Thursday, September 29

2022 NFL season: 100 things to know with 100 days until Week 1 kickoff; news, notes and facts for all 32 teams

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If you’re a Rams fan, you might still be basking in the glory of the team’s 2021 Super Bowl run. But the race for the next Lombardi Trophy will be underway before you know it. In fact, the start of the 2022 season is now just 100 days away. And in case you missed it, this NFL offseason was maybe the wildest in recent memory. So what better way to anticipate the new year, while reviewing the craziness of the last few months, than by highlighting 100 things to know for the 2022 season?

Find a comfortable chair. Get yourself a beverage. And get ready to absorb all the factoids you could ever want:

  1. The Rams are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions after going 12-5 and beating the Bengals in February’s championship. The last time they won the Super Bowl, in 1999, it took them only two seasons to return to the big game.
  2. The Rams will open the new regular season on Thursday, Sept. 8, against the Bills in SoFi Stadium, the site of Los Angeles’ Super Bowl victory.
  3. The Bills are arguably the hottest preseason pick to take over the throne. Caesars Sportsbook has Buffalo as the early favorite to win Super Bowl LVII, just ahead of the Buccaneers and Chiefs, the most recent champs before the Rams.
  4. Most of the Bills hype revolves around quarterback Josh Allen, who happens to be Caesars’ preseason MVP favorite. The 26-year-old All-Pro went toe to toe with former MVP Patrick Mahomes in Buffalo’s overtime playoff loss to the Chiefs in 2021.
  5. The Bills have won at least 10 games in three straight seasons under Allen. They’re looking to claim a third straight AFC East title in 2022, after the division belonged to the Patriots for 11 straight years.
  6. Buffalo’s defense, which includes stud starters like Tre’Davious White and Tremaine Edmunds, will now be headlined by Von Miller, the longtime Broncos and recent Rams linebacker who signed a lucrative deal to lead the Bills’ pass rush this offseason.
  7. The Chiefs have been the Bills’ kryptonite during Buffalo’s transformation to contender. Kansas City beat Buffalo in the 2020 AFC Championship, then edged the Bills 42-36 in the divisional round of the 2021 playoffs.
  8. Unlike the Bills, who extended top wide receiver Stefon Diggs this offseason, securing Allen’s favorite target for the long haul, the Chiefs enter 2022 with a remade pass-catching corps after trading perennial Pro Bowler Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins.
  9. Miami is just one of several teams to enter the new year with a new No. 1 receiver. The Raiders (Davante Adams), Eagles (A.J. Brown), Browns (Amari Cooper), Cardinals (Marquise Brown), Titans (Robert Woods) and Jaguars (Christian Kirk) are all looking to new faces to lead their WRs out of the gate.
  10. The Broncos are looking to snap a six-year streak of missing the playoffs with maybe the biggest addition of the offseason, longtime Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, acquired in a blockbuster trade at the start of free agency.
  11. The last time Denver made the postseason, it won the Super Bowl. That was 2015, when Peyton Manning, the team’s last supersized QB addition, started under center.
  12. Broncos Nation will get its first look at Wilson in orange and blue on “Monday Night Football,” when Wilson’s old team, the Seahawks, is set to host a Week 1 tilt in Seattle.
  13. No division enters with higher expectations than the AFC West, where Denver made the biggest splash at QB but the Chargers spent big around their own star QB, Justin Herbert; the Raiders did the same under new coach Josh McDaniels; and the Chiefs remain annual title contenders thanks to QB Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid.
  14. The Chargers enter their second year under coach Brandon Staley with a reloaded defense. The biggest additions: Bears pass-rusher Khalil Mack, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson and Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day.
  15. Like the Bills, the Chargers are mostly considered AFC muscle because of their QB. Herbert, 24, is the first player in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons.
  16. The Raiders are banking on their own QB, Derek Carr, guiding a new regime, extending the 31-year-old through 2025 and paying up to land Adams, his old Fresno State teammate, from the Packers.
  17. McDaniels, who’s making his debut as Raiders coach, spent the last 10 years under Bill Belichick with the Patriots. He previously parlayed a New England job into a head coaching gig in 2009 but lasted less than two seasons with the Broncos.
  18. After trading Hill, the Chiefs are looking to prove they’re still a model offense, turning to several newcomers (JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore) to serve as outlets for Mahomes.
  19. Oddsmakers still love Kansas City’s chances of controlling the star-studded AFC. Mahomes is a top-two favorite to win his second NFL MVP award, and the Chiefs sit behind only the Bills in AFC title odds.

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  21. Under Reid, the Chiefs have won at least 12 games in five of their last six seasons. They’ve logged double-digit wins in eight of Reid’s nine seasons atop the staff, as well as six straight AFC West titles and three straight AFC Championship appearances. They came within four points of appearing in a third straight Super Bowl in 2021.
  22. The Bengals, who upset the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, are looking to defend their first AFC North title in six years. Although they didn’t win the Super Bowl against the Rams, their march through the postseason confirmed them as one of the biggest turnaround stories in recent memory; they went just 6-25-1 under coach Zac Taylor the previous two years.
  23. QB Joe Burrow is looking to return Cincinnati to the playoffs behind an improved offensive line, which has three new starters in ex-Patriots center Ted Karras, ex-Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa and ex-Cowboys tackle La’el Collins.
  24. The Bengals might have one of, if not the best, skill-position group in the NFL between Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The latter three combined for 3,374 yards in 2021.
  25. Despite their title bid, the Bengals could face stiff competition in the AFC North, where the rival Browns, Ravens and Steelers all appear improved. Not one of them has controlled the division for more than two seasons at a time since the 1990s.
  26. The Browns made the biggest, if not unanimously celebrated, moves to improve in 2022. None was bigger than their trade for ex-Texans QB Deshaun Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler who still faces 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct.
  27. Watson’s arrival effectively spelled the end of former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield’s career in Cleveland. The Browns are still looking to trade Mayfield, who battled injuries during much of an iffy 2021 campaign.
  28. It remains to be seen if — and, more likely, how long — Watson will be suspended in light of his alleged serial abuse. The Browns insist publicly they have reviewed their new QB’s background, but NFL discipline is anticipated.
  29. If/when Watson is suspended, the Browns are set to turn to journeyman Jacoby Brissett as their interim QB. Brissett’s most recent stops include the Dolphins’ and Colts’ backup roles.
  30. Outside of their QB uncertainties, the Browns boast some of the top talent in the NFL. Running back Nick Chubb, new receiver Cooper, pass-rusher Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward are all Pro Bowl-caliber starters.
  31. The Ravens, meanwhile, are relying as much on familiar faces as new names to return to the playoff picture. They figure to be much healthier in 2022 after losing countless starters, including literally their entire stable of running backs, in 2021.
  32. QB Lamar Jackson is the biggest name returning from injury for Baltimore. Despite MVP-level athleticism, he faces his own set of questions entering a contract year: Will his lack of a long-term deal affect his play? Will the loss of No. 1 wideout Marquise Brown hurt his passing development? Will the Ravens double down on a run-first approach around his legs?
  33. Baltimore is looking to avoid a third straight year of regression. The Ravens have made the playoffs nine times in John Harbaugh’s 14 seasons as coach, but their win total has decreased from 14 to 11 to eight the last three years.
  34. The Steelers, who have never had a losing season under Mike Tomlin, are entering the year without Ben Roethlisberger at QB for the first time since 2003. His immediate successor could be first-round pick Kenny Pickett, from — where else — Pittsburgh.
  35. Once the powerhouse of the AFC, the Patriots are looking to build on QB Mac Jones’ encouraging rookie year and win their first playoff game in four years. They went 10-7 in 2021 but were blown out by the rival Bills in the wild card round.
  36. New England appears more interested in winning the old-fashioned way, with efficient passing, a sizable ground game and physical defense. That’s a strategy also set to be deployed in Seattle, where Pete Carroll tries to win without Wilson.
  37. One of the few gambles the Patriots are taking at WR to help Jones in Year 2: DeVante Parker, the former Dolphins standout, acquired via trade before the draft. Parker is set to compete with the likes of Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and rookie Tyquan Thornton for playing time.
  38. Broncos castoff Drew Lock, part of the package that sent Wilson to Denver, is competing with veteran backup Geno Smith to start at QB in Seattle. The Seahawks’ 7-10 finish in 2021 snapped their three-year playoff streak.
  39. The Dolphins are also poised to lean on the run under new coach Mike McDaniel, a former top assistant to Kyle Shanahan with the 49ers. Miami added several backs, including ex-Cardinals starter Chase Edmonds, behind young QB Tua Tagovailoa and could also incorporate Hill in reverses and run-centric packages.
  40. Speaking of San Francisco and running receivers, top weapon Deebo Samuel may or may not be in town as he seeks a trade, which adds uncertainty to an offense with a question mark at the most important position. Incumbent QB Jimmy Garoppolo is pricey and injury-prone, leaving former first-round pick Trey Lance as the tantalizing but unproven successor.
  41. The 49ers have either been elite or lackluster under Shanahan, logging three losing records and two NFC Championship bids in five years. They spent big to draft Lance in 2021, but the NDSU product saw limited playing time as a rookie.
  42. Back in the AFC East, another Shanahan disciple, coordinator Mike LaFleur, is looking to oversee a major step forward for Jets’ former first-round QB Zach Wilson, who struggled mightily for much of his 2021 debut.
  43. Few QBs enter the new season with a more improved supporting cast than Wilson, whose Jets added receiver Garrett Wilson, running back Breece Hall and lineman Laken Tomlinson. The team’s defense also has lots of intriguing new faces, including rookies Sauce Gardner and Jermaine Johnson II, and defensive backs D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead.
  44. The reigning AFC South champion Titans are entering a make-or-break year for QB Ryan Tannehill, who helped turn Tennessee into a contender but is 0-3 in his last three playoff starts. Tannehill is expendable after 2022 and now faces long-term competition in rookie Malik Willis, widely considered the most electric QB prospect of his class.
  45. The Titans are asking rookie receiver Treylon Burks to play a huge role out of the gate, drafting the big wideout to replace former No. 1 Brown, who was dealt to the Eagles on draft day. Tennessee’s offense still figures to run through big back Derrick Henry, however, with Jeffery Simmons headlining their tough front on the other side of the ball.
  46. The Colts are set to open the year with a new starting QB for the seventh straight season, with longtime Falcons standout Matt Ryan replacing Carson Wentz, who was dealt to Washington following a poor finish to 2021.
  47. The 37-year-old Ryan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Lions-turned-Rams star Matthew Stafford, another proven QB who found instant playoff success after relocating from his longtime NFL home to a win-now setup. Indianapolis’ top pieces, including RB Jonathan Taylor and a stingy defense now led by Gus Bradley, figure to get him back in the postseason mix.
  48. If Ryan goes down in Indy, the Colts’ new backup is Nick Foles, who famously thrived under coach Frank Reich in Philadelphia, where Foles won Super Bowl MVP as the fill-in star for the Eagles’ 2017 title run.
  49. Speaking of ex-Eagles stars, Doug Pederson is hoping to rejuvenate the Jaguars after a year away from the game, replacing Urban Meyer as head coach. His top asset, QB Trevor Lawrence, got a slew of big-money investments this offseason, including receivers Kirk and Zay Jones, tight end Evan Engram and lineman Brandon Scherff.
  50. The Jaguars will enter the season with the last two No. 1 overall draft picks: Lawrence and new DT/DE Travon Walker.
  51. Jacksonville has made the playoffs just twice in the past 15 years, and the Jags have won just 15 games over the last four. Even a several-win improvement from their 3-14 finish in 2021 would likely be considered a success for their new staff.
  52. The Giants have also been bottom-dwellers of late, making the playoffs once in the last 10 years. They are banking on a pair of former Bills leaders, new coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen, to uproot a pricey, underwhelming roster.
  53. Former first-round QB Daniel Jones is looking to earn additional time under center in New York, where the Giants declined his fifth-year option, making 2022 Jones’ final audition to remain Big Blue’s signal-caller. His new coach, Daboll, famously helped develop Allen from scattershot starter to steady playmaker in Buffalo.
  54. Washington is hoping to strike its own kind of gold at QB, turning to Eagles and Colts castoff Wentz via trade. They’ve cycled through young and old QBs alike, and coach Ron Rivera hasn’t won double-digit games since 2017, when he was with the Panthers.
  55. This is the first season Washington will play as the Commanders. The franchise spent two years as Washington Football Team after retiring its longtime “Redskins” nickname in 2020.

  56. USA TODAY Sports
  57. The Cowboys enter as favorites to win the NFC East, which they did in 2021, but their own coach, Mike McCarthy, could be on the hot seat thanks to previous public pressure from team owner Jerry Jones.
  58. Dallas scored more points than any team in the NFL a year ago, but QB Dak Prescott’s offensive lineup will look different, with Collins, Cooper and Wilson Jr. all gone. Staples like Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz are still in town and figure to headline the group.
  59. The Cowboys’ defense, under the direction of Dan Quinn (a Jones favorite and potential McCarthy successor), features maybe the NFL’s top young defensive playmakers in Micah Parsons, who racked up 13 sacks as a 22-year-old rookie; and Trevon Diggs, whose hit-or-miss coverage netted him an NFL-leading 11 interceptions.
  60. Few teams are surging as potential division challengers quite like the Eagles, who finished 9-8 under new coach Nick Sirianni in 2021 and added a number of big names via the draft and free agency, including Brown, DE/LB Haason Reddick, DT Jordan Davis and CB James Bradberry.
  61. Philadelphia is poised to lean more on the passing game after excelling as a run-heavy offense down the stretch in 2021, with third-year QB Jalen Hurts looking to secure a long-term job with Brown and DeVonta Smith as his top young targets.
  62. If any division is up for grabs, it’s the NFC East, where there hasn’t been a repeat champion since 2001-2004.
  63. If there’s one division winner from 2021 that you can bet will lose its crown, it might be the Cowboys, not only because of the NFC East’s parity but because Dallas hasn’t had back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins since the 1990s.
  64. While the 49ers and Seahawks are dealing with uncertainty at QB, the Cardinals might take the cake for NFC West drama. QB Kyler Murray is still engaged in a quiet contract dispute, star WR DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first six games due to suspension, and coach Kliff Kingsbury has job security on a new deal but has overseen late-season slumps every year.
  65. In Green Bay, star QB and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers will have to navigate his first season without Adams since 2013. Rookie Christian Watson, a second-round pick out of NDSU, could quickly become a go-to target on the outside.
  66. With or without a deep receiving corps, the Packers are looking to make it four straight seasons with at least 13 wins under coach Matt LaFleur. They’re also aiming for their fourth straight NFC North title.
  67. One area in which Green Bay should be improved is on defense, where star corner Jaire Alexander is healthier and newly paid, and rookie newcomers Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt should give the front seven more juice.
  68. The NFC North runners-up, the Vikings, are hoping to get back in the playoffs to kick off a new regime, with former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell replacing Mike Zimmer at head coach and former Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah taking over for Rick Spielman at general manager.
  69. The biggest gamble of new Vikings leadership was the decision to recommit to — rather than sell — QB Kirk Cousins, who’s yet to taste much big-game glory but has mostly offered top-12ish production under center. Cousins is now tied to Minnesota through 2023, but the idea is he’ll be better utilized with an offensive mind running the show.
  70. If Cousins doesn’t inspire Vikings faithful, his weapons still should. RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson are arguably top-three players at their respective positions and should keep Minnesota explosive on that side of the ball.
  71. The new-look Vikings are clearly interested in winning now rather than rebuilding slowly, as some of their biggest investments on defense, once a strong point under Zimmer, anticipate early results. New starters Jordan Hicks and Za’Darius Smith, for example, should pair nicely with holdovers like Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks to solidify that unit.
  72. The Bears also addressed their defense ahead of 2022, swapping out aging assets like Mack for youngsters like Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, and naming former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus their new head man.
  73. While Chicago’s defense could still be feisty, the new Bears regime is asking an awful lot of second-year QB Justin Fields, saddling the former first-rounder with an iffy line and pass catchers. It’s a potentially dangerous road to take, even if they plan to spend big in 2023, after just recently exiling another top QB pick they struggled to develop.
  74. The Lions, who haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, are looking to translate coach Dan Campbell’s beloved demeanor into on-field results, after finishing his debut with just a 3-13-1 record.
  75. Detroit will boast a lot more speed on offense, adding former Jaguars standout D.J. Chark and Alabama product Jameson Williams to an offense already featuring young playmakers like D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. Their questions mainly lie on defense, where they used their top draft pick on edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson; and QB, where Jared Goff somehow managed to stave off any additions to the position with a single mediocre season as a stopgap.

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  77. The biggest story of the season might reside in Tampa, where the ageless Tom Brady will embark on his 23rd season (and third as the Buccaneers QB) after abruptly returning from his post-2021 retirement, which lasted all of 40 days.
  78. Brady’s return coincides with the return of plenty of other notable Bucs, including Super Bowl names like Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis and Ryan Jensen. He will not, however, play under Bruce Arians this time, with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles taking over as head coach after Arians’ abrupt resignation in March.
  79. Plenty have speculated that Arians’ resignation as Bucs coach has to do with Brady’s return (i.e. that the two were no longer working well together), but regardless, it’s very possible Brady is entering his final season in Tampa Bay. His contract allows him to test free agency again after 2022, and the all-time great would undoubtedly have suitors.
  80. As long as Brady is under center with the Bucs, though, it’s hard to bet against Tampa Bay in the NFC, and especially in the NFC South, which arguably includes three other teams either blatantly rebuilding or struggling to admit they should be.
  81. The Falcons are poised to put up the least amount of fight in the NFC South. Not only are they entering the season with new faces Marcus Mariota and/or Desmond Ridder at QB in place of Ryan, but their roster, save for a few promising young pieces like TE Kyle Pitts and CB A.J. Terrell, looks years away from contending.
  82. The Panthers enter with an upgraded offensive line and have their own handful of young standouts, from D.J. Moore to Derrick Brown, but are set to live on yet another prayer at QB, where ex-Jets bust Sam Darnold and rookie third-rounder Matt Corral could compete for the Opening Day gig.
  83. Carolina looks like one of the last logical landing spots for veteran QBs still on the trade market, namely Mayfield and Garoppolo. It’s possible they could wait until deep into the summer or preseason to pull the trigger on such a move.
  84. The Saints are acting as if they’ll be back in the playoff mix in 2022, surrounding trial-run QB Jameis Winston with toys both old (WR Michael Thomas) and new (WRs Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, OT Trevor Penning).
  85. After allowing safety Marcus Williams to depart for the Ravens in free agency, and saying farewell to the retiring Malcolm Jenkins, the Saints are turning to former Chiefs star Tyrann Mathieu to lead their secondary.
  86. New Orleans will be without Sean Payton on the sidelines for the first time since 2005, with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen taking over after Payton’s indefinite departure from coaching. Allen has been with the Saints in some capacity for 12 different seasons, but his only time as a head coach, with the Raiders from 2012-2014, resulted in an 8-28 record.
  87. In the event Winston goes down (the former Buccaneers QB has played a full season just once in five years), the Saints’ new backup is Andy Dalton, the longtime Bengals starter last seen as a No. 2 in Dallas and Chicago.
  88. If there’s one team that can play spoiler against the stacked Bucs, it’s the Saints, who have gone 4-1 against Tampa Bay since Brady’s move from New England. In their last meeting, Allen was the interim coach and led a 9-0 shutout victory.
  89. A dozen different teams will be featured in at least five prime-time games: the Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Buccaneers, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers, Packers, Patriots, Steelers and Rams.
  90. The last two Super Bowl champions have won the championship in their own stadiums: the Buccaneers, at Raymond James Stadium in 2020; and the Rams, at SoFi Stadium in 2021. The host this year: State Farm Stadium, home of the Cardinals.
  91. The reigning champion Rams should remain one of the deepest offensive attacks in the NFL, adding former Bears WR Allen Robinson to a group already including Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp, who led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 2021.
  92. In the aftermath of the Rams’ 2021 title, there was lots of speculation about the potential retirements of both coach Sean McVay and star DT Aaron Donald, each of whom hinted at stepping away from the game prior to the Super Bowl. Both McVay and Donald are back and on track to stick with the club for at least this year.
  93. Games will officially begin Aug. 4, when the preseason kicks off with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. This year’s opponents are the Jaguars and Raiders, both of whom will debut new coaches.
  94. This year’s International Series, featuring the NFL’s annual overseas matchups, includes three games in London, one in Mexico City, and one in Germany, where the Buccaneers and Seahawks will square off in Munich.
  95. For the 17th straight year, three different games will take place on Thanksgiving: Bills at Lions, Giants at Cowboys, and Patriots at Vikings.
  96. Christmas Day will feature a special three-game slate for the first time in NFL history: Packers at Dolphins and Broncos at Rams (on CBS and Nickelodeon) in the afternoon, and Buccaneers at Cardinals on “Sunday Night Football.”
  97. Ten different teams will debut new head coaches: the Bears (Eberflus), Broncos (Nathaniel Hackett), Buccaneers (Todd Bowles), Dolphins (McDaniel), Giants (Daboll), Jaguars (Pederson), Raiders (McDaniels), Saints (Allen), Texans (Lovie Smith) and Vikings (O’Connell).
  98. This will be the second 17-game, 18-week regular season in NFL history.
  99. A new overtime rule will go into effect starting in the playoffs. Previously, the first team to score a touchdown (or score any points and prevent the other team from scoring as many on its ensuing possession) would win. Now, both teams are guaranteed at least one possession.
  100. The NFL is still investigating the alleged conduct of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who was named in a wide-spanning class-action lawsuit from Brian Flores, the team’s former coach. Flores, now an assistant with the Steelers, has shed light on alleged racial discrimination in hiring and workplace practices around the league, and one of his allegations suggests Ross once offered him $100,000 per loss to secure better draft positioning.
  101. “Thursday Night Football” will now stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.
  102. Several specialty broadcasts debuted in recent seasons will continue in 2022, including Paramount’s family oriented Nickelodeon simulcast, which will run on Christmas Day; and ESPN2’s “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli.”
  103. Lead national TV broadcasters are now as follows: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo (CBS), Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen (Fox), Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth (NBC), Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (ESPN/ABC), Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit (Amazon).





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