News & Analysis

2021 NFL Season Preview Guide: All of PFF's offseason preview content in one place

The Kansas City Chiefs are the current betting favorites to win Super Bowl 56 and enter the season as the top team in PFF's power rankings. Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers trail closely behind but will first be thinking about the Week 4 date with the New England Patriots — a game for the history books.

To help count down the days until the 2021 NFL season, we at PFF have pulled together all of our position rankings, betting projections, single team analysis articles and more, making this your go-to resource for 2021 NFL content.

Be sure to bookmark this page to keep up to date with all the latest PFF content as we head into the preseason, which will run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 29.

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PFF RANKINGS & PROJECTIONS

PFF's NFL Power Rankings for the 2021 NFL season

Despite losing in the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs are the clear No. 1 team in PFF's NFL Power Rankings for the 2021 NFL season. Tampa is the second-highest-ranked team but repeats as Super Bowl champions the highest number of times in PFF's AWS-powered simulations. The rankings are based on PFF’s ELO Ratings along with PFF-exclusive player grades for each team. Read more…


Simulating the 2021 NFL Season: Kansas City Chiefs remain the favorites to win Super Bowl 56

Using the PFF Elo rating system, PFF grades and available market data, we can simulate the 2021 season 10,000 times to accurately assign distributions for win totals, divisional title odds and the percentage each team makes the playoffs. We can also look at how often each team makes it to — and wins — Super Bowl 56. Read more…


Market-implied 2021 NFL power rankings

With the offseason in full swing and PFF's regular series of win totals and power rankings articles in print, we wanted to look at the state of the NFL using the game-by-game betting markets, which were released recently by the Westgate SuperBook. Using a Massey matrix-based approach, we can derive an offensive and defensive rating for each team, which when added together give rise to a point spread that would theoretically be the spread in a game versus an average team on a neutral field. Last year’s version of these ratings can be found here. Read more…


Projecting starting lineups for all 32 NFL teams following the 2021 NFL Draft

We are still in the early stages of the post-draft NFL landscape, and plenty will change leading up to the 2021 NFL season. However, depth charts are now starting to take form, with the major offseason events in the rearview mirror. That allows us to start looking forward to potential starting lineups for the 2021 NFL season. Read more…


2021 NFL win totals tracker

Here, you will find the latest win totals and odds, updated break-even percentages, PFF projected totals, PFF simulation results and information on PFF's favorite NFL bets. The Kansas City Chiefs currently lead the way with 12 wins, closely followed by the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 11.5. The Houston Texans (4.5 wins) and Detroit Lions (5) trail the rest of the NFL and will be hoping for a miracle in the 2021 NFL Draft to turn their fortunes around. Read more…


PFF Quarterback Rankings: All 32 starters ahead of the 2021 NFL season

PFF’s quarterback rankings are based on grading every player on every play and tapping into multiple years of data to project future performance. We go beyond just last season’s performances, and the grading works to isolate each quarterback’s performance from that of his supporting cast, making for more effective projections. Read more…


Running Back Rankings: The 32 best RBs entering the 2021 NFL season

The bulk of the 2021 NFL offseason is now in the books, closing the door on the greatest opportunity for NFL teams to overhaul their rosters. Free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft have seen some major players change teams or enter the NFL, so let’s look at the league-wide situation when it comes to running backs. Read more…


Wide Receiver Rankings: The 32 best WRs entering the 2021 NFL season

Without further ado, let’s dive into our top 32 wide receivers ahead of the 2021 NFL season. And while there are no rookies, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see multiple first-year players crack this list by the end of the year, considering it was one of the most talented classes since we began evaluating college football. And don't sleep on second-year breakouts from talented 2020 prospects such as Jerry JeudyCeeDee LambTee Higgins and Brandon Aiyuk, among others.  Read more…


Treash: Ranking the NFL’s best deep threats right now

While Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill isn't the best deep threat of all time just yet, he tops this list as he continues on an unprecedented pace. Read more…


Tight End Rankings: The 32 best TEs entering the 2021 NFL season

There is not an abundance of true difference-makers at the tight end position in the NFL. The league is lacking players who can consistently win as receivers, regardless of alignment, while still forcing defenses to respect them inline as blockers. That skill set is what gives the small upper tier at the tight end position its value. Read more…


Offensive Tackle Rankings: The 32 best OTs entering the 2021 NFL season

Continuing our series of 2021 NFL position rankings, we turn our attention to the trenches and evaluate the current crop of offensive tackles. With the help of PFF's advanced database — which is used by all 32 NFL teams — we can easily evaluate the big men trying to protect their quarterbacks and open lanes in the run game. Read more…


Offensive Guard Rankings: The 32 best players entering the 2021 NFL season

The glory positions have taken center stage in PFF's position rankings up to this point, but now it’s time to turn our attention to the trenches and throw some praise in the direction of some of the most underappreciated players in the NFL — offensive guards. Read more…


Center Rankings: The 32 best players entering the 2021 NFL season

The market for the center position isn’t on par with that for elite tackles, or even guards, but it is an important offensive position due to the quick decisions and calls they’re tasked with making pre- and post-snap. That's why the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers so heavily pushed to improve at the position this offseason. Read more…


Edge Defender Rankings: The 32 best players entering the 2021 NFL season

While responsibilities vary between a base 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker, their roles are more aligned than that of a 3-4 outside linebacker and most 4-3 outside linebackers. So, both 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers get labeled together as edge defenders. Using PFF’s play-by-play grading and advanced metrics such as pressure totals and run-stop percentage that can be found in Premium Stats 2.0, here are the top 32 edge defenders in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. Read more…


Interior Defender Rankings: The 32 best DIs entering the 2021 NFL season

The title of best interior defender in the NFL isn't a competition. Aaron Donald has locked up that spot for the past five years. The other 31 slots feature plenty of interesting names, though. The position, ranging from nose tackles to base 3-4 defensive ends, has a nice mix of established veterans and ascending young talent. Read more…


Linebacker Rankings: The 32 best LBs entering the 2021 NFL season

Few positions in the NFL have suffered more in recent years than linebacker, the focal point of a lot of the evolution within pro offenses. As offenses have become more efficient and accomplished at generating mismatches and exploiting them, linebackers have become players caught between a rock and a hard place on many plays, often leaving them with little chance for success. Read more…


Cornerback Rankings: The 10 best slot cornerbacks entering the 2021 NFL season

Slot defenders aren’t just specialists any longer — they’re essentially defensive starters. Here are PFF's 10 best slot cornerbacks entering the 2021 NFL season. Read more…


Cornerback Rankings: The 32 best outside cornerbacks entering the 2021 NFL season

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander tops PFF's outside cornerback ranking ahead of the 2021 NFL season, with Los Angeles Rams superstar Jalen Ramsey trailing closely behind. Read more…


Safety Rankings: The 32 best safeties entering the 2021 NFL season

Often forgotten men of the team, safeties can make a major difference to the quality of a defense and a secondary. And while some positions in the league are extremely thin, highlighted by just a few stars but lacking any real quality beyond that, the safety position seems to be in excellent health. Read more…


Ranking all 32 NFL running back units ahead of the 2021 season

Depth matters at the running back position because of the injury risk and the need for different skill sets on rushing and passing downs. However, one high-end running back can almost single-handedly carry a unit. That shows up on this list with teams such as the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers, who appear in the top 10 despite a lack of proven depth behind Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey, respectively. Read more…


Ranking all 32 NFL receiving corps ahead of the 2021 season

When ranking pass-catchers, there’s a balance between identifying teams with elite No. 1 options and those groups that run three or four deep. In today’s NFL, the top teams have several passing-game options, and they’re able to keep defenses off balance with a variety of different playmakers. It's that kind of depth that earns favorable consideration in PFF's receiving corps rankings. Read more…


Ranking all 32 NFL offensive line units ahead of the 2021 season

While star power has an impact, the best offensive lines have depth across the starting five and often with their backups, so those teams will be ranked higher. Of course, finding five strong starters is a challenge, and even some of the better offensive lines will enter the season with question marks. Read more…

Ranking all 32 NFL defensive line units ahead of the 2021 season

While we at PFF have made the argument that coverage is more valuable than pass rush, elite pass rushers are more reliable from year to year than elite coverage defenders. The defensive line is at the center of both the pass-rushing unit and the run-defense unit. As a result, it’s difficult to field a great defense with a below-average defensive line. Read more…

Ranking all 32 NFL linebacker units ahead of the 2021 season

The combination of Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw propels the San Francisco 49ers into the top spot in PFF's linebacker rankings, one of the few teams to have multiple players featured in PFF's ranking of the top 32 linebackers entering 2021. Read more…

SINGLE TEAM FEATURE ARTICLES

The unlikely case that Drew Lock can actually be the answer in Denver

PFF's Sam Monson explores whether it's feasible for Drew Lock to embark on a Josh Allen-esque turnaround in his young NFL career. Read more…


Giants' Daniel Jones needs to take more risks, create explosive plays to succeed in 2021

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and quarterback Daniel Jones have to work together to manufacture more deep shots in 2021 if the Giants are to make a playoff push. Read more…


Cleveland is the biggest threat to Kansas City in the AFC

Defense was the Browns' clear weak point in 2020, but the team attacked the unit in the 2021 NFL Draft and free agency. Read more…


By doubling down at WR in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Ravens changed how opponents might have to defend them

Baltimore drafted Minnesota's Rashod Bateman in the first round and Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace in the fourth round, bolstering a lackluster part of the team's offense. Read more…


How the Houston Texans can make the most of a lost 2021 season

PFF's Ben Linsey examines how the Houston Texans should approach the 2021 NFL season to ensure that they bottom out only briefly and can begin to prepare for 2022. Read more…


What can new Jaguars coach Urban Meyer create with RB/WR Travis Etienne?

The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly plan to use first-round running back Travis Etienne as a true hybrid player, opening up the offense to employ creative alignments. Read more…


The Indianapolis Colts are already letting down Carson Wentz

The Colts traded for Carson Wentz this offseason but have yet to show a true commitment to building around him for the 2021 NFL season. Read more…


Monson: Examining potential trade destinations for Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones

PFF's Sam Monson breaks down the most likely trade destinations for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, including the San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots. Read more…


Monson: Trey Lance will cruise to OROY honors if the San Francisco 49ers start him from Day 1

Trey Lance's tape just doesn’t show the kind of problematic trait that should keep him off the field. And so, even with Jimmy Garoppolo waiting in the wings, the 49ers should install Lance as their Day 1 starter and watch him cruise his way to Rookie of the Year honors within this offense. Read more…


Justin Herbert is poised to regress in 2021, but the Los Angeles Chargers will be better anyway

You have to say it in a hushed tone, but Justin Herbert is likely to take a step back in 2021. Nobody wants to hear it. We expect young players to just get better and better on a linear line to the moon as they develop and gain NFL experience, but it rarely happens like that. For evidence, look no further than Carson Wentz, who hit the ground running as a rookie, looked like an MVP in Year 2 and was unceremoniously dumped by his team only a few years later. Read more…


Robert Saleh is making the defensive line a priority again with the New York Jets

Optimism will bubble to the surface any time an NFL franchise drafts a quarterback at No. 2 overall. Zach Wilson represents a blank slate for the New York Jets — an opportunity to make up for the disappointment that defined Sam Darnold’s tenure with the team. The optimism in New York is about more than just the addition of Wilson, though. Read more…


Kyler Murray, entering pivotal Year 3, needs to take next step along with Cardinals' offense

Quarterback Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury are the keys to the Arizona Cardinals' success, and each has reached the point of needing to make adjustments to take that next step forward. Read more…


The Pittsburgh Steelers offense must evolve under first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada

Examining what has to go right for offensive coordinator Matt Canada, rookie running back Najee Harris and a reworked offensive line to turn the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense around in 2021. Read more…


Eager: The definitive guide to why people are fading the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021

The Steelers’ finish, coupled with the loss of starters Dupree, Mike HiltonMatt FeilerAlejandro Villanueva and James Conner, followed by a draft in which they spent their first two picks on a running back and a middling tight end, has many down on a team that is coming off a 12-4 season and a division title. Our simulation, which uses a combination of our grades, power ratings and market-implied data, has the Steelers repeating for the division title just 10% of the time, making the playoffs just 27% of the time and winning an average of 7.6 games. Read more…


Cincinnati Bengals will return to the playoffs if QB Joe Burrow can fine-tune the deep passing game

Are the Cincinnati Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow doomed to a life of 6-yard gains for the rest of eternity? One could certainly start to fall for that assumption after just one year of the Burrow era, as the Bengals failed miserably when it came to creating explosive passing plays in 2020. But not so fast, my friend. Read more…


The scene is set for Patrick Peterson to roll back the years in Mike Zimmer's defense

The Arizona Cardinals‘ decision to move on from one of their greatest ever players makes sense, but can Peterson enjoy a late-career resurgence within the Minnesota Vikings defense under Mike Zimmer?  Zimmer has a history of getting quality play out of proven veterans late into their careers. For a time, it seemed as if Terence Newman would go on forever and still play well after he produced an overall PFF grade of 83.0 back in 2017 when he was approaching 40 years of age. Read more…


The Carolina Panthers offensive line is in danger of derailing the Sam Darnold reclamation project

If Sam Darnold is to prove that he was just a victim of circumstance in New York, he is going to need the Panthers' offensive line to be better than one of the worst in the NFL, and right now it’s difficult to see how it will be. Read more…


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