Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5)
Forget all the off-season drama surrounding Tom Brady because when he takes to the field, all he does is win. At 45 years old, Brady continues to defy Father Time, throwing for 5,346 yards and 42 touchdowns while leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the No. 2 seed.
Mike Evans has one of his best seasons with 110 receptions for 1,413 yards and nine touchdowns, while Chris Godwin is right behind him with 87 receptions for 1,287 yards and 13 touchdowns. On the ground, Leonard Fournette rushes for 1,196 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Carolina Panthers (11-6)
With the simulation conducted prior to the roster update, the trade for Baker Mayfield had not been in the game. While Mayfield has been named the starting quarterback, in our simulation it was Sam Darnold who throws for 4,438 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to the No. 5 seed.
Of course, a big part of the team’s success can be attributed to Christian McCaffrey who puts up 2,465 total yards (1,584 rushing yds., 881 receiving yds.) and 23 total touchdowns (18 rushing TDs, five receiving TDs). Just imagine if injuries were turned off in real life…
New Orleans Saints (7-10)
After missing all of last season, Michael Thomas finally returns to the field and it’s like he didn’t miss a beat. With 128 receptions, 1,660 receiving yards and six touchdowns, Thomas puts up one of the best statistical seasons of his career.
Kamara adds 1,294 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, and even Jameis Winston has one of his best seasons with 29 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Still, it isn’t enough as the Saints miss out on the playoffs with a 7-10 record.
Atlanta Falcons (5-12)
Like the Seahawks, the Falcons are in rebuild mode, as evidenced by the team’s 5-12 record. The Falcons traded Matt Ryan in the offseason and although they drafted Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati in the 3rd round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the team started veteran Marcus Mariota.
The former Titans quarterback actually had a solid season with 4,681 yards and 34 touchdowns with just 17 interceptions. The talented rookie receiver Drake London — the 8th overall pick in the draft — caught 73 passes for 1,060 yards and five touchdowns, setting a high bar for what fans can expect to see from this young stud. Fellow rising star Kyle Pitts put up near identical numbers to his rookie season, catching 90 passes for 1,062 yards and eight touchdowns (an improvement of his one touchdown catch as a rookie).