By Nick Ferraro
1. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were impressive on the road against a quality opponent. It was a nice ramp-up for Monday’s tilt with the Eagles. There were some protection issues, but the ‘Boys showed very few weaknesses overall.
2. New York Giants
The offense sputtered after the first half, but the defense showed it can still shut people down despite the personnel losses. The Redskins lack firepower, but a win is a win. The running game was impressive. If they continue that trend, their aggressive defense will be well-rested every time it takes the field.
3. New England Patriots
It will be fascinating to see how the Pats do without their personal Top Model. The Matt Cassel show plays Broadway next week. That is can’t miss TV. The Jets might have the upper hand for the first time in a long time. The downside is that you don’t want to lose at home to Matt Cassel. Now, the pressure is on the Jets. How quickly things change.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were dominant Sunday. Their offensive line appears to have taken offense to the reports of their demise. They travel to Cleveland where we will find out just how good they are.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers were 13-3 last season. That is something most people have forgotten amidst the Favre media storm. There is an exciting, young, and talented team surrounding Aaron Rogers. He doesn’t need to be great. He was good on Monday, and it was enough to spike the Pack’s main division foe.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles put on a show at the Rams expense. They shouldn’t let it go to their head too much this week. They play the varsity on Monday in Dallas. McNabb might have a true target at WR in rookie DeSean Jackson. The last time there was a stud at WR in Philly, it meant a trip to the big game.
7. San Diego Chargers
It might be time to review the training camp regimen in San Diego. Again the Chargers are starring 0-2 in the face after a less-than-impressive season-opening game on Sunday. Denver could put the favorite two games back to start the season.
8. New Orleans Saints
Reggie Bush was electric on Sunday. The Saints showed a little more defense than we’re used to, but nothing special. The new pieces need to jell to elevate this team past a tough group in the NFC South.
9. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers make the biggest jump from the pre-season rankings. Winning in San Diego without Steve Smith is impressive. The Panthers running game is for real. With Smith back in the lineup, and in control of himself, the Panthers may be back.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Okay, so the Colts can’t ignore the pre-season and just show up for week one? This team faces a physical Vikings team on the road on Sunday. Starting the year 0-2 is a real possibility. Manning and company need a good week of practice to make up for the loss of an off-season for this team to avoid starting in the hole.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals used to be able to outscore people. Now they have their trademark porous defense and an offense that has no cohesion. Marvin Lewis is one of the coaches occupying an early season hot seat.
29. Miami Dolphins
They were competitive, and they had a chance to win Sunday, but I don’t buy it. I think it’s all downhill from here for the Fish. Chalk up the inspired play to opening day and a crowd that will dwindle as the losses pile up.
30. Oakland Raiders
The Broncos just completed another pass in front of DeAngelo Hall. McFadden will be exciting, but there’s little reason to watch Oakland except to see when Al Davis fires another head coach.
31. Detroit Lions
Jon Kitna’s head looked like it might explode Sunday. The Falcons just shouldn’t have their way with anyone they way they did with Detroit.
32. St. Louis Rams
The Rams looked about as bad as a team that is paid to play can look. Torry Holt has to be a factor for this team to have a chance. The protection was bad, and the Giant’s pass rush is on its way. Yikes.