February 16, 2021

Lines' Way-Too-Early 2021 NFL Power Rankings

Are you ready for the NFL offseason? 

Before we hit what could be the craziest offseason in NFL history, let's take a look at Lines' way-too-early power rankings for the 2021 season. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs got destroyed in the Super Bowl, sure, but they still have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

Kansas City has plenty of holes to fill — especially on the offensive line and at pass rusher — but they're in a great spot to get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight season. 

2. Buffalo Bills

Can Josh Allen take his game to another level? He'll need to if the Bills want to overtake the Chiefs as the premier team in the NFL.

The Bills also could be big-time players for J.J. Watt, who was released by the Texans

Buffalo should continue to be aggressive in upgrading the roster before they have to pay Allen a mega-contract. 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The defending Super Bowl champions will get Tom Brady and Co. back for another run at a championship. But who will be part of the Co.? The Buccaneers have some big free agents to re-sign, including Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown.

Either way, the Bucs have to be considered the favorites in the NFC as we head into the offseason. 

4. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams didn't wait until the offseason to make perhaps the biggest move of the year by trading Jared Goff, two first-rounders and more for Matthew Stafford.

That deal could elevate the Rams to Super Bowl contender in 2021 if the defense doesn't take a huge step back with the loss of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. 

5. Green Bay Packers

Despite the drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are positioned to make another playoff run as long as the reigning MVP stays motivated.

Who knows what the Packers front office will do to piss him off this offseason. 

6. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. Baltimore will look to bring in a top-flight receiver and another tight end to complement Mark Andrews.

The Ravens will need to add some pass rushers at some point as well. 

7. Cleveland Browns

The Browns need to get better and more athletic at linebacker and in the secondary, but Kevin Stefanski's first year in Cleveland was a smashing success.

Will the Browns bring back Odell Beckham for another season? 

8. San Francisco 49ers

This is a pivotal offseason in San Francisco. The 49ers have a plethora of free agents and are lacking valuable cap space.

They also have a big Jimmy Garoppolo decision. Will they run it back for another year with Jimmy G or will Kyle Shanahan and the Niners make a big move for Deshaun Watson or Sam Darnold or a rookie in the draft? 

9. Seattle Seahawks

Could this be Russell Wilson's final season in Seattle? There have been rumors that the eight-time Pro Bowler wants out, but it doesn't make sense financially just yet.

Of course, a playoff run — and more protection from the offensive line — could change his mind in new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's new offense. 

10. Tennessee Titans

While the Titans have a ton of talent on the offensive side, they have plenty of holes to fill. They must get better on defense — especially at pass rusher and in the secondary.

Plus, they have to replace offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who helped transform Tennessee's offense into one of the best in the league. 

11. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are in limbo. They are nearly $70 million over the projected cap and are most likely losing Drew Brees to retirement.

If New Orleans fails to find his replacement in the draft then it could be all on Taysom Hill's shoulders, unless the franchise brings back Jameis Winston.

The Saints went all-in to get Brees a championship and they'll probably have to pay the price this offseason. 

12. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have an improving roster, four picks in the first two rounds and more than $26 million in cap space, so the future is bright in South Beach.

The biggest issue for the 'Fins is whether Tua Tagovailoa can reach his potential. If he does, then the Dolphins will give the Bills a run in the AFC East.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL if they can put it all together. That'll be new coach Brandon Staley's job in his first year with the Bolts.

Luckily for him, he'll have some fun toys to play with on defense, including the return of Derwin James.

If NFL Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert can continue his ascent, then the AFC West should be a lot more entertaining in 2021. 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Other than Bears coach Matt Nagy, there might not be a coach on a hotter seat heading into the offseason than Kliff Kingsbury. The offensive mastermind has yet to unlock Kyler Murray and the Cardinals' passing game.

A year after acquiring DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals could get aggressive again this offseason with some front office jobs on the line. 

15. Dallas Cowboys

This is assuming that Dak Prescott will be back under center for the Cowboys in 2021. Whether that's with a new massive contract or a franchise tag will determine Prescott's future in Big D.

The Cowboys will need to upgrade their offensive line and defense, but the NFC East is very winnable as long as Prescott is healthy. 

16. Pittsburgh Steelers

More than $30 million over the projected cap, the Steelers will have to make some cost-cutting moves that could hurt their championship window.

Their biggest decision will be what to do with Ben Roethlisberger, who struggled at the end of the season. Pittsburgh could run it back for another year or start the rebuild. 

17. Washington Football Team

As great as it was to see Ron Rivera's Washington Football Team make the playoffs, it did impact their draft position, which is vital when you need to find a quarterback.

With the 19th pick, Washington might miss out on the top five passers in the draft. Could they trade for a QB like Sam Darnold or Marcus Mariota? It'd make a lot of sense. 

18. Indianapolis Colts

With Philip Rivers retiring, the Colts are still trying to find their Andrew Luck replacement. They probably won't be able to find a franchise passer with the 21st pick, so it's no surprise that they're thick in the Carson Wentz trade rumors.

If the Colts feel like they can fix him, Wentz could be worth the reported two second-rounders they offered. 

19. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings struck gold by landing Justin Jefferson in the first round of the NFL draft last year, but they'll need a lot more of that to fix this roster.

Minnesota's defense has plenty of holes, but the Vikes do have six picks in the first four rounds of the upcoming draft. 

20. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders need to free more than $18 million in cap space while fixing their awful defense. It's a huge offseason for Mike Mayock because, even if Jon Gruden is really running the team, the general manager will be the scapegoat.

One interesting storyline in Las Vegas: Which quarterback will the Raiders trade? There's reported interest in both David Carr and Marcus Mariota. 

21. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars might not currently have the 21st best roster in the league, but this is assuming they select Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick.

Jacksonville also has the most cap space in the NFL at $77.5 million, so this ranking might not seem so crazy in a few months. 

22. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers don't have a lot of cap space ($12.2 million), but Carolina could be one of the most aggressive teams this offseason. Carolina appears ready to move on from Teddy Bridgewater, so will the Panthers make a huge move in the draft or go all-in for Deshaun Watson? 

23. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons cleaned house in the offseason, but new head coach Arthur Smith might be forced to wait a year before starting fresh. That's because aging stars Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have massive dead cap hits.

Atlanta will have a fascinating decision at No. 4. Will they draft Ryan's replacement or build up other spots on the roster? 

24. New York Giants

The Giants will welcome back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL early in the 2020 campaign, but New York desperately needs more playmakers on offense. They could use them on defense, too.

James Bradberry was arguably the best free-agent signing last year, will general manager Dave Gettleman find more success on the market this offseason? 

25. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are nearly $50 million over the projected $180.5 million salary cap, so expect some big changes on Philadelphia's roster for 2021.

Trading Carson Wentz will help — especially if they are able to get any kind of asset for the quarterback. 

26. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals will (hopefully) do whatever it takes to fix their terrible offensive line so they can protect their prized possession, Joe Burrow, who is still recovering from a devastating leg injury.

27. New York Jets

If Robert Saleh is as advertised — and New York figures out their QB situation — then the Jets could make a big leap in Year One under the new defensive head coach. Saleh should immediately make the defense A LOT better.

The Jets could also be big players on the free-agent market with more than $68 million in cap space, the third-most in the NFL. 

28. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have a ton of talent on the offensive side, but their hole at quarterback holds them back. If they're able to solve their quarterback quandary, they could reach their potential on offense and potentially make a play for a playoff spot.

29. Chicago Bears

Like the Broncos, the Bears' offseason hinges on what they do at quarterback. Will they trade for Wentz or make a big move in the draft?

With the general manager and head coach on the hot seat, Chicago could be the most motivated team to trade up for a top-five rookie passer.

The Bears also have to figure out what to do with Allen Robinson. Will they tag-and-trade the All-Pro receiver? That's a lot of question marks in the Windy City. 

30. New England Patriots

The Patriots have arguably the worst offense in the NFL heading into free agency. New England should climb up this list as they spend their $62 million-plus in salary cap and find a replacement for Cam Newton (and Tom Brady).

Will Bill Belichick be a big player in free agency? We'll see.

31. Houston Texans

Without their first- and second-rounders and nearly no cap space to play with, the Texans don't have a lot of ways to get better after an incredibly disappointing 4-12 campaign.

If the Texans finally decide to trade Deshaun Watson then Houston could turn into the worst team in the NFL. But hey, at least they have Jack Easterby. 

32. Detroit Lions

After trading Stafford to the Rams, Detroit is fully in rebuild mode. It could be a loooong year in the Motor City unless Jared Goff somehow turns into a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. 

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Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration