NFL POWER RANKINGS 2021
Here are our NFL Power Rankings ahead of the Super Bowl, before the 2021 NFL offseason and free agency frenzy begins!
These rankings take into account the potential free agents that each franchise are likely to lose, as well as cap space limitations and potential stars returning from injury ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (14-2)
Kansas City finds itself back in the Super Bowl for the second year on the trot. After coming through their third straight home Conference Championship Game the Chiefs begin to prepare for Brady and the Bucs. Is this the start of a Mahomes dynasty?
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (11-5)
Tampa is heading to the Super Bowl with a few injury concerns. Antonio Brown, Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield could suit up. Having said that, in a game where we are all expecting the Kansas City Chiefs to rack up the points, it could come down to whether or not the Chiefs defense can come up with plans to stop the G.O.A.T. Brady looks back to his best.
BUFFALO BILLS (13-3)
The Bills could not keep up with the gold standard of the AFC as they lost to the Chiefs on championship weekend. The offseason will be an interesting one as they look to manage a tricky salary cap situation with the desire to pay Josh Allen, but they should be fine and with a good draft, will run it back and should be in a position to compete with the elite teams once again.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3)
Have the Packers squandered their window? The decision to kick a field goal, down eight points could haunt Matt LaFluer for years as reports are surfacing that suggest Aaron Rodgers disagreed and is now unsettled in Titletown. It will be a long offseason and the Pack feel like they are at a crossroads as they decide where to go from here.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-5)
Is it time to extend Lamar? He finally erased doubts over his post season effectiveness and Eric DeCosta has said that he intends on engaging Jackson in talks this offseason, but the GM has many more decisions to make on top of this. Matt Judon & Yannick Ngakoue are both impending free agents, and pass rush is a problem. They will be contenders again next year, but the road ahead looks unclear.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5)
It can be argued that the Colts were the better team on Wildcard weekend in their loss to the Bills, but they couldn't get the job done. Philip Rivers has announced his retirement and so attention now turns to whether or not Indy will be in on the Stafford sweepstakes or whether they choose to look to the 2021 NFL Draft. Either way, a top D will continue to be the foundation of success for a team on the rise.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (11-5)
Kevin Stefanski has something special brewing in Cleveland. The franchise truly has a solid foundation now built on a run game spearheaded by Nick Chubb. Finding a rusher to play opposite Myles Garrett is key, as well as an every down linebacker. Finally, some help in the secondary to assist Denzel Ward, combined with the return of both Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams will help solidify an emerging D.
TENNESSEE TITANS (11-5)
Decisions aplenty abound in TN. Both permanent coordinator positions must be filled and the Titans will need to shed some salary to come in under the cap. Combine this with some tough choices regarding the future of the likes of Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown & Desmond King mean that despite pipping the Colts to the AFC South, immediate uncertainty drops them just below their rivals.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-4)
The narrative for the Seahawks changed as the season reached its latter stages. The defense morped into one of the best in the league, whilst the offense suffered a meltdown. An inability to throw deep & a lack of weapons underneath made the O predictable & ineffective. Big decisions need to be made on a tight budget and lack of draft picks. Despite a 12-4 finish, it feels like a wasted season again in Seattle.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-2)
Drew Brees has not officially made any announcement regarding his retirement, although those in league circles appear to be of the opinion that an announcement is imminent. Neither Taysom Hill, nor Jameis Winston are the answer at QB so expect NO to be active in both the QB trade carousel, as well as candidates to select a new signal caller in the 2021 NFL Draft.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (10-6)
WR & RB are two areas the Fins must upgrade. Myles Gaskin had a decent season but is not a true 3-down back. These areas could be addressed at picks 3 and 18 in the 2021 NFL Draft, as could the need to address their iOL. Flores has developed a top unit on the other side of the ball, but will be looking for impact makers at the second level of his D to wrestle control of the AFC East from the Bills.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (10-6)
They have cashed in all their chips for a run in 2021 with QB Matt Stafford. Furthermore, the Rams have lost DC Brandon Staley who has been instrumental in creating the NFL's best defense that could lose key contributors this offseason. Until we see how they plan to maintain this cap, McVay is putting his legacy on the line against the backdrop of potential long term implosion.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-4)
The futures of Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey are still up for debate. Most recent reports suggest that both will return, but the Steelers must plan ahead for life without the pair. Pittsburgh may draft a developmental QB to sit behind Big Ben, but they also need to address the rest of their OL, find a replacement for free agent Bud Dupree, as well as find an answer to address their anaemic run game.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (7-9)
Rivera should be in the running for HC of the Year, despite being in the worst division in football. WFT currently boasts a fearsome defensive front and an above average secondary, with rookie Kamren Curl a particular standout. WFT could be another team in the Stafford/Watson sweepstake but they do have areas such as WR, LB and more depth on the OL that they need to address.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10)
The 49ers can apportion some of the blame for last year on injuries, but Jimmy G simply isn't the answer for their offense. What's more, key players such as Trent Williams, Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Solomon Thomas, Jason Verrett and Kyder Hyder (amongst others) are impending FAs. John Lynch is going to need to get creative in order to reload and keep apace with the NFC West in 2021.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-9)
Rookie gunslinger Justin Herbert was a revelation in year 1 and is a Rookie of the Year frontrunner. Hunter Henry and Melvin Ingram are two key free agents who may need to be replaced and this team will seek to repair a below average OL as a matter of priority. There is talent on this roster for new HC, Brandon Staley, but the holes listed above must be plugged for them to realistically catch the Chiefs.
CHICAGO BEARS (8-8)
Trubisky nor Foles will do in 2021, despite the former showing signs of life towards the end of the season. Their draft options at 20 could be slim although they are likely to be in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Question is can they realistically afford him with limited cap space, and with a poor OL & lack of weapons, would they truly appeal anyway? A-Rob may not be enough to sway him even if he stays.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (8-8)
Jon Gruden may pivot at QB, but let's consider for a minute that he doesn't. The Raiders season ended in disappointment, but they were a tough out for most. They have an aging, but very good OL but have a middling roster that they need to ballast in many areas such as on the DL, at LB and corner. Henry Ruggs showed flashes, but more help is needed. Luckily this is the year to dip into the WR FA market.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9)
Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Michael Pierce will return in 2021 to bolster an inconsistent D. The Vikes need more pass rush to compliment Hunter, Wonnum and Odenigbo. The secondary group showed signs of improvement as the season progressed which is a plus, but Anthony Harris could be a cap casualty. On offense, the interior OL needs bolstering, & a possible replacement is needed for Rudolph.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8)
Losing 5 of their last 7 was not the finish to the season that AZ expected. After a promising start, the wheels came off and the team appears in limbo heading into the 2021 NFL offseason. The list of free agents does not bode well, and despite the presence of Kyler Murray, this team does not really have an identity. Kliff Kingsbury could find himself under pressure in 2021.
DALLAS COWBOYS (6-10)
The Cowboys' main priority this offseason needs to revolve around a decision on Dak Prescott. The correct choice would be to extend him and then concentrate on imrpoving the defense. A centerfielder to pair with Donovan Wilson, alongside more help in the secondary would be a start, but the Cowboys should compete for divisional supremacy in the NFC East in 2021.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-9)
This will be an extremely challenging offseason for Bill Belichick. Yes, the Pats suffered this season due to opt-outs and injuries, but the roster has multiple holes in many key positions. Belichick is difficult to predict at the best of times, but never so much this offseason. QB? WR? DL? Your guess is as good as mine. They will always be competitive, but won't be contenders in 2021.
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-10)
It's difficult to assess exactly where the Giants are. Joe Judge has them playing hard, & the defense is improved but the offense is still playing sloppy football at times with Daniel Jones. The NFC East will be improved in 2021, so the draft will be key for the Giants to snag some offensive weapons in order to keep up. Defensively, they need help at edge as well as a partner for James Bradberry at corner.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-11)
There is an exciting young core in Carolina but there are still a number of areas where this team must improve. Donte Jackson looked effective on his return towards the end of the season, but they need more help at corner. Furthermore, the OL & LB crews are undermanned. The draft should provide answers but the lingering question remains as to whether Teddy is right at QB moving forward.
DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
The Broncos are a talented team offensively, with pieces in place such as Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant, but the front office needs to decide what they are going to do about Drew Lock. He has shown flashes, but it is doubtful that he has a future as the franchise's QB. A decision will also have to be made on Von Miller who carries a club option on his $22m cap hit.
ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12)
In circa -$30m cap hell, the Falcons face a tough rebuild. Julio Jones is a potential trade chip and may be moved on to aid in this area, rather than restructure him, but Matt Ryan is in a tricker spot for the team. This is a rebuild that new HC Arthur Smith and any new GM in Atlanta must embrace. Select your QB of the future at 4 and pick a young offense to surround him and grow together in 2021 and beyond.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-11-1)
There will be optimism in Cincy heading into the offseason despite the rash of injuries to cornerstone players that marred their 2020. The team has talent in key places although Bengal legends Geno Atkins and AJ Green may move onto pastures new. That should however open up the requisite cap space to add via free agency in their unenviable quest to become competitive in the crowded AFC North.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-11-1)
Whether Jalen Hurts is the answer is too early to tell, but he did provide a spark later on in the season for Philly. The roster is showing its age however & many of its biggest stars need to be moved on. Can Nick Sirianni light a fire under Wentz, or will he roll with Hurts? Either way, the Eagles need some serious offensive firepower as well as a face lift on D. Could they go from worst to first in 2021?
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-15)
Urban Meyer has been entrusted with a fascinating project in Duval. With almost $75m in cap space and a boat load of draft picks, he and Trevor Lawrence should usher in a new era starting in 2021 when this team will begin to climb from the depths of these rankings. The 2021 NFL Draft will see them load up with offensive and defensive weapons thanks to their 11 picks. Exciting times ahead.
NEW YORK JETS (2-14)
Could they really be Deshaun Watson's first choice? If so, the hire of Robert Saleh alongside the Pro Bowl QB could finally signal the dawn of a promising new era in NY. Massive roster improvements are needed across the board, but with ample cap space and draft picks to do so, there is much scope to turn this team around and it is an exciting project.
DETROIT LIONS (5-11)
Stafford is gone and Detroit played a successful game of brinksmanship in order to maximise their return. They can't realistically win with Jared Goff, but the NFL Draft picks that they netted in the trade ushers in an exciting new dawn. Furthermore, Dan Campbell has brought with him an intense fire and competitive spirit that he will look to instil in order to reinvigorate this squad in 2021.
HOUSTON TEXANS (4-12)
Wow, what a mess. Deshaun wants a trade away, but there is little hope for a roster devoid of talent in 2021. J.J. Watt's outburst towards the end of the season is indicative of where the franchise is at right now: absolute turmoil. Minimal draft picks this year highlights a bleak immediate future, too. This is going to be a long, arduous rebuild for Nick Caserio and the front office in Houston.