NFL Power Rankings Heading Into The 2021 Season

The NFL season is right around the corner. That means every Sunday will soon be filled with football all day long. It’s the most wonderful time of year.

This list will rank every team in the league, from top to bottom. The most exciting thing about this list will probably be how much it changes by the time Super Bowl Sunday arrives next February. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers won it all last year in the highly anticipated first year of Tampa Bay Tom Brady. The front office did an outstanding job of retaining all of their key free agents and it appears as though the team they put on the field this year will look extremely similar to the team that won the Lombardi trophy last year. The sky is the limit for Tampa Bay, and the only thing that could keep them from playing like a team that is #1 on the power rankings is a bunch of injuries to key players or Father Time finally taking a toll on Tom Brady. This team should be very good as long as neither of those things happen though.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have spent the whole off-season having nightmarish flashbacks of Patrick Mahomes running for his life for sixty minutes in the Super Bowl. They addressed the weak offensive line that caused this problem in a big way by adding Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney in the off-season. This Chiefs team should be just as good as they were last year, which means they shouldn’t be lower than #2 on this power ranking list. I love this roster from top to bottom and I honestly think they have what it takes to dethrone the Buccaneers after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to them last year. But being that both teams improved in the off-season, I’ll leave them behind the team that took them down in the Super Bowl last year.

3. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made numerous moves in the off-season that resemble a team in “win now” mode. They continue to throw draft capital around to add players, and one of those moves was acquiring Matthew Stafford. With Stafford under center now, this team should be among the clear-cut favorites to win the Super Bowl. They already have one of the best, if not the very best, defense in the league. You add Stafford and their numerous offensive weapons to their already stacked defense and I guarantee that you will be happy with the results. I’m very high on this roster and Sean McVay has no excuse to not get this team deep into the playoffs. Watch out for the Rams this season.

4. Buffalo Bills

This Bills team is incredibly talented, and they made it to the AFC Championship last year before being knocked out by the Chiefs. Josh Allen flourished and Stefon Diggs became one of the league’s best receivers. Allen should be an MVP candidate and this defense should be solid. As long as those things happen, this Bills team could very well hoist the Lombardi trophy in February. They returned their key players and have a young and improving roster. This team is only getting better and will be one of the best teams to step on an NFL field this season. The Bills are going to make a splash after coming up just short last season.

5. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens finally won a playoff game last season after two seasons of disappointing playoff losses with Lamar Jackson under center. This team has an elite defense and an explosive offense. Nobody is going to look forward to playing them this season, but they have to find consistency and get hot at the right time to make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins could both rush for 1000 yards while their defense shreds opposing offenses. They’ll have to show up in the playoffs like they did against the Titans last season. This is an ultra-talented roster with high expectations to reach, and I think they’ll continue to grow with Jackson and that dangerous defense.

6. Cleveland Browns

Who would’ve thought a few years ago that the Browns would be ranked #6 overall in the preseason power rankings this year? Not many people, that’s for sure. This Browns team is just so talented though. They have their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the best running back duo in the league, an elite receiving corps, and an improving defense. They won a playoff game last year and were about to take down the Chiefs before Chad Henne became a Kansas City folk hero and sent them packing. This team is elite, and I will die on that hill. They could very well represent the AFC in the Super Bowl by beating the other talented teams in their conference. The once lovable losers are now the big dogs on campus and will play some great football this season, and Browns fans deserve it.

7. Tennessee Titans

The Titans were a dark horse Super Bowl team heading into last season, and they played like it in the regular season. They got knocked out by the Ravens and then had a shaky off-season early on by losing some key players. They ended up finishing strong and adding some much-needed defensive help in the draft and through free agency. Oh, they also got Julio Jones. That helps. This team’s offense is going to be a nightmare to play against. They have a talented quarterback in Tannehill, the league’s best running back in Derrick Henry, and arguably the most dynamic receiving duo in the league in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. They need this defense to hold up and play well to compete with the powerhouses in the AFC, but if the defense does, this team could very well win it all this season.

8. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts were a good team last season. Sadly, being good doesn’t get much farther than a playoff exit. They responded by making a move for their franchise QB and having a very solid draft. Their off-season moves may have made this team Super Bowl contenders after years of being no more than a “playoff-caliber team.” I’m a huge fan of this roster from top to bottom, and they are this season’s dark horse team to win it all for me. I’m going to be cautious and not put them any higher than this until Carson Wentz proves that he can play like he did in 2017 and the team shows that last year’s success wasn’t a fluke. If both of these things happen, watch out for Carson Wentz and the new look Indianapolis Colts in this upcoming season.

9. Green Bay Packers

The future of the Green Bay Packers is probably the murkiest in the league. If we knew Aaron Rodgers was coming back then they’d be higher on this rankings list, and if we knew he wasn’t coming back then they’d be lower on it. The reigning MVP playing in Green Bay would make them a top 5 team, but without him, they won’t even win the division. This roster is very similar to how it looked last year and they worked hard to bring back their star running back Aaron Jones. This team was very close to the Super Bowl last year, and the return of Aaron Rodgers would undoubtedly make them a contender again. Until the future of Rodgers is more clear, I won’t put them any higher than right here.

10. Miami Dolphins

I feel like I’m a lot higher on the Dolphins than most people, and I think they are going to surprise a lot of people after a late-season collapse cost them a playoff appearance. They’ll need Tua Tagovailoa to make a huge jump in his sophomore season and get good production out of their talented receiving group. The running back situation is still rough, and the offensive line needs consistency, but I think Miami will be better this year than they were last year at both of those positions. The Xavien Howard fiasco could hurt this talented defense a lot, but overall, this is a great unit that should play good football this season. I don’t see the Dolphins as Super Bowl contenders quite yet, but I’m going to compare them to last year’s Bills team that took a huge jump and surprised a lot of people. Don’t jump on the Dolphins bandwagon just yet, but also don’t sleep on this young and improving Dolphins team.

11. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are an interesting team heading into this year. They lost one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever touch a football field, but they are operating as though they can still win a Super Bowl. An optimist could point out that they are 8-1 over their last two seasons when a backup quarterback starts the game, and Jameis Winston is due for a huge year after learning from Sean Payton and Drew Brees last year. There are going to be growing pains and the usual heartbreaks associated with being a Saints fan, but overall, this team is easily a playoff team and will surprise a lot of people. Jameis Winston is no Drew Brees, but GM Mickey Loomis has made sure that the Saints will put a competitive team on the field this year despite the cap trouble they were in earlier in the off-season. Watch out for the new-look Saints this season, they may just fly under the radar and make a nice playoff run.

12. Washington Football Team

The team without a name made the playoffs last year. They also almost beat the eventual Super Bowl champs. Their defense is outstanding and will propel this team into playoff contention regardless of the play of the offense. I like the moves they made to improve the offense in the off-season though, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will help Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel put up huge numbers this season. I love this roster and if they get good play from Ryan Fitzpatrick, we could see the team with no name make a splash in the playoffs for the second season in a row. This team is trending up, and they are another team that could end up being a lot better than people think.

13. Seattle Seahawks

The Russell Wilson MVP train hit a roadblock midway through the season, and the whole team suffered. They put together enough good football to make the playoffs before getting knocked out early in a somewhat underwhelming season. This team is only getting more and more surrounded by good teams in their division, which may make their path to the playoffs harder this year. They’ll need a full season of Russell Wilson at his peak, continued good play from Metcalf and Lockett at the receiver position, a healthy Chris Carson, and consistency on defense to compete with the powerhouse teams in the NFC. I’m not as confident in this team as some other people may be, but I think there is still enough talent here to make the playoffs barring a plague of injuries.

14. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals took a nice jump in the second season of the Kyler Murray era, but a 2-5 finish kept them out of the playoffs. It was very disappointing based on how well they played early on in the season. I believe an injured Kyler Murray was the biggest culprit for the collapse. This team is only going to get better, and a full season of Murray at full health could have this team in playoff contention. They made numerous moves in the off-season to support the idea that they are ready to compete at a high level, and I think the hype is real. They may still be a year out from true Super Bowl contention, but this Cardinals team should continue to improve and set themselves up for success and a possible Super Bowl window in the near future.

15. San Francisco 49ers

The third straight NFC West team on this list is the 49ers. There wasn’t a team that was bitten by the injury bug more than this squad, and it showed. A year after making the Super Bowl they found themselves outside of the playoff race fairly early. They are bound to improve and at least put a competitive team on the field this season, though the uncertainty at the quarterback position and the fear of another injury plague keeps this team from being bonafide Super Bowl contenders. The most positive path for this team to follow is to sneak into the playoffs this year and see improvement from their young talent, especially future franchise QB Trey Lance. They can set themselves up for the long run by playing well and developing players this year, but Super Bowl contention may not be in the cards this season for the 49ers.

16. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are bound to be better this season than they were last season, but some people are quickly overhyping this team. An overhyped Cowboys team is a common occurrence, but I do actually like this team a lot more this year than in years past. They drafted very well and are getting Dak Prescott back, so they will be better this year. Prescott and Zeke Elliott are due for big years, and the receiving corps is among the league’s best. The defense is very shaky. I like Micah Parsons a lot and there is plenty of talent elsewhere in the front seven, they all just need to stay healthy and play up to their talent level. The secondary is awful though, and it will lose this team a few games. Overall, the Cowboys could compete for a division title in the weak NFC East, but I don’t see them as legitimate Super Bowl contenders until their defense sees some major improvements.

17. Los Angeles Chargers

I’m a huge fan of this Chargers roster, they made all the right moves over the off-season to set this team up for long-term success. That success may not come this season, but they are a team on the rise. Justin Herbert should be a top 10 QB and the rest of the playmakers on this offense are due for big seasons, especially Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. The offensive line was among the league’s worst last season, and they made an effort to improve it during the off-season. The defense has plenty of talent but hasn’t performed as well as it should in recent years. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Derwin James should keep this unit from being bottom feeders, but they are going to need a few breakout players to help this unit. This Chargers team is on the rise, and they’ll put a lot of people on notice this season.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

This may make a lot of people mad, but I do not like this Steelers roster. The defense is amazing, and I’m not disputing that. I just think the offense is going to be atrocious. Their offensive line will be among the league’s worst, and that’ll make it hard for Najee Harris to make a big splash in his rookie year. Ben Roethlisberger is washed and is taking up so much of the cap space that they can’t add too much talent elsewhere on the offense. The receiving group is alright, but there isn’t a true WR1 on the roster. This team could very well be a playoff team based on their defense and coaching alone, but the offensive mediocrity is going to keep them pretty low on this list until the defense proves that it can carry this team to wins.

19. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings were a pretty average team last season, but they are due for some improvement. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are a great 1-2 punch at the receiver position, they have one of the most productive running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook, and Kirk Cousins is becoming so under-appreciated that some people actually think that he is below league average at the quarterback position. The offensive line is also going to be better, which should help the rest of the playmakers littered around the offense. The defense may hold this team back and prevent them from making the playoffs though, but seeing improvement from some young players would be a positive sign for this rebuilding defense. The Vikings are likely going to be a league-average team again and finish around .500, though they may provide us with some exciting football and a sneaky playoff appearance.

20. New England Patriots

This is another low ranking that may get me some flack, but I just didn’t think the Patriots did as well in free agency as many others believe. They overpaid some average wide receivers and stocked up on solid tight ends. The defense looks about the same and should be league average, and the offense doesn’t look that special, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position. I don’t see the Patriots as contenders, but maybe a fringe playoff team. Belicheck will keep this team afloat all year, but I don’t think there is enough talent on this roster to do much this season. They can hopefully get Mac Jones some valuable snaps under center and see improvement from the rest of their young talent while making sure that their off-season investments paid off. That is a far more realistic path for this team to follow heading into the season.

21. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have been making great moves and their rebuild is going very well. They aren’t a flashy team, but they have young talent and a solid coaching staff. Sam Darnold is due for some improvement in a new system, and having D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson to throw at will be a luxury. They’ll get Christian McCaffrey back, which will immediately make this team a lot more dangerous. The defense isn’t playoff-caliber, but there is plenty of young talent and they are due for growth. This team isn’t ready for playoff contention this year, but they are continuing to set themselves up and should be a formidable team this year and may be ready for the playoffs when we are making preseason power rankings at this time next year.

22. Chicago Bears

The Bears have always been a frustrating team. Whether it’s double doinks or putrid offense, they have always found a way to make their fans very frustrated. They finally looked like a team with a plan this off-season though, as they drafted their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields. I don’t think they’ll be in the playoffs this year, but if Fields pans out and they can keep their elite defense together, they might be on to something here. I love Allen Robinson and David Montgomery, so having a formidable QB to go with them would make the Bears a solid team. I don’t see much happening in Chicago this season, but they can at least play well enough to show promise for the near future and get Justin Fields some snaps under center.

23. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders probably had the worst off-season of any team in the league. They failed to improve their poor defense and absolutely demolished their great offensive line and got very little in return. I wasn’t a fan of their draft either, I thought they reached on numerous picks. Their whole off-season was a big head-scratcher. They will be an average team on offense and a very bad team on defense. They failed to build on an inconsistent but promising season last year and looked more like a team that was ready to rebuild but constantly trying to convince everyone that they were still trying to compete. The Mike Mayock experiment at general manager has been very bad in my opinion, and if this team performs as poorly as I believe they will, he needs to be fired. I’m not sure how to feel about the Raiders honestly, but I do know that they won’t be much more than a mediocre team this season.

24. New York Giants

I liked many of the Giants’ off-season moves, and they are a QB away from possibly winning their division. The question is whether or not Daniel Jones can be that QB. He hasn’t proven it yet in his NFL career, and this year will be his last chance. Everything is in place for him now thanks to some solid work by the Giants front office. He has an elite defense on the other side of the ball, a great running back in Saquon Barkley, a great receiving corps, and an improving offensive line. If Daniel Jones proves that he can be that guy, the Giants can fly up these power rankings as the season progresses, but until Jones shows up, they are stuck here towards the bottom. Overall though, I love what the Giants have done and think they could really surprise people if they get competent play at the quarterback position.

25. Denver Broncos

The Broncos are extremely similar to the team right above them on this list. Great defense, tons of talent at their offensive skill positions, and an offensive line that has tons of promise. What’s the only problem? The quarterback situation. Drew Lock has shown promise but he’s so unbelievably inconsistent that it’s extremely difficult to hand over the keys of this franchise to him. They brought in Teddy Bridgewater to compete with him, which should help a little. They have been linked to various top-tier quarterbacks during the off-season, including Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. With each passing day, it becomes less and less likely that they pull off a trade before the season starts. Until the QB situation is resolved, they won’t compete for much more than a sneaky wild card spot. Overall though, I like this roster and they are very close to competing with the big dogs.

26. Atlanta Falcons

Unlike most of the teams right above them on this list, the Falcons are not a team that’s missing one piece or a team on the rise. They are a team on their last leg before a big rebuild. I liked their hire of Arthur Smith as a head coach, but I don’t think he’s going to get this team into the playoffs. This roster is just too barren. People are quick to blame Matt Ryan for some reason, but he’s not the problem. The offensive line is mediocre at best and the defense is horribly inconsistent. They have too much money tied up to underperforming players and they haven’t drafted well enough to fill the holes of departing veterans over the last few seasons. This offense is going to be good enough to win this team some shootouts, and the coaching staff should prevent this team from blowing any more 20 point leads (I hope for the sake of the mental health of this fan base). Overall though, this is a below-average team in a solid division, so they probably won’t be in the playoffs. The most important thing this season would be improving their young talent and moving players on big contracts to make room for more young talent. I think it’s rebuild time in Atlanta, they’ve been putting it off for long enough.

27. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ off-season was overhated because they selected Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell with their first-round pick. I’ve had about enough of the slander over that pick. It was a great pick. They already have Jonah Williams, who hasn’t gotten the chance to prove himself as a left tackle due to injury, and Riley Reiff at their tackle positions. Getting Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase back together is going to make this offense dangerous. They have quietly built their defense up quite a bit too. Their biggest problem is the other teams in their division. The AFC North has 3 potential top 5 defenses. That’s going to make it difficult for this team to make a big splash. This year probably won’t end in the playoffs for the Bengals, and that’s okay. At least the team now has a long-term view in place and all that they can hope for is that their young talent continues to grow and set them up for success. I like the way this Bengals roster is constructed, but I need to see all the pieces in action before I put them any higher on this list. They are building a very talented and young football team right before our eyes though, and they’ll surely be a blast to watch all season long.

28. Philadelphia Eagles

This may make some more people angry (it seems to be a common theme at this point in the article), but I just don’t like the Eagles roster. I thought Nick Sirianni wasn’t the best hire, and I think Jalen Hurts is going to get figured out pretty quickly this season. The offensive line is good, but there are some people on it that are taking up a lot of this team’s cap space. Both the offense and the defense on this team are below average, and that’s a problem given that every other team in the NFC East has either an elite offense or elite defense. The Eagles are stuck in a hard place, and this season will go a long way in determining the future plans of this franchise. My prediction for them is not very good, and I think a major rebuild is looming. I don’t see the Eagles being much more than disappointing bottom feeders this season, and the future isn’t looking too good in Philly if that ends up being the case.

29. New York Jets

I’m just going to start by saying that the Jets absolutely nailed it this off-season, but I don’t think it’ll all come together this year. They’ve created a great foundation though. They made the best head coach hire of the off-season, and they went big in the draft and free agency. Zach Wilson is the perfect definition of a “boom or bust” prospect, and that’s exactly what the Jets needed. He’s going to have a better offense around him than Sam Darnold did, and his defense is improving. The most exciting part of this team could end up being how well their offensive line plays this season. I think they’ll propel themselves into a top 5 offensive line and help make Zach Wilson’s transition to the NFL much smoother. The simple fact of the matter with this team is that they went 1-16 last year, and it’ll take more than one off-season to make this team a playoff threat. The improvement at the head coaching role and the aggressiveness of the front office to go out and add talent on both sides of the ball may help this team atleast come close to .500 though, which would be a drastic improvement. However, it is the Jets, so don’t too excited just yet.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

At one point last season, the Jaguars were undefeated. Well, they were 1-0. They went on to finish 1-15. That putrid finish may have actually been a good thing though because it allowed them the chance to draft one of the best prospects in the history of the NFL Draft in Trevor Lawrence. They also hired Urban Meyer to be their next head coach. I don’t personally love the hire of Meyer, but a fresh mind and clean slate will be very good for the Jaguars. They are still a few years out from really competing, but at least there is something to be excited about now in Duval County. They have a direction, which they haven’t had since they lost the AFC Championship game in 2018. There are bound to be growing pains for this team, and the defense is still weak, but the rebuild is off to a solid start based on the moves made during this off-season.

31. Detroit Lions

The Lions were bad last year, and they got worse during the off-season. They finally let Matthew Stafford have a chance to compete by trading him to the Rams, and it’s going to really hurt this already weak team. I do think their new QB Jared Goff is due for some improvement after a poor season last year. I also think this offensive line is very good, which will ease some of the pain. They have arguably the worst receiving corps in the league now after losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in the off-season, which is going to hurt. The defense is also going to be among the league’s worst, and they’ll need some players to step up in big ways. Jeff Okudah breaking out would be huge, because he was bad last year after being selected 3rd overall in the draft. The positives I can take away from this Lions’ off-season is the fact that they drafted very well and netted many future draft picks for Matthew Stafford. I also think the hire of Dan Campbell as the next head coach is an interesting one. It’s going to be another painful year for Lions fans, but many of the glaring questions will hopefully be answered by the end of this season and the team can move forward with a direction and long-term goals. It is the Lions though, so don’t count on it.

32. Houston Texans

The Texans are a train wreck. That’s it. I’d be shocked if Deshaun Watson ever puts on a Texans jersey again, and if this team wins more than 2 games this season, it would be a miracle. The quarterback position will be manned by Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills. Yikes. The receivers are not going to be good. The running back position is the only bright spot on this team, there are four or five guys who could step up and being a feature back on this team devoid of talent. The defense is awful too and may end up being the worst in the league. This is a team with no direction, a bad front office, a bad coaching staff, and a bad roster. There’s never been a team that finished dead last in offense and defense in the same season, but the Texans are potentially bad enough to pull it off. This may be a season in which the Texans make history, but not in a good way.

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