Week 1 NFL Power Rankings | Tier 2: Watching with big playoff aspirations
These teams expect to win a game in the 2021-2022 NFL playoffs and compete in the Divisional Round. Nevertheless, only 14 teams will make it, with eight reaching the Divisional Round. That means two of these teams, at the very least, will fall short of their goal.
10) Dallas Cowboys
Ah … America’s Team. The Hard Knocks stars. Dak Prescott is back and 100% healthy after a shoulder strain that sent football media straight into a self-destructive tailspin. The sixth-year QB was on pace for approximately a billion yards in 2020. Even if the defense is still a flaming metal garbage bin, the offense will be more than enough to keep fans entertained.
Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup make up quite possibly the best WR trio in the league. Dalton Schultz, Blake Jarwin, Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard should round out the most explosive offense in the NFL.
They lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the opening night of the 2021 NFL season, but it was a nail-biter. The passing attack was incredible, even without Zack Martin on the interior. The defense has issues, particularly at CB2, CB3, and defensive tackle. However, they also played against one of the most complete offenses in the NFL.
9) Tennessee Titans
The Titans have Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, and A.J. Brown. Nothing else matters. They are enough to hold anyone’s attention. However, I’m more interested in the unknowns. Can Jeffery Simmons become the elite interior defender I thought he was coming out? Still, the impact from Elijah Molden and Caleb Farley are what I look forward to most as the season progresses.
8) Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett. Wilson is the only reason to watch this team. Will they “let Russ cook” again in 2021?
Last season, they threw the ball on 1st-and-10 in one-score games 50% of the time, which was 12th-best in the league. They were even better when adding 2nd-and-10 passes to the equation. If they continue to let Wilson be the offensive focal point, they’ll continue their streak of winning seasons.
7) Los Angeles Rams
This is another simple one. They are seventh in the NFL power rankings but would probably be higher if it wasn’t for their division. This season will all come down to just how much of an upgrade Matthew Stafford is from Jared Goff. And, as always, watch 99 (Aaron Donald) and 5 (Jalen Ramsey) play. They’re the best at their positions in the league.
6) Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson provides endless entertainment. They have one of the better secondaries in the NFL with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, and Tavon Young. They also have a rookie wide receiver (Rashod Bateman) who could be a legitimate WR1 weapon in the league if he can get healthy.
5) Cleveland Browns
That’s right — I said the Cleveland Browns. From top to bottom, they might be in contention for the best roster in the NFL. They made significant upgrades to the secondary with Troy Hill and John Johnson. They have one of the most dominant offensive lines in the NFL, and they have arguably the best 1-2 punch at RB. This season all comes down to Odell Beckham’s health and Baker Mayfield’s ascension.
Week 1 NFL Power Rankings | Tier 1: Look forward to a Super Bowl appearance
This cluster of teams has the most to look forward to because there is a chance that each reaches the season’s pinnacle — the Super Bowl.
4) Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has a chip on his shoulder for a second straight season. Still, he spent this summer with his 29-year-old actress fiancée traveling the world and not giving a single … crap … about anything other than his own happiness. It shows when he gets in front of a mic now. He’s completely freed up, and the entire league should be absolutely terrified of that.
The Packers are going to win the whole thing. Rodgers will hoist the trophy up, and after he sets it down, will flip double birds to Green Bay’s front office and walk off the field a champion. Then it’s off to celebrity golf tournaments and guest-hosting Jeopardy!
It doesn’t make sense, but it makes all the sense.
3) Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is a problem. Stefon Diggs is a problem. Brian Daboll and Sean McDermott are problems. They just aren’t problems for their own teams. No, they’re a problem for the rest of the league. Tre’Davious White is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and they have a pair of safeties that do more than enough to make up for the lack of a high-end CB2 in Buffalo.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of a team with very few holes. It was almost impossible to do mock drafts for the Buccaneers during the last draft cycle. Their entire roster appears solid outside of some offensive line depth and having a future QB. They have an outstanding offensive line and an All-Pro right tackle in Tristan Wirfs. But it’s difficult to repeat in this league. That’s one of the reasons why they are the second team in the Week 1 NFL power rankings.
They beat the Cowboys to open the season on Thursday Night Football, but they played sloppy football. Mike Evans was never really a factor, but Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown made up for it. And that’s how their offense should operate all season. They have a weapons overload in Tampa Bay.
1) Kansas City Chiefs
I watched this offense sleepwalk to two of the cleanest touchdown drives I’ve ever witnessed against the Vikings in the final preseason game. I’m not going to disrespect future GOAT Patrick Mahomes in the NFL power rankings. This offensive line should be improved from last season, and as long as they remain somewhat healthy, they could go back to the dance for the third straight season.