2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7


Welcome back to the best reality TV show in the world. Justin Herbert and the feel-good Chargers were humbled by the Ravens. Cleveland has gone from loveable losers to frustratingly average. Three more games went to overtime on Sunday before the Bills opted not to go to overtime Monday in a stunning conclusion to Monday Night Football. All in all, the drama that comes each week in the NFL is unmatched by anything you can find on your television and we are just getting started. Did I mention Jared Goff has to return to Los Angeles to face the team that traded him away in Week 7? The storylines never stop!

We are six weeks in and the NFL hierarchy is finally starting to settle. At least for now. There was a lot less movement than there had been in recent weeks, but still a new look to the rankings with the Bills falling out of the top 5 and the Browns tumbling out of the top 10. Plus, the Jaguars finally won a game to move off the bottom. Now if only they could win in America. Anyway, let’s dive into this week’s power rankings.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 37-14 at Cleveland
Arizona continues to impress. Cleveland was incredibly beat up, but it barely even mattered. The Cardinals are playing well on both sides of the ball and find new ways to win pretty much every week. This time it was a heavy run focus with Kyler Murray tossing four touchdowns. The defense did its part as well, sacking Baker Mayfield five times. I feel like there is still resistance in putting the Cardinals among the NFL’s, but they have picked up some quality wins and seem to be improving as the year rolls on.

2. Los Angeles Rams: 5-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 38-11 at New York
After an ugly start, the Rams cruised to a monster victory. Matthew Stafford lit it up with four passing touchdowns, while the defense made life miserable for Daniel Jones. They came up with three interceptions, recorded four sacks and limited him to just 4.7 yards per passing attempt. From the second quarter on, it was one-way traffic. Sean McVay wants his team to start faster, which will likely be required when facing better opponents.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 28-22 at Philadelphia
The offense had a bit of an off night. For context, an off night for the Buccaneers still involved just shy of 400 yards of offense and 28 points. It just didn’t feel as fluid. Tom Brady and company did come up clutch though in the closing minutes, running nearly six minutes off the clock to seal the contest. Thankfully, the defense was smothering for most of the game. Philadelphia managed just 213 yards and struggled to find a rhythm. It was good to see the secondary step up and have a good night. The Bears are up next.

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4. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 34-6 vs. Los Angeles
Whoa. This was a statement game for the Ravens. Baltimore made Justin Herbert look pedestrian and shut down the run game. While the offense will get some love for putting up 34 points, it was really the defense that stole the show. Los Angeles entered the game with at least 28 points in each of its past three games. If this is the level the Ravens can play at consistently, this team is the clear favorite in the AFC. That season-opening loss against the Raiders is clearly in the rearview mirror.

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5. Dallas Cowboys: 5-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 35-29 at New England
It took overtime and some rookie mistakes from Mac Jones, but the Cowboys pulled off their fifth straight win. This game probably should never have reached overtime, but some questionable play calling and a bit of bad luck cost Dallas a lot of points in the first half. A failed fourth down run and a fumble at the goal line kept the Patriots around despite the Pats picking up way fewer yards. The Cowboys definitely need to finish drives better and clean up some of those mistakes, but it is good to pick up a hard-fought win heading into a bye week.

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6. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 34-31 at Tennessee
The Bills defense we watched dominate the past month of the season was nowhere to be found on Monday Night Football. Buffalo had a pair of shutouts and a thrashing of Kansas City under its belt, but it did not matter in Nashville. Sean McDermott got aggressive in the closing seconds, going for it on fourth down to win the game and avoid overtime. Josh Allen slipped on a quarterback sneak and Jeffrey Simmons blew up the play. Despite the disappointing finish, the offense was not the problem. Surrendering 146 yards and three touchdowns to Derrick Henry was. Tennessee scored on six straight possessions to finish the game as well. Buffalo has some soul searching to do.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 24-14 at Chicago
Ownership of the Windy City apparently belongs to Aaron Rodgers. Candace Parker might have a good claim, but it is hard to argue with Rodgers’ success in Chicago. He moved to 22-5 all-time as the starter at Soldier Field, capping off the game with a touchdown scramble. While Rodgers made headlines, the defense did the dirty work. Green Bay sacked Justin Fields four times and held the Bears to just 14 points. It actually wasn’t the best day we’ve seen from the Packers offense either. Going two-for-eight on third-down conversions is definitely a red flag. It is clear Matt LaFleur is still working out the kinks with this team.

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8. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2 (Last Week: 10)
Won 34-11 at Detroit
Is it possible that the Bengals are a legitimate playoff contender? You don’t usually earn that status against the winless Lions, but looking at the team’s full body of work, it is hard not to be impressed. With two losses by a combined six points and four wins, it is clear that Cincinnati has made some major strides from 2020. Performances like this against Detroit go a long way in that as well. Two weeks ago, the Bengals squeaked by the Jaguars on a last-second field goal. Avoiding another close game against an inferior team is a really good sign.

9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 34-6 at Baltimore
Talk about laying an egg. In what was billed as the game of the week, the Chargers came out flat and never recovered. The defense spent way too much time on the field as the offense sputtered and failed. Los Angeles finished with just 208 yards and could not run the football at all. Justin Herbert was the team’s leading rusher with 12 yards. It is clear we need to cool the Super Bowl hype on this team, but the Chargers are still in good shape, leading the AFC West.

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10. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-13 at Washington
This was a crucial win for the Chiefs. It does not change the clear number of issues that still exist with how they are playing. Kansas City leads the league in turnovers, as Patrick Mahomes threw two more interceptions and Mecole Hardman coughed one up. That needs to stop immediately. The Chiefs defense looked much better on Sunday, but putting them into sudden change situations frequently is a recipe for disaster. They face a Titans team fresh off a big win in Week 7.

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11. Cleveland Browns 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 37-14 vs. Arizona
Injuries are mounting in Cleveland as hopes of a title challenge are quickly fading. Baker Mayfield could be facing some time on the sidelines. Kareem Hunt almost certainly will miss time. Odell Beckham Jr. exited early with a shoulder injury. Both of the Browns starting offensive tackles were already out along with Nick Chubb. On top of all of that, the defense did not show up to play. After a fairly strong start, Cleveland has now given up 84 points over the past two weeks. They need to step up big time with the offense in taters.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 11)
Bye Week
A week off for the Saints allows them to regroup after an up and down start to the season. Jameis Winston has been serviceable while the defense is quietly having a really good season. New Orleans currently ranks third in points allowed per game. With a number of key players hopefully returning soon from injury, this bye came at a great time. If Michael Thomas, Terron Armstead, Erik McCoy, Marcus Davenport and Kwon Alexander can get back on the field, this will look like a much different team.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Won 34-24 at Denver
Las Vegas looked like it had a weight lifted off its shoulders. With Jon Gruden gone, the email scandal was on the back burner as the Raiders were allowed to focus on football again. It seemed to work out well, as the team rewarded Rich Bisaccia with a win to start his tenure. Derek Carr bounced back with a really impressive performance as the defense came up big. Three interceptions and five sacks of Teddy Bridgewater gave Las Vegas a clear edge. At 4-2, a division title is very much in play.

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14. Tennessee Titans: 4-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 34-31 vs. Buffalo
It is hard to believe this is the same team that lost to the Jets two weeks ago. Derrick Henry proved once again that he is the best pure runner in the NFL. It has been a while since we have seen a player with his blend of power, speed and stamina. Mike Vrabel’s defense still has a lot of room for improvement, but holding Buffalo to 3.6 yards per carry and two-for-five in the red zone are huge victories that he can build off of going forward.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Won 34-28 at Carolina
Kirk Cousins regained his electric form, racking up 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead Minnesota to an overtime win. Dalvin Cook did his part as well with 140 yards and a score on the ground. While earning a road win is always good, it came at a cost. Patrick Peterson hit the injured reserve with a hamstring injury and the cracks are starting to show elsewhere in the secondary. This game could have gone very differently if pretty much every Panthers receiver managed to catch passes. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all struggled to haul in Sam Darnold’s throws, which certainly helped the Vikings out. A bye week to work on defensive improvements should be very welcome.

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16. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 24-14 vs. Green Bay
The offense struggled once again as Matt Nagy is running out of time to prove he is the right coach to develop Justin Fields. The rookie quarterback has flashes of brilliance, but clearly has a ways to go to capitalize on his immense potential. On the bright side, Khalil Herbert stepped into the lead back role well, racking up 112 yards of offense. Unfortunately, Fields was sacked four times and the passing game never got into a rhythm. The offense needs to start showing progress soon. Tampa Bay awaits, which will be another big test for Chicago.

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
The week off came at a great time for San Francisco. Trey Lance still remains a doubt to play heading into Week 7, but Jimmy Garoppolo could be in line for a return. K’Waun Williams is back at practice as well. A chance to get healthy is crucial in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The 49ers face the Colts in Week 7.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 34-28 vs. Minnesota
Sam Darnold had another rough day, but he got absolutely no help from his receivers against Minnesota. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all dropped a couple of catchable balls. Carolina got a huge spark from its special team with a blocked punt that was recovered for a touchdown. Darnold also led a game-tying drive in the closing minutes to force overtime. There were definitely some positives, but a week where Darnold completed 17 of his 41 passes and Christian McCaffrey hit the injured reserve cannot be considered a good one.

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19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-3 (Last Week: 19)
Won 23-20 vs. Seattle
Pittsburgh ground out another win which was maybe a bit closer than it should have been. Ben Roethlisberger had a lackluster game and the Steelers continued to struggle running the ball efficiently. Thankfully, the defense is one in the best of the league. Pittsburgh sacked Geno Smith five times, recorded 10 tackles for loss and T.J. Watt came up with the play of the game on his strip sack of Smith in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. It was far from a convincing victory, but winning ugly is much better than losing close.

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20. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 28-22 vs. Tampa Bay
Another rough week passing the ball cost the Eagles a chance at a major upset. The Buccaneers came into the game with one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and while they put together a better performance, finishing with 113 yards passing is disappointing. Philly also seemed to shy away from running the ball despite finding a decent amount of success. Miles Sanders had 6.2 yards per attempt, but only had nine carries in the game, including one in the first half. Jalen Hurts was the only other player to record a rushing attempt. Nick Sirianni clearly has to tweak his offensive approach.

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21. Denver Broncos: 3-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 34-24 vs. Las Vegas
Remember when the Broncos were 3-0? Yeah, it has been a really rough month of October. We all knew Denver’s record was inflated having faced the Jaguars, Jets and Giants in September, but this has been a disappointing run. Derek Carr posted an absurd 12.6 yards per attempt as the secondary got shredded. Vic Fangio desperately needs to get his defense back on track. He won’t get much time to solve those issues as a trip to Cleveland on Thursday is on the horizon.

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22. Indianapolis Colts: 2-4 (Last Week: 24)
Won 31-3 vs. Houston
Any frustrations from Week 5’s collapse against the Ravens were clearly resolved by battering the Texans. Indy bent, but never broke defensively and cashed in a few big plays in the passing game. Carson Wentz completed two passes for at least 50 yards, including a touchdown to Paris Campbell. That wasn’t even the biggest play of the game, as Jonathan Taylor ripped off an 83-yard run. The score line was definitely a bit exaggerated, but with a plus-three in the turnover battle allowed the Colts to pull away.

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23. New England Patriots: 2-4 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 35-29 vs. Dallas
Apparently, the Patriots can only play close games. This was their third straight contest decided by one possession. Unfortunately, they have only won one of them. New England came up with some huge plays to get off the field in key moments defensively. Stuffing Ezekiel Elliott on fourth down and punching the ball out of Dak Prescott’s hands on the goal line kept things close in the first half, but the Patriots didn’t really build off it. Mac Jones tossed a pick-six, but followed it up with a 75-yard touchdown pass. New England is clearly close to breaking through, but they need to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes more and limit their own.

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24. Seattle Seahawks: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 23-20 at Pittsburgh
The limitations that come with having Geno Smith at quarterback are clear, but it would be unfair to solely blame him for this loss. He was far from perfect, but the offensive line did not play well, allowing five sacks. Seattle had the ball with a chance to win the game in overtime, which is about as good as you could ask for given the situation. It is hard to believe that the Seahawks are now sending out Smith to hand the ball off to Alex Collins. Hopefully another week of preparation will produce some better results in the passing game.

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25. Washington: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 31-13 vs. Kansas City
It turns out Washington is simply a team that finished last year with a losing record and did not make much progress during the offseason. Taylor Henickie had a game to forget, Antonio Gibson exited with an injury and the defense fell apart in the second half. This team needs to turn things around quickly if they have any hope of challenging for the wild card. Things don’t get much easier with a trip to Green Bay up next.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 2-3 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
It is hard to tell which direction Atlanta is headed in. Their two wins this season came against the two teams from New York, who have a combined two wins. Arthur Smith has definitely reintroduced some potency to the offense, but the defense remains a train wreck. Only Washington has allowed more points per game this season. They will get a chance to prove themselves with the Dolphins, Panthers and Saints in their next three games.

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27. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 38-11 vs. Los Angeles
OK, now we can be harder on the Giants. Even with all the injuries, this was a dismal showing by all involved. The coaching staff mishandled several key situations. Daniel Jones tossed three interceptions and got very little help from anyone else on the offense. After a strong start to the game defensively, New York looked powerless to stop Matthew Stafford. The offense turning it over four times likely didn’t help, but this was one of the games where you should probably just burn the film and move on.

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28. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 32)
Won 23-20 vs. Miami
All it took was a trip to London to finally snap the 20-game losing streak. The offense did just enough and the defense did just enough to beat what is clearly a Dolphins team in free fall. Now, the Jaguars get a bye week to reassess and see if maybe Urban Meyer can help gear his team up for the rest of the year. It has been a really rocky start to his tenure, but if he can avoid off-the-field distractions and start winning a couple games, our outlook of this team will shift dramatically.

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29. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
The Jets move up two spots, but being 29 might actually be too high for them at this stage. New York is yet to score in the first quarter of a game this season. Zach Wilson has shown flashes, but is really struggling to avoid turnovers and find some rhythm in the offense. The defense has been solid, roughly around league average when it comes to yards and points allowed. If the offense can step it up and sustain a few drives, that defense will look even better.

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30. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-3 at Indianapolis
Perhaps this is just the existence of a team without much talent being led by a very unproven rookie quarterback. One week after nearly knocking off the Patriots, the Texans looked overmatched. Davis Mills struggled with two more interceptions and the defense gave up too many big plays. Houston has shown flashes, but this was also their fourth loss by double digits. This team needs to cut down on the turnovers to have any hope of competing.

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31. Miami Dolphins: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 23-20 at Jacksonville
That win over the Patriots feels like a lifetime ago. Even with Tua Tagovailoa back, the Dolphins offense was a bit underwhelming. They moved the ball just fine, as Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards. Managing 20 points against the Jaguars is not going to cut it though. It is hard to know where Miami goes from here. Brian Flores needs to recreate the identity of this team during the upcoming bye week.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-6 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 34-11 vs. Cincinnati
As the lone winless team in the NFL, the Lions belong in the NFL basement. Following a noncompetitive loss against Cincinnati, Detroit has now lost 10 straight games. Jared Goff did not play well and the team continues to struggle running the football. There isn’t a ton to like about what the defense did either. To make matters worse, the Lions have to go visit Matthew Stafford and the Rams in Week 7. If Goff looked bad against the Bengals, I can only imagine how his return to L.A. will go.

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