Brace yourselves, I feel like this is going to be a good one. The off season is well and truly underway and with the wildest days of free agency behind us, I thought what better time to give you my current top 10 power rankings going into the 2021 NFL season. Today I’m bringing you 10 through to 6…
Disclaimer. These power rankings are based on CURRENT NFL rosters. I’ll likely reference potential draft picks, and talk about the things these teams might want or need, but the rankings are based on present day, late March rosters as they stand at the time of writing. Which is exactly 19:16 on a Tuesday night. Let’s get into it.
Honourable mentions who just missed the cut, Baltimore, Tennessee & Pittsburgh, who yes had strong seasons last year, but I think might regress slightly …
10. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins scrape into the top 10 here over Baltimore. I went back and forward between the two multiple times, so I must pay my respects to a very strong Baltimore Ravens team, who are coming off of an 11-5 season.
Miami had one of the best defences in the league last season, but struggled heavily at times on offence. They rotated Tua Tagovailoa in and out as he struggled to get it going here and there in his rookie season. Ryan Fitzpatrick put on a show on a couple of occasions too, but the highlight in 2020 was the defence that Miami has spent some money building.
The Dolphins proved that having two lockdown corners on the field at the same time proves extremely effective, and sorely missed that partnership when Byron Jones got hurt, particularly in the first of the Buffalo games. Xavien Howard led the league in interceptions and was cooking all season long too.
The Dolphins did however struggle against the run at times, despite promising seasons from newly acquired edge rush Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins and rookie Rakewon Davis. This is a need they’ve clearly looked to address and the addition of Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney is exactly that. McKinney is a run stuffing middle linebacker who will sure up that side of their game, and offers tremendous value in run defence. So consider that a vast upgrade.
Then on offence, considering the very young offensive line, a lack lustre run game and a rookie Tua without any time to prepare for life in the NFL amidst rehabbing the hip injury, plus a depleted receiving core, it’s pretty impressive to think this team still went 10-6 last year. Which is why they make my top 10.
The Dolphins have upgraded on defence, and added good depth across the board. Plus offensively adding Will Fuller to the receiver room is a big upgrade, which was also well needed. The Dolphins then hold two first and two second round picks to add further talent, likely a running back, offensive line and ideally a safety.
This team has the coaching staff in place, and a playoff calibre defence, which can get you to the playoffs. If we then see a much improved Tua show us what he can really do, with a host of new weapons, more time in the pocket, and a run game you can rely on… then the Dolphins could, and should, find themselves in the playoffs come January.
The Dolphins scrape in at 10 in my power rankings this year, and I’m confident they’ll prove me right.
9. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are my slept on, nobodies talking about, listen to me because i’m absolutely right, dead lock underdog for this season. As Tom pointed out on this weeks podcast, my slept on, nobodies talking about, listen to me because i’m absolutely right, dead lock underdog for LAST season was the Denver Broncos, so make of that what you will. However, I maintain that the Broncos are a very good team on the cusp of shocking the world, just not with Drew Lock.
Anyway, Arizona. For a long time I’ve said I respect the front office. Steve Keim is one of the better GMs in the league, and flicked a switch for this team when Deandre Hopkins came to town. To be able to bring him in for what they did, we all know the trade details by now, is phenomenal, and allowed Arizona to elevate their offence in 2020. However the problem is consistency. One week they’ll look unstoppable, the next incredibly underwhelming. They dropped games they really shouldn’t have dropped early in the season, suffering losses to the Lions and the Panthers in consecutive weeks. But in the same season handed losses to Buffalo and Seattle in close games. They finished 8-8, but the issue is the division.
Arizona have the luxury of playing in the best division in the NFL right now. With the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers all having a case for a strong playoff spot, the Cardinals need to overcome the division before they’ll be taken seriously. in 2020, they finished 2-4 against these opponents. They need to flip that on it’s head and end up at least 4-2.
And this season I think that’s something they’re capable of doing. Kyler wasn’t 100% last year, he had games where he appeared to be totally lost and lacking focus, which we’ve seen before with the likes of Cam Newton, who’d later explain he was fighting to play through injury. But this year, they’ve added Rodney Hudson, one of the leagues best centres, in a trade with the Raiders, plus AJ Green, who can still contribute as a compliment to D Hop, and then of course the addition of JJ Watt. These signings are the signings of a team that knows it needs key pieces to take itself to another gear. Now all they need to do is address the run game, stack up on some depth, and allow the stars to shine. With Budda Baker, Chandler Jones, and JJ Watt headlining their defence, oppositions will have plenty to think about, plus the forgotten man in Isaiah Simmons, who just needs to find his ideal role in an NFL line up, after being drafted as a hybrid out of Clemson early in the first round in 2020.
Arizona, add a top quality running back, cough Najee Harris cough, and you’re in the playoffs. I’m backing you all the way.
8. Buffalo Bills
The Bills made the AFC Championship game last year yes, did they deserve to be there based on playoff performance? No. The Browns would have beaten them considering the way they played against both the Chiefs and the Ravens. It was a poor ending to a very strong regular season for Buffalo, who walked into the playoffs flying high on a 13-3 record. However they competed in a weak division this last season, walking it 6-0. That’s not going to be so easy for them this year. The Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets are all improved on last year. A new coaching staff in New York makes them a very unknown commodity this year, the Patriots went ballistic in free agency and have basically a whole new roster, and the Dolphins have improved their weapons, have draft picks for more weapons, and will have been able to spend a lot more time with Tua.
Buffalo got themselves into trouble relying too heavily on Josh Allen to pick up yards with his legs. He’s perfectly capable of doing so, but the lack of a strong running back with a good level of talent cost them down the stretch.
For me, Buffalo need to be looking at bringing in a real powerhouse every down back to add to their offence.
That being said, I like the additions so far. Mitchell Trubisky is a solid addition as a back up quarterback. Odd deal for Mitchell, great deal for the Bills should they need to call on him. He can run an offence in a similar, (obviously not quite as good) style to Josh Allen, should he be needed.
But the key addition is Emmanuel Sanders. Yes he’s well into his 30s now, but he’s a great reliable pass catcher. Add a running back to an arsenal that now includes Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley & Emmanuel Sanders, and there’s no excuses for them offensively.
Josh Allen is really turning out to be one of the most electric quarterbacks in the league, and is a unique style of big strong build mixed with immensely powerful arm and a great ability to run. The Bills really have got themselves a good one there, and if he can keep up that kind of progression they’ll be right back in the picture in the 2021 season. Sean McDermott has done an amazing job in Buffalo, and while the division won’t be as easy as it was last year, it’s still Buffalos’ to lose. Bills at 8 in my power rankings this year!
MORE: NFL Team stats in 2020
7. Indianapolis Colts
The QB retires and I have them at 7 in my power rankings?!
Listen. The Colts have everything they need. This is a very very good Colts team. Okay they’ve lost a couple of pieces in TY Hilton, and Malik Hooker etc, but the Colts are building something special up in Indy.
Last years draft was fantastic, you’ll struggle to find a better one for talent. They traded the first round pick for a Pro Bowl DT in Deforrest Buckner, then grabbed both Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr in round two, who both contributed in a big way offensively, especially JT. Remember they lost Marlon Mack to an injury early in the season, who’s staying in Indy despite Jonathan Taylor putting on a show in his absence.
It’s a very good roster, and one of the best defences in the league. Darius Leonard & Buckner lead the way on defence, and corner Kenny Moore played out of his skin in 2020. They will need to find a safety replacement for Malik Hooker, who is looking unlikely to resign as he visits with other teams. However TY Hilton is yet to find a landing spot and could easily stay in Indy for another year. I think it would be wise to get that done!
The question, of course, is whether Carson Wentz can get it done? And honestly, i’m going to put my neck on the line here and say he absolutely can, and will. The Colts needed a replacement for Phillip Rivers, and got exactly who they wanted. Frank Reich reunites with Wentz who had his glory days in Philly under Reich’s command. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re going to see the best of Carson Wentz return, then this is the place it happens.
Literally everything depends on Wentz. The Colts are in a position to win and win now, and have taken a flyer on a QB who looked totally lost in Philadelphia. If it pays off, it could pay off in a major way. I’m all in on the Colts, and the rebirth of our man Carson.
6. Cleveland Browns
The Browns can thank John Dorsey for building an incredible offensive roster. He did a lot of good things as the GM for the Browns. They now sit comfortable with a collection of weapons on offence enough to worry any defensive coordinator. Odell, Landry, Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and now Austin Hooper too… plus great depth in Rashad Higgins, and last years rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones, as well as David Njoku… the list is endless. Where John Dorsey went wrong, and the move that cost him is job, was hiring Freddie Kitchens full time. It was an emotional hire, and it cost them both their jobs.
BUT, the Browns finally got the head coaching hire right. Kevin Stefanski, who ran a very successful offence in Minnesota, was going to be the guy to get the best out of the host of weapons they have in Cleveland. It’s the perfect job for an offensive minded coach, and Stefanski went straight to work. The Browns looked a million times better this year, and did so without Odell for the majority too.
The Browns are only going to get even better again in 2021, and will focus on improving their defence, largely the secondary, to support a very strong front including Myles Garrett. They need another starting safety, and will also be getting Grant Delpit back, who was drafted in the second round last year out of LSU, but broke his foot in the pre season. He’d been named the starter prior to the injury, so with him to come back, and the draft ahead, expect the Browns to improve in that area.
I love where the Browns are heading, and despite a very strong season and decent play off run, they’re trending upwards heading into 2021. They can get even better. Baker Mayfield has finally got some consistency with a head coach, and looked better than ever this season just gone. FINALLY the Browns fans can begin to dream…
Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter! Part two with my top five power rankings will drop later in the week… stay tuned!