Throughout each NFL season it is always fun to see how everyone power ranks each of the 32 NFL teams after the conclusion of each week. But what about the divisions? Here are the 2021 AFC division power rankings ahead of Week 4.
2021 NFL Division Power Rankings for the AFC
Denver Broncos 3-0
The AFC West is absolutely the best division in the AFC. This division probably ranks behind only the NFC West as the best division of the eight in the NFL. They are 8-2 against teams outside of the division.
The Raiders weren’t on anyone’s shortlist of Super Bowl contenders coming into the season, but they are 3-0 for the first time since 2002. And their quarterback Derek Carr looks like a legit MVP candidate through three games. So far Carr is averaging 401 passing yards per game (150 more than his career average). But can the offensive line hold up and will a running game finally emerge? The issue for Jon Gruden’s team has been failing to finish a season strong but if the answer to those two questions is yes, then the Raiders are for real.
The Broncos being 3-0 is one of the biggest surprises so far this season. True, their opponents are currently winless, but a team can only play who is on their schedule. So far, they have beaten teams they are supposed to and they have won by 14, 10, and 26 points. And their defense is allowing the fewest points per game in the league thus far. Teddy Bridgewater has looked good under center too. He is leading the league in completion percentage and hasn’t turned the ball over.
The Chargers are the real deal and so is Justin Herbert. The Bolts are coming off a win over the Chiefs on the road where their quarterback threw four touchdowns and had no turnovers. Herbert is averaging 318.7 yards per game (fourth in the NFL). Their defense is pretty good too. The Chargers are allowing 20.0 points per game (tied for seventh in the league). The Chargers are legit and just might win this division.
Yes, the Chiefs are shockingly in last place in their own division. And their defense needs to drastically improve. But they still have Patrick Mahomes and a lot of weapons on offense. They are also a hair away from being 3-0 instead of 1-2. While a trip back to the Super Bowl might not come as easy to the Chiefs as people thought, they are going to make the playoffs and are far and away the best last-place team in the AFC.
The AFC West could have three teams (maybe four if they can hold off the AFC North) make the playoffs this season.
Baltimore Ravens 2-1
Cleveland Browns 2-1
The Bengals have looked pretty good this season, however they do have a bad loss to the Chicago Bears, but that might be an aberration. Joe Burrow has been impressive so far coming back from the ACL tear he suffered last season. Though he needs to cut down on the interceptions (he has four through three games) his normally good accuracy and decision-making should help that improve as the season progresses. And wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is the only player in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to have a touchdown reception of at least 30 yards in his first three NFL games. Don’t pencil in the Bengals for the Super Bowl, but they do look like they have the start of something in Cinci.
The Ravens suffered a litany of injuries prior to the beginning of the season but are somehow still playing well. It helps that they have Lamar Jackson who can make video game-type moves on the field. But Jackson needs to take care of the football. He already has three interceptions and two fumbles through his team’s first three games. But it is still impressive that their offense ranks fourth in overall offense, 18th in passing, first in rushing, and 11th in scoring. Their defense does need to improve as they rank 26th in the league.
The Browns have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Granted it was against the Bears and Justin Fields was making his first NFL start, but Cleveland’s defense had nine sacks last week. On the offensive side of the ball Baker Mayfield has played well and the Browns eight rushing touchdowns lead the league.
After a promising start in Week 1 with a win over the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers have faltered. Their offensive line is not good and Ben Roethlisberger is too old. Pittsburgh could easily finish fourth in the division this year. But Mike Tomlin has never finished a season under .500 and the Steelers are the best last-place team in the AFC outside of the Chiefs.
The AFC North has enough talent to get two or three teams into the playoffs. The issue is the teams in this division will have to fight with the AFC West for the three wild card spots.
Buffalo Bills 2-1
Miami Dolphins 1-2
New York Jets 0-3
The Bills surprisingly lost to the Steelers in Week 1, but then got back on track with decisive wins over the Dolphins and Washington Football Team. Buffalo is ranked fourth in scoring defense (14.7 points per game) and Josh Allen is playing well and has seven touchdowns and only one interception through three games. They are going to win the AFC East and are on the shortlist of AFC teams who can compete for a Super Bowl.
Some people were high on the Dolphins coming into the season and thought they would compete for a division title. But they haven’t looked great thus far and Tua Tagovailoa will miss at least two more games with fractured ribs. Their offense is averaging only 15.0 points per game (30th in the league) and while their defense is better, it is ranked 23rd (allowing 27.3 points per game).
There was a lot of hope in New England coming into the season after the Patriots spent a ton of money in free agency and then drafted Mac Jones at 15. And while Jones could be the real deal and seems to be a great leader, he hasn’t been consistent enough so far. Bill Belichick’s team has one win and that was over the New York Jets. And it won’t get any easier this week when they take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. The Pats will most likely be 1-3 after Week 4.
The New York Jets have been predictably horrible to start the season. Most people would have the Jets ranked as the worst team in the league right now. Zach Wilson has struggled. Yes, he is a rookie and he doesn’t have a lot of around him, but he has already thrown seven interceptions (tied for the most in the NFL) and been sacked 15 times. That’s not all on Wilson, but some of it is. The Jets defense ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to points per game. But their offense ranks last in the NFL (6.7 points per game). They have scored a total of 20 points in their first three games and were shut out by the Broncos last week.
Tennessee Titans 2-1
Houston Texans 1-2
The Titans need to get back to running play-action effectively. But they are still averaging a solid 23.7 points per game on offense and that should improve as the season goes on and they work Julio Jones into the gameplan more. They also have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Derrick Henry. Tennessee will also be aided by having a fairly easy remaining schedule.
That less-than-tough remaining schedule has a lot to do with the other three teams in the division. It isn’t really even worth breaking them all down individually. The Titans will be pretty good this season, though they are not Super Bowl contenders. But the rest of the AFC South is a hot mess. It is the other three teams that cause the AFC South to be the worst division in the AFC by far.
That was the 2021 NFL division power rankings for the AFC. Click here for the NFC.