Photographer: Lynne Sladky/AP
The NFL released its full 2022 schedule on Thursday night to add to what’s been a rollicking and unpredictable offseason. Here’s a lookahead to what should be some of the most entertaining matchups of the upcoming season.
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Buffalo Bills at LA Rams (Thursday, 8.20pm ET)
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The defending Super Bowl champions open against quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills to christen the 2022 season in Los Angeles. After helping the Rams win it all in 2021, linebacker Von Miller signed a six-year, $120m contract with Buffalo. Los Angeles will welcome wide receiver Allen Robinson, who inked a three-year, $46.5m deal to join quarterback Matthew Stafford’s arsenal.
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related: Russell Wilson’s Seattle return set for Week 1 as NFL schedule released
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 1pm ET)
After missing the entire 2021 season, quarterback Deshaun Watson will debut for the Browns after the team signed him to a five-year, $230m contract. Cleveland inked Watson to the splashy deal, which includes $80m guaranteed, after he was cleared of criminal sexual assault charges. Twenty-two women have filed civil complaints against Watson for various forms of sexual coercion during massage appointments.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Monday, 8.15pm ET)
In his first game as the Broncos quarterback, Russell Wilson returns to Seattle to battle the franchise he led to eight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl victory. It will also be the ESPN debut of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who left Fox in the offseason to sign five-year deals with to become the new leads of Monday Night Football.
LA Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday, 8.15pm ET)
The AFC West showdown will be the first Thursday Night Football game streamed exclusively by Amazon Prime, which signed a 10-year deal to gain exclusive rights in March 2021. The Chargers will send star linebacker Khalil Mack, who they acquired from Chicago in an offseason trade, after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 8.20pm ET)
The most successful quarterback in NFL history meets his potential successor for the fifth time. Tom Brady and Mahomes have split their first four matchups and will meet for the first time since the Buccaneers routed the Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 4.25pm ET)
After providing the most thrilling game of the 2021 season in the AFC divisional playoffs, the Bills return to Kansas City in mid-October for a rematch of one of the best games of the decade. This late-afternoon blockbuster is arguably the biggest game of the season and a potential conference title game preview.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 1pm ET)
After entering the playoffs as the AFC’s top seed last season, the Titans were upset by the Bengals in the AFC divisional round. Tennessee added wide receiver Robert Woods from the Rams before stunning most experts by trading star wide receiver AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles on the first day of the 2022 NFL draft. After missing the playoffs last season, the Colts traded for longtime Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to try and lead them to the top of the AFC South.
Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles (Monday, 8.15pm ET)
Carson Wentz, tabbed by the Eagles with the No 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, was once Philadelphia’s franchise centerpiece. Now he’s on his third team in two years since getting traded by the Colts in March. Philly’s notoriously surly fans will no doubt be giving him an earful.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, 4.25pm ET)
If Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes wants to avenge his loss in last season’s AFC championship game, he will have to do it on the road in Cincinnati. It’s one of 10 playoff rematches on the schedule this year, including the instances where teams will face each other multiple times as division rivals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, 8.20pm ET)
The best of three Christmas Day matchups will be a battle between the 45-year-old Brady and a star quarterback 20 years his junior in Kyler Murray. After starting the 2021 season with a 10-2 record, the Cardinals dropped four of their final five games before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams at home.