The NFL will kick off its 2022 season where last season’s last game kicked off — at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., when the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, September 8 , the teams announced.
The Bills-Rams matchup features elite quarterback play between Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen, who has guided the Bills to back-to-back playoff appearances. This game underscores a challenging schedule for the Rams, whose opponents have the highest win rate in the league from last season (56.7%). NBC will broadcast the game.
Monday Night Football’s opener features a savory tale – Russell Wilson making his debut for the Denver Broncos against his old team, the Seattle Seahawks, at Lumen Field. Wilson led the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances and nine winning seasons in 10 years. Seattle traded Wilson to Denver in March for multiple draft picks and veteran players. The game will air September 12 on ESPN.
Other notable week one matchups include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, a repeat of last season’s Thursday night opener; the Los Angeles Chargers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders and reigniting a dramatic 2021 regular season finale with playoff implications; the Cincinnati Bengals at the Pittsburgh Steelers, a clash of bitter AFC North rivals; and the Kansas City Chiefs, who are traveling west to play the Arizona Cardinals, two high-profile tackles in the desert.
The Buccaneers will face serious firepower in the first month of the season with a home opener on Sept. 25 against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and a face-off with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs the following week.
Other Week 1 matchups include the Jacksonville Jaguars with new coach Doug Pederson and the Washington Commanders with new quarterback Carson Wentz. Pederson coached Wentz in Philadelphia and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, though Nick Foles was behind center with Wentz injured.
Several other veteran quarterbacks will debut with new teams. If the Cleveland Browns open the season with the Carolina Panthers, Deshaun Watson could join them after his transfer from the Houston Texans this offseason, although a possible suspension for alleged sexual assault is a big factor.
New Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan faces Houston in Week 1. Meanwhile, September 11 also features several other key divisional matchups: the New Orleans Saints at the Atlanta Falcons, the New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins (with newly acquired receiver Tyreek Hill leading the process to maximize Tua Tagovailoa starts) and the Packers at the Minnesota Vikings.
“I’m expecting an incredible crowd there,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell told the Vikings website. “I’ve talked a lot about being on the sidelines of this visitor, so I know what the Packers are going to expect at the opening weekend. I expect to see a stadium full of purple. It’s a big opportunity for us and a challenge.
“What a start to the season – challenging but also a great start to what will hopefully be a great 2022.”
It will also be the Browns for the Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers for the Chicago Bears, the Eagles for the Detroit Lions, the Baltimore Ravens for the New York Jets, and the New York Giants for the Tennessee Titans.
The Jets, one of the biggest early-season wildcards, open the season with four straight games against the AFC North — Batlimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
There are 10 home underdogs in week one games, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the most in NFL history in the first week of the season.
Among the teams opening on the road and set to be home in Week 2 is Kansas City, which will host the Chargers in Thursday night’s first Amazon Prime Video game.
Planners will jet lag the Falcons earlier in the year with games in Los Angeles (Rams) and Seattle in weeks 2 and 3.
It was previously announced that one of the Christmas Day triple header games, Denver at the Rams, would be televised by both Nickelodeon and CBS. The other Christmas games are Green Bay in Miami at 1 p.m., then Tampa Bay in Arizona at night.
There will also be a contest with the Raiders at the Steelers on Christmas Eve.
For the traditional Thanksgiving games, Detroit will host Buffalo, Dallas will host the Giants, and New England will host nights in Minnesota.
More Holiday Tariff: 14 games on New Year’s Day, which will force some bowl games to phase out from January 1st. Probably the best matchups starting 2023 include San Francisco in Las Vegas, Miami in New England and Denver in Kansas City.
Thirteen NFL teams — the 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Buccaneers, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles, Packers, Patriots, Rams, and Steelers — have five primetime games. The Lions are currently the only team without a primetime slot, while the Patriots have four in a row — from Nov. 24 to Dec. 18, three en route and a home game against Buffalo.
The international matches have also already been announced. The Bucs and Seahawks will participate in the first NFL regular season game in Germany on November 13 in Munich. Green Bay will be the last team to play in Europe, taking on the Giants on October 9 at the home of Premier League football team Tottenham in London. The same site also hosts the Vikings and Saints the previous week.
Other international games include the Broncos versus the Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London on October 30 and the 49ers and Cardinals playing on November 21 in Mexico City.
Week 15 has a triple header on Saturday, December 17th. However, which of Sunday’s five games will be postponed will not be decided until closer to this weekend. The possibilities are Miami in Buffalo, Baltimore in Cleveland, Indianapolis in Minnesota, Atlanta in New Orleans and the Giants in Washington.
The final weekend of January 7-8, 2023 – all matchups within divisions – will also have two games rescheduled to Saturday. These will be determined at the beginning of week 18.
“We’ve known who we’re playing against and where for months,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, “but seeing how it’s going, where our farewell week is and where our division opponents are, it’s fun for our coaches.” This first opponent is something you look at so you can start working on his coordinators, understand what they did and try to get an edge in this game.
Nine teams will enjoy three games: the Cowboys, Giants, Bears, Lions, Vikings, Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams and 49ers. Four must survive road trips in three games: Kansas City, Miami, Green Bay and Philadelphia.
Byes begin in week 6.
Teams have known their opponents since the end of last season, but the NFL is building drama around the release of the schedule, announcing the order, kick-off times and broadcast networks for all 272 games on one night in May. This will be the second NFL season to follow a 17-game schedule as agreed upon by the NFL and players’ union during recent labor negotiations.
The regular season runs through January 8th and the Super Bowl is scheduled to kick off on February 12th.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.