Commanders-Colts among key 2022 matchups with new players originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The 2022 NFL offseason went down as an instant classic with stars all around the league changing teams either via trade or free agency.
Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz were some of the quarterbacks who will be donning new jerseys this year, while Tom Brady retired before unretiring and Aaron Rodgers signed a lucrative deal to stay in Green Bay.
With the 2022 NFL schedule now official, let’s take a look at some of the top games this season featuring players on new teams:
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Dates: Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 and Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022
Key players: Davante Adams, Chandler Jones (Raiders); Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson (Chargers)
The Kansas City Chiefs will have a difficult time winning the AFC West for the seventh consecutive season. Every divisional opponent bolstered their roster in some form, with the Raiders and Chargers adding franchise cornerstones on each side of the ball.
Las Vegas added star receiver Davante Adams from the Packers in a blockbuster trade while signing Chandler Jones to a three-year, $51 million deal in free agency. Los Angeles traded for Mack from Chicago and signed J.C. Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million deal in free agency.
Jackson covering Adams while Jones and Mack rush Justin Herbert and Derek Carr, respectively, will be an extremely entertaining watch twice a season, not counting a potential playoff match. The teams will face off in Weeks 1 and 13.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Date: Monday, Sept. 12, 2022
Key player: Russell Wilson (Broncos)
With Patrick Mahomes, Herbert and Carr all in the same division, the Broncos needed to upgrade their signal caller to compete in a crowded field. They did just that by acquiring Russell Wilson via a trade from the Seattle Seahawks, the team that had drafted Wilson in 2012.
It won’t take long for Wilson to return to Lumen Field. The Broncos will be visiting Seattle this year in Week 1, so it’ll definitely be an emotional moment for Wilson and the entire Seahawks organization. Wilson was the quarterback in 2014 when Seattle won its first and only Super Bowl – a 43-8 rout over Denver. Drew Lock and Noah Fant were the key players who went the other way in the trade, but all eyes will be locked on Wilson.
Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts
Date: Sunday, October 30, 2022
Key players: Carson Wentz (Colts); Matt Ryan (Falcons)
The Commanders and Colts were among the teams in need of a new quarterback this offseason, and both teams addressed those vacancies via trade. The Commanders acquired Wentz from the Colts after just one season in Indianapolis. The Colts then moved for Atlanta Falcons field general Matt Ryan, who had spent all 14 years of his career with the franchise.
The two teams will face off in Week 8, and it’ll be interesting to see the type of reception Wentz receives upon his return to Lucas Oil Stadium.
Miami Dolphins vs. Cleveland Browns
Date: Sunday, November 13, 2022
Key players: Tyreek Hill (Dolphins); Amari Cooper (Browns)
The Dolphins are hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and Tua Tagovailoa is tasked with leading the offense. To make life easier for him, Miami went and acquired star receiver Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs in exchange for five draft picks. Hill now pairs with Jaylen Waddle to form the fastest 1-2 receiver combo in the league, but this matchup has a big-name receiver on the other sideline.
After acquiring Deshaun Watson as an upgrade over Baker Mayfield, the Browns traded for Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper to make him the new No. 1 target. Cooper accumulated at least 1,100 yards in 2019 and 2020 but fell short of that mark in 2021. Two of the best wideouts will be going at it in Week 10.
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Dates: Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022 and Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022
Key players: Von Miller (Bills); Terron Armstead (Dolphins)
The Bills are hoping to overcome the playoff hurdle and reach the Super Bowl for the fifth time in franchise history. Signing Von Miller to a six-year, $120 million deal is certainly a clear indication of that. Miller logged 9.5 sacks in the 2021 regular season during his time with the Broncos and Los Angeles Rams after being traded to Southern California. Buffalo hopes he can bring his championship-caliber experience to the franchise.
Miami, on the other hand, will have a new offensive tackle protecting Tagovailoa from defensive stars like Miller. The Dolphins made a big splash in free agency by inking the 30-year-old tackle to a five-year, $75 million deal. The three-time Pro-Bowler will be key in slowing Miller in Weeks 3 and 15.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tennessee Titans
Date: Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022
Key players: A.J. Brown (Eagles); Robert Woods (Titans)
The Eagles stunned the NFL world during the 2022 draft by trading for former Tennessee Titans star wideout A.J. Brown, who was seeking a lucrative new deal. Philadelphia now has both Brown and Devonta Smith as a menacing 1-2 combination for young signal caller Jalen Hurts, and Brown will be facing the team that drafted him in Week 13.
Tennessee drafted Treylon Burks in the first round of the 2022 draft as a means to replace Brown’s production, but they also traded for Rams receiver Robert Woods in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round pick. Woods racked up 1,219 receiving yards in 2018 and 1,134 in 2019. He suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 13 last season but looks to rebound with his new team.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Dates: Monday, Nov. 21, 2022 and Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023
Key players: Charvarius Ward (49ers); Hollywood Brown (Cardinals)
San Francisco hasn’t had an elite No. 1 cornerback since the Richard Sherman days, but it made a splash in free agency by signing Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward on a three-year, $40.5 million deal. He was the second-biggest cornerback signing behind Jackson of the Chargers. It was the type of move the 49ers needed to have a matchup for DK Metcalf, Cooper Kupp and DeAndre Hopkins in the NFC West, but the Cardinals added a new receiver that makes things interesting.
Arizona traded for Baltimore Ravens wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on Day 1 of the 2022 draft. Brown was college teammates with Kyler Murray at Oklahoma where both developed a unique connection. Brown posted career numbers last year with 91 receptions, 1,008 yards and six touchdowns, making Ward vs. Brown an intriguing matchup in Weeks 11 and 18.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Dates: Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022 and Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023
Key player: Bobby Wagner (Rams)
The Seahawks moved on from multiple franchise legends within the same offseason. First it was Wilson to the Broncos. Then the team let go of star linebacker Bobby Wagner, who proceeded to join a divisional rival. The Rams picked up Wagner on a five-year, $50 million deal shortly after he was released, so now Seattle will have to face him twice a season.
Los Angeles and Seattle will play each other in Weeks 13 and 18, with his return to Lumen Field definitely being another emotional moment as Wagner played a crucial role in the dominant defense the Seahawks fielded during the “Legion of Boom” run.