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NFL predictions 2022: Projections for 2022 NFL season

NFL predictions

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 – 2023 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 Rams116
San Francisco 49ers107
Arizona Cardinals98
Seattle Seahawks512

There are a few concerns with the Los Angeles Rams. First, it’s apparent that the elbow injury to Matthew Stafford is going to linger into the regular season. If he misses time or Los Angeles is forced to alter its offense, that’s a blow. Second, the offensive line is likely taking a step back in 2022 and the same could be said defensively. This is still one of the best teams in the NFC, but there are flaws.

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 last year. With that said, we can’t ignore the buzz surrounding the 49ers’ quarterback. It’s enough to influence our NFL predictions, pushing San Francisco into a tie with the Rams atop the NFC West.

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. This isn’t to knock Murray, his talent is undeniable. Red flags defensively and with Kingsbury are what put Arizona far behind its competition in the NFC West.

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. That’s not to say there aren’t things to like about the situation. The rushing tandem of Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker III is exciting. There is also intriguing developmental talent on both sides of the ball (Charles Cross, Boye Mafe, Jordyn Brooks). Of course, the top priority this season is securing a top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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. Getting Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari back sooner than expected would certainly be a nice boost for Green Bay. Although, a lack of depth in the secondary and the issues at wide receiver could prove costly.

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. Realistically, we view Minnesota as a threat for a Wild Card spot in the NFL Playoffs but nothing more. While the upcoming season should have more highs than lows for the fan base, everyone should be thinking about the post-Cousins future.

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. Detroit’s offensive line is among the best in the NFL, it packs a strong rushing attack and the defense will take a step forward. We won’t put them in the playoffs in our NFL predictions, but things look promising long-term.

Qquarterback Justin Fields flashes the ability to be a star, someone who can one day carry the Chicago Bears to an NFC North title. We saw a few signs of hope for this offense with the play-calling during the preseason, especially in the finale. However, Chicago’s offensive line is a mess, its receiving corps is one of the worst in the NFL and the defense is bottom-10. That puts them at the bottom of our projected NFL standings.

NFC South

Syndication: USA TODAY
Tampa Bay Buccaneers125
New Orleans Saints98
Carolina Panthers87
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. We are confident in this defense when everyone is available, especially with the depth added during the offseason. However, an interior offensive line with three new starters and at least a question about Brady’s passion for the game at 15 raise some red flags.

Alvin Kamara possibly avoiding a suspension in 2022 is signifiant. He is still an All-Pro talent and in an offense with Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave, things look a lot better. We also still love the defense, which profiles as a top-five unit in 2022. Jameis Winston is a bit of a wild card, but he showed enough in 2021 to believe this can be a much-improved offense. However, the loss of Sean Payton and a weak left side of the offensive line cloud the Saints’ playoff chances.

Finally, a reason to be more optimistic about the Carolina Panthers. Heading into the 2022 season with Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback would be a disaster. Now, Carolina brings in a motivated and healthy Baker Mayfield. He’ll be playing behind an improved Panthers’ offensive line and there are more than enough weapons for him to make things work. Carolina likely still isn’t a playoff team, but nine wins is a lot better than our original 6-11 record in the NFL projections.

The Atlanta Falcons make things easy. 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. We’re also excited to see if quarterback Desmond Ridder shows enough this fall to convince Atlanta not to spend its 2023 first-round pick on a quarterback.

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 Cowboys98
Washington Commanders611
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.

Things look bleaker for the Dallas Cowboys in our final NFL projections for the 2022 season. We already feared regression from the defense and there were a few reasons to be concerned about the depth of the offensive line. Now, Tyron Smith is lost until late December in the best-case scenario. Leaving Prescott under more pressure with a worse receiving corps and a defense that won’t be as turnover lucky, that puts Dallas a tier behind the Eagles.

There might be more optimistic NFL predictions for the Washington Commanders and perhaps this is buying too much into the alarming reports out of training camp. However, it’s not like accuracy issues and poor decision-making under pressure are anything new. In fact, they were just the start of his downfall with the Eagles and Colts. Combine that with some issues on defense, it makes seven wins feel like the absolute best-case scenario for Washington.

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
Las Vegas Raiders98
Denver Broncos98

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. We do have a few reservations. First, the threat of Orlando Brown Jr holding out into the regular season would be a massive blow for the offensive line. Second, Kansas City’s secondary feels like its Achilles heel and if this defense can’t stop the pass consistently, that spells trouble in the AFC West.

The range of outcomes for the Las Vegas Raiders is varied. 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 is concerning. We’re also not completely sold on the secondary, but there are some positive signs. If anything dooms Las Vegas, it will be the offensive line and defense. As Week 1 arrives, the right side of the offensive line still looks shaky and renewed questions at multiple spots on the defense could keep Las Vegas from 10 wins.

Losing Tim Patrick for the season is a significant blow for the Denver Broncos, especially because there still doesn’t seem to be a ton of confidence in Jerry Jeudy. Suddenly, the offense around quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t look quite as special. Combine that with worries in the front seven with six games against the AFC West competition, Denver now finishes fourth out west in our NFL predictions 2022.

AFC North

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore Ravens116
Cincinnati Bengals107
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. Fortunately, Burrow and the cast of weapons around him should be able to do enough with the help of an improved offensive line to reach double-digit wins.

The Deshaun Watson suspension adds clarity for our NFL predictions. He won’t be available against the Chargers, Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Bills and Buccaneers. Keep in mind, Cleveland is now starting a backup center this season. Realistically, it’s going to be extremely challenging for the Browns to make the playoffs.

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 Titans710
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.

Consider us pessimistic with our NFL predictions for the Tennessee Titans. There’s plenty to like about the defense, even if it means betting on young cornerbacks. The real area of concern is the offensive line, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and these wide receivers. If Tannehill doesn’t get the time he needs to operate from a clean pocket, Tennessee’s offense will stall on a lot of drives thanks to its pedestrian receiving corps. All of this was also before Harold Landry suffered a torn ACL. It’s a massive blow for the defense, putting more pressure on the secondary and requiring the offense to be far more productive than it likely can be. Going from 12-5 to 7-10 in a year would be a massive fall, but things look really bleak for Tennessee.

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 the season draws closer, there are more concerns with the New England Patriots. Months into his new role as the offensive play-caller, the alarming inexperience of Matt Patricia is showing. to make matters worse, Josh McDaniels taking top assistants with him seems to be hurting the Patriots’ offensive line especially. If all of that wasn’t enough, we don’t see New England having a top-15 defense this year. Betting against Bill Belichick in NFL predictions is risky, but his bizarre decision-making this offseason could ultimately doom the Patriots. At least the Patriots should pick up another win in Week 5 with Belichick coaching against Jacoby Brissett.

Injuries have already shaped the beginning of the 2022 season for the New York Jets. Fortunately, Zach Wilson avoided a season-ending ACL tear and Duane Brown is an excellent replacement for Mekhi Bector. However, this is till a team with plenty of issues and we’re anticipating a slow start once Wilson returns to the field. At least the future seems brighter in New York right now than it did a year ago.

Who will win Super Bowl LVII?

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

NFL award predictions – MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and more

Here is our NFL predictions entering Week 1 for who will earn individual awards and honors.

NFL MVP – Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Aaron Rodgers isn’t winning it three years in a row, issues on the offensive line might prevent Tom Brady from winning it and Patrick Mahomes already took home the award. If the Bills earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC and Allen finishes with 5,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns, he should be the Most Valuable Player.

NFL Offensive Player of the Year – Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

We’re excited about the Vikings’ offense with Kevin O’Connell at the helm. Minnesota finally has a brilliant mind calling its plays on offense with creativity and mismatches an integral part of fueling a more pass-heavy approach. This all bodes well for Jefferson, who could go for the NFL’s Triple Crown like Kupp did in 2021.

NFL Defensive Player of the Year – Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

While there are reservations regarding Dallas in 2022, that doesn’t mean it holds true for Micah Parsons. This is the year when he proves he is one of the best players in the NFL, someone who can record double-digit sacks and make plays all over the field. He’ll stockpile the stats and some key plays for “America’s Team” should win him DPOY honors.

NFL Coach of the Year – Mike McDaniel Miami Dolphins

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson garner some consideration. Ultimately, this comes down to picking the person who could turn a young quarterback’s career around and help snap a lengthy playoff drought. if Mike McDaniel unlocks Tua Tagovailoa, he wins Coach of the Year.

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

In a 17-game season, it’s a safe bet for a few 5,000-yard campaigns. It’s not surprising to see Allen and Herbert mentioned among our projected NFL stat leaders, but Derek Carr eclipsing 5,000 yards is one of our bold NFL predictions.

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

Predicting the rushing yardage leaders in 2022 doesn’t feel as easy. Najee Harris will certainly have the workload to claim the rushing title, but he’s not exactly running behind a great offensive line. We know what Derrick Henry can do, but the 2021 season also signaled his body is starting to break down. As for Jonathan Taylor, a more effective passing offense with improved quarterback play might cut into the All-Pro running back’s total production.

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

This could be the year that Justin Jefferson establishes himself as the best wide receiver in the NFL. He’ll be in a more pass-friendly offense and if Kirk Cousins is more consistent, there’s a chance Jefferson could challenge the NFL record books. Chase likely falls just behind him, largely because of the Bengals’ loaded receiving corps. As for Adams, we’re not expecting his production to dip even after losing Rodgers.

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

It’s never easy to nail the interceptions leader in NFL predictions, it’s almost the equivalent of drawing a name out of a hat. Simmons is always a safe bet, but Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes might be a sneaky bet. Assuming teams want to stay away from Jaire Alexander, that means more balls thrown toward Stokes. Based on the talent he flashed as a rookie, he could deliver plenty of takeaways this year.

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