The 2022 NFL schedule was released on Thursday.
Can quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams repeat as champs?
Stafford and the Rams will kick off the NFL season Thursday, Sept. 8, by hosting the Buffalo Bills. Sportzshala’s Monday Night Football opener is Sept. 12 and will feature Russell Wilson’s debut with the Denver Broncos hosting his former team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Based on strength of schedule — which is determined by opponents’ records in 2021 — the Rams have the toughest schedule of the 2022 season and the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders tie for the easiest.
The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games for the 2022 season will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14, 2023, and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.
Here’s a bold prediction for every team following the schedule release. Click on the links to see the full schedule and more analysis.
The Bills winning the AFC East for a third straight year is not a bold prediction. That’s a trend. Instead, look to the tough start of the season. The first seven games feature five playoff teams from last year and the Ravens and Dolphins on the road. No easy feat, but Buffalo will get through that stretch going at least 5-2 which sets up well for the rest of the slate. Read more from Alaina Getzenberg
The Dolphins will start the season 8-2 through their first 10 games. That aforementioned stretch to start the season will be difficult but it’s also littered with winnable games. If coach Josh McDaniel’s system works and Miami clicks early, it can start the season on a scorching hot note. Read more from Marcel Louis-Jacques
New England Patriots
The Patriots will need to beat the Bills in the regular-season finale to secure a playoff berth, and it will be intriguing to see how it unfolds if Buffalo has already solidified its own playoff seeding. The Patriots’ 2021 season ended in embarrassing fashion at Buffalo in a 47-17 playoff loss, and in this scenario, they would have a chance to write a different story a year later. Read more from Mike Reiss
New York Jets
The Jets will finish 7-10, not good enough to be a serious contender, but significant improvement from last season. Quarterback Zach Wilson will struggle out of the gate against the different defensive styles of the AFC North, but he will find his footing over the second half of the season when the schedule softens. Read more from Rich Cimini
The Ravens win the AFC North to become the NFL’s latest team to go from last place to first. This has happened in 17 of the past 19 seasons, and the Ravens are in a great position to continue this trend. Baltimore gets back six starters who suffered season-ending injuries last year, along with a healthy and motivated Lamar Jackson, who is playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. That’s a major boost to a Ravens team that lost five games by three points or fewer last season, including a one-point defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams. Read more from Jamison Hensley
The Bengals repeat as AFC North champions. The rest of the AFC definitely got stronger this offseason, but Cincinnati is still poised to be the team to beat in the division. The Week 8 game loss to Cleveland aside, the Bengals played some of their best football against divisional rivals in 2021. That should continue as the Bengals look to make another deep postseason run. Read more from Ben Baby
It’s difficult to forecast Cleveland’s season without knowing whether quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended. But if he isn’t, the Browns win their first division title since 1989. Read more from Jake Trotter
The Steelers will have three wins at the bye week. Not only are the first five games tough, but every game before the bye will be difficult for a new quarterback to navigate. The Steelers have a stout defense, but they’ll be facing the formidable offenses of Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami and Cincinnati. The Browns, Patriots and Eagles aren’t a walk in the park, either. Read more from Brooke Pryor
The Texans will enter their Week 6 bye at 2-3. Houston has three of those five games on the road but could win at the Chicago Bears and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Read more from Sarah Barshop
The Colts will get their first victory over New England coach Bill Belichick at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2006 in Week 9. The Colts have lost six straight to the Patriots at their home stadium by an average of 19.6 points a game in that span . Read more from Mike Wells
The Jaguars, who have won four games the past two seasons combined, will end two long losing streaks by beating Washington on the road in the season opener. They’ve lost 17 consecutive road games dating back to a victory in Oakland on Dec. 15, 2019, and 16 consecutive games against NFC teams dating back to beating the Giants in the 2018 season opener. Read more from Michael DiRocco
Tough matchups with the Eagles on the road and at Nissan Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys could hurt their chances. But the Titans will sweep the NFC East even though the Washington Commanders and New York Giants have made slight improvements from last season. Read more from Turron Davenport
If quarterback Russell Wilson stays healthy, and he’s only missed three games in his previous 10 years in the league (all three last season after finger surgery), the Broncos will — finally — finish with a winning record in the AFC West. A tall order given the division is suddenly one of the league’s toughest with a high-end roster of quarterbacks and pass-rushers just to start. Over the last six seasons they have finished 1-5 in the division twice, 2-4 three times and 3-3 once. Read more from Jeff Legwold
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will go 5-1 in AFC West games. They’ll split with the Chargers (each team winning on its home field) — but will sweep the Broncos (making it 15 straight wins in the series) and the Raiders. Read more from Adam Teicher
Las Vegas Raiders
Quarterback Derek Carr silences his haters — real and imagined. Buoyed by the presence of receiver Davante Adams, Carr plays like the elder statesman he is among AFC West quarterbacks and excels in coach Josh McDaniels’ system to carry the Raiders to a second straight playoff appearance. Carr beats Kansas City in the flexed-to-prime-time finale and, for the first time since 2015, a team other than the Chiefs wins the AFC West. Hey, you wanted bold. Read more from Paul Gutierrez
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers open up 2-0, get a big jump on the rest of the AFC West and finally live up to preseason expectations by ending the Chiefs’ six-year reign as division champs. Read more from Paul Gutierrez
The Cowboys break the NFC East jinx and win the division in back-to-back years. The last time the same team won the NFC East in consecutive years was when Philadelphia did it in 2003-04. The Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in back-to-back years since 2006-07. Read more from Todd Archer
New York Giants
The Giants will win twice as many games after the bye as before their break in Week 9. So that’s two wins in their first eight games and four in their final nine. It’s a byproduct of the tough early schedule, the easier post-bye matchups (beginning with home contests against the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions) and the time it takes to get acclimated to a new coaching staff. Read more from Jordan Raanan
The Saints (whose 2023 first-round pick belongs to Philly) will miss the playoffs and the Eagles will have a 2023 first-round pick inside the top 16, allowing GM Howie Roseman the chance to make a major play for a quarterback should quarterback Jalen Hurts not get the job done this season. Read more from Todd Archer
Washington wins 10 games and makes the playoffs. The Commanders bolstered their offense with Wentz and first-round receiver Jahan Dotson. Defensively, this will matter: In 2021, they faced six quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in total QBR and nine of the top 14. This season they face two who were in the top 10 and only five in the top 14. Read more from John Keim
Chicago will avenge its 2021 loss to San Francisco by beating the 49ers in their season opener. Read more from Courtney Cronin
Detroit will win at least seven games. Although the Lions were 3-13-1 last season, anyone who watched them closely knows they were competitive. If the Lions play as hard as they did for coach Dan Campbell during his first season — and can stay healthy — they could get at least seven wins for the first time since 2017, when they went 9-7. For Detroit, that would be a victory as it continues to build a foundation for the future. Read more from Eric Woodyard
Green Bay Packers
The Packers won’t match coach Matt LaFleur’s win totals in each of his first three seasons; they will exceed it. The NFC North is rebuilding, while the games against the two New York teams, Philly and Washington shouldn’t be too tough. That’s already 10 wins. All they have to do is go 4-3 in their remaining games. Read more from Rob Demovsky
The Vikings are making the playoffs in coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season. They won’t beat out the Packers for the NFC North title, but O’Connell has inherited a talented offense and will bring with him a scheme that helped win Super Bowl LVI when he was Rams offensive coordinator. Read more from Kevin Seifert
Falcons coach Arthur Smith will once again show he can get the most out of a roster, but the Falcons will struggle against this schedule. Rookie Desmond Ridder will start multiple games this season with Atlanta finishing with a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL draft.…