Updated: April 4
Houston Texans (4-12) - Previously: 26.
The Texans had a chance to trade Deshaun Watson for three first-round picks, but they turned down that deal. Think they'd redo it in the wake of Watson's legal issues? We don't know if Watson will ever play football again. He certainly won't take the field this year unless something great happens in his favor, which seems unlikely. With that in mind, are you ready for Tyrod Taylor to quarterback a dreadful roster to the NFL's first 0-17 record? I'm stoked!
Detroit Lions (5-11) - Previously: 27.
When thinking about which team will have the worst record in 2021, the Lions have to be considered the frontrunner (backrunner?) The only reason they've been competitive in recent years is Matthew Stafford, and he's gone. Jared Goff is on the team, but without Sean McVay to scheme great plays for him, Goff is likely to revert to Jared Goof.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) - Previously: 29.
Howie Roseman must be the worst stock trader in the history of our economy. Even worse than this guy:
Roseman had paper hands and sold Carson Wentz for a loss. If he were an ape like us GameStop and AMC stonk owners, he would have used his diamond hands to hold on to Wentz so that he wouldn't sell a franchise quarterback at the absolute bottom.
As a result of Roseman's paper hands, the Eagles are now one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers (5-11) - Previously: 22.
The Panthers have been doing everything in their power to land an upgrade at quarterback. They haven't had much success yet, but perhaps they'll get the job done if Matt Rhule makes a blood sacrifice to the gods. Otherwise, it's difficult to take the Panthers seriously because they haven't improved their offensive line, and they made just a couple adjustments to their pedestrian defense.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Previously: 17.
Matt Ryan isn't going to be quite the same quarterback without Alex Mack. The Falcons lost several starters this offseason, including Mack, so I wouldn't expect them to continue the momentum they built last year following Dan Quinn's firing.
New York Jets (2-14) - Previously: 31.
The Jets reportedly will be drafting Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson won't have much to work with as far as offensive play-makers are concerned, but at least his offensive line will be stout. Still, if the Jets don't give Wilson viable receivers in the future, the quarterback's fancy-pants uncle, JetBlue Wilson, will whisk his nephew off to the Maldives, never to be seen again.
Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) - Previously: 18.
"It goes without saying that the Raiders must improve their defense this offseason. They would have made the playoffs with just an average stop unit, considering how well their offense played most of the year."
I wrote that in the previous update. The Raiders made some nice signings, obtaining Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson. However, they also jettisoned three starting offensive linemen! I have no idea why Mike Mayock did this. He somehow failed to recognize that the Raiders' great blocking was the primary reason why his team had been competitive recently despite Derek Carr's pedestrian quarterbacking. The team as a whole, including Carr, will be far worse in 2021 with the downgraded offensive line.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) - Previously: 30.
The Bengals are difficult to rank because we don't know Joe Burrow's status. Burrow suffered a brutal injury this past November, so he may not be 100 percent by the start of the season. If he is, however, Cincinnati will have a good chance of the playoffs, thanks to numerous upgrades to the roster in free agency.
Dallas Cowboys (6-10) - Previously: 28.
Dak Prescott was re-signed to a gargantuan contract despite coming off a brutal injury and having no success in the playoffs. Jerry Jones sure knows how to wheel and deal. Unfortunately for Jones, Prescott's deal prevented him from signing any players of note, outside of Keanu Neal, who has an extensive injury history.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) - Previously: 32.
This ranking assumes Trevor Lawrence is on the roster. Barring a catastrophic pre-draft injury, Lawrence will be Jacksonville's quarterback next year, meaning that the Jaguars can no longer be deemed the worst team in the NFL. The Jaguars have some nice play-makers on offense, while their blocking is just fine. Their defense was a disaster last year, but the front office made some nice additions to make it at least mediocre in 2021.
New England Patriots (7-9) - Previously: 24.
The Patriots would have been better off tanking for Trevor Lawrence. Instead, they went 7-9, and they followed that up with a confusing free agency period in which they overpaid for mediocre talent. Bill Belichick is going to squeeze another seven wins out of this bad team next year, when he would have been better off losing on purpose for whichever quarterback ends up going first in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Chicago Bears (8-8) - Previously: 16.
The Bears have lost quite a bit this offseason. They'll be without a starting defensive lineman (Roy Robertson-Harris), their right tackle (Bobby Massie) and No. 1 cornerback (Kyle Fuller) going forward. Oh, and I almost forgot about NVP winner Mitchell Trubisky. How will the Bears possibly reach the playoffs again without the reigning NVP?
New York Giants (6-10) - Previously: 25.
Perhaps I was a year early on the Giants. They have a lot going for them right now. Saquon Barkley and Nate Solder are returning. Kenny Golladay is the first legitimate No. 1 receiver Daniel Jones will have at his disposal. The secondary improved in the wake of the Adoree Jackson signing. Oh, and don't forget that Jason Garrett learned some new clapping techniques this offseason. That is absolutely crucial.
It's all on Daniel Jones. If he makes the leap in his third year, the Giants can win the Super Bowl. If not, a second-place finish in the NFC East is likely.
Denver Broncos (5-11) - Previously: 21.
The Broncos tried to trade for Matthew Stafford. They'd be a borderline top 10 team if they managed to acquire the former Lion, but Drew Lock remains the favorite to start in Week 1 of 2021. There's a chance the Broncos might be able to land Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the two quarterbacks not named Fields don't really seem like upgrades over Lock. Still, Denver will be competitive this year because of its great defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Previously: 12.
The Steelers endured a rough offseason. Not only did they watch every team in their division make major upgrades; they also lost three starting offensive linemen, two key defensive backs, and a primary edge rusher. The Pittsburgh squad we see in 2021 will be similar to the one that was in a major free fall at the end of this past season.
New Orleans Saints (13-5) - Previously: 5.
Drew Brees is gone, but he's not the only one. The Saints lost four defensive starters, so their next quarterback will have more weight on his shoulders. This is obviously Taysom Hill, but the media thinks Jameis Winston has a chance to unseat him for some reason. Perhaps they're enamored with his tape because the last time we saw Winston, he threw his 30th interception of the 2019 season, a pick-six, that helped his Buccaneers lose to the Falcons.
Minnesota Vikings (6-10) - Previously: 20.
The Vikings have enjoyed the best offseason of all the NFC North teams thus far. I like that they rebuilt their secondary and added help to the interior of their defensive line. They're a candidate to reach the playoffs after missing the postseason last year, despite Kirk Cousins' mediocrity.
Tennessee Titans (11-5) - Previously: 7.
We'll have to see how the Titans fare next year without their offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, who took Atlanta's head-coaching job. Smith did an amazing job with Ryan Tannehill, so there's a chance we'll see some regression from Tannehill next year. Meanwhile, the defense might be even worse next year because of some downgrades in the secondary. Bud Dupree could help negate that, but he may not be 100 percent off his injury.
Seattle Seahawks (12-4) - Previously: 11.
Russell Wilson told the media that he wants to be a Seahawk for life, but also said that he's tired of getting hit so frequently. Can't say I blame him! The Seahawks have gotten lots of flak for their offensive line negligence, but it's not like they haven't tried to repair it. They traded for Duane Brown, spent a first-round pick on Germain Ifedi and found a gem in the third round last year when they selected Damien Lewis. This offseason, they traded for Gabe Jackson, which is a huge deal. Their defense still stinks, but they at least bolstered Wilson's protection.
Miami Dolphins (10-6) - Previously: 13.
The Dolphins did well in free agency. They found a dynamic deep threat for Tua Tagovailoa in Will Fuller, and they also found several upgrades to their defense. They should be able to make the playoffs in 2021 unless Tagovailoa disappoints.
Green Bay Packers (13-3) - Previously: 3.
The Packers will always be competitive with their reigning MVP/Jeopardy host, but it's going to be extremely difficult for them to make a deep run into the playoffs because of the status of their offensive line. They lost three blockers this offseason, which is a huge deal.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 8.
The Colts are a huge wild card in the AFC playoff race. They have a great roster, so if Carson Wentz can play like he did prior to 2020, they'll be a Super Bowl contender. If not, they may not make the postseason despite playing in a bad division. I'm leaning toward the former scenario because of Wentz's prior success with Frank Reich. Plus, it helps that Wentz will have much better teammates than he possessed in Philadelphia last year.
Washington Redskins (6-10) - Previously: 23.
The Redskins are the favorite to win the NFC East. They did a good job of adding dynamic talent to their roster - Curtis Samuel, William Jackson - and they also have more stability at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick serving as an upgrade over Alex Smith.
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) - Previously: 6.
The Ravens lost their pass rush this offseason, and they could be losing one of their starting tackles. They have a great front office that could take care of these needs in the 2021 NFL Draft, but if they miss with their picks, they could be in trouble this upcoming season.
San Angeles Chargers (7-9) - Previously: 15.
The Chargers had an amazing offseason. They made great upgrades to their offensive line, which has to please Justin Herbert. The defense incurred some losses, but no one the Chargers can't replace with some nice drafting. With the much-improved blocking, I expect the Chargers to make the playoffs this year.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8) - Previously: 14.
I love what the Cardinals did this offseason. They upgraded their defensive line with J.J. Watt and secondary with Malcolm Butler, but the greatest move was trading for Rodney Hudson. The former Raider center is going to be a huge boon for Kyler Murray, who could make big strides in his third season as a consequence.
San Francisco 49ers (6-10) - Previously: 19.
The 49ers had so many injuries last year. Take a look:
That's insane. If the 49ers are much healthier next year, they'll be back in the Super Bowl mix, especially in the wake of signing Alex Mack and retaining Trent Williams. Plus, they may have an upgrade at quarterback, depending on whom they select at No. 3 overall.
Cleveland Browns (11-5) - Previously: 10.
The Browns had two glaring weaknesses last year: their linebacking corps and their secondary. They didn't do much to fix the former, but they were able to acquire Troy Hill and John Johnson as major upgrades to the defensive backfield. If the Browns can add a stud linebacker in the draft, and if Baker Mayfield remains healthy behind his stud offensive line, Cleveland will certainly be one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the AFC.
Buffalo Bills (13-3) - Previously: 4.
The Bills did a good job of retaining their own talent this offseason. They didn't add anyone new, but everyone will return, save for John Brown. He'll easily be replaced by Gabriel Davis or Emmanuel Sanders.
That said, the Bills still need to pass the Chiefs. Their best strategy is to add several pass rushers in the 2021 NFL Draft in order to replicate what the Buccaneers did to Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) - Previously: 9.
I've seen some people opine that the Rams overpaid for Matthew Stafford. What these clueless individuals don't realize is that part of the cost of the trade was shedding Jared Goff's albatross of a contract. Besides, Stafford gives the Rams a great chance to reach the Super Bowl again. Will it still be an overpay if the Rams win Super Bowl LVI?
Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) - Previously: 1.
Despite the blowout loss in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs were my No. 1 team in the previous update. This was before the team cut both tackles, but the Chiefs made amends by obtaining Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe as blocking upgrades. Tackle still remains a concern, but I expect Andy Reid to address that area in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) - Previously: 2.
I moved the Buccaneers out of the top spot in these NFL power rankings in my previous update. I assumed they would lose some key players this offseason. Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Antonio Brown, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette had expiring contracts, so can you blame me?
Little did I know the Buccaneers would retain everyone! Brown is the only exception at the moment, but I have to assume he'll be re-signed eventually.