by Arnav Bhardwaj (’25) | February 14, 2022
To say this season was unique would be a gross understatement. As the league operated under the shadow of the pandemic, stardom and heartbreak lit up the headlines. One week away from the end of an unforgettable season, we find ourselves looking back at what went on, and questioning why it happened the way it did.
A lot changed during the 2021-2022 season of the NFL. Comprising of 32 teams, the NFL is split into two conferences: the AFC and the NFC. Within these two bodies are four divisions each – North, East, South, West – with all eight divisions containing four teams each. The 2021-2022 season introduced an extra week for the divisions; critics and supporters alike were quick to point out that previous records might now be meaningless. As predicted, countless records were broken, with stars like Tom Brady, T.J. Watt, Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, and many more players shattering league and franchise records that were never expected to be broken. While this could be credited to the extra week, this season was electrifying from start to finish.
That one week, nonetheless, changed so many things for many teams. There were, of course, the teams that simply couldn’t catch a break. From the AFC, the Jets, Jaguars, and Texans, all finished with less than five wins, while the NFC’s Lions and Giants also finished with under five wins. However, Week 18 provided teams with a record around the .500 mark a chance to secure a coveted playoff spot. The AFC was shocked when the Colts choked against the Jaguars and the Steelers pulled off an upset over the Ravens. It didn’t stop there, however, as the Raiders defeated the Chargers in an overtime spectacle. That wasn’t the only overtime thriller that graced our screens in Week 18, though, as the 49ers saved their playoff spot with a clutch overtime win over the Rams, with a rematch three games later.
After an insanely competitive playoff, with almost every game coming down to the last score, two teams remain: the young, dynamic Bengals against the star-laden Rams. ESPN currently gives the Rams a 66 percent chance of victory, compared to the 34 percent for the Bengals. It is important to note, however, that this is the same system that gave the Chiefs an eighty percent chance over the Bengals and the Packers a 74 percent chance over the Niners both of which lost. The Bengals have the most to prove, never having won a Super Bowl and last appearing in the playoffs 30 years ago. The Rams, however, also haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2000, and have the unique opportunity to win a Super Bowl at home.
Being played in the stunning SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, the Super Bowl also comes with a halftime show boasting legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige. With two teams unfamiliar to the spotlight put front and center, it remains to be seen who can keep up with the pressure and bring home a victory. Anything can happen, but one thing’s for certain: this has been a season to remember.