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NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Last week wasn't always pretty, but so far so good for the Sean McVay-Matthew Stafford combination as the Rams are off to a 2-0 start

It doesn’t matter the matchups, who is injured, or what the venue is, there are few things as consistently entertaining as the National Football League. Week 2 was the latest example of that, with thrilling one-score finishes in all but a handful of games.

While it’s still a bit too early to see how impactful those results will be on the playoff picture, one theme is becoming clear: parity remains common in a league where the gap between polar extremes isn’t as wide as we thought coming into the season.

With all that in mind and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week:
1

Quite the position the Bucs are when Tom Brady throws five TD passes and the bigger takeaway among the fan base is that the defense looked much closer to expectations after that romp against Atlanta. Ol’ Father Time behind center is just the fifth QB to throw nine or more TDs in his first two games and it truly looks like he’s barely breaking a sweat doing so. Scary thought.

2. Los Angeles Rams
Last week:
3

A little sloppy on the road in Indianapolis but Matthew Stafford delivers a win again as Cooper Kupp has emerged early on as his new go-to guy. Given how Sean McVay treated the preseason, perhaps this is just how the first few weeks will be for the Rams before they really hit the next gear.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week:
2

Does KC’s defense need to play better than it has based on what we’ve seen so far this year? Absolutely. Do guys like Clyde Edwards-Helaire need to not fumble in those situations? Uh, yeah. But you just had to leave that thrilling loss to the Ravens thinking this group still is the favorite in the AFC and the outcome was little more than an early speed bump that could serve as a powerful motivator going into a key division game.

4. Cleveland Browns
Last week:
5

One wonders how many times watching the tape that Kevin Stefanski muttered a few expletives watching Baker Mayfield get injured early against the Texans. He shook it off and rallied the team though and that’s a nice bit of growth out of the Browns in what could have been a prime letdown spot after Week 1’s result.

5. San Francisco 49ers
Last week:
6

The tail end of an East Coast double-header for San Francisco was never going to be a cakewalk and you have to give a lot of credit to Nick Bosa and the defense for that game plan against Jalen Hurts to more than make up for an offense that never did get into the rhythm Kyle Shanahan wanted.

6. Buffalo Bills
Last week:
7

Knocking out the opposing QB naturally contributed to the lopsided score but a nice response by the Bills defense made this look much more like the trendy Super Bowl representative out of the AFC than last week. Also encouraging is how much more the run game seems to be picking up steam behind Zack Moss and Devin Singletary, who set the tone early with that 46-yard scamper to the end zone.

7. Las Vegas Raiders
Last week:
16

After more than 700 yards in two games plus a pair of thrilling, big-time wins, is it time for Derek Carr to start getting a little more love outside Sin City? Given the two AFC North defenses he just lit up, perhaps so.

8. Baltimore Ravens
Last week:
17

Great exchange at the end of the game with John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson on the fourth-down call but the fight and resilience the Ravens showed against a team that has largely been their boogeyman is the longer-term takeaway. And that’s not just when it comes to a potential postseason rematch but whenever this group faces some adversity.

9. Seattle Seahawks
Last week:
4

This franchise refuses to play normal NFL games. They refuse to close teams out properly, refuse to even do proper a Hail Marys at the end of the half and surely don’t make life easy in situations like overtime. It’s a hell of a roller-coaster for the fan base but at least makes every game some must-see TV — especially this year with the added downfield passing elements.

10. Green Bay Packers
Last week:
8

Nice cathartic return to a jam-packed Lambeau to beat up on a lowly division opponent like the Lions. Aaron Rodgers almost would have been forgiven if he lifted up his jersey to reveal one of those "Relax" t-shirts.

11. Dallas Cowboys
Last week:
14

Last week it was Dak through the air, this week it was the one-two punch at running back leading the way for the ‘Boys. That flexibility out of OC Kellen Moore was almost as impressive as the inspired effort out of the short-handed defense on the road.

12. Arizona Cardinals
Last week:
12

What a difference a healthy Kyler Murray makes, eh? The young QB looks like the early MVP front-runner after stuffing the stat sheet once again vs. the Vikings. He wasn’t quite as sharp as the opener and that made things a bit closer than expected but 2-0 is not a position the Cards usually find themselves in.

13. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week:
9

Those turnovers that turned a potential 2-0 start into a split was almost as big of a bummer for the Chargers as the crowd to open their first real game at SoFi Stadium with fans that decidedly had a vocal majority in a much different shade of blue. Not the end of the world but another sign of how difficult it is for this franchise to close out games.

14. New England Patriots
Last week:
15

Mac was better than Zach, but the Patriots' defense had a lot to do with that after notching four interceptions. One can’t help but think however these first few games are really just Bill Belichick experimenting with a few things before that Sunday night game against a certain somebody in two weeks.

15. Denver Broncos
Last week:
18

Teddy Bridgewater has been just what the doctor ordered for the Broncos in ticking off all the boxes under center. However, probably can’t make any larger takeaways as far as how much of a real contender this group is until the schedule picks up.

16. Carolina Panthers
Last week:
22

We only caught glimpses in Week 1 but that effort thumping the Saints showed just how far along Matt Rhule’s rebuild is and certainly a net positive showcase for Sam Darnold as he tries to convince the franchise he’s still their guy long term.

17. Tennessee Titans
Last week:
23

A 15-point comeback from an offense not really used to playing from behind like that was almost as impressive as the freight train that was Derrick Henry on Sunday. If Julio Jones keeps making his presence known with each passing quarter too, then maybe this is back to being the AFC South team to beat by a wide margin.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week:
10

Big Ben fell to 2-6 against the Raiders but it was once again the lack of a running game that put the Steelers behind the eight-ball most of the game. T.J. Watt’s injury was just the icing on the cake to a home loss too.

19. New Orleans Saints
Last week:
13

It appears missing a host of coaches on and off the field had almost as big of an impact as Jameis Winston reverting to the mean after throwing those five TDs.

20. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week:
20

Not the kind of performance Nick Sirianni would have liked to have shown the Philly crowd in his home introduction and another reminder that this team likely will experience further growing pains as the staff learns how to adjust in-game when the game plan isn’t working.

21. Washington Football Team
Last week:
21

Dustin Hopkins went from goat to hero in the blink of an eye but that ending might have obscured the fact that the defense has not lived up to the high billing it got in the preseason.

22. Miami Dolphins
Last week:
11

The sight of Tua Tagovailoa getting carted off the field seemed to evoke every scouting report about him coming off that injury in college and what limits he might have on his future. More concerning than the QB position for head coach Brian Flores however is how the last two meetings with Buffalo have gone and how totally uncompetitive the team has been.

23. Chicago Bears
Last week:
24

Bears fans wanted Justin Fields playing meaningful snaps and they got what they wanted… just maybe not quite the actual in-game script they were hoping for. The good news though, the defense helped pick the rookie up with an incredible second-half effort after a ton of whiffs in Week 1.

24. Indianapolis Colts
Last week:
19

There have been plenty of flashes out of the Colts for stretches but the lack of consistency, especially in areas like the red zone, has to drive Frank Reich nuts. Nearly knocking off the Rams is encouraging but losing your first two home games ahead of a difficult road stretch isn’t the most promising sign.

25. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week:
25

There were a ton of questions about Ja’Marr Chase after a lackluster preseason but suddenly the naysayers have quieted after his second straight game with a 40-plus-yard touchdown. He’s still re-learning the chemistry with Joe Burrow (who must get better, obviously, after a three-INT day) but Chase being the second wideout ever to accomplish that does take the sting out of dropping that game to the Bears just a bit.

26. Minnesota Vikings
Last week:
26

There are some position groups that seemingly never can get things right. The Vikings’ kicking room seems like they’re absolutely on that list after yet another blown ending down in the desert to drop to 0-2.

27. Atlanta Falcons
Last week:
27

At one point, the Falcons were within a field goal of the Bucs in the second half. Then Matt Ryan decided to be extra generous to his division rivals and things have gone from bad to even worse in Atlanta.

28. Detroit Lions
Last week:
30

The roster just isn’t in a place where the team can compete for four full quarters, much less against a division favorite in a big national game. But for a half? That is doable and probably a bit of a silver lining in this 0-2 start to another rebuild.

29. New York Giants
Last week:
28

A hint of irony in a special teams mistake doing in Joe Judge during a game the team had to have but the bottom line is that was another missed opportunity to turn the corner as the franchise trends toward yet another reboot just two games into the year.

30. Houston Texans
Last week:
29

You have to feel for Tyrod Taylor, who seems somewhat cursed after leaving that game against the Browns. The Texans did show some fight early on the road but this just isn’t a roster equipped to play four quarters against any team in the top half of the league.

31. New York Jets
Last week:
31

When former Patriots players were tweeting about ghosts as Zach Wilson was throwing one of his many interceptions, it’s probably not your day. All things considered, perhaps the offensive coaches might as well symbolically burn the tape and move onto the next opponent.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week:
32

Urban Meyer lost three games in a row just once in his career (2010 while at Florida). Could he start his NFL career that way? Unless there’s some magic answer for Kyler Murray next Sunday, this reboot with a college coach could get off to an even rougher start.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week:
1


A little closer than expected with a few defensive issues to nitpick in the opener against Dallas but raising a banner and notching a win is hard to top for the reigning champs. Maybe the bigger takeaway was that Tom Brady not only looks great (again) for his age at the beginning of his latest campaign but that he’s also got a fastball like the good old days.

2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week:
2

Death, taxes and Andy Reid in September. The improved offensive line allowed just two sacks against that speedy front seven and Patrick Mahomes was Patrick Mahomes. File that thrilling victory away for later as it could prove to be a crucial tiebreaker in the tight race for the AFC's No. 1 seed.

3. Los Angeles Rams
Last week:
5

Efficiency was the name of the game for the Rams in that waltz over Chicago on Sunday night. Matthew Stafford did indeed showcase more of a downfield threat for Sean McVay and the thought of this group continuing to grow as the year goes on has to be a scary thing for the rest of the NFC.

4. Seattle Seahawks
Last week:
8

The new-look offense looked pretty good, especially if you just limited it to the plays where a near-perfect Russell Wilson was just throwing it deep and letting his (normally wide open) guys come down with it. Seattle has gotten off to fast starts before under Pete Carroll but need to ensure that this is a team that keeps building as the year goes on.

5. Cleveland Browns
Last week:
6

There are not many times you lose games where you average 8.2 yards per play and lose but such is life when playing the Chiefs. Although they’ve yet to get over the hump against KC, the way this team has played them can give Cleveland confidence the rest of the way that they belong in the conversation to be in the AFC elite.

6. San Francisco 49ers
Last week:
7

A Kyle Shanahan team had some trouble closing a game out down the stretch? Why I never… Other than that, the first 58 minutes of the game showed this is a team yet again capable of making a deep postseason run.

7. Buffalo Bills
Last week:
3

Bills mafia had to be extra hyped to see their team with the stands full so that effort against the Steelers had to be extra disappointing for one of the trendy AFC contenders. The defense did look improved when you take a big step back but the team won’t be able to take the next step if they’re allowing opponents to score on four straight drives coming out of the halftime locker room.

8. Green Bay Packers
Last week:
4

There were a lot of Jeopardy jokes flying as the Pack was getting blown out by the Saints based on how Aaron Rodgers played but it was the debut of DC Joe Barry that has to be of peak concern to the Cheeseheads far and wide. Maybe we’ll look back at the trip to Jacksonville as just a bump in the road for a franchise that has really only lost seven times under this coaching staff in the regular season.

9. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week:
13

Justin Herbert was absolute money on third down against one of the best NFC defenses and facing his first real road test with a full crowd in the NFL. Things weren’t quite as crisp as new coach Brandon Staley would have wanted but that first win won’t feel any less sweet.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week:
20

All that attention this offseason on the revamped offense and yet it was the Steelers’ high-priced defense that came through in a big way against the Bills. Add in the special teams additions and that was an impressive all-around job on the road for a team where expectations are all over the place.

11. Miami Dolphins
Last week:
12

Tua Tagovailoa didn’t light the world on fire in terms of stats, but going into Foxborough to notch a win is a great first step in convincing the fan base and the front office that he is the guy under center long term. Brian Flores’ defense once again remains the heartbeat of this team but otherwise some encouraging signs out of the AFC East-leading ‘Fins.

12. Arizona Cardinals
Last week:
17

Among the list of surprising results from Week 1, the Cardinals being in complete control from start to finish against an AFC contender might rank up there. Kyler Murray got plenty of love as he marched up and down the field but the encouraging news for the franchise is the defensive effort. I mean, Chandler Jones pace yourself on those sacks in this new 17-game season!

13. New Orleans Saints
Last week:
22

How many hours of debate were there surrounding who would succeed Drew Brees, only for Jameis Winston to go out there and exceed expectations that even optimistic Saints fans had on Sunday? The yardage wasn’t anything to hang your hat on but five TDs against a team that was in the NFC title game last year is a heck of a start.

14. Dallas Cowboys
Last week:
16

How ‘bout them moral losses? Dak Prescott looked phenomenal and even the defense wasn’t half bad compared to the lifeless shell that there was in Big D last year. It will be interesting to see if the team bypasses their traditional running game like it did against Tampa or if that was more opponent-driven in the opener.

15. New England Patriots
Last week:
9

All in all, a pretty solid debut for Mac Jones in nearly pulling off a win against a tough defense but it was ex-Bama teammate Damien Harris’s fumble that really spoiled the outcome in the end. Still, it’s not hard to see this is an improved bunch in Foxborough even if they’re going into the second weekend a game behind in what looks to be a tight division race.

16. Las Vegas Raiders
Last week:
25

There are easier ways to win a game, but the Raiders taking the long way to a dub on Monday night makes that home opener with fans that much more special. The defense, particularly the pass rush, was a nice bright spot when Jon Gruden’s play-calling sputtered.

17. Baltimore Ravens
Last week:
10

Rough, rough way to lose a game (twice). Still plenty of time to get some issues corrected but Lamar Jackson’s fumbles were the story out of that loss to the Raiders as much as the ending was.

18. Denver Broncos
Last week:
18

This might have been the most ho-hum of games played on the first Sunday of the season, with a methodical Teddy Bridgewater complementing a defense that looks every bit as fast and physical as expected.

19. Indianapolis Colts
Last week:
11

Still a long way to go before making any grand takeaways about Carson Wentz but the bottom line was his offensive line was not good enough on Sunday. The silver lining for that unit? They were at least better than the secondary’s effort.

20. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week:
29

Have a cold one Nick Siriani. That was a marvelous debut on the road for the first-time head coach. Jalen Hurts’ play was a big eye-opener for many because of that with the second-year player looking about as sharp as he ever has been in the league as a passer.

21. Washington Football Team
Last week:
15

The FitzMagic era was over in a seeming instant but the effort against the Chargers is a good reminder that the defense will continue to carry the WFT as far as they possibly can. It wasn’t enough in the opener but it could be plenty against lesser opponents going forward as some solace to having to play yet another backup under center.

22. Carolina Panthers
Last week:
23

Sam Darnold said throughout the week that it wasn’t a revenge game but it felt like one after he beat the Jets, especially given the number of times he seemed to press a bit too much to make something happen. Still, CMC was back to his usual self and the defense looked nasty for long stretches to put a big of pep in Matt Rhule’s step with this 1-0 start.

23. Tennessee Titans
Last week:
14

Where art thou Arthur Smith? As rough as the offense looked, it was the defense — the head coach’s specialty mind you — that stunk up the joint in Nashville. On top of all the scheme issues (and general Kyler Murray-ness one has to account for), it’s pretty clear that years of trying to re-tool that side of the ball have put the Titans even further behind the eight-ball in 2021.

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24. Chicago Bears
Last week:
24

Bears fans were so excited to catch a mere glimpse at Justin Fields that they forgot how lackluster the secondary this team has. Such a mistake was quickly corrected in that loss against the Rams.

25. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week:
27

Welcome back Joey B! It says a lot about the franchise quarterback that he not only had the stones to audible on that critical fourth down in overtime but the ice water in his veins to step up and deliver a beautiful ball to C.J. Uzomah to help set up the game-winning field goal. As bad as Cincy had been, learning how to win games like that is a big step.

26. Minnesota Vikings
Last week:
21

Mike Zimmer is already pissed off about all that has been going on around the team, how do you think he feels now after the sloppy mistakes that led to a loss against the Bengals?

27. Atlanta Falcons
Last week:
19

New regime in charge, same old Falcons that couldn’t run the ball and couldn’t get stops on defense. The look on owner Arthur Blank’s face said it all in the second half of that loss to the Eagles.

28. New York Giants
Last week:
26

It’s a long, 17-game season. But with each passing game, it looks more and more like Daniel Jones isn’t the answer at quarterback.

29. Houston Texans
Last week:
32

Your… first-place Houston Texans? The standings don’t lie as few inside or outside their home state expected that kind of performance right out of the gate against the lowly Jaguars. Kudos to David Culley and Tyrod Taylor in notching a victory many around the league were happy to see.

30. Detroit Lions
Last week:
31

The finishing flurry that made the game interesting was nice to see but it was also a bit like putting lipstick on a pig given how lifeless this team looked for about 58 minutes. The bottom line remains something all Lions fans are accustomed to: it will be a long season in the Motor City.

31. New York Jets
Last week:
28

Rough debut for Zach Wilson, who seemingly had a hand in his face on every dropback and was sacked six times. Add in Mekhi Becton’s injury and things could have gone better down in Charlotte. At least the defense seemingly looked better than expected in giving up only 19 points.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week:
30

Urban Meyer is one of the greatest college coaches ever but he got a rude welcome to the league moment against one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence wasn’t flawless but he shouldn’t be throwing it 50-plus times in any game as a rookie either.

NFL Power Rankings: Pre-Week 1 Edition

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While many Super Bowl teams have kept their core together to make another run at a Lombardi, few have managed to keep nearly their entire roster intact like the Bucs have done this offseason. Add in a mix of high-upside rookies and it’s no wonder why Bruce Arians keeps yelping that he’s running things back with Tom Brady and the crew.

2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Vegas favorite to win it all after that Super Bowl setback last season, the Chiefs have significantly addressed their flaws along the offensive line and have gone from putting one of the worst units in front of Patrick Mahomes to one of the best. While they do have a much trickier road to navigate in the AFC than teams like the Buccaneers, there’s little reason to see any drop-off from this contender.

3. Buffalo Bills
Bills Mafia wasn’t around to witness much of their team’s magical run to the AFC title game but luckily they’ll get to witness the bulk of last year’s team back in action again with their sights aimed squarely at a return to the Super Bowl. Josh Allen has firmly worked his way into the MVP conversation after making an incredible leap in Year 3 and now has the big contract extension to match. This is easily the favorite in the AFC East but it will be interesting to see how they handle going from chasing contenders to being the ones chased.

4. Green Bay Packers
Where will Aaron Rodgers play… in 2022? That’s a question that will get asked an awful lot this coming year around Green Bay while conveniently overshadowing the fact that this group is 28-8 under Matt LaFleur and probably should have beaten the Buccaneers in the NFC title game. Could there be a bit of "Last Dance" magic for one final run with the Pack and their superstar QB?

5. Los Angeles Rams
Could a home team win the Super Bowl in their own stadium two years in a row? The Rams hope so and have gone all in with the trade for Matthew Stafford. The loss of RB Cam Akers hurts but such a sting is lessened with the trade for Patriots tailback Sony Michel. This is a team of impact players at key positions but finding depth will be key to making it through the 17-game slate for Sean McVay and company.

6. Cleveland Browns
After years of hype and waiting around for a breakthrough, the Browns delighted their tortured fan base with a thrilling run to the postseason. Now what can Baker Mayfield and others do for an encore? That is particularly pertinent for the signal-caller given that he’s entering a key contract year and expectations have never been higher by the lake. The return of OBJ should provide a nice boost and it looks like rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — or JOK — is already a fan favorite despite missing much of camp. Add it all up and it seems like the bar is set at a division title and another playoff run.

7. San Francisco 49ers
The debate over Trey Lance vs. Jimmy G. misses the point on this 49ers squad being a legit NFC contender — if they can stay healthy. Kyle Shanahan has become a proven commodity at head coach but will face a challenge in replacing DC Robert Saleh after he left for the Jets. The division is the most competitive in the league but an improved receiving corps could help lift this team to the top and back into contention.

8. Seattle Seahawks
Are you ready for yet another MVP debate about Russell Wilson during the early part of the season? That could be the case if a new offensive approach yields the desired results in the Pacific Northwest. Pete Carroll always has the Seahawks in the mix but will need a number of young players to step up if they want to get back into the postseason given the competition in the division and NFC in general.

9. New England Patriots
Does Bill Belichick dare go with a rookie QB to start the year? Cam Newton may have left him with no other choice. Regardless of who is taking snaps under center early in the year, the roster has seen a number of upgrades across the board and it would shock nobody if we start to see much more of the Patriots we’re used to seeing on the field in 2021.

10. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore just keeps hoping all these bites at the postseason apple will one year pay off. Much will come down to continued evolution of the offense and the development of QB Lamar Jackson. The loss of J.K. Dobbins is a blow no doubt though and the receiving corps and offensive line have both had a few nicks in the preseason too. Getting over the hump in a jumbled AFC remains a tall task but the Ravens still have tons of experience and benefit from top-notch special teams.

11. Indianapolis Colts
Carson Wentz appears to be healthy enough to start but his backups remain questionable and nobody really knows how the former No. 2 overall pick will do when it’s game time for real with his new squad. There are fewer questions about Frank Reich’s team overall but what kind of output the Colts will get out of their quarterback should largely determine both the floor and ceiling in Indy. The loss of mainstay T.Y. Hilton for the first few weeks doesn’t help the cause either.

12. Miami Dolphins
Drama surrounds yet another quarterback position and recent reports that Miami is in the driver’s seat to trade for Deshaun Watson (legal outcomes such as they are). That has to be some sort of insight into how the team truly feels about Tua Tagovailoa after a shaky rookie campaign landed the team just shy of the playoffs. There was progress made with the franchise a year ago, especially defensively, but the numerous first-rounders on the roster still need to step things up in 2021.

13. Los Angeles Chargers
What can Justin Herbert do as a sophomore after lighting the league on fire a season ago? That’s certainly a national storyline going into the year but there’s still plenty of intrigue around LA’s tenant team with a new (young and inexperienced) coaching staff in place. This group has the top-tier talent and a stocked roster to make plenty of noise in the AFC race but might just be a year away from truly contending.

14. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have plenty of question marks coming into the season, especially given their ongoing COVID outbreak that has taken head coach Mike Vrabel out of the building at a key time. The good news is that even despite the loss of OC Arthur Smith, this is a battle-tested group that has won big playoff games before. Still, those miles are adding up on Derrick Henry and the question marks on the defense keep multiplying and not going away. A step back might be in store but luckily Tennessee has one of the easier division paths in the league.

15. Washington Football Team
Everybody knows the defense will be as salty as they come, especially given upgrades like William Jackson III coming in at corner. The ultimate arbiter however will undoubtedly be the play of veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (or Taylor Heinicke or even Kyle Allen). There should be greater consistency under center but whether that allows for a big enough jump beyond just winning the meh NFC East remains up for debate.

16. Dallas Cowboys
Usually you would see a bit of a trendy "Hard Knocks" bump from the team featured on HBO’s showcase but that doesn’t seem to be happening this time around. Dak Prescott’s injury situation is a key driver on limiting the hype but you do have to think even an average campaign from the QB would result in a big jump in the win total. There’s plenty of game-breaking talent in Big D, but folks have been burned too many times by Jerry Jones’ team to really believe this is the year they make a legitimate run.

17. Arizona Cardinals
It feels like ages ago that J.J. Watt was a flashy free-agent signing and the Larry Fitzgerald saga continues to linger in the background as kickoff approaches. That said, going from solid to a playoff team will require much more from young signal-caller Kyler Murray. If there’s not offensive improvement and the turnovers don’t get cut down, Kliff Kingsbury may start feeling the heat from far more than just the Arizona desert.

18. Denver Broncos
Teddy Bridgewater is QB1 in Mile High but how much of a leash will he have with Drew Lock still involved in the QB room? Getting better at that position will determine just what kind of upside the Broncos have given that they have a pretty loaded roster when you start looking up and down that two-deep. The division is tough, which doesn’t help, but this shouldn’t be a team picking in the top 10 of the draft again.

19. Atlanta Falcons
There’s a new regime in place and optimism is running high around Atlanta that this could be a team primed for a turnaround. They have a veteran signal-caller well suited to new HC Arthur Smith’s system and plenty of weapons all around — highlighted by new rookie TE Kyle Pitts. The defense remains iffy but there’s enough to think flirting with a wild-card berth isn’t out of the question.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Welcome to Big Ben’s last stand. The venerable quarterback quite literally looks to be on his last legs but seems rejuvenated by the task at hand. Najee Harris should help this group run the ball better but the big boys along the offensive line may still need additional time to gel in 2021 after so many changes. The defense may have to pick up the slack once again if another division title is to get held up at the end of the year.

21. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins is generating headlines for all the wrong reasons in the run-up to the opener but there’s still enough around him to contend again in the NFC North. Much will be on the shoulders of Dalvin Cook and whether or not the offensive line can make some progress. The defense has the pieces to rebound from a rough outing but Mike Zimmer knows the pressure is on in 2021 to improve far more than in just that area.

22. New Orleans Saints
Is the Big Easy really prepared for the full Jameis Winston experience? We’re about to find out as a new era in Saints football is upon us. A new QB that can push the ball down the field should alter Sean Payton’s offense for the better but may mean a step back in the overall record.

23. Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold has always had the natural talent but those in Carolina hoping for a magical transformation from his Jets days will need to remain patient. The team continues to make overall progress during this rebuild under Matt Rhule but it’s not a stretch to say success will be dictated largely on what they get in the acquisition under center. Ownership has been pushing for a superstar QB and the Panthers will know quickly whether they have one already or will be getting one next year.

24. Chicago Bears
Justin Fields pandemonium is reaching crazy levels in the Windy City and the coaching staff is doing their best to dampen it by insisting on Andy Dalton starting. The only question is when the rookie will trot out onto the field for the first time though and given the state of the offensive line, waiting might indeed be a wise move.

25. Las Vegas Raiders
We’re only into year four of that mega-deal for Jon Gruden and it already looks like an albatross weighing on the franchise. GM Mike Mayock’s draft picks have been hit-or-miss and there’s real pressure to get over .500 and to the postseason now that fans are back in that spaceship off the strip. No pressure in the rough and tough AFC West…

26. New York Giants
The media capital of the world is determined to break down just about every throw Daniel Jones makes this year and as much as the supposed franchise quarterback is facing pressure, so too is his OC Jason Garrett. There were signs of turning the corner in Joe Judge’s first season but now those tricky expectations creeping in to make the spotlight even brighter on a team that could be much better if healthy.

27. Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow appears to be ready to go for 2021 but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that protecting the franchise QB is priority No. 1 for a re-tooled offense. It doesn’t help that the AFC North will be its typically brutal self and that there are still plenty of holes on the roster and plenty of skepticism about Zac Taylor. That said, Burrow is worth the price of admission and the great hope in Cincinnati.

28. New York Jets
The Carl Lawson news was a crippling blow to a defense that needs marquee players like that. New head coach Robert Saleh being in charge should still lead to some improvement but the secondary remains a big blind spot on the roster. Zach Wilson appears to be given free rein to live and learn on the job as a rookie but it’s pretty clear this is very much Year 1 of yet another reset of Gang Green.

29. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have a number of key veteran pieces but otherwise have a gigantic hole at linebacker, lingering issues along the offensive line, a largely unproven quarterback who isn’t set in the job and… oh yeah, a complete unknown at head coach. We’re sure Philly fans will take the year in stride if things don’t pan out in an NFC East race that could come down to the wire.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars
To zero surprise, the chosen one is being handed the keys to the franchise. If there’s one reason to maybe think Trevor Lawrence struggles as a rookie though, much of the blame will likely fall on the offensive line that did not seem to block anybody in the preseason. Urban Meyer still seems like he’s not fully on board with how things are done in the NFL which could be a combination of a lot of losing in Duval before lessons start to take hold.

31. Detroit Lions
Trading away Matthew Stafford pretty much signaled a franchise going through a reboot and even with a veteran like Jared Goff to help smooth things over under center, this could be a(nother) rough season in Detroit. Dan Campbell’s antics will be worth the price of admission even if the football might not given the dearth of playmakers on the roster.

32. Houston Texans
The Deshaun Watson saga will hang over the franchise until it’s resolved but while that is generating the headlines, it has overshadowed the tremendous roster turnover that’s happened under the new front office this offseason. Perhaps they’ll hit on some diamonds in the rough but glancing at that roster is cringe-worthy in some places. Throw in uncertainty at QB, an unknown at head coach and long season might not be the half of it for a team favored to win the No. 1 pick next spring.

Post-Draft 2021 NFL Power Rankings

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Run it back? Bruce Arians promised it after hoisting the trophy and general manager Jason Licht delivered with a masterful offseason working the cap and the draft. Executing a repeat performance and nabbing another Super Bowl is easier said than done but at least ol' Tom Brady has some experience in knowing what to do on that front.

2. Kansas City Chiefs
You can count on one hand the number of losses the Chiefs have suffered with a healthy Patrick Mahomes and all they did this offseason was address his offensive line woes in a big way. Good luck to the rest of the AFC given that and all the motivation this group will take from the way things ended in Tampa.

3. Buffalo Bills
The Bills continue to make progress each year and capturing the division title and making it to the AFC Championship Game was just the latest step. Getting over that final hurdle remains the toughest though and will really come down to continued growth out of their MVP-contending quarterback.

4. Green Bay Packers
This is a ranking largely dependent on Aaron Rodgers and the front office putting their feelings aside and realizing that the best place either have to win a ring will be if the QB is under center in Green Bay this year.

5. Los Angeles Rams
Will the addition of Matthew Stafford under center make up for the fact that several key veterans had to exit the stage for less-heralded replacements? TBD but there's little question that this is a team that has the superstars that can follow in the footsteps of the Bucs and play the Super Bowl at home.

6. Cleveland Browns
Between the draft and free agency, it might be time to come to grips with the fact that this is… the most talented roster in the AFC? The case can certainly be made and now there's some playoff seasoning under the belts of most of this group too.

7. Baltimore Ravens
Ravens fans can get excited over the additions of guys like Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace but the simple fact is that nothing this team does in the regular season will mean much until it translates into the postseason run they're capable of. Everything is aligned for that to happen but it's on Lamar Jackson's shoulders to pull off.

8. San Francisco 49ers
Plenty of spilled ink about the Trey Lance selection and what it means for Jimmy G. but no matter who is taking snaps under center will benefit from a top-notch roster… if they can stay healthy. It wouldn't be shocking to see Trey Sermon have a bigger impact on the offense in 2021 if all really goes according to Kyle Shanahan's plan however.

9. Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa has a new No. 1 receiver in Jaylen Waddle and now the Dolphins' ability to reach the postseason will firmly be in the young QB's hands. The roster continues to be one of the more talented, young groups in the AFC but Miami still needs to have it all come together between the lines for the next step of this impressive turnaround under Brian Flores.

10. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson did indeed get a little help this offseason but will it be enough to close the gap between them and some of the other Super Bowl contenders? You can't rule out another run at a Lombardi but Pete Carroll and Co. still need some youngsters to emerge if they're to lessen their reliance on Russ doing Russ things every single week.

11. Indianapolis Colts
After one blockbuster trade for an unknown at quarterback, GM Chris Ballard really only addressed a few needs around the periphery of the roster. That could put additional pressure on Carson Wentz to return to form despite the ability for the Colts to fall back on a fairly easy divisional schedule.

12. New England Patriots
Bill Belichick opened up the piggy bank and drafted in ways he's never shown before this offseason. Will it all be enough to reverse course after such an abnormal 2020 campaign? The jury is still out on that front but it's easy to see improvement across the board with this team no matter who winds up being the QB for most of the year.

13. Los Angeles Chargers
What can Justin Herbert do for an encore? Will the young QB be in for a sophomore regression with a new coaching staff or will he take the next step as a budding young superstar in LA? The improved offensive line is making many believe it's the latter.

14. Washington Football Team
Ron Rivera knows he's got a great defense to lean on but how much will he truly embrace the roller-coaster ride that is the FitzMagic experience this season? The veteran is a decent stopgap solution but will have to play consistently if he is to help the WFT win the division again.

15. Dallas Cowboys
How ‘bout them Cowboys? Well, we'll see. Dak Prescott being back under center makes this team much more of a contender of course but it remains to be seen just how much of a boost Dan Quinn can bring to that woeful defense. The personnel has certainly been upgraded but converting progress into the wins needed to nab the division title will be a question mark for Jerry Jones and company.

16. Arizona Cardinals
J.J. Watt's addition might be a little overstated considering how tough a division the NFC West is and how much will ride on Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury finding the right groove over the course of the year. The pair ran out of steam after a number of close losses down the stretch and will have to correct those issues for the team to take the next step.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers
It feels like there's one final run left in this group as Big Ben ages into retirement, the defense turns over and the patchwork offensive line continues to be stitched together. Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth are a pair of quality rookies to lean on but after factoring in a difficult schedule, it could be a lot tougher to repeat last year's start again.

18. Atlanta Falcons
Trade rumors continue to swirl surrounding Julio Jones but at least there does feel like the franchise has experienced some rejuvenation after such a forgettable 2020 run. There's a new regime in charge, Matt Ryan is aiming to prove the doubters wrong and there remains a ton of talented pieces available to perhaps make a run.

19. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have been a consistent playoff threat and double-digit-win team for several years now but could such a run be coming to a close? Todd Downing taking over for Arthur Smith is one concern but so too is a questionable offensive line, the lack of weapons behind A.J. Brown/Derrick Henry and a defense counting on a lot of new names to live up to some high billing.

20. New York Giants
General manager Dave Gettleman had a memorable offseason with some splash signings (Kenny Golladay, Adoree Jackson) and draft picks (Kadarius Toney among them). Will that unlock Daniel Jones and help this team take the next step as an NFC East contender? The bar isn't set super high but the G-Men are aiming to clear it.

21. Denver Broncos
There's been tons of high praise for the Broncos roster amid all the Aaron Rodgers chatter and rightfully so given some of the pieces under Vic Fangio's purview. But as those talks reinforced, this season is going to come down to Drew Lock answering the question as to if he's the long-term answer... or not.

22. Carolina Panthers
Hey (Sam) Darnold. This group punched a little above their weight last season and now if their new QB can come through down the stretch of close games, you can see a corner start to get turned in this Matt Rhule long-term project. Needs were certainly addressed in the offseason, now it comes down to execution.

23. Minnesota Vikings
Fans' patience with Kirk Cousins is starting to wear thin and this shapes up to be a critical season in the Twin Cities for the quarterback and the rest of the roster. What else needs to be said at this point despite the addition of a nice crop of rookies?

24. Chicago Bears
We're about to see if a good defense and Justin Fields is going to be enough for a team that figures to be a coin flip between being good or mediocre. Matt Nagy and the embattled front office certainly delighted the city with the draft haul but it remains to be seen if it can all come together for a quality run in '21.

25. New Orleans Saints
The retirement of a future Hall of Fame QB combined with a roster purge due to salary cap issues will make life tough in the Big Easy. Sean Payton can still help smooth out this team in transition but they might take a few early lumps before finding their footing.

26. Las Vegas Raiders
There was a point last season when it looked like the Raiders were turning the corner under Jon Gruden and in line for a playoff bid. That never materialized and now there are more question marks surrounding this group than ever.

27. Philadelphia Eagles
Staying healthy will be paramount for the Eagles after what they experienced in 2020 but even then, success will come down to how much Jalen Hurts can progress as a passer under Nick Sirianni and OC Shane Steichen.

28. New York Jets
Zach Wilson looks like the starter right away given the depth chart and the combination of a rookie QB and a new (inexperienced) coaching staff typically makes for a long season. The overall roster continues to improve but this is just the latest step in the Big Apple rebuild.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite the talent infusion from free agency and the draft, are the fans in Duval a little more hesitant about Urban Meyer in the NFL after the head coach's somewhat bizarre comments about a number of players — to say nothing of inviting the circus that is Tebowmania? Maybe it takes pressure of the chosen one in Trevor Lawrence but perhaps not the smoothest of beginnings to a new era.

30. Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow seems like he'll be ready for Week 1 but you would still think the team will be conservative with their franchise QB. Regardless of the timetable, the pressure is on Zac Taylor to show progress between the lines and on the scoreboard in 2021.

31. Detroit Lions
The Lions have enough talent on offense to put up a few points but the question for the Dan Campbell era is going to lie on whether the defense can do enough to turn it into wins. The inexperienced staff combined with a lack of depth is one good reason why Vegas has the team's win total set as one of the lowest in the league.

32. Houston Texans
New GM Nick Caserio has done his best to quickly remake the backend of the Texans roster but the ceiling for this team will continue to be defined by the quarterback situation. One of Tyrod Taylor, rookie Davis Mills or newly signed Jeff Driskel could be in line to start given how things stand with Deshaun Watson.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Pre-Draft Edition

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The champs are the champs for a reason and they've brought pretty much every key piece back for a run at back-to-back titles. Yes, Tom Brady is another year older but after seeing how he worked his magic once again, everybody will claim to be one of the last to say father time has finally caught up to him.

2. Buffalo Bills
After reaching the AFC title game, the Bills bring pretty much everybody back for another run. Josh Allen had some MVP moments last season and you have to like how they've brought in a number of vets like Emmanuel Sanders to help get that one last push toward the Promised Land. Throw in a quality history in the draft to fill out the roster and Buffalo fans are excited about the season already.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
You can count on one hand the number of regular-season games this group has lost and they still have the most dazzling QB in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes. Yet as that Super Bowl dud showed, the offensive line is still a concern even if they signed Joe Thuney and hopefully get back Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

4. Green Bay Packers
It was good news (Aaron Jones)/bad news (Corey Linsley) for the Packers this offseason but Aaron Rodgers is aging like fine wine and Green Bay returns nearly every starter from a group that is 26-6 in the regular season under Matt LaFleur.

5. Los Angeles Rams
Losing John Johnson III and Troy Hill hurts but the Rams still have two of the best defensive players in the league on the roster and upgraded their QB situation in a big way. It's going to be super exciting to see what that Sean McVay/Matthew Stafford combination can do and why this is likely the NFC West favorite.

6. Cleveland Browns
It remains wild to think that the Browns have had a great offseason even before the draft hits and have one of the most talented rosters in the league at this point. The question remains how far Baker Mayfield will take them but all the pieces are there for a big run after getting that postseason taste in 2020.

7. Baltimore Ravens
Don't discount the addition of Kevin Zeitler to the interior of the line as a savvy free agency pickup since that was an issue in front of Lamar Jackson most of last season. They still don't have that true No. 1 wideout to make defenses pay but this remains a very good squad that has room to grow.

8. Miami Dolphins
It's fully the Tua Tagovailoa show in Miami and as the young QB goes, so too does this team. He should be much better and he'll get reinforcements with all that draft capital. This team really came along in 2020 and should be one to watch moving forward.

9. Seattle Seahawks
The Russell Wilson saga has dominated the headlines, which has helped gloss over the fact that they've lost key players like Shaquill Griffin. You'd like to think that Wilson's level of play and Pete Carroll's coaching staff can figure it all out but the roster isn't in as great a shape as it once was.

10. Indianapolis Colts
Everything revolving around the season for the Colts basically comes down to… can they revive Carson Wentz's career? If he gets back to being just an average QB, this team has a good enough roster to win the division and make plenty of noise. If not, well...

11. San Francisco 49ers
The franchise really turned heads with their aggressive move up in the first round but getting healthy for a full year might be the bigger key to the season for Kyle Shanahan and company. The two-deep remains solid but don't discount the possibility of there being some growing pains with two new coordinators.

12. Washington Football Team
Enter FitzMagic! While the NFC East was on the wrong end of a lot of jokes last year, there's been plenty of progress when it comes to upgrades for all four teams — especially in D.C. Cornerback William Jackson III was a sneaky-good pickup too and there's still the draft to come to keep stocking the roster for Ron Rivera.

13. Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is back and hopefully healthy, which means the offense should be able to put up plenty of fireworks. That's good news because even the draft and the addition of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn won't be able to fully transform one of the worst defenses in the league last year.

14. New England Patriots
Bill Belichick's shopping list was a lengthy one and few teams went as wild in free agency as the Pats did. It still feels like there's a move or two left to be made but you have to like this team much more than you did at the end of the year even if QB remains a big question mark for another season.

15. Arizona Cardinals
J.J. Watt and A.J. Green are some of the splashiest additions this offseason but trading for center Rodney Hudson might wind up being the most impactful. Kyler Murray must continue to show further development but the real key for the Cards is if Kliff Kingsbury can take the next step as an NFL head coach (especially in close fourth quarters).

16. Los Angeles Chargers
Well Justin Herbert, whatcha got for an encore? The already talented team has made a few solid upgrades and has the draft capital to add a few more. We'll see what it means with a rookie head coach and new staff learning on the job however.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers
That hot start last year was a bit of a mirage that everybody eventually saw right through as the weeks passed. It does seem like Big Ben will have one last hurrah but the salary cap issues necessitated a ton of cuts and will put added pressure on youngsters to step up.

18. Atlanta Falcons
A new regime is in place and that might be cause for optimism in Atlanta more than anything. The offense still looks loaded for new head coach Arthur Smith but it's the defense that should determine whether this team gets back to playoff contention or finds themselves drafting in the top 10 once again.

19. New York Giants
Despite a few injuries, the defense under coordinator Patrick Graham wasn't bad last season and they kept Leonard Williams at a pretty high price tag as a result. Kenny Golladay's addition will be a big help for Daniel Jones, who continues to limit the ceiling of the G-Men until proven otherwise.

20. Tennessee Titans
You kind of wonder if maybe the window is starting to close for the Titans in 2021 after losing a number of key players and coaches. Yes, they did bring in Bud Dupree but he's coming off of a serious injury and at some point all those Derrick Henry carries will add up.

21. New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton still has some talent to work with but you can't lose a Hall of Famer under center and just go about your business. Especially when the lower cap necessitated a ton of cuts to key spots. The Saints will still be entertaining and competitive but not at the level they once were.

22. Denver Broncos
Their division doesn't help them one bit but the Denver roster at full health is still pretty good, which means the onus is on Drew Lock to either prove he's the franchise guy or that it's time to move on in Mile High.

23. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings occupy that strange "no man's land" of not being terrible but not being actually good either. Dalvin Tomlinson's addition should help the defense but Mike Zimmer really needs another top-notch draft class to help contribute moving forward.

24. Carolina Panthers
It's been seemingly every other week that you hear the Panthers are in the mix for making a blockbuster move yet they've still had a fairly quiet offseason in terms of adding true impact playmakers. The roster is slightly better than a year ago but Carolina's growth will come down largely to hitting on this next crop of rookies.

25. Las Vegas Raiders
Jon Gruden must think Gus Bradley is going to be a mastermind defensive wiz because even the additions like Yannick Ngakoue will only go so far in addressing those issues on that side of the ball. The roster, and especially the OL, have regressed and there are plenty more questions about the high-priced head coach as a result.

26. Philadelphia Eagles
A young quarterback plus a first-time head coach typically is not a winning combination, even in the lackluster NFC East. There's still a ton of talent on the team but getting it to gel in the right spots will be a huge challenge.

27. New York Jets
We're still TBD on the quarterback situation but there's no doubt Gang Green has improved with all that money to spend in free agency and a ton of draft capital still to play with. This is still a rebuild with a window a few years down the road however.

28. Chicago Bears
Who is excited for the Andy Dalton era to begin? Judging by the reactions in the Windy City, nobody. There are just a ton of question marks about the entire offense as a whole to outweigh whatever good the defense can do.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Urban Meyer experience is going to be one of the most fascinating parts of the 2021 season even if you separate that from the arrival of the golden-haired chosen one in Trevor Lawrence. Whether it all coalesces into a team that can actually win some games remains to be seen but there's seemingly a much more solid foundation in Duval right now.

30. Cincinnati Bengals
Nobody nibbled around the edges of free agency like the Bengals, which naturally are going to focus heavily on the draft. Joe Burrow's health is the biggest key to the year however and while you think he'll come back better than ever, you won't know until he steps out onto the field.

31. Detroit Lions
A turnover-prone QB behind an iffy line with fewer weapons and a relatively inexperienced coaching staff trying to make do with a mediocre roster... what could go wrong?

32. Houston Texans
This team was bad a year ago and now has massive question marks at QB, with the coaching staff and a roster that has seemingly seen half of it turned over in free agency. Not the best of combinations for a team that will be just two years removed from a playoff appearance.

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.