I am a day late on these picks but Thursday’ game confirmed my thoughts on a few spots. Below are the each divisions
NFC West- San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance is going to make the difference. The 49ers and Rams are pretty even if you spread out the overall talent. The biggest difference for Los Angeles is consistency at QB and ofcourse Aaron Donald.
Lance is a dynamic athlete that is going to challenge opposing defeneses. Donald will not have a stagnant Jimmy G in the pocket, it will be a bigger challenge for the all-time great. The Rams will be in the playoffs but it is concerning that your QB had offseason surgery on his throwing arm. I am going to give the Niners the edge, not by much. Lance could struggle to start the season but his talent is limitless.
NFC South- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady’s return locked up the division for the Bucs. Even at his senior age Brady can manage an offense loaded with weapons. The NFC South will have an improved Carolina team with hopefully a healthy Baker Mayfield and a Saints team with a healthy Jamies Winston, but both of those QB’s are unproven in the big moment.
The Bucs can rely on their run game with Leonard Fournette and rookie Rashaad White. Give Brady a solid run game and he will be able to pick apart one on ones all over the field. Tampa also has the best defense in the conference.
NFC North- Green Bay Packers
The Packers don’t really care who takes the field with Aaron Rodgers. Put out whomever you want and he will find a way to make them great. This has been the game plan for the last few years in Green Bay. Somehow a team that traded away arguably the best receiver in the NFL is a considerable favorite to not only take their division but many see them as a threat to win the NFC.
There are questions on the offensive line, questions about receivers, questions about Rodgers hair length. Lots of questions but the only answer needed is Aaron Rodgers is so much better than every other QB in this division. The defense is legit and they have a two man running attack that will cause teams problems. Vikings should make it interesting, the Lions are better but in the end Rodgers will lead the Packers to the NFC North title.
NFC East- Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles made the sexy moves in the offseason, adding WR AJ Brown and CB James Bradberry. Philly made the statement that they are going to rely on Jalen Hurts to run their revamped offense. If Hurts can take the next step with his accuracy to go along with his dynamic running ability then the Eagles may have something.
Philly will be fun on the offensive end but the problems will still be there on defense. Against quality QB’s they will continue to stuggle. Dak Prescott is healthy and still has elite level weapons. The x-factor could be the continued use of Tony Pollard in the short pass game, his ability to create will help while the Cowboys figure out their offensive line questions. The Dallas defense has more playmakers that can make a difference. They win the division but it will be down to the last game per usual.
AFC South- Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan is super exciting, but adding an MVP QB that seems like he still has the ability to make plays is always a good thing. Ryan’s biggest attribute will be his leadership. Compared to Carson Wentz it’s pretty much as solid an upgrade as you can get.
The Jags will be better in 2022 but the only real competition comes from Derrick Henry and the guys that play with him (Titans). Tennessee lost a big part of their defense when Harold Landry went down with an ACL injury. Tennessee will have to lean on the run game and hope the defense can hold up. This is Jonathon Taylor’s division and he will own it.
AFC West- Los Angeles Chargers
Easily the most competitive division in football. The Broncos added Russell Wilson, the Raiders added Davante Adams, the Chargers and Chiefs have two QB’s competing for the MVP.
The Chargers will return their entire offense that was tops in the league last season. Austin Ekeler will be joined by promising rookie Isiah Spiller, while Joshua Palmer is considered a potential breakout candidate. Oh, they also added a solid TE in former Ram Gerald Everett. The Chargers also addressed a huge problem from last season, adding Sebastian Joesph-Day and Austin Johnson to slow down opposing run games. They also added Khalil Mack, he and Joey Bosa will make things fun for Patrick Mahomes. The Chargers will be a problem on both sides of the football.
AFC North- Baltimor Ravens
If DeShaun Watson was playing before week 11 the Browns would have a shot at this division. Since he is not this is a two team race between the Ravens and the Bengals. Cincy has another year of progression for Joe Burrow will make the Bengals offense something fun to watch all season. They should put up a great fight against the Ravens, but Balitmore has a better coach and better defense. Lamar Jackson still lacks the weapongs Burrow has but there is enough there for the Ravens to put up plenty of points.
Don’t sleep on Rashad Bateman and rookie tightend Isiah Likely. They can both be huge for the Ravens in 2022. I think Jackson puts up MVP numbers, and the Ravens take the division by one game.
AFC East- Buffalo Bills
Maybe the Dolphins test the Bills? Ha, no Bills win this division without a challenge if Josh Allen is healthy. He is too good and the pass rush is ferocious.