clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Power Rankings 2021: A winning streak moved Washington up, but they’re still top 10 in the draft order

Washington Power Rankings!

Washington Football Team v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Washington Football Team entered the season with high hopes and expectations of repeating as the NFC East champions. They went into Sunday’s game with a 3-6 record after upsetting Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 9 12 point home underdogs. Ron Rivera, Taylor Heinicke and...umm... a lot of other people were returning to Carolina to face the returning Cam Newton and the Panthers. The reunion was good for Rivera and company and they flew out of Charlotte with the win.

The team moved into 3rd place in the NFC East with a 4-6 record, but the NFC is wide open right now. Washington is on a two game winning streak heading into their Monday Night Football home game against the Seattle Seahawks. Ron Rivera talked about dangling the carrot of making the playoffs, and that will continue to be the goal down the stretch. Washington moved up in this week’s power rankings, and the narrative is starting to shift after a very rocky start to the season.

High: 20

Low: 25

Average: 22.2

#20

Washington Post(Maske)

The wins over the Buccaneers and Panthers have kept the season from unraveling. Taylor Heinicke is getting it done at QB, and Coach Ron Rivera won Sunday in his return to Carolina. This team has been a disappointment for most of the season but suddenly is playing at a level much closer to what was expected all along. Last Week: 24

MMQB(Gramling)

The Chase Young injury is huge for a team that has struggled on the back end and needs to dominate in the trenches, but at least for one week Taylor Heinicke bailed them out with a number of game-altering second-reaction plays in Carolina.

CBS Sports(Prisco)

Winning on the road against Carolina keeps them in the playoff chase. Taylor Heinicke is playing well. Last week: 27

The Ringer(Kelly) - Last Week: 23

#21

NFL.com(Hanzus)

Washington doesn’t have the most talented quarterback in the league, but Taylor Heinicke plays the position like the whole world is against him. Heinicke was emotional and fearless in a 27-21 win over the Panthers, throwing three touchdown passes to outshine Cam Newton in the former MVP’s return to Bank of America Stadium. Heinicke made big throws all afternoon, sending a message to the same Panthers team that deemed him expendable on cutdown day two years earlier. Washington can check into the NFC playoff race in earnest with a win over the Seahawks on Monday night. Last week: 26

Bleacher Report

By most measurements, it has been a disappointing season in the nation’s capital. But after winning just two of eight games before the bye, Washington peeled off its most impressive win of the season in Week 10 in upsetting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sunday in Charlotte, Washington built on that victory by doing something it hadn’t done all season long: winning back-to-back games.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who started the first game of his NFL career for the Panthers back in 2018. After throwing three touchdown passes and outplaying Cam Newton on Sunday, former teammate Donte Jackson lauded Heinicke’s improvement.

“You can always count on him to be a fighter, a competitor,” Jackson told reporters. “He just plays to win. It doesn’t matter if he has to hand it off 100 times or throw it 100 times. He really competed for those guys today.”

This mini-win streak is unlikely to get Washington back in the postseason hunt. The team is just too far off the pace in the NFC East and has too many teams ahead of it in the wild-card race.

But at least Washington is showing some fight in the second half.

“The bye week proved to be a godsend for the Washington Football Team,” Sobleski said. “After a 2-6 start, the nameless ones won their last two games against the Buccaneers and Panthers. They’ve done so with improved quarterback play and a much-improved defense. Heinicke has been efficient with a 77.8 completion percentage and four-to-zero touchdown-to-interception ratio in the last two games. Meanwhile, the much-maligned defense allowed fewer than 300 yards in both contests despite Chase Young’s season-ending injury.” Last Week: 22

Athlon Sports(Fischer)

The Ron Rivera-Cam Newton Bowl was worth the price of admission in Charlotte even if the home side didn’t get the end result they wanted. As much as the head coach’s defense has stepped things up in recent weeks though, there still needs to be more production out of the offense trying its best to find Terry McLaurin on every play. Last Week: 22

The Lines

Despite losing Chase Young (ACL) and continuing to play without Montez Sweat (jaw), Washington’s defense continued to show improvement in a win over Carolina. Ron Rivera’s club has held three straight opponents under 300 total yards and denied the Panthers on seven of nine 3rd down attempts in Week 11. Last Week: 24

#22

Pro Football Talk(Florio)

Monday night’s game at Seattle suddenly becomes huge for Washington. Last Week: 26

New York Post - Last Week: 25

#23

ESPN

Most memorable Thanksgiving game: RG III puts on a show in 38-31 win over Cowboys on Nov. 22, 2012

Electrifying rookie Robert Griffin III entertained a national audience in a 38-31 win over Dallas — the first time Washington had defeated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving (they’re now 2-8 vs. Dallas on the holiday). Griffin had shown he could run all season, but in this game it was his arm that torched Dallas. Griffin threw four touchdown passes, including three in a 28-point second quarter. With Dallas focused on the zone run reads, Griffin attacked them with play-action: He completed 6 of 9 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns with this look. That it happened in Griffin’s home state and near where he played college ball at Baylor made it all the more fun for the eventual offensive rookie of the year. — John Keim Last Week: 25

Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Terry McLaurin had to take note of Courtland Sutton’s four-year, $60.8 million contract. Nothing against Sutton, but McLaurin is the far superior player. Given that McLaurin might be Washington’s second-best player (we’ll still give No. 1 to the injured Chase Young), McLaurin will get whatever he wants. Last Week: 26

Yahoo Sports(Davis)

Why did no one make a bigger deal of QB Taylor Heinicke’s Carolina revenge tour last week? Were there really more prominent prodigal sons in Charlotte or something? Last Week: 24

Fansided(Baxter)

Could Ron Rivera’s club use their Week 10 upset of the Buccaneers as a springboard? The Washington Football Team made its way to Charlotte as Ron Rivera took on his former employer for the second straight year.

It was a balanced offense that gave Carolina’s defense fits all afternoon. Antonio Gibson finished with exactly half (95) of the team’s 190 rushing yards and Taylor Heinicke threw for 206 yards and three scores in the comeback victory. Last week: 23

Sporting News(Iyer)

Washington might need to reconsider its future at QB given how Taylor Heinicke is playing in Scott Turner’s system, especially knowing he’s down key weapons in wide receiver Curtis Samuel and tight end Logan Thomas. Heinicke is pushing to finish the season as the starter regardless of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury status. Last Week: 25

Sportsnaut(Johnson)

Here comes the Washington Football Team. In a very meaningful game for Ron Rivera, Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson and Taylor Heinicke made just enough plays to secure a crucial victory. Now facing the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, a 5-6 record is within reach. Last Week: 27

#24

Pro Football Network

Taylor Heinicke still leaves a ton of plays on the field in the Washington passing attack. Nevertheless, he makes up for it every once in a while with his ability to create out of structure.

On one play against the Panthers, he faded away on a downfield crossing route that should have been a touchdown in the front corner. But he missed an open Terry McLaurin (which happens a lot), and Washington missed out on points. But on another crucial down, Heinicke stumbled and rumbled around, buying time until his receiver could come back to the ball.

Finally, the Football Team had a good defensive outing on third down, and they picked up a win against Ron Rivera’s former team in the process. Last Week: 25

Touchdown Wire(Wojton)

The Panthers had their homecoming for QB Cam Newton spoiled by Washington. QB Taylor Heinicke had three touchdown passes as head coach Ron Rivera won back at his old stomping grounds in Carolina instead. Last Week: 27

Oddshark - Last Week: 25

#25

NumberFire - Last week: 26

The Washington Football Team’s current record would “earn” them the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. They are one of 3 teams that have 4 wins. Three teams have 3 and 4 wins, and the lowly Detroit Lions are at the top of the pack with 0 wins and clear favorites for the #1 overall pick. Washington still has 7 games to go so there is a lot of season left, and Rivera will try to keep his team on the path to one of the 3 Wildcard spots in the NFC.

Poll

Where should the Washington Football Team rank heading into Week 12?

  • 9%
    10-15
    (37 votes)
  • 44%
    16-20
    (168 votes)
  • 44%
    21-26
    (168 votes)
  • 1%
    27-32
    (7 votes)
380 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Where will Washington pick in next year’s draft?

  • 15%
    19-32
    (56 votes)
  • 69%
    11-18
    (253 votes)
  • 9%
    6-10
    (34 votes)
  • 0%
    1-5
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Trade up for a QB
    (12 votes)
  • 1%
    Trade 1st round pick for a veteran QB
    (6 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now