The NFL released its full 2022 regular-season schedule Thursday night with no shortage of intriguing matchups.
Recent playoff game rematches and star-studded quarterback faceoffs – Patrick Mahomes vs. 45-year-old Tom Brady, anyone? – Pack drama in the 18 regular-season weeks. So do some, well, interesting reunions of players, coaches and former teams in this unprecedented era of blockbuster NFL trades. New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, for example, should not wait long before the league sends him to play against his former team, the Seahawks.
Whether you’re dialed into draft-day dilemmas, free-agency frenzies, postseason principles or simply the league’s most exciting stars, USA TODAY Sports ranked the top-10 most alluring grudge matches of the 2022 season.
Behold, NFL fans’ road-to-revenge guide:
10. Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Week, November 10 13 at 4:05 pm, CBS
Josh McDaniels takes the Raiders head post 10 seasons as New England Patriots offensive coordinator. But it was the Indianapolis Colts, just four years prior, who thought McDaniels was coming to guide their franchise. Instead, McDaniels withdrew from an agreement to coach Indy, leaving the Colts “surprised and disappointed,” the team said in a statement at the time. McDaniels have faced off against the Colts and head coach Frank Reich – who he hired from Philadelphia after McDaniels backed out – twice as offensive coordinator since. But hosting the Colts for the first time calling the shots takes a new level of gravity. The Vegas Glitz will have a fitting background for a drama-laden show.
9. Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
Week, Dec. 16 4 at 4:25 pm, CBS
The Bengals ‘overtime win at Arrowhead Stadium featured the AFC Championship excitement from each team that announced: The rivalry between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes’ squads is just beginning. The Chiefs’ first half was stellar before their attack steadily unraveled to allow 21 unanswered second-half points followed by a scoring drive off Mahomes interception in overtime. Will the Bengals’ zero-to-100 squad take the next step in a Super Bowl win over Burrow’s third season as the Chiefs did in Year 3 of the Mahomes? Or will Mahomes, with new offensive challenge sans receiver Tyreek Hill, rise to the occasion to show Burrow and Co. who is not running the conference yet? Keep an eye during this matchup on Bengals stud kicker Evan McPherson, who was a 4-for-4 field goal attempt, including a 52-yarder, in the Bengals’ conference championship victory at Kansas City.
8. Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week, November 10 6, 4:25 pm ET on CBS
Since Tom Brady bolted to the NFC two years ago, he has yet to defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. The Rams triumphed 34-24 the first time Brady the Bucs faced them. Even more memorably, the Rams knocked out the Buccaneers in last season’s playoffs – scoring the Bucs 24 unanswered points in the second half, including a 55-yard touchdown from the 15-time Pro Bowler, to tie the game in the final minute. General Chat Chat Lounge The Rams’ championship, and Brady’s brief retirement, followed in short order. Now, Brady will need to be on defense again with the Stars like Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Matthew Stafford will need to defend Los Angeles’ second-half collapse that almost proves fatal in January. Don’t be surprised if this Week 9 matchup is a preview of NFC postseason play.
7. Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Week, Dec. 13 4 at 1 pm, CBS
The Texans awarded Deshaun Watson a four-year, $ 160 million contract in September 2020 for Watson only … Demand is a trade after one season, frustrated with franchise management decisions including player trades and front office hires. Watson sat out the entirety of 2021 while waiting for a trade, legal battles to continue as 22 women accused him of impropriety during massage sessions. The franchise managed just four wins last season without its quarterback, and Watson’s frustration festered as trade talks stalled. Will Watson, who led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards his last active season, recalls the Texans’ caliber talent when he returns to Houston rocking Browns gear and a $ 230 million fully-guaranteed deal? Or will the Texans have a growing collection of talent they have acquired thanks to his trade to frustrate Watson yet again? A few teams may have bones to pick with Watson this season, including the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. Watson’s hometown team thought it was close to acquiring talented 26-year-olds and now carries $ 40 million in dead money after trading. former QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons have reason to want to spit Watson, though probably not enough talent.
6. Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
Week, November 12 27, 1 pm on CBS
Any playoff loss hurts. But the AFC’s top-seeded Titans suffered acute sting when rookie kicker Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired to bounce back to Tennessee in the divisional round. Count quarterback Ryan Tannehill is among the most hurt, his three-interception playoff exit leaving him in a “dark place” with a “deep scar,” the quarterback told reporters this month. Tannehill said he struggled to get through the pain through methods including therapy. Tannehill and Co. There will be another chance for exorcise demons – with a healthier running back Derrick Henry this time, they hope – when the Bengals return to Nissan Stadium.
5. Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 4, Oct. 2 8:20 pm SNF on NBC
Any matchup of quarterback GOATs like Mahomes and Brady is a must-see TV, as the schedulers duly noted when awarding “Sunday Night Football” billing. Add in the teams ‘first faceoff since the Buccaneers’ 31-9 trouncing in Super Bowl 55, and the stakes only rise. Will the Chiefs’ offensive line continue to support the Mahomes since that two-interception, three-sack Super Bowl performance could ward off Tampa’s nasty pass rushers? Will Brady’s offense, without Bruce Arians at the helm anymore, be jolted by Week 4 after the 44-year-old (he’ll be a casual 45 before kickoff) emerges from a brief retirement with what he said is still the fire ? Losses of Arians on Tampa’s sideline and receiver Tyreek Hill for Kansas City tweak the revenge dynamic slightly. But the opportunity to watch conference title contenders face off for what could very well be Brady’s career more than restores any luster lost.
4. Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles
Week, November 10 14 8:15 pm MNF on ESPN
Sure, this will be technically Wentz’s second NFC East game against the Eagles, who travels Sept. 25 to play Wentz’s new squad at Washington. But Wentz’s nationally televised first trip back to the Lincoln – with its rowdy, egg-throwing fan base – is sure to bring drama. Will the Eagles have decided on Wentz successor Jalen Hurt’s long-term potential? Will Wentz settle into the Commanders’ offense and find a better rhythm than his 2021 Colts campaign that ended with an interception-and-fumble performance in the low Jacksonville Jaguars? Philadelphia fans aren’t shy when they say something, and Wentz’s return to the Eagles’ game should prove no exception.
3. Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
Week, November 10 13, 4:25 pm on Fox
Some NFL fans may be old enough to remember when Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl together the following 2010 season. But the relationship between coach and quarterback strained mightily in the years that followed, and Rodgers has shown no shortage of talent to levy a grudge. For the first time since he was fired Dec. 2, 2018, McCarthy will return to Lambeau Field. Will Rodgers be deep in defense of his MVP campaign by then, or will McCarthy’s third Cowboys be playing in their best form of football in November and December, as McCarthy often advises? Rodgers has won six of his last seven contests against the Cowboys, though an upstart 2016 Cowboys team with then-rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott won the last matchup at Lambeau Field. Can Dak and Zeke remain unbeaten in Green Bay, McCarthy leveraging 13 years’ worth of inside knowledge to beat Rodgers? Or will Rodgers’ already-MVP game burn even brighter against his former coach?
2. Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Week 1, Sept. 12, 8:15 pm MNF on ESPN
If your eyes don’t deceive you think you see Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson opening his season in Seattle. Even the NFL couldn’t wait to see the nine-time Pro Bowl passer return to the franchise with a Super Bowl – the only franchise, until this very game, that Wilson will be playing for his decade as a pro. Wilson and the Seahawks ‘front office spun conflicting narratives about the divorce, and the Seahawks’ public statements that Wilson wanted to leave only fuels the quarterback more. Will Wilson thump his maiden team to kick off his campaign to become the league’s next perennial Pro Bowler to win a Super Bowl in Act 2 in Denver? Or will Pete Carroll and Seattle’s watching rebuild materialize far faster than a fanbase in search of a quarterback to adore expects? The Week 1 national billing is due.
1. Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 6, Oct. 16 4:25 pm on CBS
The Bills had the Chiefs right where they wanted them to play with 13 seconds in the AFC Divisional game. Josh Allen had just found Gabriel Davis for the receiver’s fourth touchdown of the day, with Buffalo taking a three-point lead with 13 seconds to play at Arrowhead Stadium. But somehow, some way, Mahomes moved the magic downfield to send the game overtime. Kansas City won the coin toss, Mahomes found Travis Kelce on the first drive on a touchdown, and a talented Bills team’s season ended abruptly. The confluence of events prompted so much outcry over NFL overtime rules that the league has since changed the protocol to allow each team to occupy overtime in the postseason and hopefully avoid stars like Allen being a coin of the whim. But regular-season overtime rules remain the same, so Allen and Co. Best mount their lead in regulation during Week 6. The matchup of two talented AFC quarterback stalwarts promises entertainment, further intrigue by the Bills’ addition of pass rusher Von Miller to torment quarterbacks like Mahomes, who will also be competing without speedy wideout Tyreek Hill for the first campaign of his career. Probably the 2022 rematch won’t reach classic status like Kansas City’s 42-36 win in January, but well-constructed and well-coached rosters offer a tantalizing matchup of nonetheless.
Eagles receiver AJ Brown faces the Titans squad that traded him during a Week 13 matchup in Philadelphia. … Saints coach Dennis Allen hosts the Raiders, who he coached from 2012-14, Week 8 on October 30.… Top 2022 Draft Pick Travon Walker’s Jaguars Travel to the Detroit Lions and No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson in Week 13, Dec. 4.… The 2021 top two draft picks, quarterbacks rather than the 2022 defenders, also face off again: No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars visit New York Jets and Zach Wilson on Thursday, Dec. 22 for a Week 16 game broadcast exclusively on Amazon Prime. … Brady’s Bucs might beat the Saints when it mattered most, in the playoffs en route to their Super Bowl LV victory. But he’s 0-4 in the division against New Orleans, with chances to remedy that blemish Week 2 in New Orleans and Week 13 – on “Monday Night Football” – in Tampa.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpsteinGeneral Chat Chat Lounge