Be honest, the only reason you look at power rankings is to scroll down until you see your team’s logo and fill yourself with irrational anger at a person you’ve never met for placing your brave boys at least four spots lower than they definitely deserve. Still do it every week though, don’t you?
But we’ve decided to do something a little different. Why rank teams by how good they are - that’s what the standings are for, after all - when we can grade them on how much fun they are to watch; on explosiveness, firepower and captivating narratives.
With games lasting up to four hours, it’s important you don’t waste your Sunday evening sat in front of a turgid punt-fest, so this list will help you keep on track of which teams are worth turning your eye toward this season.
Without further ado, here’s how we’re looking after week one...
32. Buffalo Bills
In this case, the fun rankings mirror the power rankings. The Bills were horrible to watch on both sides of the ball, Nathan Peterman is a disaster (something everyone except, seemingly, Buffalo’s coaching staff already knew) and their only other option at quarterback is the incredibly raw rookie Josh Allen. He may well help the Bills up this list. It might not be for the right reasons.
Not even David Johnson’s long-awaited return was enough to ignite the Cardinals in Washington. He rushed for just 37 yards while Sam Bradford looked limp and a defense being talked up for having turnover potential failed to make any big plays.
30. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys failed to cross into Panthers territory during the entire first half on Sunday night. Do I really need to say much more? Ezekiel Elliott will have far bigger games than the 86 all purpose yards he managed at Carolina, and with questions marks still looming over the Cowboys’ receiving corps, he’s going to need to.
29. Detroit Lions
You know when you spend hours stuck in traffic on the motorway, only to discover the whole thing was caused by cars ahead slowing down to perversely stare at a burning wreckage on the other side of the road?
That wreckage was the Detroit Lions’ week one performance against the Jets. A banged up Matthew Stafford threw four picks (one which went for six) in a display which was entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
— NFL (@NFL) 11 September 2018
28. Oakland Raiders
How we long for the Raiders of two seasons ago. Oakland have gone from being young, exciting and one the biggest potential threat to the Patriots in the AFC to a team of ageing veterans most expect to be propping up the West come December. Jon Gruden, it’s your (incredibly well paid) job to prove us wrong.
27. Tennessee Titans
The prospect of Blaine Gabbert potentially starting at QB in place of the injured Marcus Mariota next weekend should not fill anyone with joy. The delays give them somewhat mitigating circumstances, but there wasn’t a lot to get excited about for Tennessee in week one.
26. Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson was one of the biggest disappointments of the opening weekend. He threw for more than 300 yards and took New England to the wire in a thrilling corresponding fixture last year, but on Sunday he looked flustered and continually held onto the ball too long. Finger crossed he rediscovers his mojo.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
I keep thinking about what could have been if the Jags decided to make a play for Teddy Bridgewater. I’m not a Bortles hater - he seems like a good dude! - but he seriously limits the Jaguars’ offense and given how destructive they are on defense it’s hard not to lament the team they could be with a bit of spice under centre.
The Eagles will rocket up this list as soon as Carson Wentz comes back, but right now we’re stuck with Bad Nick Foles, seemingly a totally different human to the golden god who vanquished the Patriots in February. Watch defensive tackle Fletcher Cox on defense - he’s a wrecking ball set for a massive year in Philly.
23. Atlanta Falcons
Steve Sarkisian’s red zone play calling had neutrals tearing their hair out on Thursday night, so god knows what it must be doing to Falcons fans. Matt Ryan also had one of his worst ever games against the Eagles, in what was a pretty horrible spectacle period, to be honest. Julio Jones’ stiff arm, though…
Have probably watched this Julio Jones stiff arm ~30 times since this morning pic.twitter.com/KnNtk60gUx
— Alex Finnis (@AlexFinnis) 7 September 2018
22. New England Patriots
Look, sorry Patriots fans, but New England have been good for far too long now for their success to be “fun”. Yes, Tom Brady is the GOAT, Gronk is one of the best tight ends ever and Belichick is a football sensei, but we’ve seen it all before. It’s nice to see them this far down a ranking for once.
21. Miami Dolphins
There were several points on Sunday night when I forgot the seven-hour lightning afflicted Dolphins-Titans clash was still going on.
This doesn’t sound promising for a power ranking based on excitement, but the Dolphins actually showed some good flashes (like lightning, get it?). Particularly keen on the Frank Gore/Kenyan Drake running back duo.
20. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were essentially handed the AFC West division title by fans and pundits alike before the season even started, because none of us ever learn. Still Rivers threw for over 400 yards against KC and Melvin Gordon looks a deadly weapon both out of the backfield and in the passing game. On defense, rookie Derwin James is one to watch.
19. Carolina Panthers
New offensive coordinator Norv Turner is letting Cam Newton run, and if Cam’s running, we’re watching.
If Christian McCaffrey explodes onto the scene like many in Charlotte expect him to then the Panthers could be a force to be reckoned with in 2018, and maybe beyond. On defense, their front seven looks to be one of the best in the league, and could rack up a ton of sacks.
18. San Francisco 49ers
The Jimmy G Experience suffered its first bump in the road against the Vikings on Sunday, but the bigger blow might have been star wideout Marquise Goodwin going down injured in the first half.
With RB1 Jerick McKinnon already out for the season, the 49ers can’t afford to lose Goodwin for an extended period. Count on a Garoppolo bounceback game against Detroit next week, though.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Le’Veon Bell drama is eclipsing what Pittsburgh are doing on the field at the moment, which might be a good thing, since what they’re doing on the field is failing to beat the 1-31 Cleveland Browns. While James Conner looked good in his stead, Bell adds another dimension to this attack.
— NFL (@NFL) 9 September 2018
16. Seattle Seahawks
In Chris Carson, the Seahawks might finally have the man to fill the Marshawn Lynch-sized hole in their backfield. The same old problems exist on the O-line, but what that means is we get to spend a season watching Russell Wilson make ludicrous throws while being chased across the field by five 280lb men again. Not complaining.
15. New York Giants
Imagine an offense where Aaron Rodgers is handing the ball off to Saquon Barkley and throwing 50-yard bombs downfield to Odell Beckham Junior.
Not because it’s ever going to happen, just because it’s fun to think about. Unfortunately an ageing Eli Manning (and terrible offensive line) gives these two firebombs a little less to work with, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching them every week.
14. Los Angeles Rams
Last season’s top offense started in a more workmanlike manner this time out, eventually coming to life to kill off the Raiders in the second half, but you get the sense there is a lot more to come from these Rams.
Todd Gurley is the clear star on offense, while on defense it’ll be interesting to see whether other opponents take more risks throwing at Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters than Derek Carr did Monday night.
13. Denver Broncos
People are sleeping on these Broncos. Case Keenum gives them something to work with at quarterback again, the rookie RB tandem of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay is both promising and intriguing and in Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and another rookie, Courtland Sutton, they have weapons out wide too.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will wreck house on defense. Yep, like this team.
12. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens ripped the Bills to shreds, but that’s a bit like saying my cat ripped the toilet roll to shreds again this morning (honestly I wish she’d stop, clearing it up is a nightmare). Still, they managed 47 points right out the gate and one of their receivers is called Maxx Williams with two Xs so that’s fun enough for me.
11. Chicago Bears
Against the Packers Khalil Mack became the first player to record a sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery and defensive touchdown since… Khalil Mack in 2016.
The Bears have got themselves a good one. With the likes of Jordan Howard, Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen and Trey Burton surrounding Mitchell Trubisky they have wheels on offense too.
— NFL (@NFL) 10 September 2018
10. Indianapolis Colts
Two words: Andrew Luck. His return alone is enough to make the Colts interesting this season, and the early signs are that he’s on his way back to his dazzling best. He doesn’t have enough around him - on either side of the ball - to make the Colts a genuine contender, but Luck makes them exciting, and that’s all we care about here.
9. Washington Redskins
Washington are an NFC dark horse, and Adrian Peterson landing there only adds to the intrigue. If Alex Smith continues to shed his dink and dunk reputation by firing shots downfield like he did with the Chiefs last year the Redskins are a team worth keeping an eye on.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
John Ross firing up, Joe Mixon ready to break out, AJ Green… is still AJ Green, and big takeaways on defense? Yeah, I’m in on this Bengals team, at least for now. They may not quite be playoff calibre, but should be the most fun they’ve been since 2015.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins trying to trademark the phrase “You Vike that!” makes me wish Minnesota could go 0-16 for the rest of eternity, but these Vikings can make big plays on both sides of the ball and look good doing it.
Cousins, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook draw the headlines, but safety Harrison Smith might be the most electrifying player on the team. You know what Kirk, I guess I do Vike that a little bit.
6. New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara is an absolute stud. The second-year running back opened the season with a hat-trick of touchdowns and has all the skills in his locker to be one of the NFL’s brightest stars for at least the next half decade.
In Kamara, Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, Drew Brees has all the weapons he needs to put himself well clear of Peyton Manning as the league’s all-time leading passer by the end of the season.
5. Cleveland Browns
Through a strange combination of being uniquely terrible and a captivating appearance on Hard Knocks, the Browns have somehow become the new America’s Team. They have swagger on defense, an exciting quarterback room, and most importantly, an irresistible narrative.
Everyone wants to know how the Browns are doing, and so far that is: ending their losing streak in the most Brownsian manner imaginable.
— NFL (@NFL) 9 September 2018
4. Green Bay Packers
For Aaron Rodgers, the extraordinary is just another day at the office. Off the field injured, seemingly for the game, Rodgers re-emerged in the third quarter to pull off a stunning 20-point comeback - the biggest of his career - against bitter rivals the Chicago Bears. At this point, nothing seems beyond his capabilities. We’re honoured to be allowed to watch him.
3. New York Jets
Welcome to the Sam Darnold era! There’s been an unfamiliar feeling of hope lingering around the Meadowlands this offseason, but no one expected it to start like this.
The rookie QB looked more than competent as Gang Green routed the Lions 48-17, but the fireworks came in the third quarter, when the Jets scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in the space of just 156 seconds. What a treat for one of the most beleagured fanbases in the NFL.
— NFL (@NFL) 11 September 2018
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There was nothing illusory about the Fitzmagic lighting up the New Orleans Superbowl on Sunday night. Journeyman backup Ryan Fitzpatrick torched the Saints’ defense on Sunday night, helping himself to 417 yards, four passing touchdowns and another one on the ground. The fact he could go back to being utterly terrible again next week only adds to the excitement.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
It’s best case scenario in Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes, unleashed on the AFC after backing up Alex Smith in his rookie season, threw darts all over Los Angeles on Sunday - mostly to Tyreek Hill, who is already making his fantasy owners very happy people.
Combine Mahomes’ bazooka arm, Hill’s explosiveness and some inventive play calling in the red zone and you have a sizzling highlight reel of an offense ready to take the league by storm.