Can the Los Angeles Rams go back-to-back as conferences champs? Will Aaron Rogers take the Packers all the way? Check out the latest odds and outright predictions for the NFL 2022/23: NFC Conference with expert analysis from Mark Taylor.
Which team will win the NFC Conference?
Unders/Overs win total selections reflect the value odds available using Pinnacle lines and odds at the time of writing.
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Who will win the NFC East?
Dallas Cowboys - Over 10 wins at 2.000*
The Cowboys scored for fun in 2021, amassing 530 regular season points in winning the NFC East. However, repeating in that division doesn’t come easy and it’s been nearly two decades since an NFC East champion followed up in the next season. Injury and trades, notably Amari Cooper to Cleveland might slow down their passing game that drove their points total and their larger, positive turnover differential of +14 can’t be relied upon to be as noteworthy, either.
It's been nearly two decades since an NFC East champ has followed up the following season
The defense has been on an upward curve and posted a top ten performance in 2021. They face five divisional winners from 2021, but still have a 57% chance of 11 or more wins.
Philadelphia Eagles - Under 9.5 wins at 2.380*
Everything points to the Eagles being a major force, both divisionally and in the post season. Six of their eight 2021 losses were to playoff teams, they were a nine win, but a ten Pythagorean winning team and four losses were by narrow margins. They ran a run-pass option system that gave them the third most efficient ground game in the NFL and defensively, they were above average efficiency both on the ground and in the air.
They’ve strengthened the roster, particularly adding more catching options, which will open the field up for QB Jalen Hurts and they’ll run Dallas close in a traditionally competitive division. It’s a 43% chance they reach ten or more wins.
Washington Commanders - No Value
It’s five consecutive losing seasons for Washington, but such is the NFC East that the run includes one divisional title when a 7-9 record was good enough to top the division in 2020. Seven wins in the expanded 17 game seasons was only third best in 2021 and the Commanders have turned to Carson Wentz under centre in 2022.
Wentz led the Colts to a below average passing efficiency in 2021, but the former Eagle returns to the division with a solid array of targets. A repeat of his Indianapolis passing numbers would raise Washington into the NFL passing midfield after numerous bottom third finishes.
They defended the run well, but were below par against the pass, not an ideal combination in the pass heavy NFL, but they face one of the easiest schedules and eight or more wins is a 57% chance.
New York Giants - Over 7 wins at 2.270*
The Giants have turned to former Bills offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll to finally unlock the potential that the Giants saw when taking quarterback, Daniel Jones, 6th overall in the 2019 draft. Jones has been mired in the bottom quarter for passing performance since he entered the league and contributed to the Giants near rock bottom passing efficiency in 2021.
Injury kept Jones out of the lineup for the final six regular season games and that’s an additional factor that has run through the team and left them down among the also-rans. There’s been more life in the defense, above average against the pass and league average against the run, but even with better health, seven wins looks the benchmark with a 59% chance of at least reaching that total.
Who will win the NFC North?
Green Bay Packers - No Value.
There’s a host of red flags about the 2022 Packers. Statistically, they had 10.5 Pythagorean wins compared to 13 actual wins, while a plus 13 turnover differential was good for results, but unlikely to endure in 2022. Departures included top wideout, Davante Adams, they drafted two potential replacements in the 2nd and 4th round of the draft and Aaron Rodgers’ relationship with the team remains uneasy.
Defensively, the Packers played efficiently against the pass and kept points off the board. They’re in a weak division, which they have a 72% chance of winning, with 11 or more wins a 65% chance, but success in the post season will continue to elude.
Minnesota Vikings- Under 9 wins at 2.140*
The closest challengers to the Packers in the NFC North, but the gap will take some bridging. Seven narrow defeats and a Pythagorean of 8.5 wins compared to eight actual victories could push Minnesota towards double digit wins, but a strong, +11 turnover differential should relent and may drag the total lower.
While a first-time head coach only adds to the uncertainty. Offense was the strength, a mid-ranking unit, better through the air than on the ground and 30 or more points were scored in seven matches. They’ll look to upgrade a defense that was below par both against the run and the pass and allowed one more point than the offense scored. There’s a 58% the Vikings reach nine wins or more.
Detroit Lions - Under 6.5 wins at 2.280*
The Lions were an awful 0-8 team, regularly getting outscored by double digit margins prior to their bye week, but they didn’t quit. A 3-5-1 end to the season won’t get you a post season spot, but gets a team respect, especially after their opening half season. They line up in 2022 with Jared Goff under centre, a post season regular, who never threatened to reach elite level himself and enough veteran talent to improve on the league’s sixth worst scoring rate.
Detroit Lions had the worst passing defense in 2021
They had the worst passing defense in 2021, but that should improve for a number two drafted edge rusher and gradually maturing young talent from 2021. They had five narrow losses and five Pythagorean wins, rather than their actual 3.5 wins and are a coin toss to record seven or more wins as they build on a solid finish to 2021.
Chicago Bears - Over 6.5 wins at 2.580*
The Bears are another team mired in an offensive funk. Second year quarterback, Justin Fields had little offensive targets to work with in 2021 and cast offs from Green Bay and KC won’t turn around a team that were 31st out of 32 for passing efficiency. Their strength was on the defensive side of the ball, but they were still only middle of the pack, even before they traded away talent.
Their points differential was consistent with their six actual wins, although improving a -13 turnover towards the league average might edge their win total slightly upwards. Seven or more wins is odds against at 44%.
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Who will win the NFC South?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Over 11.5 wins at 2.340*
Tom Brady’s “retirement” lasted just 40 days, but keeps the Bucs in the Super Bowl argument for another season, even with his prolific target, Rob Gronkowski’s likely absence. The offense boasted a top five ranking, both on the ground and through the air, which Brady typically converted into a scoring rate that rivaled the prolific Cowboys.
Ten times in the regular season, they reached 30 or more points and a top five defense that was unrivalled bar the Bills against the pass, formed a potent mix. 13 wins flattered the Bucs by one win, the turnover differential was positive, double digit and likely to regress, but they face the tenth easiest schedule in 2022. A 90% chance of taking the NFC South Division is a formality and it’s a 62% Tampa Bay wins 12 or more times.
New Orleans Saints - Under 8 wins at 2.510*
Drew Brees and now Sean Payton are now gone from the Saints, the former replaced by an injury plagued Jameis Winston, who lasted just seven games before his 2021 season was ended by a torn ACL and the latter by Dennis Allen in a second attempt to succeed in the head coach role. The Saints struggled offensively, more so on the ground than the air and neither were above par with Winston’s absence being a factor.
They kept points off the board with a stifling run defense, couple with a marginally above average passing defense. A turnover differential of +7 was a help that they can’t rely on and nine actual wins was only slightly below their 9.3 Pythagorean wins. There’s a 58% chance they reach at least eight wins, but only a 39% chance that extends to nine or more.
Carolina Panthers - Under 6 wins at 2.420*
Head coach, Matt Rhule tried multiple passers last season, but all to no avail. Current incumbent, Sam Darnold was wayward, he throws almost as many interceptions as touchdowns and the team was the least efficient passing unit in the league. Recent 3rd round drafted Matt Corral seems the most appealing, even with no NFL experience.
Defensive talent has checked out for pastures new and that league average unit may take a step backwards. The second worst turnover differential in 2021 may not bounce back towards parity with an offense that throws plenty of picks and 5 or more wins is a 61% chance.
Atlanta Falcons - Under 5 wins at 1.581*
Below average passing efficiency and a poor run game made Atlanta a tepid offensive scoring team and although they were league average efficiency on defense, they regularly leaked points at an alarming rate, partly due to an inability to pressure the opposing QB. An abortive attempt to secure Deshaun Watson and the departure of Matt Ryan under centre, leaves the quarterback position in rebuild mode and in the hands of Marcus Mariota, whose regular season starts ceased in 2019.
2022 third rounder, Desmond Ridder is the future. Their seven actual wins were ahead of a Pythagorean of just 5, they won six games by seven points or fewer and there’s just a 35% chance they win 5 or more matches in 2022.
Who will win the NFC West?
San Francisco 49’ers - No Value.
The 49’ers are gradually ironing out their differences with unique play maker, Deebo Samuel and have swapped Trey Lance in at QB to replace veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance made only a couple of starts in his rookie season and a total of 71 pass attempts and a sub 58% completion rate, while Garoppolo led the 49’ers all the way to the NFC Championship game, suggest there may be growing pains as he takes on the starting role.
A near 50/50 pass/run team split may help to smooth the transition and SF can also lean on a top half ranked defense that is good against the pass and very good on the ground. Ten wins matched their Pythagorean win total and with Samuel on board it’s a 41% chance they equal or exceed 11 wins and 61% if the benchmark figure is 10 victories.
Los Angeles Rams- Under 10.5 wins at 1.934*
It was all change for the defending Super Bowl champions as they took hits in trades, free agency and injury. However, they’ll hope that replacements and upgrades will keep them a force in 2022. Matt Stafford is a constant under centre, where he ranked in the top three for passing efficiency, posting 30 or more points on seven regular season occasions. The Rams get the third most difficult schedule, twelve wins slightly flattered them compared to 10.5 Pythagorean wins and there’s a 58% chance they will reach ten or more wins.
Arizona Cardinals - Over 8.5 wins at 1.952*
The Cardinals hit the ground running in 2021 with a 7-0 start, but for the second consecutive season they endured a losing, final run of matches after their bye week. A tough opening 2022 schedule, a messy contract dispute under centre with Kyler Murray, that may have compromised their draft dealings and suspensions in the wideout position make another strong start unlikely.
They slightly over-performed their Pythagorean win expectation, but passed well and turned out a league average defense, both aerially and on the ground. A plus 12 turnover differential is likely to regress and in simulations it’s just a 47% chance they win 10 or more games. A step back from 2021 in a competitive division.
Seattle Seahawks - Under 5.5 wins at 2.180*
A Drew Lock, Geno Smith quarterback contest to replace the departed Russell Wilson won’t excite in Seattle. Lock was part of the reason Denver traded for Wilson and Smith’s days as a regular starter were long gone, ending in 2014 and since then he’s started five games in six seasons. However, three of those matches were in 2021, having replaced Wilson midway through the week 5 home defeat to the Rams.
Smith made the most of his 2021 opportunity, making the side competitive, brushing aside the inaccuracy that plagued his earlier starts in New York and if repeating that form could make Seattle around league average through the air. They ran the ball well, but will miss Wilson’s contribution with his feet.
The defense was excellent against the run, but rated in the bottom third through the air. Five 2021 losses were narrow ones, including two with Smith as starter, but it’s a coin flip that they reach six or more wins.
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