Bold predictions for every NFC team in 2022

Atlanta Falcons: Drake London will have a better Rookie season than Julio Jones

Drake London has the profile of an alpha WR1 and should be in a situation to put up big numbers as a rookie. With his big body, London is a target monster with tons of after-the-catch ability. London is the clear #1 on the Falcons depth chart, and the Falcons should be playing from behind a lot in 2022. The game script will force the Falcons to throw, and when they do, the ball will go to London.

Julio Jones put up 959 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season with the Falcons. I think London can top both of those numbers in 2022.

Arizona Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury will be fired at the season’s end

The Cardinals have disappointed under Kingsbury, and the organization planted their flag with Murray by giving him a massive contract extension. With the substantial financial commitment to Murray, it’s clear that Kingsbury will have to fall on the sword if the Cardinals disappoint again.

Kingsbury isn’t a good coach and has failed to make adjustments down the stretch. He never deserved this job in the first place. If he weren’t friends with Sean McVay, he’d probably be coaching in the Sun Belt right now.

Carolina Panthers: Matt Rhule will be the first coach fired

Matt Rhule was brought in to revamp the offense, and so far, the offense has been nothing short of a disaster. Rhule hasn’t been able to put his faith into a quarterback and has continually juggled his quarterbacks. With the addition of Baker Mayfield, Rhule has another quarterback to pull the plug on prematurely.

After a week 3 to 7 stretch where the Panthers face the Saints, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, and Bucs, I expect Rhule to be fired.

Chicago Bears: The Bears will go above .500 in the second half of the season

The Bears’ front office is in the process of gutting their team, getting rid of the bad draft picks and bad contracts of the previous regime. However, they inherit Justin Fields, who I believe will eventually become a top 10 QB. I think Fields will round into form in the second half of the season and finish strong against a late schedule that features some bottom-feeders like the Lions, Falcons, and Jets.

Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb will lead the league in receiving yards

The Cowboys’ offense was 2nd in the league in passing yards a year ago. Amari Cooper became a cap casualty, and Michael Gallup isn’t expected to return until midseason. This means a considerable jump in targets and opportunities for CeeDee Lamb, one of the NFL’s most talented young wide receivers.

Detroit Lions: Their goal should be to reunite Bryce Young and Jameson Williams, but they won’t have a high pick in the ’23 draft

I think the Lions should be tanking, but I don’t believe they will be able to. It’s tough to be a lousy football team if you have a good offensive line, and the Lions are projected to have one of the better units in the league. When he’s protected, Jared Goff is a pretty good quarterback, and the Lions have put some talent around him.

The Lions will be left to hope that NFL GMs inexplicably write off Bryce Young due to his size, which could happen.

Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary will record 14+ sacks

Rashan Gary is an ascending superstar pass rusher. Gary’s pass rush grade a year ago was 5th in the league falling behind Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, TJ Watt, and Joey Bosa. Already in elite company, Gary has had an elite camp, and he will follow it with an elite season in his 4th campaign.

Los Angeles Rams: The Rams will have one of the worst rushing attacks in the league

As with most defending Super Bowl champions, the Rams lost a lot of production this offseason. Notably, the Rams lost two starters on the offensive line with Andrew Whitworth retiring and Austin Corbett going to Carolina. Joe Noteboom projects to take Whitworth’s spot at left tackle. Noteboom is pretty solid in pass protection but struggles with run blocking. Sliding in Corbett’s spot at right guard will be 3rd-round rookie Logan Bruss, who will have a steep learning curve.

The Rams were already struggling to run the ball at the end of the season last year. They rushed 30 times for 73 yards in the divisional round, 29 for 70 yards in the NFC championship game, and 23 for 43 yards in the Super Bowl. Sean McVay is excellent at designing plays in the run game, but even he won’t be able to overcome this personnel group.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will make one last playoff run with this core

With key pieces like Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Smith reaching the end of their primes, this could be the last run this Vikings’ core makes together. I think their last run together will be a good one as the Vikings will compete for the NFC North title.

After the season, the Vikings will say goodbye to some familiar faces, but they have a decent core in place with a young offensive line and superstar Justin Jefferson.

New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston will have the best season ever of any quarterback who has shared a division with Tom Brady

This may seem like a bold take, but once you dive into the numbers, it’s not that outlandish. The distinction boils down to 2019 Josh Allen (3,089 yards, 20 TDs, 9 Ints) or 2002 Chad Pennington (3,120 yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs). In his 7 starts a year ago, a clear-eyed post-Lasik Jameis Winston put up 1,170 yards, 14 TDs, and 3 INTS.

In 2022 his receiving core will see a facelift. The Saints leading receiver a year ago was Marquez Callaway. This year Jameis will get to throw passes to Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave, and Alvin Kamara. I’m a big believer in Jameis in 2022 and think he will have the best quarterback season by a Tom Brady division mate.

New York Giants: The Giants will establish themselves as a top destination for available QBs in 2023

It will take some time for the Giants to get out from under the horrors of the Dave Gettleman era, but some pieces are in place. They have some good young players at pivotal positions with Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, Andrew Thomas, and Evan Neal. Brian Daboll is an excellent offensive coach; however, I don’t think he can fix Daniel Jones. As a result, Jones will be gone in 2023, but the situation should attract a good quarterback to the Big Apple.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis will have a dominant rookie season

The Eagles are deep and talented on the defensive line, which is a good thing because this is a secondary that leaves me with some questions. First-round draft choice Jordan Davis can shut down the inside run game by himself. His penetration in the passing game should open up free sacks for Brandon Graham, Hassan Reddick, and Derek Barnett. I believe Davis will make a massive impact on this defense that struggled against good quarterbacks a year ago. Consequently, Davis will be named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks will lead the NFL in rushing yards

While Russell Wilson was their quarterback, the Seahawks were so run-heavy that they kicked off the “let Russ Cook” movement by angering Seahawks fans on social media. Now that their options at quarterback are Geno Smith and Drew Lock, the Seahawks have the potential to take a run-heavy offense to a whole new level, and they have the backs to do it. Rashaad Penny was the best runner in the NFL over the last quarter of the season, and second-round pick Kenneth Walker was the best pure runner in the 2022 draft.

San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance wins the 2022 MVP

In the past, I’ve written a lot about how I thought Patrick Mahomes’ redshirt season did wonders for him as a quarterback. From week 17 of his rookie season to week 1 of his sophomore season, he looked like a completely different quarterback. After Mahomes’ smashing success, I was waiting for another team to take the same approach with their future franchise quarterback. Enter Trey Lance.

Kyle Shanahan has made Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard look like okay NFL quarterbacks in the past. Shanahan now gets to mold a quarterback in Lance that has a bazooka for a right arm and running back speed. Looking back at Lance’s tape from a year ago, all his mistakes seem fixable with coaching, and the traits he possesses are ones you cannot coach. As a result, Lance has a real chance to run for over 1,000 yards and will be quarterbacking one of the NFL’s best teams. With his elite talent and a great supporting cast, the ingredients are in place for Trey to have an MVP season in 2023.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive Line issues will plague the Buccaneers early in the season

I understand Tom Brady gets the ball out fast, but pressure up the middle has always been his kryptonite. The Buccaneers have two enormous question marks slated to start at left guard and center. The projected left guard is Aaron Stinnie, a 28-year-old who has made just one career start. If it’s not Stinnie, it will be rookie Luke Goedeke. Robert Hainsey, a third-round choice from a year ago, is slated to take over at center after Ryan Jensen suffered a season-ending injury.

I think the line will eventually mold into form, but the Bucs could come out of the early part of their schedule (that features the Cowboys, Saints, Packers, and Chiefs) with a 1-3 record.

Washington Commanders: Sam Howell will start games at quarterback for the Commanders in 2022

Sam Howell was one of two (Malik Willis being the other) quarterbacks in the 2022 draft that I thought was worth taking a chance on. Howell slipped to the fifth round but has had a strong camp followed by an electric preseason debut. If you’re looking to get some reps as a backup, there are few guys you’d rather be behind than Carson Wentz. Wentz’s erratic play and injury-prone nature will lead to Howell getting some time before the year is over.

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