Latest Win-Loss Predictions for Every NFL Team
NFL training camps are now underway for all 32 teams, which means the preseason and regular season are right around the corner. It's only natural to start predicting wins and losses since we know how rosters have settled and the full 2022 schedule has been released.
The playoff picture is difficult to project. We think we know the top Super Bowl contenders, but there are several wild cards who could burst into the party with the right breaks.
Our win-loss projections heavily weigh roster changes from the offseason as well as each team's strength of schedule. Internal development, coaching changes and injury luck can also affect how the season plays out.
As always, the teams that finished in first place of their division will play similar top foes. Rebuilding teams will benefit from easier schedules.
Let's jump into our latest projections for every NFL team's win-loss records.
All strength-of-schedule information is courtesy of FantasyData.com.
The Arizona Cardinals lost star pass-rusher Chandler Jones and wide receiver Christian Kirk in free agency, while DeAndre Hopkins received a six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. However, they bounced back with a few nice moves throughout the offseason.
Re-signing tight end Zach Ertz, receiver A.J. Green and running back James Conner ensured the offense wouldn't lose too much with Hopkins out. Their draft-day trade for receiver Marquise Brown was a home run move that reunites the speedy playmaker with Kyler Murray, his college quarterback. They also handed Murray a five-year, $230.5 million extension, squashing any concerns about his long-term future in Arizona.
The Cardinals offense should again be effective with Murray surrounded by a solid set of playmakers. However, their roster lacks depth on both sides of the ball. One key injury could derail their playoff push.
Losing Jones puts more pressure on J.J. Watt to stay healthy and for veteran Markus Golden to step into a larger role. Considering Watt has missed 42 games and played only 55 over the last six years, it's risky to count on him as a lynchpin.
The Cardinals should once again be an exciting team with a fun offense, but they're likely a borderline wild-card threat. Having the second-hardest strength of schedule will push their young talent beyond what they can handle and expose the razor-thin talent along the offensive line and in the secondary.
The Atlanta Falcons fully embraced a rebuild this offseason by trading longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. Marcus Mariota is a fine stopgap who may be able to rekindle the promising start to his career, but third-round rookie Desmond Ridder will likely earn starts eventually.
Atlanta has talented young playmakers to put around Mariota and Ridder. Second-year tight end Kyle Pitts appears poised to become a star. Rookie receiver Drake London and running back Tyler Allgeier will provide glimpses of an offense that can be dynamic as they develop together over the next few years.
But young players lack consistency. For every splash play, they will make several mistakes. And this offense can't afford many mistakes to cover for this defense.
Atlanta's headlining talent on defense is impressive. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, rookie edge-rusher Arnold Ebiketie and cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward are great. Everyone else around them comes with a considerable number of question marks, though.
The Falcons will face many growing pains throughout the 2022 season. They're building a foundation, which means wins will be few and far between.
The Baltimore Ravens are the most boom-or-bust team in the NFL this year.
They went 8-9 last season despite leading the league in adjusted games lost. It's reasonably to expect them to perform better when they have their full arsenal of playmakers available, especially since they might have made the playoffs last year if quarterback Lamar Jackson had been healthy for all 17 games.
If the Ravens get a full season of high-caliber play from Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Ronnie Stanley, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, they could easily land the AFC's No. 1 seed. They have the 10th-easiest schedule and added a strong draft class that will help bolster several positions of need.
However, their returning stars might not all reach or maintain their previous high level of play. Players returning from torn ACLs (Dobbins and Peters) and ankle injuries (Stanley) aren't guaranteed to bounce back. In the deep AFC North, missing a handful of games from any of their stars could cost them meaningful games.
We also need to see whether Rashod Bateman and a cast of young receivers can overcome the trade of Marquise Brown to Arizona. All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews should be a featured weapon once again in Brown's absence.
Playing fourth-place teams from the AFC East and NFC South as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants should help counter some of the Ravens' AFC North troubles. Expect them to be competitive and push to win the division or a wild-card spot.
The Buffalo Bills might have the NFL's best overall roster, but they aren't without concerns.
The loss of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the New York Giants could cause issues if former quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Ken Dorsey doesn't prove as innovative as a play-caller. If Dorsey can fill Daboll's shoes as a high-end play designer, the Bills will make a strong push for the AFC's top seed.
Led by star quarterback Josh Allen, Buffalo boasts the league's most dangerous offense. It wisely beefed up that unit by acquiring wide receiver Jamison Crowder, tight end O.J. Howard and rookie wideout Khalil Shakir and running back James Cook.
Even if the Bills offense needs time to gel, head coach Sean McDermott has an elite defense to rely upon. After signing star edge-rusher Von Miller and drafting first-round cornerback Kaiir Elam, the Bills are heading into the season as the favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Buffalo is tied for the 12th-hardest schedule and must keep Miami and New England at bay in the AFC East. Because the Bills are so talented, their most difficult challenge may be staying focused through the regular season and not looking toward the playoffs too much.
The Carolina Panthers significantly helped their 2022 outlook by trading for quarterback Baker Mayfield in early July.
Prior to the Mayfield trade, the Panthers had one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL. While Mayfield has been up-and-down throughout his career and has struggled with injuries, he's a significant upgrade over Sam Darnold.
If the Panthers get the best out of Mayfield, this roster has the upside to be feisty. Carolina has a rebuilt offensive line, a solid receiving corps and a defense that ranked second in yards allowed last season. That's even more impressive considering that the offense ranked 31st in touchdown passes and last in interceptions, which constantly put the defense in disadvantageous situations.
The bar is low for Mayfield and company to improve. With any luck, star running back Christian McCaffrey can again stay healthy and again be the bell-cow for this offense. Mayfield plays his best with a strong running game.
The NFC South will be challenging. Tied for the 12th-hardest schedule, the Panthers will only be a surprise team if they can win coin-flip games against the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. They're a dark horse for the surprise of the season if they get the most out of Mayfield and McCaffrey, though.
The Chicago Bears purged their roster of expensive veterans this offseason after cleaning out their coaching staff. New head coach Matt Eberflus must focus on developing a fast defense and maximizing his unheralded offensive cast around second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
Fields is highly talented, but he has less talent around him than any quarterback in the NFL. Running back David Montgomery, tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Darnell Mooney will be under immense pressure to elevate an otherwise unimpressive skill-position corps.
Chicago also opted against bolstering its offensive line until the fifth round of the 2022 draft despite being unable to protect Fields last year. Development must come from within.
The Bears defense should be more capable considering the talent added to the unit in the draft and who was already there. Robert Quinn, Roquan Smith and Eddie Jackson are difference-making presences. Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker have the opportunity to prove themselves early as well.
The Bears have the NFL's ninth-easiest schedule, but their NFC North foes are difficult. They're likely to take their lumps this year as they work toward finding more foundational pieces on both sides of the ball.
The Cincinnati Bengals were the surprise breakout team of last season, but they'll face a much more difficult path to a second straight Super Bowl appearance. They have the third-hardest schedule in the NFL this season.
The Bengals aggressively addressed their offensive line woes by adding La'El Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras this offseason. An offense featuring Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins and a host of talented blockers should reach great heights.
The Bengals defense could determine how far this team goes, though. En route to the Super Bowl, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo helped this unit ascend to an elite level.
If the Bengals defense can be as stifling against the pass despite lacking a true star cornerback, they could repeat as AFC North champions. They face a tough post-bye stretch featuring showdowns against Tennessee, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Buffalo, though.
Now that we know quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended for the first six weeks of the season, we have a much clearer picture of what to expect from the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns start the season with matchups against the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. They should be able to stay afloat until Watson returns, even though they have tough games against the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively.
Cleveland has an elite roster from top to bottom, with excellent depth at almost every position. If Watson plays at the same level as he did in Houston, the Browns could be the most balanced offense in the NFL.
The strength of the AFC North means Cleveland doesn't have much margin for error. Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett will be a fine stopgap for six games, but there's a reason why he isn't an established starter. Early-season matchups against Carolina, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Chargers could swing the fate of the Browns' season in one direction or another.
Brissett has previously played at a similar level as Baker Mayfield did in 2021. The Browns still won eight games last year despite Mayfield dealing with a torn labrum and poor level of play. Getting 11 games of Watson will push them over the .500 mark and possibly deep into the playoffs.
There may not be a better recent example of how fast a Super Bowl window can open and close than the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas had the NFL's top-scoring offense last year and benefited from a variety of breakout seasons from defensive stars Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and Randy Gregory. However, the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card Round.
This offseason, the Cowboys lost a blend of stars and valuable depth pieces. Gregory bolted for Denver, they traded Amari Cooper to Cleveland, and Cedrick Wilson Jr. left for Miami. Dallas retained wideout Michael Gallup, but he might miss multiple games as he recovers from a torn ACL.
Dallas still has enough talent to win the NFC East, but its margin for error is much smaller. Both Philadelphia and Washington are real threats to unseat the Cowboys.
The Cowboys' schedule is incredibly difficult, with matchups against the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans. They're good enough to emerge with a winning record and fight for a wild-card berth, but their ceiling is well short of other top NFC contenders.
After searching for a replacement for Peyton Manning for the last six seasons, the Denver Broncos finally landed another franchise star this offseason by trading for Russell Wilson.
The Broncos went 7-10 last season despite uneven play from Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock under center. While Wilson struggled after undergoing finger surgery last year, he returned to his normal efficiency once he was fully healed.
Wilson has never been surrounded by such a deep array of explosive playmakers. Wideouts Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler will benefit just as much from Wilson as he will from them. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett has limitless possibilities with their unique skill sets.
Denver's defense should be equally tough. The Broncos allowed the third-fewest points and eighth-fewest yards last season. They also added veteran edge-rusher Randy Gregory, run-stuffing tackle D.J. Jones and slot cornerback K'Waun Williams this offseason.
The AFC West looks historically strong this year, so young building blocks such as cornerback Patrick Surtain II and pass-rusher Bradley Chubb will be under increased scrutiny. If they deliver, Denver could win the division and progress deep into the playoffs.
Look for the Broncos to feast on the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans en route to their first winning season since 2016.
The Detroit Lions quickly transformed from a dysfunctional mess to a late-season surprise in 2021. The first season of their rebuild after trading Matthew Stafford led to plenty of lumps, but a good process eventually led to better results.
The Lions revamped their roster this offseason through shrewd free-agency signings and a few explosive rookies. General manager Brad Holmes didn't splurge on free agents who didn’t fit the timeline of this team, but he did aggressively trade up in the draft to land a potential star in wide receiver Jameson Williams.
Look for Jared Goff and the offense to be more consistent thanks to the additions of Williams and D.J. Chark. Their offensive line is quietly solid, and running backs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are a solid tandem.
Rookies Aidan Hutchinson, Williams, Josh Paschal, and Kerby Joseph will work to prove they’re each foundational blocks for the Lions in 2022. However, the Lions' pathway to being more than decent will be difficult due to the defense's lack of back-seven talent.
This season will be another one of growth for the Lions, but their lack of experience and defensive stars will lead to close losses against better teams.
Green Bay Packers
Even after trading away All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers aren't quite in danger of giving up their ironclad grip on the NFC North. The Packers still have Aaron Rodgers, a great running game and an elite defense.
The Packers' ceiling is lower without Adams, though. Young receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will need time to develop into their roles, while veterans Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard are fine placeholders but aren't good enough to be difference-makers against top-tier NFC foes.
Green Bay spent its two first-round picks this year on linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. Those two should strengthen a run defense that allowed the third-most yards per carry (4.7) in 2021.
Rodgers won't need to throw for 4,100-plus yards and 37 or more touchdowns since Green Bay's defense should stifle most of its opponents. The Packers will win the NFC North for the fourth straight season, but they still need to prove themselves in the playoffs.
The Houston Texans are entering the 2022 season with a new head coach for the second consecutive year. After firing David Culley, the Texans decided to promote defensive coordinator Lovie Smith to the lead role.
Smith still needs to prove his ability to develop young players. Houston has little notable talent on defense outside of rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., safety Jalen Pitre and veteran pass-rusher Jonathan Greenard.
The offense will have tremendous pressure to produce points since the Texans didn't add significant talent to a unit that finished 27th in points and 31st in yards allowed last year.
Second-year quarterback Davis Mills earned a shot to become the franchise quarterback after he threw for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. Mills has a reliable wideout in Brandin Cooks, who's had six 1,000-yard campaigns in his eight NFL seasons. However, rookie receiver John Metchie III is likely to miss the season after he was recently diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.
Mills may not have much help from the running game, either. Marlon Mack, rookie fourth-rounder Dameon Pierce and 31-year-old Rex Burkhead will battle for touches in the backfield. Mack has played sparingly over the past two years after tearing his Achilles early in the 2022 season. If Pierce emerges, he might breathe some life into the rushing attack.
There are too many question marks on the Texans to be confident their staff can elevate an uninspiring roster. That includes whether Smith is the right head coach for a rebuilding roster or if he's been given a competitive enough team.
The Indianapolis Colts traded for quarterback Carson Wentz last offseason, which they quickly grew to regret. Wentz fell apart down the stretch of the season, and his poor play contributed to why they missed the playoffs.
Matt Ryan, whom the Colts traded for this offseason, should bring more stability and consistency to the offense. The 37-year-old is much more accurate than Wentz as a pocket passer and thrives in structure. The Colts tried to lean on 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor last season, but even he couldn't help them overcome Wentz's limitations.
Ryan should maximize budding star receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and rookie Alec Pierce. The duo will give Ryan a big-bodied pair who thrive at the catch point. Combined with Taylor, the Colts have the chance to be one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL.
The Colts defense could also be special. There's star power on every level, including newcoming edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Adding both to a unit with DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore raises their ceiling higher.
Indianapolis has the NFL's seventh-easiest schedule and should thrive in a division with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and the vulnerable Tennessee Titans. It would not be shocking to see the Colts finish with the AFC's No. 1 overall seed because of their relatively easy schedule, high level of coaching and improved roster.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to demonstrate how much a change at head coach can impact a young roster.
The Jaguars almost instantly grew to regret hiring Urban Meyer last year. They rectified their mistake this offseason by bringing in former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who has a history of producing effective offenses.
Jacksonville also spent furiously in free agency on upgrades across their roster. While the Jaguars might have overpaid for some of those players, they shouldn't look nearly as discombobulated as they did under Meyer.
The Jaguars are closer to being solid now, but they don't have the exceptional star power to push them over the .500 mark. Second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence should help set a much higher standard of play across the board, though.
As a result, the Jaguars will more than double their win total from 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs traded their most explosive playmaker in wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this offseason, which will change the complexion of their aerial attack.
Though quarterback Patrick Mahomes will continue to play at a high level, he might not have as many big plays over the top with Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. The Chiefs did add former Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to be a big-play threat, but he has a 49.8 percent career catch rate despite spending the first four seasons of his career with Aaron Rodgers. Rookie second-rounder Skyy Moore will likely have to battle the veterans for targets before he becomes a consistent contributor.
The Chiefs offense struggled in the first half of last season, but the defense came to the rescue. In four games between Weeks 8 and 13, they scored 22 points or fewer but still won all of those contests.
It's unclear whether the defense will be able to keep that up this year. While first-round defensive end George Karlaftis may help bolster the Chiefs' pass rush, the they didn't add a notable veteran run-stopper to plug holes on the interior. They gave up the second-most yards per carry (4.8) in 2021.
The Chiefs lost cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency, too. Opposing quarterbacks will likely target rookie first-rounder Trent McDuffie on the boundary. They also replaced versatile safety Tyrann Mathieu with Justin Reid, who's missed at least 14.3 percent of his tackles in each of the last two years.
It's hard to doubt head coach Andy Reid, Mahomes and Kelce considering their combined success over the last five years. It won't be pretty, but the Chiefs will find a way to win 10 games in a much tougher AFC West division and five 2021 first-place teams on the schedule.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders were the lone playoff team to make a change at general manager and head coach after the season. Now led by general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels, their aggressive offseason should keep them competitive in the cutthroat AFC West.
The Raiders are star-laden on both sides of the ball after adding All-Pro talents in receiver Davante Adams and pass-rusher Chandler Jones. Few offenses can match the Raiders' top trio of pass-catchers (Adams, tight end Darren Waller and receiver Hunter Renfrow) or their pass-rushing duo of Jones and Maxx Crosby.
The question is whether this top-heavy approach can overcome a lack of depth along the offensive line and defensive secondary.
McDaniels worked with less-heralded trench talent during his tenure in New England, so he could make a difference there. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has also been highly successful in previous stints, though his predecessor, Gus Bradley, did an excellent job with this unit.
Despite their lack of depth, the Raiders will be a dangerous opponent this season. They're tied for the NFL's seventh-toughest schedule, though, which could make it difficult for them to finish with one of the AFC's top seeds.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers' defense faltered down the stretch of their playoff push last season. They allowed 34, 41 and 35 points in three of their final four games.
That spurred a huge spending spree this offseason.
With veteran edge-rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson entering the fold, the Chargers have a more balanced distribution of talent on their defense than last season. They won't need to solely rely on superstars Joey Bosa or Derwin James to create turnovers or big plays. The upside of this unit is now as good as any in the league.
Quarterback Justin Herbert will be under the microscope as he enters his third season. He's one of the most physically gifted passers in the league, but he must maximize a surrounding cast that is headlined with impressive athletes. Running back Austin Ekeler and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams return as one of the most productive trios in the NFL.
The other AFC West teams will push the Chargers, but this is the year where the Bolts emerge as the kings of the toughest division in the NFL. They have the right mixture of ascending youth and veterans in prime years for everything to come together.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams had an expensive offseason, but they retained as much of their core as they could. Fresh off their Super Bowl victory, they re-signed signed quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and head coach Sean McVay to extensions.
Every Super Bowl winner goes through this type of spending spree after they earn a ring. However, the Rams lost star pass-rusher Von Miller in free agency to the Buffalo Bills.
Rather than try to fill Miller's shoes with an expensive replacement, the Rams opted to bolster the middle of their defense with Bobby Wagner. The former Seattle Seahawks star will be a huge upgrade thanks to his versatility and high IQ, but the Rams' pass rush will suffer from the trade-off.
The Rams' offense should also benefit from the addition of receiver Allen Robinson II. For as well as Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. played last season, they're each coming off major injuries that cast doubt on their ability to reach their peak again. Robinson struggled in 2021 with the Bears, but he should flourish with Stafford thanks to a skill set that allows him to dominate on jump-ball opportunities.
The Rams have the hardest schedule in the league, and the NFC West is loaded. They'll still likely win the division and remain a top NFC contender, but their regular-season record will not be among the best in the conference.
The Miami Dolphins will look quite different schematically after firing defensive-minded head coach Brian Flores and hiring offensive guru Mike McDaniel. That should be a major upgrade for an offense that ranked 22nd in points scored and 25th in yards last season.
The Dolphins also made two big splashes this offseason to further upgrade their offense by signing left tackle Terron Armstead in free agency and trading for star receiver Tyreke Hill. Both will bolster critical positions of need.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa now has the playmaking he needs around him to succeed with Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson Jr. at receiver. The Dolphins also retained tight end Mike Gesicki on the franchise tag and overhauled their running back corps. The trifecta of Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert should be productive in McDaniel's scheme if they can stay healthy.
The offensive line is still the major question mark on the roster even after adding Armstead and Connor Williams. If Tagovailoa doesn't have enough time to throw, the Dolphins will again have to rely on their defense to win low-scoring games.
Miami's defense is set up well, as defensive coordinator Josh Boyer is back in the same role. Retaining edge-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah was huge for the unit. Second-year defensive lineman Jaelan Phillips and safety Jevon Holland could also emerge as future stars.
Considering their offseason upgrades and their 21st-ranked schedule, the Dolphins could be the surprise playoff team of 2022.
The Minnesota Vikings are hoping their approach of bringing back their veteran-laden roster will pay off under new head coach Kevin O'Connell. The alternative was to trade off veterans and rebuild around recent draft picks.
The Vikings made the right decision to hold off on a rebuild. O'Connell has a strong offensive core, including star running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has everything around him needed to thrive in an offense that O'Connell hopes will be "more multiple" this season.
The Vikings have to be more dynamic than their run-heavy approach over the last few seasons. Cousins' efficiency went up when he was asked to do less, but the Vikings' ceiling was more limited. O'Connell must find the right balance.
The front seven of the Vikings defense remains a strong point as well. Adding pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith and linebacker Jordan Hicks will solidify a group that finished 24th in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed last season. Minnesota would also benefit greatly from a full season from star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter.
The Vikings have a favorable schedule that will allow them to regroup after playing their toughest foes. This is a now-or-never moment for this core of playmakers, so they might respond with a playoff berth.
New England Patriots
Despite getting off to a 1-3 start last season, the New England Patriots finished 10-7 and earned a playoff spot.
The Patriots were scrappy and well-coached as expected, but few expected them to rank sixth in points scored and second in points allowed. They made the most of a roster that lacked high-end playmakers at most positions.
Not much changed in that regard this offseason. Star cornerback J.C. Jackson left in free agency, and the Patriots relied on the draft to fill his role. Head coach Bill Belichick will now enter this season without a clear star at corner.
Second-year quarterback Mac Jones will be challenged to progress after losing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Raiders. The Patriots have terrific depth at receiver and running back, but their star power is lacking. Incoming wide receivers DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton will be relied upon to create big plays.
Betting against the Patriots is difficult because of Belichick, but this team doesn't have the high-end talent that Buffalo and Miami does. The Patriots will drop in the AFC East, but they'll be a difficult team to fae because they're so well-coached.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston is one of the NFL's biggest X-factors heading into the 2022 season.
The Saints dipped their toes into the Deshaun Watson trade market before re-signing Winston. The veteran is recovering from a torn ACL, but he played well in the seven games he started for New Orleans in 2021.
The Saints beefed up their offense around Winston this offseason. First-round receiver Chris Olave and left tackle Trevor Penning figure to be impact starters on Day 1. New Orleans may not get a bigger boost than the return of star receiver Michael Thomas, who returned to practice last week after dealing with an ankle injury for 18 months.
The Saints will need Winston and Thomas to stay healthy this season, as star running back Alvin Kamara could be facing a six-game suspension after being charged with felony battery in February. If Winston can continue to avoid turnovers at a career-low rate, the Saints might be a sleeping powerhouse in the NFC.
New head coach Dennis Allen will need to produce another elite defense. The Saints finished fourth in points and seventh in yards allowed last season, and they allowed the fewest yards per carry. They need to continue with that as their defensive backbone.
The Saints are tied with the Raiders for the seventh-toughest strength of schedule, but they know their identity and have a ton of talent on their roster. They'll be back in the playoffs this season.
New York Giants
This offseason, the New York Giants hired former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their new head coach. Daboll not only developed quarterback Josh Allen into a star, but he also built a creative system that maximized a deep array of playmakers around him.
The Giants don't have their version of Allen yet, but they do have a loaded receiver room. They also rebuilt their offensive line by adding first-round tackle Evan Neal and veteran interior blockers Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano.
Injuries have hampered the Giants' offense in recent years. Since 2019, running back Saquon Barkley has missed 21 games, wideout Sterling Shepard has been sidelined for 20, and wideout Kenny Golladay sat out 14 dating back to his time with the Detroit Lions. Rookie receiver Kadarius Toney didn't play in seven games last year, while quarterback Daniel Jones missed six games.
The Giants defense should continue to be competitive under former Baltimore Ravens coordinator Wink Martindale. Their front seven is impressive thanks to Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. Martindale will need to get creative to cover for an inexperienced group of corners after the release of James Bradberry, though.
Like the rest of the NFC East, the Giants have one of the most favorable schedules in the NFL. If they stay healthy, they will fight hard and pull off upsets thanks to their emerging talent. They just don't have the consistency or depth to put together a winning season yet.
New York Jets
The New York Jets Jets landed an incredible haul in the 2022 NFL draft and shored up several other positions in free agency. Every move was made with the goal of solidifying the surrounding cast around quarterback Zach Wilson and creating a high-end defense.
The Jets were able to land arguably the draft's top cornerback (Ahmad Gardner), wide receiver (Garrett Wilson) and running back (Breece Hall). They also traded up into the first round for edge-rusher Jermaine Johnson II, who broke out with 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks at Florida State last year.
In free agency, the Jets signed Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson, safety Jordan Whitehead, and tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. They now have more versatility at each position than they did entering the offseason, which gives them a higher floor.
Wilson is the single most critical factor for the Jets' 2022 outlook, though. The second-year passer started to show signs of progress during his rookie season, but he must capitalize on his momentum. He can't be the same quarterback who completed only 55.6 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season.
The Jets still have a young roster even if Wilson has a breakout season. The AFC East is highly competitive, so the Jets will likely suffer record-wise. But their eyes should continue to be on 2023 and beyond, when more of their core moves into their prime years.
The Philadelphia Eagles won six of their final eight regular-season games last year and snuck into the playoffs. They proceeded to add a number of impact players in the offseason, which has their stock pointing straight up heading into the 2022 season.
Head coach Nick Sirianni didn't find the right offensive balance until Week 8 last year, but the Eagles became a different team when they ran the ball more consistently. Now that they know their offensive identity, they will accentuate their strengths right away.
The Eagles also added star receiver A.J. Brown, who should have a major impact on the passing game. The trio of Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert give Jalen Hurts an explosive set of reliable, sure-handed playmakers.
The Eagles' defense is even more special than their offense. Expect a big improvement from a unit that now has edge-rusher Haason Reddick, linebacker Nakobe Dean, defensive tackle Jordan Davis and cornerback James Bradberry. There isn't a clear weakness on this unit.
The Eagles will win the NFC East and be a major force in the playoffs. If Hurts takes a major leap, they could win the conference outright and challenge for a Super Bowl appearance.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to have a losing record under head coach Mike Tomlin, but that streak looks likely to snap this year. They're transitioning from longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the combination of Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett, giving them clearly the worst quarterback room in the AFC North.
The Steelers also have uncertainty at cornerback, although reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will ensure the defense doesn't fall off too far. Losing stalwart defensive end Stephon Tuitt to retirement stings, but he missed all of last season as well.
Pittsburgh has some young and impressive offensive playmakers if their starting quarterback can get them the ball. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens and Calvin Austin are a skilled set of receivers who can wreak havoc on a defense. Tight end Pat Freiermuth and running back Najee Harris are also above-average starters at their positions.
It's hard to trust Trubisky or Pickett in crunch time, though. Overlooking Pittsburgh's lack of proven talent at cornerback would also be a mistake since so many teams are pass-heavy.
The Steelers have a way of figuring things out better than most teams, but a step backward is the most likely outcome for this season.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are ready to embrace the Trey Lance era after seeing their Super Bowl hopes dashed once again last year. Regardless of whether they trade former starter Jimmy Garoppolo or keep him as an insurance policy, their offense should look far different in 2022.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan can utilize Lance's rushing ability and strong deep passing potential to build a more dynamic scheme. Lance is an incredible athlete, but he's also a raw passer, so it'll take time for consistency to come.
Receiver Deebo Samuel should help him in that regard after he agreed to a three-year, $71.6 million contract extension on Sunday. Samuel requested a trade earlier this offseason, and losing him would have shaken the foundation of the Niners' offense.
As the Niners ease Lance into his role, their defense should remain their identity. They had the ninth-ranked scoring defense and allowed the third-fewest yards of any team last year. They got even better this offseason after adding cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency.
The NFC West will be difficult to navigate because of the competition, but this staff and defense have earned the benefit of the doubt. The 49ers should be right back in the playoffs this season.
The Seattle Seahawks could have avoided a full reset this offseason by acquiring a veteran quarterback like Baker Mayfield or Carson Wentz, but their intentions for 2022 became clear after they traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and cut linebacker Bobby Wagner. They are prepared to lose with the NFL's worst quarterback room.
Giving fourth-year quarterback Drew Lock the chance to prove himself is a low-risk move. If they struggle this season, they'll land a high draft pick and give themselves the opportunity to draft a top-tier quarterback prospect.
The Seahawks still have talented receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to build the offense around. Second-round running back Ken Walker III could prove to be a valuable foundational piece, particularly in the wake of Chris Carson's retirement.
The Seahawks defense has a mixed bag of talent. Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Jordyn Brooks are set in place as foundational starters, but the rest of the unit is largely comprised of stopgaps.
This season is about finding impactful building blocks from recent draft picks. The hope is for rookie pass-rusher Boye Mafe and cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen to become dependable presences for years to come.
Considering their weak roster, issues at quarterback and the league's 11th-toughest schedule, the Seahawks appear destined to finish with a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As soon as quarterback Tom Brady announced his decision to end his temporary retirement, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl window flew open once again.
New head coach Todd Bowles stepped into the chair that Bruce Arians vacated when he entered a front-office role, providing a level of continuity for the franchise. Bowles was able to retain offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich for Brady's possible swan-song season.
The Buccaneers are transitioning at several key positions. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is retired for now, leaving a sizable downgrade to Cameron Brate, Kyle Rudolph and rookie Cade Otton. They're hopeful that wide receiver Chris Godwin can return from his torn ACL in Week 1, but it would not be surprising if they ease him back into action.
Leftwich and Brady have enough firepower to still produce a quality offense with Mike Evans, Russell Gage, Brate, Leonard Fournette and rookie running back Rachaad White. Adding receiver Julio Jones on a one-year deal may prove to be a shrewd decision if the veteran can stay healthy, although he's missed 14 games over the past two seasons.
The Buccaneers will need their defense to be elite again, too. Veterans Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are still free agents, so rookie Logan Hall and second-year pass-rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka might step into large roles early.
The Bucs have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, but they'll need to be sharp since they have the fourth-toughest schedule. There's no way Brady will miss the playoffs with this collection of talent, though.
The Tennessee Titans' hopes to return to the playoffs in 2022 rely on their backfield. If star running back Derrick Henry doesn't stay healthy or if quarterback Ryan Tannehill doesn't return to his 2020 level, the Titans have no chance of making waves in the postseason.
The Titans frankly may have no shot after this past offseason.
Trading star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles for two draft picks hurt Tennessee's offensive upside considerably. Rookie wideout Treylon Burks could be a great long-term replacement for Brown, but he's a more limited athlete when it comes to route running. The Titans also acquired receiver Robert Woods from the Rams, but he's coming off a torn ACL.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing will need to maximize his new playmakers and get Tannehill back on track. He'll also need to develop two new starters along the offensive line after both Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry left for Buffalo in free agency.
The Titans' defense faces similar question marks in their back seven. Bud Dupree must prove to be the impactful pass-rusher he was prior to his ACL injury. Cornerback Caleb Farley is another wild card considering his injury history, and the Titans lack a reliable replacement if he isn't ready to be a star talent.
No one will want to face the Titans with Henry on the field, but they're getting less scary as they continue to strip down their roster around him over time. They're a wild-card contender at best this season.
The Washington Commanders will experience a two-fold dynamic with new quarterback Carson Wentz this season. He's undoubtedly the best quarterback they've had in recent years, but he's vulnerable to dreadful stretches like the one that caused the Colts to miss the playoffs last season.
At his best, Wentz can be moderately efficient and create big plays downfield with his ability to extend outside of structure. That bodes well for a talented receiving crew of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel. Running backs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic should also benefit from seeing fewer defenders in the box.
The Commanders will have a better offense this season if everyone stays healthy, although Wentz, Thomas and Samuel have dealt with significant injuries during their careers. Washington will likely go hot and cold because of Wentz's lack of consistency.
The Commanders' defense could help keep them afloat during those anemic stretches. Led by a dynamic front four featuring Chase Young and Daron Payne, this unit started to play much better over the second half of the 2021 season. They can't afford to finish 25th in points allowed like they did last year, though.
All schedule information is courtesy of FantasyData.com.