NFL News & Analysis

Bold predictions for every NFL team in 2022 — NFC East

Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and center Jason Kelce (62) at training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Monson boldly predicts that Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will finish 2022 with his lowest season-long PFF grade since 2018.

• With an improved offensive line, New York Giants QB Daniel Jones is primed to earn an 80-plus season-long PFF grade in 2022.

• The A.J. Brown addition and an improved Jalen Hurts have the Philadelphia Eagles primed to win the NFC East.

• An easier schedule, skilled defense and improved quarterback play will enable QB Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders to sneak into the playoffs.

Click here for the rest of Sam Monson's “Bold Prediction” series.

The 2022 NFL season is almost upon us, which means it’s time to make some bold predictions. While everybody is focusing on team win totals, I want to be a little more specific with some bold predictions and go out on a limb for each team, giving some takes that will be specific to PFF grades — and some that are more general.

Given the nature of bold predictions, the strike rate here is unlikely to be incredibly high, but these takes will be rooted in data — things that I think have a realistic shot of happening, not just craziness plucked from the ether.

Dallas Cowboys

1. This year, Dak Prescott will post his worst PFF grade since 2018

Prescott has had a fascinating NFL career. After being drafted in the fourth round, it was immediately clear that the league just missed on him, as he was a far superior player than the draft process believed. From that point, he has proved capable of very high-end play, but he also appears to be one of the most affected quarterbacks by changes to his supporting cast. This season, he has to deal with the loss of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup likely missing the start of the year and an offensive line that has undergone some changes. In the past, when Prescott’s supporting cast wanes, so does his play. It wouldn’t take much of a decline for him to earn an overall PFF grade in the 70's rather than the 80's, which would be his worst year since 2018.

2. Rookie WR Jalen Tolbert will record 900-plus yards

One thing that might help Prescott out is that Tolbert has the talent to step in and contribute in a meaningful way. The third-round rookie out of South Alabama had a phenomenal college career, racking up almost 1,500 yards last season. He recorded 35 explosive plays in his final season and showed well at the Senior Bowl when the level of competition was elevated. He has a complete skill set that should allow him to win in multiple ways early on as the Cowboys need a secondary option in the passing game. Dallas has the offense that gives him the bandwidth to chase 1,000 yards over the season even with a healthy CeeDee Lamb and Gallup ahead of him.

3. Trevon Diggs records fewer than half the interceptions but a better PFF grade than last year.

Diggs was one of the NFL's most polarizing players last season because he led the league in interceptions (11) and total yards given up in coverage (1,016). Diggs earned a 66.7 PFF coverage grade despite the interception figure due, in part, to how some of those interceptions arrived but also because of the bad play between them. This season, his turnover total will likely tumble and could easily be cut in half. Even if it does, he will likely be a better player overall and could see his PFF grade improve if he cuts down the miscues. Diggs gave up a massive 18.5 yards per reception last year, the highest figure in the league. Jalen Ramsey gave up 10.1 yards per catch, and A.J. Terrell finished at 6.9. Diggs won’t have the hype this year absent of the gaudy interception total, but he’ll be a better player.

New York Giants

1. Daniel Jones earns a PFF grade above 80

It’s easy to forget that things started so well for Jones last season. Through the first five weeks of the season, he was PFF’s No. 6-ranked quarterback with a 85.5 passing grade before everything fell apart. New York's receiving corps continued to be a problem, and the offensive line fell apart. Jones wasn’t exciting last year, but he showed he can still function at a pretty high level as long as the support around him is viable. The Giants didn’t have much room to maneuver this offseason, but they did tinker with the offensive line and made one big addition in rookie tackle Evan Neal. If that group holds together, the receiving corps has more than enough talent for Jones to post a career-best grade while looking like a capable starter.

2. Kadarius Toney finishes with 1,000-plus yards

Speaking of that receiving corps, Toney is going to break out after flashing exceptional talent as a rookie. The talk of trading him away has disappeared, and instead people are focused on the unique movement skills that enable him to win from all alignments. Against Dallas last season (10 catches for 189 yards), Toney showcased that he can be so much more than a gimmick or slot weapon, but injuries and the offense's collapse limited his involvement the rest of the year. A fully healthy Toney in Year 2 has the potential to be a legitimate weapon, and a 1,000-yard receiving standout early into his professional development.

3. nobody generates 50-plus pressures or 10-plus sacks

Kayvon Thibodeaux has the potential to be an exceptional value for the Giants given where they were able to draft him. It wasn’t long ago that he was being talked about as the No. 1 overall pick, but as the draft approached, he slipped to fifth overall. It’s difficult for rookie pass-rushers to make a major impact, and if Thibodeaux doesn’t, it could leave the Giants pass-rush once again struggling. Leonard Williams led the team last year with 47 pressures and a 66.4 PFF pass-rushing grade while Azeez Ojulari was able to sack the quarterback 10 times (half-sacks reduced that number to an official 8.0 sacks by the NFL) but only posted a 56.9 grade. Six of his 10 sacks were unblocked or clean-up plays. Thibodeaux could be a good rookie and still fall short of those marks.

Philadelphia Eagles

1. The Eagles win the NFC East

The Cowboys looked like one of the best teams in the NFC last season before things went a little off the rails late in the year, and they ended up fading from Super Bowl contention as January came around. They enter the season as the team to beat once again, but the Eagles has the pieces to best them in the division. A.J. Brown can be transformative for an offense that was without a true alpha at the position. Jalen Hurts improved last year but still has some room to go to be an elite quarterback, which Brown should help with. Their offensive line is an outstanding unit, and the team added potential game-changers on defense. The Eagles have been building well over recent seasons, so this could be their year to take the division and make some noise in the playoffs.

2. Miles Sanders makes the Pro Bowl

Sanders recorded just 770 yards and didn’t post a rushing touchdown in 2021,  but he averaged 5.3 yards per carry in large part because the Eagles offensive line was excellent. While Sanders didn’t have a rushing score, there were plenty available — the other three Eagles backs who received significant carries combined for 16 touchdowns on the ground. If Sanders can stay healthy and lock down the primary workload, the Eagles have the blocking environment and the offense for him to be very productive. 

3. Nakobe Dean is the NFL's best rookie linebacker

Dean has the potential to be the steal of the draft. Georgia had one of the best defenses in college football history, and Dean was the best player on that defense with a 91.6 PFF grade. He slipped in the draft in part because of injury concerns, which the Eagles didn’t appear to share with other teams. If Dean gets on the field, he could easily be the best rookie linebacker this season and prove teams foolish for overthinking him as a draft prospect.

Washington Commanders

1. Jamin Davis improves his PFF grade by 30-plus points

Hitting the ground running as an off-the-ball linebacker in today’s NFL is exceptionally difficult. Every offensive evolution over the last decade-plus has been stressing linebackers' roles and responsibilities; therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that Davis was hesitant as a rookie. An exceptional athlete, Davis was routinely a step late to the ball due to his read-and-reaction skills. At the NFL level, that’s enough to take a linebacker out of the play or put a blocker in position to do it for them. If Davis eliminates that processing time in his second season, his PFF grade should soar from the 46.8 he posted as a rookie. 

2. The defense improves 10-plus positions

Last season’s Washington defense was a massive disappointment, but it was also unsustainably bad. It underperformed in a variety of ways, several of which defy logic. The Commanders were the worst team in the league — by a distance — on third downs and were atypically bad in multiple other volatile data points. With a much more favorable slate of opposing quarterbacks on the schedule this season, Washington’s defense might give the kind of performance that was expected of it a year ago, or at least get a lot closer to it than we saw in 2021.

3. Washington sneaks into the playoffs

Trading for Carson Wentz is uninspiring, especially given some of the moves that happened elsewhere in the NFL this offseason. However, it should also represent a sizeable upgrade at the most important position in the game. Taylor Heinicke had a 59.4 overall PFF grade last season —32nd out of 38 quarterback qualifiers. If Jahan Dotson is able to hit the ground running in his rookie year, this could also be the best group of receivers Wentz has played with. With a much easier schedule and a defense that should progress, Washington should expect to win more games than a season ago and possibly claim a final wild card spot. 


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