Thanksgiving 2022: One thing every NFL team can be thankful for this season

Thanksgiving is here, and every NFL team has reason to be grateful. Yes, that’s right, all 32! Some of them are clearly better placed to succeed than others. Some, in fact, may well see that playoff hopes are all but dashed this holiday weekend. But this day is all about gratitude, and if you look closely, every NFL city has at least a little bit of promise.

Here is one thing every team can be thankful for in 2022:

Greg Dortch looks like a real newbie.. On a team filled with aging and frequently injured veterans, the undrafted 24-year-old former wide receiver was a safe bet.

Arthur Smith knows how to build a ground game. The Falcons are more competitive than they should be, largely because everyone in possession, from Cordarrell Patterson to rookie Tyler Allgayer, is finding clear lanes in their system.

Legs of Lamar Jackson in full form. A year after the star quarterback’s injuries, his athleticism single-handedly kept the Ravens’ offense afloat, combined with a reinforced defense to keep playoff hopes alive.

Stephon Diggs has gotten better with age. Josh Allen’s presence as the ball-delivery guy is certainly at the top of Buffalo’s list of blessings, but his No. 1 goal remains one of the NFL’s most reliable running backs and physical players reaching 30.

The front seven has a promising future. Their defense isn’t technically considered the ultimate unit, but a number of individual pieces (e.g. Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Frankie Luvu) have proven themselves as building blocks.

Justin Fields is definitely something. Sophomore QB still needs time and more help to grow as a passer, but hell, he has exploded as a playmaker on the ground. Let the team leadership surround him with adequate weapons in 2023.

Joe Burrow is still the same dude. No Ja’Marr Chase? No Joe Mixon? Bengals can usually expect to swim smoothly as long as their mate is in the center; Few quarterbacks make more beautiful passes at every level of the field right now.

Amari Cooper was worth the risk. Cleveland essentially gave a fifth-round pick to the former Cowboys WR, remember, and while the Browns struggled overall, he proved himself against superior opponents, especially in the red zone.

Duck Prescott is gaining momentum at the right time. After a long hiatus due to injury, QB became Dallas’ rapid fire weapons distributor. He still needs to prove that he can win the big game, but the arrow points up.

Protection intact. The rough pairing of Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett has filled local headlines, but that hasn’t stopped Patrick Surtain II and company from somehow giving the duo a chance in every game this year.

Dan Campbell’s offense can compete in many ways. Which is important to say given that they have struggled with injuries and often played catch up. On the ground (Jamaal Williams) and in the air (Amon-Ra St. Brown) they were fighters.

Christian Watson has the makings of a star. His appearance may have been too short, too late to save a crappy setup for Aaron Rodgers, but the rookie was a beguiling combination of size and speed during his recent breakthrough.

Dameon Pierce is a bulldozer. The rookie running back is the main reason Houston managed to keep so many games closed in the first half of the year, giving whoever leads QB in 2023 a real take-off dump partner.

The WR body looks set for the future. Acquiring a long-term QB is paramount, but the young trio of Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell proved surprisingly strong, especially given the other upheavals in the team.

Trevor Lawrence is in a much better place. The quarterback still has room to grow, but not only is he more comfortable with Doug Pederson, but two of his best weapons in Travis Etienne and Christian Kirk seem to be in their prime.

Patrick Mahomes is a panacea. Perhaps a little too obvious, but how can Chiefs fans be more grateful for anything other than No. 15, whose chemistry with Travis Kelsey and unabashed creativity set Kansas City up for yet another title run?

Max Crosby is a destroyer. A year after the 30-hit QB explosion, the winger rushes to nine sacks in 10 games, giving solid juice to the Raiders’ defense that got its share in Josh McDaniels’ first year.

Austin Eckeler is still automatic. By hiring Justin Herbert, you would like to see more of them in general. But Ekeler is such a reliable helper (971 yards at scrimmage in 10 games) that their offense cannot be discounted.

Lombardi Trophy still belongs to them. The hellscape that was their 2022 campaign is a partial consequence of what they paid for the 2021 title. The depth is now depleted, but at least the rams reigned supreme a year ago.

Their new installation unlocked Tua Tagovailoa. We don’t know the young quarterback’s ceiling yet, but he was a noticeably more confident passer when Mike McDaniel called the play and Tyreke Hill and Jaylen Waddle raced down the field.

Kevin O’Connell changed the atmosphere. Making the playoffs may or may not be their ceiling, as usual, but the freshman coach has brought a refreshing offensive approach to one of the best groups of players in the game. His team has determination.

Bill Belichick can overcome a barren QB situation. Neither McJones nor Bailey Zappe drew hearty support on a run-dependent offense, but Belichick’s old-school “D” kept New England’s sass all year long.

Chris Olav is a real find. Michael Thomas looks like he’s leaving and the Saints still need to figure out QB after 2022, but at least they have #1 on hand. Only nine others have more receiving yards than the rookie.

Brian Daball knows how to make the most of his staff. The Giants haven’t been able to fight this year, but Daball’s fiery lead has allowed New York to at least play a spoiler. Imagine if he could get his hands on a game-changing alarm.

Robert Saleh’s defense has taken shape. This off-season, the division has been upgraded at every level, with real young stars in Quinnan Williams and Sauce Gardner, and is responsible for pushing offensive playoff hope.

Jalen Hurts is a different animal. Not only in terms of his unwavering aura, but compared to him in 2021. In addition to still being a physical threat with his legs, he has had great success as an outfield thrower, proving his Franchise-QB potential.

They found their next great WR. Or at least it seems that way when George Pickens displays Pro Bowl caliber traits in a leisurely attack. Pittsburgh’s track record of designing and developing large format venues is unmatched.

Jimmy Garoppolo was even better than advertised. Back in the saddle from Trey Lance’s injury, the vet looked particularly comfortable working with improved weaponry and a mean “D” that threatens another big playoff run.

Geno Smith is no longer the former Geno Smith. He was a brand new machine as Russell Wilson’s successor, acting with the authority to lead unexpected rival Pete Carroll and make their 2023 QB plans especially interesting.

Rachaad White can help restore their attack. Tom Brady appears to have regained some of his swagger after a poor start, but the arrival of a rookie in the outfield could be a game-changer as he completes Leonard Furnett.

Derrick Henry is back. The Brute doesn’t lead the NFL in carrying yards, in part because he just gets so many, but healthy after an injury-shortened 2021 season, he’s once again securing the championship alongside Ryan Tannehill.

Terry McLaurin breaks out. We always knew the Ohio State product had WR1 abilities, but he was especially important to the team’s success this year, even though both Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke took pictures in QB.

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