The 2022 NFL season is fast approaching, with the preseason well underway and final roster cuts looming. But where do all 32 teams stand as we enter the new year? We’re glad you asked, because it’s not too late to get caught up. In celebration of the fall season, and the next official race for a Lombardi Trophy, here’s a refresher on the state of every team for 2022, complete with their win total over/under (courtesy of), recommended fantasy targets, offseason reviews and season outlooks:
The BRONCOS are betting big on a horse who’s won it all before, making ex-Seahawks star Russell Wilson the prized new stallion of their stable. The irony for Russ: his escape from run-heavy Seattle after 10 years brought him to a Denver offense best suited for ground-and-pound ball starring the rushing tandem of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. The bigger X-factor may be new coach Nathaniel Hackett, whose Packers-marked resume is tough to divorce from Aaron Rodgers. His defense, while featuring young stalwarts (DT D.J. Jones, CB Patrick Surtain II), is also reliant on injury-prone stars (OLBs Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory).
The CHIEFS are the modern-day equivalent of the Brady-Belichick Patriots: as long as Andy Reid is on the sidelines and Patrick Mahomes is under center, they can sleepwalk in the fall and still sniff the Super Bowl. With speedster Tyreek Hill going to the Dolphins via trade, however, the pressure is on No. 15 to elevate discount targets like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, or perhaps feed tight end Travis Kelce to a record degree. That’s doubly the case considering they’re banking on instant results from rookies like George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie to buoy a defense that’s had porous stretches.
The RAIDERS are doubling down on their belief in QB Derek Carr, whose grit is more admirable than his big-game resume. Davante Adams’ arrival via trade from the Packers spells promise alongside RB Josh Jacobs, WR Hunter Renfrow and (quasi-WR) TE Darren Waller. The edge-rushing pairing of Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby also has elite potential. But the question marks are big for a team with a history of embodying the indulgent corners of its Sin City location — flashy and enticing, if ultimately regrettable. New coach Josh McDaniels is unproven as a program-builder, and Carr’s offensive line is iffy, to say the least.
The CHARGERS are the closest thing to an unofficial all-star team. Justin Herbert is already a laser-armed star in the pocket, and now the lineup around him has enviable weapons at every role: a dynamic dual threat (Austin Ekeler), a ball magnet (Keenan Allen), a home-run hitter (Mike Williams), stud blockers (Rashawn Slater, Corey Linsley), imposing pass rushers (Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack), and young ballhawks (Derwin James, J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr.). It speaks volumes that their biggest concern may lie with the untimely aggression of coach Brandon Staley, who at 38 came within four points of a playoff run as a first-timer.
The BILLS are getting lots of Super Bowl love for good reason — or, better yet, one reason mainly. His name is Josh Allen, and he’s not far off Patrick Mahomes in terms of total-package play-making. Coordinator Brian Daboll’s departure looms, but you can’t teach Allen’s size, rocket arm and bulldozing legs. The QB’s top receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, already one of the NFL‘s best, helps the cause. As does coach Sean McDermott’s loaded defense, which has difference-makers at every level: Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer on the back end, Tre’Davious White outside, and now Von Miller off the edge.
The DOLPHINS are experimenting with full-fledged support for much-maligned young QB Tua Tagovailoa, whose early-career marriage to safe throws has made fans impatient but could be just the recipe for new coach Mike McDaniel, the former right-hand man to Kyle Shanahan’s run-heavy 49ers. With the electric Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle out wide, and a stable of rushers including ex-NFC West backs Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel, short-area motion should be their specialty. A stingy defense led by Brian Flores holdover Josh Boyer is also intact. But it all comes back to the QB, whose ceiling remains a mystery.
The PATRIOTS are building around their own young QB, Mac Jones, in an unorthodox way, forgoing spicy upgrades (sans ex-Dolphins WR DeVante Parker) for an apparent doubling down on the sheer smarts of coach Bill Belichick and his trusted staff. With offensive guru Josh McDaniels gone and no clear successor designated, Jones will likely lean further into Belichick’s old-school approach of winning through the run game, tight ends and defense. The roster is better outfitted at the former two spots, but even if Matt Judon and the “D” finds a way to remain sound, Belichick’s high-floor, low-ceiling personnel doesn’t scream title run of old.
The JETS are betting that second-year QB Zach Wilson, all athleticism but little polish in 2021, will make a leap as part of a team-wide restocking, erasing concern over coach Robert Saleh’s inability to field a single decent unit in year one. On paper, Wilson has a complete lineup, from a sturdier line to a long-term skill group to an underrated “D,” which added major help at pass rusher (Jermaine Johnson II), corner (Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed) and safety (Jordan Whitehead). Wilson’s free-wheeling tendencies have already gotten him hurt, however, and Saleh still needs to prove he can put improved personnel in the right position.
The RAVENS are not running from Lamar Jackson’s tendency to win with his legs; in fact, they’re poised to lean deeper into the run-heavy system built around the electric QB, trading top WR Marquise Brown, investing in the trenches and strengthening their defense for a ball-control attack. So long as Jackson and at least one of their ball-carriers stays upright, they should remain a force on the ground. And the “D,” with vets healthier and new faces like Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton adding range to the secondary, should be improved. Jackson’s trajectory as a passer, however, could (still) ultimately decide their fate.
The BENGALS are running it back after their inspired Super Bowl bid, except with an improved front for QB Joe Burrow, whose only real concern is staying healthy … and fairly distributing the ball between some of the NFL’s most explosive weapons in RB Joe Mixon and receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The opportunistic defense still has holes at corner, but if Burrow is on his game, Cincinnati won’t need to be shutting out opponents. Maybe the bigger curiosity here, besides Burrow and star safety Jessie Bates III missing lots of practice this summer, is coach Zac Taylor, coming off iffy big-game play-calling.
The BROWNS are at the mercy of the NFL in regards to their prized QB acquisition. Landing ex-Texans star Deshaun Watson via trade gives them a potential perennial Pro Bowler under center, albeit one who could still miss most, if not all, of 2022 under suspension for alleged serial sexual misconduct. Backup Jacoby Brissett could keep them afloat considering the star power they have elsewhere — at RB (Nick Chubb), WR (Amari Cooper), up front and across the defense (Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, etc.). But coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t just trying to gel new starters; he’s also busy trying to defend his new QB’s character.
The STEELERS are embarking on their first season without Ben Roethlisberger at QB in almost two decades. That means it’s on coach Mike Tomlin, who’s yet to post a losing record in 15 years, to get yet another dominant run from an annually feisty defense. The disruptive front-seven studs Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt should help do the trick. But all eyes are also on Big Ben’s replacement: Ex-Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky and/or hometown first-rounder Kenny Pickett. No matter who starts — or sticks — at QB, Pittsburgh is built to compete smashmouth style, with RB Najee Harris and TE Pat Freiermuth doing short-area damage.
The TEXANS are seemingly wallowing in their own mess, replacing one aging head coach with another despite their roster lacking more than a small handful of identifiable building blocks. Now in charge: Lovie Smith, 64, a respected man who also hasn’t led a winning team since 2012. Young QB Davis Mills may be a bright spot for the way he stands tall amid porous setups, but the team appears inexplicably committed to a ground game headlined by a rotation of free-agent leftovers. That’s not even mentioning the defense, which was bad under Smith in 2021 and is now banking on injury-prone rookie Derek Stingley Jr. to change games.
The COLTS are still operating the NFL’s hottest QB carousel, this time subbing in longtime Falcons star Matt Ryan for Carson Wentz. The swap may not noticeably raise the ceiling for the position, but it should help stabilize the offense for coach Frank Reich, whose top achievement in Indy is probably just weathering abrupt turmoil. Jonathan Taylor, one of the game’s few true workhorse backs, should remain their centerpiece due to a lacking WR corps. If the defense, now under Gus Bradley’s direction, is as good as it looks on paper, complete with big-name additions like Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore, they should be scrappy.
The JAGUARS are hoping coach Doug Pederson’s warmth can revitalize their program, much like it did for the Eagles circa 2016-2017. Truth be told, the only direction for former No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence is up after a forgettable rookie year at QB under Urban Meyer. Loaded with cash, Jacksonville added a slew of new starters to help, and while not all of them figure to warrant their price tags, Lawrence certainly has more established outlets, including ex-Cardinals WR Christian Kirk. The restocked defense, meanwhile, may be especially dependent on a front featuring young pass rushers Travon Walker and Josh Allen.
The TITANS are one of the NFL’s toughest teams, so consistently physical under Mike Vrabel that even their old-school, Patriots-esque approach that favors running the ball and winning in the defensive trenches is guaranteed to keep them in the playoff picture. No one should doubt the freakish Derrick Henry, still vital as their chief ball-carrier coming off an injury-riddled year. And Jeffery Simmons on their D-line could wreak havoc. Their ceiling, however, can be questioned with QB Ryan Tannehill coming off yet another poor playoff outing and now forced to pivot to new targets with No. 1 wideout A.J. Brown traded to Philadelphia.
The CARDINALS are betting big on QB Kyler Murray, whose athletic upside is more encouraging than his late-season finishes in three seasons, after a drama-filled offseason that included a long-term contract for the former No. 1 overall pick. They’re also betting big on familiar names like James Conner, Zach Ertz and A.J. Green to help carry Kliff Kingsbury’s offense while top receiver DeAndre Hopkins serves a suspension. The porous defense is more concerning, where it’s up to a few past (J.J. Watt) or present (Budda Baker) stars to run the whole show. With a tough schedule on tap, they may have an adverse year in store.
The RAMS are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, perhaps by leaning mostly — and surprisingly — on a defense starring game-changers Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and newcomer Bobby Wagner, of rival Seahawks fame. That’s because QB Matthew Stafford, who went from good to really good transitioning from the Lions to hotshot coach Sean McVay in 2021, is battling elbow pain that could linger throughout the season. His weapons, while elite, are also slightly different, with the backfield banged up and Allen Robinson replacing Odell Beckham Jr. as the complement to target machine Cooper Kupp out wide.
The 49ERS are set to go as far as Trey Lance takes them. With coach Kyle Shanahan set to follow through on plans to turn the QB keys over from the serviceable but fragile Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s the 2021 first-round pick’s time to shine, with all his evident athleticism and unpolished passing. Deebo Samuel’s presence as the multi-purpose go-to man should help Shanahan keep his steady ground game intact, as should stars like Trent Williams and George Kittle. The defense should also be feisty as long as Nick Bosa is coming off the edge and Fred Warner is patrolling the field. It’s all about what unfolds under center.
The SEAHAWKS are venturing into life after Russell Wilson, with coach Pete Carroll looking to prove he can, in fact, win without the QB who helped him hoist a Lombardi. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are an explosive one-two punch out wide, Noah Fant is an emerging player at tight end, and Rashaad Penny might be just fine as Carroll’s next bell-cow ball-carrier, but behind an iffy line, neither Geno Smith nor the more gunslinging Drew Lock warrant much trust as permanent starters. The “D,” meanwhile, has a few new starters in Shelby Harris and Uchenna Nwosu, but remains dangerously mercurial off the edge and on the back end.
The COWBOYS, as always, are talented but desperate to get over the hump as contenders, failing to post back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins since 1995-1996. It’s evocative of their QB, Dak Prescott, a top-10 passer who’s yet to log a serious big-game run. Prescott’s still got explosiveness on his side at the skill spots, namely via WR CeeDee Lamb, but other turnover at the position could result in a bigger run-game focus, especially if the “D” remains attracted to the big play thanks to young stars Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. Coach Mike McCarthy, meanwhile, has the pedigree but maybe not the in-game strategy to inspire.
The GIANTS are focused on the long haul while praying new coach Brian Daboll, best known for helping develop Josh Allen as the Bills’ offensive coordinator, can squeeze life out of prospective play-makers like Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and, yes, even turnover-prone QB Daniel Jones. Kayvon Thibodeaux should enliven their front seven on the other side, which boasts foundational pieces in Azeez Ojulari and Dexter Lawrence, but the rest of the defense — and, hey, maybe even the offense, depending on what happens under center — is poised for a 2023 makeover.
The EAGLES are looking to make a quick jump from surprise wild-card contenders to legitimate division challengers after coach Nick Sirianni leaned into QB Jalen Hurts’ strengths as a runner midway through 2021. The ground game could still keep them rolling thanks to a stud line featuring Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, and the “D” is vastly improved at every level thanks to an offseason haul including Haason Reddick and James Bradberry. But their ultimate destination will lie in the hands of Hurts’ development, or lack thereof, as a passer now that he’s got ex-Titans star A.J. Brown out wide alongside DeVonta Smith.
The COMMANDERS are gambling that former rival QB Carson Wentz and his big but volatile arm can be a game-changer for an offense too often stuck in the mud despite featuring weapons like Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin. Defensively, coach Ron Rivera’s front remains loaded, with Chase Young rejoining Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, but their secondary remains a question mark, as does Wentz’s general reliability at the most important spot on the team, especially behind just so-so protection. Washington has always been competitive under Rivera, but it’s yet to be a consistent, complete threat.
The BEARS are claiming to be “all in” on 2021 first-rounder Justin Fields at QB, but they’re saddling him with a still-shaky line and thin WR corps outside of Darnell Mooney. The ground game could be OK with David Montgomery leading the way, but new coach Matt Eberflus has neither the personnel nor the background, as a defensive mind hailing from the Colts, to inspire much confidence there. The “D,” meanwhile, has some likable rookies (Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker) and could well maintain Windy City’s feisty reputation but may be losing its top veteran in Roquan Smith, who wants to be traded.
The LIONS are hoping that all the goodwill fiery coach Dan Campbell has earned despite a lowly first-year record will translate to actual success in 2022. The offense is a lot speedier with the addition of Jameson Williams and D.J. Chark out wide, and coupled with other pass-catchers T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown, the unit actually has some firepower. But QB Jared Goff hasn’t played a great full season for a while, and there are still big holes throughout Campbell’s defense, even with Aidan Hutchinson added to the pass rush. They may be fighters, but it remains to be seen if the Lions have enough to string together wins.
The PACKERS are trusting that Aaron Rodgers, at 38 and in perhaps his final season, will elevate an offense now without star wideout Davante Adams for yet another NFC title bid. Coach Matt LaFleur’s track record is superb in the regular season, and he could lean more on the tandem of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to win games on the ground. But the revamped defense may have just as big of a role in offsetting Adams’ loss. Both Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker should have big roles as rookies, and when healthy and at their peak, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and even Rasul Douglas stay around the ball in the secondary.
The VIKINGS are a perpetual wild-card contender, never bad enough to warrant a reset but never great enough to chase a title, and that trend is poised to continue, at least for 2022, with ex-Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell taking over for Mike Zimmer. His QB, Kirk Cousins, is in the same boat as a solid, if unspectacular, starter. But his weapons are some of the best in the game, between RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson, and the “D,” post-Zimmer, actually looks more balanced now that Za’Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks have joined Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter at linebacker in their new 3-4.
The FALCONS are starting from scratch for the second straight year under coach Arthur Smith, who’s declared ex-Titans flop Marcus Mariota his “guy” under center, after the franchise botched a pursuit of Deshaun Watson and subsequently dealt longtime QB Matt Ryan to the Colts as an unofficially apologetic sendoff. With hybrid ball-carrier Cordarrelle Patterson and TE Kyle Pitts the top weapons, the offense figures to become even more old-school and run-heavy. Which might constitute hope for playing spoiler throughout the year, if not for a defense practically barren of proven building blocks other than cover man A.J. Terrell.
The PANTHERS are so desperate for steady QB play they’re entering 2022 with not one but two former first-round castoffs at the position in Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. The former at least threatens to bring wild-card-level moxie to an underrated setup featuring No. 1 target D.J. Moore, the fragile but dynamic Christian McCaffrey and a defense littered with growing prospects. Whether or not coach Matt Rhule can parlay that into smart strategy and execution is another question entirely. If Mayfield is predictably motivated, never say never to this team surprising. But neither he nor Carolina have earned full trust.
The SAINTS are in an odd place between contending and rebuilding after the retirement of coach Sean Payton, since replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Familiar stars like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are now paired with fresh help up front (OT Trevor Penning) and out wide (WRs Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry), while Allen’s “D” deserves the benefit of the doubt as a physical, battle-tested unit. But QB Jameis Winston, the biggest X-factor, hasn’t stayed healthy or consistent as a starter in years, even if his abbreviated 2021 trial run had serviceable results.
The BUCCANEERS are contenders as long as Tom Brady, still defying time at age 45, remains the QB, because the reality is he doesn’t just throw the ball but impacts the fabric of the organization with his aura, his history, his preparation and, somehow, still, his arm. Bruce Arians’ retirement as coach, leaving the reins to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, could present some hurdles. So could lingering or new injuries to key starters up front (Ryan Jensen) or out wide (Chris Godwin). But this club has come together at the right times under Brady, who’s still got top-10ish weapons and support at almost every position on the roster.