The first 17-game season in NFL history is well underway. And while there are still plenty of games ahead to judge how we remember this season, we’ve already seen big changes in our NFL power rankings:
Following another exciting week of the 2021 NFL season, let’s dive into our Week 13 NFL power rankings.
32. Detroit Lions (LW: 32)
Will the Detroit Lions win a game this season? At this point, no feels like the safest bet. If this team can’t beat a Chicago Bears offense without Allen Robinson and Justin Fields, victory seems doubtful. But hey, at least the Lions keep getting praised for their ‘effort’ as they get walked off the field every week.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 30)
The remainder of the Jacksonville Jaguars season doesn’t matter. Urban Meyer, whether it’s the right call or not, is returning for the 2022 season. Every game until the offseason arrives is just another day passing on the calendar before this front office must aggressively build around Trevor Lawrence with a competent roster.
30. Houston Texans (LW: 29)
The Houston Texans are the worst run team in the NFL and it’s not particularly close. Suspending Justin Reid for a simple disagreement with coaches, not trading Brandin Cooks because of a desire to “establish a culture” and the entire Deshaun Watson trade saga, it’s all a mess. The Texans are destined to be at the bottom of NFL power rankings for years to come.
29. New York Jets (LW: 31)
The New York Jets won on Sunday, beating one of the worst teams in the NFL. But it’s hard to feel good about the big picture after Week 12. Zach Wilson, who lit it up in the reason, has taken 23 sacks, thrown 10 interceptions and thrown just four touchdowns in seven games. Even to the casual observer, Wilson’s backups have looked better. It’s far too soon to call him a bust, but New York drafted the wrong quarterback again.
28. Chicago Bears (LW: 29)
Narrowly beating the worst team in the NFL isn’t exactly an accomplishment. But for a franchise without its 2022 first-round pick, every win is important for the Chicago Bears. The victory likely saved Matt Nagy for another week or so, but it’s only a matter of time until he is fired given what looms on the Bears schedule.
27. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 24)
Following Monday’s ugly loss to the Washington Football team, these Seahawks are off to their worst 11-game start since all the way back in 2008 when Mike Holmgren was calling the shots. Led by Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ offense gained all of five first downs in the first three quarters — ultimately falling to 3-8 on the season. This is now a bottom-five team in the NFL.
26. New Orleans Saints (LW: 22)
Why are the New Orleans Saints making Taysom Hill the highest-paid gadget player in NFL history? Trevor Siemian keeps demonstrating why he isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback, yet Payton hasn’t even entertained the thought of a quarterback switch. A smart team would have bailed on Hill, but Sean Payton keeps paying the 31-year-old ‘quarterback’ more money.
25. Carolina Panthers (LW: 20)
It was fine while it lasted for the Cam Newton redemption tour. The truth is, years of getting crushed by the Carolina Panthers offensive line put a short shelf life on Newton’s career. It’s an unfortunate irony that it’s now going to officially end with the same team, behind an even worse offensive line.
24. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 26)
Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the best stories from the 2021 NFL season. Largely used as a gadget player and return specialist for most of his career, he is the best weapon on the Atlanta Falcons offense. When he gets the football, this team makes plays. Look for him to be more of a receiver in Week 13 against the Bucs.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 19)
It’s time for this to end. The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t a good football team and the sooner ownership hits the reset button, the better off this team will be. Ben Roethlisberger needs to go, moves are necessary to get under the salary cap and everyone must realize this won’t be a one-year fix.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 18)
Games like this are going to make the Philadelphia Eagles offseason very interesting. Jalen Hurts goes through stretches where you see a quarterback an offense can be tailored to fit. Then he has three-interception games that highlight the glaring flaws. Fortunately, the Eagles have a few more games to evaluate him.
21. New York Giants (LW: 25)
Patrick Graham must be a head-coaching candidate this offseason. New York’s defense put the team on its back and carried it to victory, a theme we also saw against the Carolina Panthers (Week 7) and Las Vegas Raiders (Week 9). Fans of defensive football will enjoy the Giants vs. Dolphins clash in Week 13.
20. Miami Dolphins (LW: 21)
Just a few weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins sat No. 30 in our NFL power rankings. They’ve steadily moved up, knocking off one opponent after another to sustain a nice four-game winning streak. Realistically, looking at the schedule (vs. NYG, @ NYJ, @ NO), the Dolphins have a shot at 8-7 entering January.
19. Washington Football Team (LW: 23)
In what has been a disappointing season for Washington, a current three-game winning streak shockingly has this squad in playoff positioning at 5-6. That comes via a hard-fought Week 12 win over the lowly Seattle Seahawks. While we’re not 100% sold on this team, turning things around mid-stream says a lot about Ron Rivera and Co.
18. Denver Broncos (LW: 27)
Another win created by the Denver Broncos defense. Credit to Vic Fangio, squarely on the hot seat for weeks, turning what he does best into a winning record. Denver’s quarterback situation is still awful, but this team might be good enough to sneak into the wild card.
17. Cleveland Browns (LW: 14)
The Sunday Night Football loss to the Ravens must lead to changes. Cleveland generated four takeaways, but its offense managed just 10 total points in the entire game. We’re not convinced Baker Mayfield deserves a lucrative contract extension, but this loss falls on Cleveland abandoning its rushing attack and its barren receiving corps.
16. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 12)
Different cities, different coaches, different rosters and different quarterbacks. The Los Angeles Chargers try to change everything and they keep getting the same result, maddening inconsistency. If this trend continues, the NFL world will buzz about Justin Herbert when he beats the Bengals in Week 13.
15. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 11)
We’ll start with the good. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Minnesota is the only team in the NFL to lead by a touchdown in every game this season. But between the Dalvin Cook injury and Kirk Cousins lining up behind his right guard, the Vikings just can’t reach their full potential.
14. Tennessee Titans (LW: 13)
Anyone who isn’t a die-hard fan of the Tennessee Titans is better off not watching this team. With Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on injured reserve, there’s nothing this unit can do offensively. Meanwhile, in part due to injuries, the defense is regressing. The Jaguars might have a chance in Week 14 against Tennessee.
13. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 7)
Matthew Stafford is throwing almost as many touchdowns to defenders as his teammates. A 5-5 TD-INT ratio and a 61.42 completion rate during this three-game losing skid are troubling. Just as worrisome, this defense has liabilities everywhere outside of Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald. The steep descent down the NFL power rankings is deserved and beating the Jaguars next week won’t change anything.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 17)
The Las Vegas Raiders needed that one. Coming off three consecutive losses, there were plenty of reasons to believe Las Vegas couldn’t come through on a short week. But DeSean Jackson, Josh Jacobs and Daniel Carlson all earned turkey legs with big plays in crucial moments. A nice bump up the NFL power rankings for Las Vegas and it can slide up more with a Week 13 victory over Washington.
11. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 16)
Here come the 49ers. From 2-4 to 6-5, a team that seemed to be headed for disappointment is starting to live up to preseason expectations. It’s largely a credit to the rushing attack, which has eclipsed 140-plus yards in four of the last five games. San Francisco should have no trouble with Seattle in Week 13. But the real evaluation comes in Week 14 against Cincinnati.
10. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 9)
Leading 24-14 at halftime, the Indianapolis Colts were 30 minutes away from a statement victory against the Buccaneers. Then, Carson Wentz happened. He turned it over three times, twice on consecutive drives and then a game-ending interception. The Colts can win the AFC South, but they aren’t a Super Bowl contender with Wentz under center.
9. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 8)
The Baltimore Ravens (8-3) simply aren’t as good as their record. While they just beat the Browns, that’s more of a reflection on Cleveland. This is the same roster that lost by 12 to Miami a few weeks ago. Sitting atop the AFC in the NFL standings is nice, but a harsh reality check is coming for Baltimore.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 15)
It’s evident by the ebbs and flows that the Cincinnati Bengals are a young football team, learning along the way. But they displayed utter dominance over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, inflicting the same kind of punishment Baltimore experienced earlier this season. This version of the Bengals can move to 8-4 and should be favored over the Chargers.
7. Buffalo Bills (LW: 10)
We’re going to need to see a lot more from the Buffalo Bills to move them up further. It’s great that this offense came alive in the second half, but they essentially beat the ‘Aints. If Buffalo wants to establish itself once again as a Super bonafide Super Bowl contender and one of the best teams in the NFL, beat the Patriots on Monday Night Football.
6. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 6)
The only thing saving the Dallas Cowboys from sliding further down the Week 13 NFL power rankings is the pending returns of CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Dallas struggled offensively until the fourth quarter, largely because receivers couldn’t get open. Cooper and Lamb will help that, but three losses in November raise significant doubts about the Cowboys as a Super Bowl contender.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)
Andy Reid is 22-3 coming off a bye week, that’s troubling for the Denver Broncos. But the real measuring stick of where this team is at will be how Patrick Mahomes and the offense look following two weeks of practicing and figuring out some issues from the first half of the season. The AFC is wide open, now is Kansas City’s shot to prove itself.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 5)
Even on a Sunday when Tom Brady didn’t play like an MVP candidate and the defense gave up big plays, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled out a comeback road win against an excellent AFC opponent. Tampa Bay certainly isn’t playing its best football right now, but they will when the NFL playoffs arrive.
3. New England Patriots (LW: 4)
The New England Patriots handled their business on Sunday, easily putting down an inferior and more injury-depleted roster. With the longest active winning streak in the NFL, Bill Belichick and his elite defense can make a case for the No. 1 spot in NFL power rankings with a Week 13 win over the Bills on Monday Night Football.
2. Green Bay Packers (LW: 3)
The Green Bay Packers enter the bye week with a 9-3 record. On the surface, that meets the usual standard for an Aaron Rodgers-led team. But all of this is being accomplished without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, star pass rusher Za’Darius Smith and top-five cornerback Jaire Alexander. With all three returning before the playoffs, Green Bay is a dangerous Super Bowl contender.
1. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 1)
Kliff Kingsbury is the NFL Coach of the Year, there is no race for the award. A 2-1 record without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins is incredible. The Arizona Cardinals control their destiny coming out of bye week and are getting healthy. With a great defense and Murray expected back in Week 13, Arizona deserves to be called the best team in the NFL
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Author: Matt Johnson