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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL Power Rankings entering 2021 Wild Card Weekend

NFL Power Rankings entering 2021 Wild Card Weekend

The final 2020 NFL Power Rankings
Publish Date: 01/05/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

With Week 17 in the books, we can scroll through the final full NFL Power Rankings list for the 2020 season. In a year where a 7-9 team made the playoffs in the NFC and a 10-6 team missed out in the AFC, there are plenty of debatable moves in the latest power rankings. However, the Buffalo Bills undeniably cemented their place as the league’s best team last weekend, toppling the Miami Dolphins without several key starters.

1. Buffalo Bills (13-3)

Last week’s ranking: 1

The Bills sent Miami packing in Week 17 despite not playing Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes, or Tre’Davious White. Buffalo flexed its muscles in the 56-26 blowout, which continued even after Josh Allen took a seat at halftime. Considering their depth and high-scoring offense, the Bills are Kansas City’s largest obstacle to repeating as conference champions.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)

Last week’s ranking: 2

Patrick Mahomes took the day off as Kansas City lost their Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs don’t have to play in the Wild Card Round since they claimed the AFC’s top seed, but there’s plenty of work for Kansas City to do. The defense never put it together down the stretch, and Mahomes’ offense hasn’t looked crisp since the win against Tampa Bay.

3. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

Last week’s ranking: 5

Green Bay enters the playoffs a more well-rounded team than last year. Aaron Rodgers is arguably playing the best football of his career, and Davante Adams and Aaron Jones are both performing at high levels. Even Green Bay’s defense is raising its game. Fans should keep an eye on the loss of star left tackle David Bakhtiari and see if it alters Green Bay’s game plan in the Divisional Round.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 4

Tom Brady ripped through helpless teams in Tampa Bay’s final four games this season. However, all eyes are on Mike Evans after the star wide receiver went down in Week 17. The Buccaneers remain hopeful that Evans, Shaq Barrett, and Carlton Davis will play next week. The team won’t have Devin White because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.

5. New Orleans Saints (12-4)

Last week’s ranking: 3

Drew Brees threw three touchdowns in what might be his final regular season game of his career. New Orleans’ playoff hopes rely on the availability of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The organization remains hopeful that both studs will suit up for the Wild Card game against Chicago.

6. Tennessee Titans (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 7

Tennessee nearly lost to the Houston Texans in Week 17, but Ryan Tannehill hit a deep pass with seconds left that set up a game-winning field goal. Derrick Henry also became the eighth running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The Titans have a high-powered offense, assuming Tannehill is one his game, but Mike Vrabel’s defense is a shell of its 2019 self.

7. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

Last week’s ranking: 6

Seattle’s defense is finally headed in the right direction, led by Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner. However, the offense is slowing down. Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown for over 250 yards in a game since Week 13, and Chris Carson hasn’t run for over 70 yards since Week 4. Without a more explosive offense, the Seahawks won’t make it further than the Divisional Round.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Last week’s ranking: 9

The Steelers enter the playoffs for the first time since 2017. After narrowly losing to the Cleveland Browns by two points with Mason Rudolph at quarterback, Mike Tomlin’s team must feel confident about their pending rematch. If the Steelers want to make a run this year, Ben Roethlisberger needs to connect on his deep throws, and the defense must play immaculately.

9. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 10

Baltimore played four teams with losing records in its final five games. We’ll learn whether John Harbaugh’s team is for real when they face the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round. The Ravens have a fantastic running game led by Lamar Jackson and rookie J.K. Dobbins. Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram offer a nice change of pace. However, Baltimore’s defense deserves the spotlight next week, as it has to slow down Henry and Tannehill.

10. Cleveland Browns (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 13

For Cleveland, getting into the playoffs is a major accomplishment. It’s been almost two decades since the team’s last trip to the postseason. However, the Browns punched their ticket by beating the Mason Rudolph led Steelers by only two points. Cleveland gets a rematch against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card Round.

11. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Last week’s ranking: 11

Jonathan Taylor carried Indianapolis across the finish line, rushing for 253 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts put away Jacksonville. Indianapolis should feel confident in its running game and defensive front, but the passing attack and secondary raise some concerns.

12. Miami Dolphins (10-6)

Last week’s ranking: 8

Despite winning ten games, Miami missed the playoffs. Brian Flores’ team is a year away from competing for a Super Bowl anyway. Tua Tagovailoa couldn’t keep his cool against Buffalo, throwing three interceptions, and Miami’s celebrated defense came apart at the seams.

13. Los Angeles Rams (10-6)

Last week’s ranking: 12

In a battle of backup quarterbacks, John Wolford prevailed. With their final win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams clinched a spot in the playoffs. Los Angeles enters the postseason with the possibility of playing without Jared Goff. The Rams hope their defense and running game can carry the day against Seattle.

14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

Last week’s ranking: 15

At 7-9, the Vikings tied their worst record under head coach Mike Zimmer. While Minnesota overcame a slow start, consecutive losses in Weeks 14, 15, and 16 put the playoffs out of reach. Week 17 perfectly encapsulated Minnesota’s season. The Vikings scored 37 points with a high-powered offense but only won by two points because of defense issues.

15. Chicago Bears (8-8)

Last week’s ranking: 14

The Bears snuck their way into the playoffs despite losing to Green Bay in Week 17. Chicago quietly put together a slightly above-average defense this year led by Khalil Mack. However, all eyes are on the offense led by Mitchell Trubisky, David Montgomery, and Allen Robinson. Chicago needs at least 30 points to keep pace with the Saints this coming weekend.

16. Washington Football Team (7-9)

Last week’s ranking: 17

Even though Washington beat half of Philadelphia’s starters in Week 17 and clinched a playoff berth, Ron Rivera’s team is far from impressive. The defensive front, loaded with nearly half a dozen first-round selections, is Washington’s only hope of defeating Tampa Bay this coming weekend.

17. New England Patriots (7-9)

Last week’s ranking: 23

Predictably, New England plans on moving away from Cam Newton this offseason. While the former MVP was Bill Belichick’s best option at quarterback, he’s lost a lot of juice. The Patriots overachieved by winning seven games this year, but the team is closer to entering a full rebuild than retooling into a contender.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)

Last week’s ranking: 19

The Chargers parted ways with head coach Anthony Lynn following Sunday’s victory over Kansas City’s backups. Some wondered if Lynn saved his job by going 4-0 in Los Angeles’ last four matchups, but that wasn’t the case. With Keenan Allen and Justin Herbert on offense and Joey Bosa and Derwin James on defense, the Chargers have a strong foundation.

19. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

Last week’s ranking: 16

While Kliff Kingsbury’s team improved from last season, 2020 remains a disappointment for the Cardinals. Losses to San Francisco with C.J. Beathard and Los Angeles with John Wolford in the season’s final two weeks ended Arizona’s playoff hopes. Shortcomings against Carolina, Detroit, and New England also showed the Cardinals aren’t ready for the big stage.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)

Last week’s ranking: 20

After winning six of their first nine games, Jon Gruden’s Raiders collapsed. Las Vegas only won two of its final seven matchups, including a one-point victory in Week 17 against Denver. Defensively, the Raiders are one of the NFL’s worst teams. Expect that and the wide receiver position to receive significant attention this offseason.

21. New York Giants (6-10)

Last week’s ranking: 25

Joe Judge finished his first season in New York on a high note, defeating the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants put together an above-average defense this season, anchored by pending free agent Leonard Williams. However, injuries and inconsistent play on offense kept New York from reaching the playoffs.

22. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

Last week’s ranking: 18

With an opportunity to make the playoffs, the Cowboys fell flat on their faces. Dallas was all-in on winning a Super Bowl this year and failed in incredible fashion. Injuries to Dak Prescott and the offensive line hurt Dallas’ playoff hopes, but deficiencies on defense and in the backfield made the situation worse.

23. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)

Last week’s ranking: 22

Despite losing star defensive players like Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman for most of the season, San Francisco mustered a top-ten run and pass defense. The team’s real issues came on offense, where losing Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Raheem Mostert for most of the year led to a lackluster performance. The 49ers fought to the very end, only losing by three points to Seattle in Week 17.

24. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)

Last week’s ranking: 21

Tampa Bay steamrolled Atlanta in Week 17. Outside of a near win over the Chiefs, the Falcons didn’t author many impressive performances in 2020. Blowout wins over the Raiders and Vikings stand alone as the only significant victories, if they even qualify for that category. For now, the Falcons are a team without direction.

25. Denver Broncos (5-11)

Last week’s ranking: 29

Denver should evaluate its situation at quarterback and head coach this offseason. Although, the organization already took a turn for the better when John Elway stepped away from his role as general manager. Someone with a better vision for the future could turn Denver around in two years.

2021-01-04 20:25
Breaking: John Elway will no longer be the GM of the Broncos as he takes an elevated role with the team, a source tells @AdamSchefter. Elway will stay on as President of Football Operations. https://t.co/ISlFR48Niu
5917 154

26. Detroit Lions (5-11)

Last week’s ranking: 28

In possibly his final game with the Lions, Matthew Stafford came up two points short of beating the Vikings. Between Kenny Golladay missing 11 games and Adrian Peterson leading the team in rushing yards, Detroit has many issues offensively. However, the defensive situation is even worse.

27. Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Last week’s ranking: 24

Matt Rhule’s team showed a lot of promise in 2020. Young players contributed to key improvements on defense, and Robby Anderson fit in as an excellent free agent signing. With another group of draft picks and Christian McCaffrey at full strength, Carolina could make a run at a Wild Card spot next year. The Panthers’ quarterback situation is worth watching.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1)

Last week’s ranking: 26

Doug Pederson said well before Sunday’s game that he planned on playing Nate Sudfeld. He also noted that the Eagles would rest most of their notable players to avoid injuries that could carry into the offseason. Carson Wentz didn’t even dress. However, I don’t think anyone expected Pederson to pull Jalen Hurts when he did.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)

Last week’s ranking: 27

The Bengals already announced they plan on retaining head coach Zac Taylor despite his 6-25-1 record over the past two years. With Joe Burrow, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon, Cincinnati has a decent offensive foundation. However, the offensive line and entire defense need some serious attention.

30. Houston Texans (4-12)

Last week’s ranking: 30

Deshaun Watson fought hard until the final whistle, but he didn’t have a strong enough supporting cast to carry Houston across the finish line against Tennessee. Houston’s next coach has an MVP-level quarterback to work with and should immediately begin finding skill players.

31. New York Jets (2-14)

Last week’s ranking: 31

New York didn’t wait until Black Monday, firing Adam Gase on Sunday after the final whistle. The next head coach of the Jets inherits a team with a decent defensive line, some young pieces, and the second pick in the draft. Turning New York around looks like a three-year process.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)

Last week’s ranking: 32

The Jaguars axed Doug Marrone on Monday, meaning the organization’s next head coach has over $100 million in cap space, tons of draft picks, and low expectations to work with. Jacksonville seems like the ideal landing spot for most head coaching candidates.

Check out other NFL power rankings.

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