7 NFL Teams Most Likely to Disappoint in 2022
This portion of the NFL offseason is filled with optimism as every franchise has an unblemished record and hopes of contending for a championship. That will change once the regular season kicks off and cracks in the armor are exposed.
Even clubs coming off strong campaigns with aspirations to repeat those successes aren't immune to regression. Whether they suffered notable offseason losses, lack depth, are missing talent at critical positions, face a difficult strength of schedule or feature other glaring issues, some contenders are likely to fall short of lofty expectations.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some squads, in alphabetical order, with win projections of 8.5 or better—courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook—that are destined to disappoint in 2022.
2022 Win Projection: 8.5
The Arizona Cardinals avoided a quarterback crisis by inking Kyler Murray to a long-term extension, but this group still isn't in great shape for the upcoming season.
The Cardinals lost their top pass-rusher when Chandler Jones signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving them thin on the edge.
J.J. Watt remains on the roster, but the aging star has only participated in 31 games over the last three seasons because of injury, and he missed 10 games during his first season in Arizona last year.
On paper, the team's receiving corps looks stacked, but issues could be on the horizon.
No. 1 wideout DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first six games as he serves a PED suspension. The team will have to find a way to integrate offseason trade pickup Marquise Brown into the offense and then likely change his role upon the return of Hopkins.
Arizona also let Christian Kirk go in free agency, leaving the aging A.J. Green and the high-upside but relatively disappointing Rondale Moore as their depth options behind Brown and Hopkins.
Zach Ertz remains Arizona's No. 1 tight end, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and earned a middling 66.9 PFF grade for his work last season.
The Cardinals have made an ugly habit of disappointing down the stretch in the Kliff Kingsbury era.
The head coach oversaw a 10-2 record through Week 13 last year, but the club went just 1-4 to close the regular season before being trounced by the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round.
Arizona started the 2020 campaign with a 5-2 record before the bye week but missed the playoffs after a 3-6 finish. It's a troubling trend for the organization and an issue that Kingsbury has to sort out if the Cardinals want to make a leap.
2022 Win Projection: 10
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the highest win projections in football, but this unit may be unlikely to tally double-digit W's in 2022.
The receiving corps went from one of the league's deepest to one of the more banged-up and thin units. The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper for a Day 3 draft pick early in the offseason and declined to retain Cedrick Wilson Jr. in free agency.
That leaves CeeDee Lamb as the No. 1 pass-catching option with a series of question marks behind him. Michael Gallup could assume the No. 2 WR role, but it's uncertain when the veteran will return from an ACL tear he suffered in January.
Free-agent pickup James Washington is also out for a stretch and missing valuable training camp time after going down with a right foot fracture. That leaves Jalen Tolbert, a third-round rookie, as the likely No. 2 for the season opener.
The Dallas offensive line is no longer the force it once was either. Injuries and age have taken a toll, most notably at left tackle where perennial Pro Bowler Tyron Smith has been limited to 13 games since the 2020 season. Dallas released starting right tackle La'el Collins, and guard Connor Williams departed on the open market, adding more uncertainty to the offensive trenches.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott is fading and will likely see his playing time drop as Tony Pollard's usage goes up this season. Unfortunately, Elliott's massive contract extension is tying up funds the team could have used to retain key players and reinforce areas of need, meaning the Cowboys will rely on unheralded talents to fill gaps in the lineup.
With a thin squad that is a few injuries away from collapsing, Dallas could be in rough shape with some bad breaks in 2022.
Green Bay Packers
2022 Win Projection: 11
The Green Bay Packers may have tied for the NFL's top record last year, but it's possible the club takes a step back.
While Green Bay accomplished the main item on its offseason to-do list by locking up Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension, the future Hall of Fame quarterback will be missing his top target thanks to the Davante Adams trade.
The deal left the Packers without a proven pass-catcher for their signal-caller to lean on. After Adams racked up an eye-popping 169 targets last year—the second-most in football—Green Bay will try to replace those looks with lesser talents such as Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins and rookie Christian Watson.
None of the veterans are likely to come anywhere close to the target share Adams was responsible for, while Watson has plenty of upside but hasn't participated in training camp because of knee surgery.
The North Dakota State product is still raw, and it will be difficult for him to step into a big role early in his career, especially without valuable practice time to establish chemistry with his QB.
Factor in the loss of one of the league's top offensive coordinators following Nathaniel Hackett's acceptance of the Denver Broncos head coaching gig and the team's continued inability to find a top-tier tight end, and you are looking at a recipe for a disappointing 2022 season, especially on offense.
2022 Win Projection: 10
The Indianapolis Colts sputtered down the stretch last year and narrowly missed the playoffs. The failures prompted the club to move on from quarterback Carson Wentz and deal for Matt Ryan to fill the hole under center, but that may not be enough to get this group over the hump.
While the Colts have plenty to be excited about following the emergence of Jonathan Taylor as the NFL's leading rusher, the roster still has major holes.
The wide receiver position lacks polish even after the team used a second-round pick for the third time in four years to try to unearth more talent. Michael Pittman Jr. looks like a legitimate NFL wideout, but Parris Campbell has been a disappointment, and rookie Alec Pierce must prove he was worth his lofty draft status.
The offensive line may have blocked well for Taylor last year, but the pass-blocking capabilities were suspect. The Colts came in 30th in PFF's rankings for that category and are making a change at left tackle following the expiration of Eric Fisher's contract.
Third-round rookie Bernhard Raimann and veteran Matt Pryor are battling for the starting LT job in training camp, but it's possible neither excels this season.
Ryan may be washed up as well after one of his worst seasons as a professional. The 37-year-old only passed for 3,968 yards—averaging 7.1 yards per throw, the fourth-lowest mark of his career—and 20 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in 2021.
If the offense can't carry its weight, it'll be a serious challenge for Indianapolis to reach its 10-win projection in 2022.
Kansas City Chiefs
2022 Win Projection: 10.5
By trading Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs made a controversial decision that could haunt them in 2022 and beyond.
Hill was one of the foundational pieces of Kansas City's offense during its run to four consecutive AFC Championship Games. Along with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, the wideout made up a massive part of the club's game plan.
The 28-year-old was responsible for a huge portion of the Chiefs' pass-catching production over the past half-decade, amassing 418 catches for 6,037 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also showed his value as a rusher, picking up 452 yards and three scores on 69 totes.
While Kansas City secured a haul of draft picks from the Miami Dolphins and saved a good chunk of change by not having to dole out a new contract to Hill, his absence will hamstring a receiving corps that has few proven options.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie Skyy Moore are attempting to figure out a pecking order while establishing rapport with Mahomes.
Kansas City could take a step back defensively as well after the team parted ways with Tyrann Mathieu. The organization failed to retain one of its leaders and top playmakers in free agency and could struggle to find the energy and passion he brought.
Signing Justin Reid gives the Chiefs a capable replacement, but one who doesn't have the game-changing presence that Mathieu provided.
With these players missing and a lack of elite edge-rushers, along with facing the league's most difficult strength of schedule in a vastly improved AFC West, the Chiefs will struggle to reach their win projection in 2022.
New England Patriots
2022 Win Projection: 8.5
The New England Patriots returned to the playoffs last season behind an impressive showing from rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Despite finding a franchise signal-caller after floundering for a year following Tom Brady's departure, the Patriots could be in line for a regression in 2022.
New England may have dealt with one of the biggest issues a team could face by drafting Jones, but several other problem areas on this roster are unresolved.
The team lacks a playmaker on offense despite several moves to reinforce the receiving corps. New England traded for DeVante Parker and used a second-round pick on Tyquan Thornton, but neither is likely to emerge as an elite weapon for Jones to lean on.
None of the incumbent pass-catchers—a group that includes receivers Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor in addition to tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith—established themselves as playmakers last year, and it's doubtful that changes in 2022.
These players may not even match their production from 2021 after the departure of longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The team declined to name a replacement for McDaniels and could see both Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia calling offensive plays.
The defense will be missing its beating heart as well with Dont'a Hightower on the open market. The linebacker was a key cog in many elite New England defensive units over the first decade of his career, but it's looking like the Pats will forge ahead without the 32-year-old.
Add in an improved AFC East—the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins both brought in a ton of firepower this offseason in comparison to New England—plus a difficult strength of schedule (eighth-hardest), and it's possible the Patriots miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.
2022 Win Projection: 9
The Tennessee Titans are coming off an impressive season in which they clinched the AFC's top seed, but it's unlikely they will repeat that feat in 2022.
The Titans' 2021 campaign ended on a sour note when they lost in their playoff opener to the eventual conference champion Cincinnati Bengals, and they could be in for more disappointment.
The team may still have superstar Derrick Henry, but the running back is 28 years old and has plenty of wear on his tires. He missed nine games because of a fractured foot last season and was usurped by Jonathan Taylor as the league's best back.
The offense took another blow when Tennessee dealt top wideout A.J. Brown during the draft. The Titans replaced Brown with Treylon Burks—using the pick they received in the Brown trade—but the rookie will have his work cut out attempting to replace the 105 targets that his predecessor racked up last season.
With Ryan Tannehill still the starting quarterback, the upside isn't there for this team to be a realistic Super Bowl contender. The 34-year-old's resurgence in the Music City has been a nice story, but he only threw 21 touchdowns against 14 interceptions in 2021 and could continue to decline.
Tennessee will be a tough defensive squad for opponents to deal with, but the offense won't be dangerous enough to repeat the successes of last year. Expect a regression in 2022.
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