As part of my research process for the 2022 NFL season, I’m diving into the schedule for each team to see if and when some situational sports betting edges might exist.
Upon my first perusal of the schedule, here are the stretches of games that immediately catch my eye, pivotal stretches that I think will ultimately shape how the story of each team’s season unfolds.
I list teams according to how I power rank them right now.
NFL Schedule Analysis
1. Buffalo Bills
Opponents: at Rams, Titans, at Dolphins, at Ravens, Steelers, at Chiefs
Notes: The Bills are consensus Super Bowl favorites at +650 and my highest-rated team — but they start the year with a gauntlet of games: at Rams on Thursday Night Football to open the season, home vs. Titans on Monday Night Football, at Dolphins and Ravens, home vs. Steelers and at Chiefs for a Divisional Round rematch before getting the bye in Week 7. That’s two overlapping 3-of-4 away stretches with home games against feisty franchises, and not one of their six opponents is a bottom-feeding team. If the Bills open 6-0 or 5-1, the Josh Allen MVP talk will be cacophonous coming out of the bye as the Bills host the Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 8, and it will be hard to bet on the Bills with any value in the second half of the season. If, however, the Bills underwhelm in Weeks 1-6, they could be bettable at a discount in Weeks 8-18.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Opponents: at Chargers, Rams, at Bengals, at Broncos, at Texans
Notes: The Chiefs open the season with a tough 3-of-4 away stretch (at Cardinals, Chargers, at Colts and Buccaneers), but Weeks 11-15 are the ones that catch my eye. After the bye in Week 8 and favorable home games vs. Titans and Jaguars in Weeks 9-10, the Chiefs play 4-of-5 away with three straight road games. After back-to-back games against the LA teams, the Chiefs travel to Bengals for an AFC Championship rematch, to Broncos at mile-high elevation for SNF and finally to Texans for a game they should win but could struggle to cover due to circumstantial fatigue. If the Chiefs head to Houston off a 4-0 or 3-1 stretch, they could have an overinflated number in the market against the Texans as well as the Seahawks, whom they host in Week 16.
3. Los Angeles Rams
Opponents: 49ers, at Buccaneers, Cardinals, at Saints, at Chiefs
Notes: The last month of the season has 3-of-4 away with matchups against three top-10 teams — but this middle stretch might be tougher. Coming out of the Week 8 bye, the Rams have an NFC Championship rematch vs. 49ers (whom they play earlier in the month in Week 4), a Divisional Round rematch on the East Coast at Buccaneers (who have three extra days of rest), a Wild Card rematch vs. Cardinals (in their second meeting of the season) and road games at Saints and Chiefs, both of whom have above-average home-field advantages. If the Rams underperform in this stretch, they might offer value in Weeks 15-17 at Packers, vs. Broncos and at Chargers.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponents: at Cowboys, at Saints, Packers, Chiefs
Notes: I wouldn’t say the schedule makers took it easy on the Bucs, but they don’t have a single tough travel-induced stretch of the season. No 3-of-4 away scenarios. In the second half of the season, they alternate home/away games every week. But the opening month of the campaign won’t be easy with three matchups (two on SNF) against top-eight teams (Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs) and a consecutive road game against a divisional rival with a notable home-field advantage (Saints, who are 4-1 against the Bucs over the past two years). If the Bucs go 4-0 or 3-1 in that stretch, they could be overvalued for the rest of the season, most immediately at home vs. Falcons in Week 5.
5. Green Bay Packers
Opponents: Giants (London), Jets, at Commanders, at Bills, at Lions, Cowboys, Titans, at Eagles, at Bears
Notes: It’s kind of ridiculous to highlight a nine-game stretch — because that’s over half of the season — but what the Packers have to endure in this run of games is incredible. They have easy matchups against the NY teams in Weeks 5-6, but the first one is in London, and they don’t have a bye immediately following the overseas game, so they could struggle at home against the Jets. Then in Weeks 7-9, they have three consecutive road games, the first two of which are on the East Coast against the Commanders (who have three extra days of rest) and Bills (seven extra days of rest, on SNF) and the third of which is against the division rival Lions. In Weeks 10-11, they finally have back-to-back home games for the first time all season, but they play the Cowboys (who have seven extra days of rest) and then the Titans (on TNF), both of whom won their divisions last year. After that, the Packers play two more consecutive road games, one on SNF at Eagles (who made the playoffs last year), and the other at Bears (divisional rematch). Only after all of that do the Packers finally get a bye in Week 14. Unreal. If the Packers struggle in this stretch, they might offer significant value in their post-bye MNF home matchup vs. Rams in Week 15.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Opponents: at Falcons, at 49ers, Chiefs, at Cardinals, at Raiders
Notes: At no point do the Chargers have a brutal run of games, but they do come out of the Week 8 bye with 4-of-5 away — and the one home game in that stretch isn’t easy. They have a seven-day rest advantage at Falcons in Week 9, but in Week 10 on SNF they have a seven-day rest disadvantage at 49ers — and then they host the Chiefs in Week 11. After that, they again have back-to-back road games, at Cardinals and Raiders, both of whom made the playoffs last year. If the Chargers struggle in this stretch, they might miss the postseason once again, given their opponents in the final month of the season (Titans, at Colts, Rams, at Broncos).
7. Dallas Cowboys
Opponents: at Giants, Commanders, at Rams, at Eagles
Notes: The Cowboys have two 3-of-4 away stretches, and this first one has my attention, not so much because it’s difficult but because it could determine how the rest of the team’s season goes. The Cowboys host the Buccaneers and Bengals in Weeks 1-2. They could easily lose both those games — and then they play at Giants on MNF, home vs. Commanders (who have one extra day of rest) and at Rams and then Eagles on SNF. If the Cowboys are 0-2 and then struggle against their divisional opponents and lose to the reigning Super Bowl champions, HC Mike McCarthy could legitimately lose his job. If, though, the Cowboys are somehow able to go 6-0 and 5-1 to open the year — and if they back that up with winnable home games vs. Lions and Bears in Weeks 7-8 — their hype will be out of control coming out of the Week 9 bye as they go on the road to play the Packers in Week 10.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Opponents: at Cowboys, at Jets, Dolphins, at Ravens, at Saints, Falcons, at Browns
Notes: If the Bengals want to prove that their Super Bowl run wasn’t a fluke, they’ll take care of business in Weeks 2-8. They have only one top-10 opponent (Cowboys) in this stretch, but no 5-of-7 away stint can be considered easy, especially when three of those games are played in primetime (Dolphins – TNF, Ravens – SNF, Browns – MNF). With a road warrior mindset, the Bengals could emerge from this stretch with an 8-0 or 7-1 record on the season — and with a winnable Week 9 home game vs. Panthers, they could enter the Week 10 bye as one of the hottest teams in the league. Or the Bengals could stumble on the road in Weeks 2-8 and suffer the fate of many Super Bowl losers before them.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Opponents: at Denver, Rams, at Panthers, at Falcons, Chiefs, at Rams
Notes: The 49ers — presumably with QB Trey Lance starting — have easily winnable games in Weeks 1-2 at Bears and vs. Seahawks, but Weeks 3-8 will be challenging. In this six-game stretch, the 49ers have four away contests with two overlapping 3-of-4 road jaunts sandwiching home games vs. Rams (MNF) and Chiefs — and not one of their away games is perfectly easy: at Broncos at mile-high elevation for SNF in Week 3, back-to-back East Coast games at Panthers (who have an extra day of rest) and Falcons (1 p.m. ET kickoff) in Weeks 5-6 and then at Rams in Week 8 for a same-month divisional rematch. The 49ers are already betting underdogs vs. Broncos, Rams and Chiefs — and they could lose one of their road games at Panthers and Falcons due to circumstances. Every day QB Jimmy Garoppolo is not traded, the likelier it becomes that he will be with the team for the 2022 season — and if the 49ers enter the Week 9 bye on a 5-of-6 losing streak, the fans will be calling for Garoppolo (35-16 record, including postseason).
10. Denver Broncos
Opponents: at Ravens, Chiefs, Cardinals, at Rams, at Chiefs, Chargers
Notes: For the Broncos to make the playoffs, they will need to take care of business in their final six games. In Week 13, they’re at Ravens in the final game of a 3-of-4 away stretch. In Weeks 14-15, they host the Chiefs on SNF and then Cardinals. In Weeks 16-17, they have brutal back-to-back road games at Rams (Christmas Day) and Chiefs (who have an extra day of rest), and then they close the season at home vs. Chargers. It’s not hard to imagine even a good team losing all those games. If the Broncos are actually a Super Bowl contender, they’ll need to go at least 3-3 in that stretch and probably better.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Opponents: Dolphins, at Patriots, Bills, Bengals
Notes: With the offseason trade of No. 1 WR Marquise Brown, the Ravens seem poised to bring back their run-heavy offense. If they can win with that style of play in Weeks 2-5, they can probably compete with anyone. After an easy road game at Jets in Week 1, they have a moderately tough stretch of four games against teams with postseason aspirations, two of which are top 10 (Bills, Bengals) — but at least three of them are at home. The Ravens are underdogs against only the Bills in this stretch, so they have a chance to establish their preferred ground-based game script. Even with a 2-2 or 1-3 record in this span, the Ravens can probably make the playoffs — but it’s hard to imagine them making a deep postseason run with 2019 MVP QB Lamar Jackson if they don’t go at least 3-1 in Weeks 2-5.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Opponents: Packers, Titans, at Giants, at Bears, at Cowboys
Notes: Off their 2021-22 postseason appearance, the Eagles (+190 at BetMGM) are my pick to win the NFC East. For most of the season they have a balanced home/away schedule, but in this five-game stretch they will be tested. In Weeks 12-13, they’re home vs. Packers (three extra days of rest, SNF) and Titans, the two No. 1 seeds from the playoffs. And then in Weeks 14-16 they have three consecutive road games at Giants (divisional matchup), Bears (seven extra days of rest) and Cowboys (divisional rematch). To win their division, the Eagles will need to go at least 3-2 in this stretch.
13. Indianapolis Colts
Opponents: Chiefs, Titans, at Broncos, Jaguars, at Titans
Notes: The Colts with new QB Matt Ryan ease into the season with favorable divisional road games at Texans and Jaguars in Weeks 1-2, but they get a dose of reality in Week 3 in their home opener vs. Chiefs (three extra days of rest). And then they have three more divisional games sandwiched around a road game at Broncos (elevation, TNF). That’s five — FIVE! — divisional games in the first seven weeks of the season … and then they don’t have another divisional matchup until Week 18 vs. Texans. In this stretch, the Colts play the top-seeded Titans twice in the same month, with the rematch on the road and the Titans coming off the bye. If the Colts don’t go 3-2 in this stretch, that will be a bad indicator for their 2022 potential.
14. New England Patriots
Opponents: at Vikings, Bills, at Cardinals, at Raiders
Notes: The Patriots open the season with 3-of-4 on the road (at Dolphins, at Steelers, Ravens, at Packers), but it’s the second such stretch that has my attention, as all four of these games are in primetime. Even without QB Tom Brady, the Pats evidently are must-see TV. In Week 13, they’re at Vikings in a Thanksgiving edition of TNF. In Week 14, they’re once again on TNF, at home vs. Bills. And then in Weeks 15-16 they’re on the road at Cardinals (MNF) and Raiders (SNF), both of whom have four extra days of rest. In all of these games, the Pats are underdogs. If they struggle in four consecutive primetime games, the Pats could offer value as dogs in Week 16, when they host the AFC Champion Bengals on Christmas Eve.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Opponents: at Broncos, Buccaneers, at Falcons, at 49ers
Notes: It’s easy to look at Weeks 1-3 (Chiefs, at Raiders, Rams) and identify that as a tough spot, especially without No. 1 WR DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) — but the final month of the season will also be trying. At that point, the Cardinals could be in the thick of the playoff race, and they have 3-of-4 away and 3-of-4 against top-10 teams. Their only game as favorites is at Falcons (an extra day of rest). Their only game at home is vs. Buccaneers (SNF on Christmas Day). In Week 18, the Cardinals and 49ers might both be fighting for the divisional title or the last wild card spot — in San Francisco. With HC Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals have faded hard down the stretch over the past two years. They might do it once again in 2022
16. Las Vegas Raiders
Opponents: at Saints, at Jaguars, Colts, at Broncos, at Seahawks, Chargers, at Rams
Notes: The Raiders miraculously made the playoffs last year and added HC Josh McDaniels and No. 1 WR Davante Adams this offseason … but they still have the longest odds (+650) of any AFC West team to win the division, and they have an unforgiving string of games in Weeks 8-14, when they play 5-of-7 away. In Weeks 8-9, they travel east for back-to-back road games at Saints and Jaguars, both of which have a 1 p.m. ET kickoff. After a Week 10 home game vs. Colts, they have another set of back-to-back road games at Broncos (elevation, divisional rematch) and Seahawks (seven extra days of rest) in Weeks 11-12. And then in Weeks 13-14 they have consecutive games against the LA teams, both of which have top-six power ratings. The Raiders could easily go 2-5 in this stretch … right before playing the Patriots, Steelers, 49ers and Chiefs to close the season. Good luck. Under 8.5 wins (+100) at DraftKings looks enticing.
17. Miami Dolphins
Opponents: at 49ers, at Chargers, at Bills, Packers, at Patriots
Notes: The Dolphins have a tough first month (Patriots, at Ravens, Bills, at Bengals) — but it’s probably not as bad as Weeks 13-17, when they play 4-of-5 away and 4-of-5 against top-10 teams. In all of these games the Dolphins are dogs. After the bye in Week 11 and a cushy home matchup vs. Texans in Week 12, the Dolphins have three straight road games, the first two of which are on the West Coast (49ers, Chargers) and the third of which is a divisional rematch (Bills). After that, they finally get a home game — but it’s against the Packers — and then they go back on the road for another divisional rematch at Patriots (one extra day of rest). It’s hard to make the playoffs when you enter the final week of the season on an 0-5 streak.
18. Tennessee Titans
Opponents: at Texans, at Chiefs, Broncos, at Packers, Bengals, at Eagles
Notes: If you get the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, you get the schedule that comes along with it the following year — and that’s what the Titans got. The Week 8 matchup at Texans isn’t hard, but it’s the first of a 3-of-4 away stretch that includes games at Chiefs (seven extra days of rest, SNF), vs. Broncos (seven extra days of rest) and at Packers (TNF). After that, they host the Bengals in a Divisional Round rematch, and then they travel east to play at Eagles. Out of these games, the Titans are favored only against the Texans. If the Titans go 1-5 in this stretch, they could bench QB Ryan Tannehill and start rookie Malik Willis at home against the Jaguars in Week 14.
19. New Orleans Saints
Opponents: at Steelers, Rams, at 49ers, at Buccaneers
Notes: The Week 14 bye won’t arrive quickly enough for the Saints, who play 3-of-4 away and 3-of-4 against top-10 teams leading up to the break. In their one game at home in this stretch, they play the Rams (Super Bowl champions). In their one game against a team outside the top 10, they visit the Steelers (significant home-field advantage, eight extra days of rest). The Saints are underdogs in each of the four games. If the team performs poorly enough in this stretch, the coaching staff just might do the unthinkable … and bench QB Jameis Winston for TE Taysom Hill. I mean, it won’t happen. But we can dream.
20. Minnesota Vikings
Opponents: Packers, at Eagles, Lions, Saints (London)
Notes: The Vikings don’t have an extended stretch of the season that hurts the eyes. Their back-to-back matchups with the Bills and Cowboys in Weeks 10-11 aren’t great, but that’s just two games. So I’m looking at Weeks 1-4. That’s when HC Kevin O’Connell will unveil his offense, and the first month of the season isn’t easy with a home game vs. Packers (No. 1 seed), road game at Eagles (playoff team, MNF), home game vs. Lions (divisional rival, one extra day of rest) and neutral game vs. Saints (London). If O’Connell’s Rams-inspired offense underwhelms and the Vikings go 1-3 or even 0-4, which is feasible, they will likely be undervalued for much of the season. If they go 4-0 or 3-1, which is also feasible, they’ll likely be inordinately hyped entering the Week 7 bye after easier matchups with the Bears and Dolphins in Weeks 5-6.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers
Opponents: at Bills, Buccaneers, at Dolphins, at Eagles
Notes: It looks like QB Mitchell Trubisky will be the starter entering the season, but after the second month of the campaign the franchise could entertain a switch to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett. The Steelers heads into the bye with their hardest-four game stretch of the season, with 3-of-4 away and 3-of-4 against top-12 teams. In their one home game, they host the Buccaneers, and in the final game they play the interstate Eagles, who have seven extra days of rest. The Steelers are dogs of more than a field goal in each game. If I were a betting person — and I am — I’d bet that Pickett exits the Week 9 bye as the starting quarterback.
22. Cleveland Browns
Opponents: at Dolphins, at Bills, Buccaneers, at Texans, at Bengals
Notes: The Browns and QB Deshaun Watson are planning for an eight-game suspension (per Pro Football Talk), which means that we could see him make his franchise debut in Week 10 … right in time for the team’s hardest stretch of the season. Coming out of the Week 9 bye, the Browns play 4-of-5 away. Their one home game is vs. Buccaneers, who have seven extra days of rest. And the easiest game — at Texans — will likely be harder than expected, given the history between Watson and his former team. That will not be a happy homecoming. If backup QB Jacoby Brissett goes at least 4-4 in Weeks 1-8 and then Watson guides the Browns to 3-2 or better in this stretch, then they could make the playoffs. But if Brissett goes 3-5 and Watson goes 2-3, then the Browns will likely be lifeless entering the season’s final month.
Deshaun Watson and Browns ‘privately bracing’ for eight-week suspension https://t.co/Ka6Jqb1B8I via @NoExpertFF #Browns
— FantasyPros (@FantasyProsNFL) July 20, 2022
23. Detroit Lions
Opponents: Vikings, at Jets, at Panthers, Bears, at Packers
Notes: The Lions are popular as a longshot playoff team (+450, Caesars) and division winner (+1000, DraftKings), and several sharps like their win total of over 6.5 (-110, BetMGM). If the Lions make the playoffs, win their division, or go over 6.5 wins, it will be because of how they do in Weeks 14-18, when they have a 3-of-4 away stretch and play each of their NFC North rivals. The Jets and Panthers aren’t daunting opponents, but the Lions face them in back-to-back East Coast road games that kick off at 1 pm ET. They’re actually underdogs in both games. If the Lions are to ascend to a higher tier this season, they will need to go on the road and beat bad teams. If they’re to compete within the division, they’ll need to get wins at home vs. Vikings and Bears. And if they’re actually going to win the NFC North, they’ll probably need to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 18. I doubt that happens … but I can see the Lions winning 3-4 of their final five to hit the over on their win total — and maybe make the playoffs.
24. New York Giants
Opponents: Texans, Lions, at Cowboys, Commanders, Eagles
Notes: I don’t think the Giants are good. But they play the Panthers, Bears, Jaguars and Seahawks in the first two months of the season. They could actually open the year with a 4-4 record. And then out of the Week 9 bye, they get 4-of-5 at home and 3-of-5 vs. bottom-10 teams. They’re seven-point road dogs to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but the other four games are winnable. The Giants actually have a shot to be 8-5 entering the final month (when they play 3-of-4 away), and if that happens they will almost certainly be overpriced
25. Washington Commanders
Opponents: at Eagles, at Texans, Falcons, at Giants
Notes: The Commanders have a perfectly alternating home/away schedule for the first nine weeks of the season, but they don’t have the bye until Week 14, and in the month leading up to the break they play 3-of-4 away. None of their opponents in this stretch is a top-10 team, and their one home game vs. Falcons should be easy enough — but they have rest disadvantages in each of their road games at Eagles (three days, SNF), Texans (one day) and Giants (three days). Then after the bye they have an immediate rematch with the divisional rival Giants before facing three teams I have rated in the top 12, assuming QB Deshaun Watson is active in Week 17 (49ers, Browns, Cowboys). To be in the playoff race the last month of the season, the Commanders will need to avoid stumbling before the late bye.
26. Carolina Panthers
Opponents: 49ers, at Rams, Buccaneers, at Falcons, at Bengals
Notes: The question is almost certainly when — not if — HC Matt Rhule loses his job. I’m looking at Weeks 5-9. The Panthers are underdogs in every game in the first month of the season (Browns, at Giants, Saints, Cardinals). They could be 1-3 or 0-4 entering Weeks 5-9 — and then they have a 3-of-4 away stretch (after a home game vs. 49ers in Week 5) and play 4-of-5 against top-10 teams. Naturally, the one game they have against a team outside the top 10 is on the road — with a divisional opponent (Falcons). At some point, Rhule will need to answer for the team’s record, and after Week 9 it could the worst in the league.
27. Chicago Bears
Opponents: Packers, Bye, Eagles, Bills
Notes: After hosting the 49ers in Week 1, the Bears play 5-of-7 away, but eventually they get three consecutive home games sandwiched around the bye week, so it kind of evens out — except that they host three top-12 teams. By this point in the season, the Bears could easily be in tanking mode while the Packers, Eagles and Bills could all be competing for playoff positioning. Even at home, the Bears could be dogs of seven-plus points by the time these games are played … and I still would be disinclined to bet on the Bears.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Opponents: at Commanders, Colts, at Chargers, at Eagles
Notes: The NFL must loathe the Jags. They already have nine away games — and then one of their home games is in London … and they don’t get the bye week right after it. For HC Doug Pederson, the tour of hate starts right away, as the season kicks off with 3-of-4 on the road and 3-of-4 personal #RevengeGames at Commanders (former QB Carson Wentz), vs. Colts (former OC Frank Reich) and at Eagles (former team). With a new coaching staff, offense and group of receivers, second-year QB Trevor Lawrence could struggle in this opening stretch, especially against the improved Chargers defense in Week 3.
29. New York Jets
Opponents: at Packers, at Broncos, Patriots, Bills
Notes: The Jets head into the Week 10 bye off a terrifying four-game stretch. In Weeks 6-7, they have back-to-back road games at Packers and Broncos, both of whom have an elite home-field advantage. And then they host the Patriots and Bills, the two AFC East teams that made the playoffs last year. The Jets could legitimately lose by double-digit points in each of these games. If that happens, they will likely offer some nausea-inducing value the month after the bye, when they play 3-of-4 away.
30. Seattle Seahawks
Opponents: at Chargers, Giants, at Cardinals, Buccaneers (Germany)
Notes: In Weeks 2-5, the Seahawks play 3-of-4 away. The same with Weeks 4-7. And Weeks 7-10. Unreal. By the time the Seahawks go to Los Angeles in Week 7 to play the Chargers, they could already be an incredibly road-weary team … and they will still have two more road games ahead of them in the next three weeks at Cardinals (divisional rematch) and Buccaneers (top-four team, Germany). With all the road games, the Seahawks could have a dreadful record entering the Week 11 bye, which might be the perfect time for a quarterback change … not that it would matter.
31. Houston Texans
Opponents: at Broncos, at Bears, Chargers, at Jaguars
Notes: The Texans are slate-worst eight-point underdogs in Week 1 — and then after that they play 3-of-4 away. Their one game at home is vs. Chargers (top-six team). In every Weeks 2-5 game they’re underdogs of at least a field goal, despite playing two bottom-six teams (Bears, Jaguars). They could be 0-5 going into the Week 6 bye and in prime position to earn the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
32. Atlanta Falcons
Opponents: at Saints, at Ravens, Cardinals, Buccaneers
Notes: I think the Falcons are the NFL’s worst team. With apologies to Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder, the Falcons need a franchise quarterback, and if they can get to the Week 14 bye with one of the worst records in the league then they might be able to get one in the draft — because the Saints, Ravens, Cardinals and Buccaneers will likely all be fighting for playoff positioning in Weeks 15-18. They’ll do all they can to ensure the Falcons lose their final four games.
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