The 2022 NFL season was full of surprises, because new players in new teams completely changed the balance of power not only in their divisions, but in the NFL as a whole. Quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl, wide receiver Ja Marr Chase led the Cincinnati Bengals to a postseason run, and rookie quarterback Mack Jones led Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots back into the game.
It wasn’t all about the newcomers, but seeing some young players take important steps in their development that helped their teams in a big way, like Las Vegas Raiders wideout Hunter Renfrow and Tennessee Titans defensive end Jeffrey Simmons. Who will be the players who will change the balance of power in the NFL in the coming season?
Below, we’ll pick one player in each division to help their teams win the division crown in 2022. Players from teams that won their division in 2021 are not eligible for this list. For this reason, the tiger jumped here.
Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
Of all the wild wide receiver dramas we’ve seen this offseason, trading Tyreek Hill might be the most surprising move. The perennial All-Pro takes his talents to South Beach and adds a unique element to Mike McDaniel’s offense. While everyone can agree that Patrick Mahomes is a better quarterback than Tua Tagovailoa, that doesn’t mean there will be low-light reels of Hill’s throws this year or his new signal-caller’s play. Whether he’s torching the free safety or beating defenders inside, Hill can do a lot of offense with a quick burst. Actually, hisFollowing the business was to return points! He’s one of several pieces the Dolphins have added this offseason, and I believe Miami can at least challenge Buffalo in the AFC East.
Odafe O, Baltimore Ravens
Oweh made the Pro Football Writers of America’s NFL All-Rookie team last year with 33 combined tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s off to a promising NFL start after recording zero sacks in his last seven games at Penn State.
Many are predicting that Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman will be added in 2022 — which is great — but can you imagine what it would do for this team if the Ravens grinded a new monster on the sidelines? That secondary will absolutely thrive with Marcus Peters, Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton and Marlon Humphrey. What stands out about Ow is how quick he is around the perimeter, and he looks set for a big campaign. Pass-rusher is a priority position, and the Ravens getting a star there will help in their efforts to get out of there.
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Cols
Vegas is again high on the wall to win the AFC South, although they have not done so since 2014. Matt Ryan is a newcomer who has excited fans in Indy, but it can be No. 1 wide who is very excited. quarter time. Pittman had an impressive second NFL season, catching 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. We could see better numbers from Pittman in 2022 with his talent and perceived improvement at quarterback.
Jonathan Taylor may be the MVP of this offense, but Pittman’s legitimate No. 1 wideout means the Colts will win the division. In addition to getting a new ballplayer, Pittman has plenty of talent around him. Rookie Alec Pierce has made some headlines in camp, and maybe this will be the year Paris Campbell stays healthy.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
The Kansas City Chiefs are still seen as the favorites in the AFC West, even if the rest of the division gets a facelift this season. The Denver Broncos are an interesting team with Russell Wilson added, but the Chargers are my pick to win the division in 2022. If I’m right, it will be in large part because of star player Justin Herbert.
The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year stepped up his game this past season, with 5,014 passing yards and 38 touchdowns on third downs. One has a feeling he’ll be in the MVP conversation all year, and I think he’s a player gaining confidence. What he has shown in two seasons is impressive. Shout out to the football gods for creating this Holmes vs Herbert rivalry that we can enjoy for years to come.
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James Bradbury, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the darlings of the players this season. In fact, at 25-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, the Eagles have more money than any other NFC team to finish with the NFC’s best record in 2022. Some see Jalen Harts making big strides this upcoming season or AJ Brown sparking the offense, but I’m more excited about the defense.
Philly may have one of the best defenses in the league, with a front office in pass rusher Hassan Redick, versatile defensive end Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, linebacker Kyrgyz White and two players from what could be the most dominant defense in college football history. .It’s cornerback James Bradbury — who most recently played for the rival New York Giants.
The former Carolina Panther earned Pro Bowl honors in his first season with the Giants in 2020, then recorded 47 touchdowns, 17 sacks and a career-high four interceptions in 2021. Opposite Darius Slay at No. 2, Bradberry delivers. Eagles with experience and in-demand skills in the secondary. He could be the underrated player who solidifies this unit, which could help the Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
We all know that Justin Jefferson is one of the best players at his position at this point, but there’s reason to believe this upcoming season could be his best yet. New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is a coaching prospect that people have had their eye on for years. Not only did he work with Sean McVay, but he lined up to keep the former Washington assistant alive.That everyone is having fun and bonding as a team under O’Connell.
The former No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft finished his rookie campaign with 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns on 88 catches, breaking the record for most receiving yards by a rookie. Jefferson then improved on 108 catches in 2021 with 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s two NFL seasons, two All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl appearances.
With O’Connell improving the offense and getting to know quarterback Kirk Cousins well, we feel like we have the recipe for another monster campaign from Jefferson. In June, he told me he was out to prove he was the best wide receiver in the NFL, and he could do that in 2022.
Chris Olaf, New Orleans Saints
The Saints made a good pick in wide receiver Chris Olave, and this wide receiver corps is 100x better than last year with the return of Michael Thomas and the addition of Jarvis Landry.
With Thomas’ injury concerns and Landry coming off his worst NFL season, I feel like Olav will play a very important role in this offense in 2022. He leaves Ohio State as the program’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 35. And he caught 13 touchdowns last season — tied for first in the Big Ten. He’s versatile, consistent, and legitimately does all the work of an NFL wideout. Jameis Winston had the fourth-best winning percentage in Week 1 among rookie quarterbacks last season, going 5-2 as one of the smallest wide receiver corps in the NFL. I’m excited to see what he can do with the tools around.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
It’s Trey Lance’s time in The Bay, and that fan base is juicy. I’m sure Lance’s first full season as a rookie will include both impressive highs and disappointing lows, but he could be the quarterback who hits his stride heading into the latter part of the regular season — just like the 49ers did as a team last year.
The thought process is simple: If Lance can be a slight upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers will be right in the playoffs again. I’m not going to lie, I really like the Rams to win the division with the money added up. But if there’s another team that can steal the NFC West, I’ll take the Lancers and the 49ers.