2022 Stat Predictions for Every Projected Starting NFL QB

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2022

2022 Stat Predictions for Every Projected Starting NFL QB

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    Doug Benc/Associated Press

    The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and we happen to be witnessing a fantastic period at the position. Longtime standouts like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are still playing at a high level, while youngsters like Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert represent the next generation of superstars.

    Of course, not every team has a top-tier signal-caller or even a franchise quarterback. They have to put someone under center, though, even if their statistical outputs won't match up to the guys in the top tier.

    How might those numbers look? Below, you'll find stat projections for all 32 projected starters in 2022 based on past production, supporting cast, scheme, health and any other relevant player- or team-specific factors.

    For teams without a clear-cut starter, we'll focus on the player we believe will start the majority of games this coming season.

    All projections are for 17 games unless otherwise noted. Entries are listed in alphabetical order by team.

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was a Pro Bowler in 2021 despite missing three games with an ankle injury. He finished with 3,787 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 423 rushing yards and five rushing scores.

    If healthy, Murray stands a reasonable chance of returning to the Pro Bowl and topping the 4,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.

    Arizona may have found a slight upgrade by trading for Marquise Brown as a replacement for free-agent departure Christian Kirk. While Brown hasn't established himself as a top-tier receiver, he was teammates with Murray at Oklahoma and may rekindle their chemistry quickly.

    However, Murray will also be without top target DeAndre Hopkins for a stretch, as he was handed a six-game suspension for violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

    With Hopkins out for a significant stretch, Murray might not make a major jump in 2022, but he still has enough firepower—the Cardinals return A.J. Green, Rondale Moore and Zach Ertz—to avoid a decline. Murray may not be quite as impressive on a per-game basis, but he should see the highest numbers of his career simply by staying on the field.

    Projection: 360 completions, 540 attempts, 4,158 yards, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 101 carries, 485 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns

Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Ridder

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons' situation is one of the trickier ones to nail down heading into training camp. Atlanta traded longtime starter Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason and is set to hold a competition between free-agent addition Marcus Mariota and third-round rookie Desmond Ridder.

    Mariota holds the edge in NFL experience—the 2015 No. 2 pick has 61 starts on his resume—and he may be viewed as more than just a one-year bridge. However, Ridder was a tremendous leader at Cincinnati with plenty of big-game experience and no shortage of confidence.

    "Marcus is a guy who's played a lot of games in the NFL, and obviously, had a tremendous college career," Ridder said, per Armando Salguero of OutKick. "You have to give respect where respect is due … but at the end of the day—and he knows this, too—it's obviously a competition or else we wouldn't be here."

    Ridder, who led the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff in 2021, might not win the job out of camp. However, he could be the future, and the Falcons need to at least get an extended look at him before approaching a 2023 draft loaded with quarterback talent.

    Expect Ridder to start the majority of the season. Also, expect him to have his fair share of ups and downs behind a line that allowed 40 sacks last season and with a young receiving corps headlined by 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts and 2022 first-rounder Drake London.

    Projection (nine starts): 157 completions, 249 attempts, 1,365 yards, 20 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 70 carries, 260 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Can Lamar Jackson stay healthy in 2022? That's perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Baltimore Ravens, as Jackson missed four games with an ankle injury—and a fifth with a non-COVID-related illness—late in 2021.

    The Ravens slipped from 8-3 in late November to 8-9 and out of the playoffs.

    Despite missing five games, Jackson was a Pro Bowler last season, and he should push to be one again this year. However, his passing averages may slide a bit after Baltimore traded his top wideout, Marquise Brown, to the Cardinals.

    The Ravens still have star tight end Mark Andrews, but a wide receiver corps headlined by Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay leaves a lot to be desired. Jackson will also have to overcome an offensive line that allowed a whopping 57 sacks in 2021.

    Baltimore did use a first-round pick on Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, but he's replacing former starter Bradley Bozeman, who left for the Carolina Panthers in free agency.

    Expect Jackson to still provide plenty of highlight-reel plays with his scrambling ability, elusiveness in the pocket and ability to find downfield targets on the run. Baltimore will remain a contender if Jackson can stay healthy.

    Projection: 276 completions, 428 attempts, 3,124 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 160 carries, 928 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is arguably the best dual-threat quarterback in the game today, and his numbers back that up. In 2021, he finished with 4,407 passing yards, 763 rushing yards, 42 combined touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

    Allen's numbers could be strikingly similar in 2022, as his supporting cast is largely unchanged. The Bills did replace Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley with Jamison Crowder and tight end O.J. Howard in free agency—though Sanders and Beasley remain unsigned and could be back—but the key pieces remain in place.

    We're still going to see Allen feeding the ball to Stefon Diggs and launching deep strikes to tight end Dawson Knox.

    The one big change in Buffalo is at offensive coordinator. Brian Daboll left to become the head coach of the New York Giants and will be replaced by quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey. The change may add a bit of a learning curve to the early season, but Allen has the skill set and the drive to keep rolling.

    In fact, Allen is already working to improve his toolbox.

    "Run after catch was wasn't very high last year, but again, that's me putting the ball where it needs to be," Allen said, per Ryan Talbot of Syracuse.com. "... So working on that, that’s been one of my biggest takeaways in this offseason and trying to work on just ball placement and allowing our receivers to do that."

    Expect Allen to have another fantastic campaign this year.

    Projection: 410 completions, 644 attempts, 4,508 yards, 35 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 110 carries, 651 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns

Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers appear ready to run it back with Sam Darnold, though they could still make a play for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, the Panthers and Seattle Seahawks remain interested in Mayfield but are in a "holding pattern" regarding the 2018 No. 1 pick.

    So, Darnold—the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft—will likely get one more chance to prove himself in Carolina. His first season with the franchise was a borderline disaster, though, as he finished with nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 71.9 passer rating in 11 starts.

    Darnold also missed a large chunk of the season with a fractured scapula.

    Carolina hasn't done much to upgrade Darnold's supporting cast, aside from using a first-round pick on NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu. The Panthers also turned to seasoned NFL coach Ben McAdoo to replace offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who was fired during the regular season.

    Perhaps Darnold will show some growth under McAdoo, and a healthy Christian McCaffrey would take a lot of pressure off of the fifth-year signal-caller. However, fans shouldn't expect to see a major jump from Darnold.

    In fact, it won't be a shock to see Carolina eventually turn the reins over to rookie third-round pick Matt Corral for evaluation purposes.

    Projection (12 starts): 260 completions, 420 attempts, 2,767 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 52 carries, 234 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

Chicago Bears: Justin Fields

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears fans may not have been happy with how former head coach Matt Nagy handled quarterback Justin Fields as a rookie. The Ohio State product flashed some potential but was too often put in unfavorable situations behind a bad offensive line.

    Fields was sacked 36 times in 12 appearances—the Bears allowed a league-leading 58 sacks—was under pressure on 27.3 percent of his dropbacks and ended up missing time with a rib injury.

    Fans should hope that new coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy do a better job of managing Fields, but Chicago didn't do him many favors in the offseason.

    The Bears' supporting cast may actually be worse after losing receiver Allen Robinson II and guard James Daniels in free agency. Chicago did sign lineman Lucas Patrick, receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle and draft wideout Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. However, there's little to get excited about on this offense aside from promising pass-catchers Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet.

    Fields will presumably show some growth in Year 2, but he's unlikely to instantly become a star. It'll be another year of ups and downs for the 23-year-old, and given Chicago's pass-protection problems, the risk of missing time again due to injury is very real.

    Projection (14 starts): 201 completions, 342 attempts, 2,360 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 99 carries, 574 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    While the Bears are hoping that Fields develops into a legitimate franchise signal-caller, the Cincinnati Bengals appear to have found there's for the next decade-plus. Joe Burrow returned from 2021's torn ACL to light up the league alongside former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase.

    On his way to helping the Bengals reach Super Bowl LVI, the 25-year-old racked up 4,611 passing yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also achieved the rare feat of leading the league in both completion percentage (70.4) and yards per attempt (8.9).

    Chase went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the dynamic duo's 2022 encore should bring more accolades for both players. Burrow's supporting cast is largely unchanged, with tight end Hayden Hurst coming in to replace C.J. Uzomah.

    The one significant change Cincinnati made was addressing its offensive line. Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times in the regular season, but the Bengals added La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras in free agency.

    Burrow was a surprise Pro Bowl snub in 2021, but that isn't likely to happen again this year. With improved protection, Burrow should be among the NFL's best statistical quarterbacks this season.

    Projection: 375 completions, 532 attempts, 4,743 yards, 37 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 38 carries, 115 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Cleveland Browns: Jacoby Brissett

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns thought they had their franchise signal-caller in 2018 first overall pick Baker Mayfield. However, after he suffered a torn labrum in Week 2 and suffered through a miserable 2021 campaign, the Browns decided to move on and traded for Deshaun Watson.

    Watson will be Cleveland's starter if and when he's available. However, he still faces 22 civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexual assault and misconduct and could face league discipline under the personal conduct policy.

    According to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports HQ, Watson's discipline could be significant.

    "NFL source on Trevor Bauer: 'Look at what baseball did. If people don't think that's on people's radar, then. Public opinion matters. You think the NFL wants to be the organization that says sexual misconduct against women means more to one league than the other? Think about it.'" Anderson tweeted.

    Major League Baseball suspended Bauer for two years after a woman said he sexually assaulted her. Watson might not see the same punishment, but the Browns should be prepared to play without him for at least a portion of this season.

    Assuming Mayfield isn't interested in helping the Browns after they replaced him, Cleveland will turn to free-agent acquisition Jacoby Brissett. He's a serviceable game-manager who can win in Cleveland's run-based attack, but Brissett has never reached 20 touchdown passes or had a winning record in a season.

    Cleveland has a solid offensive line and a tremendous backfield, but it lacks proven receiving depth after trade acquisition Amari Cooper. Expect average numbers at best from Brissett for however long he holds down the Browns offense.

    Projection (10 starts): 180 completions, 298 attempts, 1,908 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 40 carries, 148 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have few questions at the quarterback position. While Dak Prescott might not be a truly elite signal-caller, he's well above average. The 28-year-old bounced back from 2020's broken ankle to have a tremendous campaign in 2021.

    Prescott finished last season with 4,449 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a rushing score.

    Unfortunately for Prescott, his supporting cast might not be as good as it was a year ago. The Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper and lost receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr., tackle La'el Collins and guard Connor Williams in free agency.

    Dallas did, at least, add wideout James Washington and use a first-round pick on Tulsa lineman Tyler Smith. It also took wideout Jalen Tolbert in Round 3.

    While it may take time for all of the moving pieces to sort themselves out, Prescott will enjoy plenty of continuity with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who has held the position since 2019 and was quarterbacks coach the previous season.

    Prescott should play well enough to have Dallas back in the playoff conversation again this year.

    Projection: 401 completions, 588 attempts, 35 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 52 carries, 249 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Denver Broncos: Russell Wilson

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson is the new face of the Denver Broncos. How will the Denver offense operate with Wilson replacing Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock? That's one of the biggest questions Broncos fans have this offseason.

    There are plenty of reasons for optimism. Denver has talented pass-catchers like Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. They also added Nathaniel Hackett as head coach and offensive coordinator Justin Outten this offseason.

    Hackett (offensive coordinator) and Outten (tight ends) were both with the Green Bay Packers last season, where they worked with reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers.

    Rodgers has actually won back-to-back MVP awards. Could Wilson finally win his first? It's entirely possible.

    However, the Broncos also have a top-tier backfield duo in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, plus a defense that ranked third in points allowed last season. Wilson may well have a role similar to the one he had in Seattle, where he would occasionally take over games but was often asked to merely manage.

    Wilson may not do as much cooking as some fans would like to see in Denver. However, it would still be a major shock to see him not produce Pro Bowl-caliber numbers in his new home.

    Projection: 361 completions, 552 attempts, 4,306 yards, 33 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 57 carries, 314 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

Detroit Lions: Jared Goff

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    In some ways, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff was a throw-in inclusion in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. Goff is a serviceable starter, but he probably isn't viewed as the future at quarterback in Detroit.

    However, this doesn't mean Goff cannot be successful. The 27-year-old was far from a disaster in 2021, finishing with 19 touchdown passes, eight interceptions and a respectable 91.5 quarterback rating. There are reasons to believe that Goff can be even better in 2022.

    It starts with the late-season emergence of wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, who finished his rookie year with six consecutive games of at least eight receptions and 70-plus yards. A second-year leap from him could do wonders for Goff's statistical totals.

    The Lions traded up in Round 1 to grab Alabama wideout Jameson Williams, who suffered a torn ACL in the national title game. Williams might not be ready for Week 1, but he'll make an impact once healthy.

    "Overall, Williams will be an immediate weapon for any NFL offense due to his speed and explosiveness and will walk into the league as one of its fastest and most dangerous players," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    Detroit also added former Pro Bowl wideout D.J. Chark Jr. in free agency. With T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift also in the mix, Goff has a promising supporting cast loaded with upside. He might not return to Pro Bowl form this season, but Goff should have the sort of year that makes the Lions think twice about moving on in 2023.

    Projection: 403 completions, 599 attempts, 4,073 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 20 carries, 95 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has won back-to-back MVP awards, and while a three-peat may not happen, he should be among the league's statistical leaders again in 2022.

    The biggest change Rodgers will have to deal with is the departure of former favorite target Davante Adams. The five-time Pro Bowler was responsible for 29.6 percent of the team's total targets in 2021—not including throwaways—but was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.

    Green Bay also replaced offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett (now with Denver) with run-game coordinator Adam Stenavich.

    While the Packers offense will be different in 2022, different doesn't mean worse. Green Bay brings back Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Amari Rodgers, and it added Sammy Watkins and rookie second-round pick Christian Watson to the mix.

    Green Bay can also lean heavily on the talented backfield duo of AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones.

    Rodgers will have to spread the ball around a bit more than he has in previous seasons, but there's no reason to believe he's suddenly going to fall off the proverbial cliff. Expect another All-Pro-caliber season that keeps fans questioning the decision to use a first-round pick on Jordan Love.

    Projection: 375 completions, 542 attempts, 4,173 yards, 36 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 35 carries, 160 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

Houston Texans: Davis Mills

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans saw enough from quarterback Davis Mills to stick with him as their 2022 starter. While the Stanford product didn't produce eye-popping numbers, he was fairly impressive given the dearth of talent on the roster.

    Mills finished 2021 with 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and an 88.8 passer rating in 13 games with 11 starts. He was arguably the league's second-most impressive rookie quarterback after Mac Jones of the New England Patriots.

    Houston didn't do a ton to upgrade Mills' supporting cast, but it did bring in running backs Marlon Mack and Dare Ogunbowale and use a first-round pick on interior lineman Kenyon Green. The Texans also used a second-round pick on former Alabama receiver John Metchie III, who suffered a torn ACL in the SEC Championship Game.

    While Metchie might not contribute right away, Mills should show early and continued growth under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton—the team's passing-game coordinator last season. The 23-year-old is still at the helm of one of the league's most underwhelming offenses, but Mills should make a statistical jump in his second season.

    Projection: 372 completions, 559 attempts, 3,801 yards, 23 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 22 carries, 48 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Indianapolis Colts: Matt Ryan

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Colts got arguably the biggest bargain of the offseason when they acquired Matt Ryan from the Falcons for a 2022 third-round selection. While the 37-year-old might not be the MVP-caliber passer he once was, he should be an upgrade over Carson Wentz.

    Just don't expect Ryan to lead the league in attempts—as he did 2020—or to light up the stat sheet. The Colts feature a run-first offense that goes through league-leading rusher Jonathan Taylor.

    Indy isn't exactly loaded with proven receiving talent, either. Michael Pittman Jr. has developed into a reliable top target, but there's little veteran depth after him, though second-round receiver Alec Pierce and third-round tight end Jelani Woods have loads of upside.

    ESPN's Louis Riddick believes that Pierce has Offensive-Rookie-of-the-Year potential.

    Expect Ryan to largely play the role of game-manager instead of carrying the offense, as he often did in Atlanta. The run-heavy approach was efficient enough in 2021 to make a playoff push, and the Colts likely would have reached the postseason if not for Wentz's late-season meltdown.

    Needing just one win in the final two weeks to make the playoffs, Wentz totaled 333 yards with two touchdown passes and two turnovers in back-to-back losses to end the year. Ryan should be better and help lift Indy to a postseason berth, even if he isn't among the league's passing leaders.

    Projection: 349 completions, 520 attempts, 3,692 yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 30 carries, 78 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    The No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, Trevor Lawrence was widely expected to be a generational talent and the next big thing at the quarterback position.

    "Overall, Lawrence is living up to the hype he received as the top high school quarterback in the country and looks like a Week 1 franchise quarterback with the upside to win multiple MVPs and only injuries or an incompetent franchise will put him on a path toward failure," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote before the draft.

    However, Lawrence's career got off to an auspicious start because of issues beyond his control. Former head coach Urban Meyer botched virtually every aspect of the Jags' 2021 season, and he was fired before it ended.

    Under Meyer's "guidance," Lawrence finished his rookie season with 12 touchdowns a league-lead-tying 17 interceptions and a 71.9 rating. Under the direction of new head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor, Lawrence should improve quickly.

    Jacksonville also took steps to improve Lawrence's supporting cast in the offseason, adding the likes of guard Brandon Scherff, wideout Christian Kirk, tight end Evan Engram and rookie center Luke Fortner, though they did lose a quality receiver in D.J. Chark Jr.

    This is still an underwhelming group overall, and Lawrence is still maturing as a pro. However, there are some solid pieces, and Pederson has the experience needed to get Lawrence back on the path to greatness.

    Projection: 367 completions, 582 attempts, 3,957 yards, 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 75 carries, 345 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Like Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lost his top target in the offseason. The Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, robbing the Kansas City offense of one of the league's most explosive playmakers.

    Make no mistake, the Chiefs offense won't be the same without Hill in the lineup. He has the ability to keep opposing safeties deep and to turn short passes into home-run plays.

    As is the case in Green Bay, though, different doesn't mean worse. Mahomes is still an elite signal-caller, and the Chiefs still have weapons like Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

    Kansas City also signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ronald Jones II while drafting second-round receiver Skyy Moore. Andy Reid, one of the game's brightest offensive innovators, is still running the show.

    Kelce will still serve as a go-to target, but Mahomes will need to spread the ball around a bit more in the post-Hill era. The 26-year-old has shown nothing during his time in the NFL to suggest that he isn't capable of doing exactly that.

    Expect continued elite play from Mahomes, who should again be among the early MVP favorites even without Hill breaking free downfield.

    Projection: 420 completions, 633 attempts, 4,810 yards, 36 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 67 carries, 389 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    If you're a Raiders fan and you're not excited to see Derek Carr light it up in 2022, well, you should be.

    Carr has never been considered among the league's best quarterbacks, but he's a potent passer who led the NFL's sixth-ranked passing attack in 2021. That was before the arrival of five-time Pro Bowler and prized trade acquisition Davante Adams.

    Adams, by the way, was Carr's college teammate at Fresno State, and the two should have little trouble rekindling their quarterback-receiver connection.

    The Raiders also acquired Demarcus Robinson in free agency but traded away Bryan Edwards. With Adams joining a talented group that already includes Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs, the Raiders are poised to have one of the conference's most prolific passing attacks.

    Only two real questions remain when it comes to Carr and the Raiders. One is the coaching change, with head coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi joining the fray. There's no guarantee that Las Vegas will be as pass-heavy (they ranked eighth in attempts last season) under the new regime. Though, McDaniels has traditionally done a great job of crafting a system to his team's strengths.

    The other question mark is an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks last season and struggled to open running lanes. The addition of third-round rookie guard Dylan Parham could help there.

    Provided he stays upright and Las Vegas doesn't suddenly turn into a grind-it-out ground team, Carr could be in line for his best statistical season yet.

    Projection: 415 completions, 608 attempts, 4,742 yards, 33 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 41 carries, 112 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is already knocking on the door of the NFL's elite-quarterback club. There's a very real chance he smashes through it in 2022.

    Last season, Herbert was spectacular. He threw for 5,014 yards with 38 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a 97.7 passer rating. Beyond raw physical ability, though, Herbert possesses the competitive drive needed to be truly elite.

    Former Packer and current Chargers center Corey Linsley compared Herbert to reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers.

    "When Aaron was on, and he can't be stopped, and you weren't on, he was gonna let you know. Because he has that perfectionist, competitive fire inside of him. And that’s what Justin has," Linsley told SiriusXM NFL Radio.

    Herbert should continue evolving in Year 3, and his supporting cast should be as good if not better than it was a year ago. Key pieces like Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler remain in place, and L.A. added guard Zion Johnson and running back Isaiah Spiller in last month's draft.

    Head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi are also back, so fans should see a lot of what they saw in 2021. If Herbert shows even modest improvement, he'll be right in the thick of the MVP conversation.

    Projection: 426 completions, 640 attempts, 4,864 yards, 40 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 65 carries, 312 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    In his first season with the Los Angeles Rams, all Matthew Stafford did was pass for more than 4,800 yards, guide wideout Cooper Kupp to a historic 145-catch, 1,947-yard season and deliver the Lombardi Trophy.

    In his second year with the Rams and head coach Sean McVay, Stafford could be just as successful.

    The Rams traded wide receiver Robert Woods, lost guard Austin Corbett departed for the Panthers in free agency and have yet to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr. They also lost left tackle Andrew Whitworth to retirement and offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to the Minnesota Vikings.

    However, McVay is still running the show, and he has a familiar face in new offensive coordinator Liam Coen. Coen spent three years under McVay before leaving last year to become offensive coordinator of the Kentucky Wildcats.

    Former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson II should help reload the receiving corps, and Stafford should be a more efficient quarterback—he had 17 interceptions last season—in his second year in the McVay system. It all adds up to high expectations for a quarterback who largely exceeded them in his first campaign with the franchise.

    Projection: 402 completions, 590 attempts, 4,661 yards, 40 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 30 carries, 80 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa

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    Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

    After two largely underwhelming seasons, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will have no excuses in 2022.

    The Dolphins went out of their way to support the Alabama product this offseason. It started with the hiring of offensive guru Mike McDaniel as head coach and culminated with a trade for former Chiefs superstar Tyreek Hill.

    The Dolphins also added wideout Cedrick Wilson Jr., tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams while bolstering their backfield by signing Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds. DeVante Parker was traded, but key 2021 contributors like Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki remain.

    On paper, Miami has the makings of a tremendous offense. For Tagovailoa, everything now will hinge on his development. Last season, the 24-year-old went 7-5 as a starter but averaged just 6.5 yards per pass attempt and posted a good-not-great 90.1 quarterback rating.

    Tagovailoa has all the necessary pieces to finally join 2020 draft-mates Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert as budding stars. Whether he can make the jump while overcoming a relative lack of experience (21 starts) and average downfield-passing ability (6.6 yards-per-attempt career average) remains to be seen. Statistically, though, Tagovailoa should be better this season.

    Projection: 344 completions, 507 attempts, 3,448 yards, 25 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 50 carries, 150 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Can new head coach Kevin O'Connell finally unlock the potential of the Minnesota Vikings talented offense? That's the biggest unknown for the Vikings and quarterback Kirk Cousins.

    Cousins has long been mired in the tier of good-not-great quarterbacks. Statistically, he's been better than average, but those numbers haven't always correlated to wins. Last season, Cousins passed for 4,221 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, yet the Vikings finished 8-9.

    Cousins has a tremendous supporting cast, headlined by Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook. The group largely remains unchanged—though tight end Jack Conklin did depart in free agency, while Minnesota added guard Ed Ingram in the second round.

    The regime change should provide Cousins and Co. with a boost. O'Connell spent the past two seasons as the Rams offensive coordinator, while new Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was the Rams passing-game coordinator in 2021. Both oversaw a championship-caliber offense in 2021.

    If O'Connell and Phillips can squeeze a little more juice out of the offensive roster, Cousins could be in line for his fourth Pro Bowl campaign and his best season as a Viking.

    Projection: 383 completions, 555 attempts, 4,329 yards, 35 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 38 carries, 122 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

New England Patriots: Mac Jones

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Mac Jones had his fair share of rookie moments for the Patriots in 2021. However, the Alabama product more often played like a steady veteran while guiding the Patriots to the postseason and providing Pats fans with plenty of hope for the future.

    Jones finished his inaugural campaign with 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, a 92.5 quarterback rating and a Pro Bowl nod.

    The big question here is how Jones will perform after the loss of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The Patriots' longtime offensive guru crafted a tremendous week-to-week game plan for his rookie signal-caller last season but departed to take the Raiders' head-coaching gig.

    Assuming the Patriots don't stumble without McDaniels, Jones should take some positive steps in his second season. He'll have a full year—and some playoff experience—under his belt, and New England did add to its lackluster wide receiver room this offseason.

    The Patriots traded for DeVante Parker and drafted Tyquan Thornton in the second round. The pair joins a group that had serviceable receivers in Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and a solid tight-end duo in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

    If Jones can cut back on the occasional miscue—he had multi-interception games in losses to the Colts, Bills and New Orleans Saints—he'll remove any doubt about being New England's long-term successor to Tom Brady.

    Projection: 364 completions, 535 attempts, 3,905 yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 40 carries, 116 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding Saints quarterback Jameis Winston heading into the regular season. However, it has little to do with the 28-year-old's play, which was great during his seven starts in 2021.

    Winston threw 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions, posted a career-best 102.8 quarterback rating and went 5-2 as the starter before a torn ACL cut his season short. Winston's recovery is the first big question mark, though there is positive news on that front.

    "Saints QB Jameis Winston is progressing on his ACL rehab, and he recently began planting and throwing off play action," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler tweeted. "Saints will likely take it easy with him this offseason, but he's working as if he'll be a full go for training camp."

    The other question is how the offense will look after Sean Payton stepped down as head coach. The Saints promoted defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and retained offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, so ideally, it won't be much different.

    New Orleans lost left tackle Terron Armstead in free agency but bolstered its offense by adding first-round receiver Chris Olave and first-round tackle Trevor Penning in the draft. It also signed Jarvis Landry and should have wideout Michael Thomas back after he missed all of 2021 following ankle surgery.

    The Saints offense should be better equipped than it was a year ago, though, there is some uncertainty surrounding Alvin Kamara, who may face league discipline for his alleged involvement in a felony assault. If Winston is back to 100 percent by Week 1, expect him to continue the effective and efficient play we saw for half of last season.

    Projection: 290 completions, 451 attempts, 3,382 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 34 carries, 143 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

New York Giants: Daniel Jones

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Will new head coach Brian Daboll be able to turn Daniel Jones into a franchise quarterback? That's the big question surrounding Jones and the Giants heading into 2022, and it's one to which the Giants need to answer before 2023 considering New York declined the fifth-year option on Jones' rookie contract.

    Daboll worked wonders with Josh Allen in Buffalo, and Jones is a gifted-but-raw prospect as Allen was coming into the league. Jones flashed a lot of potential as a rookie, passing for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns, but he's been less impressive in the two years since.

    Unfortunately for Jones, his supporting cast is largely unchanged from last year. The Giants used a first-round pick on offensive tackle Evan Neal and a second-round pick on wideout Wan'Dale Robinson, but most of the skill players we saw in 2021 remain.

    The Giants ranked 31st in both yards and points last season.

    A healthy Saquon Barkley would help Jones tremendously. He was a rookie Pro Bowler with more than 2,000 scrimmage yards in 2018, but injuries have derailed his career. Last year, Barkley returned from a torn ACL to appear in 13 games but averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Jones simply can't count on Barkley returning to form this season.

    And if Jones struggles, it wouldn't be a shock to see backup Tyrod Taylor get some starting opportunities. If Jones isn't the future, New York needs to get an idea of just how capable Taylor could be in a bridge role in 2023.

    Projection (14 games): 295 completions, 459 attempts, 3,075 yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 75 carries, 390 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

New York Jets: Zach Wilson

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Like Lawrence, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson had a 2021 rookie campaign that was more a series of sporadic flashes than lightning in a bottle. The BYU product tallied nine touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a passer rating of only 69.7. He went just 3-10 as a starter.

    However, the Jets have done an excellent job of improving Wilson's supporting cast this offseason. They added guard Laken Tomlinson in free agency while strengthening their tight end room significantly with C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and rookie Jeremy Ruckert.

    In the draft, New York added Ruckert, first-round receiver Garrett Wilson and second-round running back Breece Hall

    New York also has some nice returning pieces in Braxton Berrios, Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter. With former first-round picks in Tomlinson, Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker on the offensive line, Wilson has a support staff many quarterbacks would envy.

    The question, of course, is whether Wilson can take that fabled next step as a signal-caller. Presumably, he'll show at least a little growth under returning offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. With more weapons and better blocking in front of him, a little growth may be enough to vault Wilson to a breakout season in Year 2.

    Projection: 303 completions, 490 attempts, 3,234 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 50 carries, 324 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns

Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts should be in store for a true breakout season. The Oklahoma product didn't produce eye-popping passing numbers in his first full season as Philadelphia's starter last year, but he was perfect for offensive coordinator Shane Steichen's system.

    Last season, Hurts threw for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions in an offense that ranked last in the league in passing attempts. He also rushed for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns.

    While Hurts will likely lead a run-heavy offense again in 2022, he should still see improve passing numbers. No. 1 receiver DeVonta Smith will be entering his second season, and the Eagles landed another big-time receiver when they traded for A.J. Brown.

    Brown is a one-time Pro Bowler with two 1,000-yard campaigns on his resume. Along with Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and running backs Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, Brown should help give Philadelphia a very potent offense.

    Ideally, Hurts will also benefit from a healthy offensive line. The Eagles were forced to shuffle the line frequently last season, and Hurst ended up under pressure on 26.4 percent of his dropbacks.

    If Brown quickly meshes with his new teammates, and Hurts can benefit from a clean pocket, a Pro Bowl nod could be on the horizon for Philadelphia's quarterback.

    Projection: 308 completions, 490 attempts, 3,577 yards, 22 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 155 carries, 868 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mitch Trubisky

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers used a first-round pick to make Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett the long-term successor to retired quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. However, there's a legitimate chance that Pickett isn't rushed onto the field right away.

    Instead, free-agent addition Mitch Trubisky may start early in the season.

    "Camp and preseason games are one thing, but Trubisky has NFL game experience," Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote. "I'm not saying Pickett sits for long, but he'd have to blow their doors off to beat out Trubisky to start the season opener."

    Trubisky never evolved into a true franchise signal-caller in Chicago, but he did show glimpses and he finished his Bears tenure with a winning record. The Steelers, which haven't finished below .500 in the Mike Tomlin era, can win games with him under center.

    The question is whether Trubisky can play well enough to keep Pickett on the bench for his rookie season. With weapons like Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III, it's possible.

    However, Pittsburgh will eventually want to get a look at its quarterback of the future on the playing field. There may come a point when the Steelers believe the drop-off from Trubisky to the less-experienced Pickett won't drastically inhibit a postseason push and give the rookie a shot. Or, if the Steelers do fall out of contention, they'll turn the keys over to Pickett permanently.

    While he still has the reins, though, expect Trubisky to fare better in Pittsburgh than he did in his last starting stint.

    Projection (12 games): 239 completions, 256 attempts, 2,385 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 60 carries, 318 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Right now, the San Francisco 49ers have both Jimmy Garoppolo and 2021 No. 3 pick Trey Lance on the roster. That could change in the coming weeks, as San Francisco is reportedly eyeing a Garoppolo trade before training camp.

    "Garoppolo's shoulder is slated to get the all-clear in late June or early July, at which point the Niners will again seek a trade partner," ESPN's Nick Wagoner wrote.

    If Garoppolo is still on the roster in Week 1, he may get the nod over Lance, who has just two starts on his resume. Jimmy G has proven himself to be a steady hand, even if he lacks the physical upside of his 22-year-old compatriot.

    However, the 49ers will want to capitalize on Lance's upside sooner than later and will turn the offense over to the second-year dual-threat at some point this season. Expect the North Dakota State product to have his fair share of growing pains but to also provide regular highlight-reel moments.

    With weapons like George Kittle, Elijah Mitchell and Brandon Aiyuk, Lance will be well-equipped to handle Kyle Shanahan's consistently evolving game plans. The one variable here is the status of star receiver Deebo Samuel.

    Samuel is still with San Francisco, but he did request a trade earlier this offseason. If the 2022 All-Pro holds out or forces his way out of the Bay, Lance's numbers won't quite stack up to what we're projecting here.

    Projection (11 games): 168 completions, 275 attempts, 2,145 yards, 18 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 66 carries, 340 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Seattle Seahawks: Geno Smith

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Russell Wilson is no longer a Seahawk, and Seattle is set to engage in perhaps the most unexciting quarterback competition of the offseason. Barring a trade for Baker Mayfield or another surprise move, Seattle will likely start either Geno Smith or Drew Lock in Week 1.

    The early reports indicate Smith, who is entering his third season with Seattle, is the front-runner.

    "Right now, Geno has done such a good job of carrying over [from 2021]. He already had a head start over Drew right there," offensive coordinator Shane Waldron told 93.3 KJR Radio (h/t Gregg Bell of the News Tribune).

    We may actually see a little of each quarterback this season, with neither securing a permanent grip on the starting job. For this exercise, we'll predict that the more experienced Smith gets the majority of the starts.

    Smith carried himself well in a three-game stretch while Wilson was sidelined last season. He passed for five touchdowns, one interception and a 103.0 rating in 2021. He'll have premium weapons in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and a few new faces on the offense as well.

    Seattle used first- and third-round picks on tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, respectively. It also used a second-round pick on Kenneth Walker III.

    Smith won't make Seahawks fans forget about Wilson, but he'll do enough to get Seattle through most of the season.

    Projection (10 games): 163 completions, 238 attempts, 1,761 yards, 12 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 18 carries, 84 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Bruce Arians resigned as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach this offseason, but that's about the only major change the Bucs offense is likely to see. Byron Leftwich remains the offensive coordinator, and Tom Brady is back after a brief but dramatic retirement.

    Brady will turn 45 in August, but unless Father Time learned a few new tricks during the G.O.A.T.'s temporary vacation, he isn't likely to see a rapid decline. Brady was among the league's best quarterbacks last season—he led the NFL with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns while posting a 102.1 passer rating—and he should be nearly as good this year.

    The one uncertainty is whether tight end Rob Gronkowski will join Brady for another run or stick with retirement. However, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate and Giovani Bernard will all be back. Chris Godwin will be back too, though he's recovering from a torn ACL.

    Tampa lost guard Alex Cappa in free agency but traded for a high-end replacement in Shaq Mason. It also added a strong complementary receiver in Russell Gage.

    Brady will once operate one of the NFL's most stacked offenses, and the same high-octane strategy will remain.

    "I'm just no-risk-it, no-biscuit, too. Same thing, same thing. Nothing will change," Leftwich said, per NFL.com's Grant Gordon. "Everything should be status quo."

    The status quo means Brady will again be among the MVP contenders.

    Projection: 430 completions, 632 attempts, 5,058 yards, 40 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 25 carries, 30 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns

Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    After posting passer ratings above 100 in both 2019 and 2020, Ryan Tannehill took a step back in 2021. He was still good enough to lead Tennessee to the AFC's No. 1 seed, but he was inconsistent and mistake-prone enough (89.6 rating, 14 interceptions) to justify taking a third-round flier on Malik Willis.

    Willis may be the future for the Titans, but Tannehill will run the show once again in 2022. Unfortunately for him, top receiver A.J. Brown won't be along for the ride. He's now an Eagle, and Tannehill is left hoping rookie first-round pick Treylon Burks adapts quickly to the NFL.

    Still, Tannehill should be solid if unspectacular this season. With a healthy Derrick Henry in the backfield, he can return to the familiar game-manager role. Despite missing nine games with a foot injury last season, Henry managed to rack up 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

    If healthy, Henry could again challenge the 2,000-yard mark.

    And it's not as if Henry is the only weapon on the Titans' roster. Tennessee traded for Robert Woods and signed tight end Austin Hooper in free agency. It also has a nice complementary back in Dontrell Hilliard and scooped up Michigan running back Hassan Haskins in the fourth round.

    Expect Tannehill to guide a run-first-run-often offense this season. The team's approach will keep Tannehill's numbers relatively low, but his efficiency should be higher than it was a year ago.

    Projection: 301 completions, 445 attempts, 3,598 yards, 29 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 45 carries, 225 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns

Washington Commanders: Carson Wentz

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    Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, Carson Wentz floundered down the stretch with the Colts in 2021. However, he was statistically above-average overall last season with 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 94.6 passer rating.

    Wentz should have similar production in 2022 as a member of the Washington Commanders. Washington doesn't have a dominant back in the mold of Jonathan Taylor, but it does have a solid backfield led by Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic.

    One could argue Wentz will have better receiving weapons in Washington, too. Terry McLaurin is a proven commodity, as is tight end Logan Thomas. First-round rookie receiver Jahan Dotson should add an extra boost to the offense as well.

    The big question is whether Wentz can thrive behind an offensive line that surrendered 43 sacks last season—one that is arguably even worse following the departure of Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff.

    Wentz will have a veteran coach in Ron Rivera and a seasoned coordinator in Scott Turner. He has all the pieces and tools to provide a statistical upgrade over 2021 starter Taylor Heinicke. Whether Wentz's results are markedly better than Heinicke's—and whether Washington can win more with him under center—remains to be seen.

    Projection: 330 completions, 523 attempts, 3,823 yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 54 carries, 221 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns


    Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.