The 2022 NFL season is just over the horizon. Heck, we can actually see it now with the full schedule released on Thursday night. Let’s take a look at some of the games in the last month of the season that should provide plenty of fireworks.
Sure, AJ Brown seeing his old team will get headlines, but I’m interested in this game because these teams have some real similarities. Each squad had a pronounced tendency toward being a run-first offense last year. As long as Derrick Henry is healthy by this point in the season, that shouldn’t change for the Titans. But the Eagles might be more inclined to throw with both Brown and DeVonta Smith as their top two wideouts. We’ll also get a side-by-side of Brown and his replacement, Treylon Burks, to see how accurate those comparisons were.
Both teams are among the favorites to win the NFC. Surprisingly, I think we’re all sleeping on the Niners just a bit. They have a young team, especially at core positions. I would assume that Trey Lance will be the starting quarterback at this point, which should really amp things up for this game. We haven’t seen these two teams square off since the first week of the 2019 season, when Jameis Winston was still under center for the Bucs. This could be a sneak peak at the NFC Championship.
The schedule makers had a real stroke of genius to keep both regular season game between these two AFC West rivals in the last month of the season. These are games we’ll be waiting all season to see. This division is going to be tough, but the Broncos and Chiefs have to be considered the favorites to win it. In the final week of the season last year, the Broncos only lost by four points, and that was without Drew Lock throwing a touchdown pass.
Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bengals no longer qualify as a surprise. They’re legitimate contenders, who bolstered themselves with a series of smart offseason moves. There’s no rivalry here, but it’s always a treat to see two great teams face off.
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were just a game and a few injuries away from good last season. I’m banking on them moving up into the next tier in 2022. Tennessee got a little thinner on the roster because of some cap issues, but they should still be among the AFC’s best. This game could go a long way toward determining whether or not one of these teams makes the playoffs and what seed they end up with.
Just how well will the Patriots play without Josh McDaniels running the offense? The talent’s there, so I wouldn’t bank on any major slippage. Besides, by this point in the season, they should be hitting their stride. Just in time too, since McDaniels would sure love to get the win over his old boss.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
If you were just going by roster strength on paper for each team, this one really shouldn’t be a marquee matchup—the Eagles can run circles around the Cowboys. However, strange things happen when division rivals square off. This one could very well determine who wins the NFC East.
No, we’re not sniffing glue. There are legitimate reasons to be excited about both of these teams. I’m looking forward to Trevor Lawrence taking a step forward in year two and out from under Urban Meyer’s thumb. I’m also excited by what I saw from the Jets late in the season last year, and now they’ve got an even better group of offensive skill players. There aren’t likely to be any playoff stakes on the line here, but this should be a fun game to watch regardless.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
I tried to avoid putting the same matchups on this list more than once, but when it comes to these two teams, I can’t help it. This game should finally give us some clarity on who wins the AFC West this season. Maybe.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
A Dolphins-Patriots game was an easy one to skip over the last 15 years or so, but I’m cautiously optimistic about what Miami’s done this offseason. If that stays on track, I think it could be fun to watch Belichick struggle against the Dolphins.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
We did not get to see these two teams play each other last season during the Bengals’ incredible run, so let’s all take a moment to be thankful that the football gods have treated us to this matchup in 2022.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
The Patriots and Bills had a nice little tete-a-tete going during the regular season last year. But then the Bills crushed them in the playoffs. I suspect that memory isn’t sitting well in New England.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens were done in by a list of things last year, mostly injuries. But this is not a team that stays down for very long. I have a sneaking suspicion that the AFC North title will be decided in this game.
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
The Broncos-Chiefs are the main attraction in the AFC West, but let’s not overlook the incredible surge the Raiders made late last season to bully their way into the playoffs. They’ll be a better team this year, and in a tight division race, these teams aren’t going to have the luxury of resting their starters.