By: David Connors
We are closing in on the kick off for the 2022 NFL season! It is time for my 10 bold predictions. You will read some of these and think, “that’s nuts.” However, I want to remind readers that is the point. These are not my mild takes, these are my spiciest bold takes for the NFL season. So without further ado, my 10 bold predictions.
#1 Jeffery Simmons Wins Defensive Player of the Year
Jeffery Simmon, Defensive Tackle for the Tennessee Titans will be the DPoY. Alright, so this one really is not that spicy. I decided to begin with my most mild prediction. Aaron Donald should win DPoY every year, however the voters have shown us they have grown quite bored of voting for him and are willing to vote for anyone who is comparable. Simmons is easily the most disruptive force at DT in the NFL not named Aaron Donald.
#2 New Orleans Saints Win the NFC South
Still keeping the spice at a mild level with this one, but I think the Saints had one of the best “under the radar” off seasons I have ever seen. When the offseason started the Saints were about $80 million over the cap. They had some of the worst pass catchers in the NFL. They not only managed to get under the salary cap without taking any major losses, they had enough to make a few impact signings like Tyrann Mathieu, Jarvis Landry, and Marcus Maye. They traded up to get their favorite receiver in the draft, Chris Olave out of Ohio State, and an Impact LT with Trevor Penning. This entire season will fall on Jameis Winston to not make costly mistakes.
Now Tampa Bay fans may have some push back, however this team has some real concerns on offense. The Buccaneers middle offensive line is completely new this year with Ali Marpet retiring, Alex Cappa signing in Cincinnati, and Ryan Jensen out for the season. Tom Brady’s weakness has always been pressure up the middle, and the Buccaneers can start slow out of the gates as the new offensive line takes time to mesh. This could be all the Saints need to take an early lead and hold it for the 2022 regular season.
#3 USFL Star KaVontae Turpin Score 6+ Touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys
This one is a Dallas Cowboys specific prediction, which happens to be the team I follow the closest. KaVontae Turpin is really fast (hashtag analysis), even on a field with the best athletes in the world. He had both a kick return and punt return for a touchdown in the preseason. With Dallas hurting for weapons to start the regular season, Turpin will see some plays that design him into space. Whether it be in special teams or on an End Around, Turpin will score 6 or more touchdowns this season. Unfortunately, I do not think they will be predictable enough to make him a fantasy asset.
#4 New England Patriots come in last for the AFC East for the First Time in NFL History
This one is simple. Their arrow seems to be pointing down while every other team seems to be improving. I do not like betting against Bill Belichick, however, this team is void of any superstar talent, and their offense looks like a mess coming into September. This will be the first time the Patriots lose their division.
#5 Brandon Aiyuk Leads the San Francisco 49ers in Receiving Yards
The 49ers gave Deebo Samuels bags of cash this offseason, however, it will be former 1st round draft pick Brandon Aiyuk that carries the 49ers through the air. Aiyuk is coming into his 3rd season and it is clear he came into this offseason ready to earn his position and not be in Kyle Shanahan's dog house. He also has the same offseason speed and conditioning coach as starting QB Trey Lance, and there is a clear friendship brewing including Kupp/Stafford like breakfasts. Samuels also missed part of training camp while “holding in” for a new contract giving Aiyuk more time to mesh with Lance. The drum beat out of camp is that Lance looks for his buddy when dropping back to pass.
#6 Indianapolis Colts SS, Nick Cross Will be Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Third Round rookie, Nick Cross, is already generating Bob Sanders comparisons out of Colts camp. That's pretty high praise! Cross may be undersized but he is an explosive athlete. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine as well as a 130” Broad Jump. He has instincts to play the run, size to cover Tight Ends, and the quickness and spatial awareness to cover slot receivers. How was he available in the Third Round?!
#7 Courtland Sutton leads the NFL in Receiving Yards.
In a year when there are incredible receivers like Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, or Jamar Chase, it will be Denver Broncos WR, Courtland Sutton, who leads the NFL in receiving yards. Sutton is another year removed from his knee injury in 2020 and has his best quarterback throwing him the ball that he has ever had. Ben Albright has said that Sutton is the clear number 1 receiver in Denver over Jerry Judy. The Broncos defense will take a step back without Vic Fangio as the Head Coach. On top of all that they play in the AFC West which should generate several high-scoring games. In fact, Vegas odds makers have the AFC matchups making up 8 of the 16 games that are projected over 50 points. Sutton will be a fantasy football MVP.
#8 Philadelphia Eagles Represent the NFC in the Super Bowl
The Philadelphia Eagles roster is one of the most complete rosters top to bottom, and as I mentioned earlier, I am a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan. They are the best team on both sides of the trenches, the secondary is finally looking complete with the additions of James Bradberry and CJ Gardner-Johnson. The only Achilles Heel of this team is their QB, Jalen Hurts. If he can take the next step in his development, this team can be an unstoppable force, and the Eagles have given him weapons for days. DeVonta Smith will be joined by Titans superstar, AJ Brown to give Hurts one of the best starting 2 WRs in the NFL. I think the Eagles will face the Los Angeles Chargers in a memorable Super Bowl LVII.
#9 Jacksonville Jaguars Win the AFC South
I saved my two spiciest bold predictions for last. The worst team from 2022, not only gets into the playoffs in 2023, they win their division. Let's first talk about the division. The Houston Texans look better, but they are still a year away from being a year away. The top seed in the AFC last season, the Tennessee Titans, have a shaky foundation. They traded one of their biggest difference makers in AJ Brown and Derrick Henry is coming off a foot injury that held him out of most of 2022. The offensive line (on paper) is worse. They will be leaning on the aforementioned Jeffery Simmons and Derrick Henry to carry both sides of the ball. I think the starting roster is good, but their depth is worrisome. Finally, the Colts are finally ready to take the division with the 5th QB in 5 years. I think Matt Ryan makes the Colts a better team, but still not good enough to beat the Jaguars. I think this division comes down to the Jags and the Colts.
Now, let's talk about the Jaguar! This coaching situation was one of the worst I have ever witnessed. The best thing that can be said about Urban Meyers as Head Coach of the Jags is that he was an overqualified child. The pass catchers for this team were absurdly bad. Marvin Jones and Dan Arnold were legitimate NFL pass catchers. Beyond that, they were relying on former Lions DB Jamal Agnew and washed-up Laquon Treadwell. There are multiple plays where receivers were running into each other or flat-out running the wrong route. The amount of adversity rookie QB, Trevor Lawrence had to endure last year is absurd and he handled it professionally. Now he does not have to be the adult in a room full of children. He has NFL pass catchers and a Head Coach who has a Super Bowl ring. On the defense, this team is huge in the front 7. Incoming rookies Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker help make this a perfect defense to go up against Jonathan Taylor of the Colts and Derrick Henry of the Titans.
#10 Trevor Lawrence Wins MVP
This final bold prediction is the Carolina Reaper of Bold Predictions. Many NFL analysts have called Lawrence a bust after a horrific rookie season. Nevertheless, for many of the reasons listed above, I think Lawrence reminds everyone why he was the highest touted QB since Andrew Luck. Why he was projected as a future NFL Hall of Famer as a freshman in High School. Lawrence is a stud and his play will drag the Jaguars out of the dumpsters of the NFL.