NFL Power Rankings: Week 1 Part Two (1-16)

NFL Power Rankings: Week 1 Part Two (1-16)
With Dalvin Cook, run-first formula paying off for Vikings – Twin Cities

Overview

With the NFL preseason behind us, the fight for the Super Bowl begins in just five days! The injury bug bit a few squads along the way, and a shocking QB battle outcome will surely make for an exciting season. Here are my Week 1 NFL Power Rankings.

NFL Power Rankings Part 1

Click here to view our Offseason Power Rankings.

16. Washington Football Team (-1)

Washington has all of the components of a great team in 2021. Well… all but one. I love Ryan Fitzpatrick as much as the next guy, and there is certainly a chance he has a career year this season. I think there may also be an equal chance we see FitzTragic at some point as well.

With a dynamic, young WR room, a versatile and explosive running back, and a serviceable tight end, he may have his best team yet. Their offensive line will be an adjustment this season, missing Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. However, Charles Leno can be an above-average tackle at times, and I love Sam Cosmi’s upside.

If Washington does not have a top-five defense this year, something terrible has happened. They may have the best defensive line in the league. Their linebacker room got a huge boost after drafting Jamin Davis. William Jackson and Kendall Fuller are a great CB duo and they have a pretty talented group at safety.

15. Arizona Cardinals (-2)

The Cardinals have a lot to love on offense this year. Kyler Murray is a legitimate MVP candidate in 2021. Deandre Hopkins is joined by future Hall of Famer AJ Green and dynamic rookie Rondale Moore. The three of them should run circles around opponents, and Kyler Murray could pass for over 40 touchdowns this year.

The running game is kind of intriguing too. I am not super high on James Connor or Chase Edmonds, but I do like the combination of the two. If Edmonds takes a slightly larger role than he had in 2020, and Connor is more efficient than Kenyan Drake, they could complete a ridiculous offense.

The defense took a big hit earlier this week when Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler retired unexpectedly. Now having to rely on unproven Byron Murphy and oft-injured Robert Alford, they could be exposed against the pass.

14. Indianapolis Colts (-7)

Perhaps I was too high on the Colts. I really thought they had a great opportunity to show out. I am still pretty high on their roster, but there is a lot of adversity for this team to overcome already. TY Hilton is out for a chunk of time, Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson have already undergone surgery, and a number of starters have been shuffled through the Covid List.

Speaking of Hilton, the Colts may not need him by the time he comes back. Michael Pittman looks primed to step up in a big way, and Zach Pascal was a preseason favorite target of Wentz. Combine that with Parris Campbell’s game-breaking speed and the walking highlight reel that is Michael Strachan.

They are still pretty thin at corner, but I am in love with their defensive line. Kwity Paye is a bonafide superstar in the making and Ben Banogu and Kemoko Turay have taken turns looking unstoppable. With Darius Leonard leading this defense, they could make a big run if their luck changes.

13. Minnesota Vikings (-2)

The Vikings looked laughable at times during the preseason. Luckily, it does not mean a single thing. The offensive line, at least the starters, looked like an upgrade over last year’s unit. If Christian Darrisaw gets acclimated to NFL speed quickly, the group could really help that offense.

Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson are legitimate candidates to lead the league in rushing and receiving yards. The injury to Irv Smith Jr will surely hurt, but if the Vikings can get anything out of newly acquired Chris Herndon, they may be alright.

The defensive line looks ridiculous with Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson added and Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter returning. Even if Anthony Barr is out for the first few weeks, Troy Dye looked spectacular in the preseason. The secondary looks greatly improved with three new starters in Patrick Peterson, Bashad Breeland, and Xavier Woods.

12. Dallas Cowboys (+4)

The Cowboys’ offense just looked unstoppable. Dak Prescott will be 100% for Week 1, the offensive line is healthy again, and Zeke looks to be in the best shape of his life. Throw in the ridiculous trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup, and Dak could be in line for 5,000+ passing yards.

The defense looks like it is steadily improving as well. Historically bad in 2020, Micah Parsons might just be the missing piece. The corners look better, even with Kelvin Joseph out to start the season. If Malik Hooker looks like his old self, they may just have a solid secondary.

Hopefully, Keanu Neal and Jabril Cox look good enough to eat away snaps from Jaylon Smith, who has just continued to regress. His fall from grace has been a sad and steep one, and I am not sure if he will ever be himself again.

11. Seattle Seahawks (+3)

I know that Seattle’s roster is not as good as we have seen in year’x past. However, I just refuse to bet against Russell Wilson. That man is truly one of the league’s best talents and he has done more with less. With DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett by his side, their offense could be deadly yet again. I am really excited to see what Gerald Everett brings to the offense too.

Chris Carson has been the lead back for the Seahawks for the past three years and never seems to get his respect. However, I really do think he is a franchise level back who has improved every season. He is getting more involved in the receiving game and he looks as fast as ever.

The defense has taken some hits recently for sure. I liked the trade for Sidney Jones, but to follow that by immediately trading away Akhello Witherspoon confuses me. They are very shallow at corner and defensive line and they may pay for it in big games this year. Be on the watchout for Jordyn Brooks this year though, he could finally break out alongside Bobby Wagner.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (+2)

The Chargers are a team that I seem to be higher on than most people, but I just cannot not get hyped when I look at this team. The offensive line was the biggest thing holding this team back in 2020, so they went out and added Corey Linsley, Rahawn Slater, Oday Aboushi, and Matt Feiler in the offseason. If that does not mean business, I do not know what does.

Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen have to be some of the most disrespected stars I have seen recently. They both have the potential of being among the top ten of their positions this year. Along with Mike Williams and newly acquired Jared Cook, it may actually be possible for Justin Herbert to take another huge step forward.

The defense is less consistent, but led by superstars Joey Bosa and Derwin James, they can still make a difference. In truth, they may be the league’s best at their respective positions when healthy. If Asante Samuel Jr. can step up in a big way this season, watch out.

9. Tennessee Titans (–)

The Titans are going to be a juggernaut on offense in 2021. I mean how can expect Julio Jones, Derrick Henry, and AJ Brown to be on the same offense and it not be amazing. Ryan Tannehill has looked like a top 10 since becoming the starter in Tennessee, and it is easy to see why.

A lot of people will point to their defense when explaining why the Titans will not succeed in 2021. Granted, Tennessee may not have a top unit in the league, but I do not see why they will let down the offense. They may be young, but people have bet on potential before.

Caleb Farley and Kristian Fulton have a chance to be a promising young corner duo and Bud Dupree should certainly bolster the pass rush. Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans arent the best linebacker duo in the league, but they are not a shabby bunch. Jeffery Simmons has my bet to make the jump to superstardom this season.

8. San Francisco 49ers (+2)

The 49ers were one of the most unlucky teams in football last season. With injuries piling up, it was hard for them to gain any momentum in 2020. Now with some fresh health, a young star waiting in the wings at QB, and one of the most promising defenses in football, they are dangerous.

The 49ers offense is one of the most dynamic units in the NFL. George Kittle, Deebo Samuels, and Brandon Aiyuk are all capable of turning a five yard catch into an eighty yard touchdown at all point in a game. That level of after-the-catch ability is unmatched.

Speaking of dynamic, the 49ers have some incredible talents on defense. Fred Warner and Nick Bosa are among the best defenders in the entire league. Javon Kinlaw could be amazing in 2021. For the record, I think the 49ers’ DBs changing their numbers to 1-4 is the coolest thing in football right now.

7. Baltimore Ravens (-1)

Losing JK Dobbins is brutal. I hate seeing one of the NFL’s best young talents at an under appreciated position go down for the year. Hopefully he returns better than ever, but until then I think the Ravens can still be a dominant team running the football. Gus Edwards is a more than servicable back and as we all know, the offense runs through Lamar Jackson.

I love what Baltimore has done with their WR room, turning it from a liability into an asset. When Rashod Bateman comes back from injury to join Hollywood Brown, Sammy Watkins, and Tylan Wallace, Lamar Jackson could really take a step forward in the passing game.

The Ravens may have the deepest CB room in the league. Combine that with a pretty solid defensive line and some speed at linebacker in Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. I really like the addition of Justin Houston to solidify the pass rush.

6. Cleveland Browns (-2)

Cleveland was the laughing stock of the league, sitting among the NFL’s cellar for years. However, Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski have this team looking incredible. With truly one of the most stacked rosters, I can honestly see the Browns making a Super Bowl run in 2021.

The offense is absolutely loaded, featuring Baker, Odell Beckham, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper. Oh yeah, and 2017’s rushing yards leader Kareem Hunt is their backup. You could not ask for better skill and depth at skill positions. Of course it always helps when your offensive line is top three as well.

Not to be outdone, the defense features game changers at every level. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are a top three pass rushing duo. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah might take a minute to crack the lineup, but when he does, his speed takes over. I cannot even name all of the stars in their secondary. Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Troy Hill, and newly drafted Greg Newsome team up with Ronnie Harrison and John Johnson to give offenses fits.

5. Los Angeles Rams (+3)

I really liked the Rams move to acquire Matt Stafford. He has been locked away in Detroit far too long, and now he has the chance to shine bright on the big stage. With an upgraded line and receiving core, Stafford could have his best season since Megatron.

Much like Dobbins, losing Cam Akers is a huge blow. Fortunately, Los Angeles made a move for some backup. Sony Michel had his most efficient season yet in New England last year, even though he was outshined by Damien Harris. If he can Darrell Henderson can get something going on the ground, there’s some potential for this offense.

The defense does not have all of its bases covered, but having guys like Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald certainly make up for that. I really like their safety room with Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, and Jordan Fuller though.

4. Green Bay Packers (+1)

Aaron Rodgers is having his last dance, and it will probably be spectacular. It is funny how quickly a team’s problems melt away when you have a guy like Rodgers around. Unfortunately for Green Bay, this may be the last time they get that privilege.

That being said, Jordan Love looked pretty solid in his preseason debut. It will certainly still be a drop off, but maybe it will not be as dramatic as we think. If Davante Adams is still around, he will still have his weapons too.

I was really not a fan of the Packers’ offseason if I am being honest. However, there is no getting around how good this team is primed to be in 2021. Rodgers could very well have his cake and eat it too with a Super Bowl berth this season.

3. Buffalo Bills (–)

Josh Allen took a MASSIVE leap forward in 2020. Some of that is surely contributed to the arrival of Stefon Diggs. Now in 2021, with Emmanuel Sanders added and Gabriel Davis looking like he is ready to step up, could we see an even bigger season from Allen. I will not say for sure, but he may not be a bad bet for MVP.

I am not in love with their running back situation, but I have seen many people say that it does not matter. With an extra game this season, I do not think it is out of the question for Allen to break the single season record for pass attempts. It would take about 43 attempts per game, just 7 up from his 2020 season.

With a top-tier safety duo and an elite corner in Tre White, the Bills have the makings of a great defense. I love all of the versatility they have along their front seven and surely a few of those guys will step into big roles this year.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (–)

The Buccaneers managed to return an entire Super Bowl winning squad around the immortal Tom Brady. I am not entirely sure what crazy thing will happen the day that Tom Brady hangs up his cleats, but I am not ready to find out.

With the NFL’s top trio at WR, a three headed monster at running back with Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Giovoni Bernard. I really think signing Gio was one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. He is an ELITE pass catcher at RB, and giving him to a quarterback that loves to utilize backs in the passing game more than anyone is dangerous.

The defense is incredible as well, led by two of the league’s best linebackers. Devin White and Lavonte David have shown the NFL that linebacker is not another position to undervalue. Behind them, Tampa Bay looks primed to repeat.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (–)

I cannot get myself to move the Chiefs from the top spot. The shortcomings on the offensive line led to an embarrassing performance in last year’s Super Bowl. So the Chiefs signed Joe Thuney, pulled off a trade for Orlando Brown Jr, drafted Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, and get Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang back from opting out of 2020.

With the stable of weapons at Patrick Mahomes’ disposal, it is very possible that his best seasons are still ahead of him. I know it sounds crazy, but I think it is possible to see a 5,500 yard and 50 touchdown season from the former MVP. He is the best talent at the most important position in football.

The Chiefs are a little thin at corner this year, but with Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu, I think they will be able to hang. A lot could depend on Frank Clark’s legal issues, but I really like the defensive line potential in Kansas City. If I had $100 to lay down, it is going on Kansas City to win it all.

Nick Lawler

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