Now that week 1 is in the books, let’s look at the top 3 teams in each division. This is based off of week 1 only!
Let’s start with the NFC!
#1) San Francisco 49ers- The San Francisco 49ers showed why they are a favorite to make it to Super Bowl XLVII this year, with an emphatic 30-22 Week 1 win. Everyone knew about their dominant defense, but the Niners showed some flair on offense as well with their added weapons. And San Francisco ultimately turned in a solid late-game effort to snuff out Green Bay’s late comeback attempt.Alex Smith found his targets all day long—including newcomers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss—for eight passes and one TD.Frank Gore was his typical, reliable self, gaining 112 yards on 16 carries, and helping the Niners eat up clock in the fourth quarter before scoring a TD that gave San Francisco some breathing room.
The Niners look as good as advertised. NFC beware!
#2) Atlanta Falcons- the Atlanta Falcons have found their killer instinct. Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, one of them to the longtime Chiefs tight end late in the third quarter, and Atlanta pulled away with a dynamic second-half scoring outburst for a 40-24 season-opening victory over Kansas City.
Matt Ryan and the offense were rolling on Sunday. Julio Jones scored twice, Ryan ran another in and the passing game in general looked as good as it ever has during Ryan’s time in Atlanta. If their defense can hold up all season they may be looking at a great post-season run.
#3) Dallas Cowboys- I know I’m going to take some heat for picking the cowboys over the bears, but the bears faced a rookie quarterback. A win over the reigning Super Bowl champions is a pretty good way to start the season. The Dallas Cowboys were better than the 24-17 final score would indicate. The offensive line did a fine job protecting Tony Romo against a front four that was hyped as the best in the game, which only sacked Romo just twice all game.
The Cowboys defense did a fine job, sacking Eli Manning three times and limiting New York’s time of possession to just over 25 minutes.
Now The AFC!
1) New England Patriots- The New England Patriots are still elite.
Tom Brady and the offense rolled through a very good Tennessee Titans defense en route to 34 points and an easy Week 1 win. Brady’s timing with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez was on display again, resulting in two touchdowns. Oh, and the Patriots found a run game. Stevan Ridley went over 100 yards and put the ball in the end zone.
The defense looked faster and stronger than in years past. They held Chris Johnson to four yards rushing and knocked quarterback Jake Locker from the game, all while limiting Tennessee to 13 points. The Pats are going nowhere!
2) Baltimore Ravens- The Baltimore Ravens turned a seven-point game at halftime into a 44-13 beatdown on the strength of Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and a defense that didn’t look like they miss Terrell Suggs at all.
The Ravens’ talent level is outstanding, maybe the best in the entire NFL, and that was on showcase Monday night. Without Suggs in the lineup, Baltimore was able to get pressure off the edge by blitzing Ray Lewis more, but rolling in Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan, and by adjusting the scheme so that someone was consistently pressuring Andy Dalton. And it worked!
On offense the Ravens couldn’t have looked better. Joe Flacco showed off his arm strength and Torrey Smith’s first game in his second season was a great start for a player with breakout potential.
3) Houston Texans-J.J. Watt is quickly becoming one of the NFL’s most dominant defenders. We saw it in the 2011 playoffs, and that same ability was on display again in Week 1.
Watt and the Houston defense did exactly what was expected of them against the Miami Dolphins offense, but it was their execution that was most impressive. The Texans defense is very balanced—they’re able to stop the run and pass without a drop-off—and that’s a big reason why they’re ranked as our No. 4 team.
Arian Foster and Andre Johnson looked like their regular All-Pro selves in this one. Johnson led the way for the passing game, and Foster’s two touchdowns contributed to a 20-point win.
These six teams are ahead of the curve! Others who received some votes: Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, New York Jets and the Denver Broncos.
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