NFL Power Ratings 2021 Preseason

My initial and entirely subjective preseason NFL Power Ratings are up for 2021. And I’m already overly excited for Week 1 of the NFL season. The preseason NFL power ratings are a jumping-off point for Week 1 and will be tweaked each Monday as the season progresses.

I am excited about these NFL power ratings for a few different reasons. The first is that they are the perfect starting point for a handicap. I will never take the numbers and blindly trust them. After seeing what my projected spread would be, based on these ratings, I can see where I disagree with the market. I can then try to understand the reasons why, and if I need to readjust. Or, if I simply believe I have an edge over the market on certain teams.

Here’s how they look so far. Each team is ranked from 0 to 100, with 0 being the worst team of all time and 100 being the best. You can see the methodology on how to create your own power ratings on this Twitter thread by Adam Chernoff of Covers.com:

Adam is careful to note that this is a simple and easy way for casual bettors to create their own power rankings. I am not an expert, and this is my subjective view of the league and how I’ll begin to handicap a game.

After these power ratings, below I’ll be going over the teams I’m higher and lower on compared to Pro Football Focus.

1. Kansas City Chiefs87
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers86
3. Buffalo Bills85
4. LA Rams81
5. Green Bay Packers80
6. Baltimore Ravens79
7. Seattle Seahawks78
8. San Francisco 49ers75
9. Tennessee Titans74
10. Washington Football Team69
11. Cleveland Browns65
12. LA Chargers60
13. New Orleans Saints55
14. Pittsburgh Steelers50
15. Dallas Cowboys49
16. Chicago Bears48
17. Minnesota Vikings47
18. Arizona Cardinals46
19. Denver Broncos45
20. Atlanta Falcons44
21. New England Patriots43
22. Indianapolis Colts42
23. Miami Dolphins40
24. Las Vegas Raiders39
25. Carolina Panthers38
26. New York Giants37
27. Philadelphia Eagles35
28. Jacksonville Jaguars30
29. Cincinnati Bengals27
30. New York Jets25
31. Detroit Lions20
32. Houston Texans15

Teams I’m Higher on Than PFF

Washington Football Team

My Rating: 69

My Ranking: #10

PFF Rating: -0.8

PFF Ranking: #21

I knew I would be higher than most on the Washington Football Team. But I had no idea it would be by this much. The WFT ended the season last year ranked #16 in total DVOA and #13 in weighted DVOA. And that was with Dwayne Haskins and the ghost of Alex Smith playing quarterback. I understand that Fitzmagic is no franchise savior. But he’s a significant upgrade at the most important position in sports.

Covers.com’s Adam Chernoff is also much lower on Washington than I am. Comparatively, his rating on Washington is a 39, and he has them ranked as his #23 overall team.

While both Chernoff and PFF are making me look foolish for my WFT love, isn’t that the whole point of this exercise? If we all lived in the same echo chamber and had the same opinions then the book will happily take its vig and you’ll never have a meaningful edge.

For now, I will strongly consider ticking Washington down early in the season if something looks off. But I will also be backing them in Week 1 with a 1 or 2-unit play.

Chicago Bears

My Rating: 48

My Ranking: #16

PFF Rating: #20

Two words: Justin Fields

Minnesota Vikings

My Rating: 47

My Ranking: #17

PFF Rating: -0.8

PFF Ranking: #21

PFF actually ranks these three teams 20, 21, and 21 with the Vikings and WFT tied. In the case of the Bears and WFT, I believe in their QB situation to go along with elite defenses. In the case of the Vikings, I’m lukewarm on the QB, but he’s good enough to take advantage of his skill position players. And on defense, I trust that Mike Zimmer has coached up his young unit, which featured more than a handful of rookies in 2020 going through growing pains.

LA Chargers

My Rating: 65

My Ranking: #12

PFF Rating: -1.0

PFF Rating: #23

I believe in the Chargers’ return to health on defense equating to a return to elite form. And an elite defense with Justin Herbert–even with expected regression–is a borderline top 10 team, if not higher.

Teams I’m Lower on Than PFF

Indianapolis Colts

My Rating: 42

My Ranking: #22

PFF Rating: 0.4

PFF Ranking: #12

As referenced by Adam Chernoff on his podcast The Simple Handicap, the splits for the Colts in games in which left tackle Anthony Castanzo did not play are starling. After Castanzo’s retirement, the Colts are left twiddling their thumbs, looking like Ryan Pace trying to solve the gaping hole.

Announcing your brand new 2021 Colts left tackle….Will Holden! Yeah, I have no clue who this guy is so I had to look up his Madden 22 rating…it’s a 60.

Add that to the Colts best offensive lineman, and one of the best players in football, Quentin Nelson going down with injury and the Colts could be historically bad on offense. Carson Wentz was already a shaky option at best, and now he’s hurt. And as good as the Colts defense has been, it took some hits in free agency. Gone is longtime starting linebacker Anthony Walker to the Browns, and also gone is starting defensive end Denico Autry to the Titans.

I want no part of this Colts team and will look to fade them early and often.

New Orleans Saints

My Rating: 48

My Ranking: #13

PFF Rating: 1.8

PFF Ranking: #9

There isn’t a massive discrepancy here in where I have the Saints ranked compared to PFF. But I do believe this team could be slightly overvalued–at least early on in 2021. I need to see this team really prove itself before I can back them with any confidence. And I’ll likely look to fade Jameis early.

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