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Mason's Power Rankings: Three AFC West teams in top 10

Posted Sep 12, 2017

And all of them are in the top half of the league, befitting a division that looks like it could be the league's best from top to bottom.

1. GREEN BAY (1-0)

One of two teams (along with Denver) that ranked in the league's top five in third-down offense and third-down defense, the Packers throttled the Seahawks in a game that wasn't as close as the 17-9 margin indicated.

2. PITTSBURGH (1-0)

Time will tell, but the unexpectedly close win over the Browns probably said more about the collection of talent Cleveland has put together than any weaknesses in the Steelers.

3. KANSAS CITY (1-0)

In their 42-point deluge at New England, the Chiefs showed a pick-your-poison attack that will cause myriad problems for teams that have coverage issues.

4. NEW ENGLAND (0-1)

Yes, this was the Patriots' first Week 1 home loss since 2000, Bill Belichick's first season, and yes, they did finish 5-11 that year. But their three Lombardi Trophies in their last three seasons in which they lost in Week 1 regardless of venue show how effective Belichick and his staff are at making corrections and adapting to a team's ever-evolving strengths and weaknesses.

5. ATLANTA (1-0)

They're still ironing out the rough spots on offense as they make the transition from Kyle Shanahan to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but given the Bears' recent tendency to give elite teams fits at home, a 23-17 win was a solid result.

6. DALLAS (1-0)

Although the Cowboys only finished with one touchdown, they were the only team that did not go three-and-out in Week 1. 

7. OAKLAND (1-0)

Sleep-deprived thought: Following the year off, could Marshawn Lynch become this generation's John Riggins? He skipped the 1980 season in a holdout, reported back to the Redskins in 1981 by proclaiming, "I'm broke, I'm bored and I'm back," and then had a four-year renaissance that took him to a Super Bowl MVP trophy and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

8. DENVER (1-0)

New horizons can open up for the offense if the Broncos can continue utilizing the tight ends as they did Monday night (five catches, 98 yards). For this offense, think of Week 1 as an appetizer, serving enough tasty morsels to tantalize your taste buds and make you hungry for more.

9. MINNESOTA (1-0)

The Vikings hammered away at the Saints on Monday night, and they finished Week 1 with a league-leading 61.5 net yards and 3.6 net points per possession.

10. TAMPA BAY (0-0)

The feared knockout punch from Hurricane Irma was only a "glancing blow," in the words of Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, and the Bucs will return to normal this week, with their home game against the Bears going off as scheduled on Sunday. 

11. SEATTLE (0-1)

Too low? Perhaps. But the Seahawks are 4-5 since last Thanksgiving and have been held to 10 or fewer points in three of their last five road games.

12. MIAMI (0-0)

As a result of the hurricane-caused postponement of their Week 1 game against the Bucs, Miami will not play at Hard Rock Stadium until Oct. 8. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told The Miami Herald that he asked about moving an Oct. 1 game from London -- which is a Dolphins home game in name only -- back to Miami, but had his request denied.

13. DETROIT (1-0)

Sixteen teams did not go for two as often in the entirety of the 2016 season as the Lions did Sunday alone (three times, failing on all of them).

14. NEW YORK GIANTS (0-1)

It will get better when Odell Beckham Jr. returns, but on Sunday night, it was ugly.

15. TENNESSEE (0-1)

The on-side kickoff to open their loss to the Raiders -- and their season -- was a surprise coming from a team that tied for a division crown last year and probably didn't need such a gambit to stay with the Raiders.

16. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-1)

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said after the loss to the Broncos that he "should have been more patient" and "stayed true to the run game" when the Chargers fell behind by two scores in the second half. But at that point, Denver's defensive line was controlling the line of scrimmage, so would that have been the best play? Still, their fourth-quarter comeback and their opportunistic play demonstrates that this is a team that should hang around for a while.

17. PHILADELPHIA (1-0)

Young quarterbacks sometimes come out firing, then struggle as defenses adjust. Their long-term success ends up being determined by how they respond to the defense's counter-moves. Carson Wentz appears to be in the start of that response phase; in his last two regular-season games, he's 43-of-82 for 552 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception.

18. CAROLINA (1-0)

With the Bills and Saints up next at home, a 3-0 start would come as no surprise.

19. JACKSONVILLE (1-0)

Ten-sack games, like the one the Jaguars posted in Houston have always been special. But in the 1980s and 1990s, there were an average of 1.3 10-sack games league-wide per season, according to pro-football-reference.com. Since 2000, there have been just eight 10-sack games in 18 seasons, with the Jaguars becoming the first team to hit double digits in nearly three years.

20. BALTIMORE (1-0)

Four takeaways, including two interceptions inside the Ravens' 30-yard line, helped produce a shutout that evoked the Ravens' salad days.

21. LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-0)

Wade Phillips has never failed to improve his defense in his first year on the job, so his work on that side of the football will ensure that the Rams are more competitive no matter whether Jared Goff takes the next step in his development.

22. HOUSTON (0-1)

According to Pro Football Focus, the Texans' pass protection surrendered 22 quarterback hurries to the Jaguars.

23. WASHINGTON (0-1)

If the Redskins narrowly miss the postseason, they will lament the missed opportunities Sunday as a reason why.

24. ARIZONA (0-1)

Without David Johnson for at least two months and with Carson Palmer struggling with interceptions -- he now has 25 in his last 20 starts, including 12 in his last 10 -- the trends are not promising for the Cardinals.

25. CLEVELAND (0-1)

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer "gives us hope," Browns coach Hue Jackson said as he reflected on the Browns' near-upset of the Steelers. But their chances at pulling off the biggest surprise on Lake Erie's shoreline since the 1989 Indians of "Major League" renown rest just as much on an offensive line that had some solid moments and occasional moments of brilliance from young players like rookie defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who flashed in rotational work.

26. NEW ORLEANS (0-1)

With some teams, Week 1 feels like an aberration. For the Saints, it was numbingly familiar -- a defeat like so many in the last three seasons, in which Drew Brees carried the team on his arm, but could only take it so far as the ground game sputtered and the defense collapsed.

27. CINCINNATI (0-1)

After becoming the first home team to suffer a Week 1 shutout in 11 years, there's nowhere to go but up.

28. BUFFALO (1-0)

Their Week 2 game against Carolina will provide a far better measuring stick than the Jets did.

29. CHICAGO (0-1)

The Bears being feisty at home is not a surprise. They lost one-score games at Soldier Field last year to the Titans and Packers, just as they did a year earlier to the Packers, Vikings, Broncos and Redskins, all of whom made that season's playoffs.

30. INDIANAPOLIS (0-1)

After Sunday's performance, Scott Tolzien has a career 2-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But no matter who is the quarterback, if it's not Andrew Luck, it's a big problem; since the start of the 2015 season, the Colts average 25.5 points per game with Luck at the helm and 17.4 points per game without him.

31. SAN FRANCISCO (0-1)

In the second quarter, with their game still competitive, the 49ers went for it on fourth down twice after crossing midfield -- on fourth-and-4 from the Carolina 44 and fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 45. Both attempts failed. What is interesting is that on the 49ers' first series, they elected to punt on fourth-and-2 from the Carolina 46. Such tactical choices and how head coach Kyle Shanahan evolves in his first year on the job could be the most fascinating aspects of this 49ers season as they start their long climb back.

32. NEW YORK JETS (0-1)

As a kid, I grew up cheering for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their run of 14 consecutive losing seasons. I know what it feels like to see even the faintest hope drain away in Week 1. So when I saw Juston Burris' potential pick-6 evaporate when teammate Marcus Maye was pushed into him, I cringed, with 10 bad flashbacks floating through my mind.

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