With the 2022 NFL season just a few hours away, The Circuit predicts every aspect of the season, from win-loss records to major awards. How does your team look this season? Check out what The Circuit has to say!
Fall is in the air, and that means Tom Brady is rising from his hyperbaric chamber after his five month slumber and football is back baby! Can the Rams repeat? Will the Chiefs miss Tyreek Hill? How many weeks will it take to get used to Joe Buck & Troy Aikman on MNF? We answer all your questions and more!
First, we’re mixing things up and starting with the individual awards! I predict the five major NFL awards, as well as five of my classic novelty awards. Here we go!
NFL MVP: Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
This is the year of Josh Allen. After he couldn’t last 13 seconds last playoffs (this is the best sex joke I could make. Feel free to insert your own quick-draw joke), he is on a revenge tour that will result in winning the league MVP and leading Buffalo to the best record in the league.
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Jalen Ramsey (Los Angeles Rams)
I’ve thought Ramsey has been one of the best defensive players in the league for years now, and I think this is the year he finally gets recognized. The Rams will have a phenomenal defense, and Ramsey will be the biggest reason why.
NFL Coach of the Year: Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings)
I love this Vikings team. O’Connell will unleash Cousins, Jefferson and Cook and guide Minnesota to a phenomenal season in his rookie year as coach.
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Malik Willis (Tennessee Titans)
This is a crapshoot. There are no rookie QBs starting (as of week 1), so I took a chance here on a rookie that could end up starting at some point. Tannehill is not the long-term answer for the Titans, but Willis could be. Look for Willis to flash some signs of brilliance and a brighter future in Nashville. Probably. Maybe. Who knows?
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions)
This kid is going to be special. I love that he’s playing close to home, and I think the Lions will be much improved in large part thanks to Hutchinson.
Jim Tomsula Awful Coaching Award: Bill Belichik (New England Patriots)
I’m going to just wait a minute for you to regain a pulse after reading that, because you did in fact read that correctly. Still waiting. Stilllllll waiting. Okay, let me explain: Belichik is obviously not the worst coach in the league, that distinction belongs to Mike McCarthy in Dallas. However, I’m pretty sure Bill lost his mind this offseason by having his former defensive coordinator calling plays on OFFENSE. I think he has completely bungled his staff, so he gets the worst coach award. See? There was some logic there.
Kirk Cousins “You Like That?” Award: Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins)
This award goes to the quarterback who proves the haters wrong. I don’t think Tua is an elite QB, but I do think adding Hill will help him tremendously. I see Tua being just good enough to get Miami into the playoffs and make people stop questioning him… for now.
Tim Tebow Playoff Charge Award: Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints)
This award goes to the QB who gets hot late and leads his team to the playoffs. Tua already got a novelty award, and I don’t think Miami will charge late to get in. Kyler Murray was close for this one, but I don’t think Arizona actually gets in. I think the Saints will start slow with a new coach, but they will get hot late and sneak into the playoffs on Winston’s shoulders.
Randy Moss Most Impactful Acquisition Award: Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos)
In 2007, Moss went to the Patriots and elevated them to 18-0 and caught a record 23 touchdowns. This award goes to the player who has the biggest impact on their new team, and that is Mr. Russell Wislon. The Broncos have been a QB away since Manning, and finally they have one. With that defense and those receivers, Wilson will get Denver back in the playoffs.
Mark Sanchez Butt-Fumble Award: Mitch Trubisky (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Remember when Mark Sanchez ran directly into the ass of his lineman on Thanksgiving? Of course you do, we all do. This award goes to the quarterback who runs into the metaphorical anus of his 330 pound lineman and blows his opportunity. I see the Steelers going to Pickett by Halloween, thus meaning Trubisky missed his second chance at being a starter in the league. Side note, Trey Lance is a sneaky contender for this award… if he doesn’t play well, the 49ers could just keep Jimmy G and move on from Lance.
This year I decided I’m not projecting win-loss totals, but just sticking to over/unders because they’re more fun and this serves as a gambling guide to my degenerate brethren. However I was interested in how often teams had the advantage at quarterback? To determine this, I created a QB Quadrant system I made up. The system is quite simple: I rank all 32 (projected) starting quarterbacks into 4 separate quadrants; The Tom Hanks Quadrant, the Kevin James Quadrant, the Nicholas Cage Quadrant & the James Corden Quadrant (more on those names in a bit).
Next to each name is the win-loss record for each team based solely on the quarterback. For every game this season, whichever team had their quarterback in the higher quadrant, they won. If the two QBs were in the same quadrant, the home team got the nod. Still follow? Also important to note the names are in alphabetical order; I put them in groups but I did not rank them 1-32.
I decided to use this model because quarterbacks drive the league. If you have a good quarterback, you will be a good team. If you do not, you won’t be. With so many unpredictable variables, the one thing you can always look to to determine success is the quarterback.
Without further ado, here are my QB Quadrants!
Tom Hanks Quadrant (These guys can do it all by themselves. Just like Hanks can open a movie, these guys can carry a team with no help. See Cast Away)
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) 15-2
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) 16-1
Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) 14-3
Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers) 15-2
Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams) 13-4
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) 13-4
Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos) 14-3
Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) 17-0
Kevin James Quadrant (These guys need some help from the supporting cast. If they have to do it alone, it won’t be pretty. If they’re in an ensemble, they shine. See Grown Ups vs. Zookeeper)
Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) 11-6
Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders) 8-9
Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints) 9-8
Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings) 14-3
Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) 9-8
Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) 11-6
Matt Ryan (Indianapolis Colts) 10-7
Ryan Tannenhill (Tennessee Titans) 10-7
Nicholas Cage Quadrant (50/50 these guys mess around and make the playoffs, or they mess around and give you a top-five pick. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s Pig, sometimes it’s Willy’s Wonderland)
Baker Mayfield (Carolina Panthers) 8-9
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles) 8-9
Jared Goff (Detroit Lions) 9-8
Mac Jones (New England Patriots) 5-12
Mitch Trubisky (Pittsburgh Steelers) 4-13
Trevor Lawerence (Jacksonville Jaguars) 5-12
Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) 6-11
Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins) 8-9
James Corden Quadrant (These guys give you a shot at the #1 pick. If you’re playing them, you’re delighted. If they’re your quarterback, you’re drinking early on Sundays. See Cats)
Carson Wentz (Washington Commanders) 2-15
Daniel Jones (New York Giants) 3-14
Davis Mills (Houston Texans) 1-16
Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks) 3-14
Jacoby Brissett (Cleveland Browns) 6-11
Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) 2-15
Marcus Mairota (Atlanta Falcons) 2-15
Zach Wilson (New York Jets) 1-16
Now obviously I don’t believe those will be the final records for each team, but I do think those win totals are indicators of what we could see this season; The Bengals were a team I was down on heading into this season, but with QB/Home Field advantage in 16 of their 17 games, it’s hard to imagine them not making the playoffs. The Vikings were another surprise team with 14 advantage games. On the flip-side, The Commanders could be in for a rough season with only 2 advantage games, and the Jets… well, that was kind of expected.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the divisions! We will go through each division and pick the over/under for all 32 teams!
Buffalo Bills (Over/Under=11.5 wins) OVER
Miami Dolphins (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER
New England Patriots (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER
New York Jets (Over/Under=5.5 wins) UNDER
The Bills over/under of 11.5 is a joke. Short of Allen snapping his femur (please knock on every piece of wood you can find), how do they lose 6 games? The Dolphins and Patriots are close, and I see them each being within 1.5 games of their total. And the Jets will be bad, but they’re a young team. And we’ve seen that Zach Wilson plays better with older people (if you don’t get that joke, Google it. You won’t regret it.)
Cincinnati Bengals (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER
Baltimore Ravens (Over/Under=10.5 wins) UNDER
Pittsburgh Steelers (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER
Cleveland Browns (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER
This is not a great division. If Watson was playing every game, I would have Cleveland winning the North fairly easily, but missing 75% of the season will sink them. Pittsburgh will be starting a rookie by Halloween, and the Ravens don’t have anyone for Jackson to throw to. The Bengals will win this division by default, squeaking out the over on 9.5 wins.
Indianapolis Colts (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER
Tennessee Titans (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER
Jacksonville Jaguars (Over/Under=6.5 wins) OVER
Houston Texans (Over/Under=4.5 wins) UNDER
The Colts drastically improved at quarterback, and with a top-five running back AND offensive line, they should be really good. The Titans will take a small step back after losing Brown and Tannenhill coming back yet again. My big swing here is Jacksonville; I believe in Lawrence! He is too good to be a bust, so I’m chalking last year up to Urban Meyer and rolling with Pederson (who coached my Eagles to a Super Bowl victory) coaching this team to 7 wins. And Houston will be atrocious.
Kansas City Chiefs (Over/Under=10.5 wins) OVER
Los Angeles Chargers (Over/Under=10.5 wins) OVER
Denver Broncos (Over/Under=10.5 wins) UNDER
Las Vegas Raiders (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER
Is it possible that this could be the best division of all-time? I said the same thing about the NFC West last year and Russell Wilson took a dump in that punch bowl, so he may screw me again. But I see all of these teams competing for the playoffs with three 10-win teams and a 9-win Raiders squad.
Philadelphia Eagles (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER
Dallas Cowboys (Over/Under=10.5 wins) UNDER
New York Giants (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER
Washington Commanders (Over/Under=7.5 wins) UNDER
Full disclosure, I am an Eagles fan. I have been pessimistic about this team for a while; I don’t believe in Hurts and this coach is wait-and-see. But the more I look around the NFC East, I can’t make the case for any other team winning this division. I never feel great about betting on my team, but I can’t stay away from Philly.
Minnesota Vikings (Over/Under=9.5 wins) OVER
Green Bay Packers (Over/Under=10.5 wins) UNDER
Detroit Lions (Over/Under=6.5 wins) UNDER
Chicago Bears (Over/Under=6.5 wins) UNDER
I am wayyyyy over on the Vikings. This team is going to light up defenses across the league. The Packers are going to take a step back now that Rodgers has literally no one to throw to, and the Bears could be biblically inept on offense. The Lions were a tough call for me, because I do think they will be much improved. I ultimately think they are a 6-win team, so they also get the under.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over/Under=11.5 wins) UNDER
New Orleans Saints (Over/Under=8.5 wins) OVER
Carolina Panthers (Over/Under=6.5 wins) OVER
Atlanta Falcons (Over/Under=4.5 wins) OVER
Tampa will be good, but not 12-wins good. The Saints are going to be a sneaky contender this year with Winston and a much-improved receiving group. Carolina is going to surprise a lot of people with Baker and CMac, and I even think the Falcons could be sneaky-frisky this year.
Los Angeles Rams (Over/Under=10.5 wins) OVER
San Francisco 49ers (Over/Under=9.5 wins) UNDER
Arizona Cardinals (Over/Under=8.5 wins) UNDER
Seattle Seahawks (Over/Under=5.5 wins) UNDER
If you’re counting along, you know I just picked 18 under’s and 14 over’s, which goes against my even-split philosophy but I looked back and couldn’t justify switching any of them. I don’t buy into the Rams having a hangover with that much talent, but after them this division is a mess. The Cardinals are going to take a big step back, the Seahawks are in no-man's land and the 49ers are a lock for 9-8.
Now that the gambling is out of the way, it’s time to make some playoff predictions!
AFC Wild Card Round:
2 Kansas City Chiefs def 7 Miami Dolphins
3 Cincinnati Bengals def 6 Denver Broncos
5 Los Angeles Chargers def 4 Indianapolis Colts
The Chiefs will get to show Hill that they didn’t need him, which will be fun to watch. The Broncos will have a great regular season but come up short at Cincy, and I see Herbert taking the next-next step and going into Indianapolis and upsetting the Colts.
NFC Wild Card Round:
2 Minnesota Vikings def 7 New Orleans Saints
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 6 San Francisco 49ers
5 Green Bay Packers def 4 Philadelphia Eagles
Did I mention I love this Vikings team? They roll the Saints. Tom Brady delivers yet another playoff win against his future team (I said what I said), and the Eagles will not be able to fly as high as Rodgers will during their matchup.
AFC Divisional Round:
1 Buffalo Bills def 5 Los Angeles Chargers
2 Kansas City Chiefs def 3 Cincinnati Bengals
Both the Chargers and the Bengals will finally show their true colors in this round, going up against truly great teams.
NFC Divisional Round:
1 Los Angeles Rams def 5 Green Bay Packers
2 Minnesota Vikings def 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We know Rodgers can’t come up big in the playoffs, so he will once again fall short of the Super Bowl against the reigning champs. The other game will be stunning for some people, but like I said I love this Vikings team. You like that, Tom Brady??
AFC Conference Championship:
1 Buffalo Bills def 2 Kansas City Chiefs
This is the most highly-anticipated game of the year. The rematch that everyone wants, but this time Josh Allen lasts more than 13 seconds and gets the Bills over the hump and back to the Super Bowl.
NFC Conference Championship:
1 Los Angeles Rams def 2 Minnesota Vikings
I wanted to so badly, but I couldn’t pick the Vikings to go all the way. The Rams are loaded with a great coach, the best receiver in the league and maybe the best defensive player of all-time.
1 Buffalo Bills def 1 Los Angeles Rams (Super Bowl MVP: Josh Allen)
They finally did it! The year of Josh Allen will culminate in a Super Bowl victory. Each of these teams have direct parallels: The Bills remind me of the 2014 San Antonio Spurs; a team that came so close to winning the championship, suffered excruciating heartbreak, and came back the next year to go full Dany Targaryen on the league and win the title. The Rams remind me of the 2014 Seattle Seahawks; won the Super Bowl, got back the following year but came up just short.
There you have it! All my predictions for the 2022 NFL season, the year of the Buffalo. The Rams and the Chiefs will be good, but no one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! Make sure to check back in towards the end of September for my 1st Quarter Polls to see what I got right and more importantly, what I got wrong!