From division winners to end-of-year awards to the Super Bowl, I predict them all
Predicting the 2022 NFL season
As with any season prediction, a lot of things can change once the action starts. For now, though, the AFC is stacked to the brim with talented teams, while the NFC leaves a ton to be desired outside of the division favorites.
AFC Division Winners
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
The Super Bowl runner-ups rebound with a strong campaign. The offensive line is much improved, and Joe Burrow is two years removed from his ACL injury. Ja’Marr Chase will continue his dominance in the receiving game.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
After four years, the duo of GM Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich finally win the AFC South. Matt Ryan is the ultimate difference-maker for a team that has been missing a legitimate leader to steer the ship.
AFC East: Buffalo Bills
The Miami Dolphins will nip at the Bills’ hooves throughout the majority of the season, but Josh Allen will help them ultimately clinch the division with a clutch performance down the stretch. Allen is a juggernaut of a dual-threat QB, and the rest of the division can’t stop him.
AFC West: Los Angeles Chargers
This division will send three teams to the playoffs, and while the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders have noticeably improved their rosters — and the Kansas City Chiefs still have Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes — the Chargers seem to be on the cusp of breaking through with their young hotshot head coach and impressive QB.
NFC Division Winners
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
It’s hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur with new head coaches in Minnesota and Chicago, and the Detroit Lions are still trying to figure this whole thing out. Rodgers continues to “own” the division this year.
NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This feels like the last year of Tom Brady’s career — for real this time — and he didn’t come back for nothing. While Rob Gronkowski and Bruce Arians aren’t around anymore, Brady has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, and Julio Jones to throw to. The New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers are all rebuilding in their own ways.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have added a ton of talent this offseason. Jalen Hurts’ chemistry with A.J. Brown has been electrifying all summer. The defense is stacked with offseason additions like James Bradberry, Jordan Davis, Kyzir White, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Nakobe Dean. Plus, they still have the best OL, on paper, in the NFC.
NFC West: Los Angeles Rams.
The Super Bowl champions are still stacked to the brim on offense, and Allen Robinson’s signing might be the most underrated move of the entire offseason. And Odell Beckham Jr. could still join his former team for another run. The Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals all have major question marks in key spots.
AFC Wild Card Round
- Colts (2) vs. Broncos (7)
- Bengals (3) vs. Chiefs (6)
- Chargers (4) vs. Dolphins (5)
NFC Wild Card Round
- Packers (2) vs. Cowboys (7)
- Eagles (3) vs. 49ers (6)
- Buccaneers (4) vs. Saints (5)
AFC Divisional Round
- Bills (1) vs. Chiefs (6)
- Colts (2) vs. Chargers (4)
NFC Divisional Round
- Rams (1) vs. Buccaneers (4)
- Packers (2) vs. Eagles (3)
- Bills (1) vs. Colts (2)
- Rams (1) vs. Packers (2)
Super Bowl LVII
- Bills (1) vs. Packers (2)
While I nearly went with the season opener rematch in the Super Bowl — between the Bills and Rams — it just feels like the Packers are a bit forgotten in the discussion of contenders.
This season is probably Rodgers’ last to push through, and even without Davante Adams, it’s still doable. That said, I’m clearly all in on the Bills’ stacked roster this year, as Allen just feels like the favorite for MVP in 2022.
MVP: Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Allen’s trajectory from a project quarterback with elite skills to an elite quarterback with plenty of room to grow has been fun to watch. Allen is like a rocket ship, launching to the upper echelon this season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
While Herbert will come up short in the MVP voting, he will be among the league leaders in passing touchdowns, leading the Chargers to the playoffs for the first time during his tenure. The Chargers will put up a ton of points this season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Shaquille Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
In order for the Colts to get over the AFC South division hump, the defense will need to continue to perform at a high level. Leonard is the face of the Indianapolis defense and is due for a massive year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
This is a tough award to figure out due to the lack of starting QB material. Dotson is probably the most NFL-ready of the wideouts who were selected in the first round. Carson Wentz can sling it, and he and the rookie wideout have forged some impressive chemistry this offseason. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dotson pull in 1,000 yards this season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions
Again, this one is kind of difficult. Hutchinson looks the part, and if he can rack up 8-10 sacks on the season, he will run away with this award. That’s easier said than done, though.
Comeback Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey, 26, played in just 58 games during the first five years of his career, but he still has 47 total touchdowns on his résumé. He has missed 23 games over the past two seasons, and if ever there was a time for a comeback, 2022 would be it.
McCaffrey was unmovable this offseason, and some fans have lost patience for the versatile yet oft-injured playmaker. However, he still has the upside to be the centerpiece of the Panthers’ offense. If he can play the majority of the season at a relatively familiar clip, he should be the runaway winner of this award.
Coach of the Year: Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
If McDaniel can get the Dolphins to look like a formidable playoff team with Tua Tagovailoa at QB, he should get a unanimous vote for this award. McDaniel has overseen the partnership of Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill this summer. There’s also plenty of buzz around the offense as a whole unit.
Executive of the Year: Howie Roseman, GM, Philadelphia Eagles
Roseman has been on a roll all offseason. He jam-packed the team’s future with premium draft picks while adding a ton of talent to the depth chart. Roseman made an epic first-round trade for wideout A.J. Brown, enhancing the offense around QB Jalen Hurts.
He also added Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the defense. If the Eagles win the division, the award should be Roseman’s based on the sheer volume of talent he added to this roster.