We are six weeks into the 2022 NFL season. And it’s already one of the more bizarre in recent memory.
The Giants and Jets are winning games, the Broncos and Packers are not and potential playoff teams like the Raiders and Cardinals are in early-season trouble — as documented in ESPN’s latest NFL Power Rankings:
New York football is … good? There was some optimism regarding the Jets entering this season, but the general belief seemed to be they were a year away from contending. Meanwhile, there were zero expectations for the Giants with a rookie head coach in Brian Daboll and a roster lacking true talent.
But six weeks in, our eyes just continue to grow wide.
The Jets are 4-2, on a three-game win streak following the return of quarterback Zach Wilson from injury, and their young offense is finally coming together. Rookie running back Breece Hall has been outstanding (318 combined scrimmage yards over the last two games) and the offensive line is holding up even with various injuries at the tackle positions.
And as for the Giants — can we already lock Daboll in for Coach of the Year? The first-year head coach has found ways to squeak out wins over teams with superior talent like the Titans, Packers, and Ravens en route to a 5-1 start. Big Blue is in second place in the NFC East behind the undefeated Eagles.
Obviously it’s still early, but we need to start thinking about playoff aspirations with these two teams. Especially the Giants given the weak NFC. Four of the five worst teams in the latest power rankings are in the NFC. The Giants also have four games remaining on their schedule against those bottom-five squads (two vs. the Commanders, one vs. the Texans, and one vs. the Lions).
Rough starts. There are multiple teams that many expected to be playoff ballclubs entering the season, but have struggled through the first month and a half.
The Rams (No. 11), 49ers (12), Bengals (13), and Packers (14) are all outside the top 10 after making the postseason last year (the Rams and Bengals reached Super Bowl 56). The Broncos, Cardinals, and Raiders are even worse, sitting at No. 24, 26, and 27, respectively.
At least regarding the Rams’ 3-3 start, you can be optimistic about head coach Sean McVay’s ability to right the wrongs. But with Denver and Arizona, the panic is real.
The Broncos’ offense is atrocious (last in scoring with 15.2 points per game) and the team is stuck with quarterback Russell Wilson past his prime. The veteran is signed through 2028 and doesn’t have a reasonable dead cap charge until 2027 ($12.8 million). Not to mention, rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s brutal play-calling has been a major reason for Denver’s 2-4 start.
Over in Arizona, head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job could soon be in jeopardy as his ability to maximize the Cardinals’ offensive talent has declined. You can only hope things change with the return of DeAndre Hopkins this week. The wide receiver just finished his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Tank tank tank. The Panthers’ season is already over. They’re 1-5, have fired head coach Matt Rhule, have traded unhappy receiver Robbie Anderson, and don’t employ a reliable quarterback. Baker Mayfield can’t stay healthy and is wildly inconsistent, and the same goes for Sam Darnold, who’s on IR with an ankle injury. Then you have P.J. Walker, who isn’t a legitimate NFL starter (career 56.2 passer rating in 11 games).
Keeping the long-term outlook of the organization in mind, it’s probably best if the Panthers end up with the No. 1 overall draft pick. This would set them up to potentially select Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud or Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Carolina needs a full reset.