NFL Power Rankings Week 2: Naming Week 1 MVPs for each team

patriots-steelers

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, celebrates his touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett, center, in the second half an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Steven Senne/AP)

Week 1 of the NFL season is officially in the books, and we can now begin the process of figuring out which teams are for real … and which teams are the Dolphins.

But is it time to start handing out awards? Our expert panel says YES. For the inaugural power rankings of the season, we’re sussing out opening-day MVPs for each of the NFL’s 32 teams.

For this edition of the rankings, the panel includes editor Geoff Lowe, as well as staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Mike Johnston, with Emily Sadler getting back into the mix next week.

On with the awards!

1. New England Patriots
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Tom Brady
At this point in his career, every season starts and football fans can’t help but wonder, “Is this the year Tom Brady finally shows his age?” Based on Week 1’s showing, it’s not going to be this year as TB12 carved up the Steelers on Sunday night. (GL)

2. Kansas City Chiefs
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Sammy Watkins
Chris Conley left in the off-season. Tyreek Hill got injured. Travis Kelce was quiet. No matter. Watkins stepped up with three TDs and looked every bit the franchise receiver he was expected to be coming out of college in 2014.

3. New Orleans Saints
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Drew Brees
If you’re wondering what Hall of Fame quarterbacking looks like, just watch Brees operate in the fourth quarter of the Saints-Texans Monday night barnburner. His poise, clock and timeout management, audibles and accuracy were all on point as he put his team in a position to pick up the dramatic walk-off win — which they did. (MJ)

4. Dallas Cowboys
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Dak Prescott
If there were any questions about whether Dak Prescott was worth the money he’s reportedly after, he put many of them to bed with a four-TD performance against the Giants. If this is what we should expect from Kellen Moore’s new offence, Dallas will do some damage this season. (GL)

5. Los Angeles Rams
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Todd Gurley
The Rams’ offence wasn’t completely in sync in Carolina over the weekend, but our hat tip is going to Gurley because he was able to clear the injury air with some actual football. Yes, Malcolm Brown sniped his touchdowns, but Gurley galloped for 97 yards and averaged nearly seven yards per run – a big step in the right direction given the speculation we endured all summer. (GL)

6. Philadelphia Eagles
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: DeSean Jackson
A storybook return for D-Jax saw the 32-year-old change the game with a pair of 50-yard TDs, first sparking the Eagles offence near the end of the first half (Philly was incredibly uninspired up to that point), then giving his team a lead they wouldn’t cede. (GL)

7. Los Angeles Chargers
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Austin Ekeler
To take a page from Jerry Jones’s book: Melvin who? Ekeler may not have the same rushing ability of his M.I.A. teammate, but the Chargers will find ways to get similar production from him: Ekeler racked up 154 total yards and three TDs in L.A.’s OT win over the Colts. (GL)

8. Baltimore Ravens
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Lamar Jackson
Forget Week 1 MVP. Jackson looks like he’s gunning for league MVP. The sophomore QB completed 17 passes for 324 yards passing and five TDs, setting career highs in all three stats. Jackson became the youngest player with a perfect passer rating in a game and vindicated the Ravens for choosing him over Joe Flacco. (DB)

9. Minnesota Vikings
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Dalvin Cook
With 111 yards rushing and two scores, Cook is the easy answer here. But let’s also give some love to Mike Zimmer’s defence. Safety Anthony Harris snagged two interceptions in the Vikings’ 28–12 win over Atlanta. (DB)

10. Houston Texans
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins had a slow start but once he found his groove he was his usual elite self, hauling in eight catches on 13 targets for 111 yards and two touchdowns in a fun showdown with Saints star corner Marshon Lattimore. (MJ)

11. Green Bay Packers
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Mike Pettine
It’s no wonder Pettine, the Packers’ new defensive coordinator, got some love from Aaron Rodgers as Green Bay sealed their first victory. The Green Bay pass rush produced five sacks and 11 QB hits, and Pettine could very well be the Packers’ biggest off-season acquisition. (DB)

12. Seattle Seahawks
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Tyler Lockett
We understand if we got some flak for handing out MVP to a No. 1 wideout who had just a single catch all game, but if you’re going to make only one catch, Lockett picked the perfect time to do it. His 44-yard snag was for a score and gave the Seahawks a one-point lead – one they’d hold to barely squeak past the Bengals. (GL)

13. Tennessee Titans
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Cameron Wake
Wake isn’t 37 years old. He’s 37 years young and that was clear as day this past Sunday. Wake had 2.5 sacks, including a safety, in his Titans debut as he gave the Browns’ o-line fits and the Titans crushed their overhyped foes. (MJ)

14. Chicago Bears
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Khalil Mack
Mack didn’t have a sack in Week 1, but he impacted 31 of the 34 plays he was on the field. Even in limited snaps, he’s the most dominant edge rusher in the NFL. (DB)

15. Indianapolis Colts
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Marlon Mack
In the Colts’ first game in the post-Andrew Luck era, the team relied on the run and Mack had the best outing of his young career. A cool 174 rushing yards, plus a touchdown and two-point conversion, on 25 attempts helped keep the Colts competitive. It’s really little surprise Mack put up a sparkling stat line with beasts like Quenton Nelson clearing the path in front of him. (MJ)

16. Buffalo Bills
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Josh Allen
Give Allen credit: the Bills sophomore quarterback had a horrendous first three quarters, turning the ball over four times and failing to get Buffalo on board. But No. 17 put that behind him, and when the Jets gave the Bills a chance to win the game in the final frame, Allen and the offence took it. (GL)

17. Carolina Panthers
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Christian McCaffrey
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, the Panthers’ offence runs through McCaffrey nowadays, not Cam Newton. CMC finished with 209 scrimmage yards and a pair of scores running against the stacked Rams defence. The only question with McCaffrey is whether or not his body will be able to withstand the immense weekly volume he’ll see. (MJ)

18. Pittsburgh Steelers
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Ben Roethlisberger
The longtime Pittsburgh QB’s response to a question about Antonio Brown joining the Patriots was “whatever.” It was the only time a Steeler seemed prepared under pressure in Week 1. (DB)

19. Cleveland Browns
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Odell Beckham Jr.
Not for his football, but his fashion. After a bad Week 1 loss, the bright spot was the Richard Mille watch he wore while playing. The time piece costs $190,000 and there are only 500 in the world. The league doesn’t have a rule about wearing jewelry, but it does about hard objects. “I’ll be wearing it,” Beckham said on Tuesday. (DB)

20. Oakland Raiders
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Josh Jacobs
Derek Carr, Tyrell Williams or Darren Waller were all considered here, but we had to go with Jacobs. The rookie out of Alabama will be a quick favourite of Jon Gruden if he can put in similar efforts as his two-touchdown outing Monday night against the Broncos. (GL)

21. San Francisco 49ers
2019 record: 1-0
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Nick Bosa and Dee Ford (tie)
Jameis Winston was a real consideration here given he gifted the Niners 12 points on two pick-sixes, but San Fran’s pass-rushing duo deserve a shoutout for a hell of an performance in their debuts. (GL)

22. Cincinnati Bengals
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: John Ross
The receiver went off for seven catches, 158 yards and two TDs, finally showing the game-breaking potential he possesses. (DB)

23. Atlanta Falcons
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Grady Jarrett
The $68-million contract Jarrett signed in the summer is going to end up looking like a bargain. The defensive tackle was one of the lone bright spots on a Falcons team that looked lost against the Vikings. He was a disruption at the line of scrimmage, even forcing a fumble on his first sack of the season. (MJ)

24. Detroit Lions
2019 record: 0-0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: T.J. Hockenson
Hockenson was one of four rookies to catch for 100-plus yards in their debut. That’s two more than any other week in NFL history. His 131 receiving yards kept the Lions offence on the field. (DB)

25. Jacksonville Jaguars
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Gardner Minshew
An unfortunate injury to Nick Foles forced Minshew into the game. The rookie QB performed quite well in a tough spot versus the Chiefs, connecting on 22 of 25 pass attempts for 275 yards, two TDs and an interception that wasn’t his fault. Based on how he performed, the Jags season can’t be flushed down the drain just yet. (MJ)

26. Washington Redskins
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Terry McLaurin
Part of the reason many were down on Washington’s offence heading into the opener was the lack of legitimate options at receiver. Then “Scary Terry” torched the Eagles for a long score in the second quarter, and Washington found its WR1 of the future. McLaurin finished the day with 125 yards on five catches and a score, but could’ve had much more. (GL)

27. Denver Broncos
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Courtland Sutton
There wasn’t much to like on either side of the ball in Monday’s pedestrian showing in Oakland, but it was encouraging to see that Joe Flacco has established a rapport with Denver’s second-year wideout. Sutton set career highs with seven receptions and 120 yards. (GL)

28. New York Jets
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: C.J. Mosley
The Jets paid big money for a difference-maker in the middle of their defence and that’s exactly what Mosley was Sunday. Not only did put the Jets’ first points on the board, but once he left the game with an injury, New York’s defence fell off a cliff. (GL)

29. Arizona Cardinals
2019 record: 0-0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Larry Fitzgerald
The ageless wonder (OK, he’s actually 36) did it again in the Cardinals’ out-of-nowhere fourth-quarter comeback against the Lions, leading the team in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (113). The Real Fitzmagic will be a valuable asset in Kyler Murray’s rookie season, especially if he keeps laying out for 40-yard bombs like he was Sunday. (GL)

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Ronald Jones
Jameis Winston looked like his old self (which isn’t what Bucs fans enjoy hearing) and Tampa stumbled out the gate. Running back Jones on the other hand was a pleasant surprise with 75 yards on 13 carries. If they can build off this and develop a productive run game, it’ll only aid Winston and the air attack. (MJ)

31. New York Giants
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: Evan Engram
Saquon Barkley is undoubtedly Big Blue’s most important player, but the question heading into the season was always, “Who’s going to be Eli Manning’s No. 1 receiving option?” That question was answered in Dallas as Engram caught 11 of 14 targets for 116 yards and scored the Giants’ first TD.

32. Miami Dolphins
2019 record: 0-1
Last week:

Week 1 MVP: N/A
Sorry, Dolphins fans. We can’t hand out any awards for that performance.

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