Welcome everyone to the MFANS division previews! Let’s take a look at how the division odds are shaping up, with some predictions for what’s to come. The DraftKings odds are taken from Rotowire.
- Ravens +160
- Bengals +190
- Browns +275
- Steelers +1000
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens lead the AFC North at +160 to win the division. Last season they struggled with their decimated defense, so it should be interesting to see how the team can rebound and stay healthy in 2022. Despite making it to the Super Bowl last year, the Bengals are the second favorite in the division, at +190. The below table shows each AFC North team’s total yards allowed over expected for each game last season–the Bengals did not finish the year strong, but despite that still boasted one of the better defenses in the league all season. Can they continue this trend, they will be a force to reckoned with in 2022.
- Bills -225
- Dolphins +450
- Patriots +500
- Jets +2200
MFANS Division Winner Pick: New England Patriots
The Patriots are third favorite to win the AFC East, despite a strong rookie season from Mac Jones, who is said to have made great strides in the offseason. From the table below (showing team total yards gained over expected) we can see that the Patriots were the most consistent team offensively last season in the East–if they can keep this up in 2022, they will make a strong bid for the division. Meanwhile, all the hype in the east surrounds the Dolphins, with new offensive weapon Tyreek Hill at their disposal. With one of the most inconsistent offenses in the league, and following a year with a -86 offensive EPA, it is easy to be skeptical about how much this team will improve by simply adding one speedy receiver. The Bills are heavy favorites for the division at -225–their defense was dominant in 2021, a was ranked 1st overall in yards allowed over expected (-390 yards). Look for them to regress to the mean in 2022–there is a lot of room for them to under-perform!
- Colts -125
- Titans +170
- Jaguars +700
- Texans +3000
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts (-125) are the clear favorites in the AFC South. The Jaguars and Texans can be ruled out of the picture with ease–the Titans seem to be regressing to the mean in their run game, and could be nearing a team rebuild as their window begins to close. Looking at the AFC South rush EPA progression table, we can see the Titans decrease in production last season (partially due to Henry’s injury), which hints at their coming demise. After the loss of A.J. Brown, many are skeptical as to if Tanehill and Woods will find a strong passing connection to put this team in the playoffs. The Colts, on the other hand, have a strong base to make a run at the playoffs. With their dramatic increase in rush EPA last season, teams will have trouble handling Jonathan Taylor in addition to new QB Matt Ryan and receiving threat Michael Pittman.
- Chiefs +175
- Chargers +220
- Broncos +260
- Raiders +650
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
The AFC West is one of the tightest divisions in football. The Chiefs, Chargers, and Broncos all have strong bids to win the division, while the Raiders act as a very possible dark-horse division winner. The below graphic shows the AFC West pass EPA progression chart for the past 5 seasons–while Herbert and the Chargers have been increasing each season in passing efficiency, it might not be enough to catch Mahomes, even without star receiver Tyreek Hill. We’ve seen that we simply cannot bet against the Chiefs until Mahomes shows some type of regression. As for the Broncos and Raiders, neither team can be counted out. Russel Wilson’s arrival in Denver should give them an immediate boost in passing efficiency, and make them an immediate contender. The Raiders’ addition of Davante Adams should also give the team a much needed boost in their passing game, as it has been regressing since 2019.
- Packers -190
- Vikings +265
- Lions +1000
- Bears +1400
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Minnesota Vikings
The NFC North is a bit of a toss-up. The Packers are favorites to win the division at -190, despite losing main offensive weapon Davante Adams in the offseason. It is going to be interesting to see how Rodgers handles his lack of talent in his receiving core, coming off two incredible seasons with Adams at the helm. On the flip side, the Vikings have been close to the average for the past 5 seasons with pass EPA (see the chart below). With a new offensive-minded head coach and GM, there is no reason this team shouldn’t reach its full potential in 2022 (before their window begins to close). Unfortunately for the Lions and Bears, there is little hope for a playoff run. Barring major leaps in performance from Goff and Fields, there are too many areas for improvement needed for both teams to have a shot at the division.
- Cowboys +135
- Eagles +165
- Commanders +500
- Giants +800
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the second favorite to take the division at +165, but seem like the best team (at least statistically) going into the season. With one of the top offenses and defenses in yards gained and allowed over expected in 2021, along with some key additions in the offseason (A.J. Brown, Hassan Reddick, Nakobe Dean), there is nothing holding them back in 2022. The Cowboys had one of the most inconsistent offenses in the league last season (see graphic on the left)–with Ezekiel Elliott regressing, the Cowboys are very vulnerable to letting this division slip through their fingers. The Giants and Commanders are not looking great going into the season–with Saquon’s health constantly in question, and with Carson Wentz leading the Commanders, there isn’t too much hope for a division title from either team. The graphic below shows the division weekly yards gained above average (left) and the division weekly yards allowed above average (right) for 2021.
- Buccaneers -250
- Saints +310
- Panthers +900
- Falcons +3500
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are favored to win the division at -250–Similar to KC, it is difficult to bet against the Bucs when Tom Brady (Michigan Man) is at the helm. After bolstering their receiving core with Russel Gage and Julio Jones, this team should have no trouble winning the division again in 2022. While the Bucs seem like a lock, the Saints and Panthers can’t be totally counted out. As we see from the defensive EPA progression chart below, the Saints led the league defensively last season, while the Panthers performed at an elite level as well. With key players returning for each team on offense (Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, Christian McCaffery) as well as the signing of Baker Mayfield, both teams will have new life in 2022. Sorry Falcons, you’re not in the discussion.
- Rams +125
- 49ers +150
- Cardinals +400
- Seahawks +1800
MFANS Division Winner Pick: Los Angeles Rams
It is going to be difficult for the Rams to lose the NFC West with their defense at such an elite level. With the resigning of Aaron Donald and the addition of Bobby Wagner, they should be cruising on defense and allow Matt Stafford to have another successful season. It is quite surprising to see the 49ers at +150 to win the division, especially with Trey Lance taking over the reins at QB. There is too much unknown there to take that bet at such a low return, especially as we see from the graphic below the regression of their defensive output. The Cardinals are the dark horse team of this division at +400, and with Kyler Murray hungry to prove himself. Look for the Seahawks to have a rebuilding year with Drew Lock at QB and with the gaping hole made by Bobby Wagner leaving their defense.
That’s all for the MFANS division previews, be sure to check back soon for more content!