The 2022 NFL schedule was revealed on Thursday night, and boy was it a doozy. With the league slowly sinking its teeth into the very fabric of our existence, it’s only natural we break down every important aspect of it.
Another matchup between Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks? Yes, please!
The defending champs trying to hold onto their heavyweight belt against the entire AFC West? Oh. Oh, wow.
A certain Raven trying to make sure an AFC rival beats him nevermore? Don’t worry, I can stop the excitement at any time.
While I know you’ll want to get your football fix in spades every week, here are the 10 must-watch contests that should make for appointment viewing during this front-loaded NFL season.
10 Week 1: Bills at Rams, Sunday Night Football
I can’t remember a better Opening Night game than Bills-Rams.
Josh Allen seems to be the next Destined One, while the Rams look like a surefire lock to make another deep playoff run. These two squads could very well meet in Week 1 and Week 22 — meaning, Super Bowl 57.
Lest I forget, Buffalo and L.A. met early on during the 2020 off-season. They combined for over 900 offensive yards in a 35-32 thriller. And that was with Jared Goff, not Matthew Stafford under center for the Rams.
Expect more of the same, if not far better, in Week 1.
9 Week 2: Chargers at Chiefs, Thursday Night Football
After adding Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson to a strong draft class, the Chargers and Justin Herbert are ready to finally break through. They’ll have to do it against the team that’s traditionally stood in their way: the Chiefs.
Kansas City helped knock the Chargers out of contention for the AFC West in a late-year thriller last season.
You can bet your bottom dollar Herbert and Co. have not forgotten the painful sting of that defeat as they try to ascend. This game could decide the AFC West. And we get it in Week 2.
8 Week 2: Cowboys at Bengals
The folks along the Ohio River would never forgive me if I omitted the Bengals from this list. So, I went with Cincy’s early-season tilt against Dallas — a likely playoff contender in the NFC — as a good test for the AFC champs’ revamped offensive line.
Can Ted Karras, La’el Collins and Alex Cappa help keep Joe Burrow upright against 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence? We’re about to find out.
7 Week 3: Ravens at Patriots
The Ravens and Patriots both enter the 2022 season with something to prove. Baltimore missed the playoffs for the first time ever with Lamar Jackson as their starter last season. Meanwhile, despite a solid 10-7 Wild Card campaign, the Patriots were thoroughly outclassed by the rival Bills in the playoffs.
We’ll see what tricks Bill Belichick has up his sawed-off hoodie sleeves for Jackson. Better said: we’ll whether they’ll even matter as he streaks through the New England defense time and again. On paper, it’s an intriguing chess match between a defensive mastermind and one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league to gameplan against.
6 Week 3: Packers at Buccaneers
The Packers (and Buccaneers) make their first appearance with this heavyweight fight. In a rematch of the 2021 NFC title game, Green Bay will undoubtedly want to make an early-season statement in Tampa Bay.
Whether Tom Brady and new head coach Todd Bowles let that happen is a different story altogether.
5 Week 4: Chiefs at Buccaneers, Sunday Night Football
It’s Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady for the sixth time. Watch this game. I am literally going to leave it at that.
4 Week 6: Bills at Chiefs
The last time these two squared off, this happened:
Honestly, make Buffalo and Kansas City play every game against each other.
3 Week 10: Chargers at 49ers, Sunday Night Football
Call me corny, but I love a fantastic coaching matchup. It doesn’t get much better than Kyle Shanahan and Brandon Staley — two rising guys certainly on the cutting edge.
Some sprinkles of Deebo Samuel, Derwin James, George Kittle, and Keenan Allen, and we have the makings of an instant classic.
2 Week 12: Rams at Chiefs
It is a crying shame the Rams and Chiefs have not played a game since their all-time battle in 2018. I mean, really: Could we not have flipped conference rules and temporarily put them in the same division?
Anyway: Andy Reid. Sean McVay. Pat Mahomes. Matthew Stafford. Travis Kelce. Cooper Kupp. Need I go on?
1 Week 16: Broncos at Rams, Christmas Day
You know, usually, the league saves its good, on-paper games for the early part of the year. That makes this a gift (get it?).
I will never frown upon a fascinating potential Super Bowl preview. Factor in Russell Wilson seeking to prove he’s still got plenty of elite playoff-level quarterbacking in the tank, and the Rams maybe fighting for home field, and I’m sold.
I am more than content with waiting for this one all year.