9 Bold Predictions for the 2022 NFL Season

Outside of the Cincinnati Bengals fanbase, who thought that team could move up from the AFC North cellar to become division champs and Super Bowl contenders? A year ago, that seemed like a bold prediction. Now, many expect Cincinnati to remain in playoff contention.

Instead of using copy and paste to carry over expectations from the previous campaign, let’s go out on a limb and take a swing at some surprising yet realistic projections for the 2022 season.

Like the Bengals last year, is another sleeper team ready to make a big jump in the standings? Which club may be headed in the opposite direction?

In 2021, edge-rusher T.J. Watt tied Michael Strahan’s sack record. Will we see a player rewrite the record books in 2022?

Based on production and win-loss records from the recent past along with DraftKings’ odds, we’ve compiled nine bold takes. Bettors should take note and cash in on some of these predictions for big money.

 

Chicago Bears Flirt with Winless Season, Go 1-16

The Chicago Bears have all sorts of roster issues and question marks.

Foremost among them: They haven’t done enough to provide a solid supporting cast around second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

Among their notable signings at wide receiver, the Bears added Byron Pringle, David Moore and Equanimeous St. Brown. Pringle was arrested in April on charges of driving with a suspended license and reckless driving after doing doughnuts on a public road, while Moore was arrested July 4 on drug and weapon charges.

In the third round of the draft, Chicago selected wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., who only had one standout year (62 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns) in six collegiate terms between USC and Tennessee.

The Bears offensive line may feature two fifth-round picks from the last two drafts in rookie Braxton Jones (left tackle) and Larry Borom (right tackle). The latter allowed five sacks and committed four penalties in 633 snaps last year, per Pro Football Focus.

The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain highlighted the offensive line group as a summer concern:

“Last year’s second-round pick and presumed starter at left tackle, Teven Jenkins, was the second-team right tackle. The Bears feel great about center Lucas Patrick and left guard Cody Whitehair, but those two have combined for one Pro Bowl — Whitehair in 2018 as an alternate. Justin Fields enters Year 2 behind one of the NFL’s most unproven offensive lines.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bears may not have their 2021 sack leader, Robert Quinn, who skipped mandatory minicamp.

“After Quinn’s absence from mandatory veteran minicamp, it’s tough to feel confident he’s going to be on this roster at the start of the season,” Fishbain wrote.

With the departure of three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack (via trade), Bilal Nichols and Akiem Hicks, the Bears would have a much weaker front seven without Quinn. Third-year edge-rusher Trevis Gipson and linebacker Roquan Smith would have a lot on their plates.

The Bears are tied with the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers for the sixth-best odds (+1200) to finish with the fewest wins, but they should be atop that list with significant roster concerns under a new coaching staff.

 

Dallas Cowboys Miss the Playoffs

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t gone to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2006-07. They’ll continue that inconsistent trend with a drop-off from the previous 12-5 campaign.

Last year, the Cowboys went 6-0 within the NFC East, but their rivals have stocked up on talent and made significant changes this offseason.

The Washington Commanders upgraded at quarterback, acquiring Carson Wentz to take over for Taylor Heinicke. They may also have a viable No. 2 wide receiver in rookie first-rounder Jahan Dotson.

The Philadelphia Eagles made a few splashy moves, acquiring Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans, signing edge-rusher Haason Reddick—who has double-digit sacks in consecutive terms—and selecting defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean to bolster the front seven.

The New York Giants have a new coaching staff with lead skipper Brian Daboll, who helped mold Josh Allen into one of the league’s top young quarterbacks, and former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale, who called plays for a top-three scoring defense in three of the last four years.

Aside from a tougher division schedule, Dallas has question marks at key positions.

The Cowboys pass rush may regress without Randy Gregory, who signed with the Denver Broncos. DeMarcus Lawrence must rebound from an injury-riddled 2021 campaign. Since his Pro Bowl 2018 term, he’s logged fewer than seven sacks and 30 pressures each year.

How will quarterback Dak Prescott adjust without wide receiver Amari Cooper, who the team traded to the Cleveland Browns? Who will fill the void behind CeeDee Lamb as the No. 2 wideout while Michael Gallup recovers from a torn ACL?

Most importantly, the Cowboys offensive line may not be as dominant compared to units from recent years. They released right tackle La’el Collins. Rookie first-rounder Tyler Smith, who played tackle at Tulsa, may start at left guard. Left tackle Tyron Smith has missed 20 games over the last two years.

With so many questions to answer, bettors should fade the Cowboys to make the playoffs with -250 odds.

Author: Lucy Green