Now that Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season is in the books, it’s time for everyone’s favorite meaningful exercise: NFL Power Rankings! What differentiates these rankings from others is that they’re the only truly accurate ones in the entire universe. Let’s take a look at how all 32 teams stack up heading in to Week 2. Even more power rankings discussion on this week’s episode of The ODDcast on The SB Nation NFL Show.
BLG’S WEEK 2 NFL POWER RANKINGS
1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 1) - The reigning Super Bowl champions still managed to win despite being -3 in the turnover department. They’re very much a formidable opponent. Especially with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski looking like they haven’t lost a step. How annoying.
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2) - The Chiefs are now 10-1 in one-score games since the start of last season. It’s not untrue to say they “know how to win.” But it’s not like there aren’t cracks in the armor. It’s just hard to take advantage of them to the extent that Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid can’t make up for it.
3 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 7) - The Browns couldn’t finish in KC. In fairness, beating Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium just isn’t easy. Cleveland is going to be able to at least push for the second seed in the AFC, if not the first. The Browns are on the right track.
4 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 21) - Is Jameis Winston actually going to be good under Sean Payton’s tutelage? He’s sure off to a good start with five touchdown passes for a 130.8 passer rating. Then again, his 148 yards were the lowest total to ever be matched with that many throwing scores. Regardless, it was a pretty impressive job by the Saints to blow out Green Bay despite playing their home game in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida. Winston’s viability remains to be seen but at the very least he has a strong defense helping him out.
5 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 5) - The Bolts allowed the lowest pressure rate in the entire league in Week 1. And they did it on the road against Chase Young and the rest of Washington’s tough defensive line. The Chargers’ offseason offensive line upgrades are paying early dividends. Keeping Justin Herbert clean is a winning formula moving forward.
6 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 6) - It’s been asked quite a few times in the past but I’ll raise the question again: is this the year Russell Wilson finally wins NFL MVP? 18/23 (78.2% completion) for 254 yards (11.0 average), 4 TD, 0 INT, and a 152.3 passer rating. Whew. Wilson’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett was so nice. Traveled about 60 yards in the air. Those two dudes have combined for some truly special plays since they’ve been working together. (Side note: I really enjoyed hearing Wilson on with the Manning brothers on ESPN2. He definitely has a color analyst job in his future if he wants it.)
7 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 8) - In what should come as a surprise to no one, Matthew Stafford is an upgrade on Jared Goff. 20/26 for 321 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a 156.1 passer rating in his LAR debut.
8 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 14) - The question I posed about Pittsburgh last week: “And, really, don’t the Steelers deserve the benefit of the doubt?” Answer: Yes. Yes, they do. To some extent, at least. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t amazing but he got support from his defense and special teams to pull off an upset in Buffalo. The Steelers pushed back on the idea that this is the year they’re going to really fall apart.
9 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 17) - Don’t think many outside of Arizona expected the Cards to be so dominant in Week 1. Kudos to Kyler Murray for lighting things up with his arm to the tune of four touchdowns and a 120.9 passer rating. DeAndre Hopkins remains unfair.
10 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 4) - Many were wondering to what extent Josh Allen’s accuracy would regress after jumping up from 56.3% through his first two years to 69.2% in 2020. Well, Allen finished Week 1 with a 58.8% completion rate. Granted, he was facing a tough defense, but it wasn’t an encouraging start.
11 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 11) - The 49ers were cruising to a blowout win before taking their foot off the gas. So unlike Kyle Shanahan to be involved in a scenario like that, right? Seriously, though, this had the feelings of a “moral loss.” And there are concerns about SF’s secondary with top defensive back Jason Verrett now lost for the season.
12 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 3) - After an offseason of turmoil that resulted in Aaron Rodgers ultimately returning to Green Bay, he went out and had the worst game of his career. Not an ideal start. Rodgers obviously deserves benefit of the doubt considering he’s the reigning MVP and he’s led the Packers to 13 wins in each of their past two seasons. But the vibes aren’t great here. The Pack have a chance to right the ship with a home game against Detroit up next.
13 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 9) - Lamar Jackson ultimately cost his team a win with two really bad fumbles. Between this and their unfortunate injury luck, Baltimore is another bad vibes team. Just doesn’t feel like ‘Hey, this is finally their year to go deep into the playoffs.’ The Ravens are staring 0-2 in the face with KC up next.
14 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 24) - The Eagles entered Atlanta as underdogs and kicked some serious tail-feathers. Jalen Hurts is off to a great start when it comes to proving himself as a franchise quarterback. He was accurate, decisive, and poised. Hurts also used his mobility to his advantage, especially during an impressive two-minute drill to give Philly a two-possession lead before halftime. Philly’s defensive line, meanwhile, powered a performance that saw the Eagles allow zero touchdowns and zero plays over 20 yards. The Eagles were the only defense from Week 1 to limit that kind of damage, according to Sheil Kapadia. Strong debuts for both Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon. Nothing but good vibes surrounding the Birds right now. A win over San Fran in Week 2 and they could push for a top 10 spot.
15 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 13) - Sad to see that the bar for the Cowboys has dropped so low that losing to the Bucs in Week 1 is being considered as this great moral victory. I mean, if Dallas was a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they don’t lose to a team that they edged out +3 in the turnover department. Then again, it’s not like those takeaways were amazing plays by the defense as much as they were fortunate Bucs mistakes. No, the Cowboys’ defense is still flawed. Their offense might be able to make up for it some extent if Dak Prescott continues to succeed. But there should be questions if he’ll be able to do as much. Prescott did a good job of floating passes but he couldn’t really zip the ball, which is something to watch coming off his shoulder injury. Prescott also looked more limited than ever as a runner, finishing the week as PFF’s sixth-worst graded running quarterback. And I didn’t even mention Mike McCarthy letting the Cowboys down with some poor game management. Or the kicker being an issue. But, sure, enjoy the moral victory, Cowboys fans.
16 - Washington Football Team (LW: 12) - Washington played a good Chargers team tough but they’re now going to be without starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for six-to-eight weeks. Are they really going anywhere with Taylor Heinicke? It’s not impossible he give WFT similar caliber play to Fitzpatrick or even be an upgrade ... but he’s certainly not making anyone shake in their boots.
17 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 15) - The Dolphins got the win but I’m still not buying Tua Tagovailoa, who finished Week 1 with a 79.6 passer rating. Miami’s defense will only carry them so far.
18 - New England Patriots (LW: 18) - They lost but Mac Jones continues to show positive signs. New England lost a winnable game with two poorly timed fumbles.
19 - Denver Broncos (LW: 19) - The Broncos are solid, not sexy. Teddy Bridgewater can probably get them to seven or eight wins and nothing more.
20 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 25) - The Raiders are 2-0 after winning twice on Monday night. Not really. It was looking like they were about to blow their opening game in front of a full crowd at Allegiant Stadium before they redeemed themselves. They’re probably destined for mediocrity at best with Derek Carr at the helm. Might be able to challenge for a wild card spot, though. For the sake of justifying his insane contract, Jon Gruden really needs to at least make the postseason this year.
21 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 10) - The Titans’ defense was a big issue last year and it clearly hasn’t been fixed. Tennessee also seems to be missing their former offensive coordinator. Discouraging start for a team that has a prime opportunity to win the AFC South.
22 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 20) - The Colts lost but apparently it’s not Carson Wentz’s fault. All blame goes to the offensive line. Even though everybody said Indy had one of the best blocking units in the league prior to the season. And even though Wentz held on to the ball the fifth-longest of any Week 1 quarterback. And even though PFF graded the Colts’ offensive line 17th in pass protection as opposed to one of the very worst. And even though Wentz was graded 26th out of 30 quarterbacks. And even though Wentz fumbled for the 60th time in 70 career games. Definitely not his fault at all.
23 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 27) - Zac Taylor wanted to run the ball at 4th-and-1 from the Bengals’ own 48-yard line with 0:39 on the clock and no timeouts remaining in overtime. Burrow audibled to a pass and it went for a 32-yard gain that set the Bengals up for a win. Cincy’s quarterback is certainly more inspiring than the head coach.
25 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 26) - Sam Darnold got his “revenge” on the Jets. Carolina didn’t look super impressive, though, only beating an outmatched Jets team by just five points. Golf clap.
26 - Chicago Bears (LW: 22) - We all know it’s only a matter of time until Justin Fields takes over for Andy Dalton. It’s just taking way longer than it should. Not that Fields is going to fix everything. He’s going to have some struggles behind an offensive line that graded out as the sixth-worst pass protection unit in Week 1. Who’s shocked that Jason Peters is already banged up?
27 - Houston Texans (LW: 32) - There was thought they could be the first team in NFL history to go 0-17 but, alas, that’s not happening now. Not sure how many more games they’ll win; their victory came over a joke of a Jags team. But, hey, at least they’re not THE worst!
28 - Detroit Lions (LW: 31) - A moral victory of sorts for the Lions as Dan Campbell’s team played hard for him despite falling to a 28-point deficit at one point. Detroit rallied back to have a realistic chance to tie San Fran on their final drive. Flawed but scrappy.
29 - New York Jets (LW: 30) - It’s easy to crush the Jets in general but it’s hard to crush this specific iteration because 1) they’re the youngest team in the league and 2) they currently have the most cap space on injured reserve. They’re very much a work in progress.
30 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 23) - ATL might as well stand for All Time Low (not the band) in this case because the Falcons stink. Arthur Smith was conservative and mostly non-threatening in his NFL head coaching debut. Matt Ryan didn’t have much time to throw behind a bad offensive line that’s especially weak on the interior. The Falcons’ defense is entirely gettable. This team will be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick.
31 - New York Giants (LW: 28) - The Giants still suck ass. Joe Judge pulled a big time jabroni move by challenging an automatically reviewed scoring play, which earned a penalty. Daniel Jones fumbled again, bringing him up to 30 in 28 games played. Saquon Barkley, who’s longest run was five yards, still isn’t 100% and thus the Giants can’t ride him like they need to. New York’s defense, a relative bright spot last season, couldn’t stop Teddy Bridgewater or Denver’s running game. This team is going nowhere fast.
I can’t get over this rep pic.twitter.com/6yCRRsDloK— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 13, 2021
32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 29) - Wow. Urban Meyer already looking like a disaster in the NFL? Who could’ve seen this coming except for literally everyone but Shad Khan?