2022-2023 NFL Preview


Pike Temple, Sports Editor

The 2022 NFL season is on the horizon, the preseason is over, and all 32 teams are prepping for week 1 matchups. After 207 days without NFL football, here are the Tower’s 2022-2023 season predictions.



East: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have one of, if not the best rosters in football. The defense took a step in the right direction from 2020 to 2021. The Bills have a top 10 offense and defense, a winning formula that should guarantee a playoff berth. Josh Allen is an early MVP candidate, and with Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, the Bills have an explosive, unpredictable offense. The Buffalo defense got even better with the addition of Von Miller. If not for the overtime loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round, the Bills could have won the Super Bowl last season. Over the past few seasons, Buffalo has had trouble getting over the hump and making it to the Super Bowl. This is the year that they do it.


North: Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals made it to the Super Bowl last year, so the Bengals have high expectations coming into this season. Joe Burrow looks like the next great franchise QB, and the pairing of Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase was a match made in heaven. Running Back Joe Mixon is a top 10 RB in the league. The Bengals have the strongest WR room in the NFL and the defense retained all of their impact players from last year. The Safety duo of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell is underrated and MLB Logan Wilson played fast and furious in the Super Bowl against the Rams. Cincinnati will try to prove that the deep playoff push last year wasn’t a fluke, but as long as injuries don’t become an issue, the Cincinnati Bengals are basically a lock to reach the playoffs. After addressing the offensive line in free agency, Cincinnati looks like an even better team than the one that made the Super Bowl.


South: Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off an underwhelming end to the 2021 season. With one game left in the regular season, the Colts needed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to make it to the playoffs as a wildcard. However, the Jaguars shocked Carson Wentz and the Colts. The Jaguars handed the Colts their 8th loss and soon after, Carson Wentz got traded to the Washington Commanders. The Colts also traded for a new QB, snagging veteran quarterback Matt Ryan from the Falcons. The Colts also can rely heavily on young star RB Jonathan Taylor who should average over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown every week. On the defensive side, MLB Darius “Shaquille” Leonard is a missile in the middle with a knack for forcing fumbles.


West: Los Angeles Chargers

The Kansas City Chiefs have won the AFC West 7 years in a row, but the Los Angeles Chargers, led by Justin Herbert at QB, have a really strong roster this year. Austin Ekeler is a great RB, not only as a rusher, but as a target out of the backfield. While Keenan Allen is up there in age, he continues to put up 1,000 yard seasons. Mike Williams, who emerged as an outstanding no. 2, could easily be a team’s no. 1 target. Now to the defense. The Chargers defensive line could be scary this season after the front office traded for Khalil Mack to play alongside Joey Bosa. The only position of need that Los Angeles didn’t address during the off-season was MLB, which could pose a problem down the road. However, if a guy like Drue Tranquill or Kenneth Murray Jr. can take the next step this year, the Chargers defense should be really good.


AFC Wildcards: Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos

The Kansas City Chiefs traded “The Cheetah,” Tyreek Hill, to the Dolphins, but Andy Reid and generational QB talent Patrick Mahomes will be fine. The chiefs gave up quality for quantity, adding 3 starting caliber receivers after the departure of Hill. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore make a quality trio. All should mesh well with Mahomes in Reid’s pass-first offense. Of course Travis Kelce will warrant a lot of targets as well. The fatal flaw for the Chiefs Super Bowl hopes over the past couple years has been the defense. One of the worst units last season, the Kansas City defense, now without SS Tyrann Mathieu, must play better in 2022 if the Chiefs are to earn a wildcard spot. Kansas City has the hardest projected schedule in the NFL, it will be a challenge to reach the postseason for the 8th straight year.

The Miami Dolphins added Tyreek Hill to the roster to play beside young stud Jaylen Waddle. Tua Tagovailoa is entering a make or break year and first year head coach Mike McDaniel’s first few games could be underwhelming, but the talent and potential is definitely present. If Tua can prove to be a franchise caliber QB with the new system and weapons, a 12 win season isn’t absurdly unrealistic. While the absence of a good RB may be an issue, McDaniel should find creative ways to get the ball in Hill’s hands on end around plays and WR screens. The Dolphins defense is definitely good enough to shut down weaker offenses. Watch out for OLB Jaelen Phillips and FS Jevon Holland, the two could play a big role in Miami’s playoff chances.

The Denver Broncos hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as head coach. The front office traded for Russell Wilson and added D-linemen Randy Gregory in free agency. Denver has a solid receiving core, a young, up and coming RB in Javonte Williams, and one of the stronger defenses in the AFC. The Broncos could be the third team to make the playoffs from the AFC West. While the division is stacked this year, Denver has a much easier projected schedule than both the Raiders and the Chiefs. If Russell Wilson is the missing piece to the offense’s puzzle, the Broncos should be capable of splitting wins against the Chiefs and Raiders. Near perfect football will need to be played, especially against their division rivals, but there is a chance that Denver wins over 10 games this season.



East: Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles made the playoffs last year and their roster only got stronger. Jalen Hurts has the toolset to be the Eagles QB for years to come, he just has to put it all together. After acquiring A.J. Brown from the Titans on draft night, Hurts has two young, talented receivers to throw the ball to in Brown and Devonta Smith. Even with RB Myles Sanders questionable to start the season week 1, Hurt’s ability to move the chains with his legs should prevent defenses from guessing pass every play. The Eagles defense underperformed last season, but with the addition of IDL Jordan Davis out of Georgia, Philly’s pass rush and run stopping ability should be improved in 2022. The real question mark on this team is the secondary. If veteran CB Darius Slay can stay healthy, the Eagles defense shouldn’t be a liability.


North: Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers traded Davante Adams to the Raiders this off-season. Losing Adams is a big deal, but the Packers were able to keep major contributors on defense and create a better roster overall. Aaron Rodgers has a history of turning no name WRs into household names and with the RB tandem of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, Green Bay could take pressure off unproven receivers and run the ball a ton. On that note, Rookie WR Romeo Doubs has made a lot of noise during training camp and the preseason. Fellow rookie WR Christian Watson should work his way into the starting lineup after returning from a knee surgery. So many players return on the defensive side of the ball, notably star  CB Jaire Alexander. The Packers defense appears to be one of the strongest on paper. If the special teams situation gets settled after the hiring of Rich Bisaccia, GB should be in the running for a playoff spot.


South: New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints are not the favorites to win the South, but don’t count them out of the running. After adding WR Jarvis Landry in free agency and Chris Olave in the draft, Jameis Winston will have more firepower than even before. If Mark Ingram Jr. can find success while Kamara is out, the New Orleans offense could surprise a lot of people. The defense, while shaky at times last season, added SS Tyrann Mathieu during free agency. “The Honey Badger” is a game changer in the back end and should elevate a defense that has struggled to make impact plays in the final minutes of close games. Cameron Jordan will lead the team in sacks once again, and Demario Davis is one of the most underrated LBs in football. The Saints have historically played well against the Bucs during the regular season, so the race for the division title could come down to who wins the two regular season matchups.


West: Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions, but with the start of the new season, LA will have to overcome new challenges. First off, Matt Stafford has struggled with an elbow injury, but it is yet to affect his week 1 status. Los Angeles brought in longtime Bear Allen Robinson to replace the frequently injured Odel Beckham Jr. Although the LA passing attack is one of the most potent, their achilles heel is the running game. The Rams have a unreliable rushing attack, the offense could get one dimensional, but the Rams are still by far the best team in the west. The defense, led by Aaron Donald, is one of the strongest units in the NFC. The addition of Bobby Wagner was huge and shouldn’t be overlooked. The Rams have missed a real presence at the MLB position and if he can rack up as many tackles as he did in Seattle, Wagner could reclaim the throne as the best MLB in the league. 


NFC Wildcards: San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings 

The San Francisco 49ers look good on paper, but the team’s success will be determined by how well Trey Lance plays in his first season as a starter. Lance’s transition to starter will reflect on Kyle Shanahan’s brilliance as a HC and play caller. WR/RB Deebo Samuel is a pivotal player in the offense and TE George Kittle is a top 3 tight end in the NFL when healthy.  Lance should rely on Samuel and Kittle early in the year as he gets used to facing more talented defenses than those from the preseason. Shanahan would then open up the playbook as Lance gets more comfortable. The defense will appreciate the return of Nick Bosa, and Fred Warner has blossomed into a top 5 MLB in the league. Elijah Mitchell ran for over 1,000 yards last season, he should be able to replicate his production if fully healthy.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favorites to win their division, but the team is banged up  along the offensive line and Tom Brady doesn’t appear to be 100% focused on football. Of course Brady will be fine come week 1, but certain teammates or coaches may be getting tired of his off-season shenanigans. That being said, the Bucs are a strong team that will put up a fight for the division title. With a great receiver group highlighted by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, Tampa Bay signed Julio Jones to add depth at the WR position. The running game has typically been an issue for the Buccaneers, Leonard Fournette will need to be more consistent in that department. On the other side of the ball, Tampa has added veteran Akeim Hicks to replace Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line. The Bucs defense is strong and healthy at almost every position and its dominance would mitigate any offensive woes.

The Minnesota Vikings hired Kevin O’ Connell, the former OC for the Rams, as the new head coach. The hiring of O’ Connell will bring an offensive minded HC that should elevate the play of QB Kirk Cousins. Now that Zimmer is out of the picture, the Vikings offense will no longer be hindered by a defensive minded head coach. Speaking of defense, the Vikings signed Za’Darius Smith, a former Green Bay Packer, to strengthen the Minnesota pass rush after long-time Viking, Everson Griffin, was cut. The Minnesota defense has been strong over the years, but after dipping into the rookie DB pool by taking safety Lews Cine and CB Andrew booth Jr. to add secondary depth. If the change in coaching staff can fix the underperforming Vikings, Minnesota’s talented offense and solid defense should together propel the Vikings to a winning record and wildcard selection.


MVP: Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert should win MVP if he manages to win the AFC West, the best division in football, and sweep the series against the Chiefs. In the West, the team that wins the division title will be the team that can put up the most points every week. If Herbert can win shootouts against Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, and Russell Wilson, then he should take home the MVP instead of someone like Josh Allen who is also in the running for MVP, but plays in an easier division.


Offensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor will take the title of best RB in the league after the 2022-2023 season. As long as he doesn’t get injured, JT will rush for 2,000 yards and record 20 touchdowns. The last time a RB ran for 2,000 yards in a season was Derrick Henry, who in 2021, was awarded Offensive player of the year. Matt Ryan is a better QB than Carson Wentz, so Taylor should get plenty of love in the passing game through screens and other routes out of the backfield.


Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons is the best young pass rusher in the league. Last season, the rookie racked up 13 sacks. Now in his sophomore year, Parson’s ceiling is as high as any player in the league. A 15 or even 20 sack season isn’t unrealistic. The past few years, T.J. Watt and Aaron Donald have won the award of best defensive player, but an ascending player like Parsons could overthrow the hierarchy.


Offensive Rookie of the Year: Romeo Doubs

Romeo Doubs is a 4th round pick by the Green Bay Packers. The WR out of Nevada was considered the more pro-ready player than fellow rookie Christian Watson  who injured his knee before training camp. When Watson was sidelined, Doubs stepped in and impressed. Through preseason and training camp, Doubs has made highlight after highlight. The Packers are without a true No. 1 WR, so Doubs could be awarded first team reps early on. Once Rodgers and Doubs build chemistry after the first few weeks, watch out, Romeo could finish the year as Green Bay’s No. 1.


Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton fits perfectly in the Ravens defense. The former Notre Dame safety can play in the box and has great instincts for a rookie. Hamilton should be utilized as a rover/hybrid safety who can play near the line of scrimmage but also play in the middle or deep 3rd. While straight away speed may be an issue, the rookie is always in the right place at the right time. Kyle Hamilton should get plenty of opportunities to show the league why he was the first safety drafted in the 2022 NFL draft. The Ravens might have found their next Ed Reed.


Best Record: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are poised for an electric season. Josh Allen is a great playmaker and decision maker, plus the defense improved a ton last season. The Bills are almost guaranteed to beat the Patriots twice and Jets twice. The Bills will probably split wins with the Dolphins, but Buffalo is clearly the best and most proven team in the AFC East. Although the Bills have a challenging schedule through the first 7 weeks of the season, the remainder of the schedule is much weaker. If the Buffalo can come out of week 7 with 4 wins, a 13-4 or 14-3 season is possible. 


Worst Record: Seattle Seahawks

Outside of DK Metcalf, the Seahawks have a bottom 5 roster in the NFL. Geno Smith is the likely starting QB. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks aren’t going to win many games this season. Looking at Seattle’s schedule, there is a chance that the Seahawks don’t win a single game. Although this rare feat hasn’t been done since the 2017 Browns, the Hawks aren’t favored from a roster standpoint in every matchup. The 2022-2023 QB class is one of the best in recent history. Pete Carroll could try to tank to get a QB with the No. 1 overall pick. 


First Coach Fired: Mike McCarthy

The Dallas Cowboys have struggled in big games with Mike McCarthy as head coach. In his last season with the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy went 4-7  before getting fired after losing to the Cardinals in week 13. If McCarthy, in similar fashion, loses against the Giants, Commanders, or Lions early in the season and fails to win games against their stronger opponents, McCarthy will and should get fired. The Cowboys have an easier schedule than most, but McCarthy is already on the hot seat and a bad start to the season could get him fired.