6 SNEAKY INTERESTING GAMES ON THE NFL’S 2022 WEEK ONE SCHEDULE
Hey, we’re all super pumped about the prospect of a Super Bowl LVII preview on opening night, when the Buffalo Bills travel to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams, but the NFL schedulers have populated the first week’s schedule with plenty of surprisingly interesting games.
Games that might have slipped under your radar as you thought about the prospects of Russell Wilson bringing the Denver Broncos to Seattle, the rematch between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers or a chance for Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys to embarrass themselves once again when they face off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But we’ve got a full 16 game slate. And past those marquee match ups, Week 1 offers plenty of intrigue.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT ATLANTA FALCONS
Odds: Saints -4, O/U: 41.5
People are excited about the Saints prospects this season and rightly so. They’re a squad that went 9-8 last year starting Subway Sandwich Artists at quarterback most of the way. They were without Michael Thomas the whole season and still managed to sweep the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the regular season.
Here’s what makes this one worth our time. Marcus Mariota is a sneaky good signing by the Falcons, I think. With a wide open Wild Card race in an NFC and really just three or four good teams, anything can happen. There’s still some real offensive talent here and Mariota fits Arthur Smith’s offense much better than Matt Ryan.
The Saints put a shocker on the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 a year ago. They could fall victim to Atlanta this season.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS
Odds: Dolphins -3, O/U: 44.5
It’s interesting that the oddsmakers didn’t even fool around here. Mike McDaniel, a new run-oriented offense and Tyreek Hill on a team that posted winning records in back to back seasons might mean they can handle their own business at home against a mediocre Pats team. Especially when Miami has consistently beaten the Patriots in Miami even when Brady was there. Last year, the Dolphins swept New England and they’ve not lost to the Pats in Miami since 2017.
With the AFC overloaded with talent and only seven available playoff spots, New England is a team that could very well be left out when the postseason bracket is set. That process could start here.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT CHICAGO BEARS
Odds: 49ers -6.5, O/U: 42
If Jimmy Garoppolo was going to remain in San Francisco and start this game, I’d say that line is perfect. In a Trey Lance vs Justin Fields situation, I feel totally different.
This is a problem the 49ers have created for themselves. Jimmy G is content to hit the road, but with current reports on the unimpressive way Lance has performed in practice, that might not be in the cards. The Niners invested so much in Lance, it seems ridiculous they wouldn’t let this play out and that’s where this game gets particularly compeling.
There’s no question, even with Lance under center, San Fran has the better team. They’re loaded. But I like Fields better as a quarterback prospect. And while he did take his lumps as a rookie a year ago, he got in there and got live NFL experience. Now, with a real head coach in Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Fields could shock some people, especially a 49ers team that could have selected him at their original draft position and not traded away two extra first round picks in the process.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT DETROIT LIONS
Odds: Eagles -4.5
There’s a strong wind behind the Eagles’ sails this offseason after a tremendous trade that landed them AJ Brown. A Wild Card appearance last year and weakened Dallas Cowboys team has plenty of punditry already handing Philly the NFC East crown.
Which is why losing the season opener to the Lions would be such a shock. Detroit unquestionably got better this offseason and while rookie wideout Jameson Williams won’t be ready for Week 1, they have decent wide receiver talent ready to go including one of the best wideouts from last year’s draft, Amon-Ra St. Brown. Of their 13 losses last season, five were by a single score and some of those were against good teams. They fell by just nine points to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
It took Detroit three months to win its first game a season ago. They might grab the first victory of 2022 right out the gate.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Odds: Commanders -3.5, O/U: 44
Here it is, the first game of our season long Carson Wentz revenge tour. First off, you have Wentz facing off against the team that not only cost the Indianapolis Colts a playoff spot, but ultimately got him fired as their quarterback. Second, you have Doug Pederson, the guy that soured on Wentz to begin with in Philadelphia that led to both of them getting canned.
I am not convinced that the Jaguars will be bad this year. In fact, I’m going with just the opposite. Now, does that mean they’ll post a winning record in a grindhouse AFC? Probably not. Does it mean that the Jags might be better than the Commanders? Possibly. And there’s a good chance that Pederson knows Wentz’s weaknesses better than anybody.
NEW YORK GIANTS AT TENNESSEE TITANS
Odds: Titans -6.5, O/U: 44
Last season the Titans opened up at home against an NFC opponent they should have dominated. They lost 38-13 to the Arizona Cardinals. No team has done more to improve itself this offseason than the Giants. They significantly upgraded their head coach with former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, then aced the draft, selecting Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal with their two first round picks, both guys that could have easily gone No. 1 overall.
Saquan Barkley is back. The team will be running a real offensive system that can take advantage of Daniel Jones’ athleticism, something that surprises people when you bring it up.
Tennessee is breaking in two new starting wideouts, including the rookie they got in the AJ Brown trade. They were a middle of the pack pass rushing team a year ago after being one of the worst in the league in 2020. and were the eighth worst defense in surrendering yards. Maybe don’t take the points is what I’m saying.
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.