Op-Ed: 2022 NFL Season Preview

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(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

With the NFL season underway in the next few weeks, all 32 teams will begin their journey vying for immortality, the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

The 2022 season features monumental changes at the all-important quarterback position. In possibly the biggest move of the off season, Russell Wilson now finds his way into the AFC, starting for the Broncos with Denver’s former QB Drew Lock replacing him in Seattle. In San Francisco, second-year quarterback Trey Lance has wrestled the reigns to Kyle Shanahan’s offense away from Jimmy Garappolo, while in Carolina, Baker Mayfield will start. Former Heisman Trophy winner and Las Vegas Raiders’ former back-up Marcus Mariota will start for the Falcons.

In the AFC, Matt Ryan replaces Carson Wentz for the Colts, and Wentz will now start with the Commanders. Finally, the Steelers replace veteran Ben Roethlisberger with Mitch Trubisky and first rounder out of the University of Pittsburgh, Kenny Pickett. Each and every team has made significant changes in the off season.

There are two teams that stand out. Yes, we can’t forget about the Chiefs in the AFC West, but after two years of barely missing out, the Buffalo Bills look poised for a Super Bowl run after adding defensive weapon Von Miller and the drafting of cornerback Kaiir Elam.

Fifth year quarterback Josh Allen has an overall record of 39-21 and has thrown for nearly 9,000 yards and over 70 touchdowns in the last two years. The Bills are ranked as my number one contender in the AFC after falling to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round in one of the best games of the year in 2021-22. Allen and the Bills will look to finally get over the hump. 

The Bills’ defense surrendered the least amount of yards in the entire league last year at 272.8, while the offense finished top five in yards with 381.9 per game. No team was as balanced on both sides of the ball, and because of this the Bills should look at this season as Super Bowl or bust.

The NFC had less roster changes than its counterpart, though there will be a few new quarterbacks playing in different cities. The Los Angeles Rams will look to defend their title, however they will face steep competition from at least one team who I believe will stand in their way.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are my pick to emerge from the NFC. Led by seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, the Bucs have added talent to an already loaded wide receiver corps by bringing veteran All-Pro Julio Jones and Russell Gage. Plus, you can never count out Tom Brady in a race for the Super Bowl.

Talented on both ends of the field, the Buccaneers finished first in yards per game on the offensive side in 2021 and thirteenth in yards allowed on the defensive side. A truly balanced team, Brady will look to get his team to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.

One thing to note is their strength of schedule – with games against the Ravens, Rams, Bengals, Cowboys, 49ers, and Packers. No doubt it’ll be a difficult road for the Buccaneers, but if all breaks right for them, they should look to get past the current NFC conference champion Rams this year, after falling to them last season.

Come February, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw young versus old, the present versus the past, in Allen vs Brady. Both teams should lean on experience and strong coaching along with balanced teams to get over the hump and reach the Super bowl in 2023.