The NFL season is right around the corner!
Let’s make some predictions for the 2021-22 NFL season.

Let’s take a closer look at the South divisions of the AFC and NFC.


4) Houston Texans

  • 2020 Record: 4-12

  • Key Additions: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Mark Ingram II, RB Philip Lindsay, DE Shaq Lawson, LB Christian Kirksey, CB Desmond King, QB Davis Mills, OT Marcus Cannon

  • Key Losses: WR Will Fuller V, DE JJ Watt, C Nick Martin

The Texans were a disaster last year WITH Deshaun Watson putting up otherworldly numbers to his receivers behind poor protection with no running game, and now they’ll be potentially without Watson ever again; JJ Watt basically disavowed the team and left after being the face of the history of the franchise, and all they did was sign cheap, old, veteran players on one-year deals to play for their new coach. This could be one of the ugliest seasons in the league.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars

  • 2020 Record: 1-15

  • Key Additions: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, CB Shaquill Griffin, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Marvin Jones Jr., S Rayshawn Jenkins, 

  • Key Losses: WR Keelan Cole

The Jaguars took that 15-game losing streak to end the year last season and cashed it in on the most highly-touted quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in Trevor Lawrence. It’ll take time for Lawrence to develop and adjust to the league, but he appears good enough to where Jacksonville could win some games that they shouldn’t and be competitive.

However, they also hired Urban Meyer, the most controversial and unstable coach from the college game who has never coached in the NFL before. Really the only question surrounding the new rebuild of the Jags is, “Will Urban Meyer mess this up somehow??”

2) Indianapolis Colts

  • 2020 Record: 11-5

  • Key Additions: QB Carson Wentz, DE Kwity Paye, CB Xavier Rhodes, OT Eric Fisher, OT Sam Tevi, OT Julien Davenport

  • Key Losses: QB Philip Rivers, OT Anthony Castonzo, QB Jacoby Brissett, DE Denico Autry

The Colts are the opposite of Urban Meyer and have been one of the most stable organizations in sports. They rarely spend money, and in the aftermath of a coaching hire bailing on them and their franchise quarterback unexpectedly retiring in the midst of his prime, they found a way to continue to keep their boat afloat and have won games with coaching, offensive line backed balanced offenses, and a powerhouse defense.

They got one last good season out of Philip Rivers last year, but it is baffling that they traded to take a chance on Carson Wentz in hopes that he can recapture the magic he had with Frank Reich in Philly before becoming a mentally and physically broken man… and then he had to get surgery the first week of training camp and will be out between 5-12 weeks… and then Quenton Nelson got the same injury in training camp.

It’s uncertain what the Colts will do to address their absences, and they’ve been able to overcome roster turnover in critical spots before, but this is a major blow. They’re competent enough to overcome however long he’s out, but it feels like the nail in the coffin for them to compete on the highest stage.

1) Tennessee Titans

  • 2020 Record: 11-5

  • Key Additions: WR Julio Jones, DE Bud Dupree, CB Janoris Jenkins, WR Josh Reynolds, DE Denico Autry, CB Caley Farley

  • Key Losses: WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, CB Adoree Jackson, CB Malcolm Butler, DE Jadeveon Clowney, S Kenny Vaccaro

The Titans have several reasons for us to believe they would regress this year- they lost their offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, whose creative play-calling takes Tannehill to another level. Derrick Henry never seems to fall off despite all of his mileage and hits taken, but these numbers just aren’t sustainable…right? Well, the entire vibe surrounding.

Photo: Ravi Konjeti/titansized.com

The team changed with one guy: Julio Jones. They made the aggressive move to go and get the guy that AJ Brown wanted and that their division rival Colts were rumored to be in on. The team got a jolt from it. On the defensive side, it’s hard to be as bad as they were last year, but they signed Bud Dupree and used their draft pick on Caleb Farley, considered to be one of the best defensive prospects in the draft.

The Titans’ moves may not mean anything in the grand scale of the NFL, but they made the most positive progression in their division by far and will be the favorites to make the playoffs again out of the AFC South.


4) Carolina Panthers

  • 2020 Record: 5-11

  • Key Additions: QB Sam Darnold, WR David Moore, DE Haason Reddick, CB AJ Bouye, G Pat Elflein, CB Jaycee Horn

  • Key Losses: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Mike Davis, WR Curtis Samuel

There was a lot to like out of Matt Rhule’s first season in Carolina- they remained competitive in a lot of their losses, still had a humming offense without their injured face of the franchise, Christian McCaffrey, and developed their incredibly young defensive players at a fast rate. But Matt Rhule certainly has his work lined up for him this year.

They traded for Sam Darnold, who very well might just not be good even though he’s not coached by Adam Gase anymore, and he’ll be behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Do you know who is terrible when under pressure? Sam Darnold. This is a Wentz-like situation to see if Darnold can be revived in a new scenery, given he’s still only 24 years old. Still, the owner David Tepper made comments this offseason about pursuing Deshaun Watson or even Russell Wilson and wants to win now. They could easily mail in this lost season if they don’t have it and accumulate assets to get a superstar next year after Rhule develops the young talent for another season.

3) New Orleans Saints

  • 2020 Record: 12-4

  • Key Additions: DE Payton Turner

  • Key Losses: QB Drew Brees, WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Jared Cook,  DE Trey Hendrickson, DT Malcolm Brown, DT Sheldon Rankins, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Patrick Robinson

The Brees-less era begins in New Orleans, and they might have the most confusing NFL opening day situation in recent memory. We don’t know who the starting quarterback will be: the man who threw the most interceptions in a single season and is the complete opposite of Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, or the “gadget guy” that wasn’t even initially a quarterback that Sean Payton likes to put in games to make football fans mad because he only runs, Taysom Hill.

The Saints also might be royally screwed in the long run too since they pretend that money doesn’t exist with their salary cap gymnastics they maneuver to sign their star players, and now Michael Thomas might not even want to play for them anymore since he might have planned his surgery to keep him off the field to start the year. The Saints are a consistently winning organization with a top-tier defense and coaching staff, but they could easily fall off this year.

2) Atlanta Falcons

  • 2020 Record: 4-12

  • Key Additions: TE Kyle Pitts, RB Mike Davis, S Richie Grant, OL Jalen Mayfield

  • Key Losses: WR Julio Jones, S Keanu Neal, C Alex Mack, S Ricardo Allen

This could be considered a “hot take,” but the Falcons might not regress at all this year and actually improve record-wise despite trading Julio Jones. Arthur Smith has the potential to be a VERY good coach that gives Matt Ryan more offensive creativity; he’s also never had a run game to balance him out, and Smith was the guy in charge of Derrick Henry’s offensive MVP seasons, and the Mike Davis pick up this offseason could be one of the biggest bargains given he seamlessly took over for McCaffrey last year in Carolina as the backup.

The offense will still be loaded, considering Kyle Pitts might be the greatest receiving threat coming out of college since Calvin Johnson at TIGHT END, and Calvin Ridley will have the opportunity to show out with more targets now. The defense might still give up a million points a game, but that didn’t stop Arthur Smith’s offense in Tennessee from making the postseason. Given their expectations, if Matt Ryan has enough in the tank at 36, they could surprise some teams this year.

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • 2020 Record: 11-5

  • Key Additions: N/A

  • Key Losses: N/A

Photo: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times

The Super Bowl champs are back, and they didn’t do anything differently. Their veterans might be a year older, but Tom Brady has Benjamin Button’s disease where he just de-ages. Now, without COVID restrictions that barred practices and team bonding last year, they’ll all be back together to only have even more chemistry with one another.

Now, the NFL is one of the most difficult sports to have sustained success and repeat since you need 53 players all on the same page and so many variables to go right with injuries and health, but the Bucs are already talking about wanting to be the first team to go 17-0. They seem pretty motivated. I doubt there will be a Super Bowl hangover.


Featured Image: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times
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