It is time to give credit where credit is due. Somehow, the NFL has turned the release of its regular-season schedule into a must-see TV event covered by multiple stations.
With the dates (or most of them) and matchups known, what better time is there to look at some games that will be showcase affairs in what promises to be an entertaining 2022 NFL season.
The NFL loaded up Week 1 with some compelling storylines that will have teams considered contenders, according to the sportsbook getting tested right away.
Opening Night Blockbuster
It is not to stretch to suggest that it could have been the Buffalo Bills meeting the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl back in February.
While that didn’t happen, the teams will kick off the 2022 NFL season on Sept. 8.
Von Miller, acquired during the season to help the Rams reached the promised land, is now a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Most of the Super Bowl-winning team returns for the Rams although left tackle Andrew Whitworth did retire. There is a change at receiver with Allen Robinson coming in and Robert Woods leaving.
Offensive lineman Rodger Safford joins Miller are the high-profile veteran additions.
It would be a surprise to almost nobody if these teams were also to play in the final game of the 2022 season. The NFL predictions have the Bills and Rams as the favorites in the AFC and NFC, respectively.
Few offseason moves generated more attention than the Seattle Seahawks trading franchise quarterback Russell Wilson for three players and a boatload of draft picks.
Wilson will be making his Denver debut in a familiar setting when he leads the visiting Broncos into Seattle in the first Monday Night Football game of the season.
New season, new wallpaper.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) May 13, 2022
Drew Lock, part of the trade for Wilson, figures to be the opposing quarterback in a game that might generate just a tad bit of hype.
Kicking Season Off in Style
As if the Bills-Rams and Broncos-Seahawks games aren’t enough on the opening week of the NFL season, how about a number of intriguing divisional showdowns. They include the Pittsburgh Steelers and reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, and Las Vegas Raiders against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Green Bay Packers traveling to meet the rival Minnesota Vikings.
The Sunday Night Football affair between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys might not be a divisional showdown, but it is a matchup of teams favored to win their divisions.
Ravens Getting Introduced to AFC East
The Baltimore Ravens knew that the way the schedule formula worked that they would face each team in the AFC East. Little did the Ravens know that would come in the first four weeks of the season. Following the season opener against the New York Jets are games against Miami, New England and Buffalo.
Baltimore’s Week 4 and 5 games will be interesting with showdowns against AFC powerhouses Buffalo and Cincinnati.
Bengals Hitting Road Early
Four of the first six games for a Cincinnati Bengals team coming off a run to the Super Bowl will be on the road, including a divisional showdown with Baltimore
That early-season traveling circus wraps up with a Week 6 game against a New Orleans Saints team that is favored by many to return to the playoffs.
The good news with a schedule front-loaded with road contests is that Cincinnati has four of the final six games of the regular season at home.
The Bengals would be well advised to pick up some early wins because the combined regular-season record of Cincinnati’s final seven opponents was 74-45 in 2021.
Dolphins to be Tested Quickly
Will the arrival of receiver Tyreek Hill from Kansas City be enough to push Miami over the top in a brutal AFC East Division?
It shouldn’t take long to figure out what the Dolphins will look like with games against New England, Buffalo and Cincinnati in the first four weeks of the season.
Bills Face Rocky Road
The Week 7 bye could be just what the doctor ordered for the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo kicks off the 2022 season by playing the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Four of those contests will be on the road. Wow.
The Bills are a popular pick to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since the Jim Kelly days. If they get there, handling that brutal early portion of the schedule could be a major reason why.
1-2 (Draft) Punch in December Matchup
However, that Week 13 game takes on added significance as it features the top two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars went with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the top pick, allowing the Lions to gladly select former Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson with the second selection.
With the game coming so late in the season, it will give the draft second-guessers plenty of information to wade through to determine which player should have been the first off the draft board. The Las Vegas odds list Hutchinson (+450) as the favorite to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Walker is third at +600.
Titans: Late Relief?
Nobody is quite sure what to make of the Tennessee Titans after receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were both sent packing. If Tennessee manages to navigate a difficult early portion of the season, three of the final five games in the regular season will come against the lowly Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tennessee might need that break because the Week 13 game comes against Philadelphia, the team that now employs former Titans No. 1 receiver A.J. Brown.
Broncos Get Midseason Reprieve
If the NFL had its way, all 17 games for the Denver Broncos would be against the Seattle Seahawks, so the league could get the most out of the buzz surrounding Russell Wilson going up against his former team.
Things will shake out a little different.
Denver could get the opportunity to gather its collective thoughts as a Week 9 bye is preceded by games against the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yes, the Jets and Jaguars should be better in 2022 thanks to all the high draft picks on the roster, but the Broncos should be favored to win both matchups.
Quarterbacks Highlight Super-Sized Week 4 Matchup
When Patrick Mahomes faced Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, a popular talking point was whether Mahomes would finish his career with more championships than Brady. Brady came away with ring No. 7 in that game, leaving Mahomes with plenty of work to do.
The quarterbacks will share the spotlight yet again in a Week 4 showdown in Tampa.
Mahomes and the Chiefs will face both teams that played in the most recent Super Bowl in back-to-back weeks, meeting the Rams on Nov. 27 and traveling to play Cincinnati on Dec. 4.
Stafford-Rodgers Matchup Worth the Wait
Add the Green Bay Packers to the teams facing the last two Super Bowl winners.
There will be a late-September game in Tampa Bay. Less than a week before Christmas, football fans will get an early present when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers welcome Matthew Stafford and the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams to Lambeau Field.
How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?
How good will the 2022 Dallas Cowboys be? It shouldn’t take long to figure that out considering that the first games of the season are against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals. Both games will be at home for Dallas.
There is already a certain amount of pressure on a Dallas team that perpetually underachieves in the postseason, so just imagine the environment if Dallas limps out to an 0-2 start.
One has to wonder whether the fact that Dallas coach Mike McCarthy used to coach the Packers will be mentioned in the days leading up to the Cowboys’ Week 10 game at Green Bay.
Cardinals: Rugged First Month
There is more than a little bit of drama with the Arizona Cardinals surrounding quarterback Kyler Murray. Arizona and Murray will be put to the test early on when it opens the 2022 season against Kansas City. After traveling to Vegas to meet the Raiders, a Week 3 showdown against division rival and Super Bowl champion Los Angeles is next.
The mood of the team and its quarterback wouldn’t be helped by an 0-3 or 1-2 start to the 2022 season.
Not Always Great to be Defending Champions
If the Los Angeles Rams are to win a second straight Super Bowl, they will have earned it.
Twelve of the Rams’ 17 games during the regular season will come against teams that had winning records during the 2021 season. That will begin with the season opener against Buffalo.
The closest the Rams get to a break is a Week 6 home game vs. Carolina followed by a Week 7 bye.