F1 takes the US and Canada take Qatar: our bold sports predictions for 2022

Here are our bold predictions for 2022 in sports. Please note the bold (or should that be bold?) in bold predictions: these are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Bold to the nth degree? Forse. Bonkers? Absolutely not. Dan Campbell’s squad has a lot of positives to build on heading into next season beyond the stunning win over Arizona. Detroit’s stellar offensive line returns all five starters next year. Jared Goff has settled in and should be a serviceable stopgap, allowing the Lions to spend their (probable) No 2 draft pick on a stud pass rusher or wideout. And Campbell, for all his game management flaws, has a roster that has fully bought into his culture shift. When Aaron Rodgers leaves for Denver or retires and the Bears muff their coaching hire and the Vikings underperform, the rapidly improving Lions will be ready to pounce. MJ

Canada haven’t even come close to qualifying for the World Cup since their first and only appearance back in 1986. That will change this year – they’re currently top of the Concacaf octagonal after going eight games unbeaten – owing to a glut of young stars who have developed into major contributors at European clubs, among them Champions League medal-holder Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jonathan David (Lille), Cyle Larin (Besiktas) and Tajon Buchanan (Club Brugge). As ever, so much is down to the draw. But if John Herdman’s side can manage to avoid a true group of death, look for Canada make it out of pool play and match Costa Rica’s Concacaf coming-out of eight years ago. BAG

It took a few decades, but F1 finally figured out the most direct path into an American TV viewer’s heart is through soapy drama. The messier, the better. Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries hooked us on these foreign characters, their base desires and the frustrating obstacles in between – to the point that the idea of missing a race (let alone qualifying or a practice session) would be like watching a season of the Real Housewives without also tuning into the reunion shows. The Abu Dhabi finale had an audience of a million, and its controversial ending (I’ll say it again: Lewis Hamilton was robbed) will go down as the sport’s Who Shot JR moment. Which is to say everyone and their mother will be tuning in mid-March to see how this cliffhanger resolves.

While a million viewers might not sound like much compared to the NFL, that’s about half the audience for Nascar, the US’s most-watched motorsport, and their ratings have been in free fall for years. This year’s US Grand Prix attracted more than 400,000 people to Austin for the race weekend. Next spring a second USGP race comes to the streets of Miami, maybe the most F1 American city there is. (It has the glamor, the international flavor, the speed culture and a coastline that will look sumptuous in aerial shots.) To put it in terms a new F1 might understand: Nascar might be in the lead, but F1’s following close behind and about to enter the DRS zone. To put it even more plainly: I live in Nascar country, but more and more I find myself skidding into coffee shop conversations about Hamilton’s pet bulldog Roscoe or Lando Norris’s Twitch channel. Face it, Formula 1 is on the march. The only question is how long before it pulls away from Nascar for good. AL

Instead of consolidating his place at the top of the sport after his maiden US Open title in 2020, this season was the nadir of Dominic Thiem’s career. After mental burnout early in the year, he suffered a serious wrist injury in June, had a major setback in August and then his comeback timeline was recently ruined by a cold. It will take a considerable amount time for Thiem to regain his form and trademark intensity, but he will finish 2022 back amongst the best. TC

The NFL adding a 17th regular-season game was always a stopping point on the way to the much-desired 18th game. Pair that with the fact the league recently announced international marketing areas per 18 teams in 26 different markets across eight countries – an announcement that was light on details but large on marketing ease – and it’s not difficult to see the eventual blueprint: an international round (or a weekly individual game) played in each of those respective markets. Asking teams to travel e forfeit a home game has always been a sticking point for the league’s international series, making it tricky to consistently send some of the league’s most popular franchises to games held in London, Mexico City or Canada. The new marketing agreement adds Australia, Brasile, Cina, Germany and Spain to the league’s formal international agreements. With retirement nearing for commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s easy to foresee a proposal similar to the Premier League’s infamous 39th game serving as a legacy plan. OC

Unbeknownst to many sports pundits, soccer federations are responsible for building the game in all its forms, from the grassroots upward, not just paying the men’s and women’s able-bodied full-field World Cup teams. The women’s team should have settled its “equal pay” dispute years ago but persists in pushing forward in court, where its case is flawed. The men’s team has paid lip service to “equal pay”, but the federation has called its bluff by insisting upon some way to figure out how to disperse World Cup prize money that’s far greater for men than for women – to Fifa’s disgrace. (Other countries have “equal pay” by offering the teams pari percentages of World Cup prize money, a solution that would make the US women’s team laugh.) These teams will reach a point at which they can’t just play on the sympathies of the misinformed, and they’ll end up negotiating from a position of weakness. BD

Compared to his peers, Adam Silver has had a relatively uncontroversial reign as NBA commissioner, tuttavia, his obsession with shortening the regular season in place of an in-season tournament feels like an all-time example of a person with power attempting to fix the unbroken. Mentre recently leaked news suggests that opposition to the play-in tournament is lowering, it wouldn’t be at all surprising for there to be swift backlash, either from the players’ union, the owners or both. 2022 could very well bring us the most significant defeat of Silver’s tenure. HF

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