Best Week 1 video games
The schedule-makers didn’t fiddle with Week 1. They bookended the beginning of the season with Bills-Rams (and Von Miller’s return to SoFi Stadium) on Thursday, and Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle with Denver on Monday night time. Can’t beat both of these video games for drama.
Just a few different Week 1 favorites:
Raiders at Chargers: We get our first have a look at the Josh McDaniels-led Las Vegas group now starring receiver Davante Adams. No one might be rooting for a tie this time, in contrast to when these groups final met in Week 18.
I used to be curious whether or not the TV networks would think about the AFC West the potential energy division so many people assume it will likely be in 2022. The reply: Absolutely.
The Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos every have 5 prime-time video games and the Raiders have 4. Kansas City will play every division opponent in prime time, whereas 4 of the Broncos’ first six video games might be performed at night time.
Among the opposite groups with 5 prime-time video games: the Rams (together with three from Dec. 8 to Jan. 1), the defending AFC champion Bengals (a significant change after taking part in in that window simply as soon as final season), the Packers (three on “Sunday Night Football”), the Buccaneers (Brady is a no brainer), the Bills (together with back-to-back prime-time video games to open the season), plus the Eagles and Cowboys.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” lineup is especially sturdy. The first recreation that jumps out is Week 4 between the Chiefs and the Bucs, a rematch of Super Bowl LV. How fortunate that we get one other recreation between Patrick Mahomes and Brady.
Best recreation for a ManningForged
Peyton and Eli Manning’s wildly common “Monday Night Football” simulcast was renewed for 2022. They’ll be notably enjoyable for Broncos-Chargers in Week 6 and Packers-Rams in Week 15 due to the quarterbacks in these video games.
It’s really laborious to discover a true stinker on the “Monday Night Football” lineup, which bodes properly for Peyton Manning’s stress degree. Nothing aggravates Peyton greater than watching dangerous quarterback play. The finest shot for Disappointed Manning Memes could be in Week 10, for Commanders at Eagles.
Revenge video games
Let’s set just a few parameters right here. To really be thought of a revenge recreation, one of many events should have left beneath uncomfortable and even ugly circumstances. Things like a brand new head coach going through his former boss (see: McDaniels and the Raiders in opposition to the Patriots) don’t rely. The pondering have to be: You fired me or traded me and my return with my new group goes to be a giant freaking deal all week main as much as this recreation.
Our high 5:
Broncos at Seahawks, Week 1, Sept. 12 (ESPN): You might have heard Russell Wilson is now with the Broncos, and no shock, the NFL’s schedule-makers made his return to Seattle a marquee recreation. Neither Wilson nor the Seahawks have been extraordinarily forthcoming about precisely what led to the trade in March — the group indicated Wilson needed out; Wilson has mentioned it was “mutual” — however this can undoubtedly be an emotional day for Wilson and the Seattle followers who liked him.
Cowboys at Packers, Week 10, Nov. 13 (Fox): Here’s hoping the Cowboys’ group bus finds a solution to journey down Mike McCarthy Way on its solution to Lambeau Field. This recreation marks McCarthy’s first return to Lambeau since he was fired by the Packers in December 2018. Start putting your prop bets now on the interplay between McCarthy and Rodgers: Will or not it’s a hug, handshake, brush-by or icy stare?
Commanders at Colts, Week 8, Oct. 30 (Fox): The Carson Wentz period in Indianapolis was transient and ended disastrously. Not solely did the Colts collapse in January and fail to make the playoffs, however Colts executives, from proprietor Jim Irsay on down, have been hardly kind to Wentz on his means out. This recreation will both be Wentz’s probability to get the final snort, or the Colts’ alternative to indicate simply how a lot happier they’re with Matt Ryan.
Carson Wentz revenge video games incoming:
◻️ Wk. 1 vs. Jacksonville (2021 playoff collapse)
◻️ Wk. 8 at Indianapolis (former group)
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) May 13, 2022
Titans at Eagles, Week 13, Dec. 4 (Fox): It doesn’t appear to be A.J. Brown and the Titans parted on good phrases final month after the 2 sides couldn’t agree on a long-term contract extension. This recreation might be an opportunity to see if Brown is prospering in a brand new offense alongside DeVonta Smith in Philadelphia, and the place Brown’s substitute in Tennessee, first-round decide Treylon Burks, is in his growth.
Steelers at Dolphins, Week 7, Oct. 23 (CBS): Brian Flores, now the Steelers’ senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, returns to Miami to face the Dolphins amid his lawsuit that accuses his former group (and others) of racial discrimination. Don’t anticipate a pleasant on-field greeting between Flores and his former bosses in Miami, and it will likely be intriguing to see what kind of interplay he has together with his former gamers.
Best worldwide recreation
This is considerably of a tough alternative as a result of there isn’t a transparent blockbuster matchup. We’ll go together with Cardinals-49ers in Mexico City on Nov. 21, which is able to air on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” It’s the one recreation on the worldwide slate that includes two 2021 playoff groups.
And whereas each groups have had messy offseasons, this can be a recreation that finally may have NFC playoff ramifications. Kyler Murray vs. Lance is probably as enjoyable a quarterback matchup as we’ll get within the worldwide video games. (Brady vs. Drew Lock in Munich doesn’t have fairly the identical attract.)
A aspect word right here: Our American football-loving pals within the United Kingdom deserve higher. The NFL has but to present them a recreation that includes two groups with a profitable file because the annual London dedication started in 2007. Last 12 months, the NFL despatched them the Jets, Falcons, Jaguars and Dolphins. It was depressing.
This 12 months, the three London video games will characteristic Vikings vs. Saints, Packers vs. Giants and Broncos vs. Jaguars. We’ll predict Vikings-Saints to be probably the most aggressive and the probably to characteristic two groups with early profitable data. They’re ranked at Nos. 20 and 21, respectively, in our post-draft power rankings.
The NFL already owns Thanksgiving, and this 12 months it’s taking on Christmas as properly. The bulk of the NFL’s Week 16 slate might be performed on Dec. 24, with a triple-header to observe on Christmas Day. Our picks for the very best recreation on these three days:
Thanksgiving: This slate is underwhelming at first look: Bills at Lions, Giants at Cowboys and Patriots at Vikings. Let’s take the optimistic view that the Giants might be improved this 12 months and make this an aggressive NFC East recreation.
Dec. 24: Eagles at Cowboys. The consequence could possibly be tremendously necessary to the NFC East race.
Dec. 25: This schedule is stacked (Packers at Dolphins, Broncos at Rams, Bucs at Cardinals). But, when you can solely watch one recreation, decide Broncos-Rams on CBS/Nickelodeon. We like the choice to maneuver the annual Nickelodeon broadcast to a regular-season recreation, moderately than the wild-card spherical of the playoffs, because it was the previous two years. The Rams and Broncos are perfect contributors. Wilson is the correct of tacky to actually lean into the kid-focused components of the sport, and Matthew Stafford’s Rams offense ought to present loads of possibilities to activate the Slime Zone (i.e., the crimson zone).
Best schedule release movies
Much of schedule release day has turn into ridiculously overhyped, however we get pleasure from the way in which groups attempt to one up each other 12 months after 12 months as they announce their schedules. The Broncos’ video final 12 months, that includes Peyton Manning as an workplace intern, even received a Webby award.
My high 5 movies of 2022:
1. Chargers anime. It’s bizarre and enjoyable and likewise extremely imply.
2. Panthers 1990s nostalgia: If you grew up with dial-up web, blew in your Nintendo recreation cartridge and wrecked your laptop by downloading songs off Napster, that is the schedule release video for you.
3. Broncos Intern 2.0. You suppose the Broncos weren’t going to construct off the intern magic? The new video stars Wilson, and incorporates a John Elway cameo.
4. The Lions’ Urban Survival Training. Don’t miss the Urban Meyer joke.
(Top photograph: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)