The 2024 win total for the San Antonio Stampede will be based on roster and schedule analysis.
Let’s start with the roster.
The Stampede’s Roster
Kirk Cousins, the Stampede’s starting quarterback, is generally considered average.
Calling someone an average NFL starting quarterback sounds like a negative, but being somewhere between the 10th and 20th best quarterback on the planet is really more of a compliment. Cousins is closer to the front end of that spectrum than the back, making him a phenomenal pillar for the San Antonio Stampede.
Offensive line play dictates what a team can do on offense, and this group is a strength. Center Ryan Jensen, along with guards Andrus Peat and Kevin Zeitler, would combine as one of the better interiors in the league.
Skill Position Players
Running back Austin Ekeler will turn 29 before next season starts, but he’s clearly the highest-performing skill player on this team. If Michael Thomas can return to form this year, he could be a monster primary target. Michael Gallup and Curtis Samuel are solid role players. Hayden Hurst is a reliable but unspectacular pass-catching tight end.
You could argue the Stampede have a better skill group than teams like the Houston Texans or Tennessee Titans, but they are still a back-of-the-pack group unless Thomas returns to his 2019 form. That outlier outcome is worth betting on for an expansion team, but it should be far from the expectation.
Impactful pass rushers are difficult to find, which is why the defensive front may be the Stampede’s biggest weakness. Chandler Jones and Fletcher Cox are elite players who are nearing the end of their careers.
They could still be useful rotation players and are invaluable for the team’s locker room, but we should expect modest contributions from both. Grover Stewart and Roy Robertson-Harris are solid rotation players but not exactly headliners.
Former first-round edge Derek Barnett is exactly the type of player an expansion team should take shots on. Barnett was viewed as an elite talent, by the Philadelphia Eagles no less. Barnett taking a step forward after a disappointing few years is the clearest way this front could exceed the expectation of being a bottom-10 front.
Devin White and Isaiah Simmons would make for one of the rangiest, most athletic linebacker duos in the league. Similar to Barnett, Simmons has been a disappointing first-round pick (for the Arizona Cardinals).
If Simmons realizes his potential in San Antonio, he and White could form one of the best linebacker duos in the league. As things stand, let’s treat them as a league-average duo with considerable upside.
The secondary looks like the strength of the Stampede’s defense. Xavien Howard, J.C Jackson, Jamal Adams and Budda Baker have been premium players in the past with the potential to be difference makers today.
The pattern of taking a shot on disappointing former first-rounders continues with C.J. Henderson. Let’s treat this as a league-average secondary that has enough potential to crack the top 10.
Since we’re talking about a lone expansion team for the 2024 season, we’re going to have to color outside the lines a bit with the schedule.
The NFC East and AFC West look like the 2024 opponents for the NFC South, which is a brutal draw for the Stampede. For the 17th game with an uncommon opponent, San Antonio hosts Houston to kick off an out-of-conference, interstate rivalry.
All NFL rosters will look significantly different next year than they do right now, but based on what we know San Antonio’s strength of schedule is expected to be around the 12th hardest in the league next year.
This is a capable expansion team that could be reasonably competitive in its first year. Cousins is the face of the team while being supported by a rock-solid offensive line and secondary. San Antonio’s divisional opponents are a positive, but their matchups with the loaded AFC West and NFC East present a major obstacle.
Overall, we’re going to set the San Antonio Stampede’s win total at 6.5 games.