NFL 2022: Will the Rams repeat, or could Buffalo get over the hump? - Stats Perform predicts the new season

·6-min read

The 2022 NFL season is finally here, and it could hardly begin in any more mouth-watering fashion.

Having seen their season end in bitter defeat last campaign, the Buffalo Bills head to SoFi Stadium to take on the defending champion Los Angeles Rams.

It promises to be a fascinating contest between one of the league's most dynamic young stars at the quarterback position in Josh Allen and a veteran who finally climbed the mountain last year in Matthew Stafford.

The Bills and the Rams are two teams expected to go deep into the playoffs once more and challenge for Super Bowl glory, but as the Cincinnati Bengals proved last year, contenders can emerge from the most unexpected of places.

So who does Stats Perform's staff think will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy come February 12 in Arizona. Here our team of NFL writers make their selections for Super Bowl LVII and the NFL's individual honours.

Ben Spratt

AFC Champion: Buffalo Bills

NFC Champion: San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl Champion: Buffalo Bills

MVP: Justin Herbert

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson & Nick Bosa

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens & Aidan Hutchinson

The Bills might have been entering this year as Super Bowl champions already if not for the coin flip that prematurely ended their 2021 season. A rule change means they cannot get so unlucky again, and Buffalo might well benefit come January from several of their rivals having thrashed it out in the AFC West in the regular season.

The 49ers look a good bet to meet the Bills in Arizona, with a switch at quarterback bringing a new dynamic to their offense, but Trey Lance would surely be no match for a highly motivated Allen in a straight shoot-out.

Nicholas McGee

AFC Champion: Kansas City Chiefs

NFC Champion: San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl Champion: San Francisco 49ers

MVP: Josh Allen

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Chubb & Nick Bosa

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: Romeo Doubs & George Karlaftis

Do you believe in unlikelihoods?! Trey Lance heads into his first season as 49ers starter with just two full games as a pro under his belt, but such is his upside as a downfield thrower and as a red-zone threat on the ground that he can weaponise what is already one of the elite offenses in football and lead team that boasts arguably the NFL's most complete defense to the biggest stage.

The Chiefs boast the quarterback and the coach to thrive despite losing Tyreek Hill, but Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has previously shown he can shackle the game's best (see: Rodgers, Aaron) and it's not difficult to envisage his scheme and the talent at his disposal frustrating Patrick Mahomes as Lance does enough to finally get the Niners over the top.

David Segar

AFC Champion: Kansas City Chiefs

NFC Champion: Los Angeles Rams

Super Bowl Champion: Kansas City Chiefs

MVP: Patrick Mahomes

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp and Myles Garrett

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kenny Pickett and Ahmad Gardner

It is tempting to back Sean McVay and the Rams again given their outstanding run all the way last season, but it is difficult to do so given it has been 17 years since the last time the Lombardi Trophy was retained. The Rams lost Von Miller and have yet to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr, who both made key contributions after arriving midway through the 2021 season, while there is lingering doubt over Matthew Stafford's troublesome elbow.

The absolute brilliance of Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald will no doubt give them a fighting chance again, but seeing the devastation on the face of Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs were pipped by the Bengals in overtime of the AFC Championship game gave the feeling of a redemption story on the way. Losing Tyreek Hill is a blow, but they have brought in capable replacements on the face of it and a strong balance coupled with a point to prove could see them back on top come February.

Liam Phillips

AFC Champion: Baltimore Ravens

NFC Champion: Los Angeles Rams

Super Bowl Champion: Los Angeles Rams

MVP: Lamar Jackson

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson & Micah Parsons

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kenny Pickett & George Karlaftis

The Ravens were about as snakebitten with injuries as you could possibly get last year and they still finished 8-9.

Lamar Jackson is now three years removed from his MVP season in 2019, but he is still only 25 and has continued to improve as a passer and add nuance to his quarterback play every year, becoming much more than just a threat as a runner. Jackson is such a unique force that when complemented with a strong defense -- which the Ravens figure to have this season -- the team immediately should be a lock for the playoffs.

Jackson has plenty to prove in playoff situations, but having four games of playoff experience this early into a quarterback's career should not be viewed as a negative, and they profile as the sort of team who will thrive late in the year as the weather gets cold and the games turn into a grind.

Yet a Super Bowl in the desert with a retractable roof is not likely to produce a grind, and the Rams boast the firepower to work their way through the NFC again and outgun the Ravens to retain the title.

Josh Challies

AFC Champion: Buffalo Bills

NFC Champion: Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Champion: Buffalo Bills

MVP: Josh Allen

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Taylor & Micah Parsons

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens & Aidan Hutchinson

Regarded by many to have to have the best roster in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have strengthened with several astute additions such as Von Miller, Rodger Saffold and Tim Settle.

The Bills may well benefit from the lack of development elsewhere in the AFC East, with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins not quite ready to mount a serious challenge, giving Buffalo a seemingly clear path to a division title and at least one home playoff game.

Possible meetings with the likes of the Chiefs and the Bengals in the AFC Championship will be the biggest threat but the strength across the Bills roster justifies their position as pre-season favourites.

Chris Myson

AFC Champion: Buffalo Bills

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl Champion: Buffalo Bills

MVP: Tom Brady

Offensive & Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Taylor & Myles Garrett

Offensive & Defensive Rookie of the Year: Skyy Moore & Kayvon Thibodeaux

The Bills were 13 seconds away from reaching the AFC Championship Game last season, where they would have been favoured to beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home.

They go into the 2022 season with the best all-round roster in the NFL, which has now been supplemented by the arrival of star pass-rusher Miller.

Quarterback Allen has produced back-to-back excellent seasons, including a fantastic performance in that heart-breaking playoff loss to the Chiefs.

This year, he can get the Bills over the hump – even if there are a host of impressive AFC candidates who will have to be seen off before reaching the Super Bowl.

On the NFC side, back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers can overcome the loss of Davante Adams to secure a return to the grandest stage, supported by an impressive Packers defense and exciting rookie Romeo Doubs.