NFL Week 1 Power Rankings – Bills Get Early Season Test vs Rams

Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is set to kick off on Thursday night.

There are some interesting storylines heading into the first week of the regular season.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson will face a familiar foe as he travels back to Seattle for a matchup versus the Seahawks.

Meanwhile, Josh Allen and Buffalo Bills will enter the season as Super Bowl favorites out of the AFC East.

The Bills open the NFL regular season on Thursday Night Football with a tough matchup on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

Check out our NFL Week 1 Power Rankings below.


Find Your Favorite NFL Teams:

49ers | Bears | Bengals | Bills | Broncos | Browns | Buccaneers | Cardinals | Chargers | Chiefs | Colts |
Commanders | Cowboys | Dolphins | Eagles | Falcons | Giants | Jaguars | Jets | Lions | Packers |
Panthers | Patriots | Raiders | Rams | Ravens | SaintsSeahawksSteelersTexansTitans | Vikings

NFL Week 1 Power Rankings Chart

Rank Team  Super Bowl Odds Notes
1 Buffalo BillsBuffalo Bills logo +600 After adding Von Miller, Bills enter the 2022 NFL season as Super Bowl favorites. Led by one of the league’s top defenses and NFL  MVP favorite Josh Allen, Buffalo is expected to be the team to beat in the AFC in 2022.
2 Los Angeles RamsLos Angeles Rams logo +1100 Fresh off of winning Super Bowl LVI, Los Angeles brought back most of the key players on its playoff roster. The biggest question mark in L.A. right now is the health of QB Matthew Stafford’s right arm.
3 Tampa Bay BuccaneersTampa Bay Buccaneers logo +900 Tom Brady’s retirement didn’t last long and its hard to overreact about a 45-year-old veteran missing part of training camp. As long as Brady is under center, the Bucs will be Super Bowl contenders in the NFC.
4 Los Angeles ChargersLos Angeles Chargers logo +1100 Quarterback Justin Herbert has broken all sorts of NFL records in his first two NFL seasons. One of the frontrunners for NFL MVP, Herbert will benefit from an improved Chargers’ defense in 2022. Khalil Mack joins Joey Bosa in LA to form one of the league’s top pass rushing duos.
5 San Francisco 49ersSan Francisco 49ers logo +1600 The 49ers aren’t favored to win the NFC West but will still be tough to beat in 2022. Head coach Kyle Shanahan put his faith in Trey Lance and the 49ers’ season will likely depend on the development of the former No. 3 overall pick.
6 Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati Bengals logo +1600 Last year, the Bengals put the league on notice by making a surprising Super Bowl run.  A year later, Cincinnati is the favorite to win the AFC North. An improved offensive line should give quarterback Joe Burrow enough time to dissect opposing defenses in 2022.
7 Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers logo +1200 Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be without one of his top weapons after the team dealt Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. Green Bay will move forward with Allen Lazard, along with rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson on the outside.
8 Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs logo +1000 With Tyreek Hill now in Miami, the Chiefs offense is expected to be less reliant on generating big plays in 2022. Look for a more efficient season under center from Patrick Mahomes as Kansas City looks to contend in a loaded AFC West division.
9 Denver BroncosDenver Broncos logo +2200 The Broncos sold for a record $4.65 billion in the offseason. Russell Wilson joins a team with a top-10 defense and instantly propels the Broncos into the shortlist of Super Bowl contenders. First, Denver will have to get through the AFC West.
10 Baltimore RavensBaltimore Ravens logo +1800 Do the Ravens believe that they can win a Super Bowl with Lamar Jackson at quarterback? Jackson enters Week 1 of the NFL season without an extension and the team traded away Hollywood Brown, his top receiver.
11 New Orleans SaintsNew Orleans Saintslogo +4000 Jameis Winston showed flashes of improvement before getting injured in 2021. With a healthy Michael Thomas, plus new additions Jarvis Landry and rookie Chris Olave, Winston could be in for a bounce back year.
12 Indianapolis ColtsIndianapolis Colts logo +2200 After giving up on the Carson Wentz experience, the Colts elected to move forward with savvy veteran Matt Ryan. The former Falcons’ quarterback enters the season with 107 career losses, the most among active NFL quarterbacks.
13 Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles logo +2000 After adding AJ Brown in a deal with the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles are giving quarterback Jalen Hurts the support necessary to take a step forward this year. A revamped offensive line should also help Hurts and the Eagles offense move the chains with consistency.
14 Dallas CowboysDallas Cowboys logo +2200 Led by second year linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys have the potential to be a top-10 defense. The big question mark in Dallas is whether the offensive line will be able to keep the ground game going without Tyron Smith.
15 Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins logo +4000 Tua Tagavailoa has all of the necessary tools to take a step forward in Year 3. Tyreek Hill joins Jaylen Waddle as one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL but the addition of Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead might be Miami’s biggest offseason acquisition.
16 Las Vegas RaidersLas Vegas Raiders logo +3300 Veteran quarterback Derek Carr is expected to guide one of the NFL’s top offenses in 2022. The arrival of Davante Adams changes how opposing defenses can attack the Raiders and will free up opportunities for both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfroe over the middle of the field.
17 Arizona CardinalsArizona Cardinals logo +4000 Kyler Murray’s contract stole most of the headlines during the offseason but the Cardinals failed to keep up with the rest of their NFC rivals. Without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks, Arizona will have its hands full contending with the Rams and 49ers in the NFC West.
18 Tennessee TitansTennessee Titans logo +4000 How big will the loss of Harold Landry be for a team that relies on its defense to win games? A top-10 pass rusher in 2021, Landry leaves a big hole on a Tennessee team that already has question marks on offense entering the year.
19 New England PatriotsNew England Patriots logo +5000 Mac Jones leads an overhauled Patriots offense. Newcomer Davante Parker is expected to have a major role in the Pats’ revamped passing game. Bill Belichick did not name an offensive or defensive coordinator in 2022. The last time he did that, the Patriots went 14-2.
20 Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers logo +8000 Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season as an NFL head coach. Meanwhile, Steelers’ starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is 29-21 as a starter and hasn’t had a losing record since going 4-8 as a rookie in 2017. With a top-notch defense and skilled players on offense, the Steelers could surprise some teams in the AFC.
21 Cleveland BrownsCleveland Browns logo +4500 The Browns have a top-tier defense and strong running game, which should be enough to keep them in most games until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension. But for now, Cleveland’s season rests in the hands of backup Jacoby Brissett, which won’t make Browns’ fans very comfortable in a tough AFC North.
22 Minnesota VikingsMinnesota Vikings logo +3300 Can the Vikings stay healthy enough to contend in the NFC North? With Dalvin Cook in the backfield and Justin Jefferson out wide, Minnesota has one of the best running backs and wide receivers in the NFL. However, the Vikings ranked 24th in the NFL in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed per game in 2021.
23 New York GiantsNew York Giants logo +12500 The Giants are counting on a big leap forward from QB Daniel Jones, who will have a healthy cast of playmakers after an injury-riddled 2021 campaign. Saquon Barkley is back behind a revamped offensive line that features No. 7 overall pick Evan Neal. Meanwhile, No. 5 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux could be a game-changer for the Giants’ defense.
24 Washington CommandersWashington Commanders logo +12500 Washington will be counting on Carson Wentz to turn back the clock to contend in the NFC East race. With Chase Young still recovering from an ACL injury, the Commanders defense may also need some time to get up to speed in 2022.
25 Jacksonville JaguarsJacksonville Jaguars logo +12500 New Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson brought in an offensive-minded staff to help with the development of QB Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville’s defense will also improve, thanks in part to the pass rushing duo of Josh Allen and No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker.
26 Detroit LionsDetroit Lions logo +12500 The Lions had a quiet offseason but made some moves that could make a big impact on both sides of the ball. The defense also gets a boost thanks to No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Following a 3-13-1 year, things are finally looking up in Detroit.
27 Atlanta FalconsAtlanta Falcons logo +25000 Atlanta shipped Matt Ryan to Indianapolis and supplanted him with veteran Marcus Mariota. A former No. 2 overall pick, Mariota served as a backup in Tennessee and Las Vegas but was a league average QB as a starter. With Cordarelle Patterson, Drake London, and TE Kyle Pitts, the Falcons could shock some teams with Mariota under center.
28 New York JetsNew York Jets logo +10000 Zach Wilson’s injury could mean that the Jets will need to wait to see if the former No. 2 pick is indeed their QB of the future. New York did a lot of things right in the offseason, including drafting CB Ahmad Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson DE Jermaine Johnson II and RB Breece Hall in the first two rounds.
29 Carolina PanthersCarolina Panthers logo +12500 Carolina drafted Ikem Ekwonu with the No. 6 pick, which should help the Panthers hold down the left tackle spot for the next decade. QB Baker Mayfield will have the benefit of playing with Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore, two of the premiere players at their position.
30 Chicago BearsChicago Bears logo +15000 The Bears got rid of head coach Matt Nagy, which was the right choice. The team also moved on from Khalil Mack and cut a few other veterans to clear up cap space, signifying the start of a new era in Chicago. Still, QB Justin Fields projected to play behind one of the worst offensive lines, which means the offense could struggle.
31 Seattle SeahawksSeattle Seahawks logo +15000 After trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, football fans are sleepless in Seattle. Head coach Pete Carroll opted to start Geno Smith in Week 1, a sign that the Seahawks aren’t ready to hand the reins over to Drew Locke. No matter who’s under center, the Seahawks might be tough to watch in 2022.
32 Houston TexansHouston Texans logo +30000 Houston moved on from Deshaun Watson and received a significant return from the Browns, which is step in the right direction for the Texans. Davis Mills will get another chance to prove himself under center. If Mills can take a step forward, Houston could move up this list soon.

NFL Week 1 Power Rankings

The 2022 NFL season will kick off on Thursday night as the defending Super Bowl Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football.

Week 1 features some early season divisional games and must-watch matchups.

Check out some of the key NFL games to watch in Week 1:

  • Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Rams (Thursday Night Football)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
  • New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
  • Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
  • Kansas City Chiefs @ Arizona Cardinals
  • Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos @ Seattle Seahawks (Monday Night Football)

Let’s go over our complete NFL Week 1 Power Rankings below.

32. Houston Texans — Can Davis Mills Be A Long-Term Solution in Houston?

Houston Texans logo

The Texans come into the regular season with little to no expectations under head coach Lovie Smith. Quarterback Davis Mills showed promise as a rookie and his progress continued into the preseason.

Over the final five weeks of the 2021 season, Mills threw for 1,258 yards with nine touchdowns and only two interception.

The 23-year-old will be joined in the backfield by rookie running back Dameon Pierce, who stole the show during Texans training camp.

With a tough schedule on tap, Houston begins the year at the bottom of our NFL Week 1 Power Rankings.

31. Chicago Bears — Bears’ Season Will Be Gauged By Fields’ Development

Chicago Bears logo

The Bears season will be a success if Fields shows any signs of being a competent NFL starter.

Under Matt Nagy, Fields looked hesitant to use his athleticism to make plays but might have no choice while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.

While Bears fans will want to see Fields move the chains more often with his legs, Chicago’s season will be determined by his progress in the passing game.

Fields threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (seven) as a rookie while completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes.

Darnell Mooney returns as Chicago’s top receiver but the Bears will need more from tight end Cole Kmet to improve on offense.

It’s fair to wonder if Chicago set up Fields for success though.

Outside of those two options, the Bears brought in four unproven wide receivers in Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe.

30. Seattle Seahawks — Carroll, Seahawks Forced Back To The Drawing Board

Seattle Seahawks logoThe Seahawks will need to get creative if they are going to compete in 2022.

Aside from Seattle, the NFC West figures to be one of the best divisions in football this season.

Geno Smith set at the Week 1 starter, so it’s hard to envision Seattle moving the ball with any success this season.

With that being said, it wouldn’t be wise to count out head coach Pete Carroll.

While Smith’s arm will likely hold them back, the Seahawks still have one of the best WR duos in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Instead, Seattle is expected to be forced to rely on its running game, which will feature a pair of talented backs in Rashaad Penny and rookie Kenneth Walker III.

Given Smith’s history, his time as a starter could be numbered, giving newly acquired QB Drew Lock a few extra weeks to learn the offense.

At this point, a QB switch seems inevitable.

29. Carolina Panthers — Can The Panthers Compete With Baker Mayfield?

Carolina Panthers logo

In an attempt to upgrade the quarterback position, Carolina brought in former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield in the offseason.

The offensive line was a weakness in 2021 but Caroline addressed that area in the offseason. Guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman are expected to be major upgrades on the interior.

Mayfield will also have some help in the form of rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, who should help keep the Panthers’ quarterback upright in 2022.

After two injury-filled seasons, RB Christian McCaffrey is hoping to stay on the field in 2022, which would be a major boost for Mayfield and the Panthers’ offense.

With DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Terrace Marshall all back, Mayfield won’t have any shortage of options on the outside either.

28. New York Jets — Plenty of Reasons for Optimism in New York

New York Jets logo

Zach Wilson underwent successful knee surgery three weeks ago and has yet to be officially ruled out for Week 1.

Head coach Robert Salah told reporters that Wilson’s availability will be announced on Wednesday.

After 11 straight years of missing the playoffs, Jets fans more than one reason to look forward to football this year.

New York did a good job of rebuilding through the draft, adding CB Ahmad Garner, WR Garrett Wilson, and DE Jermaine Johnson II in the first round. All three of those players are expected to make immediate impacts in Year 1.

Meanwhile, second round pick Breece Hall is among the favorites to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

27. Atlanta Falcons — Can Mariota Prove To Be A Serviceable Starter?

Atlanta Falcons logoAfter spending time as a backup in Tennessee and Las Vegas, Marcus Mariota will get another shot at being an NFL starter in Atlanta.

Mariota still has a lot to prove under center but the QB position has since evolved to suit his strengths.

While the offense won’t have Calvin Ridley due to suspension, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Cordarelle Patterson give the Falcons some pieces to work with on offense.

If Mariota can show some growth as a passer and continue move the chains with legs, the Falcons could surprise some people in 2022.

26. Detroit Lions — Goff, Lions Expected To Double Win Total in 2022

Detroit Lions logo

Detroit is coming off of a three-win season, so an improvement in the win column is hardly something to scoff at.

Still, there’s a lot of reason for optimism in Detroit and it starts on offense.

Despite a shortage of options, Jared Goff completed 67.2 percent of his passes and had a 19-8 TD:INT ratio in 2021.

DJ Chark Jr should bring an added dimension to Detroit’s offense, which will feature a healthy D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson to start the year. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is also expected to take a step forward, alongside rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams, who the Lions moved up to No. 12 to select.

On defense, Aidan Hutchinson should bring new life to a defense that is also banking on better luck in the health department.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars — Pederson, Jaguars Focused On Developing Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars logo

New head coach Doug Pederson hired an offensive-minded staff with the hopes of bringing former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence up to speed as an NFL quarterback.

In just a few months, Lawrence has shown improvement under center. Lawrence’s newfound confidence was on display during the preseason, as he cycled through his reads quickly and avoided holding onto the ball for too long, something that plagued him during his rookie year.

After picking first overall in back-to-back NFL Drafts, Jacksonville will be one of the teams to watch in 2022.

24. Washington Commanders — Wentz Looking To Command Washington’s Offense

Washington Commanders logo

The Commanders will move forward with a new quarterback under center in 2022.

Following a disappointing season in Indianapolis, Carson Wentz will start at quarterback for Washington Week 1.

Wentz will lead an offense that includes a handful of talented playmakers.

Washington drafted rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson in the first round to help take some pressure off of No.1 WR Terry McLaurin, who held out for a new contract in the offseason.

With Chase Young missing time early in the season, the Commanders will need to get more out of Antonio Gibson and the running game to keep their defense off of the field.

23. New York Giants — A Healthy Barkley, Toney Are Crucial To Jones’ Development

New York Giants logo

Injuries ravaged the New York Giants’ offense last season, which ultimately hurt Jones’ ability to perform under center.

Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepherd, Evan Engram, and Kadarius Toney all missed significant time due to injury in 2021.

Fast forward a year later, Barkley, Golladay, and Toney are all healthy while the team has officially moved on from both Shepherd and Engram.

Turnovers have been a major problem for Jones, as he’s thrown 29 interceptions and lost 20 fumbles in three NFL seasons, something he’ll have to clean up if the Giants are going to compete in the NFC East.

New head coach Brian Daboll will be trusting Mike Kafka to call the plays for the Giants’ offense following a strong preseason.

22. Minnesota Vikings — Justin Jefferson Looking To Emerge As Best WR In The NFL

Minnesota Vikings logo

Minnesota has some question marks in the secondary but the Vikings’ season will likely depend on the health of their Big Three on offense.

Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen give Minnesota enough firepower to compete with the Packers for the NFC North crown.

However, Cook has never stayed on the field for a full NFL campaign and Thielen has missed 13 games over the last three years combined.

After back-to-back 1,400-yard seasons, Jefferson said that he wants to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in 2022.

21. Cleveland Browns — Browns Will Rely On Defense, Run Game Until Watson Returns

Cleveland Browns logo

The Browns didn’t win any style points for dealing for Deshaun Watson but the move could pay dividends if Jacoby Brissett can keep the team in playoff contention for 11 weeks.

Aside from the Watson deal, Cleveland made some underrated moves in the offseason, adding Amari Cooper and DE Chase Winovich to make improvements on both side of the ball.

While Brissett has been an NFL starter before, he’s actually never been given a full offseason to prepare for the job.

He took over as the Colts’ starter for Andrew Luck following a mysterious shoulder injury in 2017 and again when Luck suddenly retired in 2019.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Tomlin, Trubisky Can Make The Steelers An AFC North Menace

Pittsburgh Steelers logo

Pittsburgh might not hoist the Lombardi Trophy in 2022 but the Steelers could play the role of spoiler in the AFC North.

Thanks to the combination of TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers’ defense is expected to be among the most stingy units in the NFL.

Despite losing veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to retirement, the Steelers’ offense should also take a step forward too.

Mitchell Trubisky might not have a reputation as a legitimate NFL starter but he’s proven to be a winner as a game manager and could fill a similar role in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, rookie WR George Pickens looked like an emerging star in training camp and should be a strong addition alongside Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and TE Pat Freiermuth in the passing game.

The clock could be ticking on Trubisky’s time as a starter though, especially after rookie Kenny Pickett’s preseason performance.

19. New England Patriots — Can Jones Master The Patriots’ Revamped Offense In Year 2?

New England Patriots logo

For New England, the biggest changes in 2022 will come on the sidelines, where the team will welcome back two of its former coaches: Joe Judge and Matt Patricia

Mac Jones looked like the best rookie quarterback last season but he will be learning his second system in two years.

The Patriots lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the offseason and overhauled their offense to fit Jones’ strengths.

As a rookie, Jones made the most of his limited weapons but should have more success in an offense tailor to his skills in Year 2.

The Patriots also made some underrated moves on both sides of the ball, adding DeVante Parker and Jabrill Peppers in the offseason.

Despite losing JC Jackson to the LA Chargers, the defense is going to remain elite under Belichick’s guidance.

The Patriots’ mastermind did not name an offensive or defensive coordinator for the first time since 2010.

New England finished 14-2 that year.

18. Tennessee Titans — Titans Face Several Question Marks After Injury To Landry

Tennessee Titans logo

Linebacker Harold Landry tore his ACL in the final preseason game, which delivers a major blow to the Titans’ Super Bowl hopes.

Tennessee will need to rely on its defense to get stops in 2022 but will be without their leading pass rusher for the entire 2022 season. Landry finished last season 10th in the NFL with 12 sacks.

Following a 12-5 season, the Titans let go of their top two wide receivers in the offseason.

Fresh off of a down season, quarterback Ryan Tannehill will look to rebound with a new set of weapons in 2022.

AJ Brown was traded to the Philadelphia and Julio Jones is now in Tampa Bay. While both are excellent players, Brown played just over half of the Titans’ offensive snaps in 2021 (51%) and Jones played even less (33%), so Tennessee won’t be missing much production from last year’s roster.

To reload, the Titans brought in a trio of veterans in Robert Woods, Austin Hooper, and rookie Treylon Burks, who should help spark an up-and-down passing game.

17. Arizona Cardinals — Will Murray Prove His Worth After Signing $230.5M Extension?

Arizona Cardinals logo

The Cardinals will be without WR DeAndre Hopkins to open the season as the wideout serves a six-game suspension.

Arizona signed Kyler Murray to a long-term extension in the offseason but did little to address some of the other concerns on the roster.

On offense, Murray will benefit from the addition of Marquise Brown, who adds a big play threat that will keep defenses honest in 2022. Brown joins Hopkins, AJ Green, Rondale, Moore, and Greg Dortch in a talented WR room.

Cardinals fans could also see a change in the backfield by season’s end, as Eno Benjamin has reportedly played his way into a bigger role in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

16. Las Vegas Raiders — Las Vegas Rolls The Dice On Carr-Adams Connection

Las Vegas Raiders logo

New head coach Josh McDaniels has plenty of weapons at his disposal with the Raiders.

Former college teammates Davante Adams and Derek Carr were reunited in Las Vegas during the offseason.

Adams gives the Raiders the bona fide No. 1 wide receiver that it has been missing over the last few seasons.

As Carr’s top target, Adams’ presence on the outside will help open the middle of the field back up for slot receiver Hunter Renfroe and tight end Darren Waller.

Despite having a reputation as a checkdown thrower, Carr has actually finished in the top-eight QBs in yards per attempt in each of the past two seasons, something which should continue in 2022.

If the defense can find a way to keep points off of the board, Las Vegas could contend for a playoff spot in the AFC West.

15. Miami Dolphins — No More Excuses For Tagavailoa, Dolphins Offense

Miami Dolphins logoAfter acquiring Tyreek Hill in the offseason, the Miami Dolphins have given quarterback Tua Tagavailoa enough weapons to take a leap forward in Year 3.

Miami had one of the worst offensive lines in 2021 but signed upgrades at the tackle and guard spots.

Left tackle Terron Armstead will give Tagavailoa the protection that he needs to go through his reads and let Hill get downfield. Newly-signed Connor Williams is also an adept pass blocker from the guard spot.

Hill will be paired with Jaylen Waddle on the outside, giving Tagavailoa one of the best wide receiver duos in the AFC.

Miami also added a few talented running backs, signing Chase Edmonds and change of pace back Raheem Mostert to form what is expected to be one of the league’s most improved offenses.

14. Dallas Cowboys — Cowboys Expected To Rely On Defense, Running Game In 2022

Dallas Cowboys logo

The Cowboys are in the midst of a transition year.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott has no more guaranteed money left on his deal and Tony Pollard has been itching to eat into his workload.

But after losing Tyron Smith to injury, there might be enough carries to go around in Dallas.

The Cowboys are expected to lean on their defense and a strong run game in 2022.

Led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs, Dallas is expected to have one of the most feared defenses in the NFL.

Combine that with a healthy Dak Prescott and a budding star in CeeDee Lamb and it’s easy to see why there’s optimism in Dallas.

13. Philadelphia Eagles — Hurts Has Enough Weapons To Do Damage In NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles logo

Quarterback Jalen Hurts has started to grow comfortable in head coach Nick Sirianni’s system, which should lead to quicker decisions and better accuracy this season.

Adding one of the NFL’s best wide receivers helps too.

AJ Brown joins Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert to form a high-flying Eagles offense in 2022.

While the Eagles offense has stolen most of the headlines, football games are won in the trenches and Philadelphia figures to have one of the best offensive and defensive lines in the NFL.

With that being said, Hurts is in a position to thrive in Year 3.

12. Indianapolis Colts — With Matt Ryan At QB, Can The Colts Win The AFC South?

Indianapolis Colts logo

Matt Ryan will try to get the Colts over the hump in the AFC South.

Indianapolis hasn’t won the division since 2014 but is the odds on favorite entering Week 1, thanks in part to Jonathan Taylor, who is expected to be in the running for NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

The Colts play one of the NFL’s easiest schedules but the absence of linebacker Shaquille Leonard will be a major concern early on.

Leonard underwent back surgery and was shut down until last week but has been taken off the PUP list, opening up his availability for Week 1.

However, when we’ll see Leonard back on the field is anyone’s best guess.

11. New Orleans Saints — Winston Looking To Build On 2021 And Prove Doubters Wrong

New Orleans Saintslogo

On paper, the Saints look prepared to contend for a playoff spot in the NFC but a lot of that will have to do with which version of Jameis Winston shows up in 2022.

Despite working with limited weapons, Winston was 4-2 as a starter before getting hurt and had the sixth-highest dropback EPA per play in the eight games that he started.

Now, with Jarvis Landry joining rookie Chris Olave and a healthy Michael Thomas, Winston is poised to duplicate that success over a full season.

Winston established a reputation as a turnover-prone gunslinger but learned to be cautious with the football while serving under Drew Brees.

Last season, he threw 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

The Saints’ quarterback also has a knack for extending plays.

Since 2016, he leads the league in completion percentage, CPOE, and passer rating on attempts when the time to throw was four or more seconds.

10. Baltimore Ravens — Lamar Jackson Enters Week 1 Without Contract Extension

Baltimore Ravens logo

Injuries destroyed the Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes in 2021, as several key players, including Lamar Jackson missed extensive time.

The return of Ronnie Stanley should give the Ravens’ offensive line a big boost. Stanley was an All-Pro left tackle when Jackson won the NFL MVP award in 2019 but has missed 28 of the last 29 games due to an ankle injury.

Baltimore let go of No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Brown in the offseason. Instead, Jackson will focus his attention on new top target Rashod Bateman, the team’s 2021 first-round pick.

Drafting safety Kyle Hamilton should also provide a huge boost to the back end of the defense.

9. Denver Broncos — Wilson Makes Denver Instant Super Bowl Contenders

Denver Broncos logo

The Broncos are hoping that veteran quarterback Russell Wilson will be the missing piece to the puzzle in Denver, similar to the way Peyton Manning was in 2015.

Denver already had an elite defense, a good running game, and skilled playmakers on offense but the addition of Wilson catapults the Broncos into the conversation for the Lombardi Trophy.

Wilson will have the benefit of playing behind an upgraded offensive line compared to what he had in Seattle, and while he might miss DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, he will still have three formidable wide receivers (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler) to throw to in Denver.

The Broncos will also feature one of the league’s top running back tandems in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon II.

On the other side of the ball, Denver has playmakers at every level and could end up being one of the best NFL defenses in 2022.

8. Kansas City Chiefs — Are Mahomes, Chiefs Still Team To Beat In AFC West?

Kansas City Chiefs logo

The Chiefs shocked the NFL by dismantling their high-flying offense and electing to go with a more conservative approach.

Kansas City traded away Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, replacing him with a trio of playmakers in Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore.

There is also considerable hype around seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco, who took some snaps with the first team offense during training camp.

The Chiefs upgraded their defense by signing Justin Reed, then drafting Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis in the first round.

With Kansas City expected to be less reliant on the big play, the Chiefs’ defense will be asked to get stops on a consistent basis in 2022.

7. Green Bay Packers — Rodgers To Open The Season With New Weapons On Offense

Green Bay Packers logo

Green Bay showed unwavering faith in QB Aaron Rodgers during the offseason but did the Packers set up their quarterback to succeed?

The Packers traded away top target Davante Adams in the offseason, then spent each of their two first-round picks on defensive players.

Instead, the front office elected to draft Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, who the Packers will be counting on for major contributions in Year 1.

Wide receiver Allen Lazard is expected to emerge as the team’s No. 1 option. He will be joined by veterans Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb on the outside.

While Rodgers finds a way to put the pieces together, Green Bay is expected to lean on its rushing attack, which is centered around the dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

Combined with a dangerous run game, the Packers defense is also expected to be one of the top units in the NFL.

With playmakers at nearly every position on defense, Green Bay will still be a force to be reckoned with in 2022, even if the offense takes some time to get going.

6. Cincinnati Bengals — Can The Bengals Avoid A Super Bowl Hangover?

Cincinnati Bengals logo

After making their first Super Bowl appearance sine 1989, the Bengals

Teams that have failed to win the big game have infamously struggled in the following season.

In fact, only eight times that finished as the runner-up in the Super Bowl made it back the next year.

To break the Super Bowl curse, Cincinnati spent its offseason upgrading its offensive line. The Bengals brought in right tackle La’el Collins, guard Alex Cappa, and center Ted Karras, who should help keep quarterback Joe Burrow upright this season.

Speaking of Burrow, the former LSU quarterback should be in for a big year after developing a lethal connection with college teammate Ja’Marr Chase in 2021.

Cincinnati also brought back most of the key components from a defense that came big time and time again during the Bengals’ Super Bowl run.

5. San Francisco 49ers — Will Trey Lance Take The 49ers Offense To The Next Level?

San Francisco 49ers logo

Kyle Shanahan stuck to his guns by handing over the reins on offense to 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance.

Lance’s athleticism and ability to throw the ball downfield will bring an added dimension to a 49ers’ offense that has traditionally relied on running the football.

With the tandem of Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr returning, the run game will still be even stronger under Shanahan, as defenses will also have to account for Lance’s rushing ability.

After Deebo Samuel broke out last year, the 49ers are hoping to see fellow WR Brandon Aiyuk also take step forward following a strong finish in 2021.

On defense, the addition of Chavarius Ward could help the defense get back to playing at an elite level.

While the 49ers ranked third in total defense in 2021, they finished 10th in scoring defense, allowing 21.5 points per game, thanks in part to a weak secondary.

4. Los Angeles Chargers — Will The Chargers Defense Get Enough Stops In 2022?

Los Angeles Chargers logo

Justin Herbert has emerged as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks but the Chargers have failed to make the playoffs in each of his first two seasons.

Herbert has thrown for more yards and touchdowns than any QB in their first two years in the league.

In 2022, the Chargers’ quarterback comes in with a familiar set of weapons, putting him on the shortlist of NFL MVP candidates to start the year.

Even with an MVP caliber season from Herbert, it will be the Chargers’ defense that ultimately determines their fate.

Los Angeles addressed some problems by signing pass rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback JC Jackson in the offseason.

However, Jackson will miss the first 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury, leaving the Chargers shorthanded to open the year.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Brady, Bucs Prepare For Another Deep Playoff Run

Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo

Tom Brady is back for unfinished business with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Apparently, that business didn’t include head coach Bruce Arians, who stepped down as head coach shortly after Brady came out of retirement.

The 45-year-old quarterback will have a full host of weapons at his disposal once again after the Bucs signed Julio Jones in the offseason.

Jones will join Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette on a star-studded Bucs’ offense.

Defensively, Tampa Bay finished fifth in the league in scoring defense in 2021 and should remain one of the league’s top units under defensive-minded head coach Todd Bowles.

2. Los Angeles Rams — Is Stafford’s Arm Healthy Heading Into Week 1?

Los Angeles Rams logo

Los Angeles is hoping to run it back after bringing back several key players from its Super Bowl winning roster.

The Rams lost Von Miller on defense but signed veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner, who should play a major role on an elite defense.

On offense, head coach Sean McVay brought in Allen Robinson to replace Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr at wide receiver.

The real problem in Los Angeles will be the health of QB Matthew Stafford’s arm.

Stafford has been dealing with usual elbow pain that could linger all season along but has been declared “ready to go” for Week 1.

While McVay and Stafford have both downplayed the significance of the injury, Rams fans won’t have to wait long to find out if their quarterback is truly healthy.

1. Buffalo Bills — Can Josh Allen Lead The Bills To The Super Bowl?

Buffalo Bills logoThe Bills enter the regular season as Super Bowl favorites and for good reason.

Adding Jamison Crowder, O.J. Howard, and rookie James Cook to an already dynamic offense should make Buffalo even more dangerous after finishing third in the league in points per game a year ago.

As a result, Bills QB Josh Allen is the odds on favorite to win the NFL MVP Award heading into Week 1.

The Bills will also add Von Miller to a defense that finished first in the NFL in scoring defense, passing defense and total defense in 2021.

Despite those accolades, generating a consistent pass rush was a struggle for the Bills at times last season.

Miller’s presence should help Buffalo remain a top-five unit once again this year.

Arrow to top