The 2022 NFL Season is over (for all but four teams) at the time I write this, so I think the time has come to do some quick takes on how the season went for these teams and what they might have to build on, if anything, next year.
While we are doing that, we will also check my results for my Over/Under win total predictions from this article. We will recall that my prognostications went a humiliating 12-17 for the 2021 Season, so I should hope not to do worse than that, but I very well might.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 9 Wins
Cardinals 2023 Record: 4-13 (0-1)
2022 Season: I should probably give myself two losses for how much that pick missed by! Of course, I’ve been wrong about almost everything this NFL Season, especially in the first half of the year. It’s been a really strange year, honestly.
First, Kyler Murray got paid. Second, Kyler Murray got hurt and only started eleven games. Third, Kyler Murray posted up his worst career QB rating and fewest yards per attempt, completion and game. Finally, Kyler Murray underwent reconstructive surgery on his ACL and will probably not be available in the beginning of the 2023 season.
More points were laid down on the Cardinals defense than any other team in the league, barring one, so the QB issues probably won’t be the only problem they have going into 2023. They have also fired Head Coach, Kliff Kingsbury, so will be starting over there, as well.
The only two pieces of good news for the organization are that they are safely under the salary cap and will have some good draft picks. They have early picks in each of the first four rounds and also have a sixth-round draft pick. The team was middle of the pack, or worse, in every statistical category in the 2023 Season, so their draft needs are basically everything. Even the special teams needs help as Cardinals’ opponents had the best starting field position in the NFL.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 5 Wins
Falcons 2023 Record: 7-10 (0-2)
2022 Season: Look, how was I supposed to know that the NFC South would be so abysmal this season? The Division champion Buccaneers had a losing record! Still, the Falcons managed to cobble together four wins even outside of the putrid NFC South, so I guess that’s no excuse for my lousy pick.
Overall, the team was surprisingly middle-of-the-pack even after long-time franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan, moving on. They were 15th in offensive scoring, but were 23rd in points allowed; even with that, they barely had a negative points differential.
The team was mostly safe with the ball and only threw a total of three interceptions. Of course, that task is made easier when you are second-to-last in the league in both attempts and yards through the air.
The ground game was great and led the league in rushing attempts; the ground attack was also third in yards and tenth in rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, a heavy reliance on the ground game is usually only going to be a winning formula if your defense is outstanding, which the Falcons defense wasn’t. They were between the bottom half and bottom quarter of the league in every major defensive category.
Despite having the second-best average drive length in the league, mostly due to their excellent rushing attack, their opposition had the longest average drive length and second most yards per drive when you look at the defense.
The Falcons are in excellent shape when it comes to salary cap, with the second-most money available in the league going into 2023. They also have five relatively early picks in the first four rounds and five picks after that as we approach the 2023 NFL Draft.
I think the goal will be to play to their strengths—focus on the running attack and try to build a more formidable defense. It’s time to go with a little bit of old-school football.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 9.5 Wins
Ravens 2022 Record: 10-7 (0-3)
2022 Season: Damnit! Am I even going to get one right?
That’s right, despite Lamar Jackson only starting twelve games, the Ravens managed to win just as many and finished second in the AFC North, advancing to the Wildcard Round, where the Division-rival Cincinnati Bengals beat them in a close one.
The time has come to discuss Lamar Jackson’s contract and the Ravens’ recent history suggests sometimes overpaying guys, as we saw with Joe Flacco.
The difference there was that Flacco managed to win a Super Bowl and I’m not sure that Jackson is the difference between the Ravens making a run or not. Jackson is a very dynamic player, but one has to worry about the fact that he has only started twelve game sin each of the last two seasons and they can arguably win without him.
Which is because they are the third stingiest team in the league when it comes to points allowed, and are also the top ten in allowing the fewest yards. They also had the second-most rushing yards in the league; of course, Jackson was also their leading rusher.
What a balance to have to strike! On the one hand, you always want to play to your strengths, but on the other hand, playing to your strengths often results in getting hurt and missing games.
The Ravens have the eighth most cap room available in the league as we approach the 2023 NFL Season, so they should certainly have the cash to keep Jackson around. They are a bit short on draft capital, however, with only five total picks and none in the second round. I don’t know where this team could even improve, other than having a clear #1 receiver (Tight End Mark Andrews aside).
2023 should be business as usual in the tough as nails AFC North with the Ravens, as well as the Bengals and Steelers (maybe even the Browns) competing for a Playoff spot.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 11.5 Wins
Bills 2022 Record: 13-3 (1-3)
2022 Season: Score one for the good guys! MIssion finally gets on the board! Here’s what I said in that prediction article:
Man, did the Bills massacre the Patriots in the Playoffs in the 2021 season. I know the Patriots are without Brady, but Buffalo has looked great on both sides of the ball and now they’ve added Von Miller and Jamison Crowder? They picked up eleven wins in the regular season last year, should split with the Pats and still have Miami and the Jets to kick around. Twelve is a tall order, but I think they can serve it up.
Hell, the Bills even lost a game and covered by two.
You’ll also notice that I will quote what I said if my Pick was right, but not if it was wrong, you can go read the article for yourself on my embarrassingly wrong picks.
I suppose some of the faithful are losing that faith, but the Bills had the second-best offensive scoring in the league and were second-best in points allowed, as well. While they turned the ball over a ton (second-most in the league) they had the fourth-highest amount of defensive turnovers with an overall differential of zero.
This is a nearly unstoppable football team. In fact, the only regular season games they lost would see them losing the turnover battle, but even then, they managed to win some games where they weren’t the superior team in turnover differential.
One problem they are going to have to address is the fact that they are in the bottom quarter of the league when it comes to 2023 cap space and, in fact, have NEGATIVE 21M in available salary cap. They do have six draft picks, but most of those are late in the round.
With that, they don’t have much flexibility to improve, but they don’t really have anything that needs improved upon. The Bills may have been kept out of Super Bowls in the last couple of years, but that’s more of a testament to how absolutely stacked the top-tier of the NFL is right now. We would expect the Bills to be in the talk for an AFC Championship next season with the Chiefs, and the Bengals, even though it never really feels that way when it comes to the latter.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 6 Wins
Panthers 2022 Record: 7-10 (1-4)
2022 Season: Darn you, awful NFC South! I can actually blame the putrid NFC South for this loss as the Panthers went 4-2 in division, but were an abysmal 3-8 outside of it.
Either way, former Head Coach, Matt Rhule, was fired after a slow start; they released Baker Mayfield who was claimed by the Rams and interim HC, Steve Wilks, somehow managed to come in and coach this mess of a team to 6-6 the rest of the way.
Overall team stats are on the lower end of the middle of the pack, exception to the passing game, which was one of the worst in the league in both yards and touchdowns through the air. Of course, that hardly comes as a surprise when you end up straight up releasing your starting quarterback going into the season. The rushing offense was slightly above average and the defense slightly below in every aspect.
They didn’t turn the ball over much (8th fewest offensive turnovers in the league), of course, that feat becomes easier to achieve when you are near the bottom of the league in passing attempts. That tends to happen when you don’t really have anyone throwing the ball and don’t really have anyone to throw the ball to—the incredible D.J. Moore aside. Imagine what Moore could do if he had Mahomes throwing to him!
Darnold looked serviceable at quarterback in his appearances, I guess, but I don’t think that’s your long-term answer. I would imagine that the 49ers are ready to part ways with Jimmy G., so maybe he could be swayed to come to Carolina.
Of course, that could prove difficult as the Panthers find themselves upside down in 2023 NFL Season salary cap to the tune of about ten million dollars. It’s going to take serious contract restructuring and financial wizardry to make something like that happen.
The Panthers have the ninth overall pick in the draft, but they also have several pretty decent picks otherwise, so maybe they can trade up if there’s a quarterback they like. I suppose the defense has room for improvement, especially in the interior, but the signal-caller position seems like this team’s glaring deficiency to me.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 7 Wins
Bears 2022 Record: 3-14 (2-4)
2022 Season: Oh yeah! That basically makes up for my terrible Cardinals pick, right? No? That’s not how that works? I’m still 2-4 either way? Well, you’re no fun. Here’s what I said about the Bears in the other article:
Da’ Bears have been the mediocrity test for the rest of the league for several years now. If you beat the Bears, chances are you’re at least mediocre; if you lose to the Bears, then you’re probably a bad team. Who is their quarterback this year? Possibly Nick Foles? Not promising. They haven’t made many moves in free agency and don’t have many Draft Picks. More wins than last year? I don’t think so.
As it turns out, if you lose to the Bears, then you might have serious problems, or it was just a weird week. Somehow, they beat both the 49ers and the Patriots, but the win over the Texans wasn’t surprising.
Where to start? The Bears were basically bottom of the barrel in rushing defense, middle of the pack in passing defense, had the fewest offensive passing yards in the league, had a -137 points differential, which means their expected game is an eight point loss and turned the ball over almost more than anyone else in the league.
Somehow, they had the most rushing yards as a team, most average yards per rush and were seventh in touchdowns via the ground. This might be a Falcons sort of situation where you try to focus on making the defense better and try to play some old-school smash mouth football, which seems like a Bears thing to do.
Their quarterback is Justin Fields, so I guess they consider themselves pretty set there. After all, Fields is why the ground game is so successful; not only did he lead the team in rushing yards, but he had more than 1,100 in fifteen games, which is flatly ridiculous for a QB.
The Bears had the worst defense in the league in points allowed, so that’s probably where you start looking. What areas of the defense need help? I’d have to say the defensive line as rushing defense is the team’s glaring weakness right now which, unfortunately for them, negates their only strength-rushing offense.
The Bears do have the cash to make some moves. The team is #1 in available salary cap for the 2023 season with nearly a hundred million dollars free and clear, which itself is kind of absurd. The team also has eight draft picks, including the first pick of the draft.
Unless they have a single player who they believe is the difference between a great defense and a mediocre one, I think the team should trade down and collect even more Picks, with a partner such as Carolina, who might want to take a stab at getting a long-term QB who will be on a rookie contract for a few years.
Whatever run the Bears might try to make, I can’t imagine it will be in the 2023 Season. They’ve got a little bit to build on, provided Fields can stay healthy, so this might be a good time to stock up on parts and start building a defense for the future.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 10 Wins
Bengals 2022 Record: 12-4 (2-5)
2022 Season: This losing isn’t really fun anymore. That’s right, the same statement about my winning Bills pick can be said for the Bengals: They covered even though they missed a game.
Their ground attack is pretty bad and the yards that the defense allows through the air aren’t great, but they’re a Top 10 team in pretty much all other respects. Besides, other teams can throw as much as they want as long as it doesn’t lead to scoring and the Bengals allowed the sixth-fewest points in the league.
They are preparing to play for the AFC Championship as I write this, so you can’t argue with the success they have enjoyed the last couple seasons as they appeared in the 2021 season’s Super Bowl. Quarterback Joe Burrow is phenomenal and the Dallas Cowboys were the only team the Bengals lost to outside of the AFC North (wherein they went 3-3) during the regular season, which tells you how much of a nightmare that division is.
If they have any finer points they wish to address, particularly on pass defense, the organization will certainly have the money to do it. Against all logic, the Bengals somehow have the third-most cap room (44.7M available) going into the 2023 Season. A team as good as the Bills is scary; a team as good as the Bills, that also has money to spend, is horrifying.
The Bengals will also have one pick in every round of the draft, of course, these will all be late in rounds barring any trades. If they could slow opposing offenses down, not that opposing offenses score a ton anyway, they will be unstoppable.
Mission’s Prediction: Where did it go? It would have been Under. I don’t even care what the line was.
Browns 2022 Record: 7-10 (2-5)
2022 Season: My other article seems to be missing a Pick for the Browns. That’s probably a good thing as it would almost certainly have been another loss.
The Browns are in something of a weird spot.
I usually like to cheer for a good redemption arc, but the Deshaun Watson story…isn’t that. In order to be redeemed, one must first have to show some sort of contrition for an action, or alternatively, undergo some sort of hardship.
In any event, Watson and the Browns did not have a happy ending to the season as the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to tug out an easy victory to finish off the year. Deshaun Watson’s acquisition was something of a big shot the Browns took as they paid serious cash to a player who was not only mired in a plethora of scandals…which would have likely got myself or any readers doing prison time for gross sexual imposition (or equivalent) and being on RSO lists the rest of our lives, but if you’re Watson, you simply become one of the highest paid quarterbacks (especially in guaranteed money) instead.
So, how did the Watson experiment go? Did he unload all over his opponents or was he unable to rise to the occasion? The jury seems to be out, for now. While his performance was terrible, it must be said that he missed more than a season and a half–first, by sitting out 2021 rather than playing for the Texans, and second, by serving an eleven game suspension.
In the meantime, the Browns parted ways with Baker Mayfield who they dealt to the Panthers in exchange for a low draft pick (because you can’t, ‘Trade’ a player for nothing) and the Panthers eating some of Mayfield’s salary to give the Browns cap room. The fill-in, prior to Watson being available, was Jacoby Brissett, so let’s see how they compared for the year:
Brissett: 236/369 (64%), 2,608 Yards, 12TD, 6INT, 7.1 Y/A, 11.1 Y/C, 88.9 RATE
Watson: 99/170 (58.2%), 1,102 Yards, 7TD, 5INT, 6.5 Y/A, 11.1 Y/C, 79.1 RATE
The Browns will have to wait and see if this is just a matter of Watson having some rust, or if his extended absence from the league has resulted in a permanent drop off in production. Despite Watson being known as a dual-threat quarterback, he only took four fewer sacks (24 to 20) than Brissett did, despite only dropping back for well under half as many pass attempts.
The Browns had better hope for Watson to explode next season because they are going to be tied to him for quite some time. If Watson’s performance continues this way, then he’s going to be untradable and, with what he is being paid, you basically have to play him. It should also be mentioned that 12 of the 20 sacks he took came in the last two weeks against the Commanders (5) and Steelers (7), so those games represent the majority of the pounding he took.
The Browns ranked fifth, on defense, for both passing yards and touchdowns allowed, so that is promising. The run defense was terrible, but somewhat offset by the fact that the organization had one of the best rushing offenses in the league. In addition to hoping for Watson to turn it around, the Browns will probably want to work on that D-Line in an effort to stop the run.
Because of the running game, they did well in time of possession, but part of that is because it often doesn’t take the team’s opponents very long (or very many plays) to break off some big gainers and score against them. The defense ranked 20th in points allowed and the Browns suffered a -20 points differential.
The Browns are also upside down in salary cap to the tune of almost 18M going into the 2023 NFL Season, so it’s hard to expect that they will be able to do a ton in free agency; we certainly shouldn’t expect any major moves. They also do not have a first round draft pick as of right now (part of the trade to the Texans for Watson), so they are going to need to hope to make some noise in the latter rounds, which is possible, as they have eight total picks.
In any case, the Cleveland Browns will live or die with how Watson performs in the coming years.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 10.5 Wins
Cowboys 2022 Record: 12-5 (3-5)
2022 Season: The surprising aspect of the Cowboys performance is, if you had told me that nobody in the NFC would have a losing record in the 2022 Season, I’d have probably went with the under. I was mostly counting on the rest of their Division being bad, or at least the Giants and Commanders. Either way, since this Pick was correct, here’s what I said:
The Dallas Cowboys had a pretty good season last year, but they lost a few key parts. That’s reflected in the line of 10.5 compared to the twelve wins they had last year. I truly wish the line was ten and I could bring the push in play. They do really well against bad teams and their division is still full of those. OVER 10.5 WINS
Except, in the 2022 season, none of the division’s teams ended up being bad! Still, I think the Cowboys basically beat everyone they should have been expected to beat, so they matched the twelve wins from the 2021 campaign.
Far from having too many glaring weaknesses, even in the five games that Dak Prescott missed, backup signal-caller Cooper Rush went 4-1 with the team!
The Cowboys are middle of the pack, or better, in almost every team statistical area. Their defense/special teams forced more turnovers than any other team in the league, which includes being seventh in defensive interceptions.
Despite being ball hawks on defense, the Cowboys were in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed; that was just a, “Bend, but don’t break,” sort of style, which is made clear by the fact that the Cowboys allowed the third fewest rushing touchdowns. Opposing offenses can run all they want as long as they don’t score.
The organization had a top ten rushing attack in total yards and scored the second-most TD’s on the ground in the league. The potency of the ground game also set up big passing plays, as evidenced by the fact that the team ranked ninth in passing touchdowns. It would have been higher, except Cooper Rush only averaged one per game in his five starts.
If they continue to dominate the turnover game, the future looks promising. It’s a good thing that they don’t have any glaring weaknesses because they also don’t have much money to spend; the Cowboys will be upside down in salary cap by about 9.7M going into the 2023 NFL Season. The team will also have one pick in every round except the sixth. Run stopping, maybe? They’re pretty solid everywhere else.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 10 Wins
Broncos 2022 Record: 5-12 (4-5)
2022 Season: Making a pick that strong feels good, man! Maybe I’ll actually win more than I lose for the 2022 Season, though I doubt it. Here’s what I had to say:
The line on the Broncos is ten wins compared to the seven that they won last year; what a difference Russell Wilson makes! The Broncos have also stacked up on that defensive line, where they needed some improvement. Ten wins gives me the push either way, so what I have to ask myself is if they are really going to beat the Chargers and the Raiders twice each. I don’t love it. UNDER 10 WINS
What I should have asked myself is, “Are they going to beat anyone?”
The one thing that the Broncos thought they had to fix to be a Super Bowl contender was acquiring a franchise quarterback. The organization traded a few year’s worth of good draft capital to the Seattle Seahawks for QB, Russell Wilson, who they made one of the highest-paid signal callers in the league.
The gambit worked so well that Nathaniel Hackett became only the second (Urban Meyer, JAX) first year Head Coach to be fired before the end of the season. Dysfunction reigned supreme and came to a peak when the Broncos got positively demoralized by the Los Angeles Rams (51-18), despite the fact that the Rams also finished 5-12. Honestly, I’d almost never accuse a team of just quitting…but before that game, I would have said that I’d NEVER accuse a team of just quitting.
It certainly didn’t help that the steeds started with the second-worst average field position in the league, but the offense still finished in the bottom half in every major statistical category. They often couldn’t run; they often couldn’t throw; even when they could run or throw, they couldn’t score…the offense put up the fewest points in the league.
Wilson was terrible and produced a stat line that looks fit for a decent backup QB.
Fortunately, the defense was at, or near, the Top 10 in most categories and would have likely been in the Top Five had it not been for that abysmal showing against the Rams. The Broncos just need to get it together in all aspects of offense.
Of course, that’s easier said than done all the time, but especially so for this organization as they find themselves with only 3.8M in available cap room going into the 2023 season.
They also won’t be making any meaningful improvements in the draft because they traded most of their draft to the Seahawks to get Wilson. Fortunately, they do have one late first round pick…so maybe they can reach for some receiver help for Wilson, an O-Lineman or hope a running back with a ton of potential falls to them.
YIKES! They’re basically in the same situation as Cleveland. They will live and die with how Wilson performs in the next couple of years.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 6 Wins
Lions 2022 Record: 9-8 (4-6)
2022 Season: Darn it. It’s hard for me to be mad, though. I think the Lions have one of the most loyal fanbases in the NFL, so it’s nice to see the team produce a decent season for their fanbase. They almost made the Playoffs (would have had Seattle lost in Week 17), but despite missing the tournament, ended the year on a high note by keeping the Division-Rival Green Bay Packers out, as well.
The Lions started the season 1-6, but the first half of their schedule was absolutely brutal. They managed to close the season out with a 7-2 run. The end of the season run wasn’t easy, either, as the Lions beat teams such as the Packers (twice), Giants andDivision Champion (and 13-4) Vikings. The rest of their back half was fairly easy.
The organization had one of the best offenses in the league, particularly in passing, as Jared Goff’s numbers rivaled those of any of his other best years. They also allowed the fewest offensive turnovers of any team in the league and ended up with a +7 differential.
It was pretty simple: If the Lions won the turnover battle, they won the game; if they lost the turnover battle, then they lost the game. The only exception was the loss to the Miami Dolphins despite the fact that they didn’t turn the ball over that game.
The biggest problem they have is, turnovers aside, their defense does not exist. The Lions’ defensive unit allowed the most yards and fifth-most points of any in the NFL. That’s especially shocking when you consider the fact that Lions opponents started with the second-worst field position in the league…usually the 25 yard line after the Lions scored and kicked a touchback.
The Lions can make some free agency moves to shore up their defense, however, as they will enter the 2023 off-season with 16M in clear salary cap. Additionally, they will enjoy two picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, including an early first-rounder, so this might be the best chance they’ve had to build a Super Bowl contender in recent years!
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 11 Wins
Packers 2022 Record: 8-9 (4-7)
2022 Season: F%^*&!!!! Which is probably the same thing Packers fans found themselves saying. After some off-season, “Will he, won’t he,” involving Aaron Rodgers, (which might be put on repeat approaching the 2023 Season) I should imagine most Cheeseheads felt as good as I did about the team’s prospects this season.
And…we were all wrong. Who expected the Vikings to, more than be good, to be great!? Who expected the Lions to produce a winning record and compete for a Playoff spot?
Both the offense and defense were extremely mediocre and the team had a points differential of -1. The organization ranked 17th in the league in both yards gained and defensive yards allowed. Rodgers wasn’t bad, but he was very clearly human and the Packers fate relies on him looking more like a superhero.
The only area that was completely abysmal was rushing defense, which didn’t exist. The team is going to want to make some moves to shore up both the offensive and defensive lines, otherwise, they’ll continue to make opposing ground attacks look like all-time great teams and Rodgers might find himself looking at the sky after a sack more than thirty times again. He’s getting a bit advanced in age to be taking so many hits.
It’s hard to narrow in beyond that because the team was aggressively mediocre in just about every other category. It doesn’t look like they have any money to spend, anyway, as they will enter the off-season in advance of the 2023 campaign nearly 25M in the hole when it comes to salary cap space. They do have a pick in each of the first five rounds, though; of course, their draft position is, well, mediocre.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 4.5 Wins
Texans 2022 Record: 3-13-1 (4-8)
2022 Season: So much for my comeback. You know, I wanted to give the Texans enough credit not to be totally abysmal without the distraction that was Deshaun Watson, but they still ended up being significantly worse off than the Browns, despite the fact that Watson did very close to nothing for Cleveland this year.
The Texans are one of five teams to have already fired their 2022 Head Coach, Lovie Smith, and will move on to their fifth Head Coach in four years.
That’s right. Five HCs in four seasons. If I were qualified to offer advice to NFL Teams, then my general advice would be to simply look at the Texans organization and: Don’t. Do. That.
Of course, Lovie managed to give them a parting middle finger by WINNING the last game of the season and costing the organization the #1 Pick in the 2023 Draft! You know your organization sucks when winning is objectively bad for you!
What can you say about the Texans?
The team rides the bottom of the league in every statistical category aside from having an awesome pass defense. Of course, you won’t really need to throw against the Texans anyway, because they almost never score. They put up the third-fewest points in the league and, despite their outstanding pass defense, allowed the fifth-most. The +1 turnover differential would be promising, if their Points Differential weren’t -131; the average result of a Texans game is them losing by more than a TD and PAT.
Overall, they have the worst offense in the league. Their team needs can be summarized as needing a team. The Texans only scored more than twenty points in four games; of course, they lost three of those!
The organization does have money and will enjoy 37M in available cap room going into the offseason leading into their 2023 campaign. Unfortunately, 37M is a little light when the team needs to buy an entirely new offense. Okay, okay, Damien Pierce had a solid year and Brandin Cooks did what he could.
Fortunately, the Texans have twelve picks in the 2023 Draft, which includes not one, but two, early first rounders and an early second rounder. I don’t think there’s anything the organization has done in the last few years that would give me faith these picks will be used well, but I guess there’s always that chance.
My predictions haven’t been good, but I am still going to predict the Texans will be awful for the next two to three seasons.
MIssion’s Prediction: OVER 9.5 Wins
Colts 2022 Record: 4-12-1 (4-9)
2022 Season: I want to make it clear that my win-loss total Picks were deliberately bad because I wanted to give readers a good laugh; unless, of course, I seriously turn it around in the back half of the alphabet.
The Colts replaced Head Coach, Frank Reich (who was 3-5-1) in the middle of the season with Jeff Saturday, who had no meaningful high-level coaching experience whatsoever. That decision paid off for exactly one week.
For me, that’s the only week it needed to pay off. Given the organization’s recent decisions, embarrassing the Las Vegas Raiders, and Head Coach, Josh McDaniels, made it all worth it.
The problem the Colts have is that Jim Irsay isn’t going to fire himself because he owns the team. The organization has been nothing but panic and head-scratching decisions since the unexpected early retirement of former franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck.
The Colts found themselves in or near the bottom quarter of the league in every offensive category, except scoring, where they were the third worst. They also allowed the fifth-most points in the league on defense. Overall, they were in the middle of the pack in yards allowed, but they allowed opponents to score a bunch anyway.
That’s mainly because of turnovers and an offense (34) that turned the ball over more than any other in the entire league. In the meantime, the defense was merely mediocre at generating turnovers, so the team ended up with a -13 turnover differential, which is to say they lost the ball more than their opponents nearly once in the average game.
The points differential was -138, which was even worse than that of the Texans. THey lost their average game by just over a TD and successful 2PT conversion!
It might have been even worse in any other Division, but the Colts got to play the Texans twice, tying them and losing to them by one. They managed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs; I don’t think anyone is really sure why that happened.
The pass defense is not aggressively terrible, but aside from that, team needs include an entirely different team.
Of course, as we approach the off-season, the Colts will go into the 2023 campaign with only 6M in free salary cap. How the hell can a team spend almost everything that is available to it and still be this bad!?
The organization will enjoy a relatively early pick (staring with #4 overall) in each round of the Draft and also has two seventh-round picks. You might think seventh-rounders can never matter, but Brock Purdy. The Jaguars and Titans will compete for the Division next season, as well. I’d think the Colts are irrelevant for the next year, maybe two.
MIssion’s Prediction: UNDER 6 Wins
Jaguars 2022 Record: 9-8 (4-10)
2022 Season: How could I ever be expected to believe that a team who only one three games, and became unprecedented by being the first in NFL HIstory to fire a first-year Head Coach midseason, would recover to go 9-8 the following year and make the Playoffs?
Come on! Did ANYONE, Jags fans aside, have the Jags winning more than six games this season!? Show me the betslip, because I won’t believe you.
Trevor Lawrence came a long way between seasons! What is the most impressive is just how safe he is with the ball as the Jaguars threw the third-fewest picks in the league despite having the tenth-most passing attempts. Travis Etienne also rushed for over 1,000 yards, though ground production was mostly lacking aside from both he and Lawrence himself.
Injuries might be a big concern for this team as we approach the 2023 NFL Season. They had solid offensive production as they finished somewhere between 10th and middle of the pack in most statistical areas on offense, but they lean heavier on their stars than most teams do. They pretty much have a star at each offensive position (two at WR), but the rest of the team doesn’t meaningfully contribute. You’d really like to be more balanced and not be in a situation where a single injury can change the outlook of an entire year.
Far from Sacksonville, the Defense left a lot to be desired, especially the pass defense, despite the +5 turnover differential. They allowed the fifth-most passing touchdowns in the league and as many passing touchdowns as the team scored. Overall points differential was +54, but most of that came from a few isolated total blowouts that they were on the winning side of, and is not very telling.
The defense needs some work and I’d like to see Etienne not have to do as much; I don’t think the team should have traded RB James Robinson.
Unfortunately, the Jags will find themselves about 34M in the negative when it comes to 2023 Salary Cap as we approach the off-season. They’re probably going to have to restructure some contracts, or maybe trade away a few guys for picks to rectify that.
The organization will have eight picks in the upcoming draft, which includes five in the first four rounds. I’d like to see them make a move for a dual-threat running back who can alleviate some of Etienne’s burden on the ground, but they also need a ton of help in pass coverage.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 10.5 Wins
Chiefs 2022 Record: 14-3 (5-10)
2022 Season: Okay, I have now only lost 66.67% of my Picks. That’s a little less humiliating. Here’s what I had to say about the Chiefs:
The Kansas City Chiefs won 12 games last year and the current line is set at 10.5 for the upcoming season. Let me fire up Google here…is Andy Reid still the coach? Yes. Is Patrick Mahomes still the quarterback? Yes. What? The Kansas City Chiefs have ADDED receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster!? Have you seen JuJU as a #2 receiver? I’m supposed to believe that the Chiefs win fewer than 11? Even if the Broncos split with them, I don’t think so.
First round bye, thirteen wins, playing in the AFC Championship game as of the time of this writing, we all know the drill here! Mahomes is amazing and capable of things that no man should be able to do. Throw with his opposite hand? Probably. Underhanded? Yup. Between his legs—why not? Over his shoulder with his back turned while wearing a blindfold? Sooner or later, it will happen.
To the extent that Kelce is the Tight End, JuJu ended up being the #1 receiver, in terms of production at that position. He had almost 1,000 receiving yards for the year; I knew that was going to go extremely well.
The Chiefs, to the surprise of nobody, had the best passing offense in the league in terms of yards and touchdowns. Despite throwing 12 picks, Mahomes still had a TD:INT ratio of better than three endzone trips for every pick.
The team was mediocre in turnover categories, with a -3 differential in the regular season, but it barely matters as long as you score seemingly every drive that you don’t turn the ball over. Their average drive was nearly the equivalent of a, “Gimme,” field goal.
Their defense was great at stopping the run, or more appropriately, the offense scored so much that running wasn’t a realistic option for most of their opponents. The passing defense was mediocre in yards allowed, and allowed the most touchdowns in the league, but that ends up being a bit skewed by the fact that the Chiefs’ offense scored so much, and so quickly, that their opponents could ONLY throw heavily if they wanted to have any chance of coming back.
The Chiefs had a points differential of +127, but they lost to the other AFC powerhouses—the Bills and Bengals (I still can’t believe I am non-sarcastically typing, ‘Bengals,’ and, ‘Powerhouse’ in the same sentence).
The Chiefs will enter the 2023 Season with more than 12.5M to spend, and given the strength of their team already, that’s pretty terrifying. Of course, the Bengals, who beat them, have about four times that much money available to them as we go into 2023.
The Chiefs will have twelve picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, including two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders. I’d expect it to be all about them, the Bills and the Bengals next season, as well.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 10 Wins
Chargers 2022 Record: 10-7 (5-10-1)
2022 Season: I’ll take the push.
The Chargers are a study in contrasts and also have the misfortune of playing in the same division as the Chiefs. The team allowed the fourth-fewest turnovers in the league, with 19, but was only in the middle of the pack in both passing and rushing touchdowns, finishing a very mediocre 13th in points scored.
Despite this +5 turnover differential, and ranking 12th in defensive turnovers, the opposition had no trouble scoring on them as they found themselves 21st in Points Against and would ultimately finish the Regular Season with a Points Differential of only +7.
They had the fourth-worst rushing defense in the league, in terms of yards allowed, yet opponents didn’t run against them a ton as they faced the 15th fewest rushing attempts. The Chargers allowed the most yards per rushing attempt in the league, so it’s pretty baffling that teams didn’t try to pound the rock against them more often…even if they were playing from behind!
The defense also allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards, despite that, they were in the bottom half of the league in terms of opponents finding the endzone through the air.
They had a cupcake schedule and didn’t really beat anyone of note. Every team that should have beaten the Chargers did beat the Chargers.
Going into the 2023 off-season, they will be about 22M upside down for that year’s salary cap; that’s going to be bad news for the Chargers as they aren’t terribly good. They were a little banged up at WR, but didn’t really have any other significant injuries. If this is how they perform with a cupcake schedule, then they’re going to be in some trouble.
Draft Picks are a pick per round, so maybe they will try to work on the D-Line a bit.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Mission’s Prediction: Over 10.5 Wins
Rams 2022 Record: 5-12 (5-11-1)
2022 Season: I don’t want to play anymore.
I’m not going to pretend they were ever winning eleven games, but the Rams had a really tough year. The biggest of their problems was the situation at quarterback getting so bad that they claimed Baker Mayfield off of waivers, despite the fact that he had been traded by one team, and released by another, despite the fact that he went into the year as the Panthers starting quarterback.
In addition to scoring the sixth-fewest points in the league, the Rams were in the bottom half of the league, and safely, in all statistical categories related to offensive production. Was the absence of Stafford late in the season solely to blame? Not really. While passing yards per game declined after Stafford was knocked out for the year, the amount of points that they put up was relatively the same…mostly due to a total blowout of the Broncos on Christmas Day.
Defensive statistical rankings were mediocre. Of course, the offenses that the Rams defense had to go up against were less than enviable as they played the 49ers twice, Cowboys, Bils, Chiefs and Chargers. All things considered, the defense’s statistical rankings after running through that gauntlet of opposing offenses is somewhat admirable; the team should be okay on that side of the ball as we prepare for the 2023 Season.
Of course, the Rams are about 16M upside down when it comes to 2023 Salary Cap availability, so they will have to hope for the defense to perform strong and for Stafford to stay healthy. Unfortunately for them, their schedule for 2023 will be almost equally brutal.
Draft Picks? Nope. Most of them traded away so they could make their successful 2021 Super Bowl run. They have a second round pick, a third-round pick and some sixth rounders.
I’d expect the coin to land heads for them a few more times in 2023 than it did in 2022, but I don’t expect them to make a deep run or be anywhere close to competing with the 49ers or Seahawks for the Division crown.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 8.5 Wins
Raiders 2022 Record: 6-11 (6-11-1)
2022 Season: Mark Davis’ decisions are almost as bad as my team total picks, but I got this one right. Here’s what I said about the Raiders long before the 2022 season got underway:
Unfortunately, the Raiders are probably the only team in their division (Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers) not to meaningfully improve so far, though they are pretty good, and I would say that all signs point to them overperforming last year. I think they split to the Chargers, get beaten by the Chiefs twice and, at best, split with the Broncos, but more likely lose twice. I think it’s a really solid line, but I’m going to go. UNDER 8.5 WINS
Heck, even my game predictions were right other than the fact that they beat the Broncos twice. I might have taken the over had I known that the Broncos would be abysmal in 2022.
I have no idea why the Raiders wouldn’t make 2021’s interim Head Coach, Rich Bisaccia, the HC for the 2022 campaign; instead, they opted to sign Josh McDaniels to the position. For his part, McDaniels has continued to do nothing to demonstrate why he should be an NFL Head Coach as he managed to reduce a 10-7 squad, who appeared in the Playoffs in 2021, to a lowly record of 6-11.
The Raiders also lost to the Indianapolis Colts, who were being coached by Jeff Saturday—a former player with no meaningful coaching experience at any level. It was delightful.
For their next trick, they managed to alienate franchise quarterback Derek Carr, who they will be moving on from because…reasons, I guess…and will likely start anew at that position next season. Perhaps McDaniels is planning to sign Tom Brady, who I think qualifies for AARP now.
And, Mark Davis? He hates coaches who take his organization to the Playoffs, but losing coaches are awesome. He sacked Jack Del Rio not the season of a Playoff appearance, but the season after one, in order to sign the overrated Jon Gruden.
Gruden resigned amidst some strange circumstances early in the 2021 campaign and was replaced by interim HC Rich Bisaccia, who managed to lead the otherwise dysfunctional Silver & Black to a Playoff appearance…only to be dismissed in favor of McDaniels.
Passing offense was in the top half of the league, with exception only to Carr throwing too many Picks, averaging almost one per game. Jarrett Stidham would add an additional three picks in two games, thereby resulting in the team throwing an average of one interception per outing, fourth-worst in the league.
In the meantime, the team’s defense only managed to come up with six interceptions; they actually had more fumble recoveries, with seven. I guess that is somehow Carr’s fault, as well.
The result is a turnover differential of -8, despite the fact that the offense didn’t actually turn the ball over that often; they were eighth-fewest in offense turnovers; their defense just came up with the fewest turnovers of any team.
Offensive scoring was slightly better than average, ranking 12th in the league; that was more than offset by a defensive unit that allowed the seventh-most points, resulting in a Points Differential of -23 for the season.
The ground game did well in yards per attempt, but they didn’t get to run the ball as much as they might have liked due to almost always playing from behind.
They will enter the 2023 off-season with about 18.6M in available cap space, but they now need a quarterback and also need to make some moves on defense. I can’t fathom a reason for Tom Brady to want to play for the Raiders right now, other than as a personal favor to McDaniels. I really don’t see the difference between them and this year’s Buccaneers…aside from the fact that the Raiders’ defense is much worse.
The Raiders will have nine draft picks for 2023, including one in each of the first four rounds, but it’s McDaniels and the Raiders, so I don’t have much faith.
I can’t envision a world where the compete against the Chargers next season, much less the Chiefs.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 9 Wins
Dolphins 2022 Record: 9-8 (6-11-2)
2022 Season: I didn’t understand the Dolphins parting ways with their 2021 Head Coach, Brian Flores, after his 9-8 2021 campaign. It turns out, the results under 2022 HC Mike McDaniel were precisely the same. True, the Dolphins made the Playoffs, by beating the Jets in the final week of the season (and the Patriots losing), but the record was the same.
Starting QB Tua Tagovailoa had the best season of his young career, by far, despite suffering three concussions during the 2022 campaign. Again, that didn’t change the Dolphins’ record to end the season, so one can’t help but wonder if Flores might have done even better.
The fish were also one of the streakiest teams I’ve ever seen! Win three, lose three, win five, lose five, win one. Their fate mostly rests in Tua’s hands, or, perhaps more to the point, the man’s poor, poor head. They were 1-3 in games Tua didn’t start.
They were fourth in both passing touchdowns and yards…and certainly would have been even better had Tua been available every game. Team passing interceptions left a little to be desired, but Tua only threw eight picks in 400 attempts compared to seven in 109 for backups Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater.
The defense left a bit to be desired. Despite the team’s high-octane offense, they finished the season with a Points Differential of -2. The run defense was outstanding, but the Fins need some help in pass coverage as quarterbacks opposing the Dolphins got to look like Tua looks every single week; the pass defense was terrible.
Naturally, it merits pointing out that the team’s high-powered offense and quick scoring forces opponents to throw; the Dolphins faced the second most pass attempts in the league, but you still need the coverage to do a bit better than that.
Over 12.5M in the hole on salary cap going into the 2023 season, the Dolphins will need to play around if they want to have some room to play in free agency. They’ll also have only five Draft Picks, as of the time of this writing, not even making their first selection until late in the second round.
In short, the team is going to have to continue to win in passing shootouts if they hope to compete for a Playoff appearance again next year. They’ll also need Tua to stay healthy.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 9 Wins
Vikings 2022 Record: 13-4 (6-12-2)
2022 Season: That’s humiliating. My Picks were already pretty terrible, but this was a HUGE miss. The worst part is my arrogance in making the Pick; remember, I said:
Why do people always think that the mediocre Vikings are going to get better? They didn’t do much in free agency so far, they weren’t particularly good last year and their division hasn’t changed very much. They’re certainly not going to be a terrible team, but I can’t see any reason for them to win MORE games than they did last year and also like the potential for a push.
I just have it in my head that Kirk Cousins is overrated and all he ever does is prove me wrong every single season. Sadly, this was actually one of his worse campaigns, and the Vikings still managed to go 13-4.
They had a few tough matchups, but it probably helps that their schedule was loaded with basement-dwellers. Both the Bears and the Packers were also significantly worse than I would have expected, so it helps that the Vikings got to play both of those teams twice.
For all of that, they still got knocked out in the Wildcard round by the New York Giants, who they beat in the regular season. At least it wasn’t a missed field goal in the closing seconds that did the Vikings in this season. In fact, there were over seven and a half minutes left after the final scoring drive of that game.
The problem with the Vikings is simply that their defense sucked. The ground defense was in the bottom half of the league in all categories and they also allowed the second-most passing yards in the league. Some of those passing yards came from the fact that the Vikings scored a ton, so opponents were often in the position of having no choice but to throw. They were actually in the top half of the league in defensive interceptions and passing touchdowns against, but opposing offenses had little difficulty pounding it in if they got close.
They scored the eighth-most points in the league, but allowed the fifth-most, finishing the season with a -3 Points Differential. That’s pretty incredible for a 13-4 team to score three fewer points than they allowed, but they were on the losing side of a few total blowouts. In fact, all four of their regular season losses were by double digits.
If their offense isn’t clicking, it’s going to be an ass-kicking; that’s the story of the 2023 Minnesota Vikings. More to the point, Kirk Cousins needs to be connecting. The Vikings’ ground attack is pretty non-existent, other than in the Red Zone. I know Dalvin Cook rushed for more than 1,100 yards, thank you, but Cook was the entire rushing attack. They didn’t even use him that much as they had the fifth-fewest rushing attempts in the league.
The Vikings will be Super Bowl competitive if they can make some defensive improvements, but it will be tough to do in free agency as the Vikings will enter the 2023 offseason with -22.3M in salary cap space. Cousins might not be overrated, but he’s pretty expensive. Also, they keep extending his contact, so the organization is only guaranteed to have him for one more year, as of the time of this writing.
The Vikings will also have a tough time using the draft to improve the defense. They only have four Picks; their late first-rounder is the only pick they have in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 8.5 Wins
Patriots 2022 Record: 8-9 (6-13-2)
2022 Season: I am truly terrible at picking team win totals. I wonder how much McDaniels paid Belichick to make him look good?
The Patriots problem is, quite simply, the fact that their offense was in the bottom half of the league in every statistical category. It would seem that the Tom Brady hangover is not over yet; Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson aside, I don’t think I could name a player on the Pats’ offense.
The rushing defense was excellent, but the Patriots were just average in passing yards allowed and were the sixth-worst team in the league when it comes to letting opponents score through the air. Of course, playing the Bills and Dolphins twice apiece (Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa) certainly doesn’t help.
They managed to finish the season with a +17 Points Differential and allowed the 11th fewest points and eighth-fewest total yards in the league. They basically performed the way you would expect them to perform against their opponents; they lost to who they should lose to and beat who they should beat—8.5 was a great line.
It almost feels sacreligious to suggest that the Patriots need better pass coverage; the rushing defense is so good that opponents simply have no choice but to throw. Of course, teams such as Miami and Buffalo would want to throw anyway. The pass defense were ball hawks and the Patriots had the second most defensive turnovers in the league, finishing the season with a turnover differential of +7.
I don’t know what the Patriots need. Meyers being healthy for every game would help. The defense likes to risk it for the biscuit, but allows too many huge plays through the air.
They do have more than 31M in salary cap space as we go into the 2023 season, so Belichick can make some moves in free agency. Given his tendencies, I think his focus will be on building a stronger defense; the Pats offense should be able to do enough as long as everyone can stay healthy. The Pats also have eight draft picks, which includes one apiece in the middle part of the first three rounds.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 8 Wins
Saints 2022 Record: 7-10 (6-14-2)
2022 Season: Why did I think they would win eight games? I honestly can’t even think of why I might have thought that, so let’s see what I said:
Another loser of the DeShaun Watson sweepstakes, the Saints will also be without former Head Coach Sean Payton going into the upcoming season. I don’t think either the team or their division have changed very much, so I have no reason to think it’s not going to be more of the same. The line is down to eight from the nine games that they won last year, so hell with it, I’ll be an optimist for them. OVER 8 WINS
Oh, at least I wasn’t confident. Although, it is kind of sad that the didn’t even get me the push when the Buccaneers were far worse than the previous season.
Surprise win against the Eagles aside, the Saints only managed to beat mediocre, or worse, teams…usually worse.
Maybe surprisingly, the Saints were barely in the bottom half of the league in the major offensive categories. They only ranked 22nd in total scoring, but the defense was fairly stingy, so New Orleans allowed opponents to score the ninth-least amount of points. The passing defense was outstanding and allowed the second-fewest yards and third-fewest aerial touchdowns in the league; of course, they didn’t play too many high-powered offenses. They certainly didn’t play any in their six Divisional games, because their division didn’t have any good offenses.
Of course, despite allowing the ninth-fewest points in the league, the team still had a -15 Points Differential. The teams is extremely mediocre in every regard and needs a quarterback; fortunately, I am hearing this might be a big QB year in the draft and there are a few high-profile veterans who might become free agents, such as Jimmy G.
Of course, the Saints are in the worst salary cap position in the entire league leading into 2023, with nearly negative sixty million dollars, in cap space. The draft might not help much, either, they only have six picks of which zero are in the first round.
The Saints are probably in some trouble next season.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 7 Wins
Giants 2022 Record: 9-7-1 (6-15-2)
2022 Season: Fantastic. I lose another Pick. It’s a really good thing that I didn’t put any money on these lousy Picks. Also, how can I be decent ast picking games and terrible at picking season win totals?
Daniel Jones didn’t suck, I guess? The Giants passing offense still wasn’t great. On the surface, you’d salivate at a 3:1 TD:INT ratio, but Jones only threw for fifteen touchdowns. The team had the fewest picks of any, but they barely threw the ball and didn’t really advance it that far, or score very many touchdowns, when they did.
The rushing offense was top five in the major statistical categories, but the Giants were one of the worst teams at stopping opposing ground attacks and allowed the second-most yards per attempt of any team in the league. The pass defense was mediocre; they had the second-fewest interceptions in the league, with six, which, fortunately for them, is how many times they threw interceptions as a team.
The team was also mediocre in both points scored (15th) and allowed (17th), finishing the season with a Points Differential of -6.
The dual-threat running attack of quarterback, Daniel Jones and stud RB, Saquon Barkley, should continue to get it done, but the team would certainly benefit from a true #1 option at receiver. They could also stand to improve on the defensive front.
As we inch closer to the 2023 NFL Season, the Giants are fourth in free salary cap space, so the 42M+ that they will have available should give them some room to play. Of course, Barkley and Jones have contract situations that need to be addressed as they are free agents as of the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. Sterling Shepard is also a free agent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants part ways with him.
The Giants can also use the draft to make some improvements; the G-Men have nine picks, with four of them coming in the first three rounds.
NEW YORK JETS
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 5.5 Wins
Jets 2022 Record: 7-10 (6-16-2)
2022 Season: Whatever happened, it’s not Zach Wilson’s fault.
Second-fewest team passing touchdowns in the league? Nothing to do with Wilson.
Every QB on the roster, except Flacco, having more interceptions than touchdowns? That’s probably the defense’s fault, if you ask Wilson.
Also, the Jets’ ground attack was terrible, which legitimately has nothing to do with Wilson.
They were outstanding on defense! Despite playing both the Dolphins and Bills twice, the New York Jets allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the entire league as well as the third-fewest yards through the air. The rushing defense was also better than average, except yards allowed, where they were exactly average.
Defense and offense existed in a perfect inverse symmetry. They scored the fourth-fewest points in the league, but also allowed the fourth-fewest. Unfortunately, the resulting points differential was -20. Strangely, the defense also had the fourth-fewest turnovers, so opposing teams mostly found themselves either punting or settling for three.
Team needs? A quarterback would be good. They should be set at RB as long as Breece Hall recovers from his surgery and doesn’t get hurt again next season; he looked amazing in the few games he was able to appear in!
The team is upside down on cap room leading into the 2023 Season as they will begin the offseason with a negative 2.7 million in available space. It should be pretty easy to move some stuff around and restructure a contract or two to fix that. If they decide to sign a big name free agent as signal-caller, such as Brady, Rodgers is being hinted, Carr or Garoppolo, then they’ll have to free up some cash, but the situation is manageable.
They’ve also got a pick in each of the first six rounds of the draft, but drafting QBs hasn’t gone terribly well for them, so I don’t think they’ll go that route to fix the problem; they’re going to want a known NFL commodity.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 8.5 Wins
Eagles 2022 Record: 14-3 (7-16-2)
2022 Season: The Eagles were terrific in 2022 and won the surprisingly strong NFC East almost in cruise control. Here’s what I said about them before the season:
Do the Philadelphia Eagles routinely underperform, or could it just be that they had a miraculous run with Wentz and Foles and have been mediocre ever since? They won nine last year and the line is 8.5. The Commanders and Giants are still going to be putrid. I’d think at least three wins there, but probably four. 9-8? Why not? OVER 8.5 WINS
They got four wins between their games against the Commanders and the Giants, but only if you count the Divisional Round of the Playoffs; they split with the G-Men in the regular season.
Philadelphia has, in my opinion, the most well-balanced offense in the entire league. Led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, they scored more rushing TD’s (Hurts had the most on the team) of any team in the NFL; they also amassed the fifth-most rushing yards.
That’s not to say Hurts can’t throw; the Eagles had the ninth highest passing yards in the league and the third-fewest interceptions! Their nineteen total turnovers were the fourth-lowest in the league and the 27 times their defense caused the drive to change directions was the fifth-highest.
The defense was outstanding even aside from that. With teams often forced to throw against them, the Eagles still managed to allow the ninth-fewest points (while scoring the third-most) and had a Points Differential of +133. They won their average game by more than a touchdown and a point after.
The defense allowed the second least yards in the league whilst their offense amassed the third most production! It could be argued that opposing offenses didn’t have much trouble running against the Eagles, but Philadelphia scored so many points that running wasn’t really an option, even if it would otherwise have been statistically efficient.
Weaknesses? I don’t think they have any.
They’ll also go into the 2023 Season with 3M in available cap, which isn’t a ton, but they shouldn’t have to do too much juggling to keep the band together. They’ll also have six picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, including two first-rounders, a second and a third.
I’d expect the Eagles to field a team that is in the hunt for the big one for the next few years, at a minimum.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 7.5 Wins
Steelers 2022 Record: 9-8 (8-16-2)
2022 Season: The first thing we will do is see what I said about one of my few winning Picks in advance of the season:
They’re going from nine actual regular season wins and one of the strangest entrances into the Playoffs ever to a line of 7.5 wins. I understand that the Division is a strong one, but I do think that Trubisky is no worse than a lateral move at Quarterback compared to the Big Ben of recent years. More than anything, I’d have to bet on Head Coach Mike Tomlin to have the first losing year of his career to take the Under, and there’s no way I’m betting on that. OVER 7.5 WINS.
I’ve actually got a full article about the Steelers season that’s either out already, or will be shortly, so I won’t say very much here. The big question going into the offseason was whether or not they would retain offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and Rooney answered that question with an early yes. That’s mainly because they want to offer quarterback Kenny Pickett some stability as he goes into his sophomore campaign.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 10 Wins
49ers 2022 Record: 13-4 (9-16-2)
2022 Season: Along with the Eagles, the 49ers are gearing up to play in the 2022 NFC Conference Championship game as I write this. Here’s what I said before the season started:
If I could draw a picture of what a ten win team looks like, it would be the San Francisco 49ers. Basically, you have a solid all-around team with a good-but-not-great quarterback, decent depth chart and you play in a reasonable enough division. Let’s go down the list: WASH-WIN, ARZ-Split, ATL-WIN, CAR-WIN, DEN-0.5, LV-WIN, L.A.R.-L/L, SEA-W/W, NO-WIN, TB-Loss, L.A.C.-WIN, CHI-WIN, MIA-WIN
It turns out, they didn’t even need their, “Good-but-not-great,” quarterback. It would seem that they can make any quarterback look competent, if not like an absolute stud. Maybe I should try to get on the depth chart.
The 49ers ended up down to Brock Purdy who was, what, a third or fourth string guy? It didn’t matter. He came out looking like a world-beater and the team cruised to the NFC West Championship. If anything, I should be embarrassed because I thought the over would even be close…even though I got it right.
Like the Eagles, the 49ers are a complete team, but that’s largely on the strength of the defense, in San Francisco’s case. They allowed the second-fewest rushing yards in the league. While you can get some yards through the air against the defense, you probably won’t be able to score as San Francisco came up with the most interceptions in the league whilst allowing the fifth-fewest touchdowns.
The team’s defense ended up being #1 in both yards and points allowed, so are unequivocally the best defense in the NFL. THey also had the second-most defensive turnovers, which led the team to a turnover differential of +13.
That said, the team did not slouch on offense. Putting up the sixth-most points in the league, on the fifth-most yards, the offense contributed plenty to the organization’s +173 Points Differential; in other words, they won their average regular season game by more than ten points, which is truly ridiculous.
The offense is a truly balanced attack, regardless of who plays quarterback, and the team was in the Top ten in every offensive category, except scoring, in which they were in the top five in both rushing and passing touchdowns. Despite having three different starting quarterbacks as the season progressed, the 49ers only threw nine interceptions as a team. THe only area where the offense was out of the Top 10 (barely) was total passing yards.
Team needs? What team needs?
Even if they do need anything, they have 14M in available cap space entering the 2023 campaign, and, I assume, will be cutting Jimmy G. loose.
Draft Picks? They don’t have any until the third round, but they’ve got some money to use in free agency and don’t really have any needs anyway.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 6 Wins
Seahawks 2022 Record: 9-8 (9-17-2)
2022 Season: That’s right. Not only did the Seahawks go over on win total, they also managed to embarass me further by having a winning record and making the Playoffs.
Either way, I can’t help but be happy for Geno Smith. It’s also a sort of redemption for Pete Carroll who most Broncos fans, and even some Seahawks fans, probably thought got fleeced out of Russell Wilson, despite the incredible amount of draft capital Seattle got in exchange.
Can you stick with Geno next season? With a QB Rating over 100 and a nearly 3:1 touchdowns to interception ratio, I really don’t see why you wouldn’t. Geno looked like Russell Wilson out there! Actually, he didn’t, Russell Wilson looked way worse than Geno did in 2022.
The Seahawks had basically a top-10 passing offense and an extremely mediocre ground attack, so any draft capital to be used on the offensive side of the ball should be for the purpose of improving the running game; the team looks fine through the air.
They had one of the worst rushing defenses in the league, and the passing defense was just average, so that’s probably the side of the ball where I would want to improve.
Despite having the ninth-best scoring in the league, they allowed the eighth-most points and finished their winning season with only a +6 points differential. The defense was decent at creating turnovers, but not at much else, so they ended up +2 in that category.
They’ll go into 2023 with plenty of money to play with as they have more than 31.5M in free cap space as they head into the offseason. Of course, Geno Smith is probably going to want more than 3.5M to stick around, which he certainly deserves. I don’t think the question is whether or not they will keep him; the question is whether or not the deal will be long-term.
The Seahawks also have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, with early first and second round selections to go with that courtesy of the Broncos sucking this year. The team will probably have enough flexibility to work on both the ground attack and the defense as an overall unit. I don’t think they’ll meaningfully challenge the 49ers, but I expect next year to be even better for them and think they will make another Wildcard appearance–they might even win one if the don’t play San Francisco.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 11.5 Wins
Buccaneers 2022 Record: 8-9 (9-18-2)
2022 Season: Well, that happened.
Here’s the thing: everyone thinks that Tom Brady fell off a cliff and had a terrible year, but I addressed that line of thought in this article.
It’s really simple: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked dead last in the league in every offensive rushing category, and it wasn’t particularly close; the team only scored five rushing touchdowns the entire season. FIVE!!!
What do you expect to happen when a quarterback is asked to throw 733 times? When opposing defenses KNOW that a pass attempt is the only thing it can be because the Bucs offense couldn’t run against a defensive line made of paper mache?
Even in the face of that sort of one-dimensionality, Brady completed more than two-thirds of his passes. He threw nearly three touchdowns for every pick. The offense had the ninth-fewest interceptions of any team, one of which wasn’t even thrown by Brady…though that ball was thrown to Brady because…I don’t know why this play happened. Don’t ever do that.
The Buccaneers offense had the second-most passing yards in the league, which is no great surprise when the only thing you can do is throw. Most of the passes were short, but Tom Brady is also well into his middle age. I’ll be happy to get out of bed on the first try at 45.
The defense? Average or worse. They allowed a ton of passing touchdowns and didn’t come up with many interceptions. Of course, the Buccaneers total inability to move the ball on offense, except when they scored, resulted in the opposition starting with great field position more often than you would like. While the defense didn’t allow a ton of yards; the Buccaneers’ opponents often didn’t need a ton of yards.
All of that for Tom Brady to have his only losing year as a starting quarterback, in fact, it was only the second season in which Brady didn’t have double-digit wins, ignoring injury.
-45 points differential, -2 turnover differential.
What are the Buccaneers’ needs? They might need a quarterback. Brady could retire, move on or stay with Tampa Bay…and I listed those possibilities in the order of what I think the probability is…with remaining a Buccaneer being an extremely distant third. This team is going to be awful if Brady leaves and will need a lot of everything.
Which they won’t have the money to get as they enter the 2023 Season in the second-worst position in salary cap. They’ll start the campaign in the hole at almost -58M bucks. They have seven draft picks, but no fourth round pick and pick in the middle of each of the first three rounds.
I think they’re looking at a slow rebuild if Brady leaves and I don’t think they’ll be much better than this even if he stays.
Mission’s Prediction: OVER 9.5 Wins
Titans 2022 Record: 7-10 (9-19-2)
2022 Season: Why not?
One would think the Titans would have benefitted from playing in the Division with two of the three or four worst teams in the league, but not so much in 2022. Derrick Henry even played in every game but one and rushed for more than 1,500 yards, so what went wrong?
They had no passing production to speak of. In addition to throwing for the third-fewest yards of any team, the Titans also had the fifth-fewest touchdowns through the air. Their offense was the inverse of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they were in the top-half in rushing categories.
Their defense against the ground game was also the best in the league. Of course, most teams recognized that and avoided running against them as they faced the second-fewest attempts.
Which also happened because the pass defense sucked! They allowed more passing yards than any other team in the entire league and the fifth-most touchdowns allowed. All of that despite the fact that they got to play the aforementioned Colts and Texans twice!
They did come up with some turnovers (-3 differential) and were mediocre in points allowed, but all of that was for naught as their Points Differential still ended up being -61. Derrick Henry could do a lot more had the Titans even been a threat in terms of air attack.
Despite that, Tannehill was actually okay given what he had to work with. If they want to stick with Tannehill, then the Titans are going to need a true #1 at receiver. Treylon Burks had his season shortened due to injury, so he might be the guy, but I wouldn’t rest my hopes for the future on him alone.
They’ll also need to use the draft to improve as they will enter the 2023 campaign in the fourth-worst salary cap position, at negative 28M dollars. Fortunately, they will have a pick in each of the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, so hopefully they’ll hit a home run there.
When the Jaguars are the only team that’s even borderline competitive (and that by surprise) in the Division, you really need to do a better job than this at taking advantage of the opportunity.
Mission’s Prediction: UNDER 7.5 Wins
Commanders 2022 Record: 8-8-1 (9-20-2)
2022 Season: Make it an even twenty losses for me, why not?
Despite being mired in any number of scandals pertaining to the prevalency of sexual harassment in the organization, amongst other things, and having a Head Coach who evidently doesn’t know when his team is facing Playoff elimination, the Commanders managed to stumble to a .500 winning percentage.
In terms of team needs, they need the NFC East to suck again. This is a Division that usually only has one standout team per year, but briefly, it appeared that the entire division was going to advance to the Playoffs!
Really, they just need an offense. That will start at quarterback. Fortunately, there are plenty of options between free agency and what is projected to be a great draft class at the position.
The passing offense was just below average and the rushing offense would have been okay, except it didn’t seem to know where the endzone is located. The Commanders had a -22 Points Differential for the year, despite allowing opponents the seventh fewest points and third fewest yards.
That’s in spite of the defense not creating very many turnovers; most opposing drives seemed to either be a three and out or the opposing offense scoring quickly. They were actually the best defense in the league in preventing third down conversions and Top 10 in red zone scoring allowed.
Team needs? A quarterback, probably. It’ll be tough to get one of the big names in free agency, if they want to go that route, but possible. The team will enter 2023 with positive salary cap space, though barely. They own six picks in the draft, including two in the middle of the first two rounds. They’d probably have to trade up if they want to get one of the big name QB prospects that way.
Look at my futures picks, then do the opposite.
9-20-2 is brutal. I was so bad at picking totals that I forgot to even pick one for the Browns, but it probably would have lost somehow.
One thing that doesn’t escape my attention is how highly correlated it can become if you’re trying to pick win totals for all teams. If you have a team where you liked the OVER, but then they go UNDER, then those wins have to go somewhere else and it’s very likely that they go to teams that you had going under.
In any event, I hope everyone enjoyed these summaries of the 2022 NFL Season. Do you agree with my observations? Disagree? Do you think that I missed anything huge, not counting my Picks, of course? Let me know in the comments!