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NFL: Regular Season Review

The Buffalo Bills faced more adversity than most in the regular season but they remain on course for Super Bowl LVII.

The year brought mixed fortunes for some big-name quarterbacks as a new generation came to the fore and some surprise packages emerged in the NFC.

Chiefs primed for playoffs

In the past 10 seasons, seven champions have been rated 10/1 or better before a ball has been snapped, so it's notable that the three preseason fancies have all made it into the playoffs - albeit in contrasting fashions.

The 17/5 Chiefs finished with the joint-best regular-season record, winning 14 games and topping a division that was supposed to be more competitive because of the high-profile arrivals of Russell Wilson in Denver and Davante Adams in Las Vegas.

But Kansas City blew their rivals away, winning all six games within the AFC West to clinch a seventh straight title while wrapping up the conference's No.1 playoff seed.

There is a proviso, however, that if they face the No. 2 Bills, now 4/1 to win Super Bowl LVII, the game is played at a neutral site because Buffalo's Week 17 game with the Cincinnati Bengals was postponed when safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest in the first quarter and later declared a no contest.

Hamlin continues to progress in his recovery and has been offering his support to teammates that have been through a lot together this season.

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Buffalo's Week 11 home game with the Cleveland Browns was moved to Ford Field in Detroit when 42.3 inches of snow was dumped in Orchard Park two days before it was scheduled to be played, with players having to dig themselves out of their homes to get on the team bus.

There were disruptive injuries too with star offseason signing Von Miller suffering a season-ending knee problem on Thanksgiving Day and quarterback Josh Allen battling through a midseason elbow injury.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25/1 to win their third Lombardi Trophy, are the only team with a losing record to make it to the postseason and that was looking doubtful until their Week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers.

The Bucs were ravaged by injuries and Tom Brady, although setting personal records for attempts and completions, had his worst season in Tampa.

But the 45-year-old is 7-0 against the Dallas Cowboys and who would bet against him upsetting the No.4 seeds on wild card weekend.

Shutdown defences help Cowboys and Niners overcome injuries

It was another strong season for America's Team with Mike McCarthy guiding Dallas to a 12-5 regular season record. The Cowboys relied on their pressurising defence in the first half of the campaign when Dak Prescott was out with a broken thumb, but he came back strongly to compensate for a banged-up secondary down the stretch.

The 49ers were the most dominant defence, virtually from start to finish, as Demeco Ryans' unit gave up the fewest yards per game and points per game in 2022.

Injuries dogged San Francisco too, particularly at QB where Trey Lance was lost for the season in Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo could not last beyond the first game in December.

Their playoff hopes now rest on the arm of rookie Brock Purdy, taken last in the 2022 NFL Draft, who went 5-0 as their third starter.

Young QBs fulfilling early promise

Three teams with young quarterbacks at the helm overcame the odds to make the postseason with Cincy's Joe Burrow, 13/2 to have the Most Playoff Passing Yards, recapturing his postseason form of a year ago to propel the Bengals to their second straight AFC North title.

Justin Herbert set a new record for the most passing yards through a quarterback's first three NFL seasons and came through in the clutch enough times for the injury-hit Los Angeles Chargers to solidify his reputation.

But Tua Tagovailoa was knocked off course by three concussions in a season in which he showed poise and promise.

Surprise packages emerge in NFC

The NFC was full of surprising teams this year - not least the Philadelphia Eagles, who claimed the No.1 playoff seed with an impressive 14-3 record.

Jalen Hurts played lights out until he had to miss a couple of games late in the season and second-year head coach Nick Sirianni continues to confound those who felt he was the wrong man in Philly.

With a week off to rest his aching shoulder, Hurts should be back for a Divisional Round clash with the lowest seed remaining after wildcard weekend.

That could be one of the Seattle Seahawks or New York Giants with maybe the Minnesota Vikings to come later after all three had seasons that greatly surpassed expectations.

Journeyman QB Geno Smith can take some of the credit for the way Seattle overcame the loss of Wilson while ex-Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is now the doyen of the Big Apple after guiding a team that finished 4-13 a year ago to a 9-7-1 finish.

Vikings fans were on a white-knuckle ride for a season that started and finished with 16-point victory margins, with 11 one-score wins and four double-digit losses in between.

They are the true dark horses of the postseason field with Justin Jefferson, 20/1 to get the Most Playoff Receiving Yards, cementing his reputation as the most feared wide receiver in football during a stellar regular season.

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