Roman Bruno, Sports Editor
It has been almost one week since the NFL released its schedule for the 2022-2023 season, and many analysts and fans are looking ahead to see what the league has lined up. It is never too early to take a look at some of the highly anticipated primetime games as well as some matchups that could prove to be intriguing.
Here are the games you should be watching each week of this upcoming season:
Week 1: Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams (Thursday Night Football)
This is a fantastic game to kick off the 2022-2023 regular season. The Super Bowl LVI champions in the Rams will host the current Super Bowl LVII champion odds favorites in the Bills in what will surely be a foreshadowing of a potential February rematch. Led by elite quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Matthew Stafford, this game has shootout potential. Both teams stocked up on star power during the offseason with the Bills signing former Broncos and Rams LB Von Miller, and the Rams signing veteran LB Bobby Wagner and WR Allen Robinson II. These two powerhouses on the main stage will be a spectacle that fans will not want to miss.
(Honorable Mention: Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks - Monday Night Football)
Week 2: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (TNF)
This primetime game will be the first of many broadcasted on Amazon Prime Video. The Chargers and Chiefs had two great games last season, splitting the regular season series. This season, in a stacked AFC West division, these rivalry games will mean that much more, and the QB matchup of Patrick Mahomes vs. Justin Herbert never disappoints. The Chargers were very busy this offseason, notably adding CB J.C. Jackson and LB Khalil Mack. However, America will really get to see how the Tyreek Hill-less Chiefs perform without the star WR, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins during the offseason. The winner of this game should have the early advantage in the division, but the race is far from over.
Week 3: Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game would not have been a must watch had QB Tom Brady stayed in retirement, but, with Brady unretiring after 39 days, this game should be circled on everyone’s calendars. The matchup of back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers against seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady will be electric, especially since this may be the last time they face each other. The last time these two teams played was in the NFC Championship two seasons ago, so we will see if Rodgers can avenge that loss. These two teams can certainly meet again in the playoffs, but only time will tell.
Week 4: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday Night Football)
A Super Bowl LIV rematch will once again pit Tom Brady against Patrick Mahomes. Brady has a 3-2 record vs. Mahomes, but this Chiefs team is completely different than the one he faced two years ago. Specifically on offense, Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce, and WR Mecole Hardman are the only three offensive players remaining from that roster. The NFL is clearly trying to milk the Brady-led Bucs on primetime if in fact this ends up being his last season, and I am completely fine with that. This will be a great game with talent all over the field.
Week 5: Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots
I will 100% concede to the fact that this game is not the most star-studded or highly-anticipated contest of the week. HOWEVER, seeing the Lions potentially defeat the Patriot Way, a philosophy that absolutely decimated the Lions in the Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia era, would be a cathartic relief to many Lions fans. With Patricia currently on the Patriots staff and possibly calling offensive plays, the revenge would be much sweeter. This game could have potential as the Patriots try to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and the Lions look to make positive strides in year two of the Holmes-Campbell regime. Give this game a chance.
Week 6: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
It is shocking that this game is not on primetime. The Bills will return to Kansas City, where they were heartbroken in the Divisional Round last season in a 42-36 overtime loss. That game featured absolute chaos, with both teams combining for almost 1,000 yards of offense. Mahomes and Allen combined for over 700 passing yards and eight total touchdowns. The main story from that game, however, was the Chiefs scoring on the first drive of overtime, leaving Allen and the offense helpless on the sidelines without a chance to respond. The NFL changed the overtime rules going into this season, and now both teams will be guaranteed a possession. Maybe this comes into effect in this game, and who knows how this time it will end. The winner of this game would have a very valuable tiebreaker, should it be needed to determine playoff seedings.
TE Travis Kelce catches the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Bills. Photo//Sam Lutz/Kansas City Chiefs
Week 7: New York Jets vs. Denver Broncos
This game is oddly intriguing. The expectation is that the Broncos will be playoff contenders with the addition of QB Russell Wilson, but the Jets had one of the best offseasons of any team in the NFL. The Jets filled many holes on their team, notably signing DL Solomon Thomas, S Jordan Whitehead, and TE C.J. Uzomah. They then used three first round picks to select CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, and DE Jermaine Johnson. They also selected RB Breece Hall in the second round, giving sophomore QB Zach Wilson all the weapons he needs. Wilson’s development in year two will write the story of the Jets’ season, but if he progresses as expected, maybe he can steal a consensus win from the Broncos.
Week 8: Washington Commanders vs. Indianapolis Colts
New Washington QB Carson Wentz will travel to play both of his former teams this season - the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts. This game provides all the drama as Wentz looks to get revenge for being traded in back-to-back offseasons. With a ready-made defense and nice offensive weapons, the Commanders are arguably a QB away from making some noise in the playoffs, which puts pressure on Wentz to perform. The Colts, who traded for Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan after trading Wentz, hope this move pays off while finally providing some stability at the quarterback position. Both of these teams have the potential to make the playoffs, but, as seen last season, it is far from guaranteed.
(Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns - MNF)
Week 9: Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Rams defeated the Bucs twice last season, in the regular season and the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Their playoff matchup ended with a game-winning FG by LA to win 30-27, but they almost blew a monumental lead as they were out in front by a score of 27-3 late in the third quarter. It could have been Brady’s greatest comeback ever outside of Super Bowl LI, but it was this loss that initially prompted him to retire. With Brady back in action, these teams will battle it out once again for NFC dominance with the winner getting a much-needed tiebreaker.
Week 10: Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
The NFC West will once again provide some great games this season. The Rams and Cardinals met three times last season, ending with a Rams Wild Card Round victory over the deflated Cardinals, who have seemed to fall flat the past couple seasons during the biggest moments. Arizona is starting the season at a disadvantage with WR DeAndre Hopkins being suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Hopkins should be available for this game, however, so him going up against Rams CB Jalen Ramsey is always a sight to see.
Week 11: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos
Filling out the rest of the AFC West coverage, the Raiders were just as busy as their rivals during the offseason. They traded for star WR Davante Adams and signed DE Chandler Jones. This matchup with the Broncos will be their second of the season as they also play each other in Week 4. It is so hard predicting how each of the teams in the division will do, but this should be a very competitive game that could have playoff implications down the line.
Week 12: Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Once again, it is shocking and very disappointing that this game is not on primetime. The last matchup between these two teams in 2018 will go down in history; the Rams won a 54-51 thriller. Expectations should be tempered, but both teams are still capable of such firepower. This could very well be a Super Bowl LVII preview as these teams almost met in the Super Bowl last season. Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes are very similar players in their style of throwing, and both of these quarterbacks can throw it all over the yard. This will be a very exciting game that will feature arguably the best teams in the league.
Week 13: Tennessee Titans vs. Philadelphia Eagles
There are so many great matchups this week, but seeing Eagles WR A.J. Brown play against his former team puts this game on top. Brown was traded from the Titans to the Eagles during the first round of the 2022 Draft; the Titans then drafted a similar replacement player in WR Treylon Burks from Arkansas. The return of RB Derrick Henry should make Tennessee just as lethal as they were last year, but the addition of Brown has made the Eagles sudden contenders in the NFC East. Expectations will be relatively high for both teams, and this game will be a test as they begin to hit the final stretch of the season.
(Honorable Mentions: Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
Week 14: Miami Dolphins vs. Los Angeles Chargers
This will be the second time that quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert face each other. Their first matchup was in their rookie seasons in 2020 with Tua and the Dolphins beating LA by a score of 29-21. Since then, Herbert has become one of the best QBs in the league, while Tua has straggled behind albeit with some flashes of greatness. The addition of Tyreek Hill should help Tua, but I do not know if it will be enough in this game. Watch out for the Chargers as sneaky Super Bowl contenders this season.
(Honorable Mention: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Rams - TNF)
Week 15: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
I have been hesitant to put the Browns as a must-watch since who knows if QB Deshaun Watson will even play in 2022 as he could be suspended by the NFL for sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations. However, on the off-chance that he is not punished, this game would be immensely intriguing across the scope of the AFC. With Watson, the Browns could be a serious playoff threat, but they must first handle business within the division. Also, potentially seeing Lamar Jackson vs. Watson twice a year would be a real treat.
(Honorable Mentions: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots vs. Las Vegas Raiders - SNF, Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers - MNF)
Week 16: Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Rams (Christmas)
By this point in the season, we will know if the Russell Wilson trade was a Christmas gift or lump of coal for the Broncos. Assuming that they are still in the running for the AFC West crown, this game will be a must-watch. There is not really much more to analyze with either team; just watch this game. Merry Christmas!
(Honorable Mention: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - Christmas Eve Night)
QB Russell Wilson is introduced at the Broncos press conference. Photo//Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Week 17: Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals (MNF)
Two AFC dynamos face off just weeks before the playoffs, where these teams could possibly meet again. If the Bengals do not have that Super Bowl loss hangover that some teams do, they could contend once again. Cincy beefed up their offensive line, improved their secondary, and most importantly gained a year of playoff experience for their young core. All of these factors will be crucial for them this year, and the Bills will be a great challenge at this point in the season. This game could definitely have playoff seeding implications.
(Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers - SNF, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers)
Week 18: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
If I could guarantee one game from this week that has both teams fighting for something, this would be the one. It is very well possible Kansas City could have locked up the division already, but clinching the one-seed and first round bye would be something they would covet and desperately need over teams like the Bills, Titans, or Bengals. If the AFC West has not been won yet going into the last week of the season, that adds an extra layer of drama for this matchup. For the Raiders, they are always in the hunt every year, so the pressure of the last game seems inevitable for them. Vegas has stolen wins from KC in the past, but this game can go either way.