By Bill Seals - Fred Altieri
Sports Reporters - PFWA Members 

2021 NFL Power Rankings – Week 04

Rams at the Top, Chargers Surge into Top 5


September 30, 2021

Jeff Lewis - LA Rams

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) sacks and forces Bucs quarterback Tom Brady to fumble in Rams win

1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0): The Rams routed the Buccaneers at home behind 34-year-old wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who caught three receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Jackson does not seem to have lost a step and to steal a line from the Oscar Nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook: "DeSean Jackson is the Man." Next: -6 vs Arizona Cardinals - Sun, Nov. 3 – O/U 54.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 3-0)

2. Arizona Cardinals (3-0): Quarterback Kyler Murray is No. 3 in the NFL in passing yards with 1,005. He will bring the vaunted Air Raid offense to SoFi Stadium to take on Air Stafford and the Rams. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 5 in the NFL with 942 total passing yards. Next: +6 at Los Angeles Rams - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 54.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 1-2)

3. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0): The Raiders are off to their best start since 2002, the year that they went to the Super Bowl. Quarterback Derek Carr has thrown for 1,203 yards in three games and is on a pace to throw for over 6,800 yards. His next matchup will be an absolute shoot-out. Next: +3.5 - Mon, Oct. 4 – O/U 52.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

4. Carolina Panthers (3-0): The Panthers have the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL, allowing just 191 yards per game, and the No. 10 ranked offense, averaging 390.3 yards per game. The Panthers also lead the NFL in sacks with fourteen. Next: +5 at Dallas Cowboys - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 50.5 (ATS: 3-0 – O/U: 0-3)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1): The Chargers won a huge road game in Kansas City and now come home to take on the hated Raiders. Quarterback Justin Herbert is fourth in the NFL in passing yards with 956. The aerial show between Herbert and Derek Carr should be very entertaining, reminiscent of Dan Fouts vs. Jim Plunkett in the early 1980's. Next: -3.5 vs Las Vegas Raiders - Mon, Oct. 4 – O/U 52 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 0-3)

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): The Bucs did not look so Super in their loss to the Rams on Sunday. The schedule will get easier for the Bucs in October, but the message has been sent by the Rams and received by the Bucs. The Rams held the Bucs to thirty-five yards rushing, with 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady leading the Bucs with fourteen rushing yards. Next: -6.5 at New England Patriots - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 49 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 3-0)

7. San Francisco 49ers (2-1): The 49ers are coming off a tough loss to the Packers at home but need to move on quickly because their schedule does not get any easier. Over the next six games, the 49ers play the Seahawks, the Cardinals twice, and the Rams. Next: -3 vs Seattle Seahawks – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 52 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 2-1)

8. Denver Broncos (3-0): The Broncos and the Raiders are the only undefeated teams in the AFC. The Broncos are still in the suspicion category, since they have yet to play a team that has won a game. Their three opponents are a combined 0-9 for the season. They will be tested this week. Next: -3 vs Baltimore Ravens - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 44 (ATS: 3-0 – O/U: 0-3)

9. Cleveland Browns (2-1): The Browns are flying under the radar, but this is a good team with a good offensive line. They also can rush the passer, a fact that Bears quarterback Justin Fields can attest to, after being sacked nine times by the Browns. Next: -1.5 at Minnesota Vikings – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 53 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

10. Green Bay Packers (2-1): Trailing by one point, with the ball at the 25-yard line, with just 37 seconds left and no timeouts, most quarterbacks would be unable to pull out a victory. But most quarterbacks are not Aaron Rodgers, who completed two passes to Devante Adams for 42 yards, giving kicker Mason Crosby the opportunity to win it from fifty-one yards out and he nailed the game winner. Next: -7 vs Pittsburgh Steelers - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

11. Dallas Cowboys (2-1): The Cowboys are the best team in a weak NFC East, and it does not appear to be close. The Cowboys have rushed for 358 yards over the past two weeks and if that continues, they will be a playoff team. Next: -5 vs Carolina Panthers - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 50.5 (ATS: 3-0 – O/U: 2-1)

12. Buffalo Bills (2-1): The Bills are all alone in first place in the AFC East after their pounding of the WFT defense on Sunday. With the Jets, Dolphins, and Pats in their division, there is a good chance they will stay in first place for the rest of the season. Next: -16.5 vs Houston Texans - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 48 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 1-2)

13. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2): The Chiefs are in last place in the AFC West at 1-2 after their stunning loss at home to the Chargers. The Chiefs are not very good defensively, allowing 430 yards per game on defense, which ranks 30th in the NFL. With their six turnovers on offense in three games, and a tough schedule, they may not win their sixth consecutive division title. Next: -7.5 at Philadelphia Eagles - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 54.5 (ATS: 0-3 – O/U: 2-1)

14. New Orleans Saints (2-1): The high-powered Saints passing offense is averaging 113 passing yards per game. Replacing the future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees at quarterback is not going to be easy. Next: -8 vs New York Giants – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 43.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 0-3)

15. Seattle Seahawks (1-2): The Seahawks are in last place in the NFC West with a 1-2 record. The defense has not played well and is ranked last in the NFL, allowing 440.3 yards per game. Their situation is similar to the Chiefs, and just like the Chiefs, they need to resolve their issues on defense if they hope to make the playoffs. Next: +3 at San Francisco 49ers – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 52 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

16. Baltimore Ravens (2-1): After kicking an NFL Record 66-yard field goal to beat the Lions, 19-17, kicker Justin Tucker has now made fifty straight field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. Of those 50, 21 have been from 40+ yards and 7 from 50+ yards. He has never missed a kick in the final minute of regulation (16-for-16). Imagine what Tucker could have done for the Chargers over the past decade. Next: +1.5 at Denver Broncos – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 44 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 2-1)

17. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, a first round pick from LSU and former LSU teammate of Bengal quarterback Joe Burrow, had two touchdown receptions in the victory over the Steelers. Chase has four touchdown receptions in three games with the team. Next: -7.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars - Thu, Sep. 30 – O/U 46 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 1-2)

18. Tennessee Titans (2-1): The Titans are in first place in the AFC South, and they should stay there for the rest of the season. The rest of the division is 1-8 to this point and between the Colts, Texans and Jags, there does not appear to be a team that will win more than six games this season. Next: -7.5 at New York Jets - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 46 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 1-2)

19. Minnesota Vikings (1-2): The Vikings finally found a way to win a game, putting together a terrific offensive performance in their impressive 30-17 win over the Seahawks. The Vikings had 453 yards in total offense and 28 first downs. Next: +1.5 vs Cleveland Browns – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 53 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2): The Steelers failed to register a sack for the first time in 75 games in their disappointing loss to the Bengals. The Steelers were without both starting edge rushers in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith due to injuries. Next: +7 at Green Bay Packers – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 0-3)

21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2): The Eagles loss left guard Isaac Seumalo to a season ending Lisfranc injury in the loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night. The Eagles are down three starting offensive linemen due to injuries. Next: + 7.5 vs Kansas City Chiefs – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 54.5 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

22. Chicago Bears (1-2): The Bears had 47 yards in total offense, six first downs and a net one yard passing. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields was sacked nine times in a pitiful offensive performance by the Bears. Next: -3 vs Detroit Lions - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

23. Houston Texans (1-2): Rookie quarterback Davis Mills, a third-round pick from Stanford, got his first start in the NFL against the Panthers and he played reasonably well. Mills completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown with zero turnovers in the loss to the Panthers. Next: +16.5 at Buffalo Bills – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 48 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

24. Miami Dolphins (1-2): Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out for at least three weeks with a rib injury, and he was replaced by veteran Jacoby Brissett, who played well in the overtime loss to the Raiders. Brissett thew for 215 yards and rushed for 37 yards and one touchdown in the loss. Next: -1.5 vs Indianapolis Colts - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 43 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 1-2)

25. New England Patriots (1-2): The Patriots are going to have a tough time winning football games if they play like they did on Sunday. On Sunday they had 53 pass attempts and 17 rushing attempts, a terrible mix for a young quarterback like Mac Jones. Next: -+6.5 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 49 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 0-3)

26. Atlanta Falcons (1-2): The Falcons finally found an opponent as bad as them and won their first game of the season when they beat the Giants on a late Younghoe Koo 40-yard field goal, 17-14. Next: +1.5 vs Washington Football Team – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 48 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

27. Washington Football Team (1-2): Allegedly, the Washington Football Team was considered to have a top five defense. But not good enough to stop Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns in the 43-21 blowout win over the WFT. Next: -1.5 at Atlanta – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 48 (ATS: 0-3 – O/U: 2-1)

28. Detroit Lions (0-3): Jim Trotter of NFL Media reports that USC boosters have reached out to Anthony Lynn, the Lions offensive coordinator, to gauge his interest in the USC head coaching position. Trotter adds that Lynn would have interest in the job. Lynn, the Chargers head coach from 2017 through 2020, would be an interesting candidate. He was well-regarded within the Chargers organization. Next: +3 at Chicago Bears – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 2-1 – O/U: 2-1)

29. Indianapolis Colts (0-3): Head coach Frank Reich decided to start Carson Wentz at quarterback even though he was playing on two sprained ankles. "We felt like him at whatever 70 percent or 80 percent, whatever he is, is our best option to beat a very good football team on the road," Reich said. How bad are the backups if 70% of Wentz is better than they are? Next: +1.5 at Miami Dolphins – Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 43 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

30. New York Giants (0-3): The Giants blew a fourth quarter lead for the second consecutive game in losing to the Falcons, 17-14. Head coach Joe Judge, coming off a 6-10 season in 2020, needs to show improvement this season or he will be looking for a new job. Next: +8 at New Orleans Saints – Sun, Oct. 3 - O/U 43.5 (ATS: 1-2 – O/U: 1-2)

Mike Nowak - LA Chargers

Defensive end Joey Bosa (97) gets props from linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (42) after help sacking Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Chargers win

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): 32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3): The Jags led 13-7 at halftime against the Cardinals but returned to earth in the second half and lost their 18th consecutive regular season game to the Cardinals, 31-19. Through three games, rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a passer rating of 60.3%, which puts him ahead of only fellow rookie quarterback Zach Wilson of the Jets, which is nothing to be proud of. Head coach Urban Meyer just went through a winless September and October will not get any easier. Next: +7.5 at Cincinnati Bengals - Thu, Sep. 30 – O/U 46 (ATS: 0-3 – O/U: 1-2)

32. New York Jets (0-3): Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has thrown six interceptions in the past two games without throwing a touchdown pass. The Jets have not scored a touchdown in the pass two games. The Jets lost their first 13 games last season, so the losing may not end anytime soon. Next: +7.5 vs Tennessee Titans - Sun, Oct. 3 – O/U 46 (ATS: 0-3 – O/U: 0-3)


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