Is it any wonder that we come back to the NFL each September, drooling like Pavlov's dog?
Consider the unexpected results of kickoff weekend 2010.
Eight members of our preseason Dynamic Dozen
lost in Week 1. And although four of these losses were to fellow Dozeners, that's still a pretty bold statement about the tenuous nature of success in the NFL.
At the other end rankings, only one member of our preseason Terrible Ten
got beaten squarely (Oakland) while Seattle, Kansas City and Washington, terrible teams in 2009, beat playoff favorites here in 2010.
On to the rankings! And sorry for the drool.
NEW ORLEANS (1-0)
Last week: 14-9 win vs. Minnesota
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Saints carried on an excellent NFL tradition Thursday, becoming the 11th straight defending Super Bowl champion to win their opening game. They were, however, the first defending champ to achieve a near-perfect 95.2 percent rating on our new Hammered Fan Index.
2. GREEN BAY (1-0)
Last week: 27-20 win at Philadelphia
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: LB Clay Matthews III made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year and delivered two sacks in a dominating effort in Week 1. Is it time to say that he and his dad, Clay Jr, a four-time Pro Bowl LB with the Browns, are the greatest father-son duo of all time? Sorry, Mannings, but Archie wasn't that good. And let's not forget that Clay's uncle, Bruce, was a dominating OT who's now in the Hall of Fame. Oh, yeah, there's granddaddy Clay Sr., too. He played four years with the 49ers in the 1950s.
3. BALTIMORE (1-0)
10-9 win at N.Y. Jets
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
It wasn't pretty, but the Ravens found a way to beat the Jets
and the hype in New York. That's a big deal. Give credit to Ozzie Newsome – without new acquisition Anquan Boldin (10 targets, 119 yards against the defending Defensive Passer Rating champs), the Ravens don't win that game. Bonus fact: Willis McGahee scored a touchdown despite finishing with negative rushing yards (6 attempts for -2 yards) for the second time in two seasons. No mean feat: a running back has scored a rushing touchdown with negative rushing yards just nine times since 2000.
4. NEW ENGLAND (1-0)
Last week: 38-24 win vs. Cincinnati
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: How important is Tom Brady's success to the Patriots' success? When his passer rating is more than 100, New England is 55-3. Brady posted a 120.9 rating in the win over Cincy.
5. HOUSTON (1-0)
Last week: 34-24 win vs. Indianapolis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Apparently, the Texans found the magic number for beating the Colts: 34. They had never scored 30+ against Indy, suffering a 1-15 record in the process. Congrats to the Texans for cracking the top 5 in our Power Rankings for the first time (previous high: 7th after two weeks in 2007).
6. INDIANAPOLIS (0-1)
34-24 loss at Houston
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
Peyton Manning, you magnificent bastard
! According to Pro-Football-Reference.com's Play Index
, just eight players have passed 50+ times for 400+ yards with zero interceptions (four Hall of Famers, a couple of solid pros, and inexplicably Matt Cassel and Tim Rattay). One heck of a performance, Peyton. Must be September.
7. MINNESOTA (0-1)
Last week: 14-9 loss at New Orleans
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Don't order that bronze bust just yet! Over his last 10 games, including playoffs, Adrian Peterson has produced just two runs of 20+ yards and one 100-yard rushing game. He rushed 19 times for 87 yards and 0 TD in the loss to New Orleans.
8. PITTSBURGH (1-0)
Last week: 15-9 win vs. Atlanta
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Hines Ward is quietly playing as well in his mid 30s as he did in his four straight Pro Bowl years of 2001-2004. During that span, he averaged 6 catches for 71 YPG. Since Week 9 of 2008, he's averaged 5.8 catches for 75 YPG.
9. N.Y. GIANTS (1-0)
Last week: 31-18 win vs. Carolina
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Giants held Panthers QB Matt Moore to a 32.6 passer rating. That performance had to feel good for last year's No. 29 team in Defensive Passer Rating (95.14).
10. TENNESSEE (1-0)
Last week: 38-13 win vs. Oakland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: When Vince Young throws 15 to 25 passes in a game (17 on Sunday), the Titans are 17-5. When he throws 25+, they're 8-8. But either way, the kid keeps winning – he's now 27-13 in 40 pro starts. Tom Brady, modern football's winningest quarterback, was 28-12 in his first 40 pro starts.
11. MIAMI (1-0)
Last week: 15-10 win at Buffalo
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Dolphins defense forced the Bills into 10 carries for losses (29.4 percent of attempts) and hit Trent Edwards 21.6 percent of dropbacks. Yes, it was against Buffalo. But those are numbers you don't see often in an NFL game.
12. PHILADELPHIA (0-1)
Last week: 27-20 loss vs. Green Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Say what you want about Michael Vick, but he finished with 100+ yards rushing and a passer rating over 100. That combo's been accomplished just three other times (min. 20 pass attempts). Vick himself did it twice in 2004. Randall Cunningham pulled of that feat once in 1990.
13. DALLAS (0-1)
Last week: 13-7 loss at Washington
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Wow. The Cowboys' loss to the Redskins was the most brutal sight Dallas fans have seen since J.R. Ewing was shot way back in the spring of 1980. Jerry Jones is the Week 1 leader on the Furious Owner Index.
14. N.Y. JETS (0-1)
Last week: 10-9 loss vs. Baltimore
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: There were a laundry list of negatives for the Jets Monday night, and allowing six first downs by penalty has to be high on the list. Just don't blame the run defense. It allowed 49 yards on 35 carries (1.4 YPA), no run longer than seven yards, and forced a fumble – against a running team. The Ravens ranked No. 4 last year with 4.72 YPA on the ground.
15. ATLANTA (0-1)
Last week: 15-9 loss at Pittsburgh
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Falcons just seem destined never to quite rise above the high end of mediocre. Since Mike Smith took over in 2008, they have two three-game win streaks and five two-win streaks, but they always come back down to earth.
16. SAN DIEGO (0-1)
Last week: 21-14 loss at Kansas City
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chargers hoped rookie RB Ryan Matthews would turn around a running game that averaged a league-worst 3.33 YPA in 2009. Not to be: San Diego averaged 3.76 YPA against a Chiefs team that possessed our No. 29 Defensive Hogs in 2009.
17. WASHINGTON (1-0)
Last week: 13-7 win vs. Dallas
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: You can't discount a win over a good team. But did the 2010 Redskins of Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan look any different than the Zorn/Campbell Skins? Last year's game in Washington had similar yardage numbers and a good effort by the Washington D. But the final score was 17-0 Dallas. Take away that terrible last play of the first half by Dallas, and it's "Same Ole Skins."
18. CINCINNATI (0-1)
Last week: 38-24 loss at New England
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Terrell Owens' fourth "fresh start" had a definite whiff of mildew to it. He was targeted 13 times against the Patriots' young cornerbacks and finished with 53 yards. That's 4.08 yards per target, not even good numbers when handing off the ball.
19. SEATTLE (1-0)
Last week: 31-6 win vs. San Francisco
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Not only are the Seahawks the new favorite in the NFC West, coach Pete Carroll is already 7.4 points ahead of the No. 2 coach on the Jacked and Pumped Index.
20. ARIZONA (1-0)
Last week: 17-13 win at St. Louis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cardinals were without their No. 1 running back, breaking in a new QB, trying to get Larry Fitzgerald up to full strength, fumbled seven times and allowed 10 catches to a receiver that barely knew the system (Mark Clayton). End result? Win. Must have played the Rams.
21. JACKSONVILLE (1-0)
Last week: 24-17 win vs. Denver
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: David Garrard evens his record at 33-33 all time as a starter, which seems pretty fitting for a guy who just about matched the league average for passer rating last year (83.5).
22. CHICAGO (1-0)
Last week: 19-14 win vs. Detroit
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Do NFL victories come any cheaper than disputed season-opening home wins over the Lions?
23. CAROLINA (0-1)
Last week: 31-18 loss at N.Y. Giants
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Team nickname is "Panthers." A forgettable game by a team some people seem to swoon for before each season.
24. KANSAS CITY (1-0)
Last week: 21-14 win vs. San Diego
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles closed the 2009 season with games of 143, 154, 102 and 259 yards rushing. The Chiefs draft a running back early, sign Thomas Jones, bring Charles off the bench Monday ... and he rushes 11 times for 92 yards and a TD. Note to Chiefs: Charles is good.
25. SAN FRANCISCO (0-1)
Last week: 31-6 loss at Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The good news for San Fran is that they've got an easy game this Sunday. Oh no, wait, they play New Orleans. Welcome to Owentooville. Population You.
26. TAMPA BAY (1-0)
Last week: 17-14 win vs. Cleveland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tampa's key to victory Sunday? They played Cleveland.
27. DENVER (0-1)
Last week: 24-17 loss at Jacksonville
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The best part of Week 1 for Denver was probably watching tape of the other three AFC West teams. Kansas City, 4-12 last year, was the most impressive of the bunch – and even the Chiefs weren't impressive, beating division rival San Diego at home on a day when their quarterback passed for 68 yards.
28. DETROIT (0-1)
Last week: 19-14 loss at Chicago
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Lions only rushed for six yards on first down against the newly stingy Bears, who were 25th on our Defensive Hog Index last year.
29. CLEVELAND (0-1)
Last week: 17-14 loss at Tampa
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Kick returner Josh Cribbs' terrible performance was probably the difference between winning and losing. He returned three kicks for 15 yards each, three punts at nine a crack, couldn't top six yards on five touches on offense, and fumbled. And he's Cleveland's gamebreaker.
30. BUFFALO (0-1)
Last week: 15-10 loss vs. Miami
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Note to the Bills: check downs ain't working. Buffalo attempted to throw 12 passes to their running backs on Sunday, completed six of them ... for a total of EIGHT yards. Maybe just hand the ball to them next week?
31. ST. LOUIS (0-1)
Last week: 17-13 loss vs. Arizona
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Sam Bradford sure got a lot of applause for a guy who averaged 4.6 YPA, threw 3 picks and missed throws all day in a home loss. It did have a bit of a Peyton Manning rookie year feel, though, and Indy's record in 1998 (3-13) will be right in the ballpark.
32. OAKLAND (0-1)
38-13 loss at Tennessee
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ahhh. This just feels right. If you're scoring at home, the Raiders haven't topped .500 since Week 3 of 2004. That's a pretty remarkable string, kind of like missing all 20 of your numbers on Keno.