Tom Brady goat

The NFC is home to the greatest QB of all time, and the back-to-back MVP- will either of them make a run to the Super Bowl this year? There are my picks to win each division in 2022 (Playoff teams in bold)

NFC WEST

Prediction:

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Seattle Seahawks

This division has the defending Super Bowl Champion, and most of the players on that team, outside of Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller, return. The Rams are a lock to win the division.

Next up is the San Francisco 49ers, and not only do I have them making the playoffs, I’m going to go against the grain and say it’s *because* of the way Trey Lance leads this team, not in spite of it. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk by his side, Lance is going to score a lot of points.

I trust Kyler Murray to lead the Arizona Cardinals to the playoffs. I do not trust Kliff Kingsbury to lead the Arizona Cardinals anywhere outside of a decent Scottsdale cocktail party. The Cardinals did not upgrade the roster anywhere during the offseason. Every unit is either the same as last year, or slightly worse. That’s not going to get it done.

It doesn’t make sense to me that Pete Carroll would think of his Seahawks as being in rebuild mode, which means he actually believes in Geno Smith. I like Geno, and I’m rooting for him to have a redemption story, but I don’t think it’s going to happen in Seattle.

This is one of the tougher divisions in football, but it’s definitely less tough for the one team that has Aaron Donald.

NFC South

Prediction:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay is going to win the division in a tightly contested race with the Saints. I’m predicting that injuries take a toll on the Buccaneers, but the marriage of Tom Brady and Todd Bowles, and the retention of Byron Leftwich, is going to be enough to take the division. 

I’m seeing a big year for Jameis Winston. People forget that in his last full year as a starter, he led the NFL in passing yards. With improved eyesight, footwork, and decision making, he’s ready to FINALLY take that next step to Pro Bowl caliber. And another bold prediction for this Saints offense- Chris Olave is going to be the rookie of the year. 

Speaking of former first round quarterbacks having a career resurgence, Marcus Mariota is in Atlanta, and I believe he’s going to leave no question that he deserves to start in this league. I know they’re young, and I know it’s a full rebuild, but I believe the Falcons will be competitive.

The Panthers on the other hand… is David Tepper even trying out there?

It’s an interesting division with Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota all trying to show that their QB legacies didn’t end on the Heisman stage, while a 45-year-old with nothing left to prove chases an eighth Super Bowl Trophy to put in a case without a Heisman trophy.

NFC North

Prediction:

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Detroit Lions
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears

This is an interesting division. Maybe the most interesting one-playoff team division in the NFL.

And that playoff team? The Packers, of course. Green Bay’s front office just keeps stripping the Packers offense down to bare bones year after year in a bizarre grudge match with their own starting QB, and all Aaron Rodgers does is get better and better. 

Coming in second, I have the Detroit Lions putting together a 7-10 season where all 10 of the teams that beat them come away worse for wear. I’m a believer in Dan Campbell and his staff, and while I don’t think this is the year they make the Zac Taylor Bengals leap to the Super Bowl, they might just bludgeon their way to being relevant in the NFC North.

Third, I have Minnesota. If they want to win, they need a change under center. They have damn near everything else, but I can’t in good conscience ride with Kirk Cousins. Can you?

Last up, the Chicago Bears. The only team in the NFL that might trade receiving corps with the Green Bay Packers. This just isn’t a competitive roster, and you’d have to be crazy to blame Justin Fields for how this upcoming season is going to turn out. They just better hope they don’t ruin him.

Another year of watching one of the best QBs of all time bully his division without the tools to contend for a second Super Bowl.

NFC EAST

Prediction:

  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Commanders
  • New York Giants

I like the Eagles. Jalen Hurts doesn’t have to do much to make this offense run, and that’s good for him, because Shane Steichen doesn’t call much of an offense. This team’s success is going to be driven by talent and depth, and when you take a 9-win team and add Haason Reddick, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and AJ Brown, that ain’t bad. Now if the running back by committee could share some of those touchdowns with Miles Sanders, maybe we could make some fantasy owners happy.

In second place, and squeaking into that 7th playoff seed, I have the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not sure I can say they got better this offseason, but as long as you have Dak Prescott, you have a chance. Dak was 7 points away from going 13-3 as a starter last year, and if he had 30 extra seconds, might have staged a playoff comeback against the 49ers. If the Cowboys offensive line keeps Prescott upright, they’ll be in every game. 

The Commanders and Giants are interchangeable at the bottom of the division, but I think the Commanders might start out hot enough with Carson Wentz to give them some cushion to not surrender the #3 spot to the Giants late in the season. The Giants are far too dependent on Saquon Barkley’s health for relevance in the division. 

Being at the bottom of this division might not be the worst idea. Can you imagine Alabama’s Bryce Young in a Brian Daboll offense?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

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