NFL Power Rankings: 49ers earn top spot in Week 1

Randy Moss is indeed back, and the 49ers are a force to be reckoned with.

The 2012 NFL season has finally arrived and so have we. After a wild Week 1 (OK, so it wasn’t that wild, pretty much went as expected) we count ‘em down from No. 1 to No. 32 …

1. 49ers (1-0): They have the best defense and best coach in football. Heck, even Randy Moss contributed. They spent an entire year battling to earn some respect from the league and media. They made the NFC?Championship game. And they still were picked to lose to the Packers without putting up much of a fight. Jim Harbaugh and crew wanted to make a statement in Week 1, and make a statement they did. They earn our top spot.

2. Patriots (1-0): Teams have had two years to gather tape on tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, and still no one has an answer for either of them.

3. Ravens (1-0): It’s time to stop hating on Joe Flacco. He can make all the throws and this team is loaded on offense, for a change. Watch out, NFL.

4. Broncos (1-0): So much for worrying about all that rust on Peyton Manning. It’s like he never left. And he has a much better all-around defense in Denver than he had in Indy.

5. Falcons (1-0): The aerial show they’ve been building and investing in is better than advertised. Did you see Julio Jones on Sunday?

6. Cowboys (1-0): Tony Romo always looks good in September, right? DeMarco Murray and Kevin Ogletree look like solid contributors as well. For now, they are contenders.

7. Bears (1-0): Naming former Vikings head coach Mike Tice offensive coordinator was maybe the biggest move any team made this offseason. Jay Cutler should be thankful.

8. Texans (1-0): We’ll take Arian Foster on one bad knee, with this dominating defense. Everyone’s favorite Super Bowl pick may finally come through.

9. Steelers (0-1): Sure they lost to an impressive Denver team, but they were one or two plays away. Tracy Porter, anyone? Big Ben will be fine. Aren’t the Steelers always there at the end?

10. NY Jets (1-0): Who needs Tim Tebow? For one week, Mark Sanchez looked like Joe Namath. Stephen Hill looked like Don Maynard. And Darrelle Revis looked like … Darrelle Revis.

11. Redskins (1-0): Robert Griffin III isn’t Cam Newton. He might be better. Put him on a team with Brian Orakpo and a motivated DeAngelo Hall, and you have a winner.

12. Packers (0-1): The Pack will score points, but they won’t get to where they want to go — nothing short of Super Bowl — until the defense can figure it out.

13. NY Giants (0-1): They were due for a letdown after last year’s magical run to the championship. It’s too early to panic: The Giants will be fine.

14. Chargers (1-0): Phillip Rivers was humming, but can’t settle for all those field goals.

15. Buccaneers (1-0): NFL’s most improved. Held Panthers to 10 rushing yards. Yes, 10.

16. Lions (1-0): Flashed explosiveness that made them trendy pick after slow, slow start.

17. Vikings (1-0): All Day’s performance alone worthy of a middle-round ranking. If only we had been so smart in our fantasy draft …

18. Saints (0-1): Critics will blame Bountygate, but they kind of ran into a buzz saw. Who Dat? Who Dat? We’ll find out this week.

19. Bengals (0-1): One bad throw (Andy Dalton) or one great pick (Ed Reed) sealed fate. Bengals will bounce back.

20. Cardinals (1-0): Kevin Kolb, enjoy this week. That was a heck of a drive to win it.

21. Raiders (0-1): New season, same old Raiders, doomed by dumb penalties and embarrassingly bad special teams play. Carson Palmer severely missed his deep threats in Week 1.
 
22. Titans (0-1): Chris Johnson (4 yards) picked up where he left off in 2011 and Jake Locker hurt his non-throwing shoulder. Not an impressive start, but the Pats revamped defense didn’t give them much room to breathe.
 
23. Rams (0-1): Struggled on third down and showed they still lack a legit receiver. Still, they hung around for four quarters, thanks to new coach Jeff Fisher’s defense, which forced three interceptions.
 
24. Panthers (0-1): Have teams found a way to scheme for Cam Newton? The living, breathing video game looked pretty pedestrian. Chalk it up as a superstar trying to do too much.
 
25. Chiefs (0-1): This was a bad matchup for the Chiefs, who were forced into a track meet early and couldn’t keep up. They’ll rebound. There’s too much talent on both sides of the ball.
 
26. Eagles (0-1): Mike Vick looks broken — not physically, but mentally. If he doesn’t improve, Andy Reid is either going to have to make a switch at QB or give it to LeSean McCoy on every down.
 
27. Colts (0-1): Andrew Luck raised expectations a bit too high after a breakout preseason. The rookie QB is still learning and flashed promise at times. He just can’t turn the ball over that much.
 
28. Jaguars (0-1): Bad to worse. Blaine Gabbert doesn’t look like the franchise QB the Jags had hoped for, and Maurice Jones-Drew looked like a player coming off a long holdout.  
 
28. Seahawks (0-1): Replacement refs gave them an extra timeout in the closing minutes and they still lost to Arizona. Another team in desperate need of a No. 1 wideout.
 
30. Dolphins (0-1): The ’Fins were actually better than anticipated after watching them struggle through “Hard Knocks.” Luckily, Ryan Tannehill (3 picks) won’t have to face Houston every week.
 
31. Bills (0-1): Everyone’s sleeper pick in the AFC East never woke up. With no Fred Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s noodle arm, it could be a long season.
 
32. Browns (0-1): Where to begin? The Eagles tried their best to hand them a win, but Brandon Weeden (5.1 QB rating) declined the invitation. He was so bad that Colt McCoy was laughing.



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