Offseason 2021 NFL Power Rankings

Offseason 2021 NFL Power Rankings

The NFL draft is in the rearview mirror, minicamps are popping off all over the NFL, and we’re starting to get into the home stretch of the NFL offseason. Most big-name free agents are on their new teams, and for the most part, rosters are finalized for what each team will be going into training camp with. Let’s get into power ranking all 32 teams and really find out where each team stands.

32. Houston Texans

Let’s all be honest here, there is no other spot for the Texans to be right now. Bill O’Brien left the Texans roster in a dismal state, the amount of sheer roster turnover they’ve had is unreal, and the status of once rising star QB Deshaun Watson is still up in the air with everything he has going on legally. This team has been bad every time Watson has missed time in the last half-decade, and I’d expect that to remain the story in Houston.

31. Detroit Lions

For as bad as Bill O’Brien was for Houston, recently departed Matt Patricia may have been worse for Detroit. None of the pieces on the roster fit coherently, and it was just ugly to watch at times last season. Factor in the clear downgrade going from Matt Stafford to Jared Goff and WOOF, this roster is bad. I do think new head honcho Dan Campbell is a football guy and will build a competitive team over time, but that’s not going to happen in 2021.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags have some exciting young pieces. Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Laviska Shenault, and DJ Chark all coached by Urban Meyer? Shew boy that sounds fun. But they are young, and this is Meyer’s first foray into the NFL game. I’d expect there to be flashes late in the season, but nothing substantial until they have time to gel.

29. New York Jets

Another team has added some interesting pieces this off-season. I had Zach Wilson as QB4 going into the draft, but there is for sure talent there. They added one of my favorite WR’s in Corey Davis, and have invested heavily into the OL. The Jets are a candidate to climb up these rankings during the season, depending on how they play under new HC Robert Saleh but for now it’s all potential, nothing to justifiably move them higher up these rankings yet.

28. Philadelphia Eagles

For a team not too far removed from a Super Bowl in the recent past, the Eagles have fallen far fast. New head coach Nick Sirianni is inheriting another weirdly constructed roster, but it has some pieces. I think the biggest factor for the Eagles this season will be the play of Jalen Hurts. If Hurts takes a step this season as a passer, we could see the Eagles compete for the division. If not, the rest of the roster isn’t good enough to compensate for bad QB play.

27. Denver Broncos

The Broncos are a team that, when I was putting together these rankings, just seemed too low. But getting into it, they just have a question mark at the most important position on the field. Drew Lock has been erratic so far, and while I like Teddy Bridgewater, he’s more of a bridge quarterback than someone to lead a playoff team. I expect the Broncos to be near the bottom of a tough AFC West again this season.

26. Carolina Panthers

I really like Matt Rhule. I think he builds teams the right way, knows how to win, and gets that buy-in from players you need to be successful. But Sam Darnold is bad. He never impressed me at USC, with his big arm and penchant for untimely turnovers, and that’s just followed him to NY, and now Carolina. I wish they made a play at one of the QB’s in this class because I like a lot of what’s going on around the rest of the roster, but Darnold just won’t be the answer here.

25. Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati is a conundrum for me. I really want to like them; I like Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, I like how Zac Taylor adjusted his scheme to play a lot of empty to play to Burrow’s strengths. But when you play a lot of empty, you leave your OL on an island most of the time and then YOU HAD THE BEST LT PROSPECT IN THE LAST 5 SEASONS FALL INTO YOUR LAP, AND YOU PASS ON HIM FOR A WR???

I won’t fully out say they blew it because I think Jamar Chase is very good, but man, passing on Sewell just doesn’t scream good roster construction to me, considering how your young franchise QB’s season was cut short last year. I’m pulling for the Bengals, but just don’t think they’re quite there.

24. New York Giants

I like a lot of what the Giants have. Kenny Golladay is a stud, I really like Evan Engram, and of course, the athletic freak Saquon Barkley should be back at full health this season. I just don’t know about Daniel Jones, man. He’s toolsy as all heck, but sometimes he just reminds me of Kirk Cousins so much I can’t stand it.

That’s not a bad thing per se; Cousin’s has proven many times over that you can win with him if you have a good roster. I just don’t think the Giants roster is that good all around yet, and if Jones’s ceiling is Kirk Cousins like I believe, I wouldn’t expect him to carry a middle-of-the-road roster.

23. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons were almost always one thing under Dan Quinn; disappointing. The offense was perpetually loaded, could always score points, but could hardly ever finish above .500. It has to be maddening for Falcons fans. I think new HC Arthur Smith is a solid offensive mind, but the offense hasn’t been the issue in ATL, it’s been the defense. If Dean Pees can get that unit turned around, the Falcons could rise these rankings, I’m just not impressed with a lot of the bodies Atlanta has on that side of the ball.

22. Las Vegas Raiders

Can anyone explain what the Raiders are actually doing? They were fine last season, turn around to this offseason and they’ve let over half of their offensive line walk- most of them very good!- and replaced them with replacement-level players. GM Mike Mayock was well regarded coming in, but that may be waning soon. Really the only reason I don’t have them lower is I believe Gruden is a solid coach and can keep them relevant, but this roster seemingly gets worse year over year.

21. Chicago Bears

The Bears remind me of the Houston Texans pre-Deshaun Watson. The elite defensive team was always held back by bad QB’s, and by the time they got a good QB, the defense’s championship window was nearly closed. I don’t think Justin Fields will get up to speed quickly enough for the team to be a playoff team this year, which may spell the end of the Matt Nagy era in CHI, but that defense is still talented, even though they’re not what they once were.

20. Washington Football Team

You could easily make the argument that a team starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB shouldn’t be ranked this highly, and you’d have an argument to make. But I’d also counter with WAS has one of the nastiest pass rushes in the game. Chase Young and Montez Sweat off the edges with Jon Allen in the middle is bonkers, and I think their defensive prowess along with Riverboat Ron Rivera’s experience is enough to keep them in the playoff conversation. Throw in a few weeks of Fitzmagic, and the Football Team is very intriguing this year.

19. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have done exactly what you need to do on offense to win with Kirk Cousins; build an elite running game behind him with some of the best separation receivers in football, and he is going to be wildly successful within the structure. Oddly enough, I’m more worried about the defense. I don’t know where the pass rush is coming from outside of Hunter, and the secondary headlined by Patrick Peterson and Harrison Smith would have been formidable 5 years ago, now it’s just eh.

18. Arizona Cardinals

This is one of the preseason hype trains I can’t get on board with. Kyler Murray is great. Adding JJ Watt next to Chandler Jones, alright cool we’re talking some heat. But Kliff Kingsberry couldn’t win at Texas Tech, his alma mater, with PATRICK FREAKING MAHOMES. He’s not a good coach! I still don’t get how he fleeced this job. But no matter how talented the roster is, which it is very talented, it won’t overcome poor coaching nine times out of ten.

17. New England Patriots

There wasn’t a team more impacted by COVID opt-outs in 2020 than the Pats. I think they’ll have a bounce-back year and possibly make the playoffs, but they’re not in the same echelon that they were 2 years ago. Sadly Cam Newton isn’t what he used to be, and I don’t expect Mac Jones to be the savior in year 1. Getting some of their opt-outs back on D will no doubt help, but it’s not enough to crack the top half of these power rankings.

16. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins will go as far as Tua takes them this season. I like the hell out of this roster top to bottom. HC Brian Flores has done a great job coaching them into a solid playoff contender in the AFC. But, if MIA wants to contend for the AFC East, Tua has got to be worlds better than what he was last season. They’ll be competitive either way, but how competitive depends on the QB position.

15. Pittsburg Steelers

Another team I just don’t get. I have no idea what their plan is on the OL, and instead of addressing it early in the draft, they go running back and tight end. It makes no sense to me. Ben Rothlisberger isn’t the guy to shrug off four rushers than throw a bomb like he used to be.

Older QB’s need a good OL in front of them, and they don’t have that. PIT is boasting probably the best defense in the league, so that saves them from being lower on the list, but man things could turn ugly in Pittsburg very quickly.

14. Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert is that dude. He lit the league on fire last season and showed fantastic growth throughout the year, which I expect to continue in year two. I like the upgrade from Anthony Lynn to Brandon Staley at HC this offseason, I love what they did in the draft, and they are primed to try and take one of the wild card spots in the AFC. This is a team that could make some real noise this season.

13. San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the game, but his tenure in SF has been mired by injuries more often than not. Incumbent QB Jimmy Garoppolo is firmly on the hot seat with rookie Trey Lance right behind him. The roster is talented all over, but QB play is going to be what holds this team back, at least until Lance is up to speed and behind the wheel.

12. Dallas Cowboys

Offensively, I don’t know that there is a team as loaded as the Cowboys. Cooper, Lamb, and Gallup are all guys capable of going over 1000 yards receiving, and getting star QB Dak Prescott back will be HUGE for them.

The only thing that could hold them back is their defense, but adding Dan Quinn as the coordinator there should be able to get that unit to at least league average. League average defense, top 3 offense, and you’ve got a team that could really run away with the NFC East this year.

11. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a dang good roster. Their defense has legitimate studs on all three levels, they have one of, if not the best OL in all of football as well as up and coming bell-cow Johnathan Taylor to tote the rock. The only spots giving me pause; the WR room and new QB Carson Wentz.

The Colts are a team that REALLY could have used Julio Jones; there aren’t a lot of proven guys to catch passes for them. The question with Wentz is simple; are you getting the good 2018 Wentz or the leading-the-NFL-in-INT’s Wentz. That’ll be the question that makes or breaks Indy’s season.

10. New Orleans Saints

Bye-bye Drew Brees, hello Taysom Hill. The Saints still have one of the most talented rosters in all of football, but putting professor gadget Hill at the helm just isn’t going to be the long-term solution. Is It Jameis Winston? Possibly. I’d rather give that a shot than Hill. But Sean Payton has earned the benefit of the doubt, and I can’t reasonably drop them from the top-ten until they prove they’re not a top ten team.

9. Tennessee Titans

As a Titans fan, I wanted to put them higher, but the fact is their defense was flat-out horrible in 2020, statistically the worst defense to make the playoffs in NFL history. That being said, they have retooled that unit, adding six new starters, so some improvement should come there.

The bigger question will be how new OC Todd Downing does replace the departed Arthur Smith. Downing was the man behind the Titans redzone offenses the past two seasons, which ranked near the tops in the league last year, but until that defense shows marked improvement, this is their ceiling.

8. Cleveland Browns

This is lower than what most people have the Browns right now. I think they’re a good team, but my skepticism is purely based on Baker Mayfield. I think HC Kevin Stefanski schemed a lot of easy things for him last season, which is fine, but if they’re going to take that next step, Baker has to be the reason why. The rest of the roster is championship caliber, Mayfield just needs to be too.

7. Los Angeles Rams

This is a star-studded roster. Matt Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Andrew Whitworth, Aaron Donald, all some of the best players at their respective positions, and HC Sean McVay is one of the top play callers in football. The only thing that could hold them back is the lack of true depth on the roster. It’s extremely top-heavy, and for some reason, if something happens with one of their premier guys, they’re not that Super Bowl-caliber team anymore.

6. Baltimore Ravens

I’ve liked Lamar Jackson since he was winning his Heisman at Louisville. He’s the most electric QB to ever play the game (including Mike Vick), and the Baltimore running game is built around his so beautifully. I hate the discussion of “Lamar is a runningback” because I think a lot of that is based on underlying stereotypes, but Lamar does still have room to grow as a passer. His mechanics can get loose throwing from the pocket, he can sail throws. And that’s okay, he’s still ridiculously young.

They’ll continue to be a top-tier team without it, but if the passing game can ever get into sync, we’re talking a team that can win multiple Super Bowls.

5. Seattle Seahawks

I’m a sucker for Russel Wilson. I think as long as he’s the QB for the Seahawks, they’ll always be on the shortlist of Super Bowl-caliber teams. The defense isn’t the same as I was in the “Legion of Boom” days, but it’s still a solid unit. If DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett stay healthy on the outside, Seattle will continue to be NFC contenders, and I will still be a card-carrying member of the #LetRussCook Fanclub.

4. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have built one of the most complete rosters in all of football. Top to bottom, there aren’t any glaring holes for teams to exploit. Brian Daboll being back this season is huge for Josh Allen’s continued ascent to the Moon, and that offense will be one of the more explosive in the NFL again this season. The biggest hurdle for them will be “did we do enough to slow down the Chiefs this offseason?” And they are right there with them and should be one of the contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year.

3. Green Bay Packers

There isn’t much to say here about Green Bay. The offense remained intact for the most part, the defense has one of the top CB’s in football, one of the best safety tandems, and is boasting Kenny Clark upfront, so they’ll be solid. Right now it’s all about doing everything they can to keep Aaron Rodgers in green and yellow. Without him, this team drops like a rock, but with him behind center, they’re still a contender.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

As long as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are in Kansas City, they’ll be contenders year after year. Offensively, they added one of the premier tackles in Orlando Brown Jr and a solid guard in Joe Thuney to help keep Mahomes upright and healthy. The one question mark I have on the offense is WR2 because I don’t think Mecole Hardman is ready to be that, but with the best TE in the NFL Travis Kelce out there along with Tyreek Hill, they will be just fine offensively.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You must put the reigning Super Bowl champions at the number one spot. Tom Brady is still somehow evading father time, the offense brought back all of his receiving weapons, and the defense brought the band back for round two as well. Tampa Bay is running it back this year and should be the favorite to repeat in 2021.

Jacob Noah

Lifelong Tennessee resident and sports fan. Husband, father to 2 boys, complete Marvel nerd and avid sports junkie. Titans, Vols, Braves and Knicks are the teams I follow the closest.

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