COVID-19 has devastated the league this week, but football pushes on. The Def Pen Sports team has analyzed the Week 15 games and made the needed adjustments for Week 16 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 16
1. Green Bay Packers 11-3 (-)
The Packers deserve to be the highest-ranked team in the NFC but that says more about the conference than it does about them as a team. The Packers’ defense imploded in the 4th quarter and were bailed out by a poor decision by Tyler Huntley on the last play of the game. They are the cream of the NFC crop but can lose to anyone on any given Sunday.
2. Kansas City Cheifs 10-4 (+2)
Suddenly the Kansas City Cheifs and Patrick Mahomes look like the best team in the AFC this year. Those four losses look like a distant thing of the past and the team looks like they are ready to win another Super Bowl.
3. Dallas Cowboys 10-4 (+4)
Dallas continues to be one of the more infuriating watches on a week-to-week basis. The offense has yet to click and it’s time we accept them for what they are. Ezekiel Elliott is probably washed and the play calling is not creating easy throws for Dak Prescott. Speaking of Dak, he is usually good at fitting throws into tight windows but his passes have been off all year. Is he hurt? Is it the playcalling? Whatever it is, something needs to change for the better.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4 (-1)
They have a built-in excuse after losing both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to injury. They get Antonio Brown back after his multiweek absence but he will need to be the AB of old if this offense hopes to get back on track.
5. Los Angeles Rams 10-4 (+5)
Matthew Stafford is improving. He isn’t as consistent as we’d like to see but he hasn’t made the type of mistakes he made earlier in the season. The defense continues to be a problem but they have a case for being the best all-around team in the conference.
6. Arizona Cardinals 10-4 (-4)
That game represented everything we thought could go wrong for the Cardinals. Kliff Kingsbury made some questionable coaching decisions. With Hopkins out, the other receivers were unable to step up and create separation. If Hopkins isn’t back in time for the playoffs, it might be one and done for the Cardinals.
7. New England Patriots 9-5 (-2)
The Colts ran all over the Patriots on Saturday Night Football. As good as New England has looked late in the season they face a major late-season obstacle. Rookie quarterbacks do not typically make it far in the playoffs.
8. Tennessee Titans 9-5 (-2)
This team is struggling without Derrick Henery in the backfield to serve as their primary offensive weapon. They have the two wins over the Colts so that helps them, but this team may finish with 10 wins at best. This team is a 2021 NFL Power Rankings enigma.
9. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6 (-1)
The Chargers were just one score away from making the AFC West very interesting but fell short against the red hot Kansas City Cheifs. This team could make a run in the playoffs if they play up to their potential.
10. Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 (+4)
All of a sudden the Bengals look like they have control of the AFC North. The matchup against Baltimore this week could decide things for the division. Much like the Chargers, the right version of this team will need to show up.
11. Buffalo Bills 8-6 (+1)
This team got a much-needed win against a helpless Panthers unit on Sunday. Buffalo went from controlling the AFC East to fighting for their playoff lives. This team is so up and down we hardly know what to say about them week-to-week.
12. Indianapolis Colts 8-6 (+1)
The Colts look like a playoff team and Jonathan Taylor looks like a serious MVP candidate. Will those things happen? The first one is probable while the second is unlikely at best. That being said this team could make the second round.
13. San Francisco 49ers 8-6 (+4)
The likelihood of fans being forced to watch this terrible team in the playoffs increases by the week. Death, Taxes, and the 49ers being the one pm game on Wildcard Saturday.
14. Baltimore Ravens 8-6 (-5)
Whatever primordial force this team angered is not done with them it seems. They lead the league in players on injured reserve, but still, continue to show amazing fight and determination on the field. Once again, with Lamar Jackson on the field, they stand a chance in any game.
15. Cleveland Browns 7-7 (-4)
This team has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but they refuse to win games they should easily walk away with. A change will need to be made at either quarterback or coaching heading into next season.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-1 (-)
Ben Roethlisberger showed shades of his old self on Sunday and squeezed out a win to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. The real story of the game is how the defense managed to step up time and time again to win the game.
17. Denver Broncos 7-7 (-2)
This team probably needs to start planning which quarterbacks they want to target in the offseason. They do not currently have one good enough to help them win important games this season.
18. Las Vegas Raiders 7-7 (+1)
Despite winning a game we don’t see this team going anywhere this season. They have had to deal with too much drama off of the field and it has clearly caught up to them. Winning some games here and there won’t change that.
19. Philadelphia Eagles 7-7 (+1)
That was about as ugly a win as you can get. Hurts and the team looked awful early on. They are poorly coached and lead the league in back-breaking penalties. Their upcoming schedule is cupcake soft and the playoffs are a real possibility.
20. Washington Football Team 6-8 (-2)
Gilbert played as well as you can expect for a player making a start after being at home the week prior. Ultimately, he didn’t have a firm enough grasp on the playbook to give the team a real chance at winning.
21. Miami Dolphins 7-7 (-)
The Dolphins have clawed and fought back to a .500 record on the season. Is it too late for them to make the playoffs? It probably is, but they still have a chance to sneak in at 7-7. This team is hard to place for the 2021 NFL Power Rankings.
22. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 (-)
The week-to-week script is wholly predictable. They’ll hit a huge play early on and get an early lead. They’ll commit a head-scratching turnover in the 2nd quarter and spend the second half trying to hang on for dear life.
23. New Orleans Saints 7-7 (+1)
This team is a quarterback and several weapons away. The defense is legit. With the right moves, the Saints could compete for a division crown next season.
24. Atlanta Falcons 6-8 (-1)
Matt Ryan will probably be a stop-gap quarterback for a team next year but his years as a surefire starter are over. The Falcons continue to fall in the 2021 NFL Power Rankings.
25. Seattle Seahawks 5-9 (-)
With no first-round pick due to the Jamal Adams trade, the best thing for the future is to trade Russell Wilson and refill their war chest.
26. Carolina Panthers 5-9 (-)
Cam Newton had a great career but it’s time. Rather than go out on his shield he should sit out and avoid finishing his career with an injury.
27. New York Giants 4-10 (-)
The Giants currently own the 5th and 6th picks in the draft. Because the Texans and Jets have a much weaker strength of schedule, they will need to lose the rest of the way simply to maintain their current position.
28. Chicago Bears 4-10 (-)
Matt Nagy is a goner. The Bears should probably put him out of his misery before he and his staff do further damage to Justin Fields.
29. Houston Texans 3-11 (+1)
Beating the Jaguars does not let this team off the hook. Ownership needs to sell the team.
30. New York Jets 3-11 (-1)
Does this team even have a bright future? They have good young players, but beyond that, we don’t know.
31. Detroit Lions 2-11-1 (-)
That was the best Jared Goff has looked all season. He is likely playing for his next job and will need to finish strong if he has any hopes of being a starter next year for someone. Dan Campbell may not be the best coach but deserves all the credit in the world for getting his team to play hard despite the season being lost.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12 (-)
This team is bad and the bottom of the 2021 NFL Power Rankings for a reason.
* The biggest movers of the week were the Los Angeles Rams (+5) and the Baltimore Ravens (-5) *