TOP FIVE NFL STORIES OF 2022

2022-12-28 · 5 min read · NFL/Football
Tom Brady, Trevor Lawrence and Tyreek Hill

Stacy Revere and Harry How/Getty Images | Matt Stamey/AP

In one of the most unpredictable NFL regular seasons that we have witnessed in quite some time, there have been plenty of eye-catching moments both on and off the field.
From perennial bottom feeders turned contenders to some incredible finishes, the 2022 season has been fascinating for various reasons.
As the year ends and with the playoff races heating up, I’ve compiled a list of the top five most interesting NFL stories this year as I see them.
These things have transpired during this campaign, either before or after the regular season began.
These stories are in no particular order from 1-5.
1. The G.O.A.T. returns
To the delight of Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans, Tom Brady had a change of heart this offseason and decided he was not ready to end his illustrious career.
I think it’s fair to say that it has been an off year from what we are used to seeing from the seven-time winning Super Bowl QB.
He still has the Bucs positioned to make the playoffs on the technicality that division winners, regardless of their record, get to move into the postseason.
Perhaps father time has caught up to the 45-year-old, maybe he’s not in the right frame of mind given his divorce, it could be a struggling supporting cast or something else; I don’t think anyone truly knows.
In what could be his last season as a pro, the G.O.A.T. has not looked like himself all year and is on the verge of his first losing season as a professional, should the Bucs drop at least one of their final two regular-season affairs.
2. Sophomore Jinx?
Sports is littered with puns, sayings, crazy rituals, curses (if you believe in that) and superstitions.
One common expression that has been talked about through the years is a sophomore jinx, the idea that you will not perform as well in your second season.
Trevor Lawrence, Micah Parsons, and Ja’Marr Chase are a few of the names who’ve had exceptional 2022 campaigns.
For Lawrence, he entered the NFL with an overwhelming amount of hype not seen since perhaps Peyton Manning, and he has flourished with a competent head coach in Doug Pederson, who knows what it’s like to be a quarterback.
The Jags’ second-year pivot still needs to work on his ball security, but he is making intelligent throws, getting the ball out quicker and has arguably been the biggest reason that the Jags are in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Parsons was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021, meaning unlike Lawrence, he came into this season with a solid pro resume and, with that, plenty of expectations.
The Dallas Cowboys linebacker has been even better in his sophomore season and, for my money, deserves to at least be on the MVP ballot this year.
He’s already matched his sack total from his rookie campaign, has forced three fumbles in 2022 and has been the catalyst for the Cowboys’ outstanding pass rush this year, ranked third in quarterback sacks.
While injuries kept him out of a few games, Ja’Marr Chase is putting together another great season in Cincinnati.
The 22-year-old is on the verge of another 1,000-yard receiving campaign while already exceeding his receptions total from his rookie year, and with two games remaining could still break his regular season touchdown total from 2021.
You might argue that Mac Jones in New England has been underwhelming, and you would be correct, but there’s also Jared Goff, who is not a sophomore by age but is in his second season with the Detroit Lions is looking more like the man who led the Rams to the Super Bowl a few years ago.
Justin Fields deserves a mention as well as he has been one of the few bright spots in Chicago in his second NFL season.
Those names mentioned are just a few players who’ve thrived in their second NFL seasons, so if you believe in this so-called sophomore jinx, perhaps stories like this will change your mind.
3. Crazy Finishes
The NFL is littered with crazy endings throughout history, but we have seen our share of jaw-dropping final moments in games this season.
The Jags and Chargers are among the teams who’ve come back with late touchdowns and also made gutsy two-point conversion calls which gave them victories.
Tom Brady gave us some last-second magic against the New Orleans Saints.
Baker Mayfield provided us with one of the most amazing Thursday Night Football moments bringing the team he’d only just joined back from 16-3 down to win.
New England threw their game away recently against the Las Vegas Raiders on the final play with both teams all square and seemingly destined for overtime.
Then, of course, there’s the Minnesota Vikings, who are known to come to life in the nick of time, exhibit A being in the NFC Divisional Round in the 2017 season when Stefon Diggs caught a final play TD to give them the victory over a bewildered New Orleans Saints.
Justin Jefferson pulled off one of the most incredible catches we’ve ever seen on a 4th and 18 when trailing the Bills, only to be stuffed on the one-yard line eventually.
Josh Allen preceded to fumble the snap on the goal line into the welcoming arms of Eric Kendricks for a touchdown to send that game to overtime.
After an impressive drive to kick a field goal in OT, Allen was again in a giving mood, tossing a pick to Patrick Peterson to secure the victory for the Vikes.
Then on Saturday Night Football, everything went wrong for Kevin O’Connell’s team in the opening half as they trailed 33-0 to the Indianapolis Colts.
Kirk Cousins turned it on with his short game, going 22/25 for 266 yards in the second half, Jefferson had nine grabs for 99 yards, and five different Minnesota players had a touchdown as they came back from the dead to pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history.
4. New Faces in new places
We have seen numerous new faces change teams from the offseason until now, with a record number of trades during the 2022 draft and varying results for those new additions on their clubs.
The Miami Dolphins’ spending has paid off, with Tyreek Hill among the league leaders in receiving, and his experience and explosiveness appears to be one of the missing ingredient for Tua Tagovaiola.
AJ Brown has come alive and provided another dimension to the Eagles’ passing attack, who now have a dangerous multi-talented team in every facet offensively.
The Raiders made a big splash when they signed Davante Adams, and even though their offense has been inconsistent, the former Packers wideout is not to blame, sitting fifth in receiving yards with 1,290.
On the opposite side, there have been many underwhelming performances from some usually dependable players.
Russell Wilson has thrown nine interceptions and a mere 12 touchdowns, completing just over 60% of his passes heading into Week 17, the lowest in his NFL career.
Matt Ryan has rarely shown the poise and accuracy that gave him the nickname “Ice” in Atlanta, as the Colts’ pivot had 13 picks and a QB rating at the moment of only 43.6.
Deshaun Watson has only had a few weeks to get acclimated to his new situation, but he’s struggled in the passing game with just two TD throws in Cleveland, while the Clemson product has averaged below five yards per carry on the ground.
5. Basement Dwellers No More
We have seen several teams improve significantly from last year to this one, and that’s something many couldn’t have predicted.
The Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars have developed a reputation for being perennial losers, winning just six games between them in 2021-22.
So far this season, though, they’re both still very much in the playoff race in their respective conferences, with eight more wins combined this year.
The Ravens finished last in the AFC North last year but will be in the postseason in 2022-23, while the Giants have three more victories than a year ago and are still holding down a Wild Card berth in the NFC.
Seattle is second and still with a shot at the postseason even without two key components from last year in Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, while the Carolina Panthers, who had five victories in 2021-22, can clinch a playoff spot should they win their final two contests of the season.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre

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