NFL consultants choose greatest matchups, greatest winners from schedule launch

The 2022 NFL schedule is out, because the league enters its second yr with 17 regular-season video games after enjoying a 16-game schedule since 1978. The common season kicks off on Thursday, September 8, with the Buffalo Payments visiting the Tremendous Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Week 1 additionally options Russell Wilson‘s return to Seattle on Monday Evening Soccer, Tom Brady in Dallas, Patrick Mahomes vs. Kyler Murray and 6 in-division matchups.

Different highlights for the 2022 slate embrace a Tremendous Bowl LV rematch between the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Oct. 2), an offensive duel between Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen (Oct. 30), and and a late-season Battle of Los Angeles (Jan. 1, 2023). There are additionally 5 worldwide contests, together with the league’s first sport in Germany (Buccaneers vs. Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13) and a return to Mexico Metropolis (Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 21). Certainly one of three London video games will function the Inexperienced Bay Packers — the lone NFL group but to play internationally.

What ought to we make of the 2022 slate? Who’s the largest winner from the schedule launch? Which video games do you have to circle in your calendar? Which debut would be the most attention-grabbing, and which late-season matchup may show necessary for the postseason? Our panel of NFL consultants weighs in on all that and extra, together with predictions for this season’s Tremendous Bowl.

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Which matchup do you’ve got circled in your calendar?

Sarah Barshop, Rams reporter: Rams at Packers, Week 15. These are the 2 greatest groups within the NFC and possibly even the NFL. House-field benefit within the playoffs is prone to be on the road, making it all of the extra intriguing. Inexperienced Bay beat Los Angeles final season (additionally at Lambeau Area) in an exhilarating matchup, and there’s no purpose to imagine Spherical 2 might be any much less thrilling.

Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Chiefs at Buccaneers, Week 4. It’s the primary sport that jumped out to me on the schedule launch. Patrick Mahomes. Tom Brady. Two attacking defenses. That’s good soccer — and on a nationwide stage.

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Jeremy Fowler, nationwide NFL author: Chargers at Chiefs, Week 2. The final matchup between these two had all of it, from late-game offensive fireworks to the Chargers’ quite a few failed fourth-down calls on primetime. Los Angeles most likely has had this one circled for some time. Justin Herbert vs. Mahomes equals good theater.

Dan Graziano, nationwide NFL author: Broncos at Seahawks, Week 1. I can’t imagine they’re making Russell Wilson return to Seattle straight away! What a Monday Evening Soccer opener. How will he deal with it? How will the gang obtain him? Wilson and the Broncos are one of many key storylines of the season, and this matchup needs to be one of many yr’s high Arduous Emotions Bowl video games.

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Seth Walder, sports activities analytics author: Payments at Rams, Week 1. Apologies for the predictable reply, however come on, what extra may you need? It’s final yr’s Tremendous Bowl champions versus arguably one of the best group within the league. A win received’t heal the wound of the Payments’ missed alternative in 2021, however it’d be a begin.


Who or what’s the greatest winner of the schedule launch?

Barshop: The Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is tied with Washington for the best energy of schedule, and it seems to have a preferable finish to its season. The Cowboys’ last 5 video games are towards the weak AFC South or a key divisional opponent.

Bowen: The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin’s group doesn’t depart the Japanese time zone all season. Something that reduces journey time needs to be checked out as a optimistic from a participant’s perspective.

Fowler: The Washington Commanders. They open the season with Jacksonville and Detroit. They’ve acquired Houston and Atlanta back-to-back later within the yr. They usually play within the always-favorable NFC East. Time for coach Ron Rivera to supply his first profitable season in Washington.

Graziano: The Los Angeles Chargers‘ social media group. For those who haven’t but seen their two-minute anime schedule release video, you actually ought to go test it out. It features a London shot on the Jaguars, a Waffle Home shot on the Falcons, a QB carousel shot on the Colts, an “RIP Legion of Increase” shot on the Seahawks, a shot a the Broncos for Mile Excessive Stadium catching on hearth and a number of pictures of an offended Brandon Staley going for it on fourth down. I imply, work went into this. Chargers social group, winners of the night time for me.

Walder: The Buffalo Payments. Buffalo emerged from the schedule launch with a plus-13-day web relaxation differential relative to its opponents, greatest within the league. The Payments face zero opponents off a bye. This can be a small — however significant — consider projecting the season! Honorable point out: the Lions, who’ve a plus-11-day differential.


Which Week 1 debut are you most fascinated by, and why?

Barshop: There was already a whole lot of intrigue about Wilson in Denver, however it doesn’t get a lot better than him debuting towards his former group, particularly in Seattle. The Broncos have been a quarterback away from contending for years, although the AFC West was not as robust as it’s now. I’m excited to see if Wilson can hit the following degree in an offense with severe pass-catching expertise.

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Joe Buck and Troy Aikman break down the Week 1 Monday Evening Soccer matchup between the Broncos and the Seahawks.

Bowen: Davante Adams‘ first sport with the Raiders comes towards the Chargers. Josh McDaniels versus Brandon Staley is a wonderful teaching matchup, however we additionally get to see how the Raiders deploy Adams within the go sport. His capacity to win from a number of alignments as a three-level goal adjustments the dynamic of the Vegas offense.

Fowler: The Steelers get the AFC champion Bengals in Week 1, and I’m wanting to see the Steelers’ post-Ben-Roethlisberger plan at quarterback. Pittsburgh all the time finds methods to win beneath Tomlin, however he additionally all the time acquired it carried out with Massive Ben by his aspect. With that possibility now gone, let’s see how he reinvents the Steelers behind Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and/or Mason Rudolph.

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Graziano: I’m fascinated by whether or not Deshaun Watson will really play for the Browns in Week 1 or might be serving a suspension. If he’s enjoying, you could possibly argue that no participant within the league is beneath extra strain to carry out than Watson is that this season, given the circumstances surrounding his arrival in Cleveland and the combined emotions the fanbase has about him being there.

Walder: I’m curious to see what Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel tries to make that offense work, and the way he’ll mesh a deep-threat receiver like Tyreek Hill with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who tried deep balls at one of many lowest charges within the league final season.


Which win whole over or beneath do you are feeling greatest about selecting proper now?

Barshop: Lions beneath six wins. Detroit completed twenty ninth in each offensive and defensive DVOA final season and brings again an analogous roster when it comes to expertise — although a wholesome Jeff Okudah and new draftee Aidan Hutchinson ought to assist. With Jared Goff nonetheless beneath heart, Detroit’s upside could be very restricted, leaving it destined for an additional low win whole.

Bowen: Chargers over 10 wins. With Herbert beneath heart and a protection that added some difference-makers this offseason, this group has the make-up of a real AFC contender.

Fowler: Seahawks over six wins. Positive, Wilson’s departure portends decline, however this can be a proud franchise with 9 straight profitable seasons previous to final yr. Save the quarterback place, the general roster is shaping as much as be higher. Anticipate Seattle to grind out wins with a potent operating sport, an improved protection and sufficient flash performs from receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Graziano: Steelers over 7.5 wins. I don’t know who’s going to be enjoying quarterback, however I do know they nonetheless have an excellent protection, and I do know Mike Tomlin has received no less than eight video games in each season he has been a head coach.

Walder: 49ers beneath 10 wins. Are we simply going to imagine quarterback Trey Lance is sweet straight away? I’m actually not. It appears awfully onerous to justify a 10-win whole with a pure unknown (learn: possible below-average) participant at QB. Our Soccer Energy Index isn’t out but, however I’ve gotten a sneak peek on the numbers, and let me inform you: It agrees with the beneath. In fact there’s an opportunity Jimmy Garoppolo stays the starter and improves the Niners’ forecast, however you actually can’t financial institution on that.


Name it now: Which late-season matchup can have playoff implications?

Barshop: Chargers at Broncos, Week 18. Final season, the ultimate AFC playoff spot got here all the way down to the ultimate sport for the Chargers and Raiders, and it’s an excellent guess to choose one other sport from the aggressive AFC West for the top of this season. Chargers vs. Broncos has the makings of a Week 18 Sunday Evening Soccer matchup in a winner-or-go-home showdown.

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Bowen: Eagles at Cowboys, Week 16. A Christmas Eve sport in Dallas with the 2 greatest groups within the NFC East. I believe this matchup performs a significant position in deciding the division winner.

Fowler: Patriots at Payments, Week 18. That New England travels to Buffalo for the season finale feels becoming. New England returns to the scene the place it threw the ball 3 times in gusting winds and nonetheless in some way managed the sport. Although final yr’s Payments broke by way of with back-to-back wins over the Patriots (together with playoffs), the Patriots have brought about them issues through the years and will do the identical right here with playoff positioning on the road.

Graziano: Ravens at Bengals, Week 18. This might effectively be for the AFC North title, if the Bengals can ship an encore and the Ravens can get everybody again wholesome and make the run I count on them to make.

Walder: Chargers at Colts, Week 16. I like each of those groups this yr, and if the season goes effectively for them, this might be a Monday Evening Soccer sport for seeding between two potential division winners. But when one or both stumble, it may simply be a struggle for a playoff spot, too.


What’s your early Tremendous Bowl choose?

Barshop: Rams over Payments. The primary sport of the season might not be the one time these two groups play. The Rams’ greatest competitors within the NFC is the Packers. Within the AFC, there are a whole lot of promising groups, however solely two — the Payments and Chiefs — are confirmed when it comes to contending each January. I’ll again Buffalo to take the following step this season.

Bowen: Payments over Packers. Including edge rusher Von Miller adjustments the profile of the Buffalo protection. He can shut out video games. And with an explosive offense constructed round quarterback Josh Allen, this group is ready as much as make a Tremendous Bowl run. Give me the Payments over Rodgers and the Packers.

Fowler: Packers over Chargers. First Joe Burrow, and now it’s Herbert’s flip to achieve the massive sport. However look ahead to the Packers to reinvent themselves with out Adams, with a potent operating sport and Rodgers taking extra probabilities downfield. Inexperienced Bay is paying Rodgers $50 million per yr to begin getting this carried out.

Graziano: Payments over Packers. Rodgers lastly will get again to the massive sport, however he can’t pull it out this time, as he runs right into a Buffalo group whose time has come. There’s no roster within the league that appears higher on paper than Buffalo’s, and the bitter playoff disappointments of the previous two years ought to gas the Payments to the highest.

Walder: Chargers over Buccaneers. Herbert has already performed at a top-three QB degree in his younger profession, and Los Angeles made vital enhancements to its lackluster protection. The Chargers will escape the AFC West gauntlet, and Herbert will outduel Brady within the Tremendous Bowl.