Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

By Josh Shippen, Reporter

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s perfectly possible that the Bucs don’t end the year as the strongest team, but right now there is no team stronger than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I do think this is Brady’s last year as one of the best in the league, but I’ve said that for the last four seasons so for all I know the Bucs could be right back in the playoffs when January comes..

2. Buffalo Bills

The Bills are a very stacked team this year, and they keep getting better and better each year. Their shining bright spot is Josh Allen, who was the best quarterback in football for a few weeks of 2020. Allen improves exponentially each year, so who knows what could be in store for the Bills in 2021.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs’ 2019 superteam may be dwindling, but Kansas City still has a strong team led by the best quarterback in football and one of the best coaches in football. Additionally, Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked explosive in his rookie year so maybe the Chiefs can get their running game to help Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes will certainly need it if his receivers and offensive line crumble like they did in the Super Bowl.

4. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are back to having a punishing defense. With their secondary led by Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and their defensive line led by veteran All-Pro Calais Campbell. Lamar Jackson will struggle without Rashod Bateman, but his legs have been the most vital aspect of his game and I believe that can carry the Ravens to victory.

5. Green Bay Packers

The kings of losing in the championship game are back where they always start, the difference this year being that this might be the last time the Packers have Aaron Rodgers as their starter. With something to prove this season, the Packers could turn out to be an unusually nasty threat.

6. Cleveland Browns

The Browns almost knocked off the Chiefs in the playoffs until they had the ultimate choke against Chad Henne. Now they’re back, finally with playoff experience under their belt, and they are ready to do some damage. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the most dangerous backfields in the NFL and if Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham ever decide to play to their potential, the offense could be a nightmare for defenses.

7. Tennessee Titans

Do y’all think Derrick Henry’s back hurts at this point? Carrying fifty-two players around sure seems like a heavy burden. The Titans have a quarterback playing at a Matt Ryan MVP season level in Ryan Tannehill and a running back coming off a 2,000 yard rushing campaign. What does Henry have to do to be drafted first in fantasy football leagues, and how far can he and Tannehill carry the Titans?

8. Dallas Cowboys

I am cautiously optimistic with what the Cowboys are bringing to the table. Prescott was having a monster season before succumbing to an injury early in the season and the rest of the team quickly followed. Assuming the team returns to full strength the Cowboys will re-emerge with a loaded offense and a potentially stingy defense. However, in the worst case scenario, the NFC East once again might be the worst division among all the teams and the playoff team will have seven wins.

9. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams look to be the better team to come out of the Stafford-Goff trade, and the Rams new strong armed quarterback should connect very well with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee. Of course who could forget Aaron Donald, the triple teamed monster of LA’s defense, will be ready to demolish running backs and terrorize quarterbacks. If nothing else, this team is a strong defense with an above average offense.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

There has been no more dangerous defense in the past two seasons than the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there is no reason for that to not continue into 2021. Recently acquired Joe Schobert will join T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick to join an excellent front seven and punishing secondary into a stellar defense. This will hopefully make up for a stagnant offense led by thirty-nine year old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who looks to be declining fast.

11. Arizona Cardinals

Kliff Kingsbury almost got his air raid offense working in 2020, but it ended up failing as the Cardinals faded down the stretch. With a year of play under them, the Cardinals should be ready to perfect their system. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins make up for one of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the league, they are a group that should scare defenses and win games.

12. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is a very weak team that has two good receivers and a great quarterback. Seattle should of course never be counted out, but the depth on this team is not good enough to warrant a longer run. 

13. Miami Dolphins

Despite all the reports surrounding Deshaun Watson being replaced by Tua Tagovailoa, it seems unlikely that Tua will not be the starter going into week one. The Dolphins are going to be boosted by the continually progressing Mike Gesicki and the strengthened post-COVID wide receiver core of the Dolphins. Tua should have an improved game along with a mid level defense that should boost the Dolphins to have a winning record.

14. New York Giants

The Daniel Jones breakout season is coming and with all of the receivers healthy and a star running back at the helm, the Giants should be set for victory. The Giants’ strong offense and rising defense should lead to the Giants getting at least second in this dreadful NFC East.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

A rule of thumb in the NFL is that the Chargers aren’t allowed to have nice things. The Chargers lose easy wins almost as badly as the Falcons do. Fortunately the Chargers have the reigning Rookie of the Year as their quarterback and are in a division whose main difficulty is only in having to face the Chiefs twice a year. The Chargers should be a solid mid level team that is ready to go on the rise.

16. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders are close to seizing what they had in 2016 when they went 12-4, but they need to get past Derek Carr’s mediocrity and the terrible players that they like to draft in the secondary. Unfortunately, with the Chiefs and the Chargers in the same division and a quarterback that won’t elevate past his receivers, the Raiders are not quite ready yet.

17. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts’ defense may be stacked but their offense needs a total rehaul. T.Y. Hilton has aged very poorly and Parris Campbell is not good enough to fill his role just yet. Add that to Carson Wentz’s abysmal downfall last year and the product is a broken offense that couldn’t get past even the worst defense in the league. I am expecting their defense to win them a lot of games.

18. Washington Football Team

This team feels directionless. Usually Ryan Fitzpatrick is a quarterback that gets signed when there’s another quarterback behind him that is going to take up the mantle, but there is no quarterback fitting that description in Washington. Kyle Allen is a proven backup and Taylor Heinicke definitely does not deserve a starting job. The quarterback position is a shame because otherwise this team has a lot of talent to work with.

19. San Francisco 49ers

I don’t find either of San Francisco’s quarterback options trustworthy at all. Jimmy Garoppolo is too fragile and inconsistent to be trusted and Trey Lance is by far my least favorite quarterback of the first round. Aside from that, the 49ers have a whole lot of players coming back from injuries which does not bode well at all. Players coming back from injuries are often inconsistent and the 49ers have a lot of them.

20. Chicago Bears

The theme of Andy Dalton’s careers often is that he is the product of his surrounding talent. If that’s true, then frankly the Bears are screwed. While Allen Robinson and David Montgomery are some of the best at their position, the Bears really have nothing else. Darnell Mooney is a solid backup at best, the offensive line is old and fading fast, and the tight end position is practically nonexistent. That coupled with the defensive downturn of the last two seasons does not bode well for the Bears.

21. New Orleans Saints

What a fall from grace the Saints have had. New Orleans went from a team looking ready to make a Super Bowl run to a team with a poor starting quarterback and a crumbling offense that looks ready to trade away its star talent. New Orleans should be in a rebuild mentality, and certainly should not be expecting to win many games.

22. New England Patriots

Belichick could make this team gel for all I know, but for now this looks like a team that has no star talent, no proven quarterback, and no hope of knocking off their division rivals. Well, most of them. 

23. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are dead set on ignoring the glaring offensive line problem that has been present for almost four seasons and it’s going to get Joe Burrow murdered. Until it’s proven that Burrow can stay healthy, protect himself, and make it so the defense doesn’t have to be on the field for too long, the Bengals might be able to scrape 8 wins. Other than that, I see limited options for the Bengals to have a good season.

24. Minnesota Vikings

I don’t care how good Justin Jefferson was last year, the blood in Kirk Cousins’ veins is lukewarm. He couldn’t hold a twenty point lead in prime time if his life depended on it. Until the Vikings fix their glaring issue at quarterback, I see this team going nowhere but the bottom of the NFC East with the Lions.

25. Denver Broncos

I really thought the Broncos were going to make the leap last year after Drew Lock’s surprising success after Joe Flacco’s injury, but injuries to Lock himself and extremely poor play by four other quarterbacks dragged down the Broncos to a point that I am not sure they can ever recover from. It’s a shame, Cortland Sutton and K.J. Hamler could likely be a star on other teams but it seems impossible on the Broncos.

26. Philadelphia Eagles

Speaking of falling from grace, what happened to the Eagles? In 2017, Carson Wentz was supposed to be the MVP until he got injured and Nick Foles still led the Eagles to a title against a white hot New England Patriots team. Now, Carson Wentz is out of Philadelphia and Nick Foles is a third string quarterback in Chicago. The rest of this team has fallen apart and the coach that got them to the Super Bowl is gone. That’s what a fall from greatness looks like.

27. Carolina Panthers

What a mess. Carolina struggled last year to make their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, perform at a high level. Now they will try again with Sam Darnold, a throw away first round bust from the Jets that has been looked at as one of the worst starting quarterbacks of the past five years. Maybe they can pull Darnold out of the shadows, but it seems unlikely that he will ever be anything above a backup quarterback.

28. Atlanta Falcons

Think of how bad the NFC South would be if the Buccaneers weren’t Super Bowl champions. An average middle school offense could probably beat up the Falcons’ defense, and Matt Ryan’s only options to throw to are Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. The Falcons are really in for a rough season, and I think a rebuild season is coming in the next couple seasons.

29. Houston Texans

The Texans are a massive mess right now. They had something special in star quarterback Deshaun Watson, but it looks like legal issues are slated to destroy his career as the rest of the Texans will try to pull things together with Tyrod Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor has proven to be a strong backup at best and the Texans have no other clear starters after giving away J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona and letting Will Fuller go to Miami.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Before we get into negatives with the Jaguars, it should be noted that I think Trevor Lawrence and D.J. Chark are going to have one of the best quarterback-wide receiver connections in the NFL for seasons to come. Now that I’ve said my only nice thing about the Jaguars. This team did not do a good job of pulling reliable talent together in the offseason and it’s going to show in Trevor’s first NFL season.

31. New York Jets

I have the utmost faith in Zach Wilson and his ability to pull the Jets together, but apart from Corey Davis there are no good players for Wilson to utilize. This coupled with one of the worst defenses in the NFL could prove to be an impossible task, until the Jets can find a way to build around their young new quarterback.

32. Detroit Lions

The Lions have nothing. They downgraded their quarterback by swapping the strong armed Matthew Stafford with Jared Goff, the king of mediocrity. Penei Sewell is the first piece to a good offensive line but he is not the solution, and that will hurt Goff who has already struggled with injuries. No team has less depth on both offense and defense than the Lions.

 

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