Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina and Houston are here because of their rookie quarterbacks—Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud—who will sometimes flash the skills that made them such high draft picks, but will also have some disasters. Either way, it will be watchable! Houston’s rookie pass rusher Will Anderson popped off the screen in college, and seeing how that translates to the NFL is another reason to periodically drop in on the Texans.
The Buccaneers don’t look great, but they still have many players from their championship run on the defensive side of the ball. Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still there too, and quarterback Baker Mayfield made the playoffs in Cleveland with a much worse supporting cast than that, but the post-Brady hangover in Tampa probably caps the Bucs at seven or eight wins at the absolute most. Throw them on in the background when they’re wearing the creamsicles, though.
We have no idea: consider going for a nice long walk
Green Bay Packers
Look, every year there’s a surprise playoff team or two that only the football nerds saw coming. This feels like the tier where you’ll find one of those, but if all these teams went 5-12, no one would really bat an eye either.
Mid: donate your Sunday with caution
Las Vegas Raiders
We don’t expect too much from these teams, but each has exactly one player worth tuning in for (hello, Justin Jefferson, Maxx Crosby, and T.J. Watt!). Pittsburgh might sneakily have the best team of anyone here, but with a great unknown at quarterback, it’s hard to see them escaping mid-dom unless Kenny Pickett makes the leap. Like many Pittsburgh quarterbacks before him, he can rely on a great defense to secure a few wins, something that Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garropolo cannot say about their respective units in Minnesota and Las Vegas.
Pay close attention when Minnesota has the ball and go get your snacks when they’re on defense. Do the exact opposite for the Steelers, and maybe wait a few weeks to see how the Jimmy G experiment goes before fitting the Raiders into your viewing schedule.
The Titans and Saints: that’s kinda it