I must confess I feel like flip-flopping my Super Bowl pick from New England and Green Bay. It is after all a political year.
Normally a Week 1 knee-jerk reaction is a mistake. But there were some revelations that make San Francisco and Baltimore the Super Bowl favorites after Week 1:
NFL power rankings after Week 1:
1. San Francisco: To go into Lambeau Field and play that well defensively the 49ers reminded everyone they were a botched special teams return from playing in last year’s Super Bowl.
2. Baltimore: The Ravens always have had a defense. The defense is aging. But Joe Flacco and an up-tempo offense will contribute more. How much the defense slips and how consistent the offense plays will determine whether this is a Super Bowl season in Baltimore.
3. New England: The Patriots remain the AFC team to beat as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback. New England has so many weapons Wes Welker had only three catches last week and the Pats romped. The defense, though, must prove it’s improved.
4. Green Bay: Don’t toss away the Packers just because Aaron Rodgers and the offense ran into the NFL’s best defense. Yes, Green Bay has some issues. Bad running game. Leaky defense. But the Packers will be a factor.
5. Dallas: The Cowboys posted one of the more impressive Week 1 wins. Dallas played well in nearly every phase. In previous years the inability to follow with another solid win has hampered Dallas. Seattle isn’t an easy place to win. A win Sunday would be huge if the Cowboys start 2-0 with two road wins.
6. Houston: The Texans are a trendy Super Bowl pick out of the AFC. Houston, featuring a solid offense and stout defense, has much to prove to join the elite but they Texans definitely a team on the rise.
7. Atlanta: The Falcons once again look like a regular season powerhouse. It’s the playoffs that have been a disappointment for Matty Ice and the Falcons.
8. Denver: Peyton Manning didn’t look like a quarterback who had sat out a year. The future Hall of Famer was sharp. The defense is pretty good. The Broncos are the team to beat in the AFC West.
9. Chicago: Stop the presses. The Bears have an offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler’s and wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s reunion, combined with Matt Forte and a decent defense, makes the Bears a formidable team.
10. New York Giants: The running game didn’t look sharp in the opener. The defense can be inconsistent. The Giants can be frustrating. But they’ve proven you can never take them lightly. They’re capable of beating anyone anywhere.
11. San Diego: Quarterback Phillip Rivers vows to make safer/wise choices to cut down on his interceptions. The defense has some question marks but is passable. When running back Ryan Matthews returns the offense will find another gear.
12. Washington: Robert Griffin III had a smashing debut. The defense was pretty good last season. The Redskins winning their opener in New Orleans was a statement win. Whether Griffin and the Redskins are a surprise team will play out week to week.