Image Credit: (Mark Konezny/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
We are a day away before the kickoff of the 2022 NFL Season. I am excited and hyped for regular season football to be back. During the hype I always love to predict the division winners along with the win total odds being over or under for each NFL Team. So Like I did last year I will start with the AFC and give my win total predictions and division winners. But for 2022 I think I want to add to it by giving my prediction of who will be in the playoffs for the AFC.
Now before we look at the 2022 season, I want to go back and see how I did in my 2021 Schedule prediction. For win totals for teams in the AFC I went 6-7-3, which is not great as I had more bad picks then good ones, but I at least got the Division Winners mostly right, excluding the AFC North.
Best Prediction 2021: New England Patriots
Has to be the New England Patriots as not only did I nail the over/under slot, but I predicted that New England would get 10 wins and that is exactly what they did.
Worst Prediction 2021: Cincinnati Bengals
This one was a tough one as a lot of my picks that were bad fell through due to injury, but I have to go with the Cincinnati Bengals prediction due to the obvious. They were a team I said were the worst team in the division and that Zac Taylor would be fired at the end of the season. Clearly those were wrong.
So now that I took a brief look at how I did, let's get into the predictions. Now keep in mind I got the win total numbers from Vegas Insider’s Website
Baltimore Ravens (Win Total Odd: 10.5)
Last year the Baltimore Ravens became a medical facility where a large chunk of their team was injured. It was to the point where the Ravens had to rely on scrubs to play certain positions. I got to say even though they have not played a game yet, the season has already gotten better as there is no season ending injury on this team, well except for the mascot Poe. But I am very high on the Baltimore Ravens, just look at the moves they made last season, there is improvement in almost every position on this team. Plus with all the injuries they had last year and still winning 8 games is impressive and this is an absolute over here.
Cincinnati Bengals (Win Total Odd: 9.5)
I am stunned that this number is not double digit win totals right now. Maybe Vegas thinks that the Bengals performance last season could be a fluke, which I don’t blame as everything went right for the Bengals last season. But, the Bengals are a very complete team now that they finally invested in the offensive line during the offseason. Yes I know Burrow is coming surgery for his appendix, but he should be ready to go for week 1. I am taking the over win total here and unless injuries occur, this is a double win team.
Cleveland Browns (Win Total Odd: 8.5)
Now that we truly know how long Deshaun Watson’s suspension will be at 11 games, I can now finally predict about this team. However I got to say this is the hardest pick to make throughout the entire AFC Conference. I am a pro Jacoby Brissett guy and I think he is a very dependable quarterback in this league. He may not give others a lot of confidence, but not with me. Excluding the QB position, there is a lot of talent on this team. I think the Browns defense is a Top 10 defense in the NFL. Their o-line is good and they have weapons on this team. I do think that even when Watson returns, he is going to be rusty. This could go either or for me and it is a no bet for me, but my gut is telling me to go slightly under.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Win Total Odd: 7.5)
I got to say, this is the first time in awhile that I am very excited to see the Steelers play. I have not had this feeling since they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs in 2017. I think this team absolutely upgraded at the quarterback position whether it is Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett starting. I know Mason Rudolph is somehow still on the roster, but come on he is not starting until Trubisky and Pickett get hurt. They made investments on the offensive line which should have been done years ago. Their defense is still pretty solid, and they have one of the best coaches in the NFL in Mike Tomlin. I think this number is too low, so I am going to take the over. However, I just don’t see them winning the division.
AFC North Division Winner:
It is either going to be the Bengals or the Ravens that win this division. On the AFC North pod I said that Cincinnati takes this division. But I don’t think it is a shoe in for the Bengals as the Ravens, if all goes right, could take this division. I am still going to stick with what I said and stay with Cincinnati as my AFC North Division Winner, but I am not as confident as I was weeks ago,
Houston Texans (Win Total Odd: 4.5)
This one is an easy one for me in this entire AFC Conference, I will take the under here. This team is terrible, poorly run and I don’t have hope for this team at all. Maybe Davis Mills could be something as he showed promise last season, but he had moments where he made awful throws. The only player on offense that I am very high on this season, is RB Dameon Pierce. With Marlon Mack getting cut this role is all Pierce’s role and It will be very cool to see how the Texans. This defense has young unproven pieces, but they are not a great defense. I will respect Lovie Smith the person, but is he really an upgrade at coach over David Culley? I mean he was promoted after the team let Culley go, which makes the move of getting rid of Culley make less sense. Then again Jack Easterby is still a part of this organization for some reason and it still makes no sense. Can someone please explain to me why that is again? Smith has not been a great head coach since he left Chicago. His time with the Buccaneers was a flop and he was horrendous as the coach for the University of Illinois. This team is way too far from where they should be and I just don’t see them getting 5 wins unless things go in the right direction. I see the Texans picking in the Top 5 yet again at the end of the season. It would not surprise me if Lovie Smith is one and done, but it would be a bad look for this team to do that to another head coach. Take the under here as the trust level for the team is low and they are not a great bult team.
Indianapolis Colts (Win Total Odd: 9.5)
This is a big year for the Indianapolis Colts as they need to make the playoffs in order to save jobs in that organization. The Carson Wentz tenure was a disaster and I still can’t get over that disgraceful performance week 18 against the Jaguars where it was a shoe in for them to win and they blew it. I am a pro Frank Reich guy and I think he is a solid coach, but my confidence level job wise for 2023 is not high for me unless they make the playoffs. With Wentz gone this team decided to go back to the Philip Rivers route by getting an older veteran QB with Matt Ryan. Look I respect Matt Ryan and I think he is a great quarterback, but thinking about it the past few weeks, I am not so sure Ryan is a tremendous upgrade if he is not surrounded by a lot of receivers to throw the ball to. Except for Michael Pittman and maybe Alec Pierce if he develops well, the Colts don’t really have great options for Ryan to throw to. The defense is pretty solid, even though there are question marks at the cornerback. I think this is a fair win total odds here for the Colts and I see this team winning 8 or 9 games. I will take the under here.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Win Total Odd: 6.5)
Last year was a disastrous season for the Jaguars during the Urban Meyer era days. Honestly he might be in the Top 5 worst coaches in NFL history. Doug Pederson is definitely an upgrade at coach, but I wonder if he learned his lesson after the way he left the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Jaguars get the Superbowl coach version of Pederson, then they should be a solid team, but if they get the latest version of him, then their team could be a disaster. But when looking at this team talent wise there are a lot of interesting pieces. Trevor Lawrence should definitely improve from last year and if he doesn’t then there is a problem. They invested a lot in free agency this season. As this is my second favorite team, I hope that the Jags are a great team. I definitely see them improving from last season, but I am going with the under here. I see the Jags getting 5 or 6 wins.
Tennessee Titans (Win Total Odd: 9.5)
Every year when it comes to this time of the year, I really don’t know what to think of the Titans. I think talent wise they are the best team in this division. However, there is something really weird that follows this team. Maybe I still feel that way due to the AJ Brown trade, but I think the Titans o-line is still solid. I would say the same for their defense, but DE/EDGE Harold Landry suffered a Torn ACL and is going to be out for the season. That is a big loss as he was probably the best defensive player on that team last season not named Kevin Byard. I originally was very high and thought Tennessee was a shoe in to win this division, but with that injury made me lower my confidence. To be honest, I really could see Malik Willis starting for the Titans this season if it all goes bad or Tannehill gets hurt. I am going to go with the slight over as I still think that the Titans will get 10 wins if Derrick Henry stays healthy and continues to dominate.
AFC South Division Winner: Tennessee Titans
You can make a case for anybody to win this division, except for Houston. I have to stick with my gut and go with the Titans taking this division as I feel they have less question marks and they're more of a complete team.
Buffalo Bills (Win Total Odd: 11.5)
I think it is safe to say that the Bills did a great job improving their three big needs in the offseason, Cornerback, Running back, and interior offensive line. They even added Von Miller during free agency who should be an excellent leader/veteran on this defense. This team is very talented and I would even agree saying that the Bills are the best team on paper in the NFL. Unless injuries occur, I just don’t see how the Bills can’t get to 12 wins. So I will be going with the over bet here.
Miami Dolphins (Win Total Odd: 8.5)
I got to say despite getting some talented players in the offseason, it has also been a disaster for the Dolphins at the same time. They lost draft capital with the whole tampering stuff with both Sean Payton and Tom Brady, downgraded at head coach, and there are more questions added than solved in the offseason. This is one of the harder teams to pick as this season falls upon Tua Tagovailoa. Look I am a pro Tua guy, but this is his last chance to show that he is the guy at QB. If he fails to impress, then it would not shock me if Tua is playing for a new team next year. I don’t think Miami will be horrible, but a mediocre team. I am going to go with the under as I think 8.5 is a fair odd.
New England Patriots (Win Total Odd: 8.5)
This may be my boldest pick here in this division, but I am going for it. I am going with the under here. Do you really trust this offense being run by two hacks in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge? There are not even offensive minded coaches and look at how bad their offenses were run when both were the head coach of their respective teams. Even though Mac Jones was pretty solid last year, I am really not so sure about him. Even though there is a lot to like about this team, the Patriots heavily botched that draft. They really reached on some of their selections. The wide receiver room is still a bit of a question mark, and I have no idea what is going on at the Tight End position. It would not even shock me if New England just falls apart on one hand and on the other they thrive. I just don’t think they can thrive with too many unknowns so under.
New York Jets (Win Total Odd: 5.5)
I was bewildered when I first saw this number as to me it is way too low. If the Jets don’t get 6 wins this season, then Robert Saleh needs to be fired. I mean seriously why would Vegas have this as the win/loss odds. All the improvements made on this team and another year of development for Zach Wilson, there is no excuse. Especially with how this defense was bolstered in the offseason and the improvements they made on offense. I am not asking for this team to make the playoffs as I don’t think they will, but I just want to see improvement on this team and some hope at the end of the season that the Jets may truly be a great team. Of course I am going with the over bet here. I will say this though, if Wilson suffers another injury and is out for the year, then this is a lost year as Flacco is terrible.
AFC East Division Winner: Buffalo Bills
I mean, is there really a debate here? There really should not be one as the Buffalo Bills easily take this division no question.
Denver Broncos (Win Total Odd: 10.5)
There is a lot to like about the Denver Broncos right now. I mean looking at last year this team had a ton of talent to make the playoffs, but were missing two important components: consistency at the QB position and a good coach. Now who knows how Nathaniel Hackett will do as the head coach, but we can easily agree that Russell Wilson is an upgrade at the QB position. Hopefully he can stay healthy as injuries clearly took their toll last season, but even I’d take a banged up Wilson over an injury prone Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock who like I said is a scrub. Now losing WR Tim Patrick is a loss as he was supposed to have a part on this offense, but the Broncos have depth at receiver and maybe one player can stand out. I really don’t see a weakness on this defense excluding maybe linebacker. I do believe that this is the right odds for the Broncos to have. I am going to go with the slight over as I see this team at 11 wins this season.
Kansas City Chiefs (Win Total Odd: 10.5)
The Chiefs had a ton of moving parts during the offseason, especially when the team traded Tyreek Hill. I got to say though, this is just way too low of a win total. The Chiefs helped build this team further both on offense and defense. This team is still strongly coached with Andy Reid and they have the best QB in the entire league in Patrick Mahomes. In my opinion this is the most trustworthy team in the division and I am going with the over here. I can see the Chiefs winning around 13 or 14 wins.
Los Angeles Chargers (Win Total Odd: 10.5)
Out of all the teams in this division I got to say, I think this team is very overrated. Yes they have talent, but they have a lot of question marks surrounding their team. Many have disagreed with me here, but I am not so sure Brandon Staley is a good head coach. Like I said in the AFC West Podcast, there were many times that Staley made very questionable calls and moves during his first season. The talent is there and they have the pieces to make a push, but this team always gets derailed by injuries, poor special teams play, or bad coaching. The injuries are already here as CB J.C. Jackson recently had ankle surgery and will be out the first few weeks of the season. Also on the offensive side rookie RB Isiaah Spiller as well is dealing with an ankle injury that could take him out a few weeks. The Chargers better hope that Khalil Mack is healthy as he was another big addition to this defense. On Offense they have pieces, but I don’t think they have a ton of depth on this team. I am going to go with the under here.
Las Vegas Raiders (Win Total Odd: 8.5)
The 2021 NFL Season was one the darkest seasons that franchise has ever had in their history. All the off the field stuff and they came out and made the playoffs. It was very impressive and kudos to everyone in that locker room and Rich Bisaccia. The Raiders have a lot of talent on that team both on offense and defense. The big move was acquiring Davante Adams via trade and this team needed a true number 1 receiver. The Raiders even made a solid selection in RB Zamir White to bolster the running game along with Josh Jacobs. Hopefully he won’t be as terrible of a selection as Alex Leatherwood was, dear god what a waste of a first round pick. This defense is pretty good and got better by adding Chandler Jones. However, the one problem here is of course coaching. Out of all the coaches they decided to hire Josh McDaniels, because his tenure in Denver went so successfully am I right. I mean remember with all the controversy that surrounded him during his time there it was bad. Plus we all know how a majority of Belichick's coaching tree does once they leave New England. He really makes or breaks this team for me as no matter how talented a team is, coaching can make or break any team. I could see this team going either way and I would stay far away from betting the over/under for the Raiders, but I am going to go take the under for Las Vegas as I am not confident in this team with McDaniels as the coach.
AFC West Division Winner: Kansas City Cheifs
It is either going to be the Denver Broncos or the Kansas City Chiefs winning this division. I feel that the Chiefs get the slight advantage here as they have the better coach and are a more trustworthy team. But I could see Denver get this division if the dice rolls the right way for them.
As for my Playoff Predictions seed wise I have them listed down below.
1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Tennessee Titans
5. Denver Broncos
6. Baltimore Ravens
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Who will represent the AFC in the Superbowl?
Last year my pick was the Buffalo Bills, as I thought they were the most complete team in the AFC. Well it did not work out, however I really like how they bolstered the team this year. I am once again picking the Buffalo Bills to represent the AFC in the Superbowl this season. I will even add on to the prediction, by saying in the AFC Championship game, they finally beat the Kansas City Chiefs in that game.