Welcome to the triumphant return of the Hot Take-o-Meter. In this series, NFL hot takes will be placed on a scale of peppers. There are 12 levels ranging from zero heat (milk level) to maximum heat (Pepper X). Cold takes will fall under milk, bell pepper, jalapeno, and serrano levels. Medium takes will fall under the Chile de árbol, tabasco, cayenne, and scotch bonnet levels. Hot takes will fall under the habanero, ghost pepper, Carolina Reaper, and Pepper X levels. Stay tuned for further installments as the days count down toward the 2022 NFL season.
Make sure to check out the first 10 takes in the May edition.
Hot Take 11: The Tennessee Titans Have Improved Their Receiving Corps
The Titans began the 2021 season with a two-headed monster at receiver with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Now, they are set to enter 2022 with Treylon Burks and Robert Woods as the top two options. This seems like it is a bit of a downgrade, but the crux here is that Jones is coming off the worst stretch of his career. When Kyle Phillips is factored in as a slot weapon, the Titans project to have three starting-caliber receivers instead of one star and a declining star.
Hotness Level: Ghost Pepper (Level 10)
Hot Take 12: The Los Angeles Rams Drafted Two Starting Cornerbacks
The Rams drafted four defensive backs in the 2022 NFL Draft. They nabbed Decobie Durant in the fourth round. In the sixth round, they drafted Quentin Lake and Derion Kendrick with back-to-back picks. In the seventh round, they drafted Russ Yeast. The Rams did re-acquire Troy Hill, but Durant and Kendrick should play a role for the 2022 squad. Durant is eerily similar to Darious Williams who recently left in free agency. Kendrick has big-game experience, and he could be an understudy to Hill in the slot. By the end of the season, it could be Kendrick and Durant joining Jalen Ramsey in nickel packages.
Hotness Level: Habanero (Level 9)
Hot Take 13: The Las Vegas Raiders Will Lose 10+ Games
According to DraftKings, the Raiders’ over/under is 8.5 wins. However, the key here is that the Raiders are a distant fourth in divisional odds. They are sitting at +650 while the other three teams in the AFC West are within +250. If the Raiders go 1-5 in the division, they would have to go 7-4 or better outside of the division for this prediction to not hit. They will play seven additional teams that made the playoffs in 2021 (excluding the Kansas City Chiefs), and they also will play two teams that went 9-8 but missed the playoffs. There are not many freebies on the Raiders’ schedule this season.
Hotness Level: Tabasco (Level 6)
Hot Take 14: Arnold Ebiketie Will Win Defensive Rookie of the Year
The Falcons selected Ebiketie in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Per DraftKings, he is +4500 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. It is a tremendous value as players such as Sam Williams and Drake Jackson were drafted later, but they have better odds. Ebiketie is likely already the best edge rusher on the team. He will likely have many opportunities to rush the passer, and volume stats are an overwhelming decider in Defensive Rookie of the Year. He could post a double-digit sack season as the lone outside rushing option. If he gets to 10 sacks, he will be a major threat for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Hotness Level: Scotch Bonnet (Level 8)
Hot Take 15: All Four NFC Division Winners Will Repeat
All four NFC reigning division champs are favored to repeat. The Green Bay Packers (-175) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-300) are outright favorites. The Dallas Cowboys (+130) and Rams (+125) are close behind. There is a fair bit of parity in the NFL, but these four are favored for a reason. Each of the four teams has the division’s best quarterback, a big leg up on the competition. If Vegas were to set an over/under on the number of repeat division winners, they would likely put it at 2.5 in the NFC.
Hotness Level: Chile de Arbol (Level 5)
Hot Take 16: Skyy Moore Will Win Offensive Rookie of the Year
According to DraftKings, Moore is +1000 to win the award. He is tied for sixth in odds with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. He is behind one quarterback, three wide receivers, and a running back. Two major factors help Moore. First, he is entering a pass-heavy attack with a superstar quarterback. Second, he could be the No. 2 in said offense, but Travis Kelce would take a significant amount of attention as the top option. Moore does not even have to be Tyreek Hill to post a fabulous season. The Chiefs threw the ball 675 times in 2021, more than enough to give Moore over 100 targets.
Hotness Level: Chile de Arbol (Level 5)
Hot Take 17: Jevon Holland is Better at Safety Than Micah Parsons is at Linebacker
Parsons is a better player than Holland, but the conundrum here is the positional designation. As an edge rusher, Parsons clears what Holland does as a safety, but as a pure linebacker, Parsons is just very good as opposed to potentially generational. In 2021, Parsons received just about every accolade possible while Holland only notched a 2nd-Team All-Pro nod from Pro Football Focus (ironically, it came as the same positional designation as Parsons: Flex-D). However, a lot of Parsons’ production came as an edge as opposed to his linebacker spot. This is more of a technicality than anything serious, but Holland might rank higher in a safety ranking than Parsons does as a strict linebacker.
Hotness Level: Carolina Reaper (Level 11)
Hot Take 18: The Detroit Lions Will Not Finish Last in the NFC North
The Lions and Chicago Bears are both +1000 to win the NFC North. Both teams have over/unders set at 6.5. For DraftKings, the Lions are favored to finish last (-110), but the Bears are right behind them (+130). However, the Bears are trending down while the Lions are trending up. The Lions have a known commodity at both quarterback and head coach while the Bears have a sophomore quarterback who struggled as a rookie and a rookie head coach. The Lions have made moves to bolster the receiving corps, the offensive line, and the defense while the Bears metaphorically took a nap during the offseason.
Hotness Level: Jalapeno (Level 3)
Hot Take 19: Patrick Mahomes Will Be the Only AFC Quarterback to Receive MVP Votes
Several factors are working against Mahomes here. First, he has only received MVP votes in two of his four seasons as the starter. Second, two other AFC quarterbacks have received MVP votes in that span (Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen) who could do so again. Finally, there is a cohort of young quarterbacks who could make a jump into MVP consideration including Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. Mahomes is currently third in MVP odds behind the aforementioned Allen and Tom Brady. Brady is irrelevant here (unless he wins MVP unanimously), but Allen is quite the stiff competition. Four other AFC quarterbacks are +2000 or better.
Hotness Level: Ghost Pepper (Level 10)
Hot Take 20: No Division Will Have Three Playoff Teams
With the expansion of the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams, it is increasingly likely for a division to supply three teams to the playoffs. In 2020, the AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs. In 2021, the NFC West sent three teams to the playoffs. Both divisions could send three teams to the playoffs this season, and the AFC West could send all four of its teams. For this to hit, the AFC North and West could cannibalize each other and leave only two valid playoff teams per division. The NFC is more complicated because the NFC South, NFC East, and NFC North are quite top-heavy, but NFC West’s third team (likely the Arizona Cardinals) could be a disaster.
Hotness Level: Cayenne (Level 7)
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