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NFL Schedule 2022: 5 Best Non-Primetime Games

  • Justin Melo
  • May 13, 2022
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At last, after weeks of speculation and fake Twitter accounts taking advantage of the situation, the NFL finally released its 2022 schedule via a three-hour televised program in primetime via its home NFL Network on Thursday night. The complete schedule is jam-packed with mouthwatering contests. The schedule release feels like Christmas Eve for some, and football fans around the globe can begin planning nationwide trips to watch their favorite NFL teams in action this fall.

The primetime schedule immediately jumps out. A Thursday opening matchup between the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills should kick off an exciting 2022 campaign on the right foot. A Week 4 Sunday night showdown between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes qualifies as must-watch television.

While the schedule of nationally televised showdowns is undeniably excellent, it’s important to remember that several standout games will occur regularly on Sunday afternoon, too. There are only so many Thursday, Sunday, and Monday evening slots available throughout a 272-game schedule. Through analyzing the schedule with great attention to detail, we’ve identified five non-primetime contests that must be circled on calendars around the nation.

WEEK 3: PACKERS @ BUCCANEERS

SUN, SEPT 25, 4:25 P.M. ET

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever grace an NFL field. A Sunday afternoon heavyweight matchup between these two elite signal-callers in Week 3 could technically be the last time they ever go head-to-head. It qualifies as a surreal thought to consider but unless the Packers and Buccaneers meet in the postseason, it’s a fleeting thought that could come to fruition.

Aside from the Rodgers-Brady storyline that will undeniably dominate the headlines leading up to the contest, the Packers and Buccaneers are both Super Bowl hopefuls in the ultra-competitive NFC. Week 3 is rather early as far as the NFL schedule goes, but an early-season measuring stick between the Packers and Buccaneers could help catapult the victor to greener pastures in the postseason race down the stretch. If this truly is the last time we witness Rodgers and Brady go toe-to-toe, it’s a must-watch, appointment viewing television.

WEEK 5: COWBOYS @ RAMS

SUN, OCT 9, 4:25 P.M. ET

The Los Angeles Rams’ schedule is chock-full of contests against legitimate opponents that pose a real threat to their Lombardi-winning throne. While several of those showdowns will occur on primetime throughout the course of the regular season, a Sunday afternoon matchup against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 qualifies as one of Los Angeles’ most difficult assignments. These two heavyweights did encounter one another in 2021 despite winning their respective divisions, adding extra intrigue to a contest that can truly go either way.

The Rams enter the new season with a ton of pressure to defend their Super Bowl title, and the Cowboys face a similar amount of fan-applied pressure after making a surprisingly early and disappointing exit from the 2021 postseason. Both franchises will be hungry for early-season success when they meet in mid-October. 

The outcome of this ever-important contest could eventually help determine seeding throughout the 2022 NFC playoffs, including home-field advantage.

WEEK 6: BILLS @ CHIEFS

SUN, OCT 16, 4:25 P.M. ET

A Week 6 rematch of the instant classic we witnessed between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoff round may qualify as the No. 1 must-watch contest of the 2022 regular season, period. It’s shocking to learn this appetizing contest didn’t receive the primetime, nationally televised treatment.

In that postseason contest, the Chiefs defeated the Bills 42-36 via overtime in a heavyweight showdown that legitimately altered the league’s overtime rules. The Bills led 36-33 with a mere 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 19 and 25-yard passes to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce that somehow combined to take 10 seconds. On the next play, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker successfully made a 49-yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. The Chiefs then proceeded to win the coin toss and scored a quick touchdown to clinch their place in the AFC Championship game. 

The league’s at-the-time archaic overtime rules robbed the Bills (and an enthralled audience) of an opportunity to counterpunch. Going forward, the league has decided to guarantee that both teams will receive at least one possession in playoff overtime games.

That postseason defeat left an extremely sour taste in the mouth of Josh Allen and his teammates. The Bills return in 2022 as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Although an eventual and inevitable postseason meeting between these two franchises is the one that really counts, Sean McDermott’s Bills will be eager to secure regular-season revenge against their postseason arch-nemesis Chiefs.

WEEK 11: BROWNS @ BILLS

SUN, NOV 20, 1:00 P.M. ET

Cleveland Browns General Manager Andrew Berry signaled his aggressive intentions ahead of the 2022 campaign by pulling off a stunning offseason trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns disappointingly missed the postseason last year and Berry decided that upgrading the quarterback position was the answer going forward, ultimately replacing Baker Mayfield with Watson. The Browns largely expect Watson to catapult them to instant contender status, and a Week 11 matchup against the Bills gives Cleveland an opportunity to legitimately cement themselves as Super Bowl contenders.

We’ll possess an excellent idea regarding how serious the 2022 iteration of the Browns are by the time their late-November showdown with the Bills commences, but this contest may qualify as the ultimate test of fate for Watson and the Browns. A five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract places a ton of expectations on the shoulders of Watson, Berry, and Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. Watson has long been considered one of the more impressive signal-callers across the entire league. An opportunity to defeat Allen and the dominant Bills would help Watson re-establish himself among today’s elite signal-callers.

WEEK 13: CHIEFS @ BENGALS

SUN, DEC 4, 4:25 P.M. ET

The Cincinnati Bengals stunned the nation by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 via overtime in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were largely expected to advance to their third consecutive Super Bowl, but Joe Burrow and the Bengals had other plans while executing a rather shocking upset. It actually allowed the Bengals to complete a double over the Chiefs after previously defeating them 34-31 in a Week 17 regular-season thriller.

A rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game will occur in early December at Paul Brown Stadium. Andy Reid’s Chiefs will undeniably have revenge on the mind. Both squads have gone through some drastic changes this offseason. A contract dispute forced Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach to trade disgruntled receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs have attempted to soften the blow by adding Juju Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Bengals addressed an underwhelming offensive line by signing Alex Cappa, La’El Collins, and Ted Karras. We’re beyond excited to watch these new-look contenders take the field against one another in 2022.

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Justin Melo