8. Matthew Stafford (Rams) - Week 3
By the end of last season, the Rams were held together by paperclips and duct tape. Nearly everyone was injured, as it was one of those unfortunate seasons some teams have where everyone is bitten by the injury bug. Stafford got bit later in the season, but it was all over by that point.
Stafford only played nine games last season due to multiple injuries, but it was a spinal cord contusion that would sideline him for the rest of the season. Even before these injuries, he was struggling, throwing for over 2,000 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
It's likely that injuries and age have caught up with Stafford. He looked great in his first year in Los Angeles leading them to a Super Bowl win (over the Bengals, sadly), but it’s possible that Sean McVay and company have gotten everything they can out of Stafford.
McVay stated that he is looking better and seems hopeful about the new season. It’s unclear whether 2021 Stafford will show up or 2022 Stafford will.
7. Kyler Murray (Cardinals) - Week 5
Murray tore his ACL in December of 2022 so he is still on the road to recovery and there's a chance he isn't playing in this game. New head coach Johnathan Gannon says he is doing well but still has a long way to go to full recovery.
If he cannot play NFL vet Colt McCoy will likely be the starter. Currently, he sits at the second spot on their depth chart. Obviously, Colt McCoy would rank lower on this list, though he is more capable than people might give him credit for and the Bengals did struggle against backup quarterbacks last year.
Since it is not set who will be starting in Week 5, Kyler Murray was used to rank and not Colt McCoy, because if Murray can go, he will be playing. He is not ranked higher because he had a decline in play last season. It’s possible that this decline could be attributed to Kilff Kingsbury who was fired at the end of the season despite signing an extension the previous year.
Maybe a new coach is exactly what the former No. 1 overall pick needs to progress. He is a dynamic player, able to run right through your defense. But, if he is not 100%, or if it is Colt McCoy, the Bengals should be able to win this game.