2022 NFL Team Rankings - Passing Yards

Projecting team rankings in different passing and rushing categories marks the first step in my seasonal projections. My 2021 projections were quite okay, but I’m sure I can do better. So let’s take a look at my 2022 projections, starting with passing yards.

How do we expect NFL teams to perform in terms of passing yards in 2022?

2021 was a below-average year in terms of passing yards, compared to the median of the last 5 years. So overall, I would expect the total number of passing yards to be a bit higher in 2022.

The biggest winners in my projections are:

Cleveland Browns
Rank: 21 (+6, 2021: 27)
3741 passing yards (+421, 2021: 3320)
The arrival of Deshaun Watson should have a pretty big impact on Cleveland’s passing offense. I still see them in the bottom half of the league, but still improved compared to 2021.

New York Jets
Rank: 18 (+2, 2021: 20)
3920 passing yards (+379, 2021: 3541)
Zach Wilson showed some progress towards the end of the 2021 league. He got new weapons, which should help him (and the Jets) taking another step forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did even better, but there’s also some potential for disappointment, so I’ll keep the expectations positive, but tempered.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Rank: 20 (+2, 2021: 22)
3797 passing yards (+361, 2021: 3436)
Same story for Trevor Lawrence and the Jags. Year 1 after Urban Meyer should see the Jags improving, though I’d also not expect any miracles here.

Miami Dolphins
Rank: 16 (+1, 2021: 17)
3993 passing yards (+342, 2021: 3651)
I’m not convinced the Dolphins will play a lot better than in 2021. But the addition of Tyreek Hill should allow them to stretch the field more. This should lead to more passing yards in 2022.

The biggest losers in my book are:

Chicago Bears
Rank: 32 (-2, 2021: 30)
2941 passing yards (-266, 2021: 3207)
I may rank the Bears a little higher during the preseason. Justin Fields started 2021 with an abysmal passing performance, but got better towards the end of the season. That would imply a better overall performance in 2022. However, the Bears gave Fields no new weapons, which does not suggest a lot of confidence in their sophomore QB. Honestly, I couldn’t say right now which passing offense I’d expect to do worse than the Bears in 2022.

Kansas City Chiefs
Rank: 6 (-2, 2021: 4)
4653 passing yards (-139, 2021: 4791)
Just like I expect the arrival of Tyreek Hill in Miami to increase the Dolphins’ team ADOT (and thus, the overall passing yards), I’d expect his departure from Kansas City to have the same effect in the other direction. The Chiefs will still remain one of the best passing offenses in the NFL, but may lose a few yards compared to 2021.

New York Giants
Rank: 31 (+/- 0, 2021: 31)
3076 passing yards (-120, 2021: 3196)
The Giants did not pick up Daniel Jones’ 5th year option, and are trying to sell Kadarius Toney. This does not instill a lot of confidence in the 2022 Giants passing game.

My preliminary overall 2022 passing yard ranking for all NFL teams:

Team 2022 Rk (p) 2021 Rk Change
TB 1 1 0
LAC 2 2 0
DAL 3 2 -1
LV 4 6 2
LAR 5 5 0
KC 6 4 -2
CIN 7 7 0
GB 8 8 0
BUF 9 9 0
ARI 10 10 0
MIN 11 11 0
SF 12 12 0
BAL 13 13 0
NE 14 14 0
PIT 15 15 0
MIA 16 17 1
ATL 17 16 -1
NYJ 18 20 2
DET 19 18 -1
JAX 20 22 2
CLE 21 27 6
DEN 22 19 -3
WSH 23 21 -2
HOU 24 28 4
SEA 25 23 -2
TEN 26 24 -2
IND 27 26 -1
PHI 28 25 -3
CAR 29 29 0
NO 30 32 2
NYG 31 31 0
CHI 32 30 -2

A few notes:

Tom Brady is another year older. I wouldn’t call for a complete breakdown, but I’d expect some regression from him as aging begins to creep into his game.

Green Bay lost Davante Adams, and you don’t expect a drop? You have more faith in Christian Watson than I do.

I would expect Mac Jones to improve this season, even without any REAL new tools. That kid is a baller.

Pittsburgh loses Roethlisburger, and you don’t see improvement? Trubisky or Pickett, either of those two options will stretch the field better than Ben did.

How does Detroit drop one by adding Jameson Williams?

Denver drops three by adding Russell Wilson? That alone should give them a slight bump.

I’m surprised you didn’t talk about Houston rising 4.

Philly just added AJ Brown, and they dropped? You expect Jalen Hurts to get worse?

New Orleans should be a lot better if Jameis stays healthy, especially with Chris Olave there.

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#1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 5229 passing yards
#2 (tied) Chargers / Cowboys - 4800 passing yards each
It will take a lot of regression to dethrone them.

In 2020, Adams missed week 3 and 4 with an injury.
Aaron Rodgers threw for an average 268 yards per game in 2020.
In week 3 and 4, he threw for 283 and 327 yards.

Same picture in 2019, when Adams missed weeks 5-8.
Rodgers’ season average: 250 yards per game.
Rodgers’ week 5-8 average: 314 yards per game.

I expect the number of TDs to regress, but not necessarily the number of passing yards. I am ready to switch the Packers and the Bills in my ranking. But what other team do you expect to pass for more yards than the Packers, and why?

I had them down for 244 extra yards. Make that 279 now, as I just switched them with the Ravens. But I don’t see them pass for more yards than the Cardinals, Vikings or even 49ers.

I have them down for 262 extra yards, but that indeed leaves them in the #15 spot.

Pittsburgh had one of the highest number of pass attempts in 2020 and 2021, but that only resulted in a mediocre number of passing yards. I expect the number of pass attempts to regress, but the ADOT to increase. The result will be a higher number of passing yards, but not by a huge margin.

I have them down for 250 more passing yards, but that does indeed drop them one spot in the rankings.

My current rank means Denver will have 126 passing yards more than last season, and Russell Wilson will have over 300 more. Can he do more? Probably, but I’d first like to see how much they will rely on the run. But indeed, I may have to bump them up another spot or 2.

I determined my “biggest winners” by additional passing yards. Houston would have been #5 in that ranking. I would not expect any miracles here. Mills looked good towards the end of the season, but the Texans still have some gaping roster holes.

I have them in the top 3 in all 3 rushing categories. I indeed do not expect Jalen Hurts to get any better. I do expect the Eagles’ offense to become more versatile, and better overall - but not through the air.

This may indeed require a review, though.

You’re making a lot of cases for teams that should get better. Here’s the trick:;

I don’t assign expected passing yards to teams and then determine their ranking.
Instead, I determine a ranking, and then assign passing yards to the teams, based on the average results of the last 5 years.

In other words:
I did not say “Pittsburgh will throw for 4040 air yards, and that will make them #15 in the NFL.”
Instead, I said: “I expect Pittsburgh to be the #15 team in terms of air yards, and that resulted on average in 4040 air yards in the last 5 years (based on 17 games per season).”

The reason why I tried that approach for the first time last year: like you, I tend to be an optimist. I think that almost every team has the potential to improve, compared to last year.

At some point, I realized that, if I added up my individual projections, the overall scoring in the NFL would increase by 20% and more. That doesn’t usually happen. There is some variation every year, but overall, the total numbers usually move within a pretty solid corridor.

That’s why I decided to rank teams, instead of just assigning volumes to them.

And once I’m done with that, I look at every team individually and assign volume shares to the individual players, that will add up to 100% for each team.

That worked pretty well last year. I had Baltimore’s passing volume way too low (and their rushing volume too high), but that was a result of their plethora of injured RBs during the season. I had Seattle much too high overall. And I was too high on the Eagles’ passing game, as I had thought Hurts might actually get better in his sophomore year. Other than that, I did okay, and as a result my player rankings became better, compared to previous years.

The good thing about the ranking approach is that you don’t step into the optimism trap so easily. It’s easy to say “the addition of Jameson Williams should easily give the Lions 300+ additional passing yards.”
It’s another thing to say “I expect the Lions and Goff to rank ahead of the Jets in terms of passing yards. Or ahead of the Falcons, who don’t look to have much of a run game this year. Or ahead of the Dolphins, who just added Tyreek Hill.”

Moving one team up inevitably means moving at least one other team down. As a matter of fact, there can be only one #1 and one #32 team. And this year’s #5 team won’t suddenly throw for more yards than last year’s #1 team, as that would mean the #1-4 teams would all set new passing records in the NFL.

Still, my ranking certainly isn’t perfect by any means. Especially in the mid tier, that’s not a huge issue, as the difference between the individual ranks isn’t that big. In 2021, the difference between #1 and #2 was 429 yards. That’s the same difference as between #11 and #20.

Anyway, I’m rambling. And I certainly don’t mind my ranking to be scrutinized - that’s why I posted it here. But as a matter of fact, if we want to move teams up, we’ll have to move others down.

The Saints should probably move up - definitely ahead of the Panthers. But also ahead of the Eagles (who’d then drop even further)? The Colts, who got an upgrade on QB? The Titans? Seahawks?

Good plan.

I would put them above those three, UNLESS the Pats begin to use Rhamondre Stevenson more. But Belichik has never really shown a lot of faith in his running game, even with good RB’s, who are really more of a change of pace play call for him.

Honestly, I would expect both more passing yards AND rushing yards for Pittsburgh. (In redraft, grab Najee Harris.) With the ADOT increasing, expect much more yardage from the QB and the WR’s.

Fair enough.

Agreed, but I like Mills. For a rookie, his progression makes me more enthusiastic than Deshaun Watson’s at the seam period. he may not hit it huge this season, but next season may be monster.

I don’t expect perfection. I am merely questioning specific aspects of it.

To be honest, I like Jameis better than the QB’s on all of those teams. Even the Panthers, with Matt Corral as an outside shot at HOF play, are not likely to pass Winston this year.

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2021 Pats:
Passing Yards: 3857 (#14)
Rushing Yards: 2151 (#8)

I have them down for 4136 passing yards in 2022 (still working on the rushing yard ranking). Putting them ahead of the other 3 teams would give them at least 4282 yards. Certainly still within the realm of possibility, but probably rather on the optimistic side, seeing that the only weapon they added was DeVante Parker in free agency.

That wouldn’t surprise me, though there are still a lot of question marks about the QB play. If Pickett gets the nod, it could hurt the overall production quite a bit, as some struggles are to be expected. And Trubisky isn’t a guarantee for stability and efficiency, either.

I hear you, and based on Mills’ showing during the last games of the 2021 season, I was ready to bump the Texans up some more. But then I remembered it’s the Texans. And if there is one team to mess such a situation up, then it’s them. At least Bill O’Brien isn’t around anymore. He’d probably have traded Mills away for a 6th round pick and a grilled cheese sandwich. :sweat_smile:

You do have a point there. I was sceptical because he didn’t look too great in the 6 full games he played in 2021 and threw only for 204 yards per game on average. But my current projection would reduce that to below 200 yards, and that’s not right. I will move the Saints ahead of the Panthers and Titans.

And I absolutely appreciate it. Hope I didn’t come across as sulky or defensive, just wanted to explain my approach. That has even more pitfalls in stock, btw. The seven categories in which I rank teams are:
Pass Attempts
Completion Rate
Passing Yards
Passing TDs
Rush Attempts
Rushing Yards
Rushing TDs

I’m already dreading the moment when I have all 7 rankings look halfway reasonable, only to then find out that that would give one team only 7.9 yards per pass completion, or another an out-of-this-world 6.2 yards per rushing attempt. :clown_face:

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I appreciate what you’re doing here, even if it seems I am nitpicking. You have made a useful tool to consider, much like the trade value chart you made some time ago.

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In this context, if I said you were nitpicking, I’d mean it as a compliment. :sweat_smile:

I’m more than ready to review and re-evaluate every single team. The Saints were definitely one that needed readjustment. I did not factor in the fact that Kamara could miss a few games (and they have no one behind him).

I moved them up several spots now. 3424 passing yards equal 201 yards per game. In 2021, they threw for only 187 yards per game, which was also Winston’s average. Winston can easily throw for even more than 201 yards per game, so the Saints have the potential to move further up the ladder, ahead of teams like Houston, Denver, Cleveland or Jacksonville. I will keep adjusting the rankings throughout preseason.

Updated ranking, now with the yards included:

Team 2022 Rk 2022 Yd 2021 Rk Change 2021 Yd Change
TB 1 5245 1 0 5229 16
LAC 2 5021 2 0 4800 221
DAL 3 4996 2 -1 4800 196
LV 4 4834 6 2 4567 267
LAR 5 4712 5 0 4642 70
KC 6 4653 4 -2 4791 -139
CIN 7 4484 7 0 4403 81
BUF 8 4367 9 1 4284 83
GB 9 4330 8 -1 4315 15
ARI 10 4282 10 0 4276 6
MIN 11 4229 11 0 4238 -9
SF 12 4211 12 0 4221 -10
NE 13 4136 14 1 3857 279
PIT 14 4101 15 1 3778 323
MIA 15 4040 17 2 3651 389
BAL 16 3993 13 -3 3961 32
ATL 17 3949 16 -1 3713 236
NYJ 18 3920 20 2 3541 379
DET 19 3848 18 -1 3598 250
JAX 20 3797 22 2 3436 361
CLE 21 3741 27 6 3320 421
DEN 22 3719 19 -3 3593 126
HOU 23 3704 28 5 3305 399
WSH 24 3592 21 -3 3441 151
IND 25 3487 26 1 3361 126
PHI 26 3441 25 -1 3404 37
NO 27 3424 32 5 3186 238
TEN 28 3340 24 -4 3418 -78
SEA 29 3230 23 -6 3432 -202
CAR 30 3165 29 -1 3239 -74
NYG 31 3076 31 0 3196 -120
CHI 32 2941 30 -2 3207 -266
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