Excitement is in the air with preseason games starting this weekend and the NFL season opener between the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills just over a month away. Hype is building for one of the most anticipated seasons in league history.
The NFL has plunged into chaos after a crazy offseason with several notable stars on the move across the sport. LA has their work cut out for them with the remaining 31 teams looking to hit the reigning champs with their best shot.
Before the Rams can begin defending their Super Bowl crown, let’s dive into the state of the NFL to see what they’ll be up against.
NY Jets (6-11)
The Bills are one of the most complete teams in the NFL. They’re starving to get over the hump to finally break their maddening Super Bowl curse. It’s quite possible they could break it as early as this season. Josh Allen is a superstar and a top-five QB. Expect him to take another leap to boost Buffalo to the top seed in the AFC. Miami has plenty of firepower on offense thanks to their offseason trade for Tyreek Hill. Their prediction hinges on whether Tua is as accurate as Hill claims. New England is in a tough spot since they didn’t make many improvements but they also didn’t get worse either. Everyone is making a big deal over the Patriots not having named any coordinators to lead the offense or defense. They will be just fine but in a loaded conference, making the playoffs for them is a tall ask. The poor Jets got so much better but will probably finish last in their division again. If they were in the NFC, they would be a dark-horse playoff contender. Still, Zach Wilson should make enough strides in his sophomore campaign to drive all the moms wild. Mamma mia!
Oh wow, Zach Wilson with an elite off-platform throw pic.twitter.com/FTPDA1DNtj— Nico (@elitetakes_) August 1, 2022
The Bengals enter 2022 as the defending AFC champs, and they’ll prove last season was no fluke. Cincy spent free agency making sure Joe Burrow will stay upright. Burrow is already a top-10 quarterback so no opponent (or appendix) will get in his way. Baltimore had a tough finish in ‘21 and there’s bitterness in the air after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018. All the Lamar Jackson slander is ridiculous and that will drive a revenge campaign for him. Lamar has done nothing but win since being drafted and enough is enough when punishing him for his unique skillset. It would’ve been poetic justice to put the Browns in last place but I’m certain justice doesn’t exist anymore after the puny suspension Deshaun Watson received Monday. Fingers crossed that karma still exists though. Cleveland has a promising team that should be in contention all year long. What a shame though that they likely won’t go 0-17 like they deserve. Again, I’m rooting for you karma! If Mason Rudolph wins the QB1 job in Pittsburgh, it’s gonna be a painfully long season in the Steel City. For the first time in his head coaching career, Mike Tomlin will finish with a losing record.
Indy rid themselves of Carson Wentz and they’ll return to the front of the division because of it. Matt Ryan was an underrated move this offseason and the vet has a chance to win the ring that painfully eluded him in Atlanta.
“Matt Ryan is a statue”— Jay Robins (@RobinsLucas) August 1, 2022
Might not be Lamar Jackson, but he can still execute a rollout and have a good pass on the move https://t.co/gXLwcGMAra
That defense just has to pray that they can stay healthy this season. Make it happen Darius...I mean Shaquille Leonard! Tennessee hopes Derrick Henry has some tread left on his tires because they know Tannehill will fold like Kirk Cousins in primetime games if he has to carry the offense. The Jaguars finally have a competent head coach after the Urban Meyer debacle. Ice cream beats out lap dances any day of the week. Trevor Lawrence will get a do-over after a miserable rookie year.
Jaguars OLB Josh Allen laughs with a big ‘yeah’ when asked if there is a difference between Doug Pederson & last year with Urban Meyer: “It’s a professional locker room. It’s a professional setting. He’s talking to us like grown men.” pic.twitter.com/fSFgwO6viT— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) July 26, 2022
Houston will be a terrible team but they won’t be as awful as fans think. Davis Mills is a capable starter and kudos to the Texans’ front office for sticking with him. Lovie Smith and his majestic beard of wonder will only do so much as the rebuild continues.
I will likely be way out of the stratosphere on this one, but I predict the Chiefs’ stranglehold on the AFC West will mercifully end in 2022. They’ll be one of the top teams in their conference thanks to the power couple of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. However, their opening six game slate which includes matchups against the Cardinals, Chargers, Colts, Bucs, Raiders and Bills will make-or-break their season right off the bat. If Brandon Staley plays it smart and cools it with the reckless gambling like he’s at a Vegas casino, the other LA will win the West. Yes, I believe in Justin Herbert and company that much. Denver returns to relevancy with the trade for Russell Wilson. They won’t mesh right away and that’s expected. Peyton Manning wasn’t great in the beginning of his time in the Mile High City but I’d say things turned out just fine. The Raiders have a Hall of Fame signal caller in Derek Carr according to pal and new teammate Davante Adams.
Davante Adams is the only player in NFL history with at least 110 catches, 1350 receiving yards and 11 TD receptions in three separate seasons. pic.twitter.com/TG2x56yqjo— Raider Nation Boston (@RaiderNationBOS) August 1, 2022
All jokes aside, Carr is a solid player and Josh McDaniels will unlock something more special in him. Vegas might finish with a winning record again but their issue will be playing in the league’s toughest division. Similar to the Jets, if the Raiders were in the NFC, they’d easily be a playoff team.
NY Giants (6-11)
Jerry Jones committing to Mike McCarthy for another season is the most Jerry Jones thing ever. McCarthy will never win a Super Bowl ring in Dallas since Dak is no Aaron Rodgers. Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see that awkward reunion later this season. Philly is building quite a promising team. I loved the draft day trade for AJ Brown. Jalen Hurts has perhaps his last chance to prove himself before the City of Brotherly Love boos him out of town should he perform poorly. Washington’s off-the-field problems are more exciting than their product on the field...and that’s clearly not a good thing. Their name change sucks just as much as Dan Snyder. The Giants hiring Brian Daboll was the best coaching hire of the offseason. He will get the most out of mediocre first rounders Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Other than that, they’ll be battling the Commanders for last place in the division.
The Packers play in a bad division which is why they look like Super Bowl contenders to delusional cheeseheads every year. Aaron Rodgers should consider throwing to himself this season with Davante gone. On paper, Green Bay has a top-five defense which they’ll rely on plenty with the offense under construction. This is the most vulnerable the Packers have been since the Mike McCarthy era so they won’t run away with the North as in years past. Over the last couple seasons, Minnesota has lost way too many close games. This might change with a new coaching staff. Kirk Cousins now has a coach who doesn’t hate him so maybe that’ll translate to greater production on the field and in the win column. The Vikings are a playoff team if they can figure out their defense and how to win close games. Detroit won’t be a last-place team this season which is enough cause for celebration in the Motor City. They have a lot of promising young talent at their disposal. The rebuild is right on track. Bite those kneecaps Lions you’ve earned it! Da Bears are going to ruin Justin Fields like all other young Windy City QBs before him. Chicago is where signal callers go to die. They have no O-line or reliable pass catchers to throw to but hey, at least that Nagy guy is gone right?
Tampa Bay will be the only major competition the Rams have to face on their repeat quest. Tom Brady has so many playmakers on offense it should be illegal. Seriously, who let Julio Jones slip between the cracks?! TB12 has his last best chance at an eighth ring, that is until he comes out of retirement again before next season. Jameis Winston is coming off a promising campaign before tearing his ACL. Who knows how healthy he’ll be. Even if he struggles as he returns to form, the Saints have one of the top defenses in the league. Carolina has a fun little quarterback carousel going. (Don’t spin it too fast...Sam Darnold will get sick and start seeing ghosts again.)
Panthers QB Baker Mayfield sure seems to like OC Ben McAdoo’s offense. pic.twitter.com/BEQ7JWkAix— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) August 1, 2022
The Panthers had a great defense in 2021 that was hindered by horrific play at the most important position. This team has playmakers all over the field but needs consistent QB play...and another Superman reunion won’t cut it. Atlanta has the worst roster in the league. They are thin at virtually every position you can imagine. Don’t be surprised if the Falcons hold the top pick in next year’s draft. *Jaguars fans everywhere breathing a sigh of relief upon realizing they aren’t the worst anymore*
The Rams remain the class of this division and the NFL. Their additions of Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner made the rich even richer. As tough as it is to repeat as Super Bowl champs, LA has the strongest chance of any to represent the NFC once again. San Francisco will have to live with Trey Lance’s growing pains. He could be very special and can be another dynamic piece in the Niners’ offense. The 49ers didn’t get better coming off last season’s NFC Championship appearance but they will be major players in a weakened conference should things pan out. Arizona is another divisional team that didn’t improve after a playoff appearance. It might be a struggle for them to return if last season’s collapse was any indication. Seattle is stuck with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock at QB. It’ll be a genuine pleasure to watch Pete Carroll throw a raging b*tch fit on the sidelines once he realizes neither one is a capable starter in the NFL. But I’ve heard chewing gum helps with stress so he’s got that going for him.
What is most realistic for the Rams this season?
Matthew Stafford throws over 40 touchdowns again
Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson both reach 1,000 receiving yards
Bobby Wagner leads the NFL in total tackles
Cam Akers rushes for over 1,200 yards and has 10+ touchdown runs