Ranking top-10 games to watch on the 2022 NFL schedule, plus 11 scheduling oddities and quirks
Fri, May 13, 2022
NFL News (AP)
Welcome to the Friday the 13th edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I'm not sure if everyone's heard yet, but the NFL SCHEDULE WAS RELEASED LAST NIGHT. If you're wondering why I'm writing in all caps, it's because I haven't slept in 31 hours, I've had nine cups of coffee since last night and my brain is so fried that I'm not even sure what's real or how a keyboard works anymore. Also, I have watched the Chargers schedule release video more times than I care to admit. If you haven't watched it yet, you can click here to see it. It has nearly 160,000 likes on Twitter, which I'm not sure if that says more about the video or the people on Twitter.'
Anyway, I'm guessing you already know what we're going to be covering today and if you guessed the NFL schedule, then you are correct. We're going to cover the schedule release, the schedule release and more schedule release.'
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let's get to the rundown.'
PS: if you missed the schedule release, you can see .
I wasn't the host of today's episode of the Pick Six Podcast, which was probably for the best, because if I had been hosting, I would have demanded that we go over every single game on the schedule, which probably would have taken roughly 11 hours.
Instead of me as host, Will Brinson was in charge of things today and the two of us broke down the release of the 2022 NFL schedule. Although we didn't go through every team's schedule, we did cover the big stuff. First, we went through some of the biggest games in Week 1 and even made a few picks. For instance, Brinson and I both think the Broncos are going to destroy the Seahawks in the opening Monday night game. Does that mean you should fade us and bet Seattle? Probably.'
After that, we went through the holiday games, which don't': The NFL also put THREE Christmas games on the schedule (Packers at Dolphins, Broncos at Rams, Buccaneers at Cardinals). With Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and the defending Super Bowl champs all playing on Dec. 25, it seems like the NFL's plan on Christmas is to make everyone forget that the NBA exists.'
After talking about the holiday games, we went through and ranked our favorite prime-time games. The one thing I will say is that Brinson REFUSED to put any Titans games in his rankings. The Titans play both the Packers and Cowboys on a Thursday and neither of them cracked Brinson's list of best Thursday games. STOP WITH THE TITANS SLANDER, BRINSON. There I go, typing in all caps again. I'm clearly cranky. I need a nap.'
Anyway, if you want to hear everything we had to say about the schedule, then make sure to listen to today's podcast, which you can do'by clicking here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.'
There are 272 games on the NFL schedule this year, and although I would like to talk about each one individually in this newsletter, I've been told that's not realistic, so instead, we're going to go through each week of the schedule and pick out the best game.'
With the addition of the 17th game, that means there are 18 weeks during the regular season this year and our Jared Dubin went through each week to find the best game. With that in mind, let's check out Dubin's take on what the best game is for each week of the season.'
- Week 1: Bills at Rams.'"This is an'awesome'kickoff game for the season. We've got the defending champs hosting one of the top contenders, on a field that will be absolutely loaded with stars on both sides of the ball. Plus, there's a bit of an edge with Von Miller playing against the team he just left in free agency."
- Week 2: Chargers at Chiefs.'"These two teams played two electric games last season, and considering the talent on hand (particularly at the quarterback position), it seems like that tradition should continue far into the future."
- Week 7: Browns at Ravens.'"The AFC North looks like one of the strongest divisions in the league this season, and the Browns and Ravens should both be heavily in the mix at or near the top."
- Week 10: Cowboys at Packers.'"Dallas and Green Bay have played so many memorable games in the past, but this one will be the first that pits the teams against each other with Mike McCarthy coaching the'Cowboys'instead of the Packers."
- Week 13: Broncos at Ravens.'"Russell Wilson against Lamar Jackson in a matchup of two teams likely to be vying for a playoff spot late in the season? I'm into it! "
- Week 14: Buccaneers at 49ers.'"Tom Brady traveling to Northern California to take on his boyhood favorite team is always a treat. We're sure to get a whole lot of nostalgia thrown our way for this one. Plus, it should be a fantastic matchup of two terrific teams."
- Week 17: Bills at Bengals.'"Josh Allen, Josh Burrow, Stefon Diggs, Ja'Marr Chase, Gabriel Davis, Tee Higgins'... this game might explode with points. That is, of course, unless the likes of Von Miller and Tre'Davious White and Trey Hendrickson and Jessie Bates and more have something to say about it."
We covered seven of the 18 weeks here and if you want to check out Dubin's full list, .'
If you're still hungry for more schedule stuff, don't worry, we have you covered. If you want to see who the winners and losers were on the schedule, . We also made list of the five best revenge games on the schedule and . Finally, because it's never too early to make Week 1 picks, we made some picks and you .'
We also came up with one good thing and one bad thing about each team's schedule and .'
If you read this newsletter regularly, then you probably know that we love to rank things here, so obviously, we had to rank the best games on the schedule.'
By the way, we hired a new NFL writer last week (Shanna McCarriston), which I'm only noting right now because Shanna is the one who put this list together.'
Here are the top-five games on Shanna's list:'
- Chiefs at Buccaneers (Week 4):'"Tom Brady? Patrick Mahomes? A Super Bowl LV rematch? Sign me up. It's the old GOAT vs. the young superstar and if this game does not entertain it will be the shock of the season."
- Packers at Buccaneers (Week 3): "Maybe I should've just done a Tom Brady section. Brady facing off against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be a must-see game this season, so put it on your calendars now."
- Patriots at Raiders (Week 15): "This matchup will be Patriots head coach Bill Belichick against his former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is now the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders."
- Bills at Rams (Week 1): "This is a great AFC vs. NFC battle in the opener and dare I say it could be a possible Super Bowl preview?"
- Packers at Bills (Week 8): "Well, what do we have here ... ANOTHER possible Super Bowl preview?! Yes, that is what we have. How exciting for us. These are two of the top teams in their conference and with Allen and Rodgers running these offenses we should be in for a treat."
If you want to see the rest of Shanna's list of .'
After the schedule comes out each year, my favorite thing to do is comb through all 32 schedules to see if I can find any quirks. Sure, that means I'm up for 17 straight hours going through each schedule after they come out, but the good news is that I found quite a few quirks, so it was time well spent, but also, I need another cup of coffee already.'
So what kind of quirks are we talking about here? Let's find out.'
- Bears will be spending December at home.'The Bears got an especially unique scheduling quirk: They don't play a SINGLE road game during the month of December, marking the'first time that's happened to the Bears since 1964. The Bears will play a home game against the Packers in Week 13 (Dec. 4). They have a bye in Week 14 (Dec. 11) and then they follow that up with a home game in Weeks 15 (Dec. 18) and 16 (Dec. 24). Although they do play a road game in Week 17, that game falls on Jan. 1, which means they have ZERO road games in December.'
- Chiefs get handed killer opening schedule.'With their 2022 schedule, the Chiefs will become the first team in NFL history to open a season with eight straight games against teams that finished above .500 the prior season (Via'Elias Sports Bureau). The stretch starts in Week 1 when they travel to Arizona and then continues to Week 9. Here's a look at their brutal opening eight-game gauntlet: at Cardinals, Chargers, at Colts, at Buccaneers, Raiders, Bills, at 49ers, bye, Titans.
- Jets and Ravens with bizarre start to schedule.'The Jets will start the season by playing every team in the AFC North over the first four weeks'marking the first time'since the 1970 merger that the Jets have played four straight games against the same division at any point in a season. On the Ravens' end, they'll be starting the season with four straight games against the AFC East, marking the first time they've opened the season against four teams from the same division.'
- Commanders go back-to-back.'The Commanders have an especially unique quirk on their schedule: They'll be playing back-to-back games against the Giants starting in Week 13. After playing on the road in New York that week, the Commanders will have a bye in Week 14 before playing host to the Giants in Week 15. This marks just the second time since 1991 that an NFL team has played back-to-back regular-season games against the same opponent. That being said, the NFL is clearly getting more comfortable with the idea because the only other time it happened over the past 30 years came last season with the Browns facing the Ravens in back-to-back games.'
- Rough road to start the season.'There are only three teams in the NFL who will have to play their first TWO games on the road this year and those teams are: The Buccaneers, Colts and Patriots.'
- Rough road to end the season.'On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are seven teams that will close out the season with two straight road games, however, only two of those teams will get stuck playing two straight DIVISIONAL road games to close the season: Vikings and Panthers.'
- Bye, bye, bye.'The Texans are'facing three teams that will be coming off a bye this year, which is the most in the NFL. That's not ideal since teams will be getting extra rest and preparation time prior to playing Houston. On the other end of the spectrum, there are seven teams who will be facing a total of zero opponents coming off a bye: Bills, Lions, Broncos, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Bears, Commanders.'
- AFC West is the best.'The four AFC West teams are currently scheduled to make a total of 19 prime-time appearances in 2022, which is tied for the second-most in the Super Bowl era,'according to NFL research. The only division to get scheduled for more prime-time games was the NFC East in 2015.'
- Week 14 bye.'The Falcons, Bears, Packers, Colts, Saints and Commanders have all landed a Week 14 bye, which is notable for two reasons. First, it's tied for the latest scheduled bye that any team has ever been given since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002. Teams seem to prefer having a later bye and last season proved why: 2021 was the only time since 2002 where teams were given a Week 14 bye and all four teams that received a bye that week ended up finishing the year with a winning record
- Three teams shut out of Amazon's debut season of "Thursday Night Football."'This season will mark the first time ever that Amazon will exclusively have the Thursday night package and for the inaugural year, 29 of the league's 32 teams will be making an appearance on Amazon Prime. The three that won't? The Giants, Vikings and Lions. That being said, all three of them will get to play a Thursday game this year and that's because all three will be playing on Thanksgiving.
- Lions shut out of prime time. Not only did the Lions get left off the Thursday night package, they also didn't get scheduled for either a Monday night or Sunday night game making Detroit the only team in the NFL that didn't land a prime-time game. Poor Lions.'
- Extra long road trip.'The Packers, Dolphins, Eagles and Chiefs have one big thing in common this year: They're the only teams in the league that have to play three consecutive road games. Although that's not ideal, NFL teams that get stuck with a three-game road trip on the schedule'are 22-11 on those trips since 2018.'
Hopefully you can impress all of your friends this weekend with your quirky knowledge of the NFL schedule.'
Russell Wilson is going to have a chance to join a very exclusive club this year: The Broncos QB could become just the fifth quarterback in NFL history to beat all 32 teams.
Over the course of his career, Wilson has beaten 30 of the NFL's 32 teams and it just so happens that during the 2022 season, the Broncos will be playing the two teams that Wilson has yet to beat: The Seahawks and Chargers.'
Thanks to the way Denver's schedule turned out, Wilson might not have to wait very long to join the exclusive club and that's because the Broncos will be facing both the Seahawks and Chargers within the first six games of the season.'
- Week 1 (Sept. 12): Broncos at Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Week 6 (Oct. 17): Broncos at Chargers, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
That's right, both games are on "Monday Night Football". If Wilson can beat both teams, he'll join Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks who have beaten all 32 teams. It's one of the most exclusive clubs that a quarterback can join and Wilson could be getting his membership in 2022. If Wilson does pull off the feat, he'd become the youngest QB ever to beat all 32 teams.
If Wilson beats the Seahawks, but loses to the Chargers, he could still join the 32-team club this year ad that's because he'll get a second chance to beat Los Angeles in Week 17.'
It's been a wild 24 hour in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.'
- Jerry Jeudy arrested in Colorado.'The Broncos receiver has been charged with second-degree criminal tampering with a domestic violence enhancer following an altercation in Colorado on Thursday. The case involves a dispute that took place between Jeudy and the mother of his young child. For more details on the case, . '
- Travon Walker signs rookie deal. A lot of rookies signed their first contact over the past 24 hours, but none of them were more notable than Walker, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Under his new deal, Walker will be getting a fully guaranteed $37.4 million over the next four years. By the way, we have a tracker that monitors the signing of every first-round pick and you .'
- Patriots great Gino Cappelletti dies. The 1964 AFL MVP . During his time with the Patriots, Cappelletti was one of the most prolific players in AFL history. Not only did he win the MVP in 1964, but the man who played both receiver and kicker also finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in AFL history. Cappelletti spent his entire 11-season career with the Patriots (1960-70)'
- Raiders release QB. After trading for Jarrett Stidham on Thursday, the Raiders clearly felt their QB room was getting a little crowded and they fixed that problem by releasing Garrett Gilbert. The move means that Stidham will now compete with just Nick Mullens for the backup QB job in Las Vegas. '
- Falcons sign former Raiders linebacker. After two seasons with the Raiders, Nick Kwiatkoski is now headed to Atlanta after signing a one-year deal with the Falcons on Thursday. Although the linebacker has only started 34 games in his six-year career, he is a a grizzled veteran who's seen action in more than 75 games.'