2022 NFL Season Predictions: Full Record Projections, Standings, Playoff Participants, and 1st-Round Draft Order

The Los Angeles Rams are going to make the NFL playoffs once again, fresh off their Super Bowl victory in February. Tom Brady is going to steer the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back into the postseason. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t going anywhere.

Some predictions for the 2022 NFL season write themselves. But we’re not stopping there.

Our staff at Sportscasting predicted the records of all 32 teams heading into the campaign, and we’re breaking down the results for you division by division before diving into the conference standings and the projected order for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Buckle up!

AFC East standings

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa | Megan Briggs/Getty Images

1. Buffalo Bills: 12-5

Led by an MVP candidate at quarterback in Josh Allen and a ferocious defense that allowed an NFL-best 4.6 yards per offensive play in 2021, the Buffalo Bills arrived as a powerhouse last season and should cement that status in the encore. Plus, they’ll be looking for revenge after their dramatic loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.

Floor: 10-7

Ceiling: 14-3

2. Miami Dolphins: 9-8

Everything hinges on Tua Tagovailoa, and there’s reason to be quite optimistic now that he’s throwing to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle under the supervision of new head coach Mike McDaniel. The defense is a strong unit, as well, though the early-season absence of Byron Jones could curtail its upside.

Floor: 7-10

Ceiling: 11-6

3. New England Patriots: 8-9

Could this be the second time since 2000 that the New England Patriots finish with a mark below .500? Mac Jones developing quickly could make that a foolish notion, but he struggled immensely in preseason action within an offense that inexplicably features de facto offensive coordinator Matt Patricia calling the plays.

Floor: 6-11

Ceiling: 10-7

4. New York Jets: 5-12

Even if the New York Jets aren’t quite ready to make the leap, they feature loads of exciting offensive talent (and a fun Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in Sauce Gardner). The one-two punch of Michael Carter II and Breece Hall could make for an outstanding backfield, and Zach Wilson could take that proverbial next step while throwing to Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, and Corey Davis.

Floor: 4-13

Ceiling: 7-10

AFC North standings

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

1. Cincinnati Bengals: 11-6

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to build upon last year’s Super Bowl defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, and they certainly have the pieces necessary to make it happen. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase could emerge as the league’s premier pass-catching duo during the latter’s sophomore campaign, especially when supported by the Joe Mixon-led ground game.

Floor: 10-7

Ceiling: 12-5

2. Baltimore Ravens: 10-7

Lamar Jackson is in prove-it mode as he tries to earn the contract extension he’s really already earned, and the Baltimore Ravens’ injury luck can’t possibly be as bad as it was last year. When healthy, this team has the personnel on both ends of the ball to make the sledding tough for any opponent.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 12-5

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-9

Will Mitchell Trubisky capitalize on his role as the starting quarterback and make the Chicago Bears wish they hadn’t given up on him? Will the calls for rookie signal-caller Kenny Pickett grow too loud to ignore? Does it even matter when the Steelers are clearly behind two other AFC North squads in the divisional pecking order?

Floor: 6-11

Ceiling: 9-8

4. Cleveland Browns: 7-10

It’s no secret this Cleveland Browns offense will be far more potent with Deshaun Watson under center than with Jacoby Brissett, but the latter will spend the majority of the season taking snaps as the former serves his 11-game suspension without pay following accusations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions by more than two dozen women. Still, the Browns — as has been the case for the last few years, just to no significant avail — at least have plenty of on-paper talent throughout the roster.

Floor: 5-12

Ceiling: 10-7

AFC South standings

First overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft Travon Walker | Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

1. Indianapolis Colts: 11-6

It’s Matt Ryan time for the Indianapolis Colts, and that bodes well for an offense with enough talent to look rather explosive in 2022. Indy needs Shaquille Leonard on the field and at full strength, which might not happen until it’s a few weeks into the regular-season schedule, but this squad should reign supreme in an enduringly weak AFC South.

Floor: 11-6

Ceiling: 12-5

2. Tennessee Titans: 10-7

Losing star pass-rusher Harold Landry III to a torn ACL before playing a single game that actually matters is brutal, but the Tennessee Titans have enough two-way infrastructure in place to stay competitive. Though Ryan Tannehill isn’t the most glamorous option under center — here’s looking at you, Malik Willis — he’s a strong game-manager with single-contest upside. Plus, it’s pretty easy to just hand Derrick Henry the rock.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 11-6

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-11

Travon Walker, the reigning No. 1 pick of the NFL draft, could make a substantial impact off the edge and elevate a downtrodden Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Trevor Lawrence could explode as a sophomore-year quarterback after transitioning from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson at head coach. The hypotheticals are legitimately exciting in Duval, but they’re still just hypotheticals.

Floor: 5-12

Ceiling: 9-8

4. Houston Texans: 4-13

Dameon Pierce’s stock had plenty of helium as the rookie fourth-rounder put together a stellar preseason. Brandin Cooks remains one of the NFL’s more underrated wide receivers. Davis Mills has enough juice in his right arm to emerge as a low-level long-term starter. And yet, the Houston Texans will still operate at a talent deficit against just about every opponent on their schedule.

Floor: 3-14

Ceiling: 5-12

AFC West standings

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

1. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-6

Tyreek Hill is gone, but Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and plenty more remain for the perpetually loaded Kansas City Chiefs. If Nick Bolton, L’Jarius Sneed, Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, and the other youngsters on defense can continue to build upon the point-preventing momentum earned in the second half of last season, the sky (note: not the Skyy Moore) could be the limit.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 12-5

2. Los Angeles Chargers: 11-6

Justin Herbert is on the shortlist of players who could emerge as the NFL’s premier talent. The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback has a bazooka for a right arm, and he processes the game at such a high level, diagnosing defenses in a split second and rarely making poor decisions. If he’s truly in the MVP conversation, the Chargers could be sitting out the first round of the AFC playoffs — and not because they missed the postseason entirely.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 12-5

3. Las Vegas Raiders: 10-7

The Las Vegas Raiders navigated a tumultuous season that included the tragic car crash of Henry Ruggs III and former head coach Jon Gruden’s email scandal, and they still emerged with a 10-7 record. The AFC West has gotten better, but so have the Raiders thanks to wide receiver Davante Adams and pass-rusher Chandler Jones, among other offseason arrivals.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 12-5

4. Denver Broncos: 9-8

The Denver Broncos are the rare contender at the bottom of the divisional pecking order. Of course, that’s a product of the AFC West’s depth. With Russell Wilson running the show and surrounded by Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Javonte Williams, and Melvin Gordon III, as well as a strong defensive unit that finished third in points allowed last year, Denver could easily flip this prediction all the way around.

Floor: 7-10

Ceiling: 10-7

Overall AFC standings

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen | Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Division Winners

1. Buffalo Bills: 12-5 (first-round bye)

2. Cincinnati Bengals: 11-6

3. Indianapolis Colts: 11-6

4. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-6

Wild-Card Teams

5. Los Angeles Chargers: 11-6

6. Baltimore Ravens: 10-7

7. Las Vegas Raiders: 10-7

Non-Playoff Participants

8. Tennessee Titans: 10-7

9. Miami Dolphins: 9-8

10. Denver Broncos: 9-8

11. New England Patriots: 8-9

12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-9

13. Cleveland Browns: 7-10

14. Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-11

15. New York Jets: 5-12

16. Houston Texans: 4-13

NFC East standings

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz | David Eulitt/Getty Images

1. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-7

These Philadelphia Eagles are deep and talented on both ends of the ball. If their biggest strength is the offensive line, they might not have to worry about whether Jalen Hurts progresses as a passer since the running game can put them in great shape against virtually any opponent.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 11-6

2. Dallas Cowboys: 10-7

Though the Dallas Cowboys have traditionally excelled on offense with a defense that tries to keep pace, the opposite could be true in 2022. With Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs wreaking havoc, points could be hard to come by against America’s Team. On the flip side, the Tyron Smith injury could make it tougher for the two-headed backfield monster of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to thrive while Dak Prescott looks for options who could break out alongside CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 11-6

3. Washington Commanders: 7-10

The Washington Commanders should be just fine on defense, but your degree of belief in this squad is likely tied directly to your degree of belief in mercurial quarterback Carson Wentz. If his erraticism turns into consistency, he could hit Terry McLaurin on enough big plays to earn some W’s in the nation’s capital. That’s just a big if coming off the poor finish to his brief Indianapolis Colts tenure.

Floor: 6-11

Ceiling: 9-8

4. New York Giants: 6-11

If Saquon Barkley stays healthy and Daniel Jones breaks out while throwing to Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Sterling Shepard, the New York Giants could make major strides as they get going under the supervision of new head coach Brian Daboll. But they’ll still endure plenty of ups and downs along the way, and that’s saying nothing of a defense that struggled to stop anything on the ground last year.

Floor: 4-13

Ceiling: 8-9

NFC North standings

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson | Nic Antaya/Getty Images

1. Green Bay Packers: 11-6

Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, though that will be tested when his pass-catching corps, now devoid of Davante Adams, features Allen Lazard, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watford, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb. Clearly, we’re still buying his enduring excellence with another double-digit-win prediction in spite of the notable changes.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 12-5

2. Minnesota Vikings: 10-7

A wide receiver has never won MVP, but Justin Jefferson is talented enough to change that. The second-year threat excels in every facet of the passing game, and he should receive plenty of opportunities to catch tosses from Kirk Cousins as the offensive scheme shifts to favor more of an air-out-approach and Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr., and Dalvin Cook draw defensive attention of their own.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 12-5

3. Detroit Lions: 6-11

Based on Hard Knocks, at least, the Detroit Lions seem to be unified and motivated under head coach Dan Campbell, and that’s what they need as they look to turn the raw talent throughout the roster into actualized production. It’s hard to do that without a standout at quarterback or a true leader of the defense, though, and Jared Goff probably isn’t the answer for the former void. No one on the roster is, unfortunately for the Motor City faithful.

Floor: 5-12

Ceiling: 8-9

4. Chicago Bears: 4-13

Justin Fields is a ridiculous talent at quarterback, capable of winning games with his arm or his legs. But the Chicago Bears haven’t put anything of note around him. Based on the quality — or lack thereof — of their offensive line, they actually seem intent on making his life more difficult during these early stages of his promising NFL career.

Floor: 2-15

Ceiling: 5-12

NFC South standings

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 12-5

Forget about questions of motivation. Don’t let the lack of Rob Gronkowski dissuade you. Try not to worry too much about injuries along the offensive line. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have one of the most talented rosters in football, and Tom Brady is leading the charge. Until he’s officially retired or using a cane, doubting him is foolish.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 14-3

2. New Orleans Saints: 9-8

Jameis Winston was playing the best, most efficient football of his career before suffering an ACL tear midway through the 2021 campaign. If he picks up where he left off while throwing to healthy versions of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara — plus with rookie Chris Olave lining up at wide receiver — the New Orleans Saints offense could be explosive enough to challenge for NFC South supremacy.

Floor: 7-10

Ceiling: 11-6

3. Carolina Panthers: 6-11

Will Christian McCaffrey be available all season? Over the last two go-rounds, the Carolina Panthers are 4-6 with him in the lineup and 6-17 without him. Of course, none of that matters if he stays healthy and gets dragged down by either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold at quarterback. The infrastructure isn’t in place for the Panthers to do anything more than let a healthy McCaffrey will them to a handful of wins.

Floor: 5-12

Ceiling: 8-9

4. Atlanta Falcons: 4-13

It’s telling that none of our panelists pegged the Atlanta Falcons for anything more than five wins. The quarterback combination of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder isn’t exciting. The skill-position players are questionable until Calvin Ridley rejoins Kyle Pitts and Co. The defense is one of the league’s worst units. It’s time to start building draft boards, Atlanta fans.

Floor: 3-14

Ceiling: 5-12

NFC West standings

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald | Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

1. Los Angeles Rams: 11-6

Aaron Donald is back and ready to terrorize opposing backfields and quarterbacks — ideally not with helmet in hand. Cooper Kupp is looking to provide an encore to his Triple Crown-winning season. The Los Angeles Rams remain loaded on both ends of the ball and are a reasonable choice to defend their title with a second straight trip to the biggest game on the NFL calendar.

Floor: 11-6

Ceiling: 12-5

2. San Francisco 49ers: 9-8

Do you believe in Trey Lance? Actually, scratch that. Better question: Do the San Francisco 49ers believe in Trey Lance since they retained Jimmy Garoppolo at a price not typically associated with backup quarterbacks? San Francisco’s defensive prowess and Kyle Shanahan’s creative schemes should keep the Niners in the playoff picture, but it’s up to the young signal-caller to elevate them beyond the 17th game on the schedule.

Floor: 7-10

Ceiling: 11-6

3. Arizona Cardinals: 8-9

With Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, James Conner, and Zach Ertz supporting Kyler Murray even before DeAndre Hopkins returns from a six-game suspension, the Arizona Cardinals aren’t exactly lacking offensive talent. But unless a middle-of-the-pack defense blossoms or Murray himself shows more consistency throughout an entire campaign, they might still face an uphill battle for a postseason berth.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 9-8

4. Seattle Seahawks: 4-13

Geno Smith is starting at quarterback. By choice.

Floor: 3-14

Ceiling: 5-12

Overall NFC standings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Division Winners

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 12-5 (first-round bye)

2. Los Angeles Rams: 11-6

3. Green Bay Packers: 11-6

4. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-7

Wild-Card Teams

5. Minnesota Vikings: 10-7

6. Dallas Cowboys: 10-7

7. New Orleans Saints: 9-8

Non-Playoff Participants

8. San Francisco 49ers: 9-8

9. Arizona Cardinals: 8-9

10. Washington Commanders: 7-10

11. Carolina Panthers: 6-11

12. Detroit Lions: 6-11

13. New York Giants: 6-11

14. Chicago Bears: 4-13

15. Seattle Seahawks: 4-13

16. Atlanta Falcons: 4-13

Projected order for the 2023 NFL Draft

Potential No. 1 overall pick C.J. Stroud | Harry How/Getty Images

1. Houston Texans

2. Atlanta Falcons

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. Chicago Bears

5. New York Jets

6. New York Giants

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Detroit Lions

9. Carolina Panthers

10. Washington Commanders

11. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns)

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

13. New England Patriots

14. Arizona Cardinals

15. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers)

16. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos)

17. Miami Dolphins (pick forfeited)

18. Tennessee Titans

19. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints)

20. Dallas Cowboys

21. Las Vegas Raiders

22. Philadelphia Eagles

23. Minnesota Vikings

24. Baltimore Ravens

25. Los Angeles Chargers

26. Green Bay Packers

27. Kansas City Chiefs

28. Indianapolis Colts

29. Cincinnati Bengals

30. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

32. Buffalo Bills

Predictions courtesy of Mike Calendrillo, Tim Crean, Nick Dimengo, Jack Dougherty, Adam Fromal, Joe Kozlowski, John Moriello, Luke Norris, and Mike Thomas.

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