The NFL continues to put out a product that is as intoxicated as many of the fans on the couch at home are. Our NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 7 are an extension of the wacky season we’ve seen thus far. There are a lot of teams that are struggling with injuries, poor coaching, or a combination of the two. Currently, there are very few legitimate contenders in the NFL. Did your favorite team make that cut?
NFL Power Rankings Week 7 | Tier 6: The struggle bus
It’s difficult to watch any of these teams play football at this point. I love the way the Lions have fought so far, but the game against the Bengals was ugly. At least they’re not going through some of the controversies the other three teams in this tier face.
32) Detroit Lions
Whenever your quarterback can complete 69% of his attempts for what evens out as the equivalent to an average day on the ground for an RB, you just have to do it! This was the first time in the 2021 season where Detroit just failed to show up completely.
Aside from punting, the Lions were outclassed in every facet of the game. They can’t pass the ball to save their lives because their roster is terrible. And today, they couldn’t run the ball either.
With the Rams coming up, and it being Matthew Stafford’s first time playing his old team, it doesn’t appear the Lions will receive a reprieve next week.
31) Houston Texans
The Texans didn’t even play a particularly sloppy game — they just don’t have any offensive juice. They were destined to fail with a few injuries to offensive linemen on an already putrid roster and a backup rookie third-round quarterback playing under center.
Houston moves the ball like a lousy golfer. They possess an incredibly “forever forward” attitude, attempting to get the ball out as quickly as possible underneath second-level defenders in zone coverage. I genuinely hope somebody saves Brandin Cooks at the trade deadline because his career deserves a reward. Send him to a contender, please.
30) Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are an abject disaster. They are an unmitigated dumpster fire. Their offense lacks imagination, and without their top-two cornerbacks, their defense can’t get stops when they need to.
Tua Tagovailoa is still a work in progress, but I felt he played well enough after the rib injury — aside from a horrific pass on his lone interception.
The Dolphins can’t even hop on the tanking train, considering they lost out on their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to move up and select Jaylen Waddle. This probably won’t end well for Brian Flores and Co.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are still an awful football team. Even the final drive was full of head-scratching coaching decisions. Their only saving grace was — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — Brian Schottenheimer calling a quick slant instead of the Hail Mary on fourth down. That allowed Jacksonville to get the completion, convert the first down, and get into field goal range.
Trevor Lawrence still has a lot to improve upon. His plan against pressure needs ironing out, and he remains less accurate than expected. Jacksonville can run the football with the best of them, yet we’re still struggling to get James Robinson the necessary touches.
NFL Power Rankings Week 7 | Tier 5: It’s ugly, but it could be worse
All of the teams in this tier have something to look forward to, despite not being playoff contenders as of today.
28) New York Jets
The Jets received their bye week after a disappointing loss to the Falcons in London. The game wasn’t as close as the score might suggest. Still, because it is the Falcons, the Jets almost climbed the mountainous comeback trail.
Zach Wilson needs to be better, but as a rookie already behind in terms of playing in structure, he will struggle. That’s okay because this team needs to lose games and build the roster around their franchise gunslinger.
They’ll return in Week 7 to face the Patriots, who’ve struggled offensively in 2021. If there is a game I feel good about the Jets competing in, it’d be a game like that. If they win, they will improve their standing in our NFL Power Rankings.
27) New York Giants
When Kadarius Toney couldn’t make a go of it in this one, the writing was on the wall. This team never stood a chance against a focused Rams team. However, the Giants’ offense was putrid. It was worse than we’ve seen in a while, although, given Aaron Donald played opposite a Swiss cheese offensive line, it makes some sense.
Daniel Jones finally came crashing down to Earth after playing the best football of his career through the first five weeks of the season. He threw 2 interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one.
26) Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have struggled for over a year now, and things don’t seem to be improving. Luckily, they hit an early bye week, which could be the break they need to turn this pathetic offense around.
Arthur Smith had top-five offenses in 2019 and 2020 with Tennessee. If anything in Atlanta were to be the issue, it should be the defense. Well, I mean, the defense is awful too, ranking 29th in DVOA and 26th in EPA/play.
The point is, we at least expected this to be a “fun” bad team, with an offense that could sling it around the yard to Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case so far.
Washington is a bad football team. They faced a struggling Chiefs team that was not great offensively, and Washington still ended up being stomped out by 3 scores. The Kansas City defense hadn’t allowed fewer than 30 points all season, and despite 3 turnovers by the Chiefs’ offense, Washington still only managed 13 points.
The offense is missing a few weapons, but this comes down to Scott Turner probably not being the answer and Taylor Heinicke definitely not being the answer. With the Green Bay Packers up next, the Football Team is most likely staring down 2-5 as they head to Denver before their bye week.
24) Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts isn’t getting the job done, and Nick Sirianni’s offense isn’t necessarily awe-inspiring. I don’t want to bury Hurts, but he’s not helping us feel good about his projection moving forward.
It looked like he had a bounce-back game against Kansas City after he struggled in the Cowboys game. But we also know that the Chiefs’ secondary is currently on a historically bad pace.
The defense, on most occasions, will be enough to keep Philadelphia in games. The burden is on the offense to score points. If Hurts improves, so could the Eagles in the NFL Power Rankings after Week 7.
23) Seattle Seahawks
This is finally the season it all comes crumbling down for Seattle. It’s unfortunate it had to happen this way, with Russell Wilson going down with an injury. The defense was already awful. The scheme is outdated, and the talent has dissipated over the years.
Offensively, they lose a lot without Wilson, who’s washed away the sins of the Seahawks’ backward play-calling for a long time with his ability to create out of structure and an unbelievable deep ball to the sideline. They’ll have to run the ball efficiently now more than ever, and Geno Smith must play clean football to keep them in games. It’s nice to see him get another shot to prove himself, though.
Unfortunately, with a little over two minutes left in the game against the Steelers, football didn’t really seem that important. One of Seattle’s lone defensive bright spots, Darrell Taylor, was injured by his own player and had to be carted off on the spine board. It was a reminder that this game is unbelievably dangerous and everything can be taken from these players in an instant. It’s the worst part about the game.
22) Chicago Bears
Chicago’s defense is playing some excellent football. They played well again against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Unfortunately, their offense has absolutely nothing going for it.
Justin Fields is a rookie going through what every rookie in 2021 is — a massive struggle in a bad situation. The offensive line may as well not exist, and the play-calling doesn’t inspire any confidence, either.
Thankfully, they did use Fields as a rusher a few more times in Week 6, but they struggled to find explosive plays overall. Aside from their 2 touchdown drives, they weren’t able to sustain drives.
NFL Power Rankings Week 7 | Tier 4: Fringe playoff contenders
Which teams could make the postseason if everything goes right?
21) Pittsburgh Steelers
This is not a good football team. The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t accomplish much of anything offensively with Geno Smith at the helm. Yet, the Steelers allowed Seattle to run it directly down their throats in the second half.
We’re at the point where Ben Roethlisberger is making multiple head-scratching plays a game. But because the offensive line struggles to survive, they can’t hide him by running the football, either.
Sunday Night Football was a struggle to watch, and it’s because the Steelers played with their food and let the Seahawks stick around. Pittsburgh won, but we all lost for having to watch it.
20) Denver Broncos
The Broncos felt fraudulent as a 3-0 football team, but their offense has fallen flat on its face since starting the season incredibly hot. Denver isn’t getting the same level of QB play they did to start the year, but it’s the pass defense that has let them down most over the past few weeks.
This secondary is incredibly talented. Yet, they’ve allowed the Raiders and Ravens to throw the ball up and down the yard, seemingly at will. Derek Carr had whatever he wanted, and six different receivers caught passes of 25 yards or more against them. If they can’t figure out what’s happening in the secondary, they won’t just lose games — they’ll continue to be dominated for 60 minutes.
19) Indianapolis Colts
This felt like the game that proved the Texans’ roster just overperformed the first week of the season. The Colts dominated both offensively and defensively. Midway through the third quarter, they were averaging nearly 10 net yards per play.
Jonathan Taylor saw production on the ground much like he used to find at Wisconsin, breaking big run after big run. He averaged over 10 yards per rush and used his outstanding long speed — which a few people knocked him for pre-draft despite all the evidence to the contrary — to break an 83-yard run.
18) Carolina Panthers
They might be a Wild Card contending team if they weren’t producing horrific quarterback play. The Carolina front office took a gamble bringing Sam Darnold in through trade instead of drafting a quarterback, and it doesn’t seem to be paying off.
Losing Christian McCaffrey is a massive blow to an offense that has long relied on him taking an enormous workload. However, with Joe Brady calling the plays and DJ Moore and Robby Anderson being outside at receiver, the blame ultimately lands on Darnold.
17) New England Patriots
This offense has to be dominant in the run game to move the ball, and the quarterback isn’t going to go out and win games with his arm. Even the long touchdown pass he threw should have been intercepted by either Trevon Diggs or Damonte Kazee, although neither appeared too worried about trying.
I don’t think this is a bad team — they’re just completely unexplosive outside of blown coverages. They must play a certain style of football, and if the offensive line cannot dominate at the point of attack, they’re going to struggle to score enough points to win.
NFL Power Rankings Week 7 | Tier 3: Mystery teams
These teams could finish 10-7 or 7-10, and neither outcome would surprise me at this point.
16) Minnesota Vikings
What are we supposed to do with this football team? Seemingly every game they play is coming down to the very end, whether they’re facing David or Goliath. Every game has been within one score, aside from their win against Seattle (with a healthy Wilson).
The offense is awkwardly lacking success, despite having plenty of weapons at their disposal. They’ve been awful running the football in 2021, but a Minnesota team never gives up on the run!
15) Las Vegas Raiders
I have no clue what to expect from this Raiders team after the departure of Jon Gruden, but they performed well in the first game following his resignation. The Raiders exploded through the air in a big way. Carr let the ball rip a few times in less than ideal situations, and his receivers came up big for him with massive catches.
Naturally, Bryan Edwards made a big play in the fourth quarter, making a one-handed catch along the left sideline. Defensively, Maxx Crosby continues his breakout season, notching 2.5 sacks, 4 QB hits, a TFL, and a PD against the Broncos.
14) Cincinnati Bengals
I’m still not sure what to make of this football team, either. But they’re currently 4-2, and their two losses are by a combined 6 points. They have all the offensive talent in the world if we separate it from the offensive line. That’s the only thing holding this offense back from a roster construction standpoint.
The free-agent additions on the defensive side have helped elevate the team, too. They rank inside the top 10 of defensive EPA and DVOA. We’ve crushed Zac Taylor for a while now, and I still see it from fans throughout the course of Bengals games. But this team is contending in a division with Baltimore and Cleveland through six weeks. That is a massive win for a Bengals franchise that’s floundered now since 2015.
Hopefully, this team can continue to improve in the NFL Power Rankings because they’re incredibly fun to watch.
13) New Orleans Saints
I loathe the Saints not playing this week. I want as many samples of this team as possible because I’m not sure we have a solid grasp of what they are.
However, they could simply be the wildly inconsistent team that has massive highs and devastating lows. They’re forcing the entire offense through Alvin Kamara, which doesn’t feel sustainable. Luckily, they should have reinforcements coming with Michael Thomas. They need to rely on Jameis Winston more to be consistent offensively.
That may sound counter-intuitive, given Winston’s history. However, they simply need to be more than downfield shots and short throws as a passing attack. This defense will keep games close.
12) Tennessee Titans
The Titans prefer a different style of football, and against the Bills on Monday Night Football, that ground-and-pound style flourished to the tune of 7.2 yards per pop for Derrick Henry. Tennessee averaged 7.1 yards per play against a defense that held the Chiefs to 5 yards per play.
Everyone said Buffalo’s defense would falter, and the Titans had the juice to be the hand that finished the job. It had to, eventually. Defenses aren’t meant to be as efficient as Buffalo’s had been. On the prime-time stage, that showed in a big way. Tennessee beat an incredibly strong team, and it should say more about their ability than the Bills’ flaws.
11) San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance started last week after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ankle injury the week prior. Lance needs live shots fired in his direction. He needs those reps to get a better feel for the speed of the NFL game.
I have no clue what to expect from this team moving forward. The defense is well-coached, albeit lacking talent at cornerback. The offense with Lance will look different, but he must become more efficient as a passer if this team is to move the football consistently.