2022 NFL schedule: Analysis and a bold prediction for all 32 teams - 12 minutes read
The 2022 NFL schedule was released on Thursday.
Can quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams repeat as champs?
Stafford and the Rams will kick off the NFL season Thursday, Sept. 8, by hosting the Buffalo Bills. ESPN's Monday Night Football opener is Sept. 12 and will feature Russell Wilson's debut with the Denver Broncos hosting his former team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Based on strength of schedule -- which is determined by opponents' records in 2021 -- the Rams have the toughest schedule of the 2022 season and the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders tie for the easiest.
The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games for the 2022 season will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14 and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
Here's a bold prediction for every team following the schedule release. Click on the links to see the full schedule and more analysis.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
The Bills winning the AFC East for a third straight year is not a bold prediction. That's a trend. Instead, look to the tough start of the season. The first seven games feature five playoff teams from last year and the Ravens and Dolphins on the road. No easy feat, but Buffalo will get through that stretch going at least 5-2 which sets up well for the rest of the slate. Read more from Alaina Getzenberg
The Dolphins will start the season 8-2 through their first 10 games. That aforementioned stretch to start the season will be difficult but it's also littered with winnable games. If coach Mike McDaniel's system works and Miami clicks early, it can start the season on a scorching hot note. Read more from Marcel Louis-Jacques
The Patriots will need to beat the Bills in the regular-season finale to secure a playoff berth, and it will be intriguing to see how it unfolds if Buffalo has already solidified its own playoff seeding. The Patriots' 2021 season ended in embarrassing fashion at Buffalo in a 47-17 playoff loss, and in this scenario, they would have a chance to write a different story a year later. Read more from Mike Reiss
The Jets will finish 7-10, not good enough to be a serious contender, but significant improvement from last season. Quarterback Zach Wilson will struggle out of the gate against the different defensive styles of the AFC North, but he will find his footing over the second half of the season when the schedule softens. Read more from Rich Cimini
The Ravens win the AFC North to become the NFL's latest team to go from last place to first. This has happened in 17 of the past 19 seasons, and the Ravens are in a great position to continue this trend. Baltimore gets back six starters who suffered season-ending injuries last year, along with a healthy and motivated Lamar Jackson, who is playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. That's a major boost to a Ravens team that lost five games by three points or fewer last season, including a one-point defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams. Read more from Jamison Hensley
The Bengals repeat as AFC North champions. The rest of the AFC definitely got stronger this offseason, but Cincinnati is still poised to be the team to beat in the division. The Week 8 loss to Cleveland aside, the Bengals played some of their best football against divisional rivals in 2021. That should continue as the Bengals look to make another deep postseason run. Read more from Ben Baby
It's difficult to forecast Cleveland's season without knowing whether quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended. But if he isn't, the Browns win their first division title since 1989. Read more from Jake Trotter
The Steelers will have three wins at the bye week. Not only are the first five games tough, but every game before the bye will be difficult for a new quarterback to navigate. The Steelers have a stout defense, but they'll be facing the formidable offenses of Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami and Cincinnati. The Browns, Patriots and Eagles aren't a walk in the park, either. Read more from Brooke Pryor
The Texans will enter their Week 6 bye at 2-3. Houston has three of those five games on the road but could win at the Chicago Bears and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Read more from Sarah Barshop
The Colts will get their first victory over New England coach Bill Belichick at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2006 in Week 9. The Colts have lost six straight to the Patriots at their home stadium by an average of 19.6 points a game in that span. Read more from Mike Wells
The Jaguars, who have won four games the past two seasons combined, will end two long losing streaks by beating Washington on the road in the season opener. They've lost 17 consecutive road games dating back to a victory in Oakland on Dec. 15, 2019, and 16 consecutive games against NFC teams dating back to beating the Giants in the 2018 season opener. Read more from Michael DiRocco
Tough matchups with the Eagles on the road and at Nissan Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys could hurt their chances. But the Titans will sweep the NFC East even though the Washington Commanders and New York Giants have made slight improvements from last season. Read more from Turron Davenport
If quarterback Russell Wilson stays healthy, and he has missed only three games in his previous 10 years in the league (all three last season after finger surgery), the Broncos will -- finally -- finish with a winning record in the AFC West. A tall order given the division is suddenly one of the league's toughest with a high-end roster of quarterbacks and pass-rushers just to start. Over the past six seasons, the Broncos have finished 1-5 in the division twice, 2-4 three times and 3-3 once. Read more from Jeff Legwold
The Chiefs will go 5-1 in AFC West games. They'll split with the Chargers (each team winning on its home field) -- but will sweep the Broncos (making it 15 straight wins in the series) and the Raiders. Read more from Adam Teicher
Quarterback Derek Carr silences his haters -- real and imagined. Buoyed by the presence of receiver Davante Adams, Carr plays like the elder statesman he is among AFC West quarterbacks and excels in coach Josh McDaniels' system to carry the Raiders to a second straight playoff appearance. Carr beats Kansas City in the flexed-to-prime-time finale and, for the first time since 2015, a team other than the Chiefs wins the AFC West. Hey, you wanted bold. Read more from Paul Gutierrez
The Chargers open 2-0, get a big jump on the rest of the AFC West and finally live up to preseason expectations by ending the Chiefs' six-year reign as division champs. Read more from Paul Gutierrez
The Cowboys break the NFC East jinx and win the division in back-to-back years. The last time the same team won the NFC East in consecutive years was when Philadelphia did it in 2003-04. The Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in back-to-back years since 2006-07. Read more from Todd Archer
The Giants will win twice as many games after the bye as before their break in Week 9. So that's two wins in their first eight games and four in their final nine. It's a byproduct of the tough early schedule, the easier post-bye matchups (beginning with home contests against the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions) and the time it takes to get acclimated to a new coaching staff. Read more from Jordan Raanan
The Saints (whose 2023 first-round pick belongs to Philly) will miss the playoffs, and the Eagles will have a 2023 first-round pick inside the top 16, allowing GM Howie Roseman the chance to make a major play for a quarterback should Jalen Hurts not get the job done this season. Read more from Todd Archer
Washington wins 10 games and makes the playoffs. The Commanders bolstered their offense with Wentz and first-round receiver Jahan Dotson. Defensively, this will matter: In 2021, they faced six quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in total QBR and nine of the top 14. This season they face two who were in the top 10 and only five in the top 14. Read more from John Keim
Chicago will avenge its 2021 loss to San Francisco by beating the 49ers in their season opener. Read more from Courtney Cronin
Detroit will win at least seven games. Although the Lions were 3-13-1 last season, anyone who watched them closely knows they were competitive. If the Lions play as hard as they did for coach Dan Campbell during his first season -- and can stay healthy -- they could get at least seven wins for the first time since 2017, when they went 9-7. For Detroit, that would be a victory as it continues to build a foundation for the future. Read more from Eric Woodyard
The Packers won't match coach Matt LaFleur's win totals in each of his first three seasons; they will exceed them. The NFC North is rebuilding, while the games against the two New York teams, Philly and Washington shouldn't be too tough. That's already 10 wins. All they have to do is go 4-3 in their remaining games. Read more from Rob Demovsky
The Vikings are making the playoffs in coach Kevin O'Connell's first season. They won't beat the Packers for the NFC North title, but O'Connell has inherited a talented offense and will bring with him a scheme that helped win Super Bowl LVI when he was Rams offensive coordinator. Read more from Kevin Seifert
Falcons coach Arthur Smith will once again show he can get the most out of a roster, but the Falcons will struggle against this schedule. Rookie Desmond Ridder will start multiple games this season with Atlanta finishing with a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Read more from Michael Rothstein
Sam Darnold will be replaced as the starting quarterback after a 1-4 start, giving way to rookie Matt Corral before an Oct. 16 trip to Los Angeles to face the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. The way to look at it: no pressure, because Corral and Carolina won't be expected to win. Read more from David Newton
The Saints will start 3-1. And they'll finish 3-1 down the stretch -- taking advantage of a rare December bye to heal up and peak at the right time while earning their way back into the playoffs. Read more from Mike Triplett
Quarterback Tom Brady's never started the first four games of the regular season below .500 (he's started 2-2 seven times in his career). Could that change in 2022 in what might be his farewell tour? If there is a silver lining to be had in that brutal opening stretch, it's that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has historically struggled in the state of Florida and won't have star wideout Davante Adams after he was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders in the offseason. Read more from Jenna Laine
A year after the Cardinals won 11 games and went to the playoffs, they won't win more than seven and will miss the postseason. Read more from Josh Weinfuss
The Rams win at least five of their first six games. Four of that stretch are at home, and two are against the Falcons and Panthers. Read more from Sarah Barshop
That 49ers post the best record in NFC West division games, going 5-1 and sweeping Arizona and Seattle. Think that's not bold? Considering the Niners are 5-15 combined against the Seahawks and Cardinals since coach Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, it would be a big step forward against their divisional counterparts. That type of performance in the division would go a long way toward a return to the playoffs but you'll have to pay extra for that type of prediction here. Read more from Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks will shock Tom Brady and the Bucs in Munich. Tampa Bay has the GOAT at quarterback and a Super Bowl-caliber roster around him, so expect the Bucs to be favored in this game. But when the Seahawks hammered the Raiders in London in 2018, they showed they can handle the logistical hurdles of an international game. In that regard, coach Pete Carroll will out-prepare Bucs coach Todd Bowles the same way he out-prepared Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Read more from Brady Henderson
Source: www.espn.com - NFL