2021 Pickwatch NFL Power Rankings: Week 1
Where does each team stand heading into the first week of the 2021 NFL Season?
Each week during the 2021 NFL Season, Pickwatch Head of Content Michael Schottey takes a look at where each team stands.
32. Houston Texans ( - )
This team is a dumpster fire wrapped inside a fustercluck inside of an epic fail. They’re the second oldest team in the NFL right now with (by far) the least amount of talent.
31. Philadelphia Eagles ( - )
It’s cute how Eagles faithful want to keep trying to convince us (themselves) that quarterback Jalen Hurts is the answer when the team was frantically trying to trade for Deshaun Watson not so long ago.
30. Detroit Lions ( - )
The Lions are aimed toward the future with a talented coaching staff and the second youngest team in the NFL, but the present is going to look ugly.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
Eagles move down because Head Coach Urban Meyer clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing in the NFL.
28. New York Jets (+1)
Jets move up one because Head Coach Robert Saleh most certainly does know what he's doing.
27. Las Vegas Raiders (-2)
The patchwork of veterans is going to steal some wins this season, but there’s still little reason to get excited for this team.
26. Atlanta Falcons (+1)
At the end of the season, I expect the Falcons to have risen up this list by a good margin because the team is...fine. QB Matt Ryan is going to have a solid final lap with his talented receiving corps and then this team can actually rebuild.
25. Denver Broncos (+1)
One of the most talented defenses (especially the secondary) in the entire NFL and...Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback? I don’t hate it, but the proof needs to be in the pudding.
24. Carolina Panthers (-1)
Hot Take Time: If things click just right, the 2021 Panthers could look a little bit like the 2020 Los Angeles Rams—if you squint a little—with an epic defense, a great running game and a quarterback that (mostly) stays out of the way. That’s a lot of things that have to go right, though.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (-2)
Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is going to be fine...just fine...no, really. Oh man, I hope.
22. New York Giants (-2)
The Giants offseason wasn’t nearly as good as the Giants think it was. That’s bad. The fact that the offensive line isn’t nearly as good as the Giants think it is is even worse.
21. Chicago Bears (-2)
Andy Dalton isn’t Mr. Right for the Bears at QB, but he’s Mr. Right Now and that’s probably for the best for a team that isn’t ready to ride the rookie QB roller coaster thanks to some oversized expectations.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (+2)
Giving the Steelers a boost because QB Ben Roethlisberger looked better than expected in (limited) preseason action. Keeping them lower than Steelers fans might want because Outside Linebacker T.J. Watt is, somehow, still not extended.
19. Miami Dolphins (-1)
Just go up and read what I said about the Eagles and Deshaun Watson, but now with QB Tua Tagovailoa and a much better team around him.
18. Minnesota Vikings (-3)
The Vikings can be in every game this season thanks to running back Dalvin Cook, but the shine continues to come off this team bit by bit.
17. Arizona Cardinals ( - )
One of my favorite teams in the league both from an entertainment and a buy-in of their long-term planning standpoint, the Cardinals will suffer because they’re in the NFC’s toughest division.
16. New England Patriots ( - )
Do I raise the team for moving forward with rookie QB Mac Jones or drop them for wasting a bunch of training camp snaps on Cam Newton? Neither...time will tell, but look for Jones to have a rougher time once defenses start being less vanilla in the regular season.
15. Tennessee Titans (-2)
Defensively, this won’t be the same team as last year. That means the offense and QB Ryan Tannehill have to step up along with new addition, wide receiver Julio Jones. The worst case scenario is a bunch of games where the Titans are down multiple scores and can’t lean on RB Derrick “King” Henry.
14. Indianapolis Colts (+10)
I was really hard on the Colts in the training camp power rankings because no one knew when QB Carson Wentz and offensive guard Quenton Nelson were coming back and the worst case scenario would’ve been a midseason return. Now, both are on track for Week 1.
13. Los Angeles Chargers ( - )
The defense should be worlds better than last season, and QB Justin Herbert is one year wiser. Can this team finally get over a decades long hump?
12. New Orleans Saints (+2)
QB Jameis Winston isn’t Drew Brees, but he doesn’t have to be. Look for this team to be more balanced than in years past and for Winston to silence a lot of doubters.
11. Los Angeles Rams ( - )
Fellow Pickwatch Scribe and Co-host of Three & Out, Ty Schalter is very bullish on the Rams, and while I agree that QB Matthew Stafford will be very good for them, I am not a believer quite yet. The defense is packed with studs, but their turnover from last year is exceedingly underrated.
10. Dallas Cowboys ( - )
Speaking of defensive turnover... the Cowboys were abysmal on that side of the ball last season and unless things go really well, this is an inflated ranking—and I’m less bullish on the Cowboys than most.
9. Washington Football Team (-1)
Football Team won the division (not saying much) last season without ever really knowing who their quarterback was. This season, that’s Ryan Fitzpatrick leading a group that has improved on both sides of the ball.
8. San Francisco 49ers (+1)
While most of us are talking about the return of QB Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s the return of Defensive End Nick Bosa that is going to change the stars in San Francisco. This might be the best D in the NFL this season.
7. Cleveland Browns ( - )
Should the Browns be ranked above the Ravens? Probably...but season-over-season, there are more reasons to believe the Ravens will keep things together rather than that the Browns will get through the season unscathed.
6. Baltimore Ravens (-1)
The loss of RB J.K. Dobbins is big, but it’s not the death knell some are making it out to be. The offensive line, defensive line and former MVP QB are going to carry this team.
5. Seattle Seahawks (+1)
Lots of reasons to dislike the Seahawks, but one reason to forget about all of those: Russell Wilson is still slinging the rock.
4. Green Bay Packers ( - )
Put me down for QB Aaron Rodgers to repeat as MVP and for the Packers to head right back to the NFC Championship Game.
3. Buffalo Bills ( - )
I actually think the Bills might regress a bit from last season, but they’re still the class of the AFC East and have one of my favorite young QBs to watch.
2. Kansas City Chiefs ( - )
Repeatedly on record saying the Chiefs may not look like “the Chiefs” early in the season, but that’s going to be a momentary blip in games they’ll win anyway because QB Patrick Mahomes is just that good.
1.Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( - )
Return the entire team from a Super Bowl run and look even better than you did for most of the last season? Yeah, this is where you belong until further notice.