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The CHARGED Elite: Week One

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The 49ers, Patriots, Ravens, Falcons and Texans make up the top five after the first game.

The CHARGED Elite: Week One

Coming up with power rankings for a sport after just one week is really a futile practice.  There's no way to properly assess where teams properly fit in the hierarchy with such a small sample size.  Some teams are already dealing with injuries.  Some just had off first games.  The picture is far from complete, but that doesn't mean we don't love futile exercises as much as the next person.  Without further delay, here are the first CHARGED Elite Rankings of the 2012 season.

1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) - While several of the top teams looked terrific in week one, only one of those teams beat one of the prospective Super Bowl favorites.  Not only did the 49ers beat the Packers, they did it convincingly.  San Francisco will be hard to beat once again this season with efforts like that.

2. New England Patriots (1-0) - Two things really surprised me in New England's win over Tennessee: the performance of Stevan Ridley and the new speed and athleticism on defense.  Ridley did it all for the Patriots out of the backfield, and the defense received immediate contributions from rookies Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, and Tavon Wilson.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) - Joe Flacco looked like he did towards the end of the 2011 season on Monday night: sharp.  Flacco was 22/29 for 299 yards and two scores against the Bengals.  The no-huddle offense seems to suit him, and if Flacco has taken the next step, the Ravens could be looking at a trip to the Super Bowl.

4. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) - Another quarterback that looked in prime form was Matt Ryan of the Falcons.  Ryan also threw for 299 yards in their 40-24 win over the Chiefs.  With the receiving threats that Atlanta possesses, Ryan could be poised for a dominant year passing the ball.  They will need it if Michael Turner slows down this season.

5. Houston Texans (1-0) - 266 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions from Matt Schaub.  79 yards and two touchdowns for Arian Foster.  9 catches, 118 yards and a touchdown for Andre Johnson.  Par for the course.  When these three are healthy, Houston is dangerous.

6. Denver Broncos (1-0) - With a healthy Peyton Manning, the Broncos should have no trouble winning the AFC West.  They need to hope that the combination of Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno holds up in the backfield to take some pressure off the passing game.

7. Green Bay Packers (0-1) - When all is said and done, Green Bay will be one of the teams atop the standings in the NFC.  I'm not sure how many teams would have been able to beat the 49ers last Sunday, but the Packers have to move on quickly in preparation for a Thursday night game against division rivals Chicago.

8. New York Jets (1-0) - I wasn't the only one surprised by the offensive onslaught Mark Sanchez led, was I?  Even with all of that offense, they gave up some big offensive plays once the lead was large enough and the defense relaxed.  Rex Ryan couldn't have liked his defense giving up 169 yards on the ground to C.J. Spiller, but he must have loved the two touchdown receptions by rookie receiver Stephen Hill.  

9. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) - Tony Romo really only made one bad pass last Wednesday night, and other than that he was sterling in his dissection of the Giants secondary.  Combined with a solid run game and that improved secondary, the Cowboys just had the feel of a different team.  The increased swagger was probably due in part to Jerry Jones' new rap status.

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10. Chicago Bears (1-0) - You can see early on what Brandon Marshall is going to mean for that Chicago offense.  Not only will he open up things for Matt Forte in the running game, but he'll give receivers like Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, and rookie Alshon Jeffrey ample room to operate.  If the line gives Cutler time in the pocket, he'll be able to find these guys.

11. Washington Redskins (1-0) - The guy that not enough people are talking about after Washington's win over New Orleans is rookie running back Alfred Morris, who pounded the Saints on the ground with 28 carries, 96 yards and two scores.  Morris emerged late as the starter for Shanahan, but if he can provide that kind of production next to Griffin, it will make their offense much more versatile.

12. Detroit Lions (1-0) - Matthew Stafford's game wasn't pretty against the Rams, but he was clutch when it counted.  It says something about your team when you can throw three interceptions and still find yourself in a position to win late.  I doubt we'll see Stafford have many more games like that this season, but if he does, Detroit might be in trouble.

13. New Orleans Saints (0-1) - The offense, though outperformed by the Redskins, still looked good for the Saints.  It was the defense that was more troubling as they gave up 459 yards of offense to Washington.  New coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has his hands full this season.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) - The defense really missed James Harrison on Sunday against the Broncos.  They only put three hits on Peyton Manning all game, and when the offense was struggling to get anything going against a stingy defense, they have to keep the other team at bay.  Pittsburgh could use some improved performance from their running game as well.

15. San Diego Chargers (1-0) - Nate Kaeding is back to being the best kicker in the league, and it only took him a week.  Kaeding was a perfect 5-5 on field goal tries, including nailing two from further than 40 yards out.  He provided most of the offense for the Chargers on Monday night in their win against the Raiders.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) - Rookie running back Doug Martin had himself a fine debut, rushing for 95 yards on 24 carries and catching another four passes.  Tampa Bay kept the ball out of Cam Newton's hands, possessing the football for 37:27 minutes compared to Carolina's 22:33, and that was the difference in a close game.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) - If Michael Vick is going to be dropping back to pass 56 times every game, he won't last the season as the starting quarterback.  Between the four interceptions he threw and the beating he is going to take from opposing defenses, Andy Reid has to find a better way to run the offense for the Eagles.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) - The Chiefs showed plenty of skill on both sides of the ball in their opener, but they ran into a buzz saw in the Atlanta Falcons.  Compared to the Chargers and Raiders, Kansas City looked much more ready to compete in the AFC West in these eyes.

19. New York Giants (0-1) - The defense can't go another game without getting a sack/QB hit from their explosive defensive ends.  They put plenty of pressure on Tony Romo but couldn't finish the job.  They will face another fairly mobile quarterback in Josh Freeman on Sunday, and will have to make sure to get to the apply more successful pressure this time.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) - Similar to the Chiefs, the Bengals just didn't really have a chance against the monster that was the Ravens.  It's only one game, but it has to be slightly alarming for a team that made the playoffs last year and seemed poised to build on that.

21. Arizona Cardinals (1-0) - Winning despite losing your starting back is never unimpressive, and Kevin Kolb came in and really got the job done.  He has a great opportunity to show that he really deserves the starting job, and Arizona needs stability right now at the quarterback position.

22. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) - The good news is the Vikings have Adrian Peterson back and that he looked extremely effective against the Jaguars.  The bad news is that they could have very easily lost that game.  Some mistakes by the Jaguars proved huge, but a win is obviously a win.  

23. St. Louis Rams (0-1) - The Rams almost pulled off a stunner against the Lions, and Sam Bradford looked much improved from last season.  Stephen Jackson had a rough first game, averaging just 2.5 yards a carry, but the whole offense was far from great.

24. Buffalo Bills (0-1) - That was not an ideal start to the season for the Bills.  They get blown out on the road by a divisional rival, they lose starting running back Fred Jackson for at least four weeks with a leg injury, and they lose wide receiver David Nelson for the season to an ACL tear.  At least C.J. Spiller had that monster game.

25. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) - The Russell Wilson era didn't get off to the greatest of starts, but he wasn't terrible.  The pressure will be on Pete Carroll if Wilson doesn't start getting wins, especially after the front office handed out that lucrative contract to Matt Flynn.

26. Carolina Panthers (0-1) - Cam Newton still put up some awfully impressive numbers despite barely having the ball, but again the defense couldn't keep the Bucs off the field.  The defense held Tampa Bay to 16 points, but they gave up way too much time of possession.  The ball needs to be in Newton's hands.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) - Blaine Gabbert looked better (albeit very inaccurate), and Maurice Jones-Drew had the expected rust after his holdout.  This team will be better offensively once Jones-Drew rounds into form, but Gabbert has to improve his accuracy.

28. Tennessee Titans (0-1) - I thought Jake Locker looked much improved against New England, and it's a shame he injured himself when the play should have been blown dead.  If I were Tennessee, I would be concerned with Chris Johnson.  Yes New England's defense is improved, but four yards on 11 carries is worrisome.

29. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) - Andrew Luck made plenty of mistakes in his first NFL start, but how often do you make your debut against a defense like the Bears?  He seems to have firmly established his connection with Reggie Wayne early, which can never be a bad thing.

30. Oakland Raiders (0-1) - All long-snapper jokes aside, Oakland needs more out of Darren McFadden in the backfield.  Yes he caught 13 passes, but if the Radiers can't establish a solid running game, I'm not sure where that team goes. 

31. Miami Dolphins (0-1) - With the offseason that the Dolphins had, that performance was just about what you would expect.  Ryan Tannehill is going to take a while to develop, and as a result, Reggie Bush is not going to get swarmed by opposing defenses.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-1) - This just about sums Cleveland's day (even when they almost won):

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Do you agree with the rankings?  Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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