10 bold NFL predictions for the 2022 season: Russell Wilson wins MVP, Aaron Rodgers calls it a career and more

Who does not love fearless predictions? Especially in the dog days of May, with the draft now a week and real football still months away? The prime free agents are already signed. We’ve seen more blockbuster deals than anyone could have anticipated. Rosters are well taking shape. We can start to think we know things about the 2022 season, right?

Certainly, more information will be available next week when the schedules are revealed. It tends to be a significant factor, as it is not just who you play, but when you play them. But for these purposes I don’t believe it would sway much. There are some things I am starting to believe – or talking about myself – and some hunches I am willing to play, and what better time than now to share them (and open myself up to ridicule and derision in the process!).

So after much deliberation and consternation, I am willing to put these 10 bold predictions into the universe. Feel free to throw them back at me:

I am Team Russ. Always have been. Will always be. Dudes like this don’t get dealt in their prime. And make no mistake, he is still very much in his prime. This is the best cast he has had around him in a long time. This is a coach who is going to be the opposite of Pete Carroll and will skew everything possible in favor of the passing game. It’s go time. They have speed. They are big targets. They will have a scheme that has worked wonderfully well in Green Bay and with the LA Rams, among others. I see Denver as being a very real factor in a loaded AFC, and Russ is going to get his cookies.

2. David Ojabo will have a monster season… in 2023

I love the Ravens’ selection of the Michigan pass rusher in Round 2 as much as any pick in this draft. He is a top 10 talent and he has instincts of natural pass rush and moves and a ceiling as high as any pass rusher in this draft, including the top two picks. He will be an immediate fit in under Baltimore’s evolving scheme with new coordinator Mike Macdonald. He is going to be the first impact pass rusher the Ravens have developed and cultivated since Terrell Suggs. But it ain’t gonna be this year. At least I figure it won’t. After his horrible pre-draft injury, and given the Ravens’ massive injury woes in recent years and multiple issues with players returning from surgery, a redshirt year and a monster season a year from now makes sense.

Aaron Rodgers will retire after the season

Green Bay won’t be the same this season. He keeps losing more and more of his guys. Davante Adams is gone and his offensive line may be looking to look much different in 2023. Yes, walking away from another $ 60M guaranteed in 2023 sounds crazy to most of us. But I anticipate some real regression from this group and they will decline and this cat does its own thing and revels in it. Should it really be out of character to put the Packers through all this drama the last two offseasons just to hang it up in the middle of a new extension? And it wouldn’t be even more quintessential Rodgers if he did it after…

Someone will get desperate. This kid is going to want to play. He should get a chance to play. Sitting three years is ridiculous and somebody is going to need a QB at some point to hurt, even if Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield are dealt.

5. Lamar Jackson will be on a franchise tag by this time next year

An extension has proven to be elusive and the QB market is going to keep changing dramatically once Wilson gets his new deal (and maybe Kyler Murray, too). Jackson will be okay with playing things out until the Ravens dramatically alter the scope of what they are willing to do. The other side will press the issue in the short term. A tag would seem inevitable. And once it does it will only drive up the price and will only further complicate the ability to get something done long-term unless someone blinks.

6. Deshaun Watson will play less than eight games

No one knows exactly what the NFL will decide here. But I can’t imagine any decision coming until right before the season and I don’t think the NFL will be worried about looking too stringent. They’ve been perfectly fine with Watson in the shadows all of last season and shouldn’t be worried about it this year, especially after the Browns reworked the QB’s contract to minimize a financial hit. Better to be taking these allegations than seriously enough, he got a full salary not playing last year and won’t lose much no matter how long he’s been suspended this year. Thus the only way to signal the difference is with the length of the penalty. I expect it to be okay.

7. Browns will eat $ 12M of Baker Mayfield’s contract

They have no real choice if they want to get anything for him. This will only get more messy and more ugly the longer it goes. They will bite the bullet and they will eventually bite the bullet. Have done it before and will do it again and this is a case of addition by subtraction. They ‘ll have enough drama with Watson. Can’t have it from the No. 3 QB, too.

8. The Lions won’t be a last-place team

Low bar to clear but they are finally ready to clear it. I love their draft, as is well documented at this point. I hated the Bears draft and, well, basically their entire offseason. Justin Fields is gonna get clobbered. Detroit is actually going to get better. They will play on a weak schedule. They are poised to make gains.

9. The Eagles will be in the NFC title game

I was big on them a year ago and tell you guys in October that they will surprise people. They made the playoffs. They are ascending and have had a great offseason. The rest of the conference is largely in regression. I think Jalen Hurts has some ‘it’ factor to him. They will have more bite on defense and can play keep-away on offense.

10. The Patriots are in trouble

Mac Jones is losing Josh McDaniels (and now a mystery coordinator) and adding this franchise to next year’s nothing is going to cost big. A front seven that fell apart the stretch a year ago doesn’t look much better than me. The Dolphins and Jets won’t be easy to walk all over next season. A sophomore slump or two would be damning. I have my reservations.

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