Way-Too-Early NFL Predictions

Daniel Harlan ’23 in Sports | April 1, 2022

So far, this year  has provided one of the craziest NFL offseasons in a long time. With all of the trades and deals made so far, I think it’s a good time to give a couple early  NFL predictions going into this season, which will start in September. I’ll be diving into how the American Football Conference Eastern Division (AFC East) will shape up based on all of the moves made in that division, along with my reasoning for why the Carolina Panthers is the worst team in the NFL.

My first prediction is that the New York Jets will have a better record than the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, as they might be able to sneak into the wild card game of the playoffs. The Jets were one of the youngest and most injured teams, and they were able to fix their secondary and offensive line going into the draft. Their team should develop very well after their first year under new head coach Robert Saleh. Additionally, Zach Wilson showed some flashes of the elite quarterback he could be, so I have high expectations for him this season. 

Although the Dolphins did just acquire an elite receiver in the former Chief Tyreek Hill, I do not think they will be able to utilize his talent with a lackluster Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Last year, Jaylen Waddle, who was meant to be a dangerous deep threat coming out of Alabama, couldn’t even muster up ten yards per reception because of Tua’s weak arm talent. I foresee a similar thing happening to Hill with Tua as his quarterback. Also, the Dolphins fired a very good coach in Brian Flores, so the new head coach Mike McDaniel will need to do a heck of a job to be considered satisfactory. 

The Patriots, unlike the Jets and the Dolphins, have basically done nothing this offseason. All they have done is lose Jacee Jackson, their best defensive player by far, among losing other key contributors. As they have done nothing to improve their team, I see them regressing this season. 

My second prediction is that the Panthers will be the worst team in the NFL next season, as they ended the last season 2-12. The organization did little in free agency besides re-signing a few players, but they lost Haason Reddick, and it looks as if they will lose some key defenders as well. At the quarterback position, they have a number of borderline Canadian Football League (CFL) players. Sam Darnold looks like he would be their starter if they had a game tomorrow, and while he does not have the talent to win the Panthers any games, he’ll certainly play a part in losing a couple. If they decide to go a different direction and draft a new quarterback, the team will have to resort to just throwing him into the fire in a weak pocket, which will probably not go well at all. The coach Matt Rhule has shown no competence at all, so it is definitely not a good situation for any quarterback, let alone a rookie without good coaching. 

There’s still a lot that is going to change going into the season, but these are the two main events I predict for  the 2022-23 season.