Predicting 2022 MVPs for each AFC team

Predicting 2022 MVPs for each AFC team: Russell Wilson, Travis Kelce among key stars pivotal to teams’ success The start of the 2022 NFL season is quickly approaching, and we will soon see all of the new faces take the practice field in their new places with the start of training camp. The league looks very different after a dramatic offseason.

With football right around the corner, let’s attempt to predict the MVP of each AFC team in 2022. The team MVP doesn’t always mean this player or position group is the No. 1 talent on the team, but that this player or position group is absolutely imperative to the franchise’s success this upcoming season. We could list the quarterback as each team’s MVP for all 16 clubs, but we will try to stay away from doing that too much.

Baltimore Ravens- WR Rashod Bateman

It would be easy to list Lamar Jackson here, as he’s the engine that makes the Ravens go. However, a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver would further Baltimore’s case as a Super Bowl contender. Mark Andrews’ record-breaking 2021 campaign seemingly has the Ravens front office not worried about the wide receiving corps, but Bateman breaking out in 2022 could prove them right.

The No. 27 overall pick in last year’s draft didn’t have a great rookie campaign, but he did show some flashes. If he can be a consistent presence in the passing game and not drop the ball as much as Marquise Brown did, then Bateman could be the reason the Ravens find themselves competing for a Super Bowl next year.

Buffalo Bills- QB Josh Allen

Could this be the year of the Buffalo Bill? They have been the stand-alone favorite to win the Super Bowl this year for months now, and their odds have just increased. Allen has already proven that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he’s going to need to be even better in 2022. He has a solid wide receiving corps with Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Jamison Crowder, a new intriguing running back in rookie James Cook and a defense that received a facelift with the signing of Von Miller.

The Bills have everything needed to make a Super Bowl run, but Allen is going to have to be the one that puts it all together and remains consistent. Buffalo can’t have any slip-ups against teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and they can’t randomly lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the middle of the season. Consistency is key, and Buffalo will be looking to its quarterback for that.

Cincinnati Bengals- The new offensive line

Joe Burrow or Ja’Marr Chase are easy candidates for “team MVP,” but if the Bengals make another Super Bowl run in 2022, it will be because of the upgraded offensive line. Burrow had to win in 2021 despite his protection. The nine sacks taken against the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round tied a record as well. Cincy wasted no time in free agency revamping the unit, stealing Alex Cappa from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ted Karras from the New England Patriots and also signed right tackle La’el Collins. Those three new starters should help the Bengals in a big way in 2022.

Cleveland Browns- WR Amari Cooper

The former Dallas Cowboys wideout went for just 865 yards last season, but did tie a career-high with eight touchdowns. Just 28, he can still be one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. If Cooper can establish a rapport with Brissett, this offense will be OK.

Denver Broncos- QB Russell Wilson

Don’t overthink this one. The Broncos have been looking for a franchise quarterback since the Peyton Manning days, and they acquired Wilson via trade because George Paton and Co. want to win the Super Bowl. Wilson’s leadership skills and attention to detail are all his new teammates can talk about. If the Broncos thrive, it’s because of Wilson.

Houston Texans- WR Brandin Cooks

One of the goals for the Texans entering 2022 is to figure out if Davis Mills is the future of the franchise at the quarterback position. If he’s able to prove his worth to the front office, it’s because he found success with Cooks. The frequently-traded asset has long been one of the underrated players in the league, and Houston finally gave him the stability he’s been craving with a two-year extension signed this offseason. Last year, Cooks caught a career-high 90 passes for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns despite inconsistent quarterback play, and he had four 100-yard games. Everyone understands that the Texans aren’t competing for a Lombardi Trophy in 2022, but Cooks is again going to be a focal point on offense.

Indianapolis Colts- RB Jonathan Taylor

With Derrick Henry sidelined by injury, Taylor took over as the best running back in the NFL last year. The Wisconsin product led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, but couldn’t carry the Colts to the playoffs. Indy is again trying a new quarterback with Matt Ryan, but this team won’t go anywhere if Taylor isn’t the star he was in 2021. Michael Pittman Jr. is another candidate for this team MVP award, and Indy is certainly hoping he has a career year in 2022, but Taylor is the player the Colts need to carry them this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars- QB Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence didn’t have a great rookie year, but I don’t know if anyone could have had a good rookie year with all of the drama he and the Jags had to deal with. The Clemson product ranked 17th in passing yards, 28th in passing touchdowns and tied for first in interceptions. You could see Lawrence’s play dip towards the end of the season. I felt as though he was making strides up through Week 4, but then the whole Urban Meyer-in-the-bar thing happened.

You won’t get much out of looking at his box score, but Lawrence made some impressive throws during his rookie season that showed you he’s a legitimate talent. He also clearly took it upon himself to be a leader, although he had to blindly support a coach he probably didn’t consider to be his best friend last year. With Travis Etienne back, the addition of Christian Kirk and then of course a new head coach in Doug Pederson, we should see Lawrence take a big step forward in 2022.

Kansas City Chiefs- TE Travis Kelce

Kelce turns 33 in October, but he’s still our No. 1 tight end in the NFL. Kelce recorded his sixth straight 1,000-yard campaign in 2021 — a tight end NFL record he continues to build on — and he picked up his third first-team All-Pro Selection and seventh straight Pro Bowl bid. A reason he’s going to be important in 2022 is because he’s the key weapon for Patrick Mahomes. There’s no more Tyreek Hill, and the new group consisting of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore is relatively unproven. It’s possible all of the newcomers benefit from Andy Reid’s system, but it’s also possible no one will be able to separate themselves as a true No. 1 wideout.

Las Vegas Raiders- DE Maxx Crosby

The Raiders offense should be much better in 2022 with the addition of Davante Adams, but this team can’t be a contender unless the defense can improve upon its 25.8 points allowed per game from last year. Vegas has a new prospective dynamic duo at pass-rusher with Crosby and Chandler Jones, which could turn this defense into one of the better units in the league. Crosby signed a four-year extension this offseason after he led the NFL with 101 pressures last year. He was second on the team in sacks with eight and first in tackles for loss with 13. Crosby is a rising star who has also emerged as a leader on this team. Expect another big season from him.

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