Analyzing the NFL Offseason, Previewing 2022 Regular Season

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The Rams won the Superbowl to end last season and eliminated the upstart Bengals, who defied the odds while knocking off the Titans and Chiefs on the road. The Rams won it all the very same year they brought Matthew Stafford over from the lowly Detroit Lions. 

Head coach Sean McVay looked like a genius. Los Angeles celebrated their first Superbowl victory since the Rams returned there from Saint Louis a few years before. It has been a busy offseason, with Deshaun Watson going to the Browns, Carson Wentz going to the Commanders, Tyreek Hill leaving Kansas City for Miami, and Russell Wilson heading to the Broncos and the AFC West. We will talk about what to expect going into this new year as we gear up for 2022.

tom brady

Tom Brady Unretired

If you listen to fantasy football news, or you have turned on ESPN at any point in the past few months, you probably already know that Tom Brady unretired. It happened just a few weeks after he officially announcing his retirement shortly after the postseason. Why did the Golden Boy unretire? It’s hard to say.

Pundits feel like Brady looked at his numbers from last year and realized he was still one of the league’s best QBs. The Bucs will probably remain contenders with Brady at the helm, but some doubters feel that they’ve lost too many other pieces to make another serious run in 2022.

Brady will not have Antonio Brown, who couldn’t keep his craziness in check any longer in Tampa Bay. He exhibited some of the same strange behavior in Tampa that he did in Pittsburgh when he removed his jersey and jogged off the field, blowing kisses to the crowd in a game’s late stages.

Brady might not have Rob Gronkowski back either, his long-time safety net and arguably the greatest tight end of all time. Without those weapons, can Brady and the Bucs dominate or even contend? 

One way or another, this is probably Brady’s last year. The Fox network just gave him a 10-year, $375 million contract to talk about football as soon as he finishes playing. That’s got to seem like a better option than taking hits out on the field at 45 years old.

russell-wilson

Russell Wilson to Denver

Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom won a Superbowl in Seattle, that organization’s first. That was several years ago, and the Seahawks have become an also-ran in recent years. 

Without that stifling defense and dynamic offensive players like Marshawn Lynch, Wilson seemed increasingly frustrated. Other teams kept running over his offensive line and introducing him to the turf.

Wilson went to Denver, which means Seattle has gone into full rebuilding mode. Don’t expect anything from them in 2022. As for Denver, some pundits feel they will contend with Wilson, with some going so far as to call them a Superbowl favorite in the AFC. Don’t count on it.

That AFC West also has the Raiders, who made the playoffs last year. It has Kansas City, which still has arguably the league’s best QB in Patrick Mahomes, even though he lost his best target, Tyreek Hill, who headed to the Dolphins. That division should be fun to watch.

Can Cincinnati Get Back to the Big Dance?

The Bengals suddenly looked legit in Week 17 last year when they beat the Chiefs in Cincinnati to win the AFC North. Joe Burrow said he expected to win, but it is one thing to expect that result and another to deliver, especially for a team with fifty-plus years without a championship.

The Bengals then went on an improbable playoff run. They first beat the Raiders in Cincinnati, their first playoff victory in three decades. They went on the road and beat the number one seeded Titans in Tennessee.

They followed that up by beating Mahomes and the Chiefs a second time to capture the Lamar Hunt trophy, this team in Kansas City. Those were the first two road playoff wins in team history.

They advanced to the Superbowl for the third time and ultimately lost a close, defensive-minded matchup to the LA Rams. It is not clear whether all that means sustained dominance in the AFC or whether that magical run was an aberration.

It’s hard to find consistent success in the NFL. However, the Browns, Steelers, and Ravens all appear flawed going into 2022, at least on paper. Don’t let it surprise you if the Bengals win that division again and make another title run.

Deshaun Watson and the Browns

Deshaun Watson’s stock fell in Houston when masseuses started coming out of the woodwork, accusing him of sexual misconduct and assault. He ended up in Cleveland, proving that the Browns cared a lot more about winning than appearing like a classy organization.

It seems Watson will escape criminal prosecution, but that does not mean the civil suits against him have concluded. Those have yet to play out in court, and the NFL has yet to rule on whether it will suspend him.

That means Watson could take the field for the Browns in Week 1, or maybe not for the entire year. If it’s the latter, then where does not leave Baker Mayfield? The former number one pick says the Browns disrespected him, and he’s not wrong.

Mayfield led the team to a win over the hated rival Steelers in the playoffs, but the Browns showed they had no faith in him at all by trading for Watson. They might trade Mayfield to another team, but so far, no other franchise has expressed much of an interest. Many people feel bad for the guy, who played his heart out for Cleveland, even while dealing with serious injuries.

This has been a crazy offseason, and it’s not over yet. By the time the new season rolls around, America should feel more than ready for some football. They’ll see old faces in new places, and, as always, surprises should abound.

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