To the Super Bowl winner go the spoils of kicking off the entire NFL schedule at home.
So the Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8 to begin the 2022 season — seven months after they hosted Super Bowl LVI to close the 2021 season.
The Thursday night game will be a juicy matchup of the reigning champions and the team generally considered the title favorite by oddsmakers, with the Bills traveling to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, where the Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in February to become the second straight team to host (and win) the Super Bowl on its home field.
The Bengals are home against the Pittsburgh Steelers — among their AFC North Division rivals — on Sunday, Sept. 11, when all but two other teams get started. Those two clubs playing on Monday night also offer an enticing storyline: new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, traded by the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason, visiting his former team.
Sunday's prime-time game features Tom Brady — unless he retires again before September — and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting the Dallas Cowboys. Brady's decision to unretire after a short hiatus this past winter forced NFL schedule makers to scramble and redo some of the game slots. The Cowboys visited the Bucs in the NFL's 2021 season opener.
The rest of the opening Sunday has some eye-opening matches, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, with new coach Doug Pederson, visiting the Washington Commanders, with new quarterback Carson Wentz. Pederson coached Wentz in Philadelphia and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, although Nick Foles was behind center with Wentz injured.
Several key division matchups are on tap for Sept. 11: New Orleans at Atlanta, Indianapolis at Houston, New England at Miami, Las Vegas at the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay at Minnesota.
Other openers are Cleveland at Carolina, San Francisco at Chicago, Philadelphia at Detroit, Baltimore at the New York Jets, Kansas City at Arizona, and the New York Giants at Tennessee.
Teams that will open on the road and will be home in Week 2 include Kansas City hosting the Chargers in the first Amazon Prime Video game on Thursday night. Also, it will be Miami at Baltimore, the Jets at Cleveland, Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Carolina at the Giants, New England at Pittsburgh, Seattle at San Francisco, Houston at Denver, Arizona at Las Vegas, Chicago at Green Bay on Sunday night, and Tennessee at Buffalo followed by Minnesota at Philadelphia in a Monday night doubleheader.
Finally playing at home in Week 3 will be Indianapolis against Kansas City, Minnesota against Detroit, New England against Baltimore, and Tampa Bay versus Green Bay, with the Bucs' Brady facing the Packers' Aaron Rodgers in a battle of veteran quarterbacks.
Open dates begin in the sixth week of the season.
Previously revealed was that one of the Christmas Day tripleheader games, Denver visiting the Rams, will be televised by Nickelodeon as well as CBS. (Slime, anyone?) The other Christmas games are Green Bay at Miami in the 1 p.m. slot, then Tampa Bay at Arizona at night.
Christmas Eve will also have a contest, with Las Vegas at Pittsburgh.
The traditional Thanksgiving games will have Detroit hosting the Bills, Dallas at home for the Giants and New England at Minnesota at night.
More holiday fare: 14 games on New Year's Day, which will force some college bowl games to adjust away from Jan. 1. The likely top matchups to begin 2023 include San Francisco at Las Vegas, Miami at New England and Denver at Kansas City.
Also previously announced were the international games:
— Nov. 13, the first regular-season NFL game in Germany — Tampa Bay versus Seattle in Munich.
— Oct. 9, when Green Bay becomes the final team to play in Europe, facing the Giants at the home of Premier League soccer team Tottenham in London. The previous week, Minnesota plays New Orleans there.
— Oct. 30, Wembley Stadium will host the Broncos against the Jaguars.
— Nov. 21, San Francisco faces Arizona at Mexico City.
Week 15 has a tripleheader on Saturday, Dec. 17, though which of five games will be switched from Sunday won't be decided until closer to that weekend. The possibilities are Miami at Buffalo, Baltimore at Cleveland, Indianapolis at Minnesota, Atlanta at New Orleans and the Giants visiting Washington.
The final weekend, Jan. 7-8, 2023 — all intradivision matchups — will also have two games moved to Saturday. Those will be determined early in Week 18.
Detroit is the only franchise not set for prime time, but the league's flex schedule could change that if the Lions show significant improvement. In contrast, the Rams, Bengals, Broncos, Bucs, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Packers, Steelers, Kansas City, New England and San Francisco have five night games apiece.
Oddly, the Bengals will play the games for all three of their division road trips (Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh) in prime time. Las Vegas has three straight night games in December.
Two notable anniversaries:
— Sunday night in Week 7 has Miami hosting the Steelers, and the Dolphins will honor the 50th anniversary of their 1972 season in which they went 17-0, including a victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.
— In Week 16, Pittsburgh hosts Las Vegas, 50 years after the "Immaculate Reception" during the AFC divisional playoff game between the Steelers and the Raiders. Pittsburgh lost to Miami the next week.
Fox will not televise World Cup matches from Qatar on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 in favor of NFL games. The World Cup final at 10 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 18 will be followed on Fox by NFL games.
ATLANTA FALCONS 2022 SCHEDULE
All Times Eastern
Sept. 11 — vs. New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 — at L.A. Rams, 4:05 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Oct. 2 — vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Oct. 16 — vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Oct. 23 — at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30 — vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.
Nov. 6 — vs. L.A. Chargers, 1 p.m.
Nov. 10 — at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.
Nov. 20 — vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.
Nov. 27 — at Washington, 1 p.m.
Dec. 4 — vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
TBD — at New Orleans, TBD
Dec. 24 — at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Jan. 1 — vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.
TBD — vs. Tampa Bay, TBD
TENNESSEE TITANS 2022 SCHEDULE
All Times Eastern
Sept. 11 — vs. N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Sept. 19 — at Buffalo, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 25 — vs. Las Vegas, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 — at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Washington, 1 p.m.
Oct. 23 — vs. Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30 — at Houston, 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 6 — at Kansas City, 8:20 p.m.
Nov. 13 — vs. Denver, 1 p.m.
Nov. 17 — at Green Bay, 8:15 p.m.
Nov. 27 — vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Dec. 4 — at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Dec. 11 — vs. Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Dec. 18 — at L.A. Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Dec. 24 — vs. Houston, 1 p.m.
Dec. 29 — vs. Dallas, 8:15 p.m.
TBD — at Jacksonville, TBD