The 2022 schedule release is just days away from being revealed, but many are already trying to dissect each opponent.
For the Commanders, who finished the 2021 season 7-10, there should be an opportunity to improve in the third season of Ron Rivera’s tenure. Thanks to matching up against teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South and the Detroit Lions in the NFC North, the Commanders are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the easiest strength of schedule.
In anticipation for the 2022 schedule release, which is set to drop at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Commanders.com is breaking down each division to look ahead for what's in store for Washington this season. After breaking down the NFC East, next up is the AFC South.
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- 2021 record: 12-5
Despite dealing with constant roster flux caused by injuries, the Tennessee Titans emerged with the best record in the AFC before being eliminated by the Cincinnati Bengals. Much of its defense is still intact, but there is serious overhaul on the other side of the ball.
The biggest subtraction for Tennessee comes from trading away A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. Brown has only played a full season once in his career, but he was by far the Titans' most explosive receiver. They did trade a 2023 late-round pick for the Rams' wideout Robert Woods, which should help stymie some of the loss when he returns, but the receiver corps is still thin on depth and impact players.
The Titans used the first-round pick they received in the Brown trade to take Arkansas' Treylon Burks, who flashed for the Razorbacks with over 1,100 yards in 2021 and a school record six 100-yard games. He highlights a draft class filled with offensive tools like Michigan's Hassan Haskins and Liberty's Malik Willis.
The Titans still have Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but the Titans' success will lean on whether they can retool their pass-catchers.
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- 2021 record: 3-14
It's been a busy offseason for the Jaguars, who had the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight season. They relieved first-time NFL head coach Urban Meyer and replaced him with Doug Peterson, who was previously leading the Eagles.
The Jaguars needed to upgrade their roster with proven talent to support Trevor Lawrence, and they made several splashes in free agency to do so. In addition to tight end Evan Engram, they signed wideout Christian Kirk, linebacker Foye Oluokun and former Commanders guard Brandon Scherff.
If there was a theme to the Jaguars' draft, it would be to revitalize the defense, starting with No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. The defensive end was one of the leaders on a historically great Georgia defense, and he's expected to bring a stronger presence to the Jaguars' pass rush, which generated 32 sacks last year. The Jaguars continued to bolster their defense later in the first round with linebacker Devin Lloyd, one of the few players at the position with a first-round grade.
On paper, it appears that the Jaguars have a better roster than last year. With more weapons, it should be a chance for Lawrence to develop more than last year.
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- 2021 record: 4-13
The Texans are in a similar position as the Jaguars, although they have notably lost one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL with Deshaun Watson being traded to the Cleveland Browns.
Lovie Smith seems content to build around Davis Mills for now, although the Texans did sign Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel via free agency. Like the New York Giants, most of the Texans' free agents are functional pieces who bring experience to the roster. Players like tight end Pharaoh Brown and and cornerback Desmond King II won't transform a roster, but it will help push the team in the right direction during a rebuilding year.
In the draft, the Texans put together an impressive nine-player class highlighted by first-round picks Derek Stingley Jr. and Kenyon Green. Both players should be able to start immediately, but they also brought in some solid contributors in Baylor's Jalen Pitre and Alabama's John Metchie, providing their respective units with playmakers the Texans were lacking in 2021.
It should take some time for the Texans to get back to the playoff contender they were in years past, but Smith's past few months have started that process.
- 2021 record: 9-8
The Colts have had quite the turnaround at quarterback over the past two seasons. They went from Phillip Rivers in 2020 to Carson Wentz in 2021 and now Matt Ryan in 2022.
Ryan and his 14 years of experience are what the Colts hope can put them back as the class of the division, but the biggest acquisition on defense was cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore wasn't the dynamic, Pro Bowl-caliber player he was in Buffalo and New England during his stint in Carolina, but the hope is that he'll be able to limit chunk plays from No. 1 wideouts.
The Colts didn't have a first-round pick because of the Wentz trade, but they did add some depth pieces from a dense draft class. Jelani Woods should help shore up the tight end position, and Maryland's Nick Cross is a safety expected to be an immediate contributor.
The additions, plus the losses sustained by the Titans, should put the Colts in place to climb back into the playoffs. Assuming Ryan can still play at a high level, the roster is ready to compete in the postseason now.