There will always be some narrative helping to drive the story for a game each week during the NFL season. But there are always some narratives that are more interesting than others.
Whether it’s a familiar face returning to an old home, a potential Super Bowl preview or just two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the sport facing one another, the 2022 season is going to have plenty of storylines that are going to make matchups more exciting.
And with the release of the 2022 NFL schedules, The Sporting News is taking a look at each team to see what games on their schedule are going to be the most interesting.
Here’s a look at the most intriguing matchups for each team in 2022:
MORE: Breaking down NFL win total projections for 2022
at Kansas City Chiefs
The Bills might have beaten Kansas City 38-20 in their regular-season matchup in 2021, but the only one Buffalo fans are likely to remember is the gut-wrenching 42-36 overtime loss in the AFC divisional round that sent the team home. It marked the second straight season that Buffalo’s year came to an end at the hands of Patrick Mahomes. The Bills made only improvements in the offseason, while the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, potentially offering Buffalo its best chance yet to surpass them as the team to beat in the AFC. This regular-season clash in Kansas City will be an opportunity for the Bills to show where they stand in the race for the AFC crown.
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite leading the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons, Brian Flores was fired after the end of the 2021 campaign, and has since filed a lawsuit against the NFL and several teams, including Miami. After going 5-11 with Miami in his first season, Flores turned the team around to a 10-6 record in 2020 and 9-8 record in 2021 that included a seven-game winning streak and two victories against the rival Patriots. Flores was hired by the Steelers to be a linebackers coach, and will make his return to Miami during the season. Flores won’t be taking the field, but the reception he receives at the game from the fans will be interesting.
New England Patriots
at Las Vegas Raiders
Josh McDaniels has left New England for the second time in his career, once again departing to become a head coach after an extended period as Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator. In his first year back out on his own, he’ll be tested against his longtime mentor. Belichick has gone 15-13 against his former assistants in his career. Beyond just Belichick vs. McDaniels, this matchup brings the intrigue of two wild card teams from 2021 that will look to stay in the playoff mix in 2022. While the Raiders made substantial offseason improvements, New England stayed relatively quiet. These are the games New England will have to win to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt this season.
New York Jets
vs. New England Patriots
Not since Dec. 27, 2015, have the Jets beaten the Patriots. New York has lost 12 straight games to its division rival, as despite the departure of Tom Brady, New England has still owned the rivalry. The Patriots outscored the Jets 79-19 in 2021. Both teams are anchored by young quarterbacks in Zach Wilson and Mac Jones, but while the Jets had a busy offseason and a revered draft class, the Patriots had a quiet offseason and a questionable draft class. This feels like the best chance the Jets have had in a long time to beat the Patriots, and this season could be a test for them to see where they are in a tough division.
MORE: The 12 best revenge games on 2022 NFL schedule
at Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore came into the 2021 season with lofty expectations. But injuries and the rapid turnaround of the division-rival Bengals contributed to Baltimore tying for third in the AFC North. The Ravens were outscored 82-38 in two losses to the Bengals in 2021 as Joe Burrow and company tore through a defense that was progressively more ravaged by injuries as the season wore on. The Ravens had a standout draft, and even after trading Marquise Brown to the Cardinals, they still are in a position to compete for the division title. Assuming full health entering 2022, the road matchup should help give the Ravens a sense whether they can unseat Cincinnati in the north.
at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
During the Bengals’ unexpected Super Bowl run, Joe Burrow drew comparisons to Tom Brady as a quarterback known more for leadership and an underdog path to the NFL to help his team win rather than outstanding physical traits. Burrow will now have a chance to match up against Brady. Along with the exciting quarterback duel, this is one of the more challenging road games on the schedule for Cincinnati as it looks to prove last year’s playoff run was no fluke.
MORE: Bengals’ 2022 Super Bowl odds lowest for reigning conference champion since 2016 Broncos, 2013 Ravens
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year was supposed to be the Browns’ season. They were coming off a wild-card win over Pittsburgh in the previous postseason and looked loaded both offensively and defensively. But the Steelers swept the regular-season series and went to the playoffs with an aging Ben Roethlisberger, while the Browns began to question the future with Baker Mayfield under center. Roethlisberger is gone now, and the Browns made the major offseason move of acquiring quarterback Deshaun Watson to lead the team. Watson could still be suspended for the numerous sexual assault allegations he has faced, but he’s looking poised to be Cleveland’s long-term QB solution. Since Mike Tomlin became the coach of the Steelers, Pittsburgh is 24-6-1 against Cleveland. This looks like an opening for the Browns to officially move past their division rival.
vs. New England Patriots
Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick are two of the greatest coaches in the NFL. But since 2007 when Tomlin took over at the helm of the Steelers, the Patriots have owned the matchup, winning eight of the 11 meetings, including six of the past seven. The last time they faced was on Sept. 8, 2019, when Tom Brady beat Ben Roethlisberger 33-3. Now, both Hall of Fame quarterbacks are gone, and the two teams are left looking at uncertain futures with young QBs. This will be Tomlin’s test to show that his Steelers are built better for the long-term without Roethlisberger, especially if rookie Kenny Pickett is starting the game.
vs. Cleveland Browns
The Texans once believed Deshaun Watson was going to be the long-term face of the franchise. But in the offseason following the 2020 season, he held out from the team and requested a trade. Then he was named in lawsuits by more than 20 women alleging sexual misconduct and sexual assault. The Texans were finally able to trade him to the Browns this offseason, and of course, Houston will host Cleveland during the 2022 season. If he plays in the game and isn’t suspended, it is unlikely he will receive a warm reception from the fans.
vs. Washington Commanders
Carson Wentz was certainly not a bad quarterback for the Colts. He finished last season with a 62.4 completion percentage, 3,563 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. But Indianapolis fans will most likely remember him most for mustering only a touchdown, 185 passing yards and an interception in a feeble loss to the Jaguars in Week 18 that cost the Colts a playoff spot. This season, new QB Matt Ryan and the Colts will welcome Wentz and the Commanders into Lucas Oil Stadium for a matchup.
vs. Detroit Lions
That Jaguars’ win over the Colts nearly cost them the first overall pick until later in the afternoon the Lions beat the Packers to move to 3-13-1 and back into second in the 2022 NFL Draft order. Jacksonville used its pick on Georgia EDGE Travon Walker, while the Lions took Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson with the second pick. There were many who believed Hutchinson, the more polished prospect, would be the first to go off the board in April. Jaguars fans will have a chance to see the two defensive players on the same field to decide whether Jacksonville’s decision was the right one for themselves.
at Philadelphia Eagles
One of the biggest surprises of the 2022 NFL Draft came when the Titans traded standout wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles. Brown was entering only his fourth year with Tennessee and already had two 1,000-yard seasons to his name, and likely would have had a third had he played in a full season last year; he had 869 yards on 63 receptions in 13 games in 2021. The Titans used the top pick they received for Brown on Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. The game will be on the road at Philadelphia, but consider this one a revenge game for Brown against his former team.
vs. Las Vegas Raiders
The two biggest moves of the offseason in the AFC West came from the Broncos and Raiders. The Broncos landed Russell Wilson from the Seahawks, while the Raiders traded for Davante Adams with the Packers. These two splashy moves keep both teams firmly in the mix with the Chiefs and Chargers for the division crown in 2022. With some revamped offenses, these games should provide fans with some serious entertainment with playoff implications on the line.
Kansas City Chiefs
vs. Cincinnati Bengals
It is rare that the Chiefs are the team seeking revenge against someone else. But that’s the case in 2022. They were swept last season by the Bengals, losing first in Cincinnati during the regular season and then being stunned in the AFC Championship at home in an overtime loss to send the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Both matchups delivered on the hype of a Joe Burrow-Patrick Mahomes clash with each ending in walkoff field goals in offensive showdowns. After losing both the first two games, Mahomes will be looking to pick up his first win against the Burrow-led Bengals.
Las Vegas Raiders
vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Raiders advanced into the playoffs past the Chargers with a late overtime field goal that stunned Los Angeles. This offseason, both teams have loaded up in different ways. Las Vegas traded for Davante Adams and signed EDGE Chandler Jones, while making several other smaller moves to improve defensive depth and add another receiver. The Chargers have also made several key changes this offseason, highlighted by the moves to bring in Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. Las Vegas had enough in 2021 to stay one game ahead of the Chargers. Are they still ahead of Los Angeles in the AFC West race?
Los Angeles Chargers
at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers had perhaps the busiest offseason of any team in the NFL. They traded for Khalil Mack, re-signed Mike Williams, signed J.C. Jackson, signed linebacker Kyle Van Noy, loaded up on the interior of the defensive line and added another receiver for Justin Herbert. Los Angeles just missed out on the playoffs in 2021, but the moves this offseason to bolster the pass-rush and add a premier defensive back is clear: it is targeting Kansas City. The Chargers did everything they could this offseason to try and halt the Chiefs’ streak of six straight division titles. The NFL world will watch with plenty of anticipation in Week 2 when the Chargers head East to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs under the spotlight of “Thursday Night Football” to see if the moves will make a difference.
at Green Bay Packers
There is a lot to watch for in the Cowboys-Packers’ game. For starters, this is going to be the first time Mike McCarthy, as coach of the Cowboys, faces the team with which he won a Super Bowl back in 2011. Then, there’s the fact the Cowboys have struggled in recent years to beat the Packers, having lost five of the past six games, including two exits from the playoffs with the controversial Dez Bryant no-catch ruling. These are also two teams that remain title contenders, but head into the season having traded away one of their top receivers from a year ago. They’ll face off in Week 10 at Green Bay in what is sure to be a highly anticipated matchup.
New York Giants
vs. Washington Commanders
The Giants had a busy draft, selecting EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, offensive tackle Evan Neal and wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson in the first two rounds. Few were probably as elated about the team’s second and third picks than Daniel Jones, who had his fifth-year option declined, setting up a prove-it season for him in 2022 before free agency. The additions by the Giants this offseason, both in the draft and in free agency, have been primarily to boost the offensive line and give Jones more targets. Heading into 2022, the question will be whether those moves were enough to pass Washington in the standings.
MORE: Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux gives $50K to charity of Graham Gano’s choosing to wear No. 5 jersey
vs. Dallas Cowboys
While Carson Wentz making his return to Lincoln Financial will draw plenty of attention in Philadelphia, the games that will matter the most to the Eagles in 2022 are going to come against the Cowboys. The Eagles have had a productive offseason, trading for A.J. Brown, signing Hasson Reddick and landing a pair of standout Georgia defenders in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean in the draft. Philadelphia was three games back of Dallas in the NFC East last year and lost both games to the Cowboys. The series against the Cowboys could be the difference in finishing first and second in the division.
vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins has only once faced his former team, which came back in 2019, when Washington hosted the Vikings in a 19-9 Minnesota win. Since Cousins left, the Commanders have struggled to find a steady replacement for him under center. This offseason, they acquired Carson Wentz from the Colts, hoping he can provide the stability they need at the position. This won’t exactly be a revenge game for either side since Cousins has already faced Washington, but it help serve as a comparison for what Washington has in Wentz compared to what it could have had in Cousins.
at New York Jets
Justin Fields might be feeling a bit jealous of the support that the Jets are starting to give Zach Wilson in New York. The Jets drafted wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall, two of the best at their position in the draft. The Bears did not give Fields the same array of weapons, with Tennessee wide receiver Venus Jones III being the only offensive player taken by Chicago in the first four rounds. This matchup of early 2021 NFL Draft selections will provide an interesting comparison into the situations of the young QBs on rebuilding teams.
vs. Chicago Bears
The Lions had a standout draft in 2022, adding Aidan Hutchinson and blazing fast wide receiver Jameson Williams to a rapidly improving receiving corps in Detroit. Down the stretch of the season, Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown developed a strong connection. Detroit is still far from being a contender in the NFC North, but it is at least poised to stand a better chance of moving out of the cellar for the first time since 2017. How it fares against Chicago could be a good indicator of where the Lions now stand in the division.
MORE: Why Lions’ Dan Campbell is picking up steam as the NFL’s preseason Coach of the Year candidate
Green Bay Packers
at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Packers can’t seem to avoid Tom Brady. Green Bay has gone 0-2 against the Buccaneers in the regular season and playoffs since Brady left New England. With Brady coming out of a brief retirement, that NFC roadblock returns, posing another challenge to a team that already lost its top wide receiver in Davante Adams. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will have a chance to defeat his fellow future Hall of Fame quarterback on the road in what could be the last time the two QBs face off against one another.
at Green Bay Packers
There is mounting excitement in Minnesota over the potential for the 2022 NFL season. The Vikings were five games back of the Packers in 2021 despite splitting the series with Aaron Rodgers and company. But now, Davante Adams is gone and the Vikings have the vastly superior array of offensive weapons in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook around Kirk Cousins. The Vikings might have assisted both the Packers and Lions by trading picks that wound up being receivers, but perhaps Minnesota felt just that confident that it could beat the Packers this year. The real test will come in Green Bay, where the Vikings lost 37-10 last year.
vs. Cleveland Browns
The Falcons believed they were going to be the team that landed Deshaun Watson in a trade this offseason, especially when it was reported that the Browns were out of the running for the Texans quarterback. Rather than return to his home state Georgia, Watson changed his mind and went up to Cleveland. The Falcons, who turned to Marcus Mariota and drafted Desmond Ridder, could get a firsthand glimpse of what Watson would have looked like in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, if he isn’t suspended.
vs. Atlanta Falcons
The NFC South feels like the top two teams are already decided with the Buccaneers and Saints. Then there’s the Falcons and the Panthers. The two teams come into the year with unstable quarterback situations and mid-round rookies ready for the chance to start. They both have exciting weapons on offense like D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Pitts and Drake London. But it both teams look poised to be battling more for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft rather than for a Super Bowl. This matchup could give fans an idea on which team is further along, and which team is more in need of that top pick.
MORE: Why the Panthers should be taking calls on Christian McCaffrey amid trade rumors
New Orleans Saints
vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Since Brady arrived in Tampa Bay, the Saints have swept all four games against the division-rival Buccaneers, even in 2021 after Drew Brees retired. With Tom Brady coming back at least for one more season, the Saints will have a chance to continue their dominance against the Buccaneers, while also giving the team a decent gauge of where it stands in the division should this be Brady’s final run. This will also be a revenge game for Jameis Winston, the former Tampa Bay quarterback, who tore his ACL against the Buccaneers in Week 8 a season ago.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
vs. Los Angeles Rams
There seemed a time when it looked like the Rams would be the last team Tom Brady would face in his NFL career. The Buccaneers fell to Los Angeles despite a late comeback attempt in the NFC divisional round. The two teams now enter the season with the best odds to win the Super Bowl, with the Buccaneers the favorite in the NFC at +750 and the Rams tied with the Packers at +1100 for second-best, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Brady can now avenge his most recent playoff loss in a clash when the reigning Super Bowl champions comes back to Tampa Bay in what could be an NFC Championship preview.
vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Kyler Murray left Oklahoma for the NFL as the first overall pick following a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 2018. His replacement put up another Heisman-caliber season, earning a finalist spot and leading the team to the College Football Playoff. That replacement was Jalen Hurts, now the quarterback for the Eagles. Both quarterbacks bring an exciting style of play with their dual-threat ability and the two teams are coming off postseason appearances. This could be a thrilling matchup featuring plenty of offense between two teams that will be in contention for playoff spots.
Los Angeles Rams
vs. Buffalo Bills
The reigning Super Bowl champions have the most difficult schedule in the NFL based on opponents’ 2021 winning percentage, and with that, there are plenty of interesting matchups. But the one that stands out the most is the clash against the Bills. Buffalo is among the early favorites to win Super Bowl 57, as is Los Angeles, and a matchup between Josh Allen and Matthew Stafford would certainly deliver some fireworks. This game would undoubtedly be hyped up as a potential Super Bowl preview.
San Francisco 49ers
vs. Los Angeles Rams
The 49ers snuck into the postseason with a win on the final day of the regular season against the Rams, but saw their 2021 campaign come to a close with a stinging 20-17 loss in the NFC Championship Game to Los Angeles. But San Francisco expects to remain in the hunt for the NFC crown and NFC West title in 2022. With the added target of the Super Bowl title on their backs, the Rams will be a pivotal matchup for the 49ers.
MORE: Jimmy Garoppolo trade rumors: 49ers may have set new target date for dealing quarterback
vs. Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson took Seattle to a pair of Super Bowls and won the franchise its only ring in Super Bowl 48. This past offseason, he was traded for a number of picks and players to the Broncos, the team Wilson beat for the title in 2014. After what will likely be a warm reception prior to the game, the Seahawks will then be tasked with stopping him and a greatly improved Denver offense.