Now that the “final” 53’s all around the league are set, we have a pretty good idea of what the 32 NFL teams look like. Some teams got a lot better in the off-season, some got a lot worse, and some worked hard just to retain their talent. Guys retired, unretired, and retired again, switched teams, got arrested, found religion, and started making Tik Toks, and here’s who I think will win all of their divisions.
NFL Kickoff: Division Champion Predictions
North- The Cincinnati Bengals
Honestly, the only team I don’t buy as divisional contenders in the AFC North is Cleveland, and even then, if they’re middling when Deshaun Watson’s suspension ends, they can make a push. I went with Cleveland because I don’t buy Baltimore’s offensive line, pass rush, or receiving corps, and I have questions about Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation. Cincinnati was anything better than a wet paper towel standing in between Aaron Donald and Joe Burrow away from winning the Super Bowl last season, and they addressed the offensive line over the summer.
South- The Tennessee Titans
I think the Indianapolis Colts could really push the Titans, especially if Derrick Henry takes a step back, but I have a hard time betting on a 37 year old Matt Ryan to invigorate big blue. I think the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to take a step forward this season, but it’ll take more than a step to remove themselves from first overall pick consideration. Meanwhile the Houston Texans are a raging dumpster fire with a napping toddler behind the wheel, and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anybody. Consistency at quarterback, running back, and on the sideline give the Titans the nod.
East- The Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have to be considered the odds on non-AFC West favorite to pull home the Lamar Hunt trophy. Josh Allen is coming off a career year, Stefon Diggs is a top 10 receiver, Gabriel Davis is expected to take a step up, and this is a team that came seconds from an AFC Championship bid last winter. I think the Pats offense is ugly, with Matt Patricia being a hideous hire, the Dolphins are smoke and mirrors, and the Jets are the trainwreck that never loses momentum.
West- The Las Vegas Raiders
That’s right, I’m going all in. Maybe it’s my bias, maybe it’s fools gold, but I think the Raiders can emerge from the league’s best division as champs. Any of the four teams could realistically win this division. All last year, people insisted that Denver was “a quarterback away,” so they got one. The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill, but they must be respected as long as they have Patrick Mahomes. And the Chargers are, yet again, the champions of the off-season and the NFL media darlings. But I don’t buy the Chargers. I think JC Jackson is yet another Patriots corner that will flop elsewhere and Khalil Mack hasn’t been Khalil Mack since the Raiders beat the Bears in London.
How quickly we forget the Raiders were a playoff team with an interim head coach and starting wide receivers Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards. They got better at every position, with the only glaring need being the offensive line.
North- The Green Bay Packers
It’s boring, but do you really buy the Minnesota Vikings? Kirk Cousins routinely has one of the best supporting casts in the league but squanders it, the Bears are easily the worst team in the conference, and as much as we’ve all fallen in love with the Lions over Hard Knocks, they’re not ready to contend. Karen Rodgers continues to pad his legacy by beating up a weak division and losing in the divisional round of the playoffs.
South- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay isn’t bulletproof, but I think they’ve got a substantial leg up in the NFC South. Their offensive line needs help after some injuries, and Tom Brady took some weird time off. I haven’t really checked in, but based on my understand of Mike Evans, his hamstring is probably giving him problems. But who else is there? The Saints are a shadow of themselves, the Panthers have a cast of castoffs, and the Falcons are banking on Marcus Mariota. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs and the NFC West Champs are the ones standing tall at the end.
East- The Philadelphia Eagles
This division is like the anti-AFC West. All four teams could win because there’s just not an established contender. The Commanders have a solid squad but bad coaching and Carson Wentz under center. The Cowboys are a shadow of themselves and are riding the hype. The Giants are a trainwreck that are hoping against hope that their draft busts will start playing like first round picks. The Eagles have a nasty defense and the potential to gimmick themselves into a few wins. All I know is that I’m pretty comfortable saying nobody from this division is winning a Super Bowl this season.
West- The Los Angeles Rams
Duh? The superteam’s road to a repeat got so much easier over the off-season. The 49ers have a hilariously mishandled quarterback situation, the Cardinals are going broke getting shorter, and the Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson, resigning themselves to Drew Lock and Geno Smith. The Rams don’t have to obey the salary cap, and it would take like seven injuries for their divisional hopes to be challenged.