2022 NFL season: 50 things you should know - Rams, Brady, Allen...
With the NFL due to return on 8 September, we preview the new season with a rundown of the things you ought to know when the league kicks off.
Super Bowl champions Rams out to emulate Patriots
1. After beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl in February, the Los Angeles Rams will look to be the first NFL team to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy two years in a row since the New England Patriots, in 2004 and 2005.
2. The Buffalo Bills will be the first team to put the Rams’ title defence to the test. The Bills are the favourites in the betting to win the next Super Bowl. On 8 September at SoFi Stadium, we’ll witness a clash that comes with an age-old narrative: reigning champions against pretenders to the throne.
3. Tom Brady will pull on the uniform of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once more, as he heads into his 23rd season in the NFL. In February, the legendary quarterback announced his retirement from playing, only to do a U-turn days later.
Allen the favourite for MVP
4. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is the chief candidate for the MVP award. The 26-year-old leads the betting ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who claimed the accolade in 2018.
5. The Chiefs have been the resurgent Bills’ nemesis in recent years. Kansas City eliminated Buffalo in overtime in last season’s Divisional Round, and came out on top in the AFC Championship Game the previous year.
6. Although the Chiefs have dominated the Bills in recent times, this year they’ll have to fight for the championship without star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who was lured to the Miami Dolphins by a bumper contract offer.
7. The Dolphins are far from the only team to have recruited a wide receiver with proven NFL pedigree. The Raiders (Davante Adams), the Eagles (AJ Brow), the Browns (Amari Cooper), the Cardinals (Marquise Brown) and the Titans (Robert Woods) have also added elite quality to their ranks at WR.
8. If Davante Adams reaches 115 receptions this season, he will become the first player in NFL history to manage such a figure three years in a row.
9. Since the Denver Broncos contested Super Bowl L with Peyton Manning at quarterback, the franchise hasn’t been back to the Playoffs. In a bid to end that postseason drought, the Broncos have brought in veteran QB Russell Wilson.
10. For many, the AFC West will boast the most talent at QB. Together with Wilson, the division will have the Chargers’ rising star Justin Herbert; the Raiders’ Derek Carr, under new head coach Josh McDaniels; and Patrick Mahomes, one of the league’s most electric players, leading the Chiefs’ offence.
11. Josh Allen needs 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdown passes to join Mahomes as one of only two quarterbacks to register such numbers in three of their first five seasons in the NFL.
12. Like the Bills, the Chargers are considered AFC heavyweights largely because of their QB. Herbert, 24, is the first player in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdown passes in his first two seasons in the league.
Brady closing in on six-figure record
13. Tom Brady needs 2,431 more yards to become the first ever NFL player to amass 100,000 career passing yards, including Playoff games.
14. Under Andy Reid, the Chiefs have won at least 12 games in five of the last six seasons. They’ve reached double digits in wins in eight of their campaigns with Reid at the helm.
15. The NFL has altered its rules to ensure both teams get at least one possession if a Playoff game goes into overtime. If the scores remain level after each team has had the ball, the result will be decided by sudden death.
16. The Bengals will be the defending AFC and AFC North champions for the first time in six years.
17. With 321 wins to his name, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick needs four more to surpass the legendary George Halas as the NFL coach with the second-most victories across the regular season and Playoffs.
18. In QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, and WRs Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals may well have one of the best groups of skill players in the NFL - if not the best. Last season, Chase, Higgins and Boyd combined for 3,374 yards.
19. Defensive end Travon Walker was the first overall pick in the 2022 Draft. He was chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
20. The Cleveland Browns made the highest-profile move in the trade market, recruiting the controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson.
21. With Watson arriving in Cleveland, the Browns sent former No. 1 Draft pick Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers.
22. Thursday Night Football will now be broadcast in the US exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.
23. This will be the second regular season in the history of the NFL with 17 games and 18 weeks.
24. If the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry manages 10 rushing touchdowns, he’ll become the first running back to register such a figure in five successive seasons.
New men in charge at 10 NFL franchises
25. Ten teams will have a new head coach next season: the Bears (Matt Eberflus), the Broncos (Nathaniel Hackett), the Buccaneers (Todd Bowles), the Dolphins (Mike McDaniel), the Giants (Brian Daboll), the Jaguars (Doug Pederson), the Raiders (Josh McDaniels), the Saints (Dennis Allen), the Texans (Lovie Smith) and the Vikings (Kevin O’Connell).
26. If the Chiefs win 10 games or more in the regular season, Andy Reid will surpass Tom Landry’s record of 16 campaigns with at least 10 victories.
27. During the 2022 Draft, the most popular position was defensive backs. Fifty-seven DBs made the leap from college football to the NFL.
28. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have won 49 games across the last four seasons - the most by a head coach-quarterback duo in that period.
29. For the first time in its history, the NFL will have three games on Christmas Day: the Packers at the Dolphins, the Broncos at the Rams and the Buccaneers at the Cardinals.
30. The Georgia Bulldogs were the college team that provided the most players to the NFL in the most recent Draft.
NFL to make first appearance in Germany
31. The NFL’s expansion beyond US borders will continue in 2022, with three games to be played in London, one in Mexico City and, for the first time, one in Munich.
32. The Arizona Cardinals will look to become the third NFL team to win a Super Bowl at their home stadium. The Rams (2021) and the Buccaneers (2020) are the two to have done so thus far.
33. For the first time since 2005, the New Orleans Saints won’t have Sean Payton on the touchline.
34. The regular season will involve a total of 272 games.
Lions out to end three-decade Playoff wait
35. The Detroit Lions haven’t won a postseason game since 1991.
36. Since the AFL and the NFL merged, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won more AFC games than any other franchise: 495.
37. For the 17th season in a row, there will be three games on Thanksgiving: the Bills at the Lions, the Giants at the Cowboys and the Patriots at the Vikings.
38. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won 10 games or more in two consecutive regular seasons since 1990.
39. If there’s one division whose title is up for grabs, it’s the NFC East: the same team hasn’t won it in successive seasons since 2004.
40. Last year, in the first NFL regular season with 17 games, the teams that had bye weeks between Weeks 14 and 18 had a 21-11 record (66%).
41. The Philadelphia Eagles will play four short-week road games in 2022; this hasn’t happened to any team for 16 years.
42. Last season, Tom Brady overtook Drew Brees as the player with the most regular-season passing yards in the history of the NFL. Brady has 84,250.
43. TJ Watt will look to break Michael Strachan’s record for sacks in a season (22.5), after equalling it last term.
Wilson close to completing the set
44. Russell Wilson is two teams away from beating all 32 NFL franchises during his career. If he and the Broncos can beat the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Chargers, he’ll become the fifth QB in NFL history to achieve the feat. Denver take on Seattle in Week 1, and face the Chargers twice, in Weeks 6 and 18.
45. Now at the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Matt Ryan is 265 yards away from reaching 60,000 career passing yards.
46. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor scored 32 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL. If he manages at least 16 TDs in 2022, he’ll overtake Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ league-record total of 47 in his first three campaigns.
47. Week 2 of the NFL season will have a Monday Night Football double bill, as the Titans visit the Bills and the Vikings go to the Eagles.
48. The Steelers, who have never had a losing season with Mike Tomlin as head coach, are heading into their first campaign without QB Ben Roethlisberger since 2003.
49. Last season, the NFL accrued $11bn in revenue. Each organisation received $343m.
50. The chief question mark hanging over next season remains unresolved: will the NFL ban Deshaun Watson over the multiple sexual-abuse allegations against the player?