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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NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

Before we get into what was another wild weekend of action, we’ve got to talk about Jon Gruden. The now former Raiders coach resigned Monday night amid the fallout of the emails that surfaced this week. They are full of racist, misogynistic, bigoted language that seriously calls into question Gruden’s character.

I am happy that he will no longer be a coach in the NFL, but I do question why he was not fired. He unquestionably crossed a line, but the fact that his employment status was left up to him is concerning. Gruden apologized profusely, but seemed to be bothered by the fact that he was continually asked about the topic, almost dismissive of the significance of the situation. His apologies felt like he was simply going through the motions, even disingenuous. He just wanted to wipe his hands clean of it and move on, rather than address the damage done by the derogatory comments he made regarding several members of the NFL community.

There is no question that the NFL has a track record for sweeping serious allegations under the rug and often the league chooses to penalize those for drug use way more sternly than racism or even domestic violence. The NFL has certainly come a long way, but there is still a ton of room for improvement. Perhaps we will see future developments as the fallout from this email review continues. One can only hope.

Meanwhile, the NFL season continued to deliver exciting finishes. It helped that seemingly every kicker in the league forgot how to put the ball through the uprights. Let’s review Week 5 and take a look at how the league stacks up.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 5-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-10 vs. San Francisco
For the first time in a while, we have some stability at the top of the rankings. Arizona is proving that it can find multiple ways to win. Sunday was a defensive battle as the Cardinals had their fewest points of the season. However, they contained Trey Lance and did just enough offensively to earn their fifth win of the year. A huge test at Cleveland is up next.

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2. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 38-20 at Kansas City
It’s just one impressive win after another for Buffalo these days. Josh Allen had some big plays, but it was the defense that truly won the day. Holding the Chiefs to 20 points is impressive. Add in four forced turnovers, including a pick-six, and you are talking about a dominant performance. While Kansas City has been struggling this year, this was still a big step for Buffalo. It is hard to find a more complete team in the league at this point.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 4-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 26-17 at Seattle
It wasn’t always pretty, but Matt Stafford put in a gutsy performance and the ground game got it done. Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel combined for 119 yards and two scores. Defensively, Los Angeles was doing a decent job of containing everyone not named D.K. Metcalf even before Russell Wilson got hurt. There were a couple of scares down the field, but the Rams bounced back with an important win in a really tough place to play.

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4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 45-17 vs. Miami
Goodness Tom Brady looks good. After struggling against the Dolphins towards the end of his time with the Patriots, the 44-year-old aired it out for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans looked unstoppable for much of the afternoon. On the other side of the ball, the secondary remains a work in progress, but the run defense is the best in the league. The Eagles are up next fresh off a surprising win over the Panthers.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 47-42 vs. Cleveland
What a game! Justin Herbert was nearly flawless as he engineered some second-half heroics. There are certainly some red flags when it comes to the defense, which gave up a ton of yards and points. However, the Chargers made a stand when it mattered most with a fourth-down stop to win the game. The schedule doesn’t get any easier though with a visit to Baltimore on tap.

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6. Baltimore Ravens: 4-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 31-25 vs. Indianapolis
Trailing 25-9 in the fourth quarter, it certainly looked like the Ravens were headed for an underwhelming upset. Instead, Lamar Jackson turned into Superman, leading a pair of scoring drives, complete with two-point conversions to tie the game. Baltimore certainly got some help from a few missed field goals and a missed extra point by Rodrigo Blankenship, but this was a stunning turnaround. If the Ravens can play anything like they did in the fourth quarter on a more consistent basis, they will be in really good shape.

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7. Cleveland Browns 3-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 47-42 at Los Angeles
As long as games like these continue to happen, questions will be asked about the Browns’ status as a true Super Bowl contender. For the second time this season, Cleveland blew a two-score lead against an AFC West opponent. This time, it blew a 27-13 third-quarter lead, only to rally in the fourth quarter and then surrender two touchdowns in under four minutes. It is hard to blame the offense after a 42-point outing, including 300 yards from Baker Mayfield and no turnovers. Life won’t get much easier as the undefeated Cardinals visit in Week 6.

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8. Dallas Cowboys: 4-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 44-20 vs. New York
Outside of a two-point loss to open the season, the Cowboys are unbeaten and cruising. Dallas opened things up in the second half, but this game was actually very close before Daniel Jones exited the game. Perhaps the Cowboys always would have pulled away, but the Giants were a much worse team without him, Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay. Focusing on the positive though, Ezekiel Elliott went over the century mark and the team as a whole eclipsed 200 yards. That is a winning formula with the defense playing the best we’ve seen in years.

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9. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 25-22 at Cincinnati
On one hand, the Packers picked up their fourth straight win in a tough road test that required overtime. On the other hand, Green Bay tried its hardest to lose this game, but Cincinnati would not oblige. It is clear the secondary is missing Jaire Alexander. The defense came up with a pair of clutch interceptions of Joe Burrow, but Ja’Marr Chase torched the Packers’ defensive backs on a 70-yard touchdown and had another deep score called back due to a penalty. Winning while ironing out the kinks is still a good place to be.

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10. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 25-22 vs. Green Bay
Lose and move up five spots? Seems counterintuitive, but who do you put above them at this point? Cincinnati should have won this game. They certainly looked like the better team for much of the second half. Joe Burrow did not play his best game though and ultimately, the offense blew several chances to win the game. While all the Bengals do is play close games, they seem to be trending in the right direction.

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11. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 33-22 at Washington
Is the Jameis Winston experiment working? On the season, he has nearly 900 yards passing and 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. However, he has also completed just 60 percent of his passes and continues to be fairly inconsistent. I suppose as long as the Saints win games, they won’t really care how pretty it is. Winston tossed four more touchdowns on Sunday, but went 15-of-30 throwing and New Orleans had the ball for just 23 minutes of game play. Thankfully, the defense forced Taylor Heinickie to play much worse in an important bounce back victory.

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12. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-3 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 38-20 vs. Buffalo
Losing is one thing. Losing badly at home and looking overmatched in every phase of the game in another. Patrick Mahomes continues his uneven start to the season. He tossed two more interceptions, matching his season total from 2020. Defensively, Kansas City needs a reset. The Chiefs give up huge plays and tons of points on a weekly basis. With the team unable to run the ball even before Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with an injury, the defense had no chance. Andy Reid has a lot of work to do.

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13. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 21-18 vs. Philadelphia
So that’s why the Jets traded away Sam Darnold. Zach Wilson might have his own struggles, but Darnold imploded on Sunday, tossing three interceptions and only amassing 177 yards through the air. He had some help in the ground game as Chuba Hubbard racked up 101 yards. The defense did its job as well, recovering a fumble and limiting Jalen Hurts. This is a troubling loss for the Panthers, who will really hope they can get Christian McCaffrey back for Week 6.

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14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week: 24)
Won 20-9 at Las Vegas
While Chicago picked up a solid win, its offense took a significant blow with the loss of David Montgomery. Through four weeks this season, he had the fourth-most carries in the league. How the Bears have found success this season has been by running the ball and trusting its defense to win the game. It remains to be seen if Damien Williams can pick up the slack.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 20-9 vs. Chicago
Suddenly, the Raiders are in free fall. After two straight comprehensive defeats, Las Vegas lost its head coach as Jon Gruden resigned on Monday. Now, Rich Bisaccia takes over as head coach with the near impossible task of blocking out all of the off-the-field distractions that will inevitably follow in the coming weeks. Derek Carr has clearly regressed after a hot start and Josh Jacobs continues to be one of the least effective running backs in the league. It will be very interesting to see how the team responds in Denver this upcoming week.

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16. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 17-10 at Arizona
The Trey Lance era got off to a pretty lackluster start. The rookie quarterback was solid, but the offense only managing 10 points is definitely an indictment on his level of play. Defensively, it was a good sign to see San Francisco hold Arizona to just 17 points. Kyler Murray looked fairly ordinary as the 49ers ensured he could not use his legs to beat them. It was a winning strategy, the offense just needs to play a bit better.

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17. Tennessee Titans: 3-2 (Last Week: 21)
Won 37-19 at Jacksonville
Tennessee shook off the disappointment of its overtime loss in New York by avoiding another letdown. Kevin Byard got in on the action with a scoop and score to set the tone. Then Derrick Henry pummeled the Jaguars defense to the tune of 130 yards and three touchdowns. There are still some red flags, like James Robinson racking up 149 yards and 8.3 yards per carry. Mike Vrabel’s defense is still a weak spot, one that will need to get sorted out as the year rolls on.

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18. Minnesota Vikings: 2-3 (Last Week: 18)
Won 19-17 vs. Detroit
Minnesota came very close to blowing this game. Greg Joseph’s walk-off field goal secured the win, but against a winless team like the Lions, that is not a win to be proud of. For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins and company struggled. Some of that can be attributed to missing Dalvin Cook, but this team has enough playmakers otherwise to account for that. This team has a few close losses on the year against quality teams, but you would like to see them be a bit more convincing against the NFC North basement dweller.

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19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-3 (Last Week: 23)
Won 27-19 vs. Denver
Suddenly, things do not seem as bleak in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger played well against a solid Broncos defense. The biggest talking point though has to be the Steelers finally managing to run the ball. Najee Harris led the way with his first 100-yard game in the pros as Pittsburgh finished with 147 yards on the ground. Establishing the run has to be a priority going forward, especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster potentially out for the season.

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20. Denver Broncos: 3-2 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 27-19 at Pittsburgh
It is certainly looking like the Broncos were the beneficiary of a very weak schedule to open the season. After a second straight loss in which the defense didn’t not look as strong nor the offense as potent, it is fair to turn the heat back up on Vic Fangio. Denver moved the ball well, but could not turn drives into touchdowns, settling for two field goals in the first half. Teddy Bridgewater tossed a game-ending interception in the end zone on fourth and goal, so this was certainly a close game. Unfortunately, close doesn’t count for anything in the NFL.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-3 (Last Week: 25)
Won 21-18 at Carolina
Philly’s offense looked lifeless through nearly 45 minutes of this game. Jalen Hurts did not look sharp throwing the ball, managing just 5.4 yards per attempt on top of an interception. Thankfully, the defense and special teams stepped up to bail the offense out. Three interceptions of Sam Darnold and a critical blocked punt sparked two late touchdown runs from Hurts to pick up a seemingly improbable win. The Eagles will need to be sharper heading into a short week with the Buccaneers on the docket.

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22. Seattle Seahawks: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 26-17 vs. Los Angeles
It is time to panic in Seattle. Dropping below .500 in a home divisional loss and losing Russell Wilson for at least a month is about as worst-case scenario as you can get. Geno Smith showed some ability to bridge the gap, but with the Steelers, Saints, Packers and Cardinals coming up in four of the Seahawks’ next five games, it is hard to see a path to the playoffs without Wilson. None of this even covers the concerns for the secondary in Seattle. Robert Woods was open on seemingly every play and Jamaal Adams misplayed a floating pass to DeSean Jackson. Week 6 will be very telling for what to expect next.

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23. New England Patriots: 2-3 (Last Week: 19)
Won 25-22 at Houston
Goodness this was ugly. New England scored 16 unanswered points to top Houston. Bill Belichick, notorious for flustering rookie quarterbacks, could not slow down Davis Mills for much of the game. The former Stanford quarterback threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest issue for this Patriots team is the inability to score touchdowns. Mac Jones has been solid, but the Pats rank 26th in points per game. They showed some grit to complete the comeback, but the Texans lost 40-0 a week ago. This performance left a lot to be desired.

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24. Indianapolis Colts: 1-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 31-25 at Baltimore
I still don’t know how the Colts lost this game. Leading 22-3 in the closing minutes of the third quarter, it seemed like Indianapolis was well on its way to a much-needed road victory to shake off a lackluster start to the season. Instead, the Colts choked, capped off by a pair of missed field goals and a missed extra point by Rodrigo Blankenship. While it is easy to blame the kicker, Indy’s usually stout defense surrendered over 500 yards and 22 unanswered points. That is inexcusable. Frank Reich has some soul searching to do.

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25. Washington: 2-3 (Last Week: 20)
Won 34-30 at Atlanta
Seriously, what happened? Two teams in the NFL are giving up at least 31 points per game so far this season. Washington and Kansas City. That is 10.4 more points per game than Ron Rivera’s side allowed a year ago. After adding William Jackson III and Jamin Davis, it seemed like Washington was set to be even better. Instead, the pass rush is nonexistent and the number of turnovers has dropped precipitously. It didn’t help that Taylor Henickie had a game to forget as well, but this defense is the biggest issue.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 2-3 (Last Week: 28)
Won 27-20 vs. New York
The score looks closer than this game truly was. Despite missing Calvin Ridley, the Falcons offense was clicking. Matt Ryan reached 300 yards for the second time this season and tossed a pair of touchdowns. Atlanta’s defense was phenomenal in the first half as well, holding New York to just three points. The Jets closed the gap to 20-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons closed it out with a late touchdown. Arthur Smith now gets a bye week to figure out how to beat a team that doesn’t play in New York.

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27. New York Giants: 1-4 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 44-20 at Dallas
Let’s not be too hard on the Giants. Before Daniel Jones got hurt, New York was level with Dallas. With Jones, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and more all missing in the second half, everything fell apart. A pair of interceptions from Mike Glennon and some poor run defense ended any hopes of the Giants staying competitive. If possible, a tougher test awaits with the Rams on tap.

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28. Miami Dolphins: 1-4 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 45-17 at Tampa Bay
Sure, not having Tua Tagovailoa certainly hurts Miami’s top-end potential, but what gives defense? Brian Flores had one of the best units in the league firing on all cylinders in 2020. This year, the Dolphins rank 30th in yards and points allowed per game. Getting your quarterback isn’t going to fix all of that. The pass rush is lacking and the secondary looks overmatched. Tom Brady put up numbers he has never hit in his illustrious career on Sunday. Flores needs to rejuvenate this group as soon as possible.

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29. Houston Texans: 1-4 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 25-22 vs. New England
While the result is incredibly disappointing, especially considering that the Texans collapsed in the second half, this was a huge improvement from Week 4. Davis Mills showed signs that he could be the quarterback of the future in Houston, which would be a massive development for this team. The Texans were never supposed to be good this year, so finding some players to fill key roles in the future while remaining competitive is a perfectly fine outcome. Hopefully, David Culley takes some notes on this loss to avoid blowing a big lead in the future.

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30. Detroit Lions: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 19-17 at Minnesota
Detroit is two last-second field goals away from being 2-3 with wins over the Ravens and Vikings. The Lions were fairly mediocre offensively, but this defense continues to impress. Kirk Cousins never looked totally comfortable and they forced two turnovers. Dan Campbell has won over this locker room and has Detroit playing his brand of football. It isn’t always pretty, but it often makes up for the difference in talent. The schedule doesn’t offer up any obvious opportunities for a win, but I think a win will come soon enough for this team.

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31. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 27-20 at Atlanta
Didn’t the Jets fire Adam Gase? You wouldn’t have known it watching New York’s offense in the first half in London? The offense ran just eight plays in the first 20 minutes of the game. They then had a 16-play drive that ended in a field goal. The defense didn’t do too much to help the cause either outside of forcing a fumble to set up said field goal. Serious questions have to be asked about Mike LaFleur after a fifth straight abysmal start.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 37-19 vs. Tennessee
Same old Jaguars. A win was always a tough ask, but an 18-point blowout against a team that just got beat by the Jets is not a great look. The team ran the ball well and Trevor Lawrence had some moments, but the defense looked helpless to stop Derrick Henry and failed to force a turnover. Jacksonville has a league low one forced turnover this season and a league-worse -10 turnover differential. Urban Meyer is out of the news with Jon Gruden taking center stage, but the pressure is still on.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

What a two-week stretch! I’m back after a week off. I was a bit busy. I got married, then went on my honeymoon. I think that feels like a good reason not to write for a week.

However, it also means that I have a ton to catch up on. As we all expected, the Cardinals are the final undefeated team in the NFL. In much less surprising news, Matt Nagy continues to be criticized and Urban Meyer is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Another slate of surprising results leads to another major shake up in the rankings as we near the quarter-way mark of the season.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 4-0 (Last Week: 4)
Won 37-20 at Los Angeles
For the third week in a row, we have another new team at No. 1. The Cardinals unquestionably deserve to be here. A statement win on the road in L.A. solidified Arizona as a Super Bowl contender. Kyler Murray is the early frontrunner to win MVP and the defense continues to step up when it matters. Another NFC West showdown is up next with the 49ers.

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2. Buffalo Bills: 3-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 40-0 vs. Houston
Holy hell, that season-opening loss to the Steelers looks more and more like a bizarre anomaly. Buffalo now owns a pair of massive shutout wins. In fact, Denver is the only other team to post a shutout this season. Now Houston is hardly a tough test, but the stat line Davis Mills posted looks like something when you play defense on rookie mode in Madden. He finished 11-of-21 throwing for 87 yards and four interceptions. This Bills defense is for real.

3. Los Angeles Rams: 3-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 37-20 vs. Arizona
Maybe this was an emotional letdown after beating the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 3, but this was a costly loss for the Rams. The margin for error in the NFC West is razor thin and now Los Angeles falls back in the division. There are a ton of games left, but some clear problems cropped up on Sunday. Arizona rumbled for 216 yards on the ground. This defense has to step up if the Rams want to win a Super Bowl.

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4. Cleveland Browns 3-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 14-7 at Minnesota
In a week full of ugly games, this was easily the ugliest. Cleveland managed just a single touchdown offensively, but notched a pair of field goals and a two-point conversion to claim an important win. Unquestionably, the defense won the game for the Browns. Myles Garrett and company unsettled Kirk Cousins, who was on a tear through the first three weeks, and bottled up a good running game. Baker Mayfield definitely needs to play better, but this defense looks championship caliber so far.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 19-17 at New England
A look at the record would indicate that all is going well in Tampa Bay. However, a closer look reveals some concerns. Dallas outplayed Tampa for much of Week 1. The team’s only convincing win came against a horrible Falcons defense. New England was also a missed kick away from knocking off the champs. Defensively, this team has not been as good as a year ago. Injuries are mounting in the secondary. There is still a lot to be positive about, but there are cracks forming in the Buccaneers’ offense.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-1 (Last Week: 11)
Won 28-14 vs. Las Vegas
Honestly, the Chargers are a few penalties away from being 4-0. A convincing showing on Monday night coupled with an upset of the Chiefs has Brandon Staley’s team atop the AFC West. Justin Herbert is playing lights out. The team is imposing its will in the trenches as well. With playmakers at all three levels of the defense, this team is starting to look like a real contender. Another big test looms with a visit from the Browns.

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7. Baltimore Ravens: 3-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 23-7 at Denver
Baltimore certainly benefited from facing Drew Lock for much of the game instead of Teddy Bridgewater, but ultimately played much better offensively against better competition. Denver’s defense offered a real test. However, it was the Ravens defense that truly won the day. Holding the Broncos to just one touchdown was a good look and neither opposing quarterback had much success. With five sacks and an interception, it seems like this group is playing at a high level. A Monday Night Football showdown with the Colts awaits.

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8. Green Bay Packers: 3-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh
Turns out it was just one game on the schedule. The team that slept-walked its way through the season opener has been nowhere to be found since then. Defensively, Green Bay limited Najee Harris and shutdown Pittsburgh’s offense for much of the game. Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb connected for a pair of scores while Rodgers added another on the ground. The Packers seem to be getting into a groove ahead of a matchup with the upstart Bengals.

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9. Dallas Cowboys: 3-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 36-28 vs. Carolina
The final score line makes this game seem much closer than it truly was. Dallas led 36-14 in the fourth quarter before Carolina went on a furious comeback bid that came up short. With the rest of the division struggling, the Cowboys are cruising. Zeke Elliott seems to have knocked off the rust, racking up 147 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Dak Prescott didn’t throw for a ton of yards but avoided mistakes and tossed four touchdown passes. Don’t look now but this defense seems to be legit as well.

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10. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-1 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 28-14 at Los Angeles
This loss does not wipe out the fantastic start to the season for the Raiders, but it puts a solid dent in their ambitions. The Chargers led 21-0 at halftime as Derek Carr and the offense struggled to get going. Las Vegas had zero yards of offense at the end of the first quarter while the defense could not seem to stop Justin Herbert. Jon Gruden’s group played significantly better in the second half, but it was not enough to turn the tide.

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11. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 42-30 at Philadelphia
Oh look, it’s the AFC West basement dweller. I don’t think it will stay that way for too long. However, the concerns over the Chiefs defense are real. Kansas City surrendered 461 yards of offense and 30 points to the Eagles. Thankfully, Patrick Mahomes shredded the Philly secondary for five touchdown passes. The team also went 9-of-10 on third down conversions. The offense is still championship caliber, but the defense needs to find its way back to being at least league average.

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12. Carolina Panthers: 3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 36-28 at Dallas
Despite having a few extra days to prepare for the Cowboys, the Panthers could not find a way to stop Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott. Carolina hung around early and made it competitive late, but got dominated in the third quarter. Dallas punched in three touchdowns to outscore the formerly unbeaten NFC South side 21-0 in the period. The Panthers will look to bounce back against another NFC East side as the Eagles visit in Week 5.

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13. Seattle Seahawks: 2-2 (Last Week: 18)
Won 28-21 at San Francisco
Seattle was a bit lucky to win this game. Two missed kicks, a muffed kickoff return and an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers certainly set the Seahawks up for success. Credit to Russell Wilson and company for taking advantage when the opportunities presented themselves. However, San Francisco outgained Seattle by over 200 yards and won the time of possession battle. The Seahawks also went 2-for-10 on third down, but also held the 49ers to 2-for-14 in those same scenarios. Things don’t get any easier with a visit from the Rams on a short week.

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14. San Francisco 49ers: 2-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 28-21 vs. Seattle
Turnovers and a stagnant offense cost San Francisco its second straight home game. The 49ers could not convert on third down, finishing a lowly 2-for-14 and took too long to truly get going offensively. It also remains to be seen how long Jimmy Garoppolo will be out with a calf injury. There is only so much this defense can do when the offense continues to have drive stalls. Kyle Shanahan has to figure out how to spark his team.

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15. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-1 (Last Week: 17)
Won 24-21 vs. Jacksonville
This was definitely closer than it should have been. Cincinnati held off Jacksonville with a walk-off field goal. It was good to see the Bengals work their way back from a 14-0 hole, but it is worrying that the deficit existed in the first place. Joe Burrow played really well though, finding C.J. Uzomah for a pair of scores. Finding a way to establish the run would certainly solve a couple of the team’s issues, taking pressure off the defense and Burrow. Still, Cincy is 3-1 and looks much improved from a year ago.

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16. Denver Broncos: 3-1 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 23-7 vs. Baltimore
This was a demoralizing loss for the Broncos. Losing Teddy Bridgewater stings. Watching Drew Lock haplessly attempt to lead the offense in his place only worsened the pain. It was Denver’s first loss of the season, but it also served as a major benchmark for the team. After beating up on some of the worst teams in the league, it does not appear that the Broncos truly belong in the conversation with the NFL’s elite.

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17. New Orleans Saints: 2-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 27-21 vs. New York
Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up? So far this season, Sean Payton’s side has shelled the Packers, fallen flat against the Panthers, whipped the Patriots and then choked against the Giants. The latest one might be the most confusing showing yet. New Orleans gave up 11 points in the final seven minutes of regulation and then could not stop New York from reaching the end zone in overtime. The Giants finished the game by scoring 17 unanswered points to claim the victory. Consistency might be hard to come by in the Bayou.

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18. Minnesota Vikings: 1-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 14-7 at Cleveland
It was a rough week for the offense, but there are some positives here for the Vikings defense. Holding Baker Mayfield under 50 percent passing is a good sign. Sacking him three times doesn’t hurt either. They did a decent job against the run, but the Browns still had 184 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, the offense did nothing to back up the defense. Kirk Cousins barely cracked 200 yards passing and the ground game averaged 2.8 yards per carry. The offensive line needs to play better.

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19. New England Patriots: 1-3 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 19-17 vs. Tampa Bay
While it was a loss, the defense played incredibly well against a high-powered Buccaneers offense. Mac Jones looked sharp and handled the blitz well all night long as well. In the end, the Patriots came up just short off pulling off a big victory. Things will get a lot easier in Week 5 with a trip to Houston up next. It might not be a 40-0 shutout, but New England should be able to pick up a win.

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20. Washington: 2-2 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-30 at Atlanta
Washington, we have a problem! Matt Ryan carved up the defense to the tune of 283 yards and four touchdowns. Cordarrelle Patterson had a field day as well. Luckily, Atlanta’s defense might just be slightly worse. Taylor Heinicke led two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter to win the game. This is not a winning formula when facing most teams in the league. Ron Rivera needs to find a way to revitalize this defense as soon as possible.

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21. Tennessee Titans: 2-2 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 27-24 at New York
Tennessee has already shown this season it is capable of incredible highs and devastating lows. Sunday was clearly one of the lowest points we’ve seen from them in quite a while. The Titans lost a very winnable game on the road against a team with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach. What made it worse was that one of their former players, Corey Davis, played a major part in their loss. Lucky for them though, they still lead the AFC South, because it’s the AFC South.

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22. Indianapolis Colts: 1-3 (Last Week: 22)
Won 27-17 at Miami
Indianapolis finally got a win, comfortably beating Miami. It took a little while for the offense to get going, but it closed strong with 20 points in the second half. Jonathan Taylor put together one of the best games of his season and Carson Wentz avoided turnovers. Defensively, the Colts didn’t have too many problems with the Jacoby Brissett-led offense. A much tougher matchup awaits with the Ravens on Monday night.

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23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-3 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 27-17 at Green Bay
The bottom appears to be falling out for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has no offensive identity and clearly one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Losing to the Packers is more than understandable given their recent form. That shouldn’t excuse the 29th scoring offense and 28th offense in total yards per game. The Steelers also rank dead last in rushing yards. This team has to do something to turn it around quickly.

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24. Chicago Bears: 2-2 (Last Week: 27)
Won 24-14 vs. Detroit
While Chicago picked up a solid win, its offense took a significant blow with the loss of David Montgomery. Through four weeks this season, he had the fourth-most carries in the league. How the Bears have found success this season has been by running the ball and trusting its defense to win the game. It remains to be seen if Damien Williams can pick up the slack.

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25. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-3 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 42-30 at Kansas City
It is really tough to come up against Patrick Mahomes in that form. Philadelphia did its best to hang around early, but I don’t think this offense is really built to compete in shootouts. On the defensive side, this has to go down as a disappointment. After a strong start against the Falcons and 49ers, the Eagles have gotten shredded by the Cowboys and Chiefs. Some of that is a better level of competition, but this defense has to get its act together.

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26. Miami Dolphins: 1-3 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-17 vs. Indianapolis
So it turns out Jacoby Brissett might not be the problem in this offense. He did lose a fumble, but Miami finished with 35 yards rushing on a meager 2.2 yards per carry. That is not going to win many football games. The offensive line is a mess, surrendering three sacks and eight quarterback hits. Even when Tua Tagovailoa comes back, I’m not sure that it will make much of a difference if this is how the team is going to play.

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27. New York Giants: 1-3 (Last Week: 30)
Won 27-21 at New Orleans
In potentially the unlikeliest result of the weekend, New York overcame an 11-point deficit in the closing minutes and knocked off New Orleans in overtime. Daniel Jones topped 400 passing yards for the first time in his career while Saquon Barkley is starting to look like the player we saw before his injury. The Giants have a long way to go. This team had just 10 points through the first 52 minutes of gameplay. Getting a win is huge though.

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28. Atlanta Falcons: 1-3 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 34-30 vs. Washington
Even though the Falcons beat the Giants head-to-head in Week 3, they showed their unmatched penchant for blowing games against Washington and still very much seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Atlanta gave up two touchdowns in the final four minutes and spoiled one of the best performances we’ve seen from Matt Ryan in some time. It is hard to feel overly confident in this team’s ability to close out games when that defense needs to come up with a stop.

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29. New York Jets: 1-3 (Last Week: 32)
Won 27-24 vs. Tennessee
Could this be a turning point in New York? Probably not, but it is a really positive sign after a few dismal performances. The Jets scored more against the Titans than they had in the first three weeks combined and Zach Wilson flashed the playmaking ability that made him the No. 2 pick in the draft. He routinely extended plays and had a few explosive throws down the field. There were also a few questionable decisions, but that is to be expected from a rookie making his fourth start. It was good to see Jamison Crowder back in action as well.

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30. Houston Texans: 1-3 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 40-0 at Buffalo
Poor Davis Mills. The rookie from Stanford looks totally overmatched and unprepared for life in the NFL. After a solid, but unspectacular first start, Mills was thrown to the wolves and produced one of the worst stat lines we have seen in a while. He finished with a 0.8 Total QBR. Not that he got much help. Houston was held under 50 yards rushing and the defense could only hang on for so long. David Culley will need to revisit the drawing board heading into Week 5 against the Colts.

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31. Detroit Lions: 0-4 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 24-14 at Chicago
Losing while being competitive only gets you so far. Chicago took Detroit’s strength and turned it into a weakness this weekend. The Lions offensive line allowed four sacks and could not get the run game going in earnest. It led to a very underwhelming offensive performance. While Jared Goff threw the ball well, falling just shy of 300 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, he fumbled three times, losing two of them. Detroit’s best bet for success is running the ball, calling play action and keeping Goff clean. Credit the Bears for making that impossible, but this was a tough loss for the Lions.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-4 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-21 at Cincinnati
Believe it or not, the Jaguars seem to be improving on the field. Jacksonville came close to notching its first win since Week 1 of 2020. Trevor Lawrence looked much improved as the team built a 14-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Jags could not hold on and ended up losing on a last-second field goal. What is potentially more concerning is how much of a distraction Urban Meyer continues to be. The coach got himself in hot water again with a viral video taking center stage over the weekend. It’s hard enough for the Jaguars to overcome the clear talent deficit it faces. These off-field distractions only make life harder.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Fantasy Football 2021 Waiver Wire Pickups: Mitchell, Shepard popular options heading into Week 2

Fantasy Football is finally back in full swing. If you are like me, you spent much of Sunday swiping through the scoreboard pages of your various teams and questioned why you didn’t start Jalen Hurts over Aaron Rodgers. Seriously, all the reigning MVP needed to do was not have the worst fantasy output of any starter in Week 1 and I would’ve won. I lost that matchup by 0.4 points.

But I digress, because whether you feel like you crushed your draft or really messed it up, you now have a second chance to build your fantasy team. Welcome to the waiver wire. Every year, there are a few great fantasy options that slip through the cracks and wind up going undrafted. Usually, the fantasy managers who scoop those handful of players up tend to be the ones that make deep playoff runs.

Don’t believe me? Alvin Kamara went undrafted in most formats back in 2017. He finished the year as RB3. Perhaps you rode James Robinson or Justin Jefferson to a championship last year after both started the year widely available on the waiver wire. The point is, your season is not over because you had a bad Week 1 or lost a couple players to injury.

A quick reminder of how I go about this column. I am looking at players who are available in at least 50 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues as a guide for who will be available. Of course you should pick up star players if they are somehow sitting on the waiver wire, but that won’t be the case for most people.

Going beyond simply looking for players to add to your roster, working the waiver wire requires a bit of strategy. Different leagues have different policies for how waiver claims are awarded. Some have the waiver order reset in reverse order of the standing after every week. Some move teams to the back of the queue after a successful waiver claim. Some have allotted budgets of real or fake money for managers to allocate on players throughout the season. It is important to check which set up your league has and know the best way to work within those parameters.

There is also no chance you will see me advocating for you to use a waiver claim on a defense or a kicker. That does not mean that you should not pick one up if let’s say you have the Panthers defense going up against the Saints this week, but don’t waste a valuable waiver claim on a position that likely will not offer you any long term value.

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my top additions heading into Week 2. These are listed in no particular order, simply broken up by position.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, DEN
It didn’t take long for Bridgewater to settle in. The former Panthers quarterback carved up the Giants defense for 264 yards and a pair of scores on his way to a QB14 finish. Those aren’t gaudy numbers, but solid nonetheless. On top of that, Bridgewater will face a Jaguars defense that gave up 291 yards and two scores to Tyrod Taylor in Week 1. Even without Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos still have plenty of talented receivers and backs to work with. It doesn’t hurt that Bridgewater can add a bit more value with his legs as well. He rushed for 19 yards this past week and could be in line for more as the season rolls on. I think he is a solid spot starter this week if you are in the market for one.

Mac Jones, QB, NE
I am a lot less sure about this one. Mac Jones looked really good in his NFL debut, but he did not do much from a fantasy perspective. However, he plays a very young Jets defense in Week 2 on the heels of throwing the ball 39 times against the Dolphins. That bodes well for some increased fantasy success against a weaker opponent. Jones is going to be incredibly efficient and will likely avoid turnovers. If you are searching for a fantasy option with a decently high floor, he feels like someone worth a look this week.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, SF
I’m ready to get burned again! I targeted Trey Sermon in a lot of my fantasy drafts this year under the assumption he would start if anything happened to Raheem Mostert. The latter has a lengthy injury history, so it felt pretty likely he would miss some time. Low and behold, Mostert is out of the season, but it is Elijah Mitchell who seems poised to take over the majority of the work in the backfield. He ran the ball 19 times for 104 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. The red flag? He did not have a single target in the passing game. Now, Sermon is likely to see some touches this week and Kyle Shanahan is notorious for rotating his running backs. JaMycal Hasty and eventually Jeff Wilson Jr. will definitely see some work. That being said, Mitchell absolutely should be rostered in every fantasy league. He will be my top waiver wire target this week.

Kenny Gainwell, RB, PHI
He didn’t light it up or see anywhere near the same volume as Mitchell, but Gainwell had a solid NFL debut. The rookie out of Memphis had 11 touches for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. He seems well positioned for about 10-15 touches per game. Normally, I wouldn’t feel great about him facing the 49ers in Week 2, but San Francisco gave up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in Week 1. This definitely has some risk reward potential, but if you are looking for someone to stash with upside, Gainwell is a good pick.

Mark Ingram, RB, HOU
Dare I say it: Mark Ingram looks fantasy relevant again. The former Ravens running back ran the ball a staggering 26 times against the Jaguars. He only averaged 3.3 yards per carry, but if he is going to see that much volume this season, he will be worth tracking. The Texans travel to Cleveland in Week 2. That’s not a great fantasy matchup for Ingram, but he should have a relatively high floor if he is going to see that much usage. I wouldn’t drop anyone you really like for him, but Ingram could be a great injury replacement for Mostert, Rashaad Penny or others.

Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
We talked all offseason about the big additions to the Giants offense. They signed Kenny Golladay, drafted Kadarius Toney and brought in Kyle Rudolph. That was in addition to Evan Engram and Darius Slayton with Saquon Barkley finally back from injury. Turns out we forgot about Sterling Shepard. After a frustrating and injury-riddled 2020 season, the former Oklahoma receiver reasserted himself in New York’s offense with a seven-catch, 113-yard performance capped off by a touchdown. He scored the ninth most points of any fantasy receiver in Week 1. He might not be a weekly starter, but Shepard will definitely be a matchup-specific flex option.

K.J. Osborn, WR, MIN
Not a name I was overly familiar with heading into Week 1, Osborn showed a lot of promise against Cincinnati. He caught seven of his nine targets for 76 yards. I’m not ready to call him a breakout player yet, but with Minnesota lacking depth at tight end and struggling to run the ball, Osborn could be involved a bit more in the offense than we expected. It is tough for me to start him at this point, especially facing a Cardinals defense that just shut down the Titans, but he might be worth stashing on your bench if you have room.

Tim Patrick, WR, DEN
Injuries are a part of football. Every year players go down and that opens up new opportunities in fantasy. Unfortunately, Jerry Jeudy will miss some time with a high-ankle sprain. That opens the door for Tim Patrick to be fantasy relevant again. He only saw four targets in Week 1, but he turned them into four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. I think he will see a few more throws his way with Jeudy out. Plus, he faces an abysmal Jaguars secondary in Week 2. Patrick feels like a speculative flex play or WR3 option in PPR formats. If you are in non-PPR leagues, K.J. Hamler is definitely worth a look.

Nelson Agholor, WR, NE
I’m still a little skeptical of Agholor, but he had a solid debut for the Patriots. He caught five of his seven targets for 72 yards and a score. There is a good chance he finishes the year as New England’s top receiver. On top of that, he faces a Jets secondary that struggled to contain the big play and is overall very unproven. Agholor is worth a look as a flex option in Week 2.

Jared Cook, TE, LAC
A change of scenery seems to have worked well for the veteran Cook, at least through one week. He caught five passes for 56 yards in his debut with the Chargers. That was against a talented Washington defense as well. Cook will face a Cowboys defense that gave up eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski in Week 1. I don’t think you should expect that type of production out of Cook, but he is definitely a streaming option this week and has the potential to be a regular starter in your lineup if you need a tight end.