Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season saw teams avoid 0-4 starts in a shocking fashion. The Def Pen Sports team has analyzed the week 4 games and made the needed adjustments for week 5 of the 2021 NFL Power Rankings. The contributors to this week’s rankings are Dylan Hargis and Xavier Santos. Team names will be followed by their record and the number of spots they moved up or down from last week’s rankings.
2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5
1. Arizona Cardinals 4-0 (+3)
Is Arizona the best team in the league? Time will tell but at this point, the resume speaks for itself. They were able to dominate the team we had at number one last week. Their offense has been described as backyard football and it summarizes what Kyler Murray and company do to a tee. They don’t fool defenses with a variety of formations and personnel groupings. The Cardinals line up and trust that even if you play the perfect defense on a particular snap, Kyler is great enough to overcome it. So far, that has been true. They have an asterisk next to them as the number one team but it’s hard to put anyone above them.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1 (-)
The combination of rain and a terrific defensive game plan kept Tom Brady and the rest of the offense at bay. Ultimately, this team will be fine and it is only a matter of time until they reclaim the top spot. The secondary continues to be an issue and will be worth monitoring as the season progresses.
3. Los Angeles Chargers 3-1 (+4)
For the moment the Chargers look like the best team in the AFC after back-to-back weeks beating tough divisional matchups. Justin Herbert is proving his rookie season wasn’t just a fluke and the defense came to play this season. If Austin Ekeler can stay healthy this team will stay in the top 5 of the 2021 NFL Power Rankings.
4. Los Angeles Rams 3-1 (-3)
Matthew Stafford played his worst game as a Ram on Sunday. He left a ton of chunk plays on the field due to poor throws and timing issues with his receivers. The Rams offense will be just fine but we were reminded how top-heavy their defense is. An injury to Jalen Ramsay or Aaron Donald could be disastrous.
5. Buffalo Bills 3-1 (+1)
The Buffalo Bills must have thought the NFL season began in week 2 because this juggernaut team looks nothing like the team that opened up the season against Pittsburgh. Josh Allen has shredded defenses the past two weeks and the Bills’ defense has been stopping everything. The Bills might be the best AFC team on the 2021 NFL Power Rankings.
6. Dallas Cowboys 3-1 (+4)
The only thing holding this team back is its head coach. Kellen Moore has the offense humming while Dan Quinn has transformed a defense short on talent. This team is for real and should win the NFC East with ease.
7. Las Vegas Raiders 3-1 (-4)
The Raiders first-half woes finally caught up to them on Monday Night Football. Derek Carr tried to play late-game heroics and threw a pick that sealed the deal. Las Vegas is still a major threat in the AFC, but they couldn’t stop the red-hot Chargers. This team goes as far as Carr is capable of carrying them.
8. Cleveland Browns 3-1 (-)
The Browns got a sloppy-looking win over the Vikings in Week 4. Offensively they looked mediocre at best, but the defense did more than enough to win the game. When other teams slow the Browns run game down this team is in serious trouble. A Super Bowl run is doubtful for this team this year.
9. Green Bay Packers 3-1 (+2)
With each passing week, it appears that Week 1 was more of an anomaly versus a sign of things to come. This team is not without its flaws, mainly the defense and weapons outside of Davante Adams, but it is closer to a playoff contender than week 1 led us to believe.
10. Carolina Panthers 3-1 (-5)
The defense faced its toughest test of the season and failed. It’s possible Sunday said more about how great the Cowboy offense is but it’s hard to ignore the ease with which Dak Prescott and company moved the ball. Offensively, it was a tale of two halves. Sam Darnold looked like Randall Cunningham reincarnate early in the game before looking like the Sam Darnold of old in the second half. Matt Rhule has this team on the right path but they may not be ready for primetime just yet.
11. Baltimore Ravens 3-1 (+3)
The Ravens looked more like their old selves in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. Lamar Jackson isn’t the only player on the team with a top-level of speed. This offense and defense are built to move with or to the ball very quickly. Health will be the biggest factor for the Ravens this year.
12. Cincinnati Bengals 3-1 (+4)
Are the Cincinnati Bengals serious contenders for the AFC North crown? No, probably not, but they look considerably better than expected this season. Joe Burrow has amazing chemistry with Ja’Marr Chase and the defense has been a top unit so far this year. The offensive line still looks bad and that isn’t going to help them win more games.
13. Denver Broncos 3-1 (-)
It sure seems like the Denver Broncos are who we thought they were and that is an average-at-best team. They will feast on the lower half of the league and struggle against top teams like the Baltimore Ravens. The AFC West is a top conference this year and that may keep Denver out of the playoffs this year.
14. Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 (+3)
The Kansas City Chiefs have given up a lot of yards and points so far this season. As long as they have Patrick Mahomes on the field it probably isn’t going to matter. Don’t get confused when it comes to this team. They are still very much a Super Bowl contender moving forward.
15. Tennessee Titans 2-2 (-6)
The Titans looked like a team that didn’t have their top two wide receivers this week. Still losing to a team as bad as the New York Jets is inexcusable. The offense and the defense looked bad this week and some serious adjustments need to be made moving forward. Ryan Tannehill and the offensive line need to get on the same page this week.
16. Seattle Seahawks 2-2 (+2)
We can pretty much copy and paste last week’s blurb for the 2021 NFL Power Rankings here and it would ring true. The team is inconsistent and most of their games have more twists and turns than a James Patterson novel. The defense is the team’s Achilles heel and until they get that side of the ball figured out this team will be a fringe playoff contender at best.
17. San Francisco 49ers 2-2 (-5)
The defense looked impregnable for most of the first half. The second half, however, was a different story. The secondary was once again a problem and may force Kyle Shanahan to embrace the Trey Lance era. He assumed Jimmy Graoppolo would be able to carry a dominant defense to a playoff berth. If the lack of depth at cornerback prevents the defense from being an elite unit, they may have to shift their focus to developing their young quarterback.
18. New Orleans Saints 2-2 (-3)
The offense is a mess. The coaching staff doesn’t trust Jameis Winston. Jameis Winston has done much to earn their confidence but until they take off the training wheels the offense will continue to struggle. Michael Thomas cant come back soon enough. They desperately need a playmaker on the perimeter that can excel in the short to the intermediate areas.
19. Chicago Bears 2-2 (+2)
The Bears did a better job of creating a game plan for Justin Fields this week. They created downfield opportunities and he was able to execute. That being said, Matt Nagy once again came out and said Dalton is their starter when healthy. It’s a travesty and ownership needs to step in and make the decision for him. Nagy is a lame-duck coach and he will set this franchise back to try and save his job.
20. New England Patriots 1-3 (-1)
Mac Jones was overlooked this week because of Tom Brady’s return to the team he turned into a dynasty. The rookie quarterback stayed composed and put his team in a position to win the game. It is a real shame we didn’t get to see him try and pick up that 4th down. This team might be 1-3, but late in the season, they could win some important games.
21. Washington Football Team 2-2 (+2)
Heinicke played with heart but it’s hard to get over how fraudulent the defense has been so far this season. On paper, the defense should be better. A change at the defensive coordinator position might be in the cards if things don’t get turned around in the Nation’s capital.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-3 (-2)
It is time for the Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to hang up his cleats. He just doesn’t seem capable of helping his team win anymore and the awful offensive line could get him seriously hurt this season. The season isn’t a lost cause yet, but for the sake of their NFL Draft position, maybe it should be.
23. Minnesota Vikings 1-3 (+1)
They are what we thought they were. Kirk Cousins isn’t good enough to justify his cap number. Minnesota would be best served by moving on from Cousins and using the 30 million in cap savings to replenish the depth they had to sacrifice after signing him.
24. Philadelphia Eagles 1-3 (-2)
The offense took a step forward against a bad Kansas City defense but the team was outgunned and outmanned. Devonta Smith had a breakout game and he should be special in the years to come. He is one of the few bright spots on a team that desperately needs an infusion of young talent.
25. Indianapolis Colts 1-3 (+1)
The Colts avoided going 0-4 to start the season which gives them the smallest bit of hope moving forward. The Jaguars are 0-4, the Texans are 1-3, and the Titans are 2-2. This division is still very much open for the 1-3 Colts. We need to see more before we make any predictions on their chances.
26. Miami Dolphins 1-3 (-1)
The Dolphins just don’t look like a team that can win football games right now. Tua Tagovailoa will help some when he returns from injury, but even then things look bleak. This team needs more talented players on the roster and the NFL Draft is the best place for that. Miami continues to fall in the 2021 NFL Power Rankings.
27. Atlanta Falcons 1-3 (+2)
For a split second, Atlanta fans felt hope. They had a lead against the Washington Football Team and were undoubtedly looking forward to games against the Jets and Dolphins in the coming weeks. They had talked themselves into a 4-2 record and a chance at a decent outcome to the season. That hope quickly turned to disdain as the defense gave away the lead and any chance at a playoff run.
28. New York Giants 1-3 (+2)
Is Daniel Jones good? Without question, he has played better than he has in years prior but would you feel comfortable signing him to a huge extension? That is the question ownership will have to answer at the season’s end. They were fortunate to pull out an overtime victory against the Saints but don’t expect to see this team playing in the postseason anytime soon.
29. New York Jets 1-3 (+2)
Zach Wilson got his first career win and finally showed us some of that BYU skill that got him drafted second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets are not built to win many games but did take advantage of an injured Titans offense. A missed field goal prevented a tie for the Jets this week.
30. Houston Texans 1-3 (-3)
This is the Texans team many expected to see this season. A Week 1 win against a terrible Jaguars team combined with some close games had some fooled. The Bills’ defense and offense ripped this team apart.
31. Detriot Lions 0-4 (-3)
This team is two years away from being two years away. They have their Left Tackle of the future but have a question mark at every other position. Dan Campbell has the team playing hard but few coaches asked to lead a rebuild ever get to see the other side of it.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-4 (-)
This team showed some life on Thursday Night Football despite D.J. Chark getting hurt early in the game. Urban Meyer doesn’t look like an NFL-caliber coach and seems more interested in non-football “activities” that Florida has to offer. That and a bad roster have doomed Trevor Lawrence to losing more football games.
*The biggest movers of this week were the Los Angeles Chargers (+4), Dallas Cowboys (+4), Cincinnati Bengals (+4), and Tennessee Titans (-6)*