Publish Date: 05/18/2021
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
4) Cincinnati Bengals
I know I am crazy, but hear me out! Joe Burrow is special and Burrow now has weapons all over the place in Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon. The offensive line has been terrible but it has been upgraded big-time and new offensive line coach Frank Pollack should help a lot.
The Bengals knocked it out of the park in the draft. For all of the Sewell, Chase arguments people missed the fact that the Bengals glaring need on the line was at guard, not tackle. So chase gives the offense a home run hitter at receiver and then the Bengals selected Jackson Carman, who I think will be a big-time upgrade at guard. Veteran Riley Reiff filled Cincinnati’s right tackle hole in free agency.
The defense was soft last year and did not pressure the quarterback, but the Bengals addressed that in the third round with the selection of Joseph Ossai. The Bengals are hoping Ossai will fill the hole left by Carl Lawson, who departed in free agency.
Overall, the Bengals had an excellent off-season and addressed a lot of issues. The only question I have is head coach Zac Taylor. A better coach and this team would be even more dangerous, but nine or ten wins with a Wild Card berth is possible.
The Cardinals just missed the playoffs last year, and their issues were offensive line play and defense. General manager Steve Keim made a big splash by signing J.J. Watt to bolster the defense’s front seven and drafting Zaven Collins at 16th overall. The pressure is on because if Arizona doesn’t make the postseason, Keim’s seat will be hot, and Kingsbury could be gone.
Kyler Murray is still a question for me, but a solid season here could solidify him as the Cardinals franchise player for the next decade. The NFC West may be the toughest division in all of the NFL, but the Cardinals are a young talented team, and it seems like there time to make that jump to being a playoff team.
2) New York Giants
Let’s face it, this is the worst division in football. The Cowboys have gotten better, but as long as Mike McCarthy remains at the helm, I am not going to expect much. The Washington Football Team doesn’t have enough offense and the Eagles are going to start Jalen Hurts at quarterback, which then brings us to the G-Men.
The number one question will be if Daniel Jones can finally find some improvement. The Giants’ free-agent acquisitions of No. 1 receiverand cornerback are only going to help the cause too, and they also drafted Jones yet another explosive weapon in Florida receiver Kadarius Toney at 20th overall, who will be one of the steals of the draft. Throw in a healthy Saquon Barkley, and suddenly the offense could be good enough to get the job done.
On defense, the Giants were a playoff team last year, and if that continues Joe Judge could slip in and win Coach of the Year in the 2021 season.
Justin Herbert had a great rookie season and it was behind a porous offensive line, to say the least. Injuries were the other issue in LA, leading to the team playing without Derwin James. The star safety should be back in the fold healthy this season. Throw in a coach who never could seem to do anything right and that problem has been solved by firing Anthony Lynn.
Now, how do you fix the offensive line in just one off-season? Well, the Chargers went into the first round of the NFL draft and grabbed maybe the best offensive lineman in Rashawn Slater. Before the draft, they dug into free agency and pulled out two veteran starters in center Corey Lindsey (free agent from Green Bay) and tackle/guard Matt Feiler (free agent from Pittsburgh). The offensive line will be significantly improved.
They replaced Lynn with Brandon Staley, who I think is a good choice. The only question I see from this team is Herbert. Can he duplicate the magic of his first season? Of course, they are stuck in a division with the Kansas City Chiefs, but Las Vegas and Denver have major issues.
A 10-12 win season and a playoff berth is certainly in the realm of possibility for Los Angeles.