It’s time to cue up the Monday Night Football theme song, watch those highlights that get you amped, and prepare for the 2022 NFL season. We had an incredible season to watch in 2021 including a few playoff games that may go down as all-time classics. There is an exciting rookie class coming into the league, TONS of star players flipped teams, and the action should be second to none. We’re here to hand out divisional previews. Here’s our 2022 NFC South preview.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed a division title for the first time since 2007 but were taken out of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champs Los Angeles Rams in a crazy game. After the season, QB Tom Brady retired and shocked the NFL world. That only lasted a little over a month, coming out of retirement and right back to the Bucs. After them, the division was weak. A Jameis Winston injury tanked the New Orleans Saints season and it saw the end of the Sean Payton era in New Orleans, as he stepped down at the season’s end. The Carolina Panthers had an encouraging beginning with QB Sam Darnold at the helm but he showed his true Jet colors and Carolina ended with a top-10 worst finish in the league. And speaking of bad teams, let’s not forget about the Atlanta Falcons whose abysmal season also ended the career of QB Matt Ryan in Atlanta.
Favorite to win in 2022
The Bucs aren’t just favorites to win their division, but also favorites to win the Super Bowl. Brady is back and looking for vengeance after a horrible playoff exit. He won’t have TE Rob Gronkowski this time around, but the Bucs bring back most starters from their Super Bowl squad and should have no issues winning the South. The Saints have a new head coach, a new All-Pro safety in Tyrann Mathieu. However, Jameis Winston is still their quarterback. Getting WR Michael Thomas back should be encouraging, but it’s hard to tell if they can pull off the impossible. I wouldn’t put a ton of stock in the Baker Mayfield Panthers until we see how Matt Rhule builds the offense around him and the Falcons have no true encouraging signs with QB Marcus Mariota at the helm.
Offensive Player to Watch: QB Tom Brady
He is 45 years old and it’s probably the final season for the seven-time Super Bowl champion. Brady still feels like he has a lot to prove. I’m interested to see how Rob Gronkowski’s exit will impact him. The Bucs are still stacked at the wide receiver position.
Defensive Player to Watch: S Tyrann Mathieu
He left the Chiefs and takes over the starting safety role in New Orleans. Back in his home state, he will look forward to playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice a year. He and Brady jawed back in forth in Super Bowl 55.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs should glide to another NFC South title thanks to Brady coming back and the team putting whatever financial issues they have to the side. Record: 13-4