2021 Preseason Power Rankings
In last Thursday’s blog, the top half of the NFL Teams were listed along with their placement in their specific Division. This week will be focused on the bottom half of the league and information on what factors will play a role in each teams season for this week’s NFL power rankings blog.
Although the teams listed below may not be as talented as the top half of the league. You never know what team can exceed expectations and be much better than anticipated for the 2021 Season. Let’s take a dive into teams ranked from 17 down to 32.
#17 New Orleans Saints (2nd in NFC South)
The first team on this week’s NFL Power Rankings at #17 is the New Orleans Saints. As fantastic as Drew Brees’ resume looks, I believe the last few seasons he struggled. Most average NFL spectators probably did not catch wind of Sean Payton’s 8-1 record with Bridegwater and Hill in starts Brees was injured for over the past two seasons.
Alvin Kamara is still possibly the most effective player with the ball in his hands outside of Tyreek Hill in the entire league. The Super Dome will be rocking each and every home game which leads to me to predicting the Saints to finish just a game or two behind the Buccanneers for the 2021 NFC South Division Title.
#18 San Francisco 49ers (3rd in NFC West)
Up next on my NFL power rankings is the San Francisco 49ers. The entire offseason was spent focused on whether the Franchise would stick with Jimmy G at Quarterback or draft Mac Jones, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance with the third overall pick in the draft? In my opinion, way too much time was focused on the situation and it allowed two major losses on the defensive side of the ball to slip under the cracks.
The 49ers will be without their terrific Defensive Coordinator, Robert Saleh, who landed a much deserved Head Coaching job with the New York Jets. Also, the 49ers will be without Richard Sherman who is a great leader and a key communicator on and off the field for the whole defensive unit. Although George Kittle and Nick Bosa are two of the top fifty players in the NFL, I see the 49ers being just a smidge above average this year. The defense will take a huge step back while they happen to be playing in the most competitive division in the league.
#19 Arizona Cardinals (4th in NFC West)
Coming in at #19 on my NFL power rankings list is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals seem to be to “all in” for a Super Bowl run after adding J.J. Watt (DE), Malcolm Butler (CB), and Rodney Hudson (C) in Free Agency to an already strong roster. Like the 49ers, the strength of the NFC West will make the Cardinals, who would stand out in any other division, just an average NFL team when it comes to their win and loss record.
#20 Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd in AFC South)
After losing Bud Dupree to injury last season, the once 11-0 Steelers did not even advance past the first round of the 2020 Playoffs. Ben is clearly down to the final days of his career and this will most likely be his last season. Bud Dupree signed to the Tennessee Titans in Free Agency and Maurkice Pouncey has retired after playing 11 seasons as the starting Center for Big Ben.
With the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns taking huge leaps forward this offseason I expect the Steelers to battle it out with the Bengals for fourth in the AFC North. Najae Harris should have a tremendous workload but without a good offensive line it might be too difficult for the rookie phenom to have that much of an impact.
#21 Denver Broncos (3rd in AFC West)
This team is a Quarterback away from an elite roster. It just so happens to be the most important position on a football team. The Broncos have a built in schedule advantage with their eight home games due to Mile High Stadium and almost always have a tough defense. It all comes down to the execution of the offense. If Lock or Bridgewater can have any consistent passing game this season expect this team to move up into the teens of the NFL Power Rankings.
#22 Las Vegas Raiders (4th in AFC West)
The Las Vegas Raiders have made improvements over the past few seasons but still cannot seem to get over the bump of the Kansas City Chiefs. Well, they are not the only team to face this problem. Derek Carr continues to be a serviceable NFL Starter with Jacobs being a great back and Darren Waller is hands down a top five tight end. Yet, they still are never going to be better than a .500 team.
#23 Chicago Bears (3rd in NFC North)
Justin Fields being drafted 11th overall has Chicago ecstatic. Their Quarterback problems of the last decade may come to an end… time will tell! The Bears have a great defense but did lose star Cornerback Kyle Fuller to the Denver Broncos. This division is totally up for grabs if Aaron Rodgers does not show up to Green Bay this season. Dalton is set to start the season but Fields has to get in there at some point come October/November unless “The red rifle” can shock the world.
#24 New York Giants (3rd in NFC East)
Daniel Jones is in his make or break year. Either he proves he has what it takes to be the long term answer to the New York Giants QB situation or they will have to go elsewhere. Whether they look to Free Agency or the Draft, the pressure is on Jones. A .500 record (9-8) is the ceiling for the 2021 New York Giants.
#25 Carolina Panthers (3rd in NFC South)
If Jaycee Horn can quickly establish himself as an NFL Cornerback, this defense can be very good. On the other side of the ball is Sam Darnold who is getting a second wind in a new organization. With McCaffrey coming back from injury this is a team that can slide into a top 20 team if everything works out. Matt Rhule deserves a ton of credit for how quickly he is making an impact as the Head Coach.
#26 Atlanta Falcons (4th in NFC South)
The loss of Julio Jones will have an immediate effect on the Atlanta Falcons. The future does look bright with new Head Coach Arthur Smith. Smith was the Titans Offensive Coordinator the past few seasons which allowed Tannehill to play his best football yet and allowed Derrick Henry to dominate the league under Smith’s play calling. Atlanta will be well behind Tampa Bay and New Orleans. In my opinion the Falcons have no chance at a playoff spot.
#27 Cincinnati Bengals (4th in AFC North)
Joe Burrow had a great start to his rookie campaign before holding onto the ball too long and getting a bad knee injury. The addition of Ja’Marr Chase to an already solid wide receiving core should lead to a fantastic statistical year for the offensive unit. But, scoring points does not always translate to winning football games which is what the Power Rankings are all about.
#28 Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd in AFC South)
Trevor Lawrence has the chance to completely change the franchise and get them back to a winning culture like they were just a few seasons back. Most people often forget this team was in the AFC Championship in 2017. A major coaching change and a rebuild of the roster will have this team at the bottom of the league atleast to start 2021. This is also another team like the Panthers that could rise greatly if things work out for them on the gridiron.
#29 Detroit Lions (4th in NFC North)
The Detroit Lion fanbase is in for a season of uncertainty. A new Head Coach comes to town to try to fix what Matt Patricia ruined when it comes to the football culture and roster. Jared Goff I believe is not as much of a downgrade from Stafford as people are portraying. The veteran Stafford holds a career record of just 74-90-1 while having one of the best wide receivers of all time. Stafford has thrown double digit interceptions in 10 of his 12 career seasons.
Goff may not be as talented but winning games at the NFL level takes experience and Goff has just that. With a 42-27 career record and a Super Bowl appearance on his resume we will see how he stands on his lonesome without Coach McVay.
#30 New York Jets (4th in AFC East)
The additions of Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh should send waves of optimism to the Jets fanbase. 2021 should be looked at as a year to mesh the new coaching staff and newly drafted Quarterback. The Jets will be looking up at the rest of the AFC East and should struggle in their division due to the difficulty facing the Patriots, Bills, and Dolpins twice.
#31 Philadelphia Eagles (4th in NFC East)
The toughness and grit that Jalen Hurts brings to a locker room is never in doubt. What is in doubt though is his ability to successfully Quarterback at the NFL level. The Eagles should find themselves at the basement of the NFC East and management may even question letting go of Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. Devonta Smith has great fantasy football value but I cannot see this team winning more than six games in 2021.
#32 Houston Texans (4th in AFC South)
Coming in as the worst team in my 2021 NFL power rankings is no other than the Houston Texans. 2021 will be a complete rebuild year for the Houston Franchise. They sit with the lowest expected win total in the league with 4 as their over/under. I think it is a stretch to envision this team winning five football games with this roster as well as new coaching staff. Going 0-6 in their AFC South division is definitely a possibility.
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-Fred O’Brien (@FOBSportsNFL)