2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3


Shock waves continued to roll over the NFL after the Chiefs came up short, the Raiders pulled off another stunner and the Seahawks collapsed. Week 2 delivered on all the hype and then some with a stellar slate of games. 7 of the 16 games played this weekend were decided by three points or less.

Unfortunately, much like 2020, injuries popped up across the league to key players. Tua Tagovailoa exited on a cart and did not return. Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz joined him among signal callers to exit their starts. Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey were in and out of the lineup. T.J. Watt left early with a groin injury, while the 49ers lost more running backs.

Predictably, the rankings see some massive changes again following another weekend of surprising results. Through two weeks, this is how I think the NFL stacks up.

Buccaneers logo

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 48-25 vs. Atlanta
At the end of the day, the Falcons could not keep pace with the Buccaneers. Tom Brady was humming with five touchdown passes and the defense came up with a pair of pick-sixes. In fact, Mike Edwards actually returned back-to-back throws by Matt Ryan for touchdowns to really blow the game open. The defense still has not totally regained its 2020 form and Brady believes the offense can be even better. Tampa is far and away the best team in the league right now, but they face a tough test in Los Angeles against the Rams in Week 3.

Chiefs Logo

2. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 36-35 at Baltimore
Losing is never easy, but a fumble by Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands, costing him a chance to lead a potential game-winning drive really stings. Kansas City’s defense was really the issue though. After a great start, the Chiefs had no answer for Lamar Jackson. They could not get off the field when it mattered most. Andy Reid will need to figure out how to protect his defense, especially heading into a matchup with the Chargers, who nearly knocked off the Chiefs early in 2020. Let’s remember this was a one-point road loss to a good team. Don’t overreact.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 2-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 27-24 at Indianapolis
This was much tighter than it should have been. Los Angeles needed a late field goal to beat the Colts. It helped quite a bit to face Jacob Eason in the closing minutes of the game. The second-year quarterback tossed an interception to end what could have been a game-winning drive Indianapolis. Matt Stafford continues to play well though as the offense scored points when it needed to in the second half. Credit to the Rams for completing the comeback, but they will need to be sharper, especially on defense heading into a showdown with the Buccaneers.

Browns logo

4. Cleveland Browns 1-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 31-21 vs. Houston
Cleveland bounced back with a solid win over Houston to earn its first win of the season. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt lead the way, combining for 146 yards as the Browns punched in three touchdowns on the ground. It certainly wasn’t perfect, with a couple turnovers and a tight game prior to Tyrod Taylor’s hamstring injury. However, it feels like just about every team in the league has some question marks around them right now. Except maybe the Buccaneers.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

5. Arizona Cardinals: 2-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 34-33 vs. Minnesota
This one got a bit dicey. Minnesota should have probably beaten Arizona, but a win is a win, I guess. Still, the Cardinals showed some room for improvement defensively. Offensively, Kyler Murray showed out once again with 400 yards passing and four total touchdowns. This team has enough offensive talent to hang with anyone, but they need the defense to play a bit more like they did in Week 1. Luckily for them, that shouldn’t be a problem for them in Week 3 against the Jaguars.

49ers Logo

6. San Francisco 49ers: 2-0 (Last Week: 8)
Won 17-11 at Philadelphia
Defense won the day for San Francisco, which was a nice change of pace following a near collapse in Week 1. The special teams got involved as well with a blocked field goal. Jimmy Garoppolo is doing just enough to hang on to his starting job right now, but the offense struggled out of the gate. Heading into a big matchup with the Packers in Week 3, the 49ers are going to need to put together a much more complete game to hold out for a win.

Raiders logo

7. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-0 (Last Week: 15)
Won 26-17 at Pittsburgh
The Las Vegas Raiders request your attention and demand your respect. Knocking off a pair of playoff teams from the division most assumed would be the best in the AFC certainly turns some heads. Derek Carr is playing some of the best football of his career and the Raiders defense is good enough for the team to win games. Jon Gruden has this team beating some of the best teams in the league. Now, they get to face a Dolphins team facing uncertainty at quarterback and fresh off a 35-point shutout. Vegas should be positioned well to stay unbeaten.

Ravens logo

8. Baltimore Ravens: 1-1 (Last Week: 11)
Won 36-35 vs. Kansas City
Baltimore overcame a horrendous start to notch a massive win in primetime. Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six on his first possession of the game and threw another interception before the end of the first quarter. The 2019 MVP was resilient though, throwing for 239 yards and adding 107 on the ground. He made the big plays in the crucial moments of the game offensively. He got a bit of help from Odafe Oweh. The rookie from Penn State punched the ball out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s arms and recovered the fumble to set up the Ravens’ game-clinching drive. This was a big response from Baltimore following a disappointing Week 1 loss.

Bills logo

9. Buffalo Bills: 1-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 35-0 at Miami
That is the way you bounce back from a disappointing season opener. Buffalo bullied Miami all afternoon and knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of the game with a relentless pass rush. That was the biggest concern for the Bills heading into the season, so it is definitely a positive sign to see them rack up six sacks of Tagovailoa and his replacement Jacoby Brissett. Offensively, Buffalo ran the ball well! Brian Daboll spread the touches around, but the team finished with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. If the Bills can consistently run the ball effectively and pressure opposing quarterbacks, this team has Super Bowl potential.

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10. Seattle Seahawks: 1-1 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 33-30 vs. Tennessee
Tennessee came back but Seattle also collapsed. Missed tackles and a stalled out offense cost the Seahawks dearly down the stretch in regulation and in overtime. Fans can point to a missed extra point as the reason for the loss, but in truth, the kicker cannot be blamed for blowing a 15-point halftime lead. There were some bright spots early, but much like they did last season, the Seahawks faded. It is important not to overreact to just one loss. However, Seattle is the only team in the NFC West with a loss so far, so the margin for error seems to be slim.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-1 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 26-17 vs. Las Vegas
Unlike Week 1, the Steelers defense and special teams could not bail out their inept offensive line. Derek Carr lit up the secondary for 382 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Conversely, Pittsburgh just could not get into gear. The coaching staff abandoned the run with just 14 carries in this game. A lack of balance and efficiency is going to be an issue for the Steelers, especially heading into a divisional game with the Bengals.

Panthers logo

12. Carolina Panthers: 2-0 (Last Week: 22)
Won 26-7 vs. Carolina
Talk about a statement. New Orleans was riding high after their blowout victory in Week 1. Carolina brought the Saints back down to Earth and put them in the ground. The Panthers defense was nothing short of stifling. They only allowed 128 yards of offense, forced two turnovers and shut out the Saints through three quarters. Once again, Christian McCaffrey was great and seems to have escaped any major injury. Sam Darnold continues to look solid as well. The Panthers draw a Texans team breaking in a rookie quarterback on a short week. There is a good chance Carolina starts 3-0.

Titans logo

13. Tennessee Titans: 1-1 (Last Week: 16)
Won 33-30 at Seattle
Through the first six quarters of the season, Tennessee was outscored 52-22. It looked like the wheels were falling off for Mike Vrabel and company with Arthur Smith now calling plays in Atlanta. Then, King Henry reminded everyone why he is the most physically imposing running back in the league. He sliced up the Seahawks defense to the tune of 237 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. While the comeback win is great, it does not mask some major defensive concerns for the Titans. Russell Wilson torched their secondary on the deep ball time and time again. If this team wants to make a serious postseason run, Vrabel will need to get more from his defense.

Saints logo

14. New Orleans Saints: 1-1 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 26-7 at Carolina
If you are looking for a synopsis of Jameis Winston’s career up to this point, you can simply watch the past two Saints games. After tossing five touchdowns in Week 1, Winston threw a pair of interceptions, bad ones at that, and had an overall dismal afternoon. That is not totally unexpected given Winston’s inconsistent history. Alvin Kamara finishing with five yards on eight carries is much more alarming. New Orleans’ true form likely falls somewhere between these two performances. Getting a few injured players back should help right the ship a bit, but consistency might be hard to come by in the Bayou.

Packers logo

15. Green Bay Packers: 0-1 (Last Week: 13)
Won 35-17 vs. Detroit
If you went to bed early on Monday, you might think the Packers still have a lot of issues to iron out. And you would be right. After trailing 17-14 at halftime, Green Bay finally showed signs of the team that has reached back-to-back NFC Championship games. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones went off. Rodgers tossed four touchdowns, including three to Jones, who added another one on the ground. It was a great finish after a lackluster start. It is hard to tell what we really know about this team through two weeks.

Cowboys logo

16. Dallas Cowboys: 1-1 (Last Week: 17)
Won 20-17 at Los Angeles
Dallas was a bit fortunate that Los Angeles could not get out of its own way. However, the Cowboys managed to avoid mistakes and picked up a crucial victory to avoid an 0-2 start. Mike McCarthy established the run and then didn’t stop running it. Dallas had 31 rushes for 198 yards and two scores to take the pressure off Dak Prescott and the defense. Not that Prescott or the defense needed much help. Dak finished 23-of-27 throwing for 237 yards and an interception. Defensively, the Cowboys came up with critical turnovers that helped force overtime, where Greg Zuerlein erased many of the bad memories from Week 1 with a 56-yard game-winner.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-1 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 20-17 vs. Dallas
There is no doubt that the Chargers beat themselves. Penalties, turnovers and an inability to stop the run made it impossible for Los Angeles to take control of this game. The front seven also struggled to generate much pressure on Dak Prescott. It serves as a good reminder that winning in the NFL is hard and this is a young team with a first-time head coach. On the bright side, Austin Ekeler was much more involved in the offense and Mike Williams showed up with a big statline. Those self-inflicted wounds won’t fly in Week 3 against the Chiefs.

Colts logo

18. Indianapolis Colts: 0-2 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Considering the opponent and the circumstances, a three-point loss is a pretty respectable result. Carson Wentz looked solid and the special teams came up with a huge play off a Rams miscue to take a fourth-quarter lead. Unfortunately for the Colts, Wentz exited with an injury and Jacob Eason could not engineer a drive to win or tie the game. He threw an interception on his first attempt and then ran out of time after the defense forced a three-and-out. If Wentz misses time, Indianapolis might need to explore the veteran QB market.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots: 1-1 (Last Week: 19)
Won 25-6 at New York
Mac Jones was introduced to the annual New England ritual of embarrassing the Jets. The Patriots rookie didn’t really do much, but he did take care of the football. The same cannot be said for his fellow 2021 draft mate Zach Wilson. Bill Belichick clearly confused the former BYU star as New England picked him off four times on Sunday. The one concern was that the Pats didn’t do much offensively except off turnovers. Just two other Patriots’ drives ended in points, and they were both field goals. The Saints come to town in Week 3.

Denver_Broncos

20. Denver Broncos: 2-0 (Last Week: 21)
Won 23-13 at Jacksonville
Denver is 2-0. However, the Broncos have not played anyone of note. With wins over the Giants and Jaguars, this team has not really been tested yet. However, Teddy Bridgewater seems to be settling in well to his new surroundings, with Courtland Sutton being the main beneficiary on Sunday. Defensively, Denver looked strong once again. You can only play the teams on your schedule. The schedule continues to be kind as well with the Jets up next.

Dolphins logo

21. Miami Dolphins: 1-1 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 35-0 vs. Buffalo
R-E-L … P-A-N-I-C? The Aaron Rodgers treatment likely won’t work here. A Bills team that could barely run the ball in Week 1 ripped off 146 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. That’s not why Miami should be panicking though. If Tua Tagovailoa is going to miss time after being carted off the field due to a rib injury, this Dolphins’ offense is in trouble. Jacoby Brissett struggled and the Fins were shutout for the second time in three years. The red-hot Raiders are next on the docket. Could this be a good fit for Cam Newton?

Washington made up logo

22. Washington: 1-1 (Last Week: 20)
Won 30-29 vs. New York
What happened to Washington’s defense? The front seven sacked Daniel Jones four times, but the unit gave up 29 points and it honestly should have been more. If not for a boneheaded mistake by the Giants, Washington would be 0-2 having surrendered 24.5 points per game and over 400 yards per game. With Taylor Heinicke at the helm, the defense is going to need to step up going forward, especially with the Bills on the horizon fresh off a shutout.

Bears logo

23. Chicago Bears: 1-1 (Last Week: 26)
Won 20-17 vs. Cincinnati
Bears fans got their first true glimpse of Justin Fields at quarterback. It was … underwhelming. He went 6-of-13 for 60 yards through the air, including a costly interception. He was also sacked twice and averaged just 3.1 yards per rush. He was thrown into the action, so maybe we should cut the kid some slack. However, this was a mediocre Bengals defense and this should not inspire a ton of confidence for Chicago’s playoff chances for this season. This shouldn’t impact the long-term outlook on Fields, it might just mean we should temper expectations for his rookie season.

Eagles Logo

24. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-1 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-11 vs. San Francisco
Jalen Hurts believers got a reality check against San Francisco. Hurts was not really the issue, but finishing 12-of-23 through the air is concerning. He made a bunch of plays with his legs, but this was definitely a disappointing showing from Philadelphia’s offense. On the flip side, the Eagles’ defense looks much improved from a year ago. Holding a Kyle Shanahan offense to just 3.1 yards per carry is impressive. Philly is putting some of the building blocks in place for future success. There might just be a few bumps on the road to getting there.

Bengals Logo

25. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 20-17 at Chicago
How to lose a football game in three plays, by Joe Burrow. Inspired by the true story of Matt Schaub. Burrow did his best impression of the former Texans and Falcons quarterback with three straight interceptions, including a pick-six. That was the difference in the game as the Bengals’ furious comeback came up short. The defense turned over Justin Fields, but could not get the ball back as Chicago ran out the clock. There are a few positives to take away from this, but overall this is a disappointing loss. Cincinnati’s offensive line issues have not gone away. Only Zach Wilson has been sacked more than Burrow so far this season. On top of that, Joe Mixon only managed 3.5 yards per carry. Penei Sewell is crushing it in Detroit. Just saying.

Vikings logo

26. Minnesota Vikings: 0-2 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 34-33 at Arizona
This one stings. Minnesota’s defense had no answer for Kyler Murray, but the Vikings should have won this game. Greg Joseph missed a game-winning field goal attempt in the closing second. He also missed an extra point earlier in the contest, which was ultimately the difference in the scoreline. Kirk Cousins was sharp with three touchdown throws. Danielle Hunter finally got back to his pre-injury form with three sacks in the game as well. Minnesota also picked off Murray twice. There is a lot to like about how the Vikings have played, but they are still 0-2 with the Seahawks set to visit in Week 3.

Texans logo

27. Houston Texans: 1-1 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 31-21 at Cleveland
How about those Texans? It was a loss, but Houston played Cleveland much tighter than I think anyone would’ve expected, especially after losing Tyrod Taylor midway through the game. Davis Mills was not great in relief. Heading into a short week, there is a chance Mills could be the team’s Week 3 starter on Thursday against Carolina. There is no question the Texans have a talent deficit against just about every team they will face this season, but David Culley and his coaching staff seems to be getting the most out of the players he has available to him.

Giants Logo

28. New York Giants: 0-2 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 30-29 at Washington
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be the Giants’ thing these days. Penalties doomed Big Blue, taking points off the board for them and putting points on the board for Washington. A Daniel Jones touchdown run came back after a hold downfield, while Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides on a missed field goal to set up Dustin Hopkins with a mulligan to win the game. These are issues that Joe Judge needs to iron out as quickly as possible in order to save the season.

Falcons logo

29. Atlanta Falcons: 0-2 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 48-25 at Tampa Bay
This just in: Atlanta’s defense is still trash. Tom Brady may be the GOAT, but the Falcons have surrendered 80 points across their first two games. Actually, the defense was only responsible for allowing 34 points against Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan threw a pair of pick-sixes that marred an otherwise decent performance. Perhaps the most troubling thing of all is that the Falcons cannot run the ball. Establishing the run was Arthur Smith’s calling card in Tennessee. 2.8 yards per carry is not going to get the job done. On the bright side, the hapless Giants are next.

Lions Logo

30. Detroit Lions: 0-2 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 35-17 at Green Bay
Detroit seemed to carry over all the momentum it built in the second half against San Francisco to open this game. Unfortunately, the Lions were blanked in the second half and the team’s lack of talent started to show. Jared Goff played well, but had two costly turnovers that really put the game to bed. Once again though, Dan Campbell’s squad played with heart. There is no question the Lions are going to struggle this season, but it already feels like the team has made some progress in its rebuild.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets: 0-2 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 25-6 vs. New England
Jets fans are all too familiar with the script that played out on Sunday. Their young quarterback that was supposed to inspire hope and optimism went up against Bill Belichick and imploded. Zach Wilson threw four interceptions on his first 10 passes and New York struggled to accomplish much in their home opener. The defense actually fared decently well all things considered. While they didn’t force any turnovers, surrendering just two touchdowns when the offense is anemic is solid. Tough defensive matchups continue with a trip to Denver up next.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-2 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 23-13 vs. Denver
Another ugly day on both sides of the ball has many wondering if Urban Meyer is out of his depth. Trevor Lawrence finished 14-of-33 throwing with a touchdown and two interceptions. Lawrence didn’t get much help from his defense or special teams either. Teddy Bridgewater finished with 328 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Meanwhile, Josh Lambo missed two field goals. Jacksonville somehow feels even more directionless than it did a year ago and that was after winning the Lawrence Lottery.

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