The NFL’s schedule release is just another reminder that the 2022 regular season is just around the corner. While every NFL game is important, several games on the NFL calendar stood out from the rest. Specifically, there are several revenge games that will garner plenty of headlines in the days leading up to kickoff.
Several scores will be settled on the gridiron this fall. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy will get a chance to coach against the Packers for the first time since he was fired by Green Bay during the 2018 season. Carson Wentz’s first season in Washington will include games against both of his previous teams, the Eagles and Colts. New Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will also face his former team — the Houston Texans — for the first time this season. The Raiders, a half-century after falling victim to Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception”, will seek vengeance when they return to Pittsburgh nearly 50 years to the day after their historic playoff loss at the hands of the Steelers.
As compelling as those games are, none of them were able to crack our list of the NFL’s top-five revenge games for the 2022 season. Let’s take a look at each one while detailing what’s at stake for both teams.
Broncos at Seahawks: Week 1
Russell Wilson’s first game as a Bronco will be against the team he quarterbacked for the past decade. Wilson’s time in Seattle included two Super Bowl appearances as well as the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl win. But Wilson’s run in Seattle had an unceremonious ending. The Seahawks finished with a 7-10 record in 2021, with Wilson missing three games with an injury.
After a year-plus of rumors, the Seahawks finally pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Wilson to the Broncos. While Seattle will look to have success without him, Wilson will look to mimic the success Peyton Manning had after he moved to Denver following a Hall of Fame career with the Colts. Wilson will look to the exploit the talents of receivers Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy, along with running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon.
This is also a revenge game for Drew Lock and Noah Fant, who were part of the trade that sent Wilson to Denver. But before he can face his former teammates, Lock will first have to beat out Geno Smith to become Seattle’s new starting quarterback.
Colts at Jaguars: Week 2
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Colts would clinch a playoff berth heading into the final Sunday of the 2021 regular season. Indianapolis just needed to defeat a 2-14 Jaguars team that had fired their coach earlier in the season.
To the surprise of everyone, the Colts were upset by Jacksonville and in the process were eliminated from playoff contention. Jacksonville’s defense keyed the upset by forcing two turnovers and holding the Colts’ offense to just 233 yards. The Jaguars’ pass rush, led by Josh Allen, sacked Carson Wentz six times while holding him to just 185 yards passing. Conversely, Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence was sacked just once while throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns in Jacksonville’s 26-11 win.
One of the biggest takeaways from the season’s biggest upset was Jonathan Taylor’s lack of involvement. The league’s rushing champion, Taylor rushed for 77 yards on just 15 carries. Expect Taylor to be more involved in the offense when the Colts return to Jacksonville this fall. The Colts will also be ready to showcase their new quarterback, Matt Ryan, who comes to Indianapolis following a decorated run in Atlanta.
Chiefs at Buccaneers: Week 4
This will be the first matchup between the two teams since Tampa Bay’s 31-9 beatdown of the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs, in pursuit of back-to-back Super Bowl titles, were unable to properly protect Patrick Mahomes, who spent the majority of the night playing bumper cars with Buccaneers defenders. With Mahomes under constant pressure, the Chiefs became only the third team in Super Bowl history not to score a touchdown.
Tom Brady had no such issues moving through the Chiefs’ defense. Playing in his record-setting 10th Super Bowl, Brady threw three first-half touchdowns that included two to Rob Gronkowski, who has not yet decided whether he will play this season. Brady’s success that night earned him a record fifth Super Bowl MVP award.
Both teams remain serious Super Bowl contenders entering the 2022 season. Kansas City revamped its receiving corps this offseason, trading Tyreek Hill to Miami and replacing him with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Skyy Moore. The Buccaneers’ Super Bowl window remained open after Brady ended his retirement after just 40 days.
Bills at Chiefs: Week 6
Throughout history, championship-caliber teams have had to go through a certain team in order to win a championship. John Madden’s Raiders lost consecutive AFC title games to the Steelers before finally getting past Pittsburgh en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. Two decades later, the 49ers lost back-to-back NFC title games to the Cowboys before defeating them in the ’94 NFC Championship. The Bills face a similar mountain now in the form of the Chiefs, the team that has ended their last two seasons in heartbreaking fashions.
Buffalo’s 2020 season ended in Kansas City one game shy of the Super Bowl. While that game wasn’t terribly close, the Bills fought to force overtime in last year’s divisional round showdown with the Chiefs, only to have Mahomes and Co. end their season shortly after winning the overtime coin flip.
Rams at Buccaneers: Week 9
Speaking of Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers’ title defense was ended by Matthew Stafford and the Rams in last year’s divisional round showdown. Los Angeles stormed out to a 27-6 lead, only to watch as Brady led a furious comeback that was punctuated by Leonard Fournette’s game-tying score with 42 seconds left.
Brady’s brilliance was matched by Stafford, whose 20- and 44-yard completions to Cooper Kupp in the game’s final minute set up Matt Gay’s game-winning field goal as time expired. The Rams then defeated the 49ers and Bengals to win the franchise’s first title since 1999 and first as a Los Angeles-based team.
Sean McVay’s team will now look to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Brady’s 2003-04 Patriots squads. The Rams’ title defense received a huge boost when three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald decided to return after temporarily mulling retirement.