Offseason NFL Power Rankings Part Two (16-1): Who’s Primed To Win?

Offseason NFL Power Rankings Part Two (16-1): Who’s Primed To Win?

Overview

This offseason has been pretty hectic, and we still have no idea what Week 1 is going to look like. Will Rodgers get his wish and dip out of Green Bay? Will any key players (looking at you DeAndre Hopkins) shake it up by sitting out? That being said, these NFL offseason power rankings are assuming that everyone on a roster is going to play and play to their abilities.

Click here for Part One

16. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas was a team riddled with injuries last season, losing Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Leighton Vander-Esch, Blake Jarwin, and Trevon Diggs for multiple games each. In fact, four of those key members missed 10 or more matches. It is hard enough to win an NFL game, let alone trying without your core players.

Now with health on their side, for the time being, Dallas has a playoff-contending roster. Their offense is capable of putting up 30+ each week, with a top-two WR trio. Not to mention, with his offensive line back, we could see Ezekiel Elliot return to his Pro-Bowl form. Perhaps Dak Prescott could contend for MVP?

In all honesty, the Dallas D cannot get worse as long as health is on their side. If LVE can stay healthy, he and Micah Parsons could form a dominant duo at LB. Add in a healthy mix of Jaylon Smith and Keanu Neal, and the linebacker core could lead the Cowboys back to relevance.

While the NFC East was a middling division last year, they have the potential for two playoff squads with Dallas and Washington this year. I hope the Cowboys are ready to compete because Washington will not go down easy.

15. Washington Football Team

Speaking of Washington, they will land just one spot ahead of Dallas in my offseason rankings. The reason for their ranking is based on their defense. After adding a few key pieces this offseason, they are riding the “defense wins championships” mantle hard.

Their defensive line could very well be the best in the league, featuring Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, and Jonathan Allen. Add in the additions of William Jackson and Bobby McCain to round out the secondary, and this unit could seriously contend.

However, the line between where they stand now and being true contenders just happens to have the best-groomed beard in the NFL. That is right, Fitzmagic is the key to success in Washington in 2021.

With Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, and newly added Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown, this offense is going to be dynamic. Consistent QB play from a career journeyman may be an odd request for a Super Bowl hopeful, but it is where the Football Team finds themselves right now.

14. Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson is amazing. Truly one of the league’s best QBs, he has searched for a Super Bowl return ever since their infamous blunder against the Patriots in 2015. Unfortunately, the Seahawks have not been able to find the pieces to make that happen.

Despite a very solid running game backed by Chris Carson and a top-five WR duo in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks offense has spouts of low production. Part of this is due to a struggling offensive line, but it can be hard to watch.

The defense is concerning, and that is with two superstars roaming the field in Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams. The defensive line lacks production or reliability and unless Jordyn Brooks takes a leap forward next to Wagner this season, that front seven is hurting.

The secondary is not much better, with below-average options at corner to surround Adams. He is great, and will definitely mask some problems, but that is asking a lot.

13. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray is ready for a BIG season. Deandre Hopkins, AJ Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore in a four-wide set? That is a recipe for fireworks in the desert, and K1 knows how to lead a dynamic offense.

The addition of Rodney Hudson will shore up some of the offensive line issues, but it is still something to monitor. I am also a little skeptical of the running game, but James Connor and Chase Edmonds could prove to be a serviceable combo.

On defense, Zaven Collins teams up with 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Simmons as one of the most athletic duos in the league. If they find a way to keep Chandler Jones happy and in Arizona, their front seven has potential.

In the secondary, Budda Baker is elite and gives the Cardinals so much flexibility in packages. With Malcolm Butler joining Byron Murphy, they may be set at corner as well.

12. Los Angeles Chargers

Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert is set up for a big sophomore season. Austin Ekeler is back and healthy, Keenan Allen could lead the league in receptions, and the offensive line got a huge boost.

Investing in Herbert, the Bolts added elite center Corey Linsley and drafted a top-ranked Rashawn Slater to shore up a unit that held them back in 2020. With better protection, there is no telling where the young star could lead LA.

The addition of Asante Samuel Jr. could be the boost that the Chargers need on defense. Losing Casey Hayward and Desmond King in the last 9 months hurt that group, and they need strong play from ASJ to bounce back.

The health of Derwin James is the key factor here, and if healthy, this unit can keep Herbert within striking range week in and week out. Combine that with the X-Factor that is Joey Bosa, and the AFC West could get interesting.

11. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota has made it clear that they mean business this offseason. Adding several starting-caliber players, the Vikings are proving you can work around a difficult contract (Cousins) and still find the right pieces.

They now own a great trio of WRs, a dynamic young TE, and top-three running back, and a much improved offensive line. With draft additions Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis and a full offseason at guard for Ezra Cleveland, their line could go from the bottom of the barrel to average.

Speaking of offseason additions, the Vikings will feature upgrades at every level of the defense, ranging from the legendary Patrick Peterson to run-stuffing Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie QB-turned-LB Chazz Surratt. If the defense does not see a rebound with that, it may be time to blow it all up and start over.

The return of Danielle Hunter is a long-awaited one. The premier pass rusher missed all of 2020 with a neck injury but will look to return the Vikings’ once-feared defensive line to dominance.

10. San Francisco 49ers

Another team bitten by the injury bug, the ‘9ers have effectively found the recipe for a quick turnaround. And if Jimmy Garopollo is truly not the answer, they have a big-armed rookie ready to take the wheel.

They have an entire stable of offensive weapons that specialize in making plays after the catch. Their offensive line is impressive and added two rookie runningbacks to be engines in their backfield committee.

On defense, they were able to snag Raiders castoffs Maurice Hurst and Arden Key, and are welcoming the return of Dee Ford to boost an already solid pass rush.

To say they are set up nicely is an understatement, but they will have their obstacles. For starters, they reside in perhaps the best division in football, with all four teams having reasonable shots at the playoffs.

9. Tennessee Titans

Tennesee’s offense should be fun to watch. YAC king AJ Brown teaming up with superstar Julio Jones makes Ryan Tannehill a legitimate MVP candidate. I have not even mentioned a certain back-to-back rushing yards leader named Derrick Henry.

They have a solid line, and TE Anthony Firkser is an intriguing breakout candidate. Throw in rookie addition Dez Fitzpatrick and former Ram Josh Reynolds and nothing is holding them back.

A lot of people have started this narrative that Tennessee’s defense is bad. While they certainly are not world-beaters, they are no scrubs.

The linebacker core is solid, Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry should provide a spark on the line, and Kevin Byard is among the league’s best safety. This whole season could lay on the laps of the young DB trio of Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley, and Elijah Molden.

8. Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles was a little higher on this list before Cam Akers’ season-ending ACL tear. I know he is only one player, but the Rams let Malcolm Brown walk under the assumption that Akers could take the next step in 2021. Now left with just Darrell Henderson, they’ll need to do some adjustments.

On a bright note, it is clear they are ready to compete. You do not make a big move for a QB, shipping off two 1st rounders in the process, unless you are.

The defense is still solid as ever, led by three-time DPOY Aaron Donald. Throw in the dynamic duo of Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams at corner, and teams will have to work around them.

They have plenty of intriguing options at safety and are invested in inside linebackers as well. Third-round addition Ernest Jones could play a big role this year.

7. Indianapolis Colts

What a crazy scenario for former MVP candidate Carson Wentz. With the roster the Colts have around him, he just needs to play competent, and keep the ball in his team’s hands.

While they are shallow at WR, you may not find a deeper RB room in the league. Budding star Jonathan Taylor is backed up by Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins. If they lean on the run game and their elite OL, they can ride it all the way to the playoffs.

Defense is where this squad will succeed in crunch time though. Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner are absolute game-changers on the front seven. They are joined by 1st-round pick Kwity Paye, who should bolster the pass rush with a group of versatile options.

In the secondary, Julian Blackmon’s emergence makes life easy on the rest of them. Kenny Moore is a dominant slot corner, and the career resurgence of Xavier Rhodes has been huge. If a few key role players come to play, it will be tough sledding for Colt’s opponents in 2021.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore’s one lackluster spot last season (and most of Lamar Jackson’s career) was wide receiver. In response, the Ravens went out and grabbed Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, and Sammy Watkins to make his life easier. I would be shocked if Lamar’s passing efficiency does not significantly improve.

On that subject, do not overlook second-year RB JK Dobbins as he steps into the lead role in Baltimore. When you throw in impressive backup Gus Edwards, the Ravens could very well contend for the team rushing title again.

At corner, Baltimore is simply stacked. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith are a dominant trio, with Tavon Young and Anthony Averett rounding out a versatile secondary.

The glaring issue is undoubtedly at edge rusher, and it could affect the Ravens Super Bowl hopes if nobody steps up. Perhaps we see a big season from first-rounder Odafe Oweh, but I am not sure he is ready.

5. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay has been the epicenter of a drama-fueled offseason in 2021. While I can start to see the possibility that Green Bay walks into week one without their star duo of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, they are still currently on the roster. As such, I will judge them as if they will be playing.

Regardless of their decisions, Green Bay could see a small step back on offense. They lost the league’s best center, are still shallow at WR, and let loose of one of the league’s best RB2s.

On defense, they still have potential, but a lot is riding on the future of Zadarius Smith. If he does play, they have a formidable crew at OLB, as well as a very solid safety duo.

Outside of that, they are still searching for a dependable corner opposite Jaire Alexander. I liked the move for a DB with Eric Stokes, but I am not sure he was the right guy, nor ready to compete yet.

4. Cleveland Browns

If you would have told me five years ago that the CLEVELAND BROWNS are legitimately Super Bowl candidates, I would have exiled you from the NFL community. However, here we are and the Browns have finally shown the league they know how to pull off a rebuild.

Baker Mayfield leads one of the league’s top offenses, complete with a top one RB duo and some solid playmakers at WR. If Odell Beckham Jr. returns to form alongside Jarvis Landry, Mayfield could have his best year yet as a pro.

The defense looks stout as well, and landing Greg Newsome to play opposite Denzel Ward was a candidate for steal of the draft. Grant Delpit is returning from injury and could break out among this loaded secondary.

Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett form a dangerous pass-rush duo, and they have some nice pieces at DT to get creative too. While they are thin at linebacker, this team is dynamic enough to cover that weakness.

3. Buffalo Bills

The Bills EXPLODED onto the scene last year, going 13-3 and making an AFC Championship appearance. Much of this was directly connected to Josh Allen’s breakout and the addition of superstar WR Stefon Diggs.

While they do not have a reliable option at running back, they may not need one. Allen acts as the Bills’ primary rusher, and they were so successful in the passing game in 2020, they may just keep their foot on the gas.

With an elite safety duo and one of the league’s best corner in Tre’Davious White, they can completely minimize the opponent’s passing games. Dane Jackson and Taron Johnson are candidates to step up in a big way to complete the secondary.

The hope is that Gregory Rousseau can step up and create the pass rush that completes the Bills’ defense. While uber-productive in college, he has a long way to go to be among the league’s best.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What more can you say about Tom Brady? The GOAT changed teams, conferences, and play style and it only resulted in a seventh Super Bowl. Perhaps the only thing that can slow him down is himself at this point.

Many will argue that the reigning Super Bowl champs should be the number one team without question. However, I would argue that they were not the best team last season but instead stepped up in crunch time.

With the league’s best WR trio, a great committee at running back, the best partier in football manning tight end, and a budding OL, Brady has a perfect scenario.

The defense is strong as well, and they made a smart decision to bolster the pass rush by snagging Washington’s Joe Tryon with the last pick in the first round. He will have plenty of time to develop behind Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Two words… Patrick Mahomes. Football’s best player leads the NFL’s best team. Remember that embarrassing beating from the Super Bowl just a few months ago? So does KC, highlighted by their moves to add Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, and Kyle Long on the OL.

Patrick Mahomes will certainly be more comfortable in the pocket and should have plenty of time to deliver dimes to his cast of speedy weapons. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce force defenses to make some tough decisions, and it normally results in lots of points.

They lack some depth in the secondary, but Tyrann Mathieu is the type of playmaker to make an impact all 17 games in a season. If L’Jarius Sneed continues to improve, they can certainly make plays.

Pending the Frank Clark situation, they will have a great group on the defensive line once again. They may have fallen short last season, but it is clear Kansas City has not forgotten.

Nick Lawler

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