2022-23 NFL Season Predictions

The NFL is back! What an eventful off-season and that should only result in another great NFL season.

After 22 seasons, Tom Brady finally called it a career… but then he didn’t. After a quick 40 day retirement, the 45 year-old decided to run it back for presumably one more season – can the Bucs send him out in style? Aaron Rodgers self-inflicted drama resulted in him signing a 3-year $150 million fully guaranteed deal, but it cost him his best wide receiver, as Davante Adams heads to Las Vegas. Can the Packers keep on chugging or will the lack of outside weapons (no offense to Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb) bite them?

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Russell Wilson got the trade he was rumored to have wanted for at least a year – that will most likely result in the Seahawks remaining in the basement of the NFC West. But one team’s loss is another team’s gain – the Broncos finally got the Quarterback they have coveted since Peyton Manning retired. The only problem is that might be the most stacked division in the NFL with the Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders.

The Deshaun Watson drama finally resulted in a suspension and the Browns will be without him for 11 games and what do you know, his first game back is against his old team – the Texans. It is funny how that works isn’t it? His former teammate, DeAndre Hopkins, tested positive for PEDs and that will cost him the first 6 games of the season – will the Cardinals be able to survive and keep playoff hopes alive without him?

As usual, I will have my weekly NFL picks with the spread posted each week of the season. But before we begin the season, let’s get to how I see the 2022-23 NFL season finishing up (italics means I expect that team to make the playoffs):

AFC East
1. Buffalo Bills
2. Miami Dolphins
3. New England Patriots
4. New York Jets

Comments: The Bills will probably go 6-0 in this division en route to a dominating division win. The Patriots still don’t have great weapons around Mac Jones, but the defense should keep them in most games. The Dolphins have a new head coach (Mike McDaniels – former 49ers offensive coordinator) and a new weapon (Tyreek Hill) for Tua, will it be enough for a playoff run or are they still a year away.

AFC North
1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Cincinnati Bengals

3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Cleveland Browns

Comments: It seems in the NFL every season a team makes the jump from worst to first, and this is my pick for this season. The Ravens finished last season in the basement – mainly due to terrible injury luck – and should rebound nicely this season. Can the Bengals prove last year’s Super Bowl run wasn’t a fluke? The Big Ben era is officially over in Pittsburgh – is Mitch Trubisky the answer though? The Browns are a mess this season with Watson out for 11 games, they will get a nice draft pick and be ready for next season.

AFC South
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Houston Texans

Comments: Matt Ryan is now a Colt. He should be enough of an upgrade over Carson Wentz that the run-first team will win the division. The Titans lost their best receiver – AJ Brown – to the Eagles and Derrick Henry is coming back from a foot injury which will result in them taking a step back this season.

AFC West
1. Los Angeles Chargers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Denver Broncos

4. Las Vegas Raiders

Comments: The best division in football, I can see every team in this division finishing above .500 this season. The Chargers made big upgrades to the defense by adding Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson add that to Justin Herbert’s dominant offense and you have a top 5 team in the NFL. How the Chiefs offense reacts to the loss of their home-run hitter (Hill) will be interesting, but the rest of the pieces are so good, I don’t think it will be that big a deal.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys

3. New York Giants
4. Washington Commanders

Comments: If Jalen Hurts takes the next leap with the addition of A.J. Brown to Devonta Smith, the Eagles definitely can win this division. The Cowboys will be right there all season, but the loss of Tyron Smith will be felt. If this season Saquon Barkley can finally stay healthy and Daniel Jones can finally take that leap, maybe they challenge for a playoff spot? I just don’t see it happening.

NFC North
1. Minnesota Vikings
2. Green Bay Packers

3. Detroit Lions
4. Chicago Bears

Comments: Probably my gutsiest division winner pick. The Packers have won 13 games 3-years in a row and Aaron Rodgers is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons, but Davante Adams is gone now and I just can’t see that having no impact. Over the past 2 seasons, Adams has received 30% of Rodgers pass attempts (318 targets, 1,057 attempts) – and that is with Rodgers starting 2 games that Adams didn’t even play. There is a level of comfort there, even when Adams was covered, he was open for Rodgers, that I just can’t see them being the same offense without him.

NFC South
1. Tampa Bay Bucs
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Atlanta Falcons

Comments: The Bucs offensive line could be a problem, but Tom Brady’s decision making ability will help negate that. Replacing Antonio Brown with Julio Jones is huge. I expect a nice bounce-back season for Jones. Baker Mayfield is an improvement for the Panthers and presumably Christian McCaffrey will be able to stay healthy this season, but I really don’t see them being able to challenge for the playoffs.

NFC West
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Los Angeles Rams

3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Seattle Seahawks

Comments: The 49ers have all the pieces to win the Super Bowl – except for one major wild card at arguably the most important position, quarterback. They have officially moved on from Jimmy G and will give Trey Lance the keys. The roster is so talented that it will be an awkward situation if they start the season poorly – will the veterans start to speak up that Jimmy G gives them a better chance to win, since, well, that is all he seems to do in San Francisco. Or does Trey Lance pull a Patrick Mahomes and win MVP in his first season as the starter after sitting behind a solid veteran for a single season? The Cardinals could realistically start the season 0-3 without Hopkins for the first 6 games and that could sink their season before it gets started.

Wild Card Weekend
2. Chargers over 7. Broncos
3. Ravens over 6. Bengals
5. Chiefs over 4. Colts

Divisional Round
1. Bills over 5. Chiefs
2. Chargers over 3. Ravens

AFC Championship
1. Bills over 2. Chargers

Wild Card Weekend
2. 49ers over 7. Cowboys
6. Rams over 3. Vikings
5. Packers over 4. Eagles

Divisional Round
1. Bucs over 6. Rams
2. 49ers over 5. Packers

NFC Championship
2. 49ers over 1. Bucs

Super Bowl LVII
49ers over Bills
I made this prediction last season, and I think I was a year too early.

NFL Honors
MVP: Justin Herbert (Chargers)
Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson (Vikings)
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa (49ers)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens (Steelers)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aiden Hutchinson (Lions)
Comeback Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey (Panthers)

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