NFL 2022 Season Preview
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Football season is officially back in action, opening with the highly touted matchup between the Bills and Rams. Throughout the season, we'll see plenty of headlining games with raised stakes - Russell Wilson vs the Seahawks, Deshaun Watson vs the Texans, Baker Mayfield vs the Browns, and others. There are also a ton of players looking to redeem themselves, most notably Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Derrick Henry. With the NFL bigger than ever, let's take a dive into my predictions for the 2022 season!
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Week 1 Power Rankings
32. Seattle Seahawks
Between an inexperienced defense, lackluster offensive, questions at the QB position, and an aging Pete Carroll, things aren't looking bright for the Seahawks. The few bright spots are their offensive skill players between DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant, Rashaad Penny, and Kenneth Walker, but there's not much outside of that.
31. Chicago Bears
If not for Justin Fields and some veteran defenders, Bears would be stacked up as the bottom team on this list. Regardless, expect them to make plays offensively between Darnell Mooney's electric speed and David Montgomery's downhill trucking ability. On the opposite side, this defense may surprise some people with Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith returning, and rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker joining former All-Pro Eddie Jackson in the secondary.
30. New York Giants
The Giants are in a make and break year...and unsurprisingly they'll break. Danny Dimes hasn't lived up to expectations, and unless he has a miracle breakout season, expect the Giants to barely keep their heads above water this year. With lots of questions surrounding the receivers, lack of depth on defense, and first year head coach Brian Daboll, expect the Giants to fall way short for 6th straight season.
29. Houston Texans
There's a lot to be hopeful for in Houston, but nothing that will come to light this season. Davis Mills returns for his second season as a starter, Derek Stingley should provide much needed security to the secondary, and there's a lot of upside with unknown offensive weapons in Nico Collins and Dameon Pierce. The Texans are heading in the right direction, but they aren't quite there yet.
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28. Cleveland Browns
This time last year, I had the Browns in my top ten - oh how the mighty have fallen. Between Baker Mayfield's departure, the decision to bring in Deshaun Watson - despite him indirectly admitting he sexually assaulted multiple women, and releasing underrated center JC Tretter, the Browns don't have a lot going for them. They have a tough schedule, and even though their defense is great, it won't be enough to combat their shortcomings at the QB position.
27. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are in a weird spot. With no improvement to one of the worst offensive lines from a season ago, lack of depth at receiver, and only 3 starts on defense worth noting, this team doesn't have much to capitalize on this season. That goes without mentioning the dilemma at QB between underachieving Marcus Mariota and big arm rookie Desmond Ridder, so that adds another layer to the mediocrity that is the Falcons.
26. Washington Commanders
The Commanders needed an answer at QB, so they went and got the biggest risk taker in Carson Wentz. Outside of that, this team can be good if Wentz performs, and that's a big if. Scary Terry and Jahan Dotson will be a force on offense, and this defense looks to get back to top form from 2 seasons ago. If everything goes right, this team could surprise a lot of people, but a lot of good needs to happen in order for them to even sniff a playoff berth.
25. New York Jets
If not for Zach Wilson's injury, I would have ranked the Jets higher. There is a lot to look forward to, between young offensive weapons including Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Breece Hall, and a defense that many are overlooking. The only thing looming is biggest question: will Zach Wilson make the second year jump? I don't think he'll make it as much as he needs to, but it'll be a good jumping point towards next season.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
I'm expecting a huge second year leap from Trevor Lawrence, and that'll put the Jags on the right track to getting back to playoffs. There are few concerns on offense, namely an unproven offensive line, lack of playmaking ability at receiver and how Doug Pederson will rebound after a collapse in Philly, but that should be remedied by a defense that added two top tier defenders in the draft, and big free agent splashes in Darious Williams, Foyesade Oluokun, and Folorunso Fatukasi. This won't be the year the Jags make a playoff push, but it's a step in the right direction.
Photo: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union
23. Minnesota Vikings
I would love for the Vikings and Kirk Cousins to prove the rest of the league wrong, but it won't happen. With holes in the offensive line and a suspect secondary, this team will need to rely on their offensive playmakers and a menacing pass rush to win ball games. Jefferson and Cook will eat on offense, and Eric Kendricks will ball out of defense, but the health of Za'Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter is concerning enough for me to believe they won't live up to expectations, along with the rest of this team.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh will surprise a lot of people this year. Tomlin has still yet to have a losing season, even with Big Ben running the offense way later than he should have. The offense is littered with playmakers like Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson, and the defense should be in the top-5 again with TJ Watt and Myles Jack leading the way. Similar to most teams, the QB factor will make or break this team, and although they aren't ranked high, they should do a good enough job to make a potential playoff push.
21. Carolina Panthers
The addition of Baker Mayfield alone elevates the levels this team can reach. He already brought one franchise from poverty to relevancy, and with a pending breakout year from DJ Moore, Christian McCaffrey looking to get back to top tier play, and playmakers all over the defense, the Panthers are in prime position to surprise plenty of people. The one thing standing in their way is a unfavorable schedule, with only 6 of their games coming against teams ranked below them from this list.
20. Arizona Cardinals
After a historical collapse to end last season, and more key free agent departures than additions, the Cardinals are in a tough spot this year. Their season will hang solely on how well they can manage a potential 0-3 start, as they play the Chiefs, Raiders, and Rams to kick the year off, missing D-Hop through the first 6 games, and the lack of depth on defense, especially at corner. The one silver lining is Kyler ramping up for an MVP season, and should be helped in that effort with the addition of former college teammate, Marquise Brown. If Kyler plays well and Kliff gets his playcalling right, the Cardinals can be right back at the top of the league.
19. Miami Dolphins
After two winning seasons that resulted in missing the playoffs, the Dolphins shifted their regime. They added plenty of free agents like Terron Armstead and Melvin Ingram, and traded for the electrifying Tyreek Hill. With a deep defense, a revamped offense, and Tua looking to break out, the Dolphins are in a good spot. This season will heavily be determined by Tua's play, but expect him to lean on Tyreek's effectiveness on short routes to help his performance.
18. Detroit Lions
All aboard the hype train, Detroit looks to turn plenty of heads this season. Jared Goff has to make a name for himself this season, and he has the supporting cast to do it. They're deep at receiver, have one of the best o-lines in football, and some guys looking prove doubters wrong on defense. With a dramatic build-up via Hard Knocks, a player's coach in Dan Campbell, and plenty of underdogs looking to make a name for themselves, the Lions are gonna surprise a lot of people.
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17. Indianapolis Colts
The acquisition of Matt Ryan is an immediate upgrade at the QB spot, JT is set up to have a record breaking season, and the defense looks even more menacing than a year ago. There are some guys who will have to step up like Alec Pierce, Kwity Paye, and Danny Pinter, but the playmakers around them should be able to help create opportunities for them. If not for the Titans success regardless of having more injuries than any team, the Colts would be the clear cut favorite to win the AFC South.
16. New England Patriots
Mac Jones looks to take a major leap in year two, and the addition of DeVante Parker should help him explode out the gate. Their depth at cornerback is the worst it's been in nearly a decade, but a ravaging front seven highlighted by Matt Judon should give them some breathing room. The only real questions on this team are the offensive line, even though most of the starters are returning, and the coaching duties, as Matt Patricia is slated to call offensive plays. "In Bill We Trust" will be tested heavily this season.
15. San Francisco 49ers
It's not often that a team makes their Super Bowl QB a backup and the team improves. Trey Lance looks to lead the 49ers to the promise land, and he'll have plenty of help from guys like George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. The defense looks to shutdown anyone they face, as guys like Nick Bosa and Fred Warner look to maintain their All-Pro form, and we should seem some breakout play from guys like Brandon Aiyuk and Dre Greenlaw.
14. Las Vegas Raiders
If not for the immense talent at the offense skill spots, this team would be ranked much lower. They added the best receiver in the NFL in Davante Adams, which is enough to make any team instantly better, and they added Chandler Jones to the defense, who has been the most effective pass rusher since entering the league. Pair that with playmakers like Darren Waller and Maxx Crosby, this team looks poised to dominate their opponents. The biggest concern will be how this offensive line performs.
13. New Orleans Saints
With Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas returning from injury, the additions of Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye on defense, the Saints look to be in a Super-Bowl or Bust situation. They have all the tools and are loaded at every position, especially on defense with Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and Marshon Lattimore. The Saints could be in for their biggest season since Drew Brees won them a Super Bowl.
12. Dallas Cowboys
With Amari Cooper gone, CeeDee will need to step up and prove he's the WR1 of the future. The offensive line is a shell of what it used to be, and the 2 headed RB attack of Zeke and Tony Pollard is raising plenty of eyebrows. Despite this, Dak Prescott has ascended to top 10 QB status, and most of the defense returns from a year ago. With big star names like Demarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, and Trevon Diggs making plays nearly every game, this team could get by solely on talent.
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11. Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts enters a critical year 3, Nick Sirianni finally has his systems in place, and this defense is loaded from top to bottom. Hurts will have AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert to chuck the rock to, while running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, and with new additions in James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Haason Reddick, and Jordan Davis, this defense looks to snatch the soul out of their pancake schedule.
10. Tennessee Titans
A lot of you may be wondering why I have the Titans ranked in the top 10. Let's not forget that this was the most injured team in 2021 and they still finished 12-5 and claimed the #1 seed. Yes they lost AJ Brown through a trade and Harold Landry is out for the year, but there is still a lot to look forward to. Derrick Henry was on record setting pace prior to his injury, Robert Woods was having a great year until his season ended early, and they added Treylon Burks and Roger McCreary through the draft, both slated to start Week 1. If both played like they did in college, and Henry and Woods bounce back from their injuries, this team might be better than they were in 2021.
9. Green Bay Packers
Rodgers finally will be tested offensively this year. Between not having a clear cut WR1 for the first time in his career, a rotating backfield, and plenty of movement on the offensive line, he'll be asked to carry his team more this season than before. Defensively, however, this could be the best unit in the league. With the addition of Georgia standout rookies in Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker, the return of top-tier corner Jaire Alexander, and continued improvement from Rashan Gary and Eric Stokes, I would put money on the Packers defense being the best in the NFL come season end.
8. Los Angeles Chargers
This team is very intriguing. Justin Herbert is the most daring MVP candidate, the offense line is almost complete, and the defense is stacked in all parts. They made some major free agent moves, signing JC Jackson and Khalil Mack, as well as some other role players who provide much needed depth. If not for playing in the stacked AFC West, the Chargers could very well be a top 3 team in the league.
7. Denver Broncos
This is the most complete roster Russell Wilson has had to work with since his early days in Seattle. Between a loaded wide receiver room, a 2 headed monster at running back, and a extremely physical and loaded defense, this is another team that has a lot of expectations to meet. With Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy finally getting looks from a competent QB, Pat Surtain developing into the CB1 role, and Randy Gregory rushing the passer opposite Bradley Chubb, this team looks poised to make a statement in 2022.
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6. Baltimore Ravens
With the return of Lamar Jackson, the Ravens shoot back up my rankings and are a force in the AFC. Rashod Bateman could be a major playmaker for the Ravens, and pairing him with Mark Andrews will be a headscratcher for defenses to handle. The offensive line is back to full strength, and the Ravens have one of the deepest backfields in the league, and that's still with Gus Edwards on IR. Pair that with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters returning from injury, Odafe Oweh developing and improving this offseason, and the addition and potential late-season return of high-potential rookie David Ojabo, the Ravens are in a great place heading into the season, and will be even better off later on.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams lost a ton of pieces this offseason, but are still a threat week in and week out. Multiple players are gone, including Odell Beckham Jr - who they could still bring back, Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and others, but they made some big moves by bringing in Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner. They also brought back Troy Hill, who should provide much needed security and the nickelback spot. Pair that with Aaron Donald returning and Sean McVay inking a contract til 2026, this team could very well be back in the Super Bowl.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Brady coming back from a 40-day retirement, the addition of Julio Jones and Russell Gage to a stacked receiver room, and replacing Ndamukong Suh with Akeim Hicks, this team looks strong for a third straight year. Although I have strong feelings about the defense being overrated, specifically Devin White, I can't state enough how well Todd Bowles game plans and schemes up his defense. Bundle that with a fresh and new offense under Byron Leftwich, this team is going to look different, but potentially better on tape this year.
Photo: Jason Behnken/AP Photo
3. Cincinnati Bengals
The Super Bowl runner ups got even better this offseason. They beefed up the offensive line, brought in speedy tight end Hayden Hurst, and drafted the swiss army knife Dax Hill. The amount of versatility this team gained this offseason, after showing they can be a dominant franchise for years to come, should have teams around the league scared to play them...and that's still not considering that Joe Burrow is finally healthy for a full-offseason with this team. Expect the Bengals to do big things this year.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Although most people will say losing Tyreek Hill makes this offense worse, I believe they might be able to do more without him. With more different skillset receivers in the building like MVS, Juju, and Skyy Moore in the building, paired with a loaded defense via the draft with guys like George Karlaftis, Trent McDuffie, and Leo Chenal, the Chiefs actually look better on paper than last season. Add in free agents Justin Reid and Carlos Dunlap, this team is deep and ready to make a reappearance in the Super Bowl.
1. Buffalo Bills
There's no other team sniffing the #1 spot right now. The offensive line is improved, they have more diverse receiving options in Isaiah McKenzie and Gabe Davis, a deep running back room, and a beefed up defensive unit. With Kaiir Elam joining a veteran secondary, Von Miller rushing passers with a young defensive line, and Josh Allen leading this team as the favorite MVP candidate, this team is in the best position to win the Super Bowl. The only thing standing in the Bills way are themselves.
Photo: Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images
End of Season Standings
1. Bills (12-5)
1. Buccaneers (12-5)
2. Chiefs (12-5)
2. Packers (12-5)
3. Titans (11-6)
3. Cowboys (11-6)
4. Bengals (11-6)
4. Rams (11-6)
5. Patriots (11-6)
5. Cardinals (11-6)
6. Ravens (11-6)
6. Eagles (11-6)
7. Colts (11-6)
7. 49ers (10-7)
8. Chargers (10-7)
8. Saints (10-7)
9. Broncos (10-7)
9. Panthers (8-9)
10. Raiders (10-7)
10. Lions (8-9)
11. Dolphins (9-8)
11. Vikings (7-10)
12. Steelers (8-9)
12. Giants (5-12)
13. Jaguars (5-12)
13. Commanders (4-13)
14. Browns (4-13)
14. Falcons (4-13)
15. Jets (4-13)
15. Seahawks (3-14)
16. Texans (4-13)
16. Bears (2-15)
End of Season Awards
Coach of the Year: Nick Sirianni - Philadelphia Eagles
With most teams making playoff returns in my scenario, Nick Sirianni should take home the COY honors. This will rely heavily on the development of Jalen Hurts, but given he'll be in his second season, he'll be on the top of everyone's list to win the award.
Comeback Player of the Year: Jameis Winston - New Orleans Saints
Jameis is in great position to win this award over the likes of Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, and Jaire Alexander. He has a deep, diverse offense, a capable offensive line, and a brand new offense to run through, he should lock this award in with no issues.
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Offensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens - Pittsburgh Steelers
With no rookie QBs slated to start Week 1 for the first time in 10 years, and the lack of impact ability among rookie running backs, Pickens should be more than able to be the best offensive rookie. He proved he still has the goods after an ACL injury, and he has to compete with an relatively shallow receiver room for targets.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aidan Hutchison - Detroit Lions
Hutch looks primed to have one of the best rookie seasons we've seen from a defense end in a long time. He has incredible pass rushing ability, a strong base and center of gravity, and the instincts of a long time pro. He shouldn't have any competition for this award.
Defensive Player of the Year: Maxx Crosby - Las Vegas Raiders
Maxx Crosby is in the best position of his career to have a breakout season. He led the NFL in pressures a season ago, and if he turns some of them into sacks, this award could be his more easily than people will believe. With Chandler Jones taking attention away, expect Maxx to have plenty of opportunities to terrorize opposing QBs.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Taylor - Indianapolis Colts
If not for Cooper Kupp's triple crown season, JT could have easily won this award last year. Given he'll be leaned on more this season and is playing against a relatively easy run defense schedule, he should put up major numbers this year and may break some rushing records.
MVP: Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, the AFC West is tough. Yes, he lost Tyreek Hill. I don't care. Mahomes has more versatile weapons this year and we'll see a Chiefs offense operate much differently than most of Mahomes's career to this point. He should put up numbers close to his 2018 campaign, and he'll lead the Chiefs to another fantastic season.
Super Bowl Matchup - Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Rams
After a heavyweight matchup in 2018 with these two rosters, both have improved since then and will meet in Super Bowl LVII. When pairing the rosters against each other, there is one team that mismatches the other. The Kansas City Chiefs will be your Super Bowl champions this season.
Photo: Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports
This season has the chance to be even bigger than last year. With new playoff overtime rules, teams used to a 17 game season, and big name rookies looking to make a statement, we'll see plenty of fantastic football all season long.