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NFL predictions 2022: Projections for 2022 NFL season

Matt Johnson

The 2022 NFL season is just around the corner and it’s shaping up to be filled with excitement, unforgettable moments and performances we’ll never forget. As kickoff slowly approaches, it’s time for a full set of NFL predictions for the 2022 season.

As part of Sportsnaut’s coverage for the 2022 NFL season, we’re looking at each team and evaluating how they will perform during the regular season. Projections for all 32 teams can be found in NFL games today with week-by-week breakdowns for every club.

There are plenty of things we’ll be keeping an eye on this year, providing analysis throughout the upcoming season. From the NFL MVP race and Rookie of the Year candidates to the road toward Super Bowl LVII and the battle for NFL playoff spots.

Related: NFL games today – 2022 NFL schedule

Let’s dive into our NFL predictions for the 2022 season, focusing on the final standings and stat projections. We’ll provide updated predictions throughout the summer, leading up to one final update before the 2022 NFL season kicks off in Week 1.

NFL predictions – 2022 standings

Projected NFL standings are based on each roster and coaching staff for all 32 teams heading into training camp. Individual season predictions from Sportsnaut’s NFL staff can be found in each attached team profile.

NFC West

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Los Angeles Rams134
San Francisco 49ers116
Arizona Cardinals107
Seattle Seahawks512

The reigning Super Bowl champions shook up their roster this offseason, replacing Robert Woods with Allen Robinson and Von Miller with Bobby Wagner. There’s plenty of reason to believe this will be an elite offense paired with one of the best NFL defenses in 2022. Combine that with excellent coaching and the Rams should have enough to edge out the 49ers and Cardinals.

San Francisco is a risk-reward team. If quarterback Trey Lance lives up to his potential and unlocks a version of the Kyle Shanahan offense we haven’t seen before, the 49ers will win the NFC. It’s just far from a guarantee, especially with the reports on Lance mixed this summer. Volatility at quarterback and some slight issues with the 49ers’ secondary put this team a tier below the Rams.

We’ve seen the Arizona Cardinals look like the best team in the NFL at times. Unfortunately, the second half of the season exists. Kyler Murray isn’t the real issue in Arizona, but this team always seems to fall apart without DeAndre Hopkins and stale play-calling makes things worse late in the year. With Hopkins suspended, early-season struggles might prove costly in the playoff race.

The Seattle Seahawks aren’t relevant to the NFL in 2022. With Drew Lock at quarterback and inexperienced offensive tackles, this is the start of a rebuild. For the current season, it’s all about draft positioning. We’ll revisit the Seahawks in 2023.

NFC North

Syndication: Green Bay Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers125
Minnesota Vikings107
Detroit Lions611
Chicago Bears413

It feels safe to declare the Green Bay Packers as the 2022 NFC North champions. The “Kings of the North” for nearly every season since 2011, Green Bay is going to be carried by its defense and rushing attack in 2022. We’re likely not going to see another MVP campaign from Aaron Rodgers, but he and the fan base will take that if this team reaches the Super Bowl.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023 – Lamar Jackson, Deebo Samuel lead the charge

The Minnesota Vikings are making another run at it with Kirk Cousins and Co. A better coaching staff offers a reason for optimism, especially for a team that played so many close games this past season. A spot in the Wild Card Round is possible, but winning the NFC North feels out of the question.

As for the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, these teams are at different stages of their rebuild. Detroit’s fans are about to witness the first signs of real life, enjoying an improved team that will compete and makes this an interesting season. In Chicago, quarterback Justin Fields will play under the worst circumstances and that means the Bears will be one of the worst teams in the 2022 NFL season.

NFC South

Syndication: USA TODAY
Tampa Bay Buccaneers134
New Orleans Saints89
Carolina Panthers611
Atlanta Falcons413

Projecting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the NFC South is the easiest of our NFL predictions. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is healthy, there isn’t a challenger in the division that even comes close to competing with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers’ roster is just as talented as last season and if everyone is available, this could be the NFC champion in Brady’s final season.

The New Orleans Saints don’t believe in folding. Once again, in the face of what seemed necessary, the Saints took an aggressive approach this offseason. Spending too much draft capital on Chris Olave and Trevor Penning likely isn’t going to work out. While we love the Saints’ defense and skill group, its offensive line and Jameis Winston will hold this team back in 2022.

Are the Dallas Cowboys the greatest NFL franchise of all-time?

Somehow, the Carolina Panthers made no progress since they parted ways with Ron Rivera. Matt Rhule hired to create a winning culture, has done nothing to prove he belongs in the NFL. The quarterback situation is awful, Christian McCaffrey is a durability risk on a bad contract and this team trades away valuable draft assets like they mean nothing. There’s zero reason to believe in the Panthers this year.

The Atlanta Falcons make things easy in NFL predictions. They aren’t going to win many games, but you can bet on the young talent providing some excitement. Fans will be thinking about draft prospects all year, all while enjoying the young core (Kyle Pitts, Drake London, A.J. Terrell) develop.

Related: NFL MVP odds 2022-23 – Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes are your betting favorites

NFC East

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles116
Dallas Cowboys107
Washington Commanders89
New York Giants611

The first of our somewhat bold 2022 NFL predictions, the Philadelphia Eagles winning the NFC East. There is plenty of hesitancy with quarterback Jalen Hurts, worrisome accuracy and some poor decision-making under pressure are going to hold Philly back at times. However, this is the best roster in the division and we’ll give it the slight edge over Dallas.

It’s fair to call the Dallas Cowboys a ‘loser’ this offseason. They lost Amari Cooper for practically nothing, botched the Randy Gregory situation and didn’t make any significant additions. A healthy Dak Prescott can change things, he looked like an MVP before the calf strain. We also remain optimistic regarding the defense. It might be a coin flip for the NFC East, but we’re betting against Mike McCarthy.

We now reach the teams worth forgetting in the division. For whatever reason, the Washington Commanders overpaid for Carson Wentz when they didn’t need to do it. It’s not as if he’s a bad quarterback, there are eye-popping moments of absurd play. Unfortunately, sandwiched between them is the baffling decision-making and the Commanders’ roster isn’t good enough to overcome that.

As for the Giants, this is going to take time. New York made the right moves this offseason and that includes keeping Daniel Jones as the starting quarterback. The draft class was phenomenal and the right things were done by the new regime. With all that acknowledged, six wins is the ceiling for this roster until they land a true franchise signal-caller.

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AFC West

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers125
Kansas City Chiefs116
Denver Broncos107
Las Vegas Raiders107

The AFC West is the best division in the NFL and will have the widest spectrum of picks for who comes out on top. While the Kansas City Chiefs have the quarterback advantage, the nod for the best roster goes to the Los Angeles Chargers. With Justin Herbert also poised to become an MVP candidate this year and the defense significantly better, it could be enough to push Los Angeles just ahead of Kansas City.

Of course, the Chiefs are still going to be a playoff team. Patrick Mahomes doesn’t need Tyreek Hill to play like an All-Pro quarterback, Besides, Kansas City arguably did more for its passing attack by creating a deeper and more versatile receiving corps. There are some slight concerns on defense, but the Chiefs should easily be a playoff team in 2022.

The Denver Broncos finally have a quarterback. Russell Wilson is going to do things for this offense that it hasn’t experienced in years. Courtland Sutton is likely headed for a breakout season and this could be one of the highest-scoring teams in the 2022 NFL season. Our only real hesitations, can the Broncos consistently protect Wilson and will Denver’s pass rush be able to generate pressure on top AFC passers?

It feels wrong to project the Las Vegas Raiders to finish last in the AFC West. This is an excellent team and Derek Carr can prove he is a lot more than just an underrated quarterback. But the division is stacked and the Raiders’ offensive line and secondary carry some questions. That makes the difference when you have the fourth-best quarterback in your division

AFC North

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore Ravens116
Cincinnati Bengals116
Cleveland Browns89
Pittsburgh Steelers89

The AFC North is going to be a grinding battle this year. It will, as always, come down to coaching, defense and quarterback. Of the three best teams in this division, the Ravens have the best coach and defense. There can be debate about Joe Burrow vs Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens hold the edge in other areas. It will be a tight battle, we just give the edge to Baltimore.

A step back for the reigning AFC champions might not be especially popular in 2022 NFL predictions. Cincinnati upgraded its offensive line and Burrow could be even better after another year removed from the torn ACL. However, the Bengals caught some fortunate breaks in 2021 and it’s hard to see history repeating itself.

As for the Cleveland Browns, it all comes down to the availability of quarterback Deshaun Watson. If he only receives a six-game suspension, this team can challenge for a Wild Card spot. Anything longer, especially a ban for double-digit games and you can sink a fork into this team for 2022.

On the surface, the Pittsburgh Steelers should be a better football team in 2022. The quarterback situation is better and Pittsburgh’s receiving corps is outstanding. However, the AFC made significant strides this offseason. With enough holes on the roster to cost this team some games, we could be looking at the first sub-.500 season for Mike Tomlin.

AFC South

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts107
Tennessee Titans98
Jacksonville Jaguars611
Houston Texans512

It’s a two-team race in the AFC South between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. There’s an argument to be made for both moves, they are on the same tier in NFL power rankings and 2022 NFL predictions thus far for the division are split. We give the edge to the more well-rounded team, shaped by a younger roster with more flexibility to add talent. The division will likely come down to a game, but Indianapolis holds the edge.

While we expect the Titans to compete for the AFC South this season, there are signs of a new era on the horizon. Ryan Tannehill could be entering his last season as the starting quarterback with Malik Willis developing behind him. Tennessee also designed escape hatches in contracts to press the reset button in 2023. If the Titans don’t make the playoffs, the expectation in our NFL predictions, expect big changes.

As for the rest of the division, it’s rebuilding teams. Trevor Lawrence should display significant improvement in his second season and the Jacksonville Jaguars roster is a lot deeper than what fans saw in 2021. Another plus, Doug Pederson is wildly better than Urban Meyer. Unfortunately, none of this is enough for the Jaguars to sniff a .500 record.

Lastly, the Houston Texans. We’re expecting another rough year in Texas for a team that is still just starting to build a foundation. With that acknowledged, the Texans also had a very nice offseason and if that trend continues, this could be a team to watch in 2023.

AFC East

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills143
Miami Dolphins107
New England Patriots98
New York Jets611

The Buffalo Bills make NFL predictions for the AFC East pretty easy. MVP candidate Josh Allen will be supported by an elite defense in 2022. If that isn’t enough, an offense enriched with talent should help this team reach the next level. Without any legitimate competition in the division, Buffalo should storm its way to another AFC East crown.

Projecting an outcome for the Miami Dolphins in the 2022 NFL season isn’t easy. If you put a top-10 quarterback on this roster, Miami could arguably compete for a Super Bowl. Tua Tagovailoa can label skeptics as keyboard warriors, but there should be some legitimate wonder about his ceiling. We’re willing to be optimistic. If Tagovailoa shows what he did in the second half – 92.2 QB rating and 69.7% completion rate in final seven starts – there is more than enough talent for Miami to reach the playoffs.

As for the New England Patriots, I’m more skeptical As Crissy Froyd detailed, there are a lot of reasons to feel great about Mac Jones in 2022. The second-year quarterback has nothing to do with worries regarding the Patriots. Instead, the issues are tied to a declining defense and a mediocre receiving corps not being enough to win consistently. The Pats could always be a surprise team, but I don’t expect them to make the playoffs.

Finally, the New York Jets. It’s easy to like a lot of what this team is building. Robert Saleh finally has the pieces to start making this a reliable defense and we’ll see that on display in the 2022 NFL season. New York’s offensive line and offensive weapons will also be a lot better this fall. It all comes down to quarterback Zach Wilson. While the ceiling is high, we have to remain skeptical of the least-accurate quarterback in the NFL last year.

Who will win Super Bowl LVII?

For our predictions of the 2023 Super Bowl champions, check out the playoff bracket below.

NFL predictions – 2022 stat leaders

Below you’ll find our quick NFL predictions for stat leaders in each major category on both sides of the ball. Projections are based on starters playing all 17 games in the 2022 NFL season.

2022 NFL passing stat leaders

  1. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers – 5,174 yards
  2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills – 5,089 yards
  3. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders – 5,002 yards
  4. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs – 4,898 yards
  5. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals –4,889 yards

Projected NFL stats – Rushing yards

  1. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers – 1,615 yards
  2. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans – 1,545 yards
  3. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts – 1,540 yards
  4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings – 1,467 yards
  5. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns – 1,460 yards

NFL predictions – 2022 receiving yardage leaders

  1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings – 1,987 yards
  2. Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals – 1,805 yards
  3. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams – 1,705 yards
  4. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders – 1,604 yards
  5. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys – 1,448 yards

2022 NFL stat leaders – Sacks

  1. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns – 20.5 sacks
  2. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams – 17.5 sacks
  3. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers – 17 sacks
  4. Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers – 15.5 sacks
  5. Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans – 14 sacks

NFL interception leaders 2022

  1. Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos – 7 interceptions
  2. Eric Stokes, Green Bay Packers – 6 interceptions
  3. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams – 5 interceptions
  4. Micah Hyde, Buffalo Bills – 5 interceptions
  5. Paulson Adebo, New Orleans Saints – 5 interceptions