We’re barreling towards Christmas and the NFL season is ramping up to an epic conclusion. Can Tom Brady save the Bucs? Are the Jaguars alive? Is Brock Purdy relevant??? Find out all that and more with The Circuit’s 3rd Quarter Polls!
With 4 games left in the 2022 NFL season, things are starting to fall into place. The Eagles are flying away with the NFC, And the Texans are stampeding towards the #1 pick. Let’s kick off these 3rd quarter polls with what I got right, and more importantly, what I double-doinked!
Things I got Right…
The Bills Would Win the AFC East…
They were heavy favorites in the preseason, so it might seem odd that I’m choosing this to highlight, but a couple weeks ago it wasn’t so obvious! The Dolphins were rolling and Josh Allen was in a tailspin (and still might be, for that matter). This is a really good division, with potentially 4 playoff teams, but it looks like I will be right in the end by picking the Bills to win this division (forget that I picked them to win the Super Bowl. Please. Please?)
The Jaguars Would be Frisky…
I already used this one earlier in the season but I don’t care, I’m going full George Costanza and double-dipping! They looked great in September, October and November were less than impressive, but December they have looked more like Jaguars and less like Kittens again. It’s highly unlikely that they can catch Tennessee at this point, but this team is still a year away from contending (2023 AFC South champions, you heard it here first), but this year is just about showing they belong. And they do.
The Bears Would be Awful…
Remember when everyone was taking Fields over Lawrence back in October? Those clown opinions seemed to have died down, for good reason. Fields is a fun running back, but has shown nothing as a quarterback, and the Bears are right where I thought they would be before the season; dead-last in the NFC. Not their division, the entire conference! They have awful skill position players, an awful quarterback, and an awful organization. The future looks bleak in Chicago.
Now For the Fun Part! The Things I Regret…
The Colts Knew What They Were Doing…
I picked this team to win the AFC South before the season. RIP. I’m not sure I agree with firing Frank Reich, given he hasn’t had the same quarterback for consecutive seasons since he got there. But regardless of how I feel about firing Reich, you then brought in a coach who has as much coaching experience as I do. Actually check that, I did coach track for 2 years, so he actually has less! And I would have understood it if they were trying to tank, and maybe set him up with a high draft pick to be the QB of the future. But no! He went back to Matt Ryan, implying they are trying to win. None of these moves make sense, and if they don’t figure this out quick they are about to enter a coaching carousel the likes of Cleveland Browns past.
Tampa Bay Would be Good…
I didn’t think they would be as good as the last couple years, but there’s still a lot of talent on this roster, and they have Brady! To be 6-7 and barely leading the worst division in football is confounding. But there is a bright spot, and his name is Tom Brady. Everyone calls him “The GOAT”, but really he should be called “The Basilisk”; every time the game is close in the fourth quarter, these teams continue to melt down and freeze when they look into his cold, reptilian eyes. I don’t care what their record is, if he’s in the playoffs and the game is within reach in the 4th, I’m betting on him. Or more accurately, betting on his opponent to self-destruct.
I thought quarterbacks mattered, but clearly I was wrong! The 49ers just get better with every new quarterback they have to trot out there. The Cowboys didn’t skip a beat without Prescott. The Patriots and Jets have played musical chairs with the position all year and somehow are both in the playoff race. Every week, we’re seeing guys throw for less than 200 yards and still win. I’m not sure if this is an anomaly or a trend, but quarterbacks seem to matter less than they did just a year ago.
Now let’s take our final predictions at who will be bringing home some hardware in awards season:
MVP: Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
With all due respect to Jalen Hurts, and you know I love my Eagles, give me a break. Mahomes is the best player in the league and has been for 5 years now. At least with LeBron, we gave him 4 MVP’s before we decided we were tired of him. Poor Mahomes only has 1! It’s absurd, and I fear this drought will continue. I hope everyone who has voted for literally anyone else since 2019 looks back in 20 years and feels like an idiot. Because they are.
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys)
Parsons has been amazing all season, but his lead in this race is shrinking quickly. I still have Parsons, but Nick Bosa is riiiiight there. If the Cowboys lose a couple games down the stretch, or if the Eagles slaughter them in week 16, this award could flip.
Coach of the Year: Nick Siriani (Philadelphia Eagles)
Dabboll was the sexy choice through three months, but the Giants are face planting in front of our eyes. The Eagles, however, continue to roll. I didn’t even want them to hire this guy two years ago, but I stopped singing that tune. Things are starting to feel like 2017 in Philly; 2nd-year coach, great record, great pass rush… Super Bowl? Time will tell, but Siriani should be the Coach of the Year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian Watson (Green Bay Packers)
This award race sucks. There might not be one starting quarterback in this class (come on, Brock Purdy!), and unfortunately the talented wide receivers are almost all saddled with awful quarterbacks (Olave, London, Wilson, Pickens, etc…). At least with Watson, he had a 3-game stretch that was All-Pro worthy. Plus, he’s had to put up with Aaron Rodgers yelling at him all year, so bonus points!
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner (New York Jets)
Not even a discussion, Gardner is the best player from this draft class. The Jets nailed this pick.
Jim Tomsula Worst Coaching Award: Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos)
I stand by it! Sure Frank Reich was fired a month ago. Sure Josh McDaniels has somehow lost to Jeff Saturday and Baker Mayfield off the street. Sure Cliff Kingsbury looked like he had just shit his pants in class and was hoping no one noticed when Kyler Murray screamed at him on the sideline. I see all of these and raise you a Nat Hackett. This guy sucks.
Kirk Cousins You Like That!? Award: Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles)
Look I was upset when they drafted this guy. Really? The guy who got benched in college? And we already have Wentz, who before getting hurt in 2017 was the MVP? Well, now Hurts is in the MVP discussion for a potential 16-1 team, and I am eating my words. I do like that, Jalen. I do like that.
Tim Tebow Award: Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
I mean technically they are already in if the season ended today, but I see the Bucs winning their last 3 games and getting into the postseason on a hot streak. And just like the Tim Tebow Broncos, no one will want to play the Tom Brady Buccaneers.
Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble Award: Zach Wilson (New York Jets)
WE DID IT! We finally got a Jets quarterback for this award! Although this really isn’t fair to Mark Sanchez, because he actually accomplished something in New York. Wilson came back from injury to a really good team, and proceeded to throw for roughly 100 yards a game and give his team 3-10 points. Not great. I’m not ready to say his career is over, but it’s a lot closer than it should be for a second-year player.
Randy Moss Transaction Award: Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins)
Von Miller was excellent for Buffalo, but now that he’s done for the year it has to be Hill. He is having a magical season, and he’s the main reason for the Dolphins turnaround this year.
Now let’s make some revised playoff predictions!
AFC Wildcard Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs
2 Buffalo Bills def 7 Los Angeles Chargers
3 Cincinnati Bengals def 6 Miami Dolphins
4 Tennessee Titans def 5 Baltimore Ravens
The Bills have the better coach, the better defense, the (arguably) better quarterback, and home field advantage. Give me the Bills in a tight one.
Miami is good, but Tua will not be able to go into snowy Cincinnati and beat Joe Burrow. He couldn’t beat him in college, and he can’t beat him in the pros. Give me the Bengals fairly easily.
Titans-Ravens is particularly boring. Neither team has a dangerous aerial attack, but both have excellent coaches. The Titans advance on a game-winning field goal.
NFC Wildcard Round:
1 Philadelphia Eagles
2 Minnesota Vikings def 7 Detroit Lions
3 San Francisco 49ers def 6 Washington Commanders
4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 5 Dallas Cowboys
That’s right, the Lions!!! I think they get in, and I think they get routed by the Vikings. But for Detroit fans, I think you just have to be happy you got invited to the dance, you can’t be picky about who you have to dance with.
Sorry Giants fans, I want to believe in you. But the Commanders have a better defense and a better quarterback (somehow), so I think they get in. But whichever 3rd place NFC East team gets the #6 seed, it matters not; Purdy and the 49ers will make quick work of them.
The only advantage for Dallas in this game is that Mike McCarthy just always looks like he’s been petrified by a basilisk, so things shouldn’t be that different against Brady. But I still think the Bucs find a way to get the win.
AFC Divisional Round:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 4 Tennessee Titans
3 Cincinnati Bengals def 2 Buffalo Bills
The rematch will go very differently between the Chiefs and the Titans. By that, I mean the Chiefs will beat them much worse than they did earlier in the season. Mahomes will be special again, and dissect this Titans secondary.
I picked the Bills before the season to win the Super Bowl, but I’m off of that. I officially believe in the Bengals. I thought they were fraudulent last year, and I felt like I needed to see more. Welp, I’ve seen it. Burrow is legit, and this Bengals team is not the same team I grew up mocking.
NFC Divisional Round:
1 Philadelphia Eagles def 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 San Francisco 49ers def 2 Minnesota Vikings
I do not feel confident in picking my Eagles, but I do feel like they are simply better than Tampa Bay. If it’s close in the 4th I think Brady will win, but fortunately I don’t think this game will be all that close.
The 49ers are going to beat Minnesota’s ass.
AFC Championship Game:
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 1 Cincinnati Bengals
The rematch of the century! Not really, but this will be a big deal for Mahomes. Brady and Burrow are the only two guys that have beaten Mahomes in the playoffs, so here he gets to check one of those names off the list by getting the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship Game:
1 Philadelphia Eagles def 3 San Francisco 49ers
I feel even less confident about this one, but screw it. Philly Philly! Marino was the last rookie to get to the Super Bowl, and as good as I think Purdy has looked, I don’t think he’s Dan Marino. Give me the Eagles, he said cautiously.
1 Kansas City Chiefs def 1 Philadelphia Eagles
(Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes)
Andy Reid gets his revenge by beating his former team, and Mahomes maybe gets some revenge if Hurts steals his MVP. Too much experience, too much skill, and too much Mahomes for the Eagles to get it done.
There you have it! All of my 3rd quarter poll observations from the 2022 NFL season. Make sure to check back in near the middle of January for my playoff predictions!