Tom Brady and the Bucs have won four straight.
Another week has come and gone in the ever-intriguing 2021 NFL season, and the most recent slate did not disappoint.
Photo finishes from the 49ers and Buccaneers led to crucial defeats for the Bengals and Bills, respectively. The Rams also got back on track with a humungous victory over the Cardinals on Monday night.
The season has possessed its fair share of eye-popping moments, to the point where an incredible number of teams are still in the hunt for a playoff spot with four weeks remaining.
No one is a clear-cut favorite for the Lombardi Trophy. However, there is a new No. 1 in ESNY’s 2021 NFL Power Rankings, and it’s those streaky defending champs down South.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars ( → )
The Jaguars remain horrific and Urban Meyer is still a pretty bad person.
A report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero stated Urban called his assistants “losers” and wished for them to defend their resumes in a meeting.
It’s a disaster in Jacksonville and it’ll continue to be as long as Meyer runs the team.
Poor Trevor Lawrence…
31. Houston Texans ( → )
The Texans remained in the loss column with a blowout defeat against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Houston couldn’t contain Russell Wilson. The Seattle quarterback threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
30. Detroit Lions ( → )
Well, the Lions’ success was exciting while it lasted.
Detroit suffered its 11th loss of the season Sunday by a score of 38-10 against the Broncos.
Quarterback Jared Goff recorded just a 74.2 passer rating.
29. New York Jets ( → )
Zach Wilson was awful in the 30-9 defeat, completing just 19 of his 42 throws for 202 yards.
28. New York Giants ( ↓ 1 )
New York’s offense mostly remained stagnant with Mike Glennon under center and the defense was far from competitive in the loss.
The 4-9 Giants are a lost cause and have solidified a fifth straight losing season.
27. Chicago Bears ( ↑ 1 )
The Bears were competitive against the Packers on Sunday night but still couldn’t conjure up a victory.
Chicago rookie quarterback Justin Fields threw for 224 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks in a 45-30 loss.
26. Carolina Panthers ( ↓ 1 )
The Panthers have major issues at the most important position on the field.
Sam Darnold is still hurt (and isn’t overly reliable when healthy) and Cam Newton is not the Cam Newton of old. Carolina benched the veteran quarterback in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta and could be looking more toward P.J. Walker in the near future.
25. Atlanta Falcons ( ↑ 1 )
The Falcons ascend one spot following a win over the Panthers.
At 6-7, Atlanta is miraculously still in the hunt for an NFC playoff spot.
Anything is possible with four games remaining in the regular season.
24. Seattle Seahawks ( → )
The Seahawks notched an expected victory over an inferior Texans squad, which is why they sit tight at No. 24.
Seattle sits in last place in the NFC West but is still in the mix for a playoff spot — can Russell Wilson and his crew make some noise down the stretch?
23. Miami Dolphins ( → )
The Dolphins stay put at No. 23 following their Week 14 bye. They’re red hot though, having won five straight.
22. Washington Football Team ( → )
Washington, in Week 14, was its true self: a mediocre team with a below-average quarterback.
The Football Team finally returned to the loss column for the first time since Halloween in what was a 27-20 defeat against Dallas. Taylor Heinicke threw for 122 yards with one touchdown and one pick on 11-of-25 passing but left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers ( ↓ 1 )
Someone tell Chase Claypool to chill out.
Give the ball back to the referee and line up to spike the ball — no need to celebrate a first down when you’re driving with no timeouts in an attempt to tie the game.
That’s all I’ll say here.
20. Denver Broncos ( ↑ 1 )
The Broncos pulled off a blowout victory over the Lions this past weekend.
It’s not that incredible of an accomplishment, but regardless, Denver is still in the hunt for an AFC playoff spot.
19. Las Vegas Raiders ( ↓ 4 )
The Raiders decided to troll the Chiefs before the game by standing on Kansas City’s midfield logo at Arrowhead Stadium.
Then, they lost 48-9.
The Raiders’ playoff chances are slipping away by the week — Vegas has lost five of six.
18. New Orleans Saints ( → )
The Saints finally won a game without Jameis Winston. Entering Sunday, they were 0-5 in full games since his ACL tear but notched a victory over the Jets.
Alvin Kamara was fantastic in his return from injury, rushing for 120 yards with one score.
17. Cleveland Browns ( ↑ 2 )
Lamar Jackson’s injury did play a key role in the Browns’ victory over the Ravens Sunday, but regardless, this was a big win for a Cleveland team that can still make the postseason.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for a pair of scores in the 24-22 win.
16. Philadelphia Eagles ( → )
The Eagles’ bye came in Week 14, so they remain at No. 16.
15. Minnesota Vikings ( ↑ 2 )
The Vikings put the disastrous Week 13 loss to the then-winless Lions behind them and notched a huge victory over Pittsburgh last Thursday.
At 6-7, Minnesota is another team still in the mix for an NFC wild card spot.
14. Indianapolis Colts ( → )
The Colts are in the AFC playoff picture but are stuck at No. 14 on our power rankings following a Week 14 bye.
13. Cincinnati Bengals ( ↓ 1 )
What an awesome matchup it was between the Bengals and 49ers on Sunday afternoon — both quarterbacks played great in a close battle that needed overtime.
However, the Bengals defense couldn’t contain Brandon Aiyuk in the extra period. The Niners wide receiver dove for the pylon and notched the game-winning score on a touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.
12. Baltimore Ravens ( ↓ 1 )
Without Lamar Jackson for much of Sunday’s game, the Ravens couldn’t keep up with the Browns. Baltimore lost 24-22 but remains atop the AFC North division.
11. San Francisco 49ers ( ↑ 2 )
The 49ers are one of the hottest teams in football.
Kyle Shanahan’s squad has won five of seven and sits as the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
10. Los Angeles Chargers ( → )
The Chargers, despite having struggled at some points this season, have the potential to be an outstanding football team in the AFC.
Quarterback Justin Herbert didn’t slow down Sunday, throwing for three touchdowns in a 37-21 win over the Giants.
9. Dallas Cowboys ( → )
Despite a win over Washington, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t look too hot against the division rival. The veteran threw for just 211 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Regardless, Dallas’ defense is solid and the team is running away with the NFC East.
8. Buffalo Bills ( ↓ 4 )
The Bills drop to No. 8 after suffering their sixth loss of the season Sunday.
Nobody really thought the Bills would be 7-6 ahead of Week 15, but here we are. Buffalo is the No. 7 seed in the AFC and on the brink of sitting outside the playoff picture.
Regardless, I still think this is a top-10 team that has the capability of figuring things out down the stretch.
7. Kansas City Chiefs ( ↑ 1 )
The Chiefs are rolling, have won six straight, and ascend our power rankings once again.
Kansas City could be dangerous if it retains this momentum heading into the postseason.
6. Tennessee Titans ( → )
The Titans defeated the Jaguars 20-0 this past weekend, so we won’t give them much credit.
Tennessee is tied for the best record in the AFC.
5. Los Angeles Rams ( ↑ 2 )
The Rams are back on track.
Despite having lost three of four heading into Week 14, Los Angeles pulled off a huge win over the Cardinals on Monday night — it was a much-needed victory.
Matthew Stafford and co. are now 9-4 and lead the NFC wild card race.
4. Green Bay Packers ( ↑ 1 )
Thanks to the Rams’ aforementioned win over the Cardinals (and Green Bay’s win over Chicago on Sunday night), the Packers are now the top seed in the NFC.
They have a big game against the Ravens this Sunday afternoon — could Green Bay remain atop the conference with a victory?
3. Arizona Cardinals ( ↓ 2 )
The Cardinals are no longer in our top spot.
The Kyler Murray-led team lost to the Rams on Monday night thanks (in part) to two interceptions thrown by the third-year quarterback.
Arizona is now the No. 3 seed in the NFC behind Tampa Bay and Green Bay.
2. New England Patriots ( → )
The Patriots remain at No. 2 following a bye. Bill Belichick should have his players ready for a matchup with the Colts this Saturday night though.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( ↑ 2 )
Alas, the new No. 1 team in football.
The Buccaneers are red hot and have won four straight, with the most recent victory coming over the Bills on Sunday.
Tom Brady connected with wide receiver Breshad Perriman on a 58-yard score in overtime that gave Tampa Bay its 10th win of the year. The Bucs are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC but I still trust them over the Packers given the talented roster they employ.
The GOAT is undergoing another fabulous year and leads the league in both passing yards (4,134) and touchdown passes (36). He’s currently the favorite to win the prestigious NFL MVP Award.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY