2022 NFL schedule: Ranking all 16 Week 1 games, from Buccaneers vs. Cowboys to Broncos vs. seahawks

The 2022 NFL schedule is here. And the opening week of action is chock-full of intrigue, starting with the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams hosting the Josh Allen-led Bills on Thursday night. But which of the other Week 1 matchups rival the opening game in anticipation? We’re glad you asked, because we’ve ranked all 16 games set to kick off the 2022 season.

this year’s opening slate doesn’t have much of a middle ground; for the most part, you’ve either got yourself a thriller or a stinker. (And, to be fair, even “stinkers” register as events on the NFL calendar. We love football, people, even when the teams aren’t necessarily expected to be elite.) With that said, here’s how we’d stack ‘ em up:

16. Colts at Texans

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

Look, we’re excited for Matt Ryan’s transition to blue and white. The Colts should be in the mix. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that worked as hard for negligible offseason improvement as the Texans, who are inexplicably trotting Davis Mills out as the unquestioned starter at quarterback under their latest stopgap coach, Lovie Smith.

15. Saints at Falcons

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: FOX

Jameis Winston against Marcus Mariota and/or Desmond Ridder. Arrow? For a divisional showdown, you could do better. Maybe the Saints will be better than we think, with Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave and a healthier Michael Thomas giving their offense some pop. That doesn’t change the fact Atlanta is back to square one of a rebuild, with only Kyle Pitts and Drake London to help its QB.

14. Browns at Panthers

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

Theoretically, on paper, this could be good stuff, with Cleveland upgrading at some major spots and the Panthers still undecided on their QB plans (Sam Darnold? Matt Corral? Future trade addition Jimmy Garoppolo?). But it’d be a stunner if Deshaun Watson isn’t suspended for this, potentially turning it into more of an ugly slugfest.

13. 49ers at Bears

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: FOX

The idea is more enticing than the likely product here: Trey Lance against Justin Fields should be must-see TV, but would anyone be surprised if Kyle Shanahan buries his young QB in an absurdly run-heavy approach out of the gate? And would anyone be surprised if Chicago’s failure to improve Fields’ supporting cast yet again leaves their offense mercurial?

12. Eagles at Lions

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

The Eagles are doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, with Nick Sirianni suddenly sporting a high-upside offense that’ll see AJ Brown join DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert as Jalen Hurts targets. Detroit could be feisty as well, though, what with Dan Campbell coming off “Hard Knocks” and some new speedsters (DJ Chark, Jameson Williams) in the lineup.

11. Giants at Titans

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 4:25 pm ET | TV: FOX

At first glance, a late game featuring Daniel Jones and the cap-strapped Giants doesn’t offer much sizzle. But Brian Daboll is running the show in New York now, and there’s some tension under the surface in Tennessee, where Ryan Tannehill — sans AJ Brown, but with a healthy Derrick Henry — is basically auditioning to keep Malik Willis on the bench.

10. Ravens at Jets

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

Lamar Jackson is entering a contract year, and his supporting cast is a lot beefier and healthier (even if the receiving corps is still lacking). Baltimore’s defense, in particular, could be lethal. But man do the Jets suddenly look a lot more promising after their 2022 draft haul. If Zach Wilson connects with Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner starts strong, they could surprise.

9. Patriots at Dolphins

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

These AFC East battles aren’t nearly as fun without Tom Brady, but Miami got a bit of a makeover this offseason with coach Mike McDaniel arriving along with Tyreek Hill, a renewed commitment to Tua Tagovailoa and a whole half-dozen of starting running backs . Is Mac Jones the real deal? Stealing one on the road to start the year would be a nice step in that direction.

8. Steelers at Bengals

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: GIS

The reigning AFC champions get to open at home, and it’ll sure be fun to see Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase again. But who’s to say Pittsburgh won’t be feisty as ever here, recharged with a new face of the franchise in hometown product Kenny Pickett? Mike Tomlin always boasts a stingy defense, and these AFC North showdowns tend to be tough all the way to the wire.

7. Jaguars at Commanders

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 1 pm ET | TV: FOX

In what world is an afternoon game between Washington and Jacksonville a top-10 matchup? This one! We’ve got Carson Wentz debuting in new colors (again), this time against old coach Doug Pederson, who happens to have a new hotshot QB of his own in Trevor Lawrence. Oh yeah, and Wentz is up against the team that effectively ended his short-lived Colts career. Must-watch stuff.

6. Packers at Vikings

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 4:25 pm ET | TV: FOX

A classic rivalry with some fresh faces. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are always reliable, but how will Green Bay adjust without Davante Adams? It’s also possible we’re severely underrating the Vikings, who aren’t only opening at home but have new blood in coach Kevin O’Connell overseeing the big-play trio of Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson (not to mention a healthier , improved defense, complete with ex-Packers star Za’Darius Smith).

5. Chiefs at Cardinals

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 4:25 pm ET | TV: GIS

Kyler Murray will be playing for the lucrative deal he craves, and while DeAndre Hopkins will be out, Marquise Brown will be in. Andy Reid, meanwhile, will be rolling out his first edition of the Patrick Mahomes offense post-Tyreek Hill, with newcomers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore stepping in for speed. Just don’t get mixed up with all the red jerseys!

4. Broncos at Seahawks

Date: Monday, Sept. 12 | Time: 8:20 pm ET | TV: ESPN, ABC

Russell’s return. You could certainly find more exciting teams, but you’re not gonna find games with this much inherent drama. When Wilson takes the field in Seattle to a smattering of cheers and/or jeers, he will be taking his very first snaps with his new team. Talk about all eyes being on your debut. And how will Pete Carroll and Co. counter? With Drew Lock and an extra-run-heavy attack? Both sides have so much to prove under the lights of prime time.

3. Raiders at Chargers

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 4:25 pm ET | TV: GIS

The AFC West is “it” this year, and both of these clubs loaded up this offseason. How will Derek Carr look in his first action under Josh McDaniels, throwing to Davante Adams? And how will Justin Herbert benefit from a defense now featuring Khalil Mack and JC Jackson? This has the makings of a true shootout, and the implications on the divisional race could be huge.

2. Bills at Rams

Date: Thursday, Sept. 8 | Time: 8:20 pm ET | TV: NBC

it’s not just that this is the first game of the year; it’s arguably got the best collective firepower. Josh Allen. Matthew Stafford. Stephen Diggs. Cooper Kupp. von Miller. Aaron Donald. Jane Ramsey. The list goes on. Sean McVay’s bunch has sputtered before, and right out of the gate, the contenders could be sloppier than expected. But this might be the closest thing to a Super Bowl preview.

1. Buccaneers at Cowboys

Date: Sunday, Sept. 11 | Time: 8:20 pm ET | TV: NBC

Are the Cowboys benefiting from their name brand more than their talent, getting this prime-time slot? Duration. Oh, they’ve got some mild intrigue: Dak Prescott will be looking to reaffirm his place in the upper echelon of QBs without Amari Cooper, and their defense has play-makers. But this is about one man: Thomas Brady. This offseason was one for the ages, but his abrupt return from “retirement” still makes him maybe the biggest story of 2022. At the end of the day, TB12, at literally 45 years old, still runs this business. You do n’t get much better than his clutch arm visiting Jerry World under the lights.

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