NFL 2022 predictions: is this the season the Buffalo Bills finally end their drought? | NFL

This year will be the year of…

The AFC West. Except for the Kansas City Chiefs, which will always be fine with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, every team in this division has improved. Every team is a legitimate division contender … and every team strongly dislikes the other three. You can expect some exciting, well-played matches and three playoff teams to emerge out of the division. MJ

Second-year QBs.All second-year signal-callers have a lot at stake. Trey Lance will be a decisive force in the NFC playoff picture; it’s make-or-break time for Zach Wilson in New York; the Chicago Bears appear to have constructed an offense with the sole intention of making life difficult for Justin Fields; Trevor Lawrence now has a real NFL coach who will run a real NFL offense. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots have ditched a successful offense tailored to Mac Jones’ strengths for a disjointed mess piloted by Matt Patricia, for … reasons. OC

Tom Brady’s Last Dance (maybe).We could have avoided the whole thing if Brady hadn’t retired. But, for reasons that remain unknown, the greatest player ever to play in the NFL is back for at most one more season. Get ready to see endless tribute reels. HF

Revenge. As Baker Mayfield attempts to win the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield serves up an ice-cold double scoop with sprinkles. Russell Wilson returns to Seattle. The coaches get a taste, with Brian Flores returning home to Miami in Week Seven following his firing and Doug Pederson returning the Jaguars to Philadelphia in Week Four. The main event: Chiefs v Bills on 16 Oct. We might get a tri-fight in the playoffs, who knows? GS

Best team that won’t make the playoffs

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Denver Broncos. There’s a reason Russell Wilson is usually mentioned in the MVP conversation. He’s a special leader who should get the buy in from his (mostly) young skill players. Denver’s defense should be disruptive. They are part of the AFC West. MJ

Broncos. Denver will need a fast start to keep up with the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos will need to take some time to get the details right. Russell Wilson-Nathaniel Hackett dynamicIt’s all happening, and there won’t be any time to wait in the AFC West. OC

New England PatriotsJones fell on his low ceiling, a result of a solid rookie campaign and a team that included a strong coaching staff. Multiple departuresThey will work together to make this an important year for the Pats. It is not clear what they will transition towards. HF

Kansas City ChiefsThe AFC West will rejoice that Tyreek Hill is gone, but any team not located in Las Vegas now faces the serious threat of Davante Adam. Adams will be scoring big against the Chiefs, while their offense, although still very good, struggles with defenses without their lightning fast speed. Throw in two more games against Justin Herbert, a pair of tussles with Wilson – as well as the Rams, Bills, Bucs, Titans, 49ers and Bengals … yikes. GS

The most underrated team this year is …

Tyreek Hill could be a spark for the Dolphins offense. Photograph: David Santiago/AP

Miami Dolphins Miami’s 8-1 finish to 2021 looks even more impressive given the now public rift between ownership and ex-coach Brian Flores, who did a masterful job keeping the culture afloat. I’m no Tua Tagovailoa defender but I do believe that the additions of Terron Armstead and Hill will make a huge impact no matter the quarterback. MJ

Minnesota Vikings. If the Vikings’ offensive line is able to hold up even a little bit, they have a chance to field a top-five offense. Kevin O’Connell was brought in to squeeze an extra 2% out of a group devoid of ideas at the end of the Mike Zimmer era (the defensive overhaul will take more time). With O’Connell on board, Minnesota have the firepower to match up with anyone in the NFC. OC

I’m not sure if they are underrated, as their 8-9 season result last season was largely due to injuries. But as the Baltimore Ravens theoretically return to full-ish health they should also regain their status as one of the NFL’s most dangerous teams. HF

Because Dan Campbell is a dizzying success, the heart says Detroit. The Carolina Panthers do have a serviceable, but flawed, quarterback in Mayfield. They also have a completely new offensive team that creates running lanes to Christian McCaffrey. Remember him? Worst case scenario, no. But a wildcard contender, yes. GS

One bold prediction:

Mitchell Trubisky will continue to be a starterAll 17 games, and help guide Pittsburgh to a successful season. Meanwhile the Chicago Bears will finish under .500 and Justin Fields will disappoint because that’s what quarterbacks in Chicago do. MJ

Mike McCarthy is terminated in-season Can you name any area on the roster where the Dallas Cowboys are more successful this season than last year? They’ve lost depth on defense. The offensive line has become thin and fragile. They are a talented team with (rightful) expectations, but McCarthy isn’t the kind of coach who plugs gaps. With two candidates on staff waiting in the wings – Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore – it wouldn’t be a shock to see McCarthy out before Thanksgiving. OC

Justin Fields makes the leapHe carries the Bears to the playoffs. Fields underwhelmed during his first year in the league but it’s easy to see the most intriguing QB in the 2021 draft flourishing in his second full season if the Bears’ Inexperienced offensive line keeps him upright. HF

Trey Lance emulates Lamar Jackson’s 2019 season. Lance will explode after being granted the keys to the car in San Francisco. His running ability is as good as Jackson’s and the 22-year-old has similarly impeccable surrounding talent in left tackle Trent Williams and tight end George Kittle. Deebo Samson and Brandon Aiyuk are his better receivers. GS

Johnny Manziel disaster waiting department

There is no way to top Jon Gruden’s leaked emails and the disaster that was Urban Meyer’s one and done stint in Jacksonville … or is there? Nah, I’ll go with the usual: One team with potential for playoffs signs Antonio Brown as an injury replacement, the coach believing he’s the one who can keep receiver in check. He can’t. MJ

Arizona Cardinals. They spent the offseason trying desperately to please their grumpy quarterback. It meant that the defense was without reinforcements. Lopsided rosters are always in trouble. OC

Trubisky was the Steelers’ nickname As the starting quarterback, but the entire league knows that he’s just keeping the seat warm for rookie Kenny Pickett. The question now is how quickly Pittsburgh will be capable of keeping up with Trubisky’s inconsistent play style before the fans demand a change. HF

Week 13: Houston v Cleveland. After serving His 11-game banDeshaun Watson will make a comeback to the field and face his former team. This will leave many with a bitter taste in their mouths. The quarterback’s apparent lack of contrition is the kicker in a cocktail as rough as cranberry drain cleaner. Will we be there? Yes, but it will not be pretty. GS


A fully fit Lamar Jackson is a terrifying prospect for any opponenLamar Jackson, fully fit, is a frightening prospect for any opponent. Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert has already proven to have the ability to play a dynamic role with any offensive line. His protection was even better when Zion Johnson, a polished guard, was selected by the Chargers at 17th overall. Herbert will be working with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this season. MJ

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills. Buffalo have the best roster in football, and Allen’s story (from questionable prospect to destroyer of worlds) is the kind of narrative voters love. The Bills should win at least 15 games. If they do, it’s Allen’s award to lose. OC

Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens If he’s fully recovered from injury, the best dual-threat quarterback threat in the league should be primed to put up eye-popping numbers. HF

Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, I was only 11 when the timeless one won his first Lombardi but he keeps getting better, so why can’t his final flight be his greatest yet? He is as fresh as a daisy After that 11-day vacationTraining camp reviews have been glowing about the 45 year-old throwing it better than ever. Maybe this should have been my bold prediction: Brady breaks Peyton Manning’s single-season passing record of 5,477 yards. GS

Rookie of the Year

Ahmad “Sauce”Gardner, CB New York Jets The Jets will be a mess, as usual, but the shutdown corner is going to make a big impact against some the best wideouts of football. MJ

Drake London, WR Atlanta Falcons Atlanta may not be great, but they are certain to be frisky on offense based upon their preseason performances (in quality and style). They try different things! One of those things is pushing London and Kyle Pitts the ball, two gangly trees who will increase error margins for the quarterback. OC

Gardner.It’s strange to pick a defense player here, especially if the team is not in the playoffs. But Gardner’s game-changing ability of shutting down opposing receivers could make him the standout among a draft class that lacks obvious future stars. HF

Kenny Pickett is the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Trubisky’s leash will be incredibly short and when it snaps Pickett will shine. The Steelers’ receivers are impressive across the board, and running back Najee Harris providing a particularly inviting safety blanket to calm any jitters. The college hero in Pittsburgh should easily make the transition from black and gold. Mike Tomlin would be happy with a slice of Pickett’s record 42 touchdowns for Pitt last year. GS

AFC East champion

Buffalo Bills. The loss of Tre’Davious WhiteAlthough it will be a disappointing first half, the Bills have enough talent to win the division. Allen is in a different stratosphere to the division’s other three starting quarterbacks. MJ

Bills. The question hovering over the AFC East is whether or not the Dolphins’ offense will be ‘for real’It could be, and if so, how far Miami can push Bills. Mike McDaniel’s group will be fun and explosive, but the consistency needed to challenge will be found wanting in year one. OC

Bills.The NFL’s best team is one that is angry after losing. Overtime playoff loss was a truly unfair oneto the Chiefs. Bad news for the remainder of the division. HF

Bills.They have the division secured. New England, Miami… the Jets? No chance. GS

AFC North champion

Cincinnati Bengals. Forget the regression to mean argument. The Bengals made their biggest flaw a strength in the offseason by retooling the offensive lines. The Baltimore Ravens may be the sexier pick and do look great on paper, but I don’t have faith they can stay healthy. MJ

Baltimore Ravens After an extraordinary 2021, Cincinnati is likely to return to Earth. Defenses will gameplan to stop Ja’Marr Chase, depriving them of their biggest receiving threat. The Ravens’ offense, however, is perfectly built to challenge defenses that have shifted en masse to a more passive style. OC

Ravens.They will most likely win the division if Jackson has an MVP season. If I’m wrong, the Burrow-Chase connection will probably power the Bengals to the top of the division. They both look like playoff teams if they’re healthy. HF

The Browns have given up their season and credibility. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are now in transition. BaltimoreNavigate back to the top GS

AFC South champion

Indianapolis Colts. Eck, do you have to? Fine. The Colts. This assumes Shaq Leonard is healthy and Jonathan Taylor is still in good health. MJ

Colts. It feels like the end of an era for the Ryan Tannehill/Derrick Henry line in Tennessee. Matt Ryan will stabilize a Colts team that has experienced highs and lows as a quarterback since Andrew Luck left the team. OC

Colts.Ryan was traded to them in order to win a highly winnable division. It seems like a solid plan. If they run back, the Titans have a good chance of a wildcard spot. Derrick Henry’s foot cooperates, but that’s a huge question mark. HF

Colts.Despite Carson Wentz being their QB, Indianapolis nearly made the playoffs. Ryan’s arrival, albeit not at the peak of his powers aged 37, should work wonders. Taylor, their running back, is also the best in the league. GS

AFC West champion

Justin Herbert is in an incredibly tough AFC WestJustin Herbert is in an extremely tough AFC West. Photograph by Gary A Vasquez/USA Today sports

Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers will win because they have studs in the most important positions. Rashawn Slater protects Herbert as the quarterback. The defense is led off by Derwin James, who is versatile. This team will be a delight to watch. MJ

Chiefs. All four teams are possible to make the playoffs. The Chargers are the most balanced of the four. But if you line up each team’s top unit, the Chiefs’ offense still comes out on top. OC

This division is impossible. Let’s go with The Chargers, simply because it feels like it’s Herbert’s turn and Mahomes’s supporting cast isn’t as strong this time around. HF

Broncos country, let’s ride. Wilson is Denver’s man. His vast experience will be crucial in battling through a tough division, while his unmatched talent will raise the level of every aspect of their offense. Jerry Jeudy could be a breakout fantasy darling with Wilson’s killer accuracy allowing him to finally reach his potential. GS

NFC East champion

Philadelphia Eagles. Howie Roseman, Eagles General Manager, deserves credit for creating an offensive line that is a beast. The team clearly believes that Jalen Hurts can be trusted. Roseman did a fantastic job upgrading the defense, especially linebacker. Also, he traded a lot to the Titans picks for AJ Brown. This is a team that is ready to win. MJ

Eagles. Quarter aside, the Eagles are neck and neck with the Bills in terms of having the most complete football roster. In the playoffs, it will be important for the quarterback to play, but not in regular season. OC

The EaglesIf Hurts steps up, they have a great chance of winning the division. Even if he does not become dominant enough for ever-skeptical Philly supporters, Hurts will only help. The Cowboys will be able to make another run for the playoffs via the wildcard. HF

Ah, the wild world that is the NFC East. The worst crapshoot in town. Teams led by Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz are going nowhere and Dallas just can’t be trusted. The EaglesYou will have a relaxed schedule, and Hurts may see a significant boost in his second-year while working with Nick Sirianni. GS

NFC North champion

Green Bay Packers The Packers won this division by default, as long as Aaron Rodgers plays at a high standard. This division is a clear winner with the addition of star LT David Bakhtiari’s return and a stacked defense. MJ

Packers. Green Bay will be a little sluty without a star wide receiver. But Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, and Rodgers are too gifted for it to torpedo regular season. OC

Packers. The Packers will be without receiver Davante Adams, but considering their starting quarterback is coming off two straight MVP seasons that shouldn’t matter. HF

Packers.While the division is improving across the board, Rodgers still has no chance of winning it with him as the quarterback. He still owns you all, with back-to-back MVP Awards. GS

NFC South champion

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The offensive line has a ton of injuries and Tom Brady isn’t the most mobile QB, if you hadn’t noticed. If McCaffrey is able to avoid the injury bug, and Mayfield proves his doubters wrong, the Panthers could be a great team. Don’t bet against Brady’s team. MJ

Buccaneers. By default, the Bucs win. There are too few holes in the South to allow anyone to come close. OC

Buccaneers.Brady is 45, and while he may prefer to play in Miami, he should still have enough fuel for the regular season. It’s hard to imagine that he will end his career by winning his eighth Super Bowl ring, but one more division title seems doable. HF

Brady’s final season (really?) It can’t end without a spot in the playoffs. Tampa Bay could receive stiff competition from New Orleans, especially their vaunted defense, but betting against Brady’s last stand is no bueno. GS

NFC West champion

The Rams are defending Super Bowl championsThe Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions. Photograph: Marcio José Sánchez/AP

San Francisco 49ers. Seattle and Arizona, there are too many holes. That leaves the NFL’s best coaching rivalry to duke it out: Kyle Shanahan v Sean McVay. Trey Lance is the NFL’s greatest unknown, but Shanahan has an arsenal of offensive tools and a defense that will help the 49ers win the division title. MJ

Los Angeles Rams. The defending champs have as much high-end talent as they did a year ago, and they’ll likely add to their core as the season goes along. The only thing that could hold them back: lingering concerns about Matthew Stafford’s shoulder. OC

Rams.They just won Super Bowl. The 49ers should be competing to get a spot in the postseason: If Lance fails, they have the world’s most expensive backupReady to go. HF

Lance leading the 49ers could challenge the odds of Lance winning. RamsMcVay’s twinning with that roster, which still contains Aaron Donald, is too much for the regular season. GS

AFC wildcard teams

Kansas City Chiefs. Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore Ravens. MJ

Cincinnati Bengals, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers. OC

Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. HF

Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans. GS

NFC wildcard teams

Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers.MJ

Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints. OC

Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers. HF

San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints. GS

AFC championship game

Buffalo Bills over Los Angeles Chargers. MJ

Baltimore Ravens win over Buffalo Bills OC

Buffalo Bills beat Baltimore Ravens HF

Buffalo Bills win over Denver Broncos GS

NFC championship game

Green Bay Packers over Tampa Bay Buccaneers. MJ

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Green Bay Packers. OC

Green Bay Packers over Los Angeles Rams. HF

San Francisco 49ers over Los Angeles Rams. GS

And your Super Bowl LVII winner is …

Aaron Rodgers is aiming to win his second Super BowlAaron Rodgers is looking to win his second Super Bowl. Photograph by Samantha Madar/AP

Don’t we always underestimate Rodgers? Seriously, he’s like the 12th QB in fantasy. This is a strong team that has won 13 of the previous three seasons. Rodgers will have solid defense. Adams is a genuine talent and a big loss. However, Rodgers has always turned random wideouts in to stars. Rodgers will win his second championship with The PackersWe emerged from a conference where all the competitors had flaws and faced a Super Bowl opponent who will be psyched to be there. MJ

Baltimore Ravens Hear me out: The Ravens’ 2021 season was driven into a ditch by injuries. A healthy Ravens roster in 2020 has everything: explosive plays on offense, flexibility on defense, a MVP candidate at quarterback and a kicker who can decide close playoff matches. Defenses across the league have adopted a new style that plays right into the Ravens’ brand of smashmouth-spread football on offense. They have just enough power upfront and enough variability at the back to force turnovers on defense. Although they may not be a dominant regular season team, the Ravens possess all the characteristics of a title contender. OC

Now that even the Cubs have won a World Series, it’s time for BuffaloJim Kelly won one. For a period of time in the early 1990s, Bills were the Washington Generals at the Super Bowl, losing there four consecutive times. They are the best team on a loaded AFC field this time and should be preferred over any other team, even if they have Rodgers. HF

The heartbreak for The BillsTheir talent-packed roster will be motivated to win the AFC Championship shootout, which will be an incredible motivation. The team is confident that they can withstand any challenge from the AFC and will have their key players back to fight until it’s over. They are favorites for a reason. It is their time. GS

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