Studio 46 - Non-TPiR Discussion > Out In Left Field

2022 NFL Season

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I'm going to start the NFL thread for the upcoming season.  It's a little early than I originally planned for the most part, but not by much.  Instead of bumping up the off-topic thread, I figured that with training camp a couple weeks away or so, coupled with the fact that no one's posted in the off-season thread in over a month (mainly b/c I wasn't around + no new decent news since the weekend before Memorial Day), I would get this going.  After all, giving how summer flies by, the 2022 NFL Season will be here in no time!

The 103rd season, better known as the 2022 NFL Season, is slated to begin on Thursday, September 8, 2022 at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles, California (Inglewood, CA for official accuracy, I guess).  The preseason gets going real soon; as of this post, itís actually 20 days away.  The Hall of Fame Game featuring the Las Vegas Raiders & the Jacksonville Jaguars, takes place two weeks from Thursday & features several members of the HOF class of 2022 that will be inducted two days later on that Saturday in Canton, OH. 

For the 17th time since 2004, the season will begin with the defending champions hosting another opponent, and I believe itís the first time the first game of the season is being played at the same venue the last two games of the preceding schedule was played at (definitely in the past 18 years).

The home team/champs winning percentage is at least 80%.  Other games scheduled in Week 1 include 13 Sunday games on Fox & CBS including a CBS/Fox game of the week at 4:25 PM Eastern.  Week One will wrap up with two primetime games: one on NBC with Sunday Night Football (17th season) and on Monday on ESPN with MNF (17th season and 53rd overall).  Currently, it is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.  The regular season is done on January 8, with the playoffs starting the following Saturday, January 14.

New this year is the Thursday Night Package.  After 8 seasons of Network coverage for TNF, itís exclusive to Amazon Prime.  Also, the announcers for NBC and FOX have changed.  I think I mentioned that in the off-season thread; there is a connection to that and TNF, as well as ESPN (which has been changing a lot since 2015).  CBS remains the same (at least the A Team).  Iíll post the personalities later.  In addition, the postseason has changed again; first time in a decade.  I donít believe it plays out until the postseason.

There are still 285 games on tap this year, last season featured the debut of a 17-game schedule.  The extra game was AFC vs NFC; itís the same thing this year.  The difference is the AFC travels to the NFC.  Basically, the structure this season is the same as last year.  Two seasons ago, they avoided a Superbowl / Valentines Day conflict as they still had 16 games per team.  However, itíll be a possibility in 2027, but theyíll likely work stuff out by then (though TBH, whatever happens, life and business will continue for the most part)

I'll let someone else make mention to the news that is slated come down at any point today, but amazingly enough, the first NFL game (albeit a pre-season one) is on Thursday.  I didn't check in on Social Media on Sunday, so I missed the annual preaching of the NFL talking heads and media personalities saying how it's the last free Sunday or final week without football for over half a year (or Valentine's Day week).

Three of the biggest items that probably wrapped off the off-season include Baker Mayfield finding a new home in Carolina, Tampa Bay center Ryan Jensen's big injury, and Kyler Murray getting a rather decent deal.  The Jensen thing is unfortunate given the circumstances; as for the other two stuff, what a coincidence.  Two back-to-back Heisman winning QB, Big 12 champions, and first overall picks, both starting a new chapter in their short NFL careers.

The other news includes DK Metcalf getting paid, and a couple name changes for NFL stadiums, both involving the AFC North.  Pittsburgh has a new name in Acrisure (following 21 years as the venue now formerly known as Heinz Field), and Cincinnati is still in the works for whatever the Paul Brown stadium will be called going forward

With teams required to bring their roster to 53 by Tuesday, Desmond Ridder is truly making a bid for the Falcons' start. He's been efficient in largest part, but in the exhibition finale against Jacksonville so far, he's thrown two picks and has eaten fake grass twice. Marcus Mariotta hasn't played yet, but when he does he'll need to kick it up a notch.

My preliminary early Super Bowl pick for this season is Buffalo vs. San Francisco--as Chris Berman predicted almost every year in the 90s--with the former finally getting over the hump and getting the world title they've long deserved.  Other possible candidates for the big game as I see it at the moment would be Kansas City, Cincinnati, Los Angeles (Chargers), and Indianapolis in the AFC, and Los Angeles (Rams), Philadelphia, and Green Bay in the NFC.  We'll of course see what happens as the ensuing months unfold. 

My predictions for playoffs teams:

AFC division winners: Chiefs, Bill's, Bengals, Titans.

AFC wild cards: Chargers, Broncos, Ravens.

NFC division winners: Rams, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Packers.

NFC wild cards: Rams, Eagles, Vikings.

The AFC West is loaded. I've long been big on Herbert and I think it's the Chargers year to break out and make the playoffs. I think  the Chargers have a good overall roster, but I truly believe that Herbert will join Mahomes on the 2020s All Decades Team. Herbert is all of that. However, I'm picking the Chiefs of Mahomes and Kelce to win the AFC West every year until someone shows me they can beat them. Russell Wilson has put been into a tough spot going into this division but the Broncos overall roster is strong and I think Wilson has enough left in the tank to get the Broncos a wild card berth when combined with their overall roster. The Raiders have a solid but not spectacular roster on both sides of the ball, but ultimately, I think the division and conference prove to be a little too competitive for the Raiders to make the playoffs.

The AFC North will come down to the Bengals and Ravens. Lamar Jackson has a lot to prove but I think Burrow has a lot more help around him especially at wide receiver with Chase, I think Jackson wills the Ravens to enough wins to get a wild card. Remember that the Ravens have the GOAT kicker so that helps in close games. The Steelers are now in now in rebuilding mode with Big Ben retired. Watt and Heyward are fantastic defenders, but I don't think Trubisky is the answer and I'd actually give the Steelers a better shot had they gone with Pickett. As for the Browns, is there a worse or more inept organization in the NFL? The sheer stupidity of putting your eggs in the Watson basket? SMH!

If Derrick Henry is healthy this year, the Titans win the AFC south with ease. Henry plus a good defense plus a solid quarterback equals a division title here. It's the Titans plus 3 teams that suck.

The Bills are clearly the class of the AFC East as Josh Allen enters his prime. While the Dolphins have a good defense, I don't trust Tua or believe in him at all and the Jets will suck. I expect the Patriots to have ups and downs. That was true last year for both Mac Jones and the defense. This year, I think New England misses the playoffs by the hair of their chinny chinny chin

The NFC West is a 49ers-Rams battle. The Rams are clearly better at quarterback and Aaron Donald is either the best or 2nd best  defensive tackle in NFL history (It's between Donald and Mean Joe to be the GOAT defensive tackle.) I think Ramsey is still an all pro level cornerback as well  as believe Wagner has something left in the tank and I think Cooper Kupp can repeat his success from last year. On the other hand, the 49ers have an elite defense of the own with guys like Bosa and Warner. I think Lance will be well coached and with a strong overall roster will be able to overcome his growing pains to do enough to win. I think Deebo could be the X factor in this division,  but I'll be stunned if both are not in the playoffs. The Seahawks are in rebuilding mode after losing Wilson on offense and Wagner on defense. The Seahawks are going to struggle. The Cardinals can't be believed in for this reason: Murray has proven he can play well when bats, ghosts, and Jack O Lanterns are around but he hasn't proven he can play well when Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph are around. Unless and until Kyler Murray proves that he can succeed when Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph are around as when bats, ghosts, and Jack O Lanterns, I can't believe in the Cardinals.

The NFC East is clearly between the Cowboys and the Eagles. Both are led by quarterbacks I'm quite sure how to feel about. Hurts did well as a running quarterback last year and threw for a decent number of yards, but his low number of touchdown passes bugs me. I'm not confident in Dak's health either and I think Elliot's best years may be behind him. On the other hand, both teams should have strong defenses. I think Parsons is the best player in the division and I give the Cowboys a slight edge though I do see both teams making the playoffs. The Giants are going to suck and as for the Commaders, if you trust a Carson Wentz led team you deserve to be disappointed.

With Brady coming out of retirement, the NFC South easily goes to the Buccaneers even with no Gronk and a mash unit of an offensive line. The defense will have to play well for this team to be a true contender but who else is there in this division. The rebuilding Falcons are the Seahawks of this division. The Panthers could go either way, I have zero feel for them, and whatever the Saints roster is or isn't, I never trust Famous Jameis the Turnover Machine.

The Packers did suffer a blow losing Adam's, but my feeling is that Adams will miss Rodgers more than Rodgers will miss him. The Pack have enough on both sides of the ball to win this division, but the talented Vikings should get a wild card. I've said before that I'm big on Herbert's future and I feel the same way about Justin Jefferson as a receiver. Hutchinson will be a stud pass rusher in the NFL, but the Lions still have too many holes to complete for a playoff berth. I don't know how I feel about Fields, but the Bears offensive line is hot garbage and their refusal to pay their star linebacker Smith speaks volumes about what a poor organization that the Chicago Bears are.

Who's winning it all? As much as I believe in Herbert and the Chargers, I think they're still a year away from true contender status though I do expect them to make the playoffs this year. I feel like the Bills, Chiefs,.and Bengals might be the the three best teams and they're all in the AFC. I'm ultimately picking the Bills to beat the Rams in Super Bowl 57.


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