The Year In Football
When the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII in February, it marked a dramatic end to the 2022 NFL season, with Patrick Mahomes overcoming injury to mount a thrilling second-half comeback against Philadelphia. It was a year of change, as some underdog teams overachieved while several favorites failed in dramatic fashion. We saw the final game (probably) of the most successful quarterback of all time, and emerging superstars who lit up the field in style. We turned to Danny Sheridan, our football expert, for his assessment.
The Giants won a measly four games in 2021, so it was time to start over with rookie head coach Brian Daboll and rookie general manager Joe Schoen. Daboll turned Daniel Jones into a winning quarterback and the Giants shocked the league by going 9-7-1, making the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and even winning in the first round. In Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence made his second-year leap (with perfect hair) and won the godforsaken AFC South, and then rallied his Jaguars from 27-0 to come back in the Wild Card game against the Chargers, one of the biggest comebacks in league history. New coach Doug Pederson is the anti-Urban Meyer in every way. Dan Campbell has changed the culture in Detroit and the knee-biting Lions seem poised to challenge for the NFC North, especially with Aaron Rodgers almost certainly leaving rival Green Bay. Seattle was supposed to have a gloomy 2022 season, with Pete Carroll rebuilding after moving on from Russell Wilson, but Geno Smith (“They wrote me off, I ain’t write back, though.”) staged a remarkable comeback at age 32. The Seahawks not only had a winning season, but also made the playoffs.
The Packers were expected to contend, but Aaron Rodgers, plagued by a broken thumb and a pair of rookie wide receivers, couldn’t even get Green Bay to the playoffs. The Rams, who won the Super Bowl following the 2021 season, mortgaged their future trading away draft picks and became the Lambs, the first defending Super Bowl champion to miss the postseason since the 2016 Broncos. It almost drove coach Sean McVay to the television booth.
The Cowboys continued to tease their millions of fans and torture Jerry Jones. Dak Prescott was an interception machine (trading wide receiver Amari Cooper before the season didn’t help), and the team failed again to get to the NFC Championship game, a drought that has lasted 27 years. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was the designated scapegoat. In New England, offensive coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge stunted second-year quarterback Mac Jones’ development, and the Patriots missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Broncos fans were Rocky Mountain High when Russell Wilson signed a five-year, $245 million extension and was paired with new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, but a faded Wilson and Hackett rode into a ditch together and the overmatched Hackett was fired after the team finished dead last in the AFC West, with only five wins.
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels took a wild-card playoff team to a 6-11 record, not exactly what owner Mark Davis had in mind for the Las Vegas team. The Colts became a trendy pick in the weak AFC South when coach Frank Reich replaced Carson Wentz with Matt Ryan. But Matty Ice was a frigid 37-year-old version of his former self, owner Jim Irsay fired Reich and turned to ESPN’s Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. The 4-12-1 Colts had trouble winning on any given sunday, not to mention Saturday.
Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray once seemed joined at the hip, but their relationship frayed in 2022, and it didn’t help when Murray’s five-year, $230.5 million contract extension included an addendum that mandated four hours of independent study each week. The clause was removed when the club came to its senses, but after a 4-13 nightmare season Kingsbury was fired and GM Steve Keim stepped down. While Tampa Bay won the NFC South (with an 8-9 record), Tom Brady spent too much of his time screaming at his line or throwing a tablet on the sideline. The Bucs lost in the Wild Card round, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was fired and TB12 retired. Life doesn’t always begin at 45.
Best Coaching Jobs
Brian Daboll of the Giants was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press. He united and energized the building and salvaged Daniel Jones. Give that man a cigar (he likes Padrón Anniversaries). Kyle Shanahan also deserves serious credit for his impressive performance under pressure with the 49ers. He lost starting quarterback Trey Lance in week two, Jimmy Garoppolo in week 13 and got to the NFC Championship game with Brock Purdy, a.k.a. Mr. Irrelevant. He then lost Purdy and fourth-string QB Josh Johnson against the Eagles.
Worst Coaching Jobs
It might be time for Josh McDaniels to leave Las Vegas after the silver and black had a 6-11 season, picking up right where he left off with Denver, where he had only 11 wins in two seasons. Kliff Kingsbury bought a one-way ticket to Thailand when he was relieved of his duties in Arizona after posting all of four wins, and no NFL owner will be looking to pay for the return flight.
Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are class all the way. Ask anyone who works for them. Robert and Jonathan Kraft (Patriots) have six Super Bowl championships. Any more questions? Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has built a stellar organization, doing the difficult task of letting someone else call the shots, in this case GM Howie Roseman. Anyone who eats at Joe’s Stone Crab during Super Bowl Week in Miami (Clark Hunt, who owns the Chiefs) is good with me. And those three Super Bowl appearances in four years (two of them wins) don’t hurt either.
Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, earned a $1.5 million fine and a suspension until October 17 for tampering with Brady and Sean Payton. It cost the Fish a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and a third-rounder in the 2024 draft. And a simple message for Dan Snyder of the Commanders: Please leave so that the toxicity you created is no longer an eyesore to the league.
Against The Spread
An estimated 50 million Americans bet (legally) on NFL games, and in 2022 Detroit and the Giants performed the best against the point spread. The Giants went 13-4 against the spread, with the Lions close behind at 12-4-1. (For perspective, the Chiefs and Eagles went a combined 15-19 against the spread during the regular season.) Chicago and the Colts were the worst teams when money was on the line, with the Bears going 5-11-1 vs. the spread, and Indy going 6-11.
Teams To Watch In 2023
It’s no surprise that the powerhouse teams like the Chiefs and Eagles will continue to contend. The 49ers are also in good shape, as head coach Kyle Shanahan is an elite play caller and he’ll be loaded again on both sides of the ball. As long as the Bengals can keep Joe Burrow in one piece, they’ll be dangerous (giving Burrow more reasons to light his victory cigars in the locker room), and Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs will keep threatening to nab the Bills’ first Lombardi Trophy.
Keep an eye on the emerging Lions, who hold the sixth and 18th picks in the 2023 draft. The offensive line is already elite and highly-respected offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has worked magic with quarterback Jared Goff, who will now have deep threat receiver Jameson Williams, a first-round 2022 pick who spent most of his rookie season rehabbing a torn ACL. The exciting Jaguars will have a new weapon for Lawrence after trading for wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was suspended for the season for betting on games, including on his own team. Here’s a good bet—Lawrence will show why he is a generational talent throwing to Ridley and Christian Kirk.
The New York Jets would have been a playoff team in 2022 if they had a competent quarterback. But Zach Wilson imploded and Mike White couldn’t stay healthy. Will GM Joe Douglas trade for Aaron Rodgers? Or will it be Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo? Any one of the three, backed by New York’s quality defense, would give owner Woody Johnson a good chance to end the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought.
John Harbaugh is an elite head coach, and if the Ravens can make peace with Lamar Jackson and show him the money (and get him a No. 1 receiver) they will be a tough out. And it still isn’t a good idea to bet against Bill Belichick. If Jones can rebound, so will the Patriots.
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