Here are my annual predictions for the 2022 season.
- Buffalo (14-3) – The popular pick to win the Super Bowl, I feel like I should stay away from them. But how can I? The Bills play in a weak division and are overloaded with talent. Sometimes you just have to roll with the favorite.
- New England (10-7) – I don’t believe in Mac Jones. I feel like he got by using smoke-and-mirrors last season. That being said, Bill Belichick is still the coach, so they’re going to win games.
- Miami (7-10) – All the offseason stuff comes home to roost on the Dolphins, who drop off without Brian Flores, who was a good coach who shouldn’t have been let go.
- New York Jets (3-14) – Same Old Jets
- Pittsburgh (11-6) – Mitchell Trubisky finally lives up to his hype based on where he was picked in the draft. The Steelers have everything in place from a defense to a running back in Najee Harris to a good receiving core. All they need is a QB who isn’t a statue like Big Ben was last year.
- Baltimore (11-6) – Lamar Jackson is amazing, but the defense let him down last year. This year, it doesn’t let him down, and the Ravens make the playoffs.
- Cincinnati (10-7) – Super Bowl hangover. The Bengals have a good but not great year and have to fight it out just to get into the playoffs.
- Cleveland (3-14) – The Watson thing ends up killing the team, and they have to start from scratch in 2023.
- Indianapolis (11-6) – Matt Ryan proves to be the piece to the puzzle necessary to get the Colts into contention.
- Tennessee (10-7) – I don’t know how long Ryan Tannehill can continue his run of success, because I don’t think he’s that good of a quarterback. Maybe Derrick Henry runs for 2,000 yards again.
- Jacksonville (6-11) – Baby steps. That’s all the Jaguars need to take this year. Baby steps toward becoming a contender again. Get Trevor Lawrence established in an offensive scheme that allows him to live up to his potential. The wins and losses aren’t as important as how well he plays.
- Houston (3-14) – Lovie Smith is a good coach, but I can’t see him turning around the Texans in a flash.
- Kansas City (12-5) – The Chiefs might have been my Super Bowl pick if not for all the competition in their division that’s going to make them have to fight and claw for the division title. They won’t have home field for this AFC Championship Game.
- L.A. Chargers (11-6) – I almost wrote “San Diego.” They’ll always be the San Diego Chargers to me. The Chargers will overcome the disadvantage of having nearly every crowd against them and make their way to the playoffs.
- Las Vegas (10-7) – It’s too bad the Raiders don’t play in another division, because they have the pieces in place to be a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately, this division will make them work hard for a playoff spot.
- Denver (9-8) – Russell Wilson is obviously a good quarterback, but can he turn around a team overnight? My expectation is no, it takes him another year before he makes the Broncos contenders. But who knows. Never count him out.
- Philadelphia (10-7) – The curse of the defending NFC East champion continues! Dallas falls off from last year’s title, and the Eagles claim the crown.
- Dallas (10-7) – Not that the Cowboys are going to be bad, of course. But look for another bad luck finish to their season.
- N.Y. Giants (6-11) – Please, New York, please don’t ruin Saquon Barkley’s career. He deserves so much better than what he’s getting with you guys.
- Washington (4-13) – New name, same incompetence from the owner on down.
- Green Bay (12-5) – The Packers are going to finally not get a bye in round one of the NFC tournament. This time, though, it’ll be for the better. Aaron Rodgers plays better in warm weather, so if the Packers can clear their home playoff game, they may get on a roll. Yes, I am truly saying that the Packers will be better off on the road than at home.
- Minnesota (9-8) – The Vikings are going to scare me for a while, then eventually drop out of division title contention. They may very well crush the Packers in Week 1, but after that drop back into being just an above average team.
- Detroit (8-9) – I’ve heard good things about the Lions, but I don’t know if that’s just a case of the Hard Knocks syndrome. Just because you can see what’s going on over there doesn’t mean the team’s going to be good. So, I’ve got them finishing right around .500.
- Chicago (3-14) – It’s rebuild time in Chicago! First, the team, then the stadium!
- Tampa Bay (13-4) – Tom Brady gets another #1 seed and another bye. I know, I know, I’m going out on such a limb here. I might even go as far as predicting that he’ll win a playoff game.
- New Orleans (9-8) – Jameis Winston throws too many interceptions. Oh, tell you something you don’t already know? Okay… the transition away from Sean Payton doesn’t work out right away.
- Carolina (7-10) – It ought to be fun watching Baker Mayfield start from scratch. He might be able to turn things around quickly. Or… maybe not.
- Atlanta (3-14) – The Falcons are a rudderless ship. Losing that 28-3 lead has completely undone the franchise. I’m happy for Matt Ryan that he got the heck out of there.
- San Francisco (12-5) – The 49ers have everything in place. Perfect defense, great running game, excellent receivers… just need the right QB. Is Trey Lance that? We’ll see.
- L.A. Rams (11-6) – The Rams suffer somewhat of a Super Bowl hangover and don’t win their division. Besides that, though, they still end up making the playoffs as a wild card.
- Arizona (10-7) – Kyler Murray would have been a great player for my Oakland A’s, or at least until they would have inevitably traded him for prospects. He’s going to continue to succeed in Arizona, but the Niners and Rams are going to be a problem for them.
- Seattle (3-14) – Geno Smith won the starting QB job. That tells you all you need to know about them.
MVP: Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay
Offensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas
Offensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Quay Walker, LB, Green Bay
Comeback Player of the Year: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore (does he count as a comeback player?)
Coach of the Year: Sean McDermott, Buffalo
- Kansas City
- L.A. Chargers (almost wrote San Diego again!)
- Las Vegas
- Tampa Bay
- San Francisco
- Green Bay
- L.A. Rams
Wild Card Round:
#2 Kansas City over #7 Las Vegas, #3 Pittsburgh over #6 L.A. Chargers (almost wrote San Diego again!), #5 Baltimore over #4 Indianapolis
#2 San Francisco over #7 Arizona, #3 Green Bay over #6 Dallas, #5 L.A. Rams over #4 Philadelphia
#1 Buffalo over #5 Baltimore, #3 Pittsburgh over #2 Kansas City
#1 Tampa Bay over #5 L.A. Rams, #3 Green Bay over #2 San Francisco
#1 Buffalo over #3 Pittsburgh
#3 Green Bay over #1 Tampa Bay
Super Bowl LVII:
Buffalo 31, Gree…
Wait a minute!
This game’s in Arizona, right? Do you remember the last time the Packers played a playoff game in Arizona?
That’s right! Hail Mary!
Green Bay 32, Buffalo 31
(Super Bowl MVP: Aaron Rodgers)