I said it before the season started, and it held true from Week 1 until the Super Bowl; this past season was the most unpredictable year the NFL has seen in recent memory. Teams like the Lions, Seahawks, Jaguars, and Giants exceeded expectations, while others like the Rams, Broncos, Saints, and Colts all fell by the wayside. We also saw some stellar play from rookies, veterans, and bonified superstars across the league.
Today, we'll be covering my End of Season Power Rankings and see how different they look from the beginning of the year, we'll also hand out Yearly Awards for the AFC and NFC, and we'll take a look at the best moments from this season.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
End of Season Power Rankings
New York Giants (+22)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+18)
Seattle Seahawks (+16)
Giants: I don't think anyone expected the Giants to do as well as they did. Saquon bounced back in a major way, Daniel Jones was perfect for Brian Daboll's scheme, and plenty of defenders made an impact throughout the season. Andrew Thomas also emerged as one of the best offensive linemen in the league.
Key Players - Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas
Jaguars: The Jaguars had one of the strongest finishes to the season, and a lot of that had to do with Trevor Lawrence finally settling in this offense. He put his athleticism and natural arm strength on display, and this defense came to bat down the stretch as well.
Key Players - Josh Allen, Tyson Campbell, Trevor Lawrence
Seahawks: Between Geno Smith's top-10 performance, a stellar draft class, and Pete Carroll doing what he does best, this team exceeded all expectations set out for them. The future is bright as guys like Tariq Woolen, Kenneth Walker, and Charles Cross look to be mainstays on a sneaky good roster.
Key Players - Tyler Lockett, Ryan Neal, Geno Smith
Los Angeles Rams (-21)
Denver Broncos (-20)
Indianapolis Colts (-14)
Rams: The injury bug is a big reason why the Rams are here, but man did they stink outside of that. Jalen Ramsey didn't play up to par, Matt Stafford played pretty terribly until he got hurt, and this offensive line was one of the worst in the league.
Underwhelming Players - Darrell Henderson, Tyler Higbee, Nick Scott
Broncos: I'm a big believer the Broncos will bounce back next year, and that's mainly because Nathaniel Hackett held this team back. Yes, Russell Wilson was bad, but I don't think the scheme helped either. Expect this team to do relatively well with Sean Payton calling the shots in 2023.
Underwhelming Players - Nik Bonitto, Dre'Mont Jones, Dalton Risner
Colts: This roster looked great on paper, but they fell flat on their face by the halfway point of the season. The offensive line was a mess, Matt Ryan is officially washed, and this defense was on the field much more than they were prepared for.
Underwhelming Players - Mo Allie-Cox, Yannick Ngakoue, Matt Pryor
AFC Offensive MVP: Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Defensive MVP: Chris Jones - Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Trench Tyrant: Creed Humphrey - Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Special Teams MVP: Daniel Carlson - Las Vegas Raiders
NFC Offensive MVP: Justin Jefferson - Minnesota Vikings
NFC Defensive MVP: Nick Bosa - San Francisco 49ers
NFC Trench Tyrant: Chris Lindstrom - Atlanta Falcons
NFC Special Teams MVP: Brett Maher - Dallas Cowboys
AFC Player to Note - Chris Jones
Chris Jones had one of the best seasons we've seen from an interior defensive linemen not named Aaron Donald in a long time. He was the highest graded interior defender with a 92.3 overall grade, and was behind only Myles Garrett as the highest graded defender in the league. He recorded 97 pressures, which was the third most in the league, and the next closest interior defender pressure-wise was Javon Hargrave with 66 pressures. He posted 17.5 sacks throughout the regular and postseason, and added 20 TFLs and 2 forced fumbles. It was a career year for Chris Jones, and was a DPOY worthy season as well.
NFC Player to Note - Chris Lindstrom
I know The House voted Jason Kelce as the Trench Tyrant of the Year, but my first place vote went to Chris Lindstrom. He was easily the best lineman in the league, as he graded out with a 95.0 overall PFF grade, the highest in the entire NFL this season. He allowed just 9 pressures all year, despite facing guys like Aaron Donald, Vita Vea, Jonathan Allen, Cameron Heyward, JJ Watt, and Calais Campbell. The Falcons also boasted the 3rd best rushing attack in the NFL, with 1,471 of their 2,473 designed rush yards coming to his side. Chris was easily the best linemen in the entire league this season.
Photo: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports
#3: Week 10 Vikings vs Bills
Week 10 itself showcased a wild slate of games, but this one took the cake. Two of the top teams in the NFL duked it out in a contest that saw a three possession lead get wiped away, two massive plays from the Vikings defense and Justin Jefferson change the game, and a game winning field goal in OT. This matchup showed that the Bills weren't invincible, and that the Vikings weren't a team to underestimate, despite winning most of their games by only one possession.
#2: Week 2 Dolphins vs Ravens
This week re-wrote the ship of the typical Dolphins team we are used to seeing. After falling behind early due to a Devin Duvernay kick return TD and a long Lamar Jackson TD scamper, the Phins saw themselves down 28-7 at half, and then 35-14 going into the 4th quarter. Once Marlon Humphrey went down for Baltimore, this passing attack opened right up. Tyreek Hill caught 2 TDs for 48 and 60 yards a piece, and Jaylen added the game winning TD with 14 seconds left in the game. Miami emerged victorious 42-38, and the NFL quickly learned this team wasn't a joke like in previous seasons.
#1: Super Bowl LVII Chiefs vs Eagles
Of course this was the best game of the year. The two top teams in the league duked it out under the bright lights. We saw a ton of great offense, some big time defensive plays, and Andy Reid outsmarting a top-tier defense once again. This game included another 10 point deficit comeback, Jalen Hurts proving he can play great on the big stage, and the Chiefs hoisting their second Lombardi in four years. If they can win another Super Bowl this year or next, we're looking at a legitimate dynasty for the first time since the Patriots in the early 2000s.
#3: Chandler Jones Game Winning Defensive TD vs Patriots
The game itself was nutty, and this play put the icing on top. I could get lateraling the ball when you're losing, but to do it in a tie game with overtime potentially on the horizon made this decision much harder to understand. Alas, Chandler Jones made a heads up play and embarrassed Mac Jones on his way to a touchdown. In Mac's defense, most QBs are getting annihilated in that situation. (NFL ranked this play at #2)
#2: PJ Walker *almost* Game Winning Hail Mary vs Falcons
If only this play would've won the game, *sigh*. Regardless of how the game turned out, this was one of the greatest, if not the greatest throw ever. While rolling to his weak side, PJ flipped his hips and chucked a perfect bomb downfield, which was recorded at an air traveled distance of 67.6 yards, the longest pass ever recorded by Next Gen Stats. To boot, the pass had an 11.5% completion probability given it was thrown into a tight window amongst double coverage. It was an amazing play, and would've been #1 if the Panthers were able to pull off the win. (NFL ranked this play at #8)
#1: Justin Jefferson One-Hander vs Bills
I'm not ready to say this is the clear-cut best catch ever, but it's the best one since OBJ's one handed catch during his rookie season. Regardless, this is definitely a top 3 catch all time, and to do it with the game on the line made it even more impressive. To pull down a ball with one hand in midair, while having another player yanking it with two hands and in a better position, is mind blowing. This set up the Vikings to send this game to OT, and helped win the game against one of the best teams in the league. (NFL ranked this play at #4)
Top Offseason Moves
#3: Miami Dolphins Hiring Mike McDaniel
Tua seemed to be a lost cause in the NFL, despite a solid box score to start his career. He made easy throws seem difficult, and missed way too often on big plays. Enter Mike McDaniel and a few new offensive weapons, and Tua went from a potential journeyman QB into a lights out passer. He graded as a top 10 QB, while also having the numbers to back it up. If not for multiple concussions sidelining him for nearly half the season, Tua and the Dolphins could've done some damage in the playoffs. In my eyes, this is mainly to do with McDaniel's Shanahan style offense with heavy use of motions, tight formations, and unconventional route concepts to keep defenses guessing. If Tua can get back to form and avoid anymore head injuries, let alone serious ones, we could see a contender in the making.
#2: Seattle Seahawks Trading Away Russell Wilson
Lots of people, including myself, had Seattle ranked as a bottom 5 team after trading away their franchise QB. I don't think anyone expected Geno Smith to respond the way he did. He was not only serviceable, but he was one of the best QBs from this past season, as he led the NFL in completion percentage and ranked in the top 10 for multiple other categories. In exchange for this trade, the Seahawks landed a decent backup in Drew Lock, a nasty interior defender in Shelby Harris, a decent tight end in Noah Fant, and multiple picks - one of which turned into the #5 overall pick in this upcoming draft. If Russell Wilson can't get back to form, this will go down as one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history.
#1: Philadelphia Eagles Trading for AJ Brown and Signing Haason Reddick
It may be cheating to put two moves at the top spot, but the Eagles did everything right this past offseason, including getting two players who had top five seasons at their respective positions. AJ Brown and Jalen Hurts were a match made in heaven, as AJ thrived from jump balls, quick RPO passes, and long developing play action plays. On the defensive side, Haason Reddick had a career year in just his third full season playing edge in the NFL (thanks Arizona for wasting his first three seasons by playing him at inside backer). Both players will be mainstays for the next few seasons in a menacing Eagles franchise.
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
I can't end this blog without mentioning Damar Hamlin. His story and recovery has been nothing short of amazing and was the defining moment in the NFL this season. The fact he is walking, communicating clearly, and is planning on returning to football is a miracle. I can't wait to see what he is able to do, even if he isn't able to get back to full form. He's an inspiration to millions of fans and people around the world, and I wish him nothing but the best.
With that, we can cap off the 2022 NFL season and look forward to a stacked offseason. We have the NFL Draft, free agency, trades, the Position Ranking Roulette, and 2023 previews to look forward to over the next several months. Check back next week as I drop my first Mock Draft of the offseason!