NFL Power Rankings

My current NFL Power Rankings.

I’m going to use these rankings as the order for my 2021 NFL Mock Draft during the 2020 season. Follow @walterfootball.

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the Jets and Giants aren’t my top teams.

Updated: Sept. 4

  1. Houston Texans Houston Texans (4-12) – Previously: 32.
    The Texans had a chance to trade Deshaun Watson for three first-round picks, but they turned down that deal. Think they’d redo it in the wake of Watson’s legal issues? We don’t know when Watson will play football again. With that in mind, are you ready for Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills to quarterback a dreadful roster to what could be the NFL’s first 0-17 record? I’d be stoked, but I sort of think the Texans might win their initial game against the Jaguars – and then lose the next 16 games.

  2. Detroit Lions NFL Power Rankings Detroit Lions (5-11) – Previously: 31.
    I thought the Lions had the best chance to finish with the worst record in the NFL, but that was prior to the Deshaun Watson allegations. Still, Detroit fans shouldn’t be too worried because I have their team selecting one of the top quarterbacks in next April’s draft in my 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

  3. Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Previously: 30.
    Matt Ryan isn’t going to be quite the same quarterback without Alex Mack and Julio Jones. The Falcons lost several starters this offseason, including Mack and Jones, so I wouldn’t expect them to continue the momentum they built last year following Dan Quinn’s firing. I know they drafted Kyle Pitts, but a decline in pass protection and a missing top deep threat are more significant than a rookie tight end.

  4. New York Giants New York Giants (6-10) – Previously: 29.
    I was bullish on the Giants earlier in the offseason, but that was before Saquon Barkley’s delayed recovery and Kenny Golladay’s leg injury. Add in the fact that the Giants’ had an all-out team brawl in an early August practice, as well as the fact that Andrew Thomas resembled a human turnstile in the preseason, and it seems as though this team is in for another long year.

  5. Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Previously: 24.
    The Bengals are difficult to rank because we don’t know Joe Burrow’s status. Burrow suffered a brutal injury this past November, so he may not be 100 percent by the start of the season. Burrow threw just three passes in the preseason, while Ja’Marr Chase dropped everything in sight. Add in the fact that the offensive line struggled in training camp, and the Bengals could be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season.

  6. New York Jets New York Jets (2-14) – Previously: 28.
    Zach Wilson showed nice chemistry with Corey Davis in the preseason, and his offensive line will be better than it was last year in the wake of the Alijah Vera-Tucker pick. The defense, however, is a total disaster. They couldn’t stop a quarterback named Kurt Benkert on multiple drives in the preseason.

  7. Las Vegas Raiders Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Previously: 27.
    “It goes without saying that the Raiders must improve their defense this offseason. They would have made the playoffs with just an average stop unit, considering how well their offense played most of the year.”

    I wrote that in a previous update. The Raiders made some nice signings, obtaining Yannick Ngakoue, Casey Hayward and Quinton Jefferson. However, they also jettisoned three starting offensive linemen! I have no idea why Mike Mayock did this. He obtained Alex Leatherwood in the opening round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but the Alabama product won’t be enough. The team as a whole, including Carr, will be far worse in 2021 with the downgraded offensive line.

  8. Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Previously: 26.
    I criticized Howie Roseman for selling low on Carson Wentz. Little did I know that Wentz could drop even lower in the wake of his foot injury.

    Still, the Eagles are a mess. Philadelphia sports-talk radio is way more optimistic than I am – some predict nine or 10 wins – but I’m not sure the Eagles will get half that number.

  9. Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Previously: 23.
    With Trevor Lawrence on the roster, the Jaguars can no longer be deemed the worst team in the NFL. They have some nice play-makers on offense, while their blocking is just fine. Their defense was a disaster last year, but the front office added some talent to make it so Jacksonville’s defense will be bad rather than terrible. Progress!

  10. New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints (13-5) – Previously: 21.
    Drew Brees is gone, but he’s not the only one. The Saints lost four defensive starters, and that doesn’t even include Michael Thomas, who was put on the PUP list. Jameis Winston should be better this year, but I don’t fully trust him, especially with the Saints being homeless to begin the year.

  11. Carolina Panthers Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Previously: 16.
    Sam Darnold’s development is one of the most exciting things about the 2021 season. Darnold was a huge bust with the Jets, but he’ll have a better supporting cast and far superior coaching staff in Carolina. Imagine going from Adam Gase to Joe Brady. Players already improve after getting away from Gase, and that’s not even taking a sharp coordinator like Brady into account!

    I wrote this in my previous update, and then I saw Darnold play in the preseason. Yuck! He was terrible. Granted, he didn’t have Christian McCaffrey’s services, but he was also battling Pittsburgh’s backup defense.

  12. Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Previously: 25.
    Dak Prescott was re-signed to a gargantuan contract despite coming off a brutal injury and having no success in the playoffs. Jerry Jones sure knows how to wheel and deal. Unfortunately for Jones, Prescott’s deal prevented him from signing any players of note, outside of Keanu Neal and Malik Hooker, both of whom have an extensive injury history. The Cowboys also missed out on their two preferred prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, Patrick Surtain and Trevon Moehrig.

  13. Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Previously: 22.
    The Colts were 12th in a previous update. That was before Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson both suffered foot injuries. It sounds like Wentz could play in Week 1, but T.Y. Hilton and some offensive linemen are injured.

  14. New England Patriots New England Patriots (7-9) – Previously: 19.
    Mac Jones looked great in the preseason, but he didn’t play against any starting defensive units. It’s possible that his strong play was a mirage, much like Daniel Jones’ spectacular preseason in his rookie year. Jones could still be a good quarterback, but it hurts that the Patriots won’t have Stephon Gilmore for a while.

  15. Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings (6-10) – Previously: 18.
    The Vikings looked like they were the favorite to win the NFC North prior to Aaron Rodgers’ return. Things have gone south since late July, however, as Mike Zimmer appears to be losing his mind. His constant ramblings were perhaps a sign that his team would look dreadful in the preseason. The Vikings went 0-3, thanks in part to their offensive line not being able to block anyone.

  16. Chicago Bears Chicago Bears (8-8) – Previously: 17.
    The Bears finally have a franchise quarterback! Thanks to the Packers’ incompetence with Aaron Rodgers, the Broncos eschewed drafting Justin Fields because they know they can trade for Rodgers after this season. This allowed the rival Bears to obtain Fields. Whoops! Chicago suddenly has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl in 2022 with Fields. Granted, the Bears will no longer have the reigning NVP, but they’ll recover somehow.

  17. Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Previously: 20.
    The Steelers endured a rough offseason. Not only did they watch every team in their division make major upgrades; they also lost four starting offensive linemen, two key defensive backs, and a primary edge rusher. The good news, however, is that Ben Roethlisberger looked like his former self in his only preseason action. Perhaps that was a mirage. We’ll see!

  18. Tennessee Titans Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Previously: 14.
    The Titans lost their offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, but may have made up for it with Julio Jones. Of course, we have no idea if Jones will remain healthy, especially now that he’s a few months away from entering his mid-30s. Meanwhile, the defense might be even worse next year because of some downgrades in the secondary. Bud Dupree could help negate that, but he may not be 100 percent off his injury.

  19. Denver Broncos Denver Broncos (5-11) – Previously: 15.
    The Broncos’ elite defense and talented offensive players will be wasted away with mediocre quarterbacking until they trade for Aaron Rodgers. Teddy Bridgewater can lead a team into the playoffs, but I don’t have much faith in him doing much come the middle of January.

  20. Miami Dolphins Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Previously: 13.
    The Dolphins did well in free agency. They found two dynamic deep threats for Tua Tagovailoa in Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, and they also found several upgrades to their defense. They should be able to make the playoffs in 2021 unless Tagovailoa disappoints, which he did not do in the preseason.

  21. Seattle Seahawks Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – Previously: 12.
    This might be the best Seattle offensive line we’ve seen in a long time. The addition of Gabe Jackson should be a big boost for Russell Wilson and Chris Carson. Unfortunately for them, their defense still stinks, but they at least the front office bolstered Wilson’s protection.

  22. Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Previously: 10.
    I thought Aaron Rodgers wasn’t going to play for the Packers again. I guess you can’t trust everything you hear, but you can believe this: I will soon be releasing a Rodgers-related book called How the 2020 MVP Was Stolen. I guarantee some of you will hate it, but I’m OK with that.

    At any rate, Rodgers and Davante Adams have decided to return for one more year. The Packers will automatically be in playoff contention, but I have major concerns about their offensive line, especially with David Bakhtiari being out for a while.

  23. Washington Redskins Washington Redskins (6-10) – Previously: 11.
    The Redskins are the favorite to win the NFC East, or at least they should be. They did a good job of adding dynamic talent to their roster – Curtis Samuel, William Jackson – and they also have more stability at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick serving as an upgrade over Alex Smith. Meanwhile, Jamin Davis was obtained via the draft to help an already-dominant defense.

  24. Arizona Cardinals Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Previously: 5.
    I love what the Cardinals did this offseason. They upgraded their defensive line with J.J. Watt, but the greatest move was trading for Rodney Hudson. The former Raider center is going to be a huge boon for Kyler Murray, who could make big strides in his third season as a consequence. I’ve bet $300 on the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl, so if they do – they remind me of the 2017 Eagles, so I think it’s a strong possibility – I will win $15,000!

  25. Los Angeles Chargers San Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Previously: 9.
    The Chargers had an amazing offseason. They made great upgrades to their offensive line, which has to please Justin Herbert. The defense incurred some losses, but the important thing is that the Chargers found three new blockers to protect Herbert. With the much-improved offensive line, I expect the Chargers to win 11-12 games and make the playoffs this year.

  26. Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Previously: 7.
    The Ravens lost their pass rush in free agency, so we’ll see if rookie Jayson Oweh can make up for the departures of Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon. Perhaps he can eventually, but he’s raw, so it might take him some time. Justin Houston might be able to hold down the fort until then, but he’s a rapidly declining player. Luckily, the Ravens were able to plug some holes on the offensive line, so Lamar Jackson could play close to his 2019 level to make up for the declining pass rush.

  27. Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Previously: 6.
    The Browns had two glaring weaknesses last year: their linebacking corps and their secondary. They made some major upgrades to the latter, signing Troy Hill and John Johnson, and then picking Greg Newsome in the first round. The linebacking corps was then addressed in the second frame with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. If Baker Mayfield remains healthy behind his stud offensive line, Cleveland will certainly be one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the AFC.

  28. San Francisco 49ers San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Previously: 8.
    The 49ers had so many injuries last year. Take a look:

    That’s insane. If the 49ers are much healthier next year, they’ll be back in the Super Bowl mix, especially in the wake of signing Alex Mack and retaining Trent Williams. The only problem is that no rookie quarterback has ever won the Super Bowl, but there’s a first time for everything.

  29. Buffalo Bills Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Previously: 4.
    The Bills did a good job of retaining their own talent this offseason. They didn’t add any major new players, but everyone will return, save for John Brown. He’ll easily be replaced by Gabriel Davis or Emmanuel Sanders.

    That said, the Bills still need to pass the Chiefs. Their best strategy heading into the 2021 NFL Draft was to add several pass rushers. That would explain the Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham picks.

  30. Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Rams (10-6) – Previously: 3.
    I’ve seen some people opine that the Rams overpaid for Matthew Stafford. What these clueless individuals don’t realize is that part of the cost of the trade was shedding Jared Goff’s albatross of a contract. Besides, Stafford gives the Rams a great chance to reach the Super Bowl again. Will it still be an overpay if the Rams win Super Bowl LVI?

  31. Kansas City Chiefs NFL Power Rankings Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Previously: 2.
    The Chiefs obtained Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe as blocking upgrades heading into draft week. They then traded for Orlando Brown and selected Creed Humphrey in the second round. Kansas City’s offensive line is now stacked, which makes Patrick Mahomes even more dangerous. Given how hard Mahomes must have worked after getting blown out in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are my pick to win the Super Bowl in my 2021 NFL Season Previews.

  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Previously: 1.
    I moved the Buccaneers out of the top spot in these NFL power rankings in an earlier update. I assumed they would lose some key players this offseason. Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Antonio Brown, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette had expiring contracts, so can you blame me?

    Little did I know the Buccaneers would retain everyone! Quite literally, everyone. I can’t remember the last time a Super Bowl champion retained all of its players, and that’s because the last time this occurred was before I was born! The Raiders did this in the 1970s, and they went on to play in the championship game the following year.

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12

2022 NFL Power Rankings. Week: Post-Super Bowl Power Rankings | Post-Free Agency Power Rankings | Post-NFL Draft Power Rankings | Post-Preseason Power Rankings | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17

2021 NFL Power Rankings. Week: Post-Super Bowl Power Rankings | Preseason Power Rankings | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | Playoffs |

2020 NFL Power Rankings. Week: Post-Super Bowl Power Rankings 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | Playoffs |