The 5 Most Disappointing Teams to Start 2022 NFL Season

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 30, 2022

The 5 Most Disappointing Teams to Start 2022 NFL Season

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 25: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders waits in the tunnel to be introduced before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
    Silas Walker/Getty Images

    While the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins garner deserved praise for their surges to 3-0, many NFL teams are dealing with disappointment.

    The term itself is relatively vague, so let's define it. To determine our selections, the primary factor was judging teams on actual performance against their preseason outlook.

    For example, the Houston Texans weren't expected to excel. Houston's current 0-2-1 mark—though precisely not a positive—is less frustrating, relatively speaking, than even a few winning records. Several teams expected to contend for the playoffs haven't impressed and/or have put themselves at an early disadvantage in the standings.

    Consider the list in ascending order, culminating in the most disappointing team of the season so far.

5. Los Angeles Rams

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    INGLEWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Los Angeles Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to throw to Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Ben Skowronek (18) during an NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams on September 18, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Matthew Stafford and Ben Skowronek | Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The promising note is the Los Angeles Rams are still 2-1 and standing atop the NFC West. The reigning Super Bowl champion's outlook is nowhere close to a doom-and-gloom situation.

    But the offense certainly isn't passing the eye test.

    During the opener, Los Angeles gained just 243 yards while ceding seven sacks in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. Then, the Atlanta Falcons nearly overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit while the Matthew Stafford-led attack sputtered. Most recently, the Rams mustered 339 yards in a semi-comfortable yet dissatisfying win over the Arizona Cardinals.

    Stafford has more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four). Cam Akers was a relative no-show until Week 3. Akers and Darrell Henderson have combined for a mere 3.8 yards per carry. Marquee free-agent signing Allen Robinson has totaled seven catches for 88 yards.

    In all likelihood, the Rams will start excelling again. To this point, though, there's no question the unit has disappointed.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys sacks Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Joe Burrow | Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    After dropping a heartbreaker to the Rams in the Super Bowl last season, the Cincinnati Bengals entered the offseason with a clear mission: upgrade the offensive line.

    On paper, the Bengals did exactly that. They added center Ted Karras, guard Alex Cappa and tackle La'el Collins, also drafting North Dakota State product Cordell Volson. All four have immediately entered the starting lineup.

    So far, not great!

    The mission was to keep quarterback Joe Burrow upright, but he's already taken 15 sacks. Overall, the offense has struggled, too. Burrow tossed four crushing interceptions in the season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Bengals managed only 254 yards in the Week 2 setback against the Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys.

    Cincinnati finally found the win column in Week 3 opposite the New York Jets, yet the Bengals' longest run covered just nine yards.

    The offense has much to prove for Cincinnati to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

3. Arizona Cardinals

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 18: Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks to Kyler Murray #1 in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
    Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury | Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    Arizona is one furious comeback away from an 0-3 record.

    Without a doubt, the Cardinals deserve some praise for digging out of that 20-point hole against the Las Vegas Raiders. Simultaneously, it's fair to have concern about Arizona being in that position anyway.

    Short story long, the greatest issue is that the improbable rally resulted in the Cards' lone win of the campaign. They otherwise hardly put up a fight in a 44-21 drubbing to the Kansas City Chiefs and didn't score a touchdown in the 20-12 loss against the Rams—both at home.

    Arizona is supposed to have an offense-driven team, yet the unit ranks 27th in the league at 4.8 yards per play. Additionally, the Cardinals are 30th in net yards per pass attempt, which factors in sacks. And it's definitely not helping matters that the defense has surrendered an NFL-worst 6.7 yards per snap.

    As with the Rams and Bengals, panic is unnecessary if the offense improves. Nevertheless, it's clear Arizona is a flawed playoff contender.

2. Los Angeles Chargers

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts a pass during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
    Justin Herbert | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Injuries are a complicating factor for the Los Angeles Rams. Also, a 28-point home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars is unacceptable.

    Don't take my word for it, though. The players called a team meeting immediately after what linebacker Drue Tranquill properly called an "embarrassing" result, according to Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times.

    Both sides of the ball are just struggling.

    Justin Herbert (ribs) is ailing, star wideout Keenan Allen (hamstring) has missed two games and versatile back Austin Ekeler has lumbered to 4.1 yards per touch with zero touchdowns after averaging 5.6 and totaling 20 scores last season. The offensive line hasn't created much space in the running game, resulting in an NFL-worst 2.6 yards per carry.

    Defensively, the Chargers rank 29th with 28.0 points allowed per game. Although an ankle injury has twice sidelined cornerback J.C. Jackson, that doesn't explain the NFL's third-worst pressure rate. Plus, the run defense has been no better than average.

    At full strength, Los Angeles—which also placed edge-rusher Joey Bosa and offensive tackle Rashawn Slater on injured reserve this week—could be a terrific team.

    But the ugly reality is health is never guaranteed in the NFL, and the Chargers have to persevere through the setbacks.

1. Las Vegas Raiders

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 25: Josh Jacobs #28 of the Las Vegas Raiders is tackled by Terrance Mitchell #39 and Zach Cunningham #41 of the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
    Silas Walker/Getty Images

    Similar to Cincinnati, the Raiders had a great offseason on paper. They hired respected offensive mind Josh McDaniels as head coach, also acquiring All-Pro wideout Davante Adams and pass-rusher Chandler Jones amid a flurry of roster-changing moves.

    Las Vegas should be built to compete for the playoffs, even in a stacked AFC West. That expectation has rapidly become questionable.

    If you're a glass-half-full person, the Raiders have three losses by a combined 13 points. They're consistently close.

    Conversely, Las Vegas had three turnovers against the Chargers, squandered a 20-point lead opposite Arizona and fell to a Tennessee Titans squad that has a legitimate case for being included on this very list. In other words, the Raiders have lost to three of the NFL's most disappointing teams.

    Las Vegas has time to turn its season around. But there isn't a more surprising poor start to 2022, and it's not close.

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