On a micro level we all have different views of what a “best season” is. For most of us it probably means our favorite team having a Super Bowl run, or seeing your favorite player dominate the game — but when the dust settles 2022 will be remembered as a truly legendary year in terms of performances all across the league.
If you value parity over everything else, then 2022 was utter perfection. It’s not what happened at the top of each division, but the bottom. 25 teams finished the regular season .400 or better, representing a 7-10 record on the season. That hasn’t happened … ever. The last time only seven teams finished with a sub .400 record was in 1995, before the 32 team expansion. This means we’ve never had a season where so many teams came close to .500 or above it.
That’s what made everything about this season so great. Nobody utterly dominated their competition, and every team in the league is flawed in some way. Sure, you could say the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL as we enter the playoffs — but even if they lost to the Bengals and Bills, two teams they could conceivably meet in the playoffs. Similarly, the Eagles are the class of the NFC, but lost to the Cowboys and Commanders, who they could see in the NFC playoffs.
We also saw some incredible individual performances this season. Patrick Mahomes throwing for over 5,000 yards, 13 different 1,000 yard rushers, Justin Jefferson’s 1,800 receiving yards and five different players recording 15.0 sacks or more. Part of this is due to the NFL’s increased season length, but also a factor of just how good players around the league are right now. This is truly a blessed time to be watching football, and it’s not over yet.
This truly feels like a season where we won’t get a chalk finish. I would be stunned to see the Chiefs and Eagles meet in the end, and honestly it feels like a year where we could get an utterly random Super Bowl. I’m trying to say there’s a chance, Jaguars fans.
I’ve been avidly following football since 1994, and writing about it professionally for over a decade. I can safely say that this has been the most random, fun, wild season I can possibly remember. Every single week was an opportunity to call a friend, send group texts, and marvel at a bizarre finish or mind-blowing individual performance. Every week was an event, not just on days where football was being played – but an opportunity around the water cooler or on Discord as the Broncos plummeted, the Eagles soared, and Brock Purdy went from Mr. Irrelevant to one of the best-known players in the NFL.
This was an emotional season for so many reasons, and I’d be remiss without mentioning Damar Hamlin. The rollercoaster of seeing this young man fall on Monday night, then closing out the week with him posting on social media and supporting his Bills was one of the most incredibly emotional things I have ever seen in the NFL. I know it will be a long road to knowing fully if there are any ramifications from his cardiac arrest, and rehabilitation might take some time – but just knowing he’s able to communicate and be with his family is everything.
Now, onto the week.
Winners: The Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a huge week for a lot of reasons. Doug Pederson taking the Jags back to the playoffs is a big deal. Trevor Lawrence proves that he is the guy in Duval for a long, long time is everything for a team that’s had to endure failures like Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles in recent years.
Jacksonville also proved that Urban Meyer is a clown show fraud. You love to see it.
But we don’t need to ruminate on shit football coaches when the Jaguars are so good right now. This seriously might be one of the scariest teams in the playoffs because they are an unknown quantity compared to the field. The Chiefs, Bills and Bengals are better teams – but you more or less know what they’re going to do. The Jaguars are random, unpredictable, and have a spark that can see them go off anywhere, at any time.
From last place in the entire league a year ago, to winning the AFC South. Incredible.
Winner: Geno Playoff
I’ll consider this the Cinderella ending we all hoped for. I know Seahawks fans will be looking for Seattle to make some noise in the playoffs, but let’s be real: This team really isn’t perfect. Still, Geno Smith went from being one of the most forgotten quarterbacks in the NFL to breaking three of Russell Wilson’s passing records in a season.
Nerds will argue it’s because of the 17 game season — I don’t care. Geno threw for 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns. It was one of the greatest comeback seasons we have ever, EVER seen – making Smith a lock to win the award.
Loser: This poor dude falling out of the stands trying to get Brock Purdy’s towel
I hope the fan is okay. I also hope the person he fell on is fine.
Loser: Jeff Saturday
Only Jeff Saturday could find a way to lose to the Texans and take his coaching record to 1-7. Just stellar work.
Winner: Jamaal Williams
A Naruto-inspired player introduction has been so excited for the future of the NFL. We’re going to see so many young anime nerds unafraid of showing their love on football’s brightest stage.
As long as everyone follows the golden rule: Vegeta is better than Goku.
Loser: Houston Texans
This was karma on the greatest level. I didn’t like the Lovie Smith hire precisely because it was so obvious the Texans were going to do him dirty. Lovie took over this trash fire of a team, was put in an unwinnable position, and did better than he had any right to.
At least he led a win in the dying moments to cost Houston the No. 1 pick, and losing them the opportunity to control who will be their quarterback of the future. They absolutely deserve it.
Winners: All of us, for this amazing playoff slate.
The Wild Card round is going to be so damn good. We have rematches galore with Seahawks vs. Niners, Dolphins vs. Bills, and Ravens vs. Bengals — then that’s capped off with some interesting games that really could flip on seeding.
Dallas is probably safe, but Jags vs. Chargers? Giants vs. Vikings? Do you have a strong feeling about either game? You shouldn’t.
The unpredictability will continue, and that rules.