The preseason is in the books, and now we're rocketing towards the start of the 2022 regular season. Soon enough, we'll sit back and watch as the Los Angeles Rams unveil their Super Bowl banner and then take on the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8 to get the season rolling. From there, it's no sleep 'till Glendale, Arizona -- the site of Super Bowl LVII.
Before this train leaves the station, we here at CBS Sports are making our predictions as to how each division race will ultimately unfold while also highlighting some value picks in the process. Here's a rundown on the staff members making the picks: Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson; Senior NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson; staff writers John Breech, Jared Dubin, Jordan Dajani, Josh Edwards, Shanna McCarriston, Tyler Sullivan and Cody Benjamin.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
Brinson: Bills. Pretty simple here, as Josh Allen could very well be the best QB in football and the Bills are one of -- if not the -- best rosters in football. Fading Josh Allen is suddenly more terrifying than fading Bill Belichick.
Dajani: Bills. They are the Super Bowl favorites for a reason. I won't throw money on the Bills to win it all, but I'm fairly confident they can win the division.
Edwards: Bills. The Jets should be improved, but that is more of an issue for New England rather than Buffalo. With an improved roster, the Bills should remain the class of the division led by Josh Allen.
Wilson: Bills. There's no real mystery here. The Bills, on paper and on the field, are the best team in the division, and arguably in the conference and the entire league. Josh Allen is special, he has some of the best skill-position players in the NFL around him, and the defense should be a top-5 unit. The team also has coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane, two of the best at their respective jobs.
Dubin: Bills. This is the most complete team in football.
McCarriston: Bills. This might be the easiest prediction of the season, with an uneven scale in the AFC East. The Patriots spent decades as the divisional powerhouse, but now the Bills have taken over. The Bills are a Super Bowl favorite, while the other teams have some struggles. The Bills have the most reliable quarterback situation in Josh Allen, who is also an MVP favorite. Having weaker teams in the division and playing them twice helps the Bills chances that much more to collect wins and possibly get a bye in the playoffs.
Benjamin: Bills. Josh Allen is by far the best QB in the division, and their already-stout defense got nastier with Von Miller joining the edge group.
Sullivan: Bills. They already had the No. 1 defense in DVOA last year before adding Von Miller and Kaiir Elam this offseason. When you pair that unit with MVP-favorite Josh Allen, this has the makings of a Super Bowl team. They are also head-and-shoulders above the rest of their division rivals.
Breech: Bills. Not only did the Bills win the division last season, but they have the best roster in the entire AFC and there's no way I'm picking against the best roster in the AFC.
Brinson: Chiefs. I expect to be in the minority here with so many people entranced by the Chargers', Broncos' and Raiders' offseason moves. Give me Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid all day, particularly when they beefed up the depth at receiver despite losing Tyreek Hill. They're going to play fast, and Mahomes is motivated to prove he won't drop off without Hill.
Dajani: Chargers. The Chargers were one of the big winners of the offseason with the additions made on defense. J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack are the big names, but L.A. also made several important additions on the defensive interior, which was a weakness last year.
Edwards: Chargers. Despite a slow start to the season, Kansas City was able to find itself on top of the AFC West. Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu are gone from last year's team, though. They did everything they could to prop up the wide receiver room, but Los Angeles' offseason was much more impressive.
Wilson: Chargers. This is the year the Chargers finally put it all together. No more Chargersing it up. They have an elite young quarterback in Justin Herbert, a stout offensive line, and playmakers who can take over games. The defense, if it can stay healthy, has a chance to be dominant. Of course, LA plays in the toughest division in football, but I still think they'll outlast the Chiefs to a division title.
Dubin: Chiefs. Like every other internet football writer, I love the Chargers. But I'm also not picking against Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid winning this division, until somebody else actually wins the division.
McCarriston: Chiefs. The AFC West is expected to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, with four teams that could make the playoffs. The Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos all have solid quarterbacks in Derek Carr, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson, respectively, and it is hard to pick against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill this offseason to the Miami Dolphins, but with an experienced coach and quarterback, along with an all-around experienced team, they will find ways to make up for the loss.
Benjamin: Chargers. They have no excuses, on paper, not to overtake the Chiefs. Justin Herbert is MVP material, and now he's got elite help all around.
Sullivan: Chiefs. Sleeping on Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid just feels like a mistake. Yes, the division got better, but there's something about betting on a Chiefs team that is being doubted almost across the board that makes me excited to see how this team plays with a chip on its shoulder.
Breech: Chargers. I thought about putting the Chiefs here, but then I changed my mind to the Broncos, then I changed my mind to the Raiders. And then I finally changed my mind to the Chargers. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I have no idea who's going to win this division, so I might as well go with the team that has gone the longest without winning a division title.
Brinson: Ravens. The Bengals could easily take down the north again with the talent they're building on both sides of the ball, but I can't help but keep thinking about the injuries Baltimore dealt with last year and how that should lead to positive regression for them from a health perspective. John Harbaugh also has a highly motivated Lamar Jackson in a contract year and more than enough weapons to generate a high-octane offense.
Dajani: Ravens. I'm a big believer in Lamar Jackson, and while the Ravens' wide receiving corps isn't loaded, this team utilizes their tight ends well. Expect a nice rebound campaign from the former NFL MVP and an improved defense.
Edwards: Ravens. Injuries piled up for Baltimore last season, and that is not something onlookers should expect to continue. Cincinnati squeezed all it could from the defense last year, but that unit is a prime candidate for regression. The Browns are a wild card if they can stay afloat without Deshaun Watson. The Steelers will not be a pushover, but it is hard to envision them keeping pace.
Wilson: Bengals. Joe Burrow ain't Andy Dalton. And this isn't a slight against Dalton, who got Cincy to five straight playoff appearances. This is about Burrow, who is special -- to the point that he was *this* close to leading the Bengals to a Lombardy Trophy last season. The team also has the best wideouts in the league, a workhorse running back, a revamped offensive line and a good, young defense. There's no reason to think they can't repeat as division champs.
Dubin: Ravens. I'm really torn between Baltimore and Cincinnati. I usually lean toward the team with the better offense, but I'm putting some faith in the combination of Lamar Jackson and what should be one of the NFL's best defenses now that it is no longer torn asunder by injuries. The Ravens secondary is going to absolutely smother teams.
McCarriston: Bengals. After a Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals will be more motivated than ever to get back to the big game. The Ravens could threaten a division title, but I do not have enough faith in Baltimore to give them a title. The Browns will have backup Jacoby Brissett as their starter for the first 11 games, and the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback situation is still up in the air. With the inconsistencies of the other teams, along with the experience and pieces to the Bengals team, I think they are an easy bet to win the NFC North.
Benjamin: Ravens. Lamar Jackson is healthier, and so is their entire defense, which should be back to playing feisty, opportunistic ball.
Sullivan: Ravens. After being decimated by injuries last year, the Ravens are finally healthy and Lamar Jackson is entering this season motivated to ink a record-breaking contract. I do love the Bengals and the improvements they've made this offseason, but the regular season is a bit easier for Baltimore, who owns the 11th-easiest schedule in the NFL in terms of projected win totals.
Breech: Ravens. The Ravens somehow won eight games even though 90% of their team was injured last year. If everyone stays healthy, the Ravens feel like the one NFL team that could go from(last place in 2021 to first place in 2022).
Brinson: Jaguars. Yeah that's right. The Colts are the favorite to win the division and for good reason. They probably will. But I feel like taking at least one deeper shot and the Jags feel like a good place to do it. Jacksonville's been very bad for a long time, but there's a lot of young talent on this team, most importantly at the quarterback position, where Trevor Lawrence is being severely underrated. The upgrade from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson cannot be overstated. Give me the Jags as a shocker in this division.
Dajani: Titans. Vegas believes the Colts will win the division, but that hasn't happened in eight years. The Titans went 12-5 last season and secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC without Derrick Henry -- all while playing with a record-setting amount of different players due to injury. At plus money, I'll take Tennessee.
Edwards: Colts. Tennessee relying on its run game is not sustainable. Jacksonville should be a better team with Doug Pederson captaining the ship. Indianapolis moving forward with Matt Ryan feels like the safest option. Although new to the city and offense, Ryan has plenty of experience at this level.
Wilson: Colts. This is as much about me being lukewarm on the Titans -- specifically, which Ryan Tannehill will show up this season -- as it is about the Colts replacing Carson Wentz with Matt Ryan. Put another way: Would you rather have Tannehill and Derek Henry or Ryan and Jonathan Taylor. I'm going with the latter, though I expect it to be a close race and likely come down to Week 18.
Dubin: Colts. I'm going with these guys almost by default because I just don't think the other teams in this division are any good. If the Titans hadn't traded A.J. Brown, I'd probably still pick them because I think they have an underrated defense.
McCarriston: Titans. The Jaguars and Texans were not even options for me to pick for division winner, which leaves the Titans and the Colts. The Colts could definitely make a splash in the division, with quarterback Matt Ryan now leading the offense. The Titans were division winners last year and I expect them to repeat this season as well. The Titans offense will be without wide receiver A.J. Brown, who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, and that will be a major loss for quarterback Ryan Tannehill's squad. The divisional games will be important for the Titans, as I believe it could be a close competition between Tennessee and Indianapolis.
Benjamin: Colts. Matt Ryan's steady hand should complement their run game and all-around defense to the tune of a playoff bid.
Sullivan: Colts. I will say, the Jaguars at +650 is good value here. Doug Pederson will be a revelation compared to what Jacksonville had with Urban Meyer a year ago and that'll help Trevor Lawrence tremendously. That said, it's hard to not pick the Colts here. They own the third-easiest schedule in the NFL when looking at projected win totals and improved at the most important position, subbing in Matt Ryan after moving on from Carson Wentz.
Breech: Colts. This team went 9-8 last year with Carson Wentz at QB. Matt Ryan is an upgrade over Carson Wentz.
Brinson: Eagles. I've been on this bandwagon for a while now and expect a lot of people to pick Philly given how the offseason has gone. They're still great value at plus money to win the division out on the market. Howie Roseman built out depth on the offensive line and defensive line, the addition of A.J. Brown is massive for the passing game, and Jalen Hurts only needs to take a small step forward as a passer for this team to be a division winner. If he takes a bigger leap, this team could do much, much more...
Dajani: Cowboys. The Eagles are going to be a sexy pick here, and while I have them making the playoffs, I'll take Dallas to repeat as division champions. The Cowboys would be the first NFC East team to repeat as division champions since the Eagles did so way back in 2004.
Edwards: Eagles. The Cowboys did not take a step forward this offseason, whereas Philadelphia did. The offense may not be flashy, but it is effective and now it includes A.J. Brown. It is unrealistic to expect a similar season from Dallas' defense, so Mike McCarthy's team will need a big year from Dak Prescott.
Wilson: Eagles. This all comes down to Jalen Hurts. If he's consistent, the Eagles could roll. If he struggles at times, it'll open the door for the Cowboys, a team with huge questions along the offensive line.
Dubin: Eagles. I'm usually tempted to just pick the team with the best quarterback as the division winner, but Dallas' talent drain and the injury to Tyron Smith just seem like too much to overcome -- even for Dak Prescott. Even if the defense staves off too much regression, it's unlikely to be a top three unit again simply because it's almost impossible to force as many turnovers as it did a year ago. And unless Michael Gallup comes back at full strength right away, the offense could have some issues, too.
McCarriston: Eagles. The Eagles have been the most reliable team as of late, and I think this is their year to win the division. They have wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and on the defensive side they signed Haason Reddick and drafted Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, which will help their case. The Giants are far from exceptional and the Commanders have Carson Wentz leading their offense, a quarterback who has not proven himself as of late. The Cowboys could have a solid season, so they would be the other team to consider, but right now the Eagles are looking like they will take it.
Benjamin: Eagles. Dallas has the superior QB, but Philly improved at almost every area of need and should win handily in the trenches.
Sullivan: Eagles. So long as Jalen Hurts makes the strides as a passer that he flashed in the preseason, the Eagles have a shot at being a sleeper Super Bowl team. They have an easy schedule, improved the roster and are in a division where their main competition -- Dallas -- has huge questions at receiver and along the offensive line.
Breech: Eagles. It's been 17 years since we've seen an NFC East team repeat as champion, which is basically means I'm not allowed to pick the Cowboys this year, so I'm going with the Eagles.
Brinson: 49ers. Tough call between San Francisco and the Rams for the top of the division, but the return of Jimmy Garoppolo sealed my Niners pick for me. I believe in Trey Lance, especially in this system and with these weapons, but Jimmy G is a very nice fallback option if needed. Both SF and LA are great squads and either winning wouldn't surprise me. But the Niners feel a little more complete in terms of their roster, and we saw how far they could go with a limited-ceiling quarterback. If Lance hits the Niners could have a monster year ahead.
Dajani: Rams. The reigning Super Bowl champions look set on repeating. Getting them at +120 to win the NFC West seems like great value.
Edwards: 49ers. It ultimately comes down to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the choice is the 49ers. It is difficult to repeat as a Super Bowl champion and the Matthew Stafford injury certainly does not help. Kyle Shanahan will simplify the offensive system for Trey Lance and lean on the ground game and defense.
Wilson: Rams. This feels like an easy choice, at least from the perspective of late August. It's hard to trust the Cardinals in the second half of the season (and they'll be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games). Will Trey Lance make the transition to starter quickly enough to keep the 49ers in the playoff race? And it's hard to imagine Geno Smith will replace Russell Wilson's productivity in Seattle.
Dubin: Rams. They won the division last year and I don't think any of the teams in this division got better enough during the offseason to close the gap. The 49ers might make me look stupid if Trey Lance is all ceiling and no floor, but as good as I think he'll be eventually, I don't think it'll happen right away.
McCarriston: Rams. Picking against a defending Super Bowl champion would be difficult, especially when key players like Aaron Donald are back for another deep playoff run. They lost linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Robert Woods, but added receiver Allen Robinson. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is dealing with elbow tendinitis, but the defending champ is downplaying the severity of the issue. I don't see the Rams repeating as champions, but they are expected, and should, at least win the division.
Benjamin: Rams. Even if they're not as explosive as last year, their rivals are either rebuilding or in serious transitions.
Sullivan: 49ers. Everything about the 49ers screams elite. They have tremendous skill position players, a top defense, and arguably a top five coach in the league in Kyle Shanahan. The wildcard is Trey Lance and how he'll perform in his first season as the full-time starting quarterback. I'm betting that he'll hit the ground running and help elevate San Francisco over the defending champs.
Breech: Rams. Two of the teams in the division will have a new starting QB this year (Seahawks and 49ers), and the Cardinals won't have their best offensive player for the first six games (DeAndre Hopkins), so the Rams are basically here by default.
Brinson: Packers. I wouldn't blame anyone for picking the Vikings, but the demise of Aaron Rodgers after the departure of Davante Adams is greatly exaggerated. Is there a true No. 1 wideout on the roster? Probably not. But Aaron Jones can soak up targets out of the backfield and while being split out. The defense and run game will surprise with their stoutness.
Dajani: Packers. The Vikings are going to be better than you expect, but still not enough for me to choose them to win the division over the Packers.
Edwards: Packers. As long as Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, it should be Green Bay's division to win. Minnesota could make a playoff push, but asking new head coach Kevin O'Connell to contend for the North in his first season is a tall task.
Wilson: Packers. Even if we assume Aaron Rodgers has a toe in the retirement pool, it's hard to make a case that any of the other three teams in the division can find their way to first place. Green Bay will need some young players to step up at the wide receiver position, but lack of clarity at the position won't be enough to knock Green Bay out of the top spot.
Dubin: Packers. Green Bay's defense should be one of the best in the NFL this season, and Aaron Rodgers is still easily the best quarterback in this division. That makes the Packers an easy choice for me.
McCarriston: Packers. The Packers are another Super Bowl favorite, and whenever Aaron Rodgers hits the field he is an MVP candidate. The Packers receiving core looks a lot different this year, with young guys taking over, something that is clearly causing some growing pains. Rodgers has been vocal about the rookies and new receivers stepping up without DaVante Adams to rely on. The Vikings, Lions and Bears will not provide too much competition when it comes to the division title, even with the Packers losing some key players.
Benjamin: Packers. Matt LaFleur has the resume and the ground game to complement Aaron Rodgers post-Davante Adams.
Sullivan: Packers. I like the Vikings and believe that they'll be a much better offense under new head coach Kevin O'Connell, but I'm not betting against Aaron Rodgers. Yes, the loss of Davante Adams may make for some speed bumps in the early goings of the season, but I trust Rodgers and Matt LaFleur to figure it out. They should also be much better defensively.
Breech: Packers. At some point in the future, there will be an NFC North team that can actually compete with the Packers, but that point is not right now.
Brinson: Buccaneers. Injuries to Tom Brady's offensive line are extremely concerning here, but the Bucs are still the most dangerous team in this division, even if Brady's been out there snorkeling during training camp. The Saints are starting to feel viable, but I think people are really sleeping on how important Sean Payton was to that organization and how much they need to get from Jameis Winston in order to be truly competitive. I'll still take Brady and Co., even with the rough offseason of injuries.
Dajani: Saints. I'll take a flier on the Saints. Jameis Winston looked good before his injury last season, the wide receiving corps is 100x better and the defense could be a top five unit. It's pretty wild that Tom Brady is 0-4 in the regular season against New Orleans since joining the Bucs.
Edwards: Buccaneers. The conversation is whether or not Jameis Winston is able to do enough for New Orleans. Gambling on consistency from Winston for an entire season is bold. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are the easy way out of this conundrum.
Wilson: Saints. Tom Brady can't be superhuman forever, right? RIGHT?! It's foolish to bet against Brady, I get that, but the man is 45, took a middle-of-training-camp 11-day vacation, and allegedly flirted with the idea of changing teams in the offseason. The Saints, with Jameis Winston under center, feel a lot more stable (that's a sentence I just wrote!). The skill positions are top notch, as is the defense. The biggest question could be how the team replaces rookie tackle Trevor Penning, who could miss time with a toe injury.
Dubin: Buccaneers. The offensive line issues are worrisome, but I just don't have any faith in any of the other teams in this division. I'm not sold on a Jameis Winston-led Saints team being a real threat to the Bucs, no matter how good the New Orleans defense is.
McCarriston: Buccaneers. Tom Brady is back. Need I say more? Brady retired, then unretired 40 days later, to try and hoist another Lombardi Trophy with the Buccaneers. Brady has long said he will play until he sucks and that day has not yet come. TB12 did take 11 days off from training camp for personal reasons, but members of the team on all sides of the ball said upon his return he did not skip a beat and that the whole team was better when he is in the locker room. The team also added veteran wideout Julio Jones, defensive end Akiem Hicks and right guard Shaq Mason this offseason.
Benjamin: Buccaneers. Tom Brady still has an elite supporting cast. No one should bet against TB12's crunch-time reliability and feel good about it.
Sullivan: Buccaneers. As long as Tom Brady doesn't take another 11-day hiatus during the season, Tampa Bay should still be considered a big favorite in the NFC South. Yes, the offensive line is a concern, but Brady has played behind so-so units in the past and made it work.
Breech: Buccaneers. If there's any year to pick against the Buccaneers, it's definitely this year. However, I hate picking against Tom Brady, so I'm going to go against my own advice and roll with Tampa Bay here.