The 2022 NFL season was full of surprises as new players on new teams changed the balance of power not only in their respective divisions, but in the NFL as a whole. Quarterback Matthew Stafford took over Los Angeles Rams For the Super Bowl, wide receiver Ja’Mar Chase was a big factor Cincinnati Bengals‘ postseason run and rookie quarterback Mack Jones’ Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots Back to the playoffs.
It’s not all about the rookies, however, as we’ve seen some young players take important steps in their development that have helped their teams in a big way. Las Vegas Raiders Broad Hunter Renfro and Tennessee Titans Defensive player Jeffrey Simmons. Which players will change the balance of power in the NFL this upcoming season?
Below, we’ll identify one player in each division who could help their teams capture the division crown in 2022. Players from teams that won their divisions in 2021 are not eligible for this list. With that said, let’s jump right in.
Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
Of all the wild wide receiver plays we’ve seen this offseason, the Tyreek Hill trade may have been the most surprising move. The perennial All-Pro will take his talents to South Beach and add a unique element to Mike McDaniel’s offense. Everyone can agree that Patrick Mahomes is a better quarterback than Tua Tagovailoa, but just because Hill threw down this year or publicly lamented the play of his new signal caller doesn’t mean lowlight reels will be made. Whether it’s burning a free safety or beating defenders inside on a quick slant, Hill can do a lot on offense. Actually, hisCashback after trading! He’s one of the many pieces the Dolphins have added this offseason that I believe can help Miami at least challenge Buffalo in the AFC East.
Odoff Owe, Baltimore Ravens
Ovey made the Pro Football Writers of America’s NFL All-Rookie Team last year after racking up 33 combined tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles. A very promising start to his NFL career after he recorded zero sacks in his final seven games at Penn State.
Many are predicting Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman to move on in 2022 — which would be great — but can you imagine what that would do to this team if the Ravens crushed a new monster on the edge? That secondary will absolutely thrive with Marcus Peters, Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton and Marlon Humphrey. Owe’s specialty is how quick he is on the edge and he feels like he’s ready for a big campaign. Pass-rusher is a prime position, and having a star there could help the Ravens get going from there..
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts
Even though the Colts haven’t won since 2014, Vegas has a win over the Colts again. Matt Ryan is the rookie who excited fans at Indy, but it’s probably his No. 1 wideout who’s most excited for a new win. Quarter. Pittman had a very impressive second NFL season, catching 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. With his skill set and perceived improvement at quarterback, we could see better numbers from Pittman in 2022.
Jonathan Taylor may be the MVP of this offense, but Pittman being a legitimate No. 1 wideout could mean the Colts win the division. In addition to having a new quarterback, Pittman also has more talent surrounding him. Rookie Alec Pierce has made some headlines in camp, and maybe Paris Campbell can stay healthy this year.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
The Kansas City Chiefs While the rest of the division has gotten a facelift this offseason, they are still viewed as the favorites in the AFC West. The Denver Broncos Certainly an intriguing team with the addition of Russell Wilson, but the Chargers are my pick to win the division in 2022. If I’m right, that would be because of star quarterback Justin Herbert.
The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year improved on his play last season as he finished second with 5,014 rushing yards and third with 38 touchdowns. I feel like he’s been in the MVP conversation all year, and I think he’s a player that’s gaining confidence. What he has shown in two seasons is impressive. Shout out to the football gods for creating this Mahomes vs. Herbert matchup that we can enjoy for years to come.
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James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the bettors’ favorite this season. In fact, at 25-1 over at Caesars Sportsbook, the Eagles have the most money to complete the NFL’s best record in 2022. Along with every other NFC team. Few see Jalen Hurts taking a big step or AJ Brown fueling the offense this upcoming season, but I’m more excited about the defense.
Philly could have one of the best defenses in the league, as the front office drafted pass-rusher Hassan Reddick, versatile defensive end Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, linebacker Kysir White and two of the most dominant players in college football history. . New York Giants.Cornerback James Bradberry — most recently played for a rival
The former Carolina Panther earned Pro Bowl honors in his first season with the Giants in 2020, then recorded 47 combined tackles, 17 passes defensed and a career-high four interceptions in 2021. Experienced Eagles and secondary talent needed. He could be the underrated player who solidifies this unit to help the Eagles overtake Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
We all know Justin Jefferson is one of the best players at his position, but there’s reason to believe this upcoming season will be his best yet. New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has been eyeing a coaching opportunity for years. Not only did he work with Sean McVay, but he was next in line to keep the former-Washington-assistant-gone-but-star-head-coach-turned-Washington-assistant alive.Under O’Connell, everyone is having fun and bonding as a team.
The 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft finished his rookie campaign with 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns on 88 catches. Jefferson improved in 2021 with 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns on 108 catches. That’s two NFL seasons, two All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl appearances.
With O’Connell improving the offense and already familiar with quarterback Kirk Cousins, it feels like we have the recipe for another monster campaign from Jefferson. He told me in June that he’s ready to prove he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, and he could do it in 2022.
Chris Olaf, New Orleans Saints
The Saints drafted wide receiver Chris Olave at best, and the wide receiving corps is 100 times better than last year with the additions of Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry.
With Thomas’ injury and Landry coming off his worst NFL season, I feel that Olav is going to play a very important role in this offense in 2022. He moved away from Ohio State’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 35. Caught 13 touchdowns last season — tied for first in the Big Ten. He is versatile, consistent and has all the makings of an NFL wideout. Jameis had Winston Fourth best winning percentage Starting in Week 1 last season, quarterbacks went 5-2, the least productive in the NFL. I’m excited to see what he can do with the weapons around him.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
It’s Dre Lance time in The Bay, and this fan base is juiced. I’m sure Lance’s first full season as a starter will have impressive highs and disappointing lows, but he could be a quarterback who hits his stride toward the latter part of the regular-season slate — just like the 49ers did as a team. Last year.
The thought process is pretty simple: If Lance improves just a little bit more than Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers will be in the thick of the competition again. I’m not going to lie, I love the Rams winning with the plus on the money. But if there’s another team that can steal the NFC West, I’ll take Lance and the 49ers.
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