoff teams from 2010 – made some pretty bold statements.

However, the Green Bay Packers made the biggest statement of all, which was that there’s no reason to believe they don’t have what it takes to repeat as Super Bowl champion for the first time since New England in 2003 and 2004.

We’re big on keeping the champion No. 1 until they show reason not to be, and even some defensive lapses didn’t do much to change anyone’s opinion.

The biggest mover on the board is Buffalo, which comes in at No. 13 after ranking dead last in our offseason power rankings – a 34-point road win against a playoff team from 2010 will do that for you. If they do it against Oakland at home this weekend, they might even sneak into the top 10 for the first time in a long time.

There were several candidates for the No. 32 spot, but in the end it had to be the Cleveland Browns – they were poor in 2010, they opened at home against a weak opponent, and they lost. One, two, three strikes, you’re last.

On to the rankings!


1. GREEN BAY (1-0)

Last week: 42-34 win vs. New Orleans
Next three weeks: at CAR, at CHI vs. DEN.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Preseason doesn’t mean much, but it might be worth noting that Aaron Rodgers had a 130.1 rating in exhibition time and followed it up with a 132.1 Thursday night in the regular season. Oh, and he had a 109.8 rating in last year’s postseason. Guess he’s a man for all seasons.
 

2. NEW ENGLAND (1-0)

Last week: 38-24 win at Miami
Next three weeks: vs. SD, at BUF, at OAK
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: New England became only the third team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to rack up 600+ yards with only one (or zero) turnovers. They were also the second team, doing it in the snow against Tennessee in 2009. St. Louis did it in 2000 vs. the Chargers.
 

3. BALTIMORE (1-0)

Last week: 35-7 win vs. Pittsburgh
Next three weeks: at TEN, at STL, vs. NYJ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ray Rice vs. Pittsburgh in three tries last year? 29 carries for 84 yards. Ray Rice vs. Pittsburgh in one try this year? Nineteen carries for 107 yards.
 

4. PHILADELPHIA (1-0)

Last week: 31-13 win at St. Louis
Next three weeks: at ATL, vs. NYG, vs. SF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Michael Vick might not have been efficient as a passer (14 of 32) vs. the Rams, but he sure was efficient as a quarterback (8 of 12 picking up third downs).
 

5. CHICAGO (1-0)

Last week: 30-12 win vs. Atlanta
Next three weeks: at NO, vs. GB, vs. CAR
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: “Good Jay Cutler” means good things for the Bears. They’re now 11-0 when his in-game passer rating is over 100 (7-14 when it’s below, excluding playoffs).
 

6. SAN DIEGO (1-0)

Last week: 24-17 win vs. Minnesota
Next three weeks: at NE, vs. KC, vs. MIA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chargers are right back to their old tricks from 2010. They outgained Minnesota 407-187, but only won the game by seven points thanks to bad special teams and a 3-for-6 showing in the red zone. It was OK against a bad team, but they’ll need to be significantly more efficient in New England Sunday.
 

7. HOUSTON (1-0)

Last week: 34-7 win vs. Indianapolis
Next three weeks: at MIA, at NO vs. PIT
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Score one for Wade Phillips; he got roundly criticized for converting Mario Williams to a (sometimes) 3-4 outside linebacker, but Williams was doing what he does Sunday – and then some. He had two sacks and pressured poor old Kerry Collins all day. Elder abuse!
 

8. NEW YORK JETS (1-0)

Last week: 27-24 win vs. Dallas
Next three weeks: vs. JAX, at OAK, at BAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Forget the facts and numbers – Rex Ryan’s Jets are the clear No. 1 team on the Improbability Index. According to AdvancedNFLstats.com, the Jets had a nine percent chance to win vs. Dallas with 5:24 left in the game. And they did it. Incredible stuff.
 

9. NEW ORLEANS (0-1)

Last week: 42-34 loss at Green Bay
Next three weeks: vs. CHI, vs. HOU, at JAX.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: For what it’s worth, eleven of the Saints’ last 12 games are against teams that lost in Week 1.
 

10. PITTSBURGH (0-1)

Last week: 35-7 loss at Baltimore
Next three weeks: vs. SEA, at IND, at HOU
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: As noted in “10 Things We Learned,” the Steelers hadn’t lost by 28+ points or turned the ball over seven times since the mid-1990s. This suggests that chalking Week 1 up to a fluke is probably the wisest course of action.
 

11. ATLANTA (0-1)

Last week: 30-12 loss at Chicago
Next three weeks: vs. PHI, at TB, at SEA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It’s pretty hard to roll up 386 yards of net offense and fail to score an offensive touchdown, but that’s just what Atlanta did. Lucky for them, they’re in a four-way tie for first (and last) in the NFC South.
 

12. DETROIT (1-0)

Last week: 27-20 win at Tampa Bay
Next three weeks: vs. KC, at MIN, at DAL 
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The most impressive numbers from a most impressive win for Detroit? Zero and one. Zero was the number of sacks allowed in 33 dropbacks for Matthew Stafford, one was the number of first downs running allowed by the Detroit defense. The times they are a-changin’.
 

13. BUFFALO (1-0)

Last week: 41-7 win at Kansas City
Next three weeks: vs. OAK, vs. NE, at CIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bills scored 40 points total in their final four games of 2010, then 41 in Week 1 this year. That’s progress for you. At their current pace, they will score 656 points, go 16-0 and cure cancer by season’s end.
 

14. SAN FRANCISCO (1-0)

Last week: 33-17 win vs. Seattle
Next three weeks: vs. DAL, at CIN, at PHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If there’s cause for concern in San Francisco, it’s this: on a day where they won the turnover battle 3-0, allowed 3.4 yards a play and had two kick/punt returns for scores, Seattle was still in the game in the fourth quarter. The offense needs to be better if this team is going anywhere but the top of a weak NFC West.
 

15. WASHINGTON (1-0)

Last week: 28-14 win vs. New Yorj Giants
Next three weeks: vs.AZ, at DAL, at STL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Mike Shanahan has a knack for winning in Week 1 – he’s now 12-4 in his last 16 openers as a head coach, and 2-0 in Washington.
 

16. DALLAS (0-1)

Last week: 27-24 loss at New York Jets
Next three weeks: at SF, vs. WAS, vs. DET
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: There were numerous reasons that Jerry Jones spent Monday morning in a seething cauldron of rage, but one problem that doesn’t seem to be going away is Dallas’ complete inability to run the ball. In a game where all they needed was a few first downs to win it, they ran 26 times for 64 yards. Tony Romo will take the heat, and rightly so, but where’s the help?
 

17. NEW YORK GIANTS (0-1)

Last week: 28-14 loss at Washington
Next three weeks: vs. STL, at PHI, at ARI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The numbers were pretty similar across the board in the Giants’ loss to Washington, but execution wasn’t. The Giants were 1-for-10 on offensive third downs and committed eight penalties to Washington’s three. In an even game, those stats break your back.
 

18. OAKLAND (1-0)

Last week: 23-20 win at Denver
Next three weeks: at BUF, vs. NYJ, vs. NE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 63-yard field goal and was five-for-five on touchbacks as the kickoff man; if he had been drafted in the first round by Denver back in 2000, you have to think he’d have at least 10 field goals of 60+ at Mile High.
 

19. JACKSONVILLE (1-0)

Last week: 16-14 win vs. Tennessee
Next three weeks: at NYJ, at CAR, vs. NO
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Somehow, the Jaguars get it done. They don’t seem to have much to offer past a running game (47 attempts against Tennessee), but they were 8-8 last year and they’re 1-0 this year. Apparently this is why Jack Del Rio is still their head coach.
 

20. TAMPA BAY (0-1)

Last week: 27-20 loss vs. Detroit
Next three weeks: at MIN, vs. ATL, vs. IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bucs’ special teams did their job vs. Detroit, for sure – a punt-return touchdown for Micheal Spurlock, a net 45.4-yard average for Michael Koenen, no misses by Connor Barth, 34 return yards allowed. It’s all proof that the little things are only important when you’re doing the big things too.
 

21. CINCINNATI (1-0)

Last week: 27-17 win at Cleveland
Next three weeks: at DEN, vs. SF, at BUF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Maybe Cedric Benson should be No. 1 on our Improbability Index. From sitting in jail to rushing for 121 yards and a score … in a week? From the big house to the Dawg Pound end zone? Gotta love football.
 

22. ARIZONA (1-0)

Last week: 28-21 win vs. Carolina
Next three weeks: at WAS, at SEA, vs. NYG
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It’s no shock that Arizona was outgained 477-394 in their win over Carolina; last year, they were outgained in three of their five wins and 10 of their 11 losses.
 

23. MIAMI (0-1)

Last week: 38-24 loss vs. New England
Next three weeks: vs. HOU, at CLE, at SD
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It was as enjoyable a 14-point loss at home as you could have for the Dolphins; when your belittled quarterback throws for 416 yards in a game you're supposed to lose anyway, that's a moral victory of the highest order. Henne has been much better in the early end of the year; his rating was well over 80 at the end of October in 2009 and 10 only to fade into the mid-70s.
 

24. ST. LOUIS (0-1)

Last week: 31-13 loss vs. Philadelphia
Next three weeks: at NYG, vs. BAL, vs. WAS
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Sam Bradford’s last six in-game passer ratings dating back to the end of 2010: 66.3, 53.0, 40.9, 107.0, 52.4 and 75.4 Sunday. He’s not there yet.
 

25. KANSAS CITY (0-1)

Last week: 41-7 loss vs. Buffalo
Next three weeks: at DET, at SD, vs. MIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Another week with fewer than 20 touches for Jamaal Charles. He’s gotten the ball a total of 35 times in the Chiefs’ last three games including the playoff loss to Baltimore – all home games, all losses, by 21, 23 and 34 points. Good stuff.
 

26. INDIANAPOLIS (0-1)

Last week: 34-7 loss vs. Houston
Next three weeks: vs. CLE, vs. PIT, at TB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Did the Colts forget Jim Sorgi’s phone number? He’s a free agent, and he had a career 89.9 rating as Peyton Manning’s rarely-used backup (156 attempts).
 

27. MINNESOTA (0-1)

Last week: 24-17 loss at San Diego
Next three weeks: vs. TB, vs. DET, at KC
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: What’s worse? Allowing 31 first downs or passing for 28 net yards? And they say there are no ties in the NFL.
 

28. CAROLINA (0-1)

Last week: 28-21 loss at Arizona
Next three weeks: vs. GB, vs. JAX, at CHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:  The 2010 Panthers didn’t even come close to having as many yards in a game as Cam Newton had by himself Sunday. He had 421 net yards; the Panthers’ top team total was 379 in 2010. Now if he can just find a way to play Arizona every week.
 

29. TENNESSEE (0-1)

Last week: 16-14 loss at Jacksonville
Next three weeks: vs. BAL, vs. DEN, at CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: There’s got to be a bright side, right? Here’s one: In his last 11 games, receiver Kenny Britt has 11 touchdown catches. 
 

30. DENVER (0-1)

Last week: 23-20 loss vs. Oakland
Next three weeks: vs. CIN, at TEN, at GB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:  Tee-BOW! Tee-BOW Tee-BOW! OK, those aren't facts, those are the sounds of Broncos fans. Like it or not, Kyle Orton supporters, Orton is 11-19 as a starter for Denver.
 

31. SEATTLE (0-1)

Last week: 33-17 loss at San Francisco
Next three weeks: at PIT, vs. ARI, vs. ATL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The weirdness that is Seattle continues. Their last 10 losses have all been by double digits. How does a team go a year and a week without a single narrow defeat?
 

32. CLEVELAND (0-1)

Last week: 27-17 loss vs. Cincinnati
Next three weeks: at IND, vs. MIA, vs. TEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Browns and Colt McCoy have a new system, but are still over-reliant on their backs and tight ends. McCoy only threw 17 of his 40 passes toward wideouts, for a total of 108 yards -- 56 of which came on a bomb to Mohamed Massaquoi.  
 
 

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