With football returning, I rank the top ten teams entering Week 1 of play.
The 2021 NFL season is here, and from the “Who Did It” drama in Houston to the History Channel-sponsored reign of terror Tom Brady looks to continue, there’s no shortage of storylines to follow. Above all else, however, the return of football means that too-early-to-really-know Power Rankings are back, and we didn’t want to miss out on the action.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs managed to do the impossible in free agency— retaining every major contributor from last season’s Super Bowl team. The biggest addition the off-season provided Tampa was chemistry. Brady was thrown into the fire last season, joining a new team without a full preseason or training camp. Now the G.O.A.T. has had a full offseason to get his Ph.D. in the Bucs playbook. With depth, chemistry and talent on both sides of the ball, Tampa Bay is positioned to run it back.
- Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ depth was exposed in their Super Bowl matchup against the Buccaneers, so they went to the drawing board and remodeled their offensive line, which is now featuring LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney and a trio of rookies in OC Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith and RT Lucas Niang as their o-line. This move can either propel them back to holding the Lombardi Trophy or push them into the rest of the pack. Either way, a team with Patrick Mahomes under center is a team primed to be successful.
- Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are set to have a few growing pains, as rookie Rashod Bateman is set to start after the injury to J.K. Dobbins. Their defense will rely on their pass rush group, who aren’t the youngest mob in the game. With all that said, the Ravens are still one of, if not the, most balanced teams in the NFL, led by a cheat code named Lamar Jackson. While they have a few bruises entering the season, the 2019 NFL MVP still in his prime is a band aid that can cover those aches while they heal.
- Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is good at football. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Coming fresh off of signing a $258 million dollar contract, Allen looked inhuman in the preseason. The Bills’ offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, had that same energy in the preseason– calling passes on 28 out of 33 first-half plays against the Packers last week. Allen was ready for that energy, going 20-26 for 194 yards and two touchdown passes. The Bills defense is also a force to reckon with, the NFL official website predicting them to be a top ten defense this season.
- Cleveland Browns
The Browns have exciting players on both sides of the ball. They can run the ball with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and have no issue manufacturing downs with Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. They have been a scary team on paper for three years now. All that’s left for the Browns is to do it on the field.
- Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have the most feared defensive line in the NFL – led by future Hall of Famer Aaron Darnold. However, the team lost key players in the off-season and their defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley.
Offensively, the Rams shook up the NFL with their blockbuster trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford should unlock the parts of McVay’s playbook that were hidden by former quarterback Jared Goff’s slump.
- Green Bay Packers
Drama truly makes the world go round – especially in the world of the Green Bay Packers. From Twitter jabs, trade rumors and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers skipping out on OTAs to hang out with Miles Teller, the Packers feel like a mess.
A mess may they be, they still have the pieces to be a very elite football team. The Packers return most of their key players including the 2020 MVP Rodgers, All-Pro receiver Devante Adams, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and 2019 second-rounder AJ Dillon. Adding playmakers like Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers only adds to the already ultra-deep passing game.
- Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have a sneaky good defensive line, with some up-and-coming stars and established vets. The offense is set to take a jump, as the team added former Rams passing coordinator Shane Waldron. Giving a generational talent like Russell Wilson a quarterback whisperer puts the Seahawks in a position to make some noise this year.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
Rumors of the Steelers demise are not totally fair. Yes, the team is sticking with their 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, their offensive line hasn’t been the most protective of that said 39-year-old quarterback. Yes, the Steelers didn’t look too hot in the second half of the 2020 season. But with an elite group of skill players like Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and rookie Najee Harris, the issues upfront can be covered up.
- Tennessee Titans
The actual dark horse of the season is gearing up in Tennessee. The Titans have plenty of question marks, especially on the defensive end, but Ryan Tannehill has emerged as a top-five quarterback since taking over as QB1; and in 2021, a team with an elite quarterback finds a way.