Sports

NFL 2021-2022 Season Predictions After Week 1

How much potential does each team have after one week of football? 

By Christian DiBuono

Josh Allen is predicted to win the MVP award and lead the Bills to a potential Super Bowl berth. Credit: Kolpaper.com

After one week of NFL football, it is time to make predictions on how far every team will go, what players will or won’t break out, and which teams look like they will be playing in the playoffs this coming January. 

Here are 32 bold predictions for every NFL team, and their potential records this season.

AFC East

1. *Bills: 13-4

In 2020, Bills QB Josh Allen finished second in MVP voting while also finishing in the top five in passing yards and touchdown passes. If Allen can produce similar or better numbers than what he did last season, he will be a likely candidate to win this season’s MVP award along with leading the Bills to the best record in the league. 

2. Dolphins: 8-9

The success of the Miami Dolphins will rely heavily on a strong sophomore season by QB Tua Tagovailoa. Despite leading the Dolphins to a win last Sunday over New England, Tua did not have a strong performance as he threw for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Unless Tua can show major improvements this season, we may see backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett take the starting role at some point.  

3. Jets: 6-11

With rookie head coach Robert Saleh and No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, this season may serve as a developmental year for the Jets, who are the youngest team in the NFL. While Wilson has the potential to become a good quarterback in this league someday, this season he will struggle as the Jets may have problems protecting him in the pocket. 

4. Patriots: 6-11

In Bill Belichick’s second season without Tom Brady, Mac Jones will have struggles in his rookie season, Damien Harris will carry the ball more as the Patriots will want to run the ball more, and the patriots will suffer back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the 1993 and 1994 seasons. 

AFC North

1. *Browns: 12-5

Under Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns produced a winning season for the first time since 2007 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1994. This season, led by a solid backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and a potentially solid year by quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ defense, the Browns have a shot to record a better year and possibly win the division. 

2. *Steelers: 10-7

Under head coach Mike Tomlin and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have never experienced a losing season. This season will be no different as the Steelers have a chance to make the wildcard and make it out of the AFC North. 

3. *Ravens: 10-7

Lamar Jackson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last seasons and will do the same this year while also beating his career-high of 3,127 passing yards. 

4. Bengals: 4-13

Ja’Marr Chase will be the best performing rookie receiver this season when he receives at least 900 and becomes just another offensive weapon for Joe Burrow to throw to. Despite that, the Bengals will struggle to win in the tough AFC north. 

AFC South

1. *Titans: 11-6

Derrick Henry will once again show why he is the best running back in the league by leading the league in rushing yardages and rushing touchdowns. Julio Jones will also reach the 1,000 yard mark for the 8th time in his career. As a result, the Titans will convincingly win the division. 

2. Colts: 8-9

If Carson Wentz comes close to playing at the MVP level as he did in 2017 for the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles, the Colts could make the playoffs. At best, the Colts have the potential to win 11 games this year. However, if Wentz doesn’t perform well the Colts will miss the playoffs. 

3. Jaguars: 3-14

With the NFL season now being 17 games long, rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a chance to not only win the Offensive rookie of the year, but he may also break the single-season rookie record for most touchdown passes in a season. The current record is held by Justin Herbert who threw 31 touchdown passes last season. 

4. Texans: 2-15

Despite their opening week win against Jacksonville, the Houston Texans will not experience many wins this season. Houston will be looking to trade Deshaun Watson despite the ongoing lawsuits against him and will be in contention for the first pick in next year’s NFL draft.  

AFC West

1. *Chiefs: 13-4

The Chiefs are undoubtedly the favorites to win the AFC and make the Super Bowl once again. Since Patrick Mahomes took the starting quarterback role over Alex Smith in 2018, the Chiefs have made the AFC championship three times, made the Super Bowl two times, and won the Super Bowl in 2020. This year, the Chief will once again make the Super Bowl and Mahomes will be a candidate to win the MVP award. 

2. *Broncos: 9-8

The Broncos consist of solid defense, talented receivers, a dynamic running back in Melvin Gordon, and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Do not be surprised if the Broncos make some noise this season and make the wildcard spot. 

3. Chargers: 7-10

A healthy Austin Ekeler will be a key asset to the Chargers offense by producing at least 600 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Meanwhile, QB Justin Herbert will produce similar numbers he put up in his rookie season. 

4. Raiders: 7-10

Jon Gruden will lead the Raiders to another disappointing season where they will miss the playoffs and Derek Carr will eventually be replaced by Marcus Mariota at quarterback. 

NFC East

1. *Cowboys: 9-8

After suffering a horrific ankle injury and undergoing surgery last season, quarterback Dak Prescott will reach 4,000 passing yards, at least 30 touchdowns, win the comeback player of the year, and possibly lead the cowboys to a division championship and playoff berth. However, if Prescott is unable to come back strong the cowboys will slip out of the playoff picture once we hit December. 

2. Eagles: 8-9

The Eagles will have a roller-coaster season as coach Nick Sirianni will be challenged in his first year on the job, and Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew II will be competing for the starting QB spot all season. 

3. Giants: 6-11

It is never a good sign when a football team makes roster changes to their offensive line just before their first regular-season game just like what the Giants did. During the game against Denver, the offensive line failed to protect quarterback Daniel Jones in the pocket and block for dynamic back Saquon Barkley. 

Because of the struggles at the offensive line, Barkley will struggle to reach 1,000 yards rushing and Jones will struggle to produce solid numbers.

4. Washington: 5-12

With Ryan Fitzpatrick out for a good portion of the season and Taylor Heinicke in the starting QB role, Washington won’t be able to win back-to-back division titles. Instead, young players like WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson will take major development steps this year and produce good stats. 

NFC North

1. *Packers: 11-6

In potentially Aaron Rodger’s final year in Green Bay, the Packers will win their division, win the NFC championship, and make the Super Bowl. With a roster including Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, and plenty of productive defensive pieces, the Packers will finally get past the threshold and contend for a Super Bowl Championship. 

2. Vikings: 8-9

In another season where the Vikings will struggle to win and beat out the Packers for the division, QB Kirk Cousins will put up average stats, Dalvin Cook will struggle to reach 1,000 yards because he is injury prone, and Justin Jefferson continue to grow as a player and reach 1,000 yards receiving easily. 

3. Bears: 5-12

Andy Dalton will be the starter, for now. The question remains, how long before Justin Fields will take over the starting role? By Week 10, a bye week for Chicago, it is unlikely that Dalton will still be the starter. Look for Fields to light it up once he starts. 

4. Lions: 4-13

In his rookie season, Dan Campbell won’t be winning a lot of games in Detroit. Expect another rebuilding season in Detroit and no more than four wins.

 NFC West 

1. *49ers: 12-5 

Last season the 49ers got hit with many decimating injuries and experienced a Super Bowl hanger when they went 6-10. This season, if they can remain healthy, they could make the playoffs and win the division. 

2. *Rams: 11-6

With the addition of Mathew Stafford this past offseason, the Rams’ offense will be deadly despite their woes at the running back position. Expect the Rams to contend for the division title, but don’t expect them to make it out of the wildcard round. 

3. *Seahawks: 10-7

It is hard to rule out the Seahawks as potential division title winners because they have Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and a decent defense. However, with the 49ers being healthy and the Rams making an impact move for Stafford, the Seahawks will not be able to win the division and will settle with a wildcard spot. 

4. *Cardinals: 9-8

No division in the history of football has ever had all its teams make the playoffs. However, with the playoff scenario including four division winners and three wildcard spots, a division like the NFC West having all its teams make the playoffs is a possibility. The Cardinals, in my opinion, will make that happen. 

While the 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks will make the playoffs, the Cardinals will not be an outlier. Kyler Murray will throw for 30 touchdowns and 4,000 passing yards, while receivers A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins will produce similar receiving stats hovering around 900 to 1,000 receiving yards each. 

NFC South

1. *Buccaneers: 13-4 

A Tom Brady-led Buccaneers will most definitely will the NFC South title, but it will not guarantee another Super Bowl ring. 

2. Saints: 8-9

Despite their dominant win over the Packers last Sunday, Sean Payton’s team will regress from last year and miss the playoffs due to the absence of Drew Brees through retirement, and Jameis Winston throwing at least 20 interceptions. 

3. Falcons: 6-11

Last season, Calvin Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and 9 touchdowns in 15 games. With Julio Jones in Tennessee now, Ridley will produce similar or better numbers as Atlanta’s number 1 receiver. Do not be surprised when Ridley catches 100 passes, receives over 1,500 yards, and scores 10 touchdowns. 

4. Panthers: 6-11

In 2020, Christian McCaffrey went through an injury-riddled season. This season the star running back will rebound and reach the 2,500-yard mark in rushing and receiving combined. 

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