Hello everybody! Welcome to the ninth and final part of the Crystal Ballin 2022 series! It's been a really fun adventure for our first year and I appreciate everyone who has followed along!
In this version, we will be predicting some regular season awards and out the playoffs will shake out - so get ready to take notes!
That being said, I will now be taking out my crystal ball and informing you all precisely how this upcoming postseason will play out.
If you guys enjoy this series, please let me know! I'd love to see any sort of feedback - be it questions, critique or suggestions! Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!
2022 Regular Season Awards
Comeback Player of the Year: WR Michael Thomas, Saints
In 2019 Michael Thomas led the league with 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and 9 scores. He has only played in seven games in the two seasons since, but seems to be on track and ready to fire with Jameis Winston and these two should hook up early and often.
Honorable Mention: RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Breece Hall, Jets
Undoubtedly the most talented overall running back from this rookie class, Hall is both reliable and a game breaker. He can run inside, outside and catch the ball out of the backfield. Last year's fourth round pick Michael Carter will have to take a back seat while the 2022 second round selection gets his shine.
Honorable Mention: WR Drake London, Falcons
Defensive Rookie of the Year: S Kyle Hamilton, Ravens
Whether it's Rod Woodson, Ed Reed, or Eric Weddle, Baltimore almost always had very strong play at safety. Kyle Hamilton slots into the starting lineup as a baller who can play as the ball hawk, more of a linebacker, or whatever else the team needs him to do. This versatility will help him stand out across the national media.
Honorable Mention: EDGE Kayvon Thibodaux, Giants
Coach of the Year: Kevin O'Connell, Vikings
Kevin O'Connell enters as a offensive based head coach from the Rams, where he was the offensive coordinator under Sean McVay. O'Connell inherites an extremely talented offense which features Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and plenty of others. This is also a time where we're unsure whether or not Green Bay will be as good as they usually are... If Minnesota can take advantage, O'Connell will get plenty of the credit.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Staley, Chargers
NFL Most Valuable Player: QB Josh Allen, Bills
The award with the least amount of explanation needed, I have Josh Allen winning the MVP award. Buffalo has one of the best looking offenses, featuring Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder and Dawson Knox to go along with Allen's mobility. If he can put up similar numbers to last season (4,400 yards, 36 touchdowns and 700 yards and 6 scores on the ground) and win the AFC, I fully believe Josh Allen wins MVP.
Honorable Mention: QB Justin Herbert, Chargers
End of Season Playoff Seeding
1. Buffalo Bills 13-4
2. Baltimore Ravens 11-6
3. Los Angeles Chargers 11-6
4. Indianapolis Colts 10-7
5. Cincinnati Bengals 11-6
6. Denver Broncos 10-7
7. Kansas City Chiefs 10-7
Just Missed Out:
8. Tennessee Titans 8-9
9. New England Patriots 8-9
1. Los Angeles Rams 12-5
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-6
3. Minnesota Vikings 10-7
4. Philadelphia Eagles 10-7
5. Green Bay Packers 10-7
6. San Francisco 49ers 9-8
7. Dallas Cowboys 9-8
Just Missed Out:
8. Detroit Lions 9-8
9. New Orleans Saints 8-9
Playoff Picks: Wildcard Round
(7) Kansas City Chiefs (10-7) @ (2) Baltimore Ravens (11-6)
Lamar Jackson gets to finally overcome his demons in the wildcard round, as the more balanced Ravens hand Patrick Mahomes and company a first round exit.
Ravens 30, Chiefs 24
(7) Dallas Cowboys (9-8) @ (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-6)
Meeting for the third time since the 2021 season opener, Tom Brady and the Bucs get to sweep the Cowboys, as Brady aims for yet another ring.
Bucs 41, Cowboys 31
(6) Denver Broncos (10-7) @ (3) Los Angeles Chargers (11-6)
In an epic rivalry game between the best teams from the AFC West, Russell Wilson falls just short of moving on, as the Chargers pair an elite defense with a top 5 offense and proves too much for Denver.
Chargers 35, Broncos 28
(6) San Francisco 49ers (9-8) @ (3) Minnesota Vikings (10-7)
Kirk Cousins is on a hot streak this season, with over 35 touchdown passes on the year. Kevin O'Connell is in his groove as their head coach, and this offense is able to handle Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers at home.
Vikings 27, 49ers 20
(5) Cincinnati Bengals (11-6) @ (4) Indianapolis Colts (10-7)
The AFC winners from a year ago visit a reinvigorated Matt Ryan who has a 1,200 yard breakout receiver in Michael Pittman Jr. However, Burrow and this three 1,000 yard weapons (four if you include Joe Mixon at running back) simply outscore Indy, as we get the first victory for the visiting of the postseason.
Bengals 42, Colts 35
(5) Green Bay Packers (10-7) @ (4) Philadelphia Eagles (10-7)
Jalen Hurts doesn't have the passing stats of his opponent, but he is a major threat in the ground game. Remember in 2013 when Colin Kaepernick thrashed the Packer defense in the playoffs for a record 181 rushing yards? While I don't expect his totals to be that high, Hurts will gain around 130 with his legs, making for a first round exit for the Davante Adams-less Green Bay Packers.
Eagles 37, Packers 21
Playoff Picks: Divisional Round
(5) Cincinnati Bengals (12-6) @ (1) Buffalo Bills (13-4)
League MVP Josh Allen has a great connection with Stefon Diggs, and he proves that Ja'Marr Chase hasn't passed him by just yet. In an epic showdown between a couple of the best young quarterbacks in the league, we witness the 2022 game of the year... it's just a shame only one of these teams can move on.
Bills 51, Bengals 45
(5) Philadelphia Eagles (11-7) @ (1) Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
Jalen Hurts has proved to not only Philly fans, but the front office as well that he is the future of the Eagles under center. This is a very good team, and one who can be a contender for a long time. Unfortunately for them, the Rams have shown they are on another level. Aaron Donald will single-handedly wreck your running game and keep Hurts from getting comfortable. Meanwhile, a well-rested Matthew Stafford and co. on offense will put up plenty of points.
Rams 31, Eagles 24
(3) Los Angeles Chargers (12-6) @ (2) Baltimore Ravens (12-6)
Justin Herbert is proving himself as a top 3 quarterback in the league, with three elite pass catching weapons (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler). Lamar Jackson is proving his doubters wrong, but cannot overcome the Chargers and the league MVP runner up this time.
Chargers 33, Ravens 26
(3) Minnesota Vikings (11-7) @ (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-6)
This may look like an easy Tampa Bay win at first, but we see a massive upset here. Coach of the Year Kevin O'Connell makes his mark as the next great NFL head coach. Seemingly nobody believes Kirk Cousins to be much more than an average starter in this league, but he has a true break out season in 2022, defeating Tom Brady in the playoffs to send Minnesota to the NFC Championship game - something that hasn't been done since Case Keenum did so in 2017.
Vikings 34, Bucs 30
Playoff Picks: Conference Championships
(3) Los Angeles Chargers (13-6) @ (1) Buffalo Bills (14-4)
The top two picks for league MVP clash in the AFC title game and it's kind of reminiscent of last year's battle between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. Not only is it Herbert vs Allen, but we will also get a battle of elite pass rushers, Khalil Mack vs Von Miller. The Buffalo Bills get their shot this time around, winning in epic fashion.
Bills 41, Chargers 38
(3) Minnesota Vikings (12-7) @ (1) Los Angeles Rams (13-5)
It was a great run, but unfortunately it ends here. Minnesota looked impressive all season and in their two postseason wins, but Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford prove to be just too much to overcome.
Rams 30, Vikings 23
Playoff Picks: Super Bowl LVII
(1) Buffalo Bills (15-4) vs (1) Los Angeles Rams (14-5)
Nothing fancy about how we got here. This matchup is between the two top seeds in their respective conferences. We have plenty of fun matchups, including Matthew Stafford vs Von Miller, Josh Allen vs Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson vs Tre'Davious White and Kaiir Elam, Stefon Diggs vs Jalen Ramsey and many more.
The Rams attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions for the first time since the Patriots did so in 2004 and 2005. The Buffalo Bills however, will make sure this fact stays a fact. Josh Allen gets his ring in 2022.
Bills 35, Rams 31
Super Bowl MVP: QB Josh Allen
31/46 371 yards 3 TDs, 75 rushing yards 1 TD