NFL Power Rankings 2021: Week 1 Edition

The 2021 NFL regular season is nearly upon us! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener on Thursday, September 9th.

With regular-season football right around the corner, it’s time to unveil the Week 1 edition of our NFL power rankings. This edition of our power rankings will serve as an evaluation of where we believe each team stands following training camp and the preseason. NOTE: After each week of the 2021 regular season, we will publish updated power rankings.

NFL Power Rankings

1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previously ranked: N/A

The defending Super Bowl champions are undoubtedly the best team going into the 2021 season. Tampa Bay, led by Tom Brady, will return all 22 starters from last season. Barring any major injuries, the Buccaneers are clear Super Bowl favorites.

2: Kansas City Chiefs

Previously ranked: N/A

The Chiefs were soundly defeated in Super Bowl LV, but they bounced back with a productive 2021 offseason. Kansas City massively improved their offensive line in free agency. Plus, they still have the three-headed monster of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. 

On defense, the Chiefs have the star power to be an above-average unit. The only concern for Kansas City will be the depth on both sides of the ball. Lack of depth was very apparent with last year’s team and could rear its ugly head again in 2021.

3: Green Bay Packers

Previously ranked: N/A

After an offseason full of drama, it’s easy to forget that the Packers are a very talented team. Green Bay has an above-average defense and an elite offense, led by the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. To win a Super Bowl though, the Packers must get improvement from their number two corner and wide receiver spots.

4: Buffalo Bills

Previously ranked: N/A

Unless Josh Allen seriously regresses, the Bills offense will once again be one of the best in the entire NFL. A high-powered offense coupled with good coaching and a decent enough defense will be enough to put the Bills in the upper echelon of the AFC. 

That said, to truly compete against the Chiefs, the Bills need a better pass rush and improved secondary play. Drafting edge rushers Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham should help, but will it be enough?

5: Los Angeles Rams

Previously ranked: N/A

The addition of Matthew Stafford was a huge boost to the Rams 2021 outlook. Stafford is a better player and a better fit with Sean McVay than Jared Goff. Combine that with a top-five defense, which the Rams possess, and Los Angeles has got themselves a true contender. 

The Rams are in a tough division, and it may take some time for Stafford to gel in a new system, but the upside for Los Angeles is sky-high. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Rams make a Super Bowl run.

6: Cleveland Browns

Previously ranked: N/A

The additions Cleveland made in free agency and the draft, particularly in the secondary, will help make the Browns a contender for the AFC championship. On paper, the Browns have one of the most complete rosters in the entire league. There are very few, if any, glaring weaknesses on the Cleveland roster. It will be interesting to see if Baker Mayfield can lead the Browns to playoff victories against the AFC’s best teams.

7: Baltimore Ravens

Previously ranked: N/A

There’s no denying the Ravens are an immensely talented football team. The secondary is loaded, the running game is difficult to stop, and Lamar Jackson is a former MVP. 

That said, the lack of a dynamic passing attack hindered the Ravens last season. Baltimore addressed that this offseason by signing Sammy Watkins and drafting Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Will that be enough to fix the passion game woes, or will the issues persist into the 2021 season?

8: Seattle Seahawks

Previously ranked: N/A

The Seahawks have obvious weaknesses on their roster but yet are a top ten team. Why? Simple: Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett. 

To be anything more than a wild card team though, the Seahawks will need the secondary and pass rush to be much more formidable than they were in 2020. How the Seattle offensive line performs will also be intriguing to watch, especially after Wilson made it known all offseason he was unhappy with how the group performed last season.

9: Tennessee Titans

Previously ranked: N/A

Tennesee is going to have no problem scoring points in 2021. Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and a solid offensive line will be tough to stop. 

The Achilles heel of this Tennese team is the defense. The Titans had virtually no pass rush in 2020 and the secondary wasn’t very good either. Yes, Tennessee tried to address those concerns this offseason, but it still doesn’t look as if they have the defensive talent to compete with the Chiefs or the Bills.

10: San Francisco 49ers

Previously ranked: N/A

The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL, but the uncertainty at the quarterback position may hold them back from reaching their full potential. Jimmy Garoppolo is a middling quarterback with an extensive injury history, while Trey Lance is a rookie that needs time to develop. Ultimately, San Francisco looks like they’re primed to make the playoffs as a wild card team.

11: Arizona Cardinals

Previously ranked: N/A

The Cardinals will be a high-scoring fun team to watch play, but the coaching and the secondary is cause for concern. Additionally, the Cardinals play in an extremely competitive NFC West. Arizona can beat just about anyone in the NFC, but at the same time, they’re far too inconsistent to be a Super Bowl contender.

12: Los Angeles Chargers

Previously ranked: N/A

The Chargers have consistently had three major issues: injuries, subpar offensive line play, and bad situational coaching. Injuries are out of the organization’s control, but the Chargers improved the offensive line this offseason and brought in a new coach. 

Those changes combined with the outstanding growth of Justin Herbert, and it’s easy to see why the hype for the Chargers is at an all-time high. Los Angeles still feels like a year or two away from really becoming a threat to the Chiefs in the AFC West, but they will contend for a wild card playoff spot.

13: New England Patriots

Previously ranked: N/A

The Patriots, led by Bill Belichick, can compete with anybody in the AFC. However, having a rookie quarterback means dealing with some ups and downs. The Patriots also have some concerns at wide receiver and corner.

Still though, the Patriots are loaded in the front seven and have an outstanding offensive line. New England, like the Chargers, will contend for a wild card playoff spot. Regardless of how this season ends, the Patriots’ future looks bright. It’s still very early, but Mac Jones looks to have the poise and accuracy of a future franchise quarterback.

14: Dallas Cowboys

Previously ranked: N/A

Assuming Dak Prescott is fully healthy, the Cowboys will win numerous games solely due to the firepower they possess on offense. As good as the offense is though, the defense is just as bad. The lack of even an average defense makes the Cowboys a long shot to make real noise in the playoffs. Even so, Dallas is still a slight favorite in the NFC East.

15: Washington Football Team

Previously ranked: N/A

The Football Team could very well end up as a top ten NFL team, but at the same time, they could also finish below .500. The varying levels of success directly result from the quarterback being Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is inconsistent as it gets. His highs are very high, but his lows are very low. 

The Washington defense, however, is outstanding. Chase Young leads the best defensive line in the NFL. If Washington receives consistent good quarterback play they’re a darkhorse NFC contender.

16: Miami Dolphins

Previously ranked: N/A

Brian Flores will have the Dolphins playing dominant defensive football. Beyond that though, the Dolphins face a lot of unknowns. Yes, the Dolphins improved their wide receiving core, but how long will it take for the group to develop chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa? Plus, just how good will Tagovailoa be? 

All that said, the Dolphins’ biggest unknown of all is the offensive line. On paper, the Miami offensive line looks like one of the worst in the NFL.

17: New Orleans Saints

Previously ranked: N/A

Losing Drew Brees is tough, but the Saints still have a roster good enough to compete for a playoff spot. The key to earning a playoff spot will be limiting Jameis Winston’s turnovers. If Winston turns the ball over as he did in Tampa Bay, the Saints don’t have much of a shot to playoffs, regardless of how talented the rest of the roster is.

18: Pittsburgh Steelers

Previously ranked: N/A

Behind the Washington Football Team, the Steelers have the second-best defensive line in football. The corner position is a bit of a concern, but the Steelers defense will be a top 5-10 unit. 

What may keep the Steelers out of the playoffs is a struggling offense. The Pittsburgh offensive line is simply not good, and until they show growth on the field it’s hard to imagine the Steelers offensive improving. Pittsburgh will compete for a wild card playoff spot.

19: Indianapolis Colts

Previously ranked: N/A

The Colts have a talented enough roster to make the playoffs, but Carson Wentz is injury-prone, and he just hasn’t been good the past couple of seasons. Maybe Wentz comes out and turns it all around, but it’s hard to buy that stock right now. Even if Wentz plays poorly, Indianapolis could still make a push for the playoffs, as they have a high-level defense.

20: Minnesota Vikings

Previously ranked: N/A

There’s a lot to like about the Vikings. They have talent at the offensive skill positions, a great defensive coach, and a tenacious front seven. Minnesota also upgraded their secondary over the offseason. 

The problem is the Minnesota offensive line is still below average, and Kirk Cousins remains a middle-of-the-road quarterback. Minnesota could challenge for a playoff spot, but their upside is limited.

21: Denver Broncos

Previously ranked: N/A

If Denver had a top 20 quarterback they’d be a top ten NFL team. That’s how stacked the rest of the Broncos roster is. The Denver secondary is loaded, as is the pass rush. 

On offense, Denver has a bevy of young weapons with massive potential. The only big concern is how Teddy Bridgewater will perform at quarterback. If he can successfully manage the game and not turn the ball over, the Broncos should have a chance at the playoffs.

22: Las Vegas Raiders

Previously ranked: N/A

The Raiders have an unreliable secondary and the offensive line got worse this offseason. The rest of the team is solid, but nothing other than Darren Waller stands out as something that can push the Raiders over the top. Las Vegas isn’t a bad team by any means, but with so much talent in the AFC it’s hard to imagine them leaving their mark.

23: Chicago Bears

Previously ranked: N/A

Starting Andy Dalton means Chicago will be an average to below-average NFL team in 2021. It should be intriguing to see how long Matt Nagy sticks with the veteran at quarterback. 

The Bears will also struggle in the secondary. Chicago will still win some games though, as Khalil Mack and the defensive front will cause a lot of problems for opposing offensive lines.

24: Atlanta Falcons

Previously ranked: N/A

Atlanta is well equipped to be a good offensive football team even after losing Julio Jones. However, Atlanta is unequipped to get stops on the defensive side of the ball. Without much of a defensive presence, it’s hard to expect an aging, albeit still effective, Matt Ryan to carry this team to the playoffs.

25: Carolina Panthers

Previously ranked: N/A

The Panthers have a ton of high upside young players on defense. That’s good news for the Panthers’ future, but in the present, it likely means a lot of inconsistency. 

On offense, the Panthers have a tremendous group of weapons for Sam Darnold. Whether or not Darnold effectively utilizes those weapons is anyone’s guess. The Carolina offensive line is also a question mark worth keeping an eye on.

26: Cincinnati Bengals

Previously ranked: N/A

Did the Bengals do enough this offseason to address the offensive line? That’s the most pressing question throughout Cincinnati as they enter the 2021 season. At best, the Bengals’ offensive line looks to be an average group. At worst, they’re once again a bottom-tier offensive line. 

Cincinnati also has issues at linebacker and corner. On a positive note, the Bengals have a promising young quarterback, good weapons, and great safeties.

27: New York Giants

Previously ranked: N/A

The Giants went all-in on offensive weapons for Daniel Jones this offseason. As a result, the offense should improve. However, the offensive line is still among the worst in the NFL, and Jones is anything but a sure thing. 

Meanwhile, the defense should be about average. Ultimately, the Giants lack the quarterback and offensive line play to dig themselves out of the bottom of the NFC.

28: Philadelphia Eagles

Previously ranked: N/A

Philadelphia has a dominant offensive and defensive line filled with high-end players. So in that sense, they do have more talent than some of the other lower-ranked teams. 

All that said, the Eagles have an unproven quarterback, very little wide receiver talent, and an awful secondary. The Eagles will stay competitive, but it will be a struggle to win close games with such evident roster weaknesses.

29: Jacksonville Jaguars

Previously ranked: N/A

Trevor Lawrence is a promising young quarterback, but the Jaguars have a long ways to go before they’re competing for a playoff spot. This season is all about building a foundation for future success rather than immediate success. 

30: New York Jets

Previously ranked: N/A

Things are looking up for the Jets. Zach Wilson has thus far looked like the real deal, and new head coach Robert Saleh has already begun to change the culture. All that said, the Jets still don’t have the firepower to truly compete in the AFC. The defense, in particular, is really weak.

31: Detroit Lions

Previously ranked: N/A

The new regime in Detroit has Lions fans hopeful, but the cupboard, in terms of roster talent, was left bare from the Matt Patricia era. Plus, Jared Goff is a clear downgrade from Matthew Stafford. 

The Lions will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but new general manager Brad Holmes feels like the right guy to have in charge for the upcoming rebuild.

32: Houston Texans

Previously ranked: N/A

Much like the Lions, the Texans simply do not have much talent on their roster. Even if Deshaun Watson were expected to play, which he’s not, the Texans would still have one of the worst rosters in the NFL.

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