Subject’s 2022 NFL Preview

Yes, everyone hates the jambalaya of concussions, performance-enhancing drugs and sexual assault that is the National Football League. And yet we can’t look away! So as Bills fans get to work devising creative new ways to injure themselves using folding tables, we present our preview of the impending season. Trying to predict win-loss records is a fool’s game, so we’re simply listing teams in order of predicted finish, with last year’s records for reference. 

AFC East

Buffalo (11-6, division champs)

So we may be a little biased, but the 2022 Bills are the greatest team ever to play football, or nay, any sport ever devised by mankind. And realistically, that’s only slightly overstating the case. After a phenomenal 2021, the Bills didn’t lose any significant personnel (unless you count underachieving antivaxxer Cole Beasley, who they immediately replaced with an upgrade in the form of Jamison Crowder), and their only big offseason move was adding 8-time Pro Bowler Von Miller to an already-stacked defense that was #1 against the pass last year.

Miami Dolphins (9-8)

The Fins gave QB Tua Tagovailoa a major target in ex-Chiefs powerhouse Tyreek Hill… but they didn’t do much to improve one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They might have enough talent to challenge the Patriots, but Tua’s no Josh Allen.

New England Patriots (10-7, wild card)

As long as Bill Belichick is on the sidelines, the team’s never going to be terrible. But the offseason shouldn’t fill fans with hope. The team’s joint practices with Carolina have resulted in multiple fights among players. The Brady era is long over for the Pats, and the days of Belichick running a tight ship seem to be numbered as well. And as far as we’re concerned, anything that’s bad for the Patriots is good for America.

New York Jets (4-13)

With a bunch of new players on the roster and a new outlook, this could be the year the Jets turn things around and really—ha ha, sorry, we thought we could keep a straight face. It’s the Jets. They’re going to find a way to Jets it up as usual.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals (10-7, AFC Champs)

After losing the Super Bowl by a field goal, the Bengals remain a young team loaded with talent, out to prove that last year’s remarkable turnaround wasn’t a fluke. The team upgraded the offensive line in the offseason, so they’re still the team to beat in the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens (8-9)

The Ravens had a disastrous season plagued by injuries last year, and they still finished just shy of .500. If the team stays healthy, double-threat QB Lamar Jackson and an always-terrific defense might give the Bengals a run for their money in the division.

Cleveland Browns (8-9)

God famously hates Cleveland, and this year the Browns were courteous enough to give Him a good reason, throwing a ton of money at 25-time-accused sexual predator Deshaun Watson to be their quarterback, who will join the team at midseason after his wrist has been sufficiently slapped by the NFL. The Browns have been hyped up as an up-and-coming team for the last few years now. Don’t believe it. They’re going to lose, and they’ll deserve it.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1, wild card)

Definitely a rebuilding year after their own accused sexual predator QB retired last season, with veteran backup Mitch Trubisky keeping a seat warm for rookie Kenny Pickett, a good-but-not-great prospect from a weak draft for QBs. Coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season, but now’s probably a good time to start. 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans (12-5, division winner)

The Titans feel like they’re on the way down, with superstar RB Derrick Henry pushing 30 and coming off a serious injury, #1 receiver A.J. Brown departing in the offseason, and journeyman Ryan Tannehill short on targets. Yet they’re coming down from a pretty high peak, so they’re still going to contend for the division title here.

Indianapolis Colts (9-8)

The Colts have one of the best young rushers in the league in Jonathan Taylor, and may have solved their long-running QB issues with ex-Falcon Matt Ryan. Except Ryan struggled in Atlanta once he lost favorite target Julio Jones, and the Colts’ middling receiving corps doesn’t inspire confidence in a comeback. A solid running game and defense should keep the team in games, maybe enough of them to catch the Titans.

Houston Texans (4-13)

The Texas smartly unloaded accused sexual predator Deshaun Watson (see Cleveland Browns), but that may be their only highlight, as they did little to address a team that was lackluster on every side of the ball in 2021… and for several years prior.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
The Jaguars were The Good Place’s favorite punching bag for a reason. Second-year QB Trevor Lawrence has yet to play even at Blake Bortles’ level, RB Travis Etienne is coming back from a season-ending injury, the team’s terrible offensive line’s best player retired, the defense had the fewest turnovers in the league last year, and the offense scored the fewest points. This franchise is going to be stuck in the Bad Place for years to come.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

The Chiefs only barely beat the Bills in The Greatest Playoff Game Ever Played at the end of last season, and since then have lost top receiver Tyreek Hill. Attempting to replace him are two career #2 receivers (Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster), but unless they both step up in a big way, Patrick Mahomes might come down to Earth a bit. But only a bit. This team is still stacked with talent, and Mahomes would be considered a once-in-a-generation talent if Josh Allen didn’t have an equal claim to that title.

Denver Broncos (7-10)

The last time the Broncos were on top, they plugged in Hall-of-Fame Papa John’s pitchman Peyton Manning into an already pretty-good team, so now they’re trying the same trick with Russel Wilson. And you know what? It’s a pretty good trick. The defense was #3 in points allowed, they have a good rushing duo in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, and good young receivers, so Wilson could very well be the last piece of the puzzle.

Los Angeles Chargers (9-8) abbreviates the LA Chargers to LAC, and the LA Rams to LA. Despite that unsubtle reminder that this is the other team in Los Angeles, the Chargers return a top-five offense with a lot of young talent, and they added former UB great Khalil Mack to bolster what was one of last year’s worst rushing defenses. We’re not quite ready to say the Chiefs are in trouble, but this is a team to watch.

Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)

The Raiders seem to have all the pieces in place, adding Packers’ star receiver Davante Adams to an already-pretty-good offense. But their defense was middling last year, and QB Derek Carr is good, but no Mahomes. This is a good team that has the misfortune of being in the toughest division in football. They could very well have a winning record and still finish fourth.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (12-5, division champs)

The pieces all fell into place for the Cowboys last year, as Dak Prescott came back from a devastating 2020 injury, the offense scored more points than any team in football, and the defense improved dramatically. They were upset early in the playoffs last year, but there’s no reason to think they aren’t poised for another monster season in 2022.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8, wild card)

The Eagles have a top-ten defense, and a talented offensive nucleus in Jalen “Everybody” Hurts, Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, and newcomer A.J. Brown. But none of those players have played a full season in either of the past two years. Keep them all healthy, and Philly is set to improve on last year. But that could be a tall order.

Washington Commanders (7-10)

When the best thing you can say about a team is that their name is less racist, that doesn’t say much about the product on the field. After washing out in one season with the Colts, journeyman QB Carson Wentz has had a presentation The Athletic characterized as “an assortment pack of misfires.” The rest of the team is fine, but not better than fine. Washington has won 7 games in four of the last 5 seasons. They’ll be lucky to do so again.

New York Giants (4-13)

Star RB Saquon Barkley has been hurt each of the last three seasons, and with so many injuries to the offensive line the team is down to their sixth-string center, the team is talking about upping Barkley’s workload. That’s a microcosm of the Giants, who seem to be flirting with disaster like disaster’s batting its eyelashes and the bar’s closing in half an hour. 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers (13-4, division champs)

Aaron Rodgers very rapidly went from being a fan favorite MVP and popular Jeopardy! guest host to a Big Lie-pushing anti-vaxxer, whose trade demands fell flat and had to be walked back. And amidst all the drama, he lost #1 receiver Davante Adams to Las Vegas. Rodgers could step up like he did last year, or the team could collapse into infighting. Either way, they’re still a safer bet than the rest of the division.

Minnesota Vikings (8-9)

A mixed bag, as the Vikes have an unbeatable ground game in Dalvin Cook and Alex Mattison, and talented receivers, and while no one claims Kirk Cousins as one of the great QBs in the league, he did throw 33 TDs and only 7 picks last year while piling up 4200 yards. The trouble is the defense, who were #28 in passing and #29 in rushing last year. As a result, they scored more points than the 12-5 Titans… and gave up more points than the 4-13 Giants. Look for a lot of high-scoring games this year, with similar mixed results.

Detroit Lions (3-13-1)

Poor long-suffering Detroit fans have learned the hard way to never, ever get their hopes up. But a terrific draft and promising young talent like D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson has things looking up for the Lions. We’re always hesitant to say Detroit will be good, but they’ll certainly be better than last year. 

Chicago Bears (6-11)

The Bears are a mess, as their offensive and defensive lines struggled, and they lost more talent in the offseason than they gained. QB Justin Fields stands to improve in his second year, but not so much he can carry a bad team on his back. 

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4, division champs)

Just when you thought you had seen the last of Tom Brady, his smug, punchable face returns for one more season, and the Bucs have thoughtfully restocked his receiver corps with Julio Jones and Kyle Rudolph, so if you’re as sick of seeing him win everything as we are, you’re going to have to suffer for at least one more year.

New Orleans Saints (9-8)

The Aints’ tumultuous love affair with QB Jameis Winston continues, as after being benched and then unbenched by first Tampa and now Nawlins, he’s back under center to do what he does best — throw for a ton of yards and a moderate number of interceptions. He’s got a great supporting cast in stalwart RB Alvin Kamara and a solid defense, so who knows whether we’ll see the barely-over-.500 Saints of last year, or the team that won four straight division titles in previous years.

Carolina Panthers (5-12)

A QB competition between guys didn’t pan out for the Jets and the Browns; a phenomenally talented RB who hasn’t played an injury-free season in two years; one of the lowest-rated offensive lines in football. The one highlight last year was the #4 passing defense in the league, so there are worse teams to be, namely…

Atlanta Falcons (7-10)

The Falcons are a mess after letting franchise QB Matt Ryan walk away in favor of journeyman Marcus Mariota. Top receiver Calvin Ridley is suspended for the season for gamblilng, the running game is led by 31-year-old wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, and the team hasn’t done enough to address one of last year’s worst rushing defenses.

NFC West

Los Angeles Rams (12-5, Super Bowl champions)

LA built a winning team, from the Matthew Stafford trade on down, and there’s no reason to think they won’t keep winning, as the only significant player they lost was Von Miller (to Buffalo), who they quickly replaced with all-Pro Bobby Wagner. Barring multiple injuries, the Rams are still the team to beat in the NFC.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7, wild card)

The Niners are stacked at nearly every position, so 2nd-year QB Trey Lance is going to have every opportunity to succeed. But with 71 NFL passes under his belt, he’s still a big question mark, and the team will likely only go as far as he can take them. Which, in fairness, could be very far even sharing a division with the defending champs.

Arizona Cardinals (11-6, wild card)

The Cards were a good team last year, but they lost RB Chase Edmonds to free agency, and star WR DeAndre Hopkins is serving a six-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, and is coming off a knee injury. Arizona won’t be terrible, but they’re sure to take a step back this year.

Seattle Seahawks (7-10)

Russell Wilson was talented enough to carry the Hawks despite a shaky offensive line and a once-great defense that’s in a decline. Without their franchise QB, Seattle will have to face those shortcomings with either Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center. Either of the two could be fine, but likely not good enough to carry the team on their back in what promises to be a rebuilding season.

The Bills’ 2022 Outlook:

It’s a pretty wide open field for the Bills to run through, with their closest competitors each taking a small step back. With Allen under center, a finally-competent front office, and Sean McDermott — already the 2nd-winningest coach in Bills history after just four years on the job — we have a lot of good years ahead of us.

But every Bills fan — scarred by four Super Bowl losses, our first player in the Hall of Fame being a murderer (allegedly, but come on), the inexplicable benching of Doug Flutie, the infamous “forward lateral,” the decades-long playoff drought that followed, up through Patrick Mahomes’ multiple last-minute comebacks in last year’s playoff game — we all know one thing. Never, ever, ever, ever get your hopes too high. Except maybe this year.