8 bold NFL predictions for the 2022 season

What’s better than a bold NFL prediction or two? Eight of them.

Heading into the 2022 season, Sportscasting asked its staff for one prediction each. Anything goes, as long as there is a certain degree of warmth to take and even more conviction in the opinion. We’re not talking about Tom Brady winning football games and taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to another Super Bowl, Justin Jefferson emerging as one of the league’s best receivers, Trevor Lawrence advancing under Doug Pederson or Aaron Rodgers finding a way to make headlines away from the pitch.

No, these should be at least a little spicy.

And they are.

The NFL will have its first Super Bowl winner on February 12, 2023

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Twelve NFL teams have never won a Super Bowl: Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Titans Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.

After the Super Bowl on Sunday 2023, there will only be 11.

Several serious contenders for the next Lombardi Trophy are on this list. The Bengals, Vikings, Bills, Cardinals, Titans and Chargers could all make deep runs to the championship. My bold prediction, however, is that Super Bowl 57 will be a matchup between two such teams when the Bills take on the Vikings in Glendale, Arizona. When that happens, a new champion is guaranteed and seek out Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

—Tim Crean

The number of 1,000-yard rushers will drop to no more than six

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is tackled | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The thousand-yard runners will continue to trail MLB’s 20-game winners until near extinction, despite this being the second year of the 17-game schedule. While Indianapolis Colts workhorse Jonathan Taylor had a league-high 1,811 yards last fall, only seven running backs broke the four-figure barrier, and Antonio Gibson (1,037) and Ezekiel Elliott (1,002) barely made the cut.

The last time there were so few 1,000-yard runners was in 2015, again with seven. Before that, we have to go back to 1991, when Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas led a group elite of seven people.

Yes, the NFL has long been a pass league, and this will be the first year we’ve fallen below seven 1,000-yard rushers in a season unaffected by a strike or lockout since 1974.

— John Moriello

The Miami Dolphins will be the surprise winners of the AFC East

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa | Megan Briggs/Getty Images

It’s time for Tua Tagovailoa to take off.

The Miami Dolphins have the pieces in place under new head coach Mike McDaniel to threaten the Buffalo Bills’ roost atop the AFC East. With Tyreek Hill stretching defenses vertically and Jaylen Waddle capitalizing on lower routes and playing around the line of scrimmage before exploding down the field after the catch, Tagovailoa is playing in an attacking pattern that should maximize his accuracy and increasing balance.

Of course, it also helps that Miami has a young defense brimming with talent. They were an intermediate unit in 2021 and must overcome the absence of Byron Jones at the start of the season, but they excel at putting pressure on the quarterback and should generate an even stronger pass with Jaelan Phillips making a move. forward. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Jevon Holland is quickly turning into a top security.

With the Bills facing a drastic increase in schedule difficulty and due to a slight regression in the rotational luck department, the Dolphins will pass on a tiebreaker to take the divisional crown and cement Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle as one of the league players. deadliest triumvirates.

—Adam Fromal

Travis Kelce will take a step back, but the Kansas City Chiefs will be just fine

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Since Tyreek Hill left town, much of the Kansas City Chiefs talk has focused on Travis Kelce. While the tight end has posted monster numbers and become Patrick Mahomes’ most reliable target, defenses will now be able to focus all their attention on him. This reality, combined with the age of the Cincinnati product, raised concerns about its production. Can he play at the All-Pro level again?

While I think Kelce will take a slight step back — think somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 receiving yards and six touchdowns — it won’t cause the Chiefs too much of a problem.

KC’s receiving body looks different, but this change matches Mahomes’ evolution as a passer. He was throwing less and less bombs, and having bigger receivers who can outplay their defenders will help complete that adaptation. Will deep balls still be part of the Chiefs offense? Sure, but with Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a solid, albeit unremarkable, group of running backs, things should be a little more balanced than you think.

—Joe Kozlowski

Lamar Jackson will win MVP and lead Ravens to Super Bowl appearance

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson | Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Of course, everyone is talking about the Buffalo Bills as if they were the best thing since sliced ​​bread while (essentially) handing Josh Allen the league MVP before the season even started. Meanwhile, business is back to business as usual in Baltimore with the Ravens poised to make a playoff comeback after injuries derailed their 2021 campaign.

Not only does Baltimore have a healthy (and motivated) Lamar Jackson – “member it? – who is entering a contract year, but the AFC North team will pair a healthy (and motivated) JK Dobbins with their superstar QB in the backfield. This duo will be an absolute handful for opposing defensive coordinators.

And while Marchioness « Hollywood » Brown has been shipped off to Arizona, expect sophomore receiver Rashod Bateman to make a major leap this season, passing 1,000 yards and becoming a true deep ball threat for the Raven attack. Add in tight end Mark Andrews, and this Baltimore team could have a sneak attack that pairs well with that aforementioned running game. It’ll work in boots, rely on play, and find other creative ways to get Jackson to do what he does best – use his legs to his advantage and get him out of the pocket.

It all starts with Lamar Jackson, though, who is the most dynamic player at quarterback we’ve ever seen.

After starting just 12 games in 2021 and missing out on much of his supporting cast, I expect Jackson to post numbers similar to his MVP-winning season in 2019 because the Ravens need him to do that. a little more and because he’s determined to prove he’s worth all the money the Baltimore front office can throw at him.

—Nick Dimengo

The New Orleans Saints will win the NFC South and enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC

Jameis Winston during a Saints-Seahawks game in October 2021
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston | Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The NFC is completely open this season.

The Los Angeles Rams will suffer a Super Bowl hangover, the Green Bay Packers won’t be alike without Davante Adams, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had the most ominous offseason of any Super Bowl contender. .

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are quietly gearing up for a huge season in Year 3 of the Jameis Winston Experience. This offense should rack up a ton of points with the return of Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry and rookie Chris Olave joining the fold. New Orleans still has one of the best offensive lines in the league, so Alvin Kamara should be in for another Pro Bowl campaign.

On the defensive end, the Saints return much of the same core that finished as the NFL’s fourth-highest scoring unit last season. Oh, and they also added Tyrann Mathieu to one of the most formidable secondaries in the league.

No one is talking about the Saints as the NFC dark horse this year, and I don’t know why. This team is loaded, and as long as Winston can stay healthy and avoid those ugly turnovers, New Orleans can compete for the No. 1 seed.

—Jack Dougherty

Justin Herbert wins MVP, but Aaron Rodgers wins the Super Bowl

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pass.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images.

It’s a trade Aaron Rodgers will definitely make. The Green Bay Packers quarterback has won the past two MVPs and guided his team to the top seed in the NFC for the past two seasons. The Packers, however, have been upset at home in the playoffs both years.

This year, that is changing.

While not posting the big numbers he’s used to, Rodgers will guide Green Bay to another NFC North title, finally get back to the Super Bowl and win it.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert will post the big numbers and be the regular season darling and MVP winner. The Chargers will turn it on offensively and win games doing it. They should be favored in seven of their first eight games and off to a great start. Herbert will attract a lot of attention early in the season which will eventually lead to an MVP.

—Mike Thomas

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris to win ground title

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Looking at the favorites to win the 2022 NFL running title, you’ve probably heard the same names over and over.

Many believe Colts third-year Thoroughbred Jonathan Taylor will break Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 yards. Two-time running champion Derrick Henry, who missed more than half of the 2021 season, is back healthy for the Titans. Nick Chubb is an option as the Browns will likely run a lot with Jacoby Brissett under center for the first 11 games. Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon are often mentioned, even though they are in heavy passing offenses.

But my pick for the 2022 race champion is Steelers workhorse Najee Harris. Let’s be real here. Steel City fans don’t want to see Mitch Trubisky throwing a ton of passes. Pittsburgh needs to be a first team in a league going well, and Harris can handle it.

The sophomore star led the NFL in throw-ins as a rookie with 381 and rushed for a solid 1,200 yards. Of course, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year. But the Steelers improved their offensive line, adding center Mason Cole and guard James Daniels. This average will therefore increase.

On the other hand, Taylor and Henry lost a few offensive linemen. Look for Najee Harris to take advantage and charge in to steal the title on the floor.

—Luke Norris

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