By Barry Wilner Associated Press Pro Football Writer
The Super Bowl winner suffers the loss of opening up the entire schedule at home.
So the Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, Sept. 8, to begin the 2022 season.
It’s a juicy matchup of a team generally considered a favorite by the oddsmakers in the Bills traveling to Sophie Stadium, where the Rams won the championship in February over Cincinnati.
The Bengals are home to their division rivals, the Steelers, on Sunday, September 11, when all except two other teams start. Those two clubs that play Monday nights also offer an enchanting story: Russell Wilson is bringing his Broncos to Seattle. The Seahawks traded their longtime quarterback to Denver in the off-season.
Sunday’s prime-time game includes Tom Brady — unless he retires again before September — and the Buccaneers in Dallas. Brady’s decision to retire after a short hiatus forced NFL schedule makers to rework and redo some game slots.
The Cowboys visited the Buccaneers to open last season.
The rest of the opening Sunday features some eye-opening matches, such as Jacksonville, with new coach Doug Pedersen, in Washington, with new quarterback Carson Wentz. Pedersen coached Wentz in Philadelphia and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, although Nick Foles was behind center and Wentz was injured.
Several major division matchups are on tap for September 11: New Orleans in Atlanta, Indianapolis in Houston, New England in Miami, Los Angeles Chargers in Las Vegas and Green Bay in Minnesota.
“An incredible crowd is expected there,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell told the Vikings website. “I’ve talked a lot about that visitor being on the sidelines, so I know what’s going to happen in the Packers store over the opening weekend. I look forward to seeing a stadium full of purple. It’s a big opportunity and a challenge for us.” as well.
“What a way to start your season – a challenge, but also a great way to hopefully have a great 2022.”
In addition, it will be Cleveland in Carolina, San Francisco in Chicago, Philadelphia in Detroit, Baltimore in New York Jets, Kansas City in Arizona and New York Giants in Tennessee.
Teams that will open on the road and come home in Week 2 include Kansas City which is hosting the Chargers in the first Amazon Prime Video game on Thursday night. In addition, it will be Miami in Baltimore, New York Jets in Cleveland, Indianapolis in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay in New Orleans, Carolina in New York Giants, New England in Pittsburgh, Seattle in San Francisco, Houston in Denver, Arizona. Vegas in Green Bay at night, Chicago, Tennessee in Buffalo on Monday night, followed by Minnesota in Philadelphia.
Finally in the third week Indianapolis will play Kansas City against Minnesota, Detroit against New England versus Baltimore, and Tampa Bay versus Green Bay, with Brady facing Aaron Rodgers.
It was previously revealed that one of the Christmas Day tripleheader games, Denver at the Rams, would be broadcast by Nickelodeon as well as CBS. Mud, anyone? Other Christmas games are Green Bay in Miami in the 1 p.m. slot, then Tampa Bay in Arizona at night.
The Steelers will also have a competition with the Raiders on Christmas Eve.
Buffalo will host Detroit in the traditional Thanksgiving games, Dallas at home for the Giants, and New England in Minnesota on the night.
More holiday fare: 14 games on New Year’s Day, which will force some bowl games to be adjusted away from January. Possible top matchups starting in 2023 include San Francisco in Las Vegas, Miami in New England and Denver in Kansas City.
Also previously announced international games were:
-Nov 13, the first regular-season NFL game in Germany, Tampa Bay vs. Seattle in Munich.
-October 9 On August 9, Green Bay became the last team to play in Europe, facing the Giants in London at home to Premier League soccer team Tottenham. Last week, Minnesota plays New Orleans there.
October 30 – On September 30, Wembley Stadium will host the Broncos against the Jaguars.
-Nov 21, San Francisco and Arizona in Mexico City.
Week 15 has a tripleheader on Saturday, 17 December, although which of the five matches will be switched from Sunday will not be decided until the close of that weekend. Chances are Miami in Buffalo, Baltimore in Cleveland, Indianapolis in Minnesota, Atlanta in New Orleans, and the Giants in Washington.
The final weekend, January 7-8, 2023 – all intra-division matchups – will also have two games moved to Saturday. They will be scheduled early in week 18.
Brown’s coach Kevin Stefansky said, “For months, we’ve known who and where we’re playing, but it’s up to us to see how it unfolds, where our goodbye week is and where our division opponents are. It’s fun for the coaches. He’s the first opponent you see so you can start working on their coordinators, understand what they’ve done and try and start that game.”
There isn’t only one franchise scheduled for prime time: Detroit. But the league’s flex schedule could change if the Lions show significant improvement.
In contrast, the Rams, Packers, Bucks, Broncos, Eagles, Cowboys, Chargers, Chiefs, Steelers, 49ers, Patriots and Bengals each have five nights of games.
Oddly enough, the AFC champion Bengals face all three division enemies (Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh) on the road in prime time. Las Vegas has three straight night games in December.
Nine teams will enjoy a three-game homestand: Cowboys, Giants, Bears, Lions, Vikings, Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams and 49ers. Four will have to endure a three-game road trip: Kansas City, Miami, Green Bay and Philadelphia.
Goodbye starts in week 6.
Two notable anniversaries:
-Week 7 is home to the Dolphins for the Steelers on Sunday night and Miami will honor the 50th anniversary of the undefeated 1972 season: 17-0, which also included a win over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
-In Week 16, the Steelers host the Raiders during the AFC Divisional Playoffs after 50 years of “immaculate reception”. Pittsburgh lost to Miami the following week.
Fox will not broadcast World Cup matches in favor of NFL games from Qatar on November 27 and December 4. 18 at 10 a.m. EST the World Cup Final will be followed by split coverage of the Lions-Jets and Cowboys-Jaguars at 1 p.m. on Fox and 4:05 p.m. by the Cardinals-Broncos.
Associated Press Sports Writers Joe Ready and Ronald Blum contributed.
More Associated Press NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl & https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 & https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
By Barry Wilner Associated Press Pro Football Writer