2021-22 NFL Season Predictions

Expert Insights on the New 17-Game Season

Alexander Bingham, Sports Editor

As NFL teams take on a 17-game schedule for the first time in league history, here are my predictions for how the upcoming the season will unfold:

AFC East Champion: Buffalo Bills:

After a breakout MVP-caliber season last year from quarterback Josh Allen, plus the addition of All-Pro receiver Stefon Diggs, the Buffalo Bills have vaulted to the top of the AFC East and into the realm of Super Bowl contenders. With all their key players from last year returning, plus emerging pass rushers A.J. Epenesa and Greg Rousseau, the Bills are playing to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl after falling short in the AFC championship last year.

AFC North Champion: Baltimore Ravens

After a somewhat disappointing 2020 season as Baltimore struggled through the injury of several players including All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens look primed for a strong season. With an elite rushing attack, powering them through the regular season in recent years, Baltimore has struggled in the playoffs due to a lack of a passing game. With recent additions of Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman, however, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens may finally have the weapons necessary to take the next step forward this season.

AFC South Champion: Tennessee Titans

Despite a loss of depth among their pass catchers and defense, the addition of Julio Jones to an already outstanding duo of A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry make the Titans too good to pass up as the favorite pick in a weak division.

AFC West Champion: Kansas City Chiefs

Despite an embarrassing loss in Super Bowl LV, in which Kansas City allowed a Super Bowl record 29 quarter-back pressures, the Chiefs are still strong contenders with a completely rebuilt offensive line.

NFC East Champion: Dallas Cowboys

Before quarterback Dak Prescott’s gruesome ankle injury last season, the Cowboys’ offense was on a record-setting pace. While some regression is inevitable from last year’s early season production, this offensive unit features high level talent at every position and should easily win a weak NFC East division. A glaring weakness at secondary will hold Dallas back from contention. But with a new defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, plus 12th overall pick Micah Parsons, they won’t be as bad as last year defensively.

NFC North Champion: Green Bay Packers

After yet another season falling short in the NFC championship game, Aaron Rodgers certainly made his frustrations with the team clear over the offseason, even contemplating retirement. While choosing to re-sign Aaron Jones over All-Pro center Corey Linsley was a questionable move, with Rodgers back the Packers still have a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl.

NFC South Champion: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After an incredible finish to the season culminating in a Super Bowl victory, the Buccaneers are running it back with all 22 starters returning, making them easy favorites in the NFC South and possibly the league at large.

NFC West Champion: Los Angeles Rams

After several years with the underwhelming Jared Goff at quarterback, the NFL now gets to see one of the brightest coaches in football, Sean McVay, run an offense with Matt Stafford, who has the arm talent and football I.Q. to make all the necessary plays for the Rams. Pair them with a defense anchored by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey and the Rams are potential contenders, despite playing in a tough NFC West division.

This piece also appears in our September 2021 print edition.