NFL playoff predictions: Packers in, Cowboys out, Cowherd says

Which teams will crack the 2022 NFL playoff bracket?

The 2022 season is fast approaching, with training camp already underway for some teams. As is tradition, Colin Cowherd gave his predictions for how the regular season will shake out on “The Herd.”

Here’s how it all turned out, division-by-division, with playoff teams marked with an asterisk.

Packers, Rams, Chiefs among Cowherd’s early playoff picks

Packers, Rams, Chiefs among Cowherd's early playoff picks

Colin Cowherd reveals his playoff picks for both the AFC and the NFC ahead of the start of the 2022 NFL season.

AFC East

1. *Buffalo Bills

2. *Miami Dolphins 

3. New England Patriots

4. New York Jets

Cowherd sees Buffalo winning the division and potentially the AFC. 

“Bills will win the division,” he said. “I think they’ll be a 12-5 team. They’re my favorite to win the Super Bowl, but I thought they were going to win it last year.”

AFC North

1. *Cincinnati Bengals 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Baltimore Ravens

4. Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati signed former Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa, and Cowherd thinks the Bengals addressing the offensive line this offseason helps them defend their 2021 division crown.

“I think the Bengals have a star quarterback, a star coach and I also think they really solved the one dilemma,” he said. “The fact they got to a Super Bowl with that offensive line is remarkable.”

AFC West

1. *Denver Broncos

2. *Kansas City Chiefs

3. *Los Angeles Chargers 

4. Las Vegas Raiders

Denver acquired star quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, which Cowherd argues makes them an 11-win team. 

“Denver wins the division at 11-6,” he said. “I think Russ, like Stafford and Brady, was built to be a catalyst on a super-talented roster. I love their front office.”

AFC South

1. *Indianapolis Colts

2. Tennessee Titans 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Houston Texans

While the acquisition of veteran quarterback Matt Ryan should improve the Colts offense, Cowherd contends that they’ll be an underwhelming division winner. 

“Matt Ryan finally gets elite protection,” he said. “I still think they lack the perimeter ‘Wow’ to be a Super Bowl team. I like their structure, but the really important positions like wide receiver, left tackle, corner — I don’t love them. Their best players are a guard and a linebacker, and the linebacker struggles to stay healthy.”

AFC Wild Card teams

Cowherd sees the Dolphins, Chiefs and Chargers as the three AFC Wild Card teams. Concerning Kansas City, Cowherd worries “a little bit” about the departure of Tyreek Hill and “the six-game stretches Mahomes falls into mechanically.”

NFC East

1. *Philadelphia Eagles

2. Dallas Cowboys

3. Washington Commanders 

4. New York Giants

While he doesn’t love “anybody” in the NFC East, Cowherd thinks soon-to-be third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts “will get better” and is “productive.”

NFC North

1. *Minnesota Vikings 

2. *Green Bay Packers 

3. Detroit Lions

4. Chicago Bears

Cowherd thinks Minnesota will be the “shock of the league” with new head coach and former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell paired with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Part of his reasoning is the notion of Cousins feeling “supported” by O’Connell.

NFC West

1. *Los Angeles Rams

2. *Arizona Cardinals

3. *San Francisco 49ers

4. Seattle Seahawks

Cowherd considers the NFC West the “best division in the NFC” and believes the defending-champion Rams will do enough to defend their division crown and win 12 games, though, there may be some “lulls.”

NFC South

1. *Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2. New Orleans Saints

3. Carolina Panthers 

4. Atlanta Falcons 

While he sees Tampa Bay winning the NFC South, Cowherd thinks they’ll merely be taking advantage of an “awful” division, given some of the franchise’s recent changes (head coach Bruce Arians retired, Brady retired and then unretired, and Rob Gronkowski retired).

NFC Wild Card teams

Cowherd sees the Packers, Cardinals and 49ers as the three NFC Wild Card teams. Concerning Green Bay, Cowherd worries about quarterback Aaron Rodgers “not trusting” some of his new receivers (Green Bay traded Davante Adams to the Raiders while adding veteran Sammy Watkins and second-round draft pick Christian Watson this offseason).

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