With the start of the new NFL season just a month away and preseason games well underway, there’s huge anticipation among NFL fans after a summer of drama and big-name trades, and everyone is making their picks and predictions on how each of the eight divisions are going to play out.
NFC WestSan Francisco 49ers and the reigning champion Rams will continue to compete for the title, although the Arizona Cardinals can't be completely ruled out. With a new and improved collection of pass catchers that includes a healthy DeAndre Hopkins along with Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, Kyler Murray will have an exciting supporting cast. These three are still some way ahead of the Seahawks who just traded their star quarterback after a poor 2021 season.
NFC NorthEven though they lost their top receiver, with Aaron Rodgers signing up for another four seasons, the Packers seem to have this division sewn up despite the loss of Davante Adams. Minnesota Vikings have kept their roster competitive enough to at least contend for an NFC Wild Card spot, while both the Lions and the Bears have their share of talent but are too unpredictable to sustain a season-long challenge.
NFC SouthWith Tom Brady returning, the Buccaneers are once again serious contenders to represent the NFC at the Super Bowl, and they face little opposition. Neither the Carolina Panthers nor the Atlanta Falcons are competitive, and although New Orleans has gone all in with the acquisition of Tyrann Mathieu and the Chris Olave pick, a Wild Card spot looks to be their best hope.
NFC EastThey lost Amari Cooper and messed up the Randy Gregory negotiations, but the Cowboys should still finish on top here. Micah Parsons – Defensive Rookie of the Year – along with CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott, and of course, Dak Prescott, provide plenty of star quality. Their closest rivals will probably be the Eagles. Although both the Giants and the Commanders are shaping up with some potential, they have too much of a gap to close in the NFC East.
AFC WestThe AFC West will be fascinating this season, with the Raiders and Broncos both bringing in new head coaches and in Denver’s case, a new quarterback. The Chargers are also in the mix with Justin Herbert, but it is still hard to see past the Chiefs. After four consecutive AFC Championship Games, the Chiefs have done a good job of replacing Tyreek Hill, and Patrick Mahomes should once again dominate.
AFC NorthThe Bengals are now legitimate Super Bowl contenders, making this division even more competitive, and the upgrades to the offensive line will give Joe Burrow even more protection. The Steelers will rely heavily on their strong defense, and even though the Ravens took a step back last year, they cannot be written off. The Browns too are in contention, though a lot will depend on the Deshaun Watson situation and in the short term, how well Jacoby Brissett is able to deputize.
AFC SouthPossibly the worst division in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans should be able to dominate here with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry leading a team with a dominant defense. The Texans and the Jaguars have new head coaches and a lot of question marks, although Trevor Lawrence has an improved offensive roster in his second season in Jacksonville. The Colts look to be the likeliest challengers to the Titans with Matt Ryan and a boosted wide receiver group.
AFC EastJosh Allen has returned the Buffalo Bills to the top of the AFC East. Despite the many challenges that they have faced along the way, they have a strong chance to remain the best team in the division. The arrival of free agents Rodger Saffold and Tim Seattle has strengthened the roster enormously and some sportsbooks have the Bills as the Super Bowl favorites.
As for the rest of the AFC East, Mac Jones' second season will be all about the New England Patriots applying pressure to Buffalo. Although the addition of Terron Armstead and Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins' young, developing core during the significant offseason must be viewed as a threat, they still have a lot of ground to make up. The Jets are still lagging, but after an outstanding draft class, this team might be about to show considerable improvement, but a lot will depend on how far and how fast Zach Wilson continues to develop.