The 2021 season is here, and it’s time to look at who are the best NFL teams heading into the year. In our NFL Power Rankings series, each week, we’ll rank the teams 1-32 and give a few bets to make based on how the league’s rankings are changing.
NFL Week 1 power rankings — and betting tips based on those football games during the first weekend — are always difficult to peg, but plenty of significant events have happened in the preseason to clue us into what teams we should be moving up — and which are already on their way down.
So without further ado, here are our NFL Week 1 Power Rankings. First, we have the table of NFL power rankings of teams ranked 1-32, followed by Rising and Falling teams.
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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1
|Rk||Team||Why They're Ranked Here For Week 1|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||They won the Super Bowl last year retained all 22 starters while also improving their depth. Might be even better in 2021.|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||Reid and Mahomes were one Dee Ford offsides penalty away from being in the Super Bowl in three straight seasons.|
|3||Green Bay Packers||Rodgers is back and it's the Last Dance in Green Bay. Easily the second-best team in the NFC.|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Allen is going into Year 4 with even more playmakers and an improved defense. Scary AFC contender this year.|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||Baltimore has gone 30-7 with Jackson as the starting QB. One of the most consistent teams in the league.|
|6||Los Angeles Rams||McVay has never won fewer than nine games with the Rams and that was with Jared Goff. Matthew Stafford should be a big upgrade.|
|7||Cleveland Browns||The Browns were a few plays away from knocking off the Chiefs last year. Is the defense good enough for this team to make a leap?|
|8||Seattle Seahawks||Carroll and Wilson is one of the best HC-QB combos in the NFL. They won 12 games and the NFC West last season.|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers||Roethlisberger is back for one more run and the defense should be among the best in the NFL.|
|10||New England Patriots||The Patriots might have the best offensive line and defense in the league. But is Mac Jones ready to lead this team to the playoffs?|
|11||San Francisco 49ers||This is one of the deepest rosters in the league, but does the QB situation hang over the team all year long?|
|12||Dallas Cowboys||Prescott is healthy, but can he stay healthy? If so, this team is good enough on offense to be ranked much higher.|
|13||Tennessee Titans||The Brown-Jones combo should be elite, but can the defense even be average? If so, they should win the AFC South with ease.|
|14||Los Angeles Chargers||Herbert is coming off a strong rookie season and the offensive line looks improved. But what should we expect from first-year coach Brandon Staley?|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Injuries to Wentz, Hilton and Nelson make this team a lot less exciting. But Reich is among the best coaches in the NFL.|
|16||Washington Football Team||Washington won the division last year and got better this offseason. But the QB position is still unsettling.|
|17||New Orleans Saints||The Saints will likely play the first month of the season away from New Orleans make it hard to be too excited about this team.|
|18||Miami Dolphins||Do the Dolphins actually believe Tua Tagovailoa can be an elite quarterback? If yes, this team could really surprise in '21.|
|19||Minnesota Vikings||The defense was uncharastically bad in 2020, but looks to be improved in '21. Can the offense keep up their efficiency?|
|20||Chicago Bears||Andy Dalton is QB1, but for how long? The Bears lack excitement until Justin Fields is the starter.|
|21||Arizona Cardinals||The offense should be good. But the defense? That remains the biggest question for ARZ in a tough division.|
|22||Las Vegas Raiders||A brand new offensive line and a new defensive coordinator could spell early-season problems for Las Vegas.|
|23||Denver Broncos||Bridgewater has been named the starter, but this is still one of the worst QB rooms. Defense should keep this team competitive.|
|24||Carolina Panthers||Is Sam Darnold an upgade over Teddy Bridgewater? The Panthers certainly hope so.|
|25||Atlanta Falcons||No Julio Jones hurts, but Kyle Pitts is a future superstar. Still, this team feels like a 6-7 win team in the NFC South.|
|26||New York Giants||The defense is good, but Daniel Jones is not. The Giants could really struggle again on offense this season.|
|27||Cincinnati Bengals||Will the Benglas be able to protect Joe Burrow? If the answer is yes, this team could surprise.|
|28||Philadelphia Eagles||Hurts is the starter, but this offense still projects to be among the worst in the NFL.|
|29||New York Jets||Zach Wilson should be fun, but the loss of Carl Lawson is going to be a tough one to overcome.|
|30||Detroit Lions||Detroit might have the worst wide receiver corps of any team over the last decade and a shaky QB situation.|
|31||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jacksonville has Trevor Lawrence, but not much else. Meyer is going to need some time to rebuild the Jaguars.|
|32||Houston Texans||Houston was 4-12 with Deshaun Watson last year. Without him? Maybe winless.|
2021 NFL Week 1 Team Rankings: Rising & Falling
RISING: New England Patriots
The Patriots made the right call going with rookie Mac Jones at quarterback. The offense just flows better with him under center compared to Cam Newton.
Everything is set up well for the young quarterback to thrive out of the gate. New England has one of the best offensive lines in football and a defense that should finish inside of the top five in points per game allowed.
The rushing attack looked incredible in the preseason with Damien Harris and James White making a potent 1-2 duo, and rookie phenom Rhamondre Stevenson looking like the next LeGarrette Blount.
As long as Jones isn’t a hindrance to this offense, the Patriots might be good enough on both sides of the ball to challenge the Bills for the AFC East title.
But the better bet here is to take the Patriots to make the playoffs (+143) and go heading into the regular season.
RISING: Pittsburgh Steelers
After going 11-0 last season, the Steelers lost five of their final six games, including a Wild Card playoff loss to the Browns. However, Pittsburgh made enough of the right moves this offseason to make one more run under Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers should have an elite defense once again, bringing in players like Melvin Ingram and Joe Schobert to help strengthen the depth on defense. The offensive line is still an issue, but Pittsburgh hopes new offensive coordinator Matt Canada can help disguise it some with more play-action and pre-snap motion.
The Steelers have never had a losing season under Mike Tomlin, and that shouldn’t happen this year either.
Don’t expect the Steelers to finish with 12 wins like we saw last year, but consider them still a dark-horse Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
Take the Steelers Over 8.5 Wins (+115) with confidence and bet on them to to find more NFL futures bets on the Pittsburgh Steelers and all other teams.)
FALLING: New Orleans Saints
A lot has gone wrong for the Saints this season. The team lost Drew Brees to retirement and All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas delayed a foot surgery that is going to cost him at least six games this season.
They’ve also suffered other key injuries this offseason, which is a big blow for a team that already lacked depth due to salary cap limitations.
On top of all the roster problems, the Saints will now be forced to play away from home for the foreseeable future due to Hurricane Ida. It was already going to be a tough season for the Saints, but this certainly didn’t help.
Their current win total sits at 9 on DraftKings Sportsbook, and that appears to be an easy bet for Under 9 Wins (-120).
FALLING: Chicago Bears
For whatever reason, Matt Nagy seems dead-set on starting Andy Dalton at quarterback this season. But from everything we’ve seen from the preseason, that appears to be a mistake.
Rookie quarterback Justin Fields looks like the better player, and Dalton struggled to move the offense at all in tune-up work.
— The Game Day NFL (@TheGameDayNFL) August 29, 2021
The Bears also have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and it’s not hard to “sell" this team going into the season. Their Week 1 game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football will certainly tell us a lot about Chicago, especially on offense.
Betting the Bears to go , but the best bet is for them to Miss the playoffs (-280). This team just isn’t anywhere close to good enough in the NFC to win 9-10 games this season, and any betting tips telling you otherwise are off the mark.