Pawtucket Times

Patriots open season in Miami

- By BARRY WILNER

To the Super Bowl winner goes the spoils of opening the entire schedule at home.

So the Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, Sept. 8, to begin the 2022 season.

It’s a juicy matchup of the team generally considered the title favorite by oddsmakers in the Bills traveling to SoFi Stadium, where the Rams won the championsh­ip over Cincinnati in February.

The Bengals are home to their division rivals, the Steelers, on Sunday, Sept. 11 when all but two other teams get started. Those two clubs playing on Monday night also offer an enticing storyline: Russell Wilson bringing his Broncos to Seattle. The Seahawks traded their longtime quarterbac­k to Denver in the offseason.

Sunday’s prime-time game features Tom Brady — unless he retires again before September — and the Buccaneers at Dallas. Brady’s decision to unretire after a short hiatus forced NFL schedule makers to scramble and redo some of the game slots.

The Cowboys visited the Buccaneers to open last season.

The rest of the opening Sunday has some eye-opening matches, such as Jacksonvil­le, with new coach Doug Pederson, at Washington, 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.

“Expecting to have an unbelievab­le crowd there,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell told the Vikings’ website. “I’ve talked a lot about being on that visitor’s sideline, so I know what the Packers will be in store for on opening weekend. I expect to see a stadium full of purple. It’s a great opportunit­y for us and a challenge.

“What a way to start your season — a challenge but also a great way to kick-start what is hopefully going to be a great 2022.”

Also, it will be 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 New York Jets at Cleveland, Indianapol­is at Jacksonvil­le, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Carolina at the New York Giants, New England at Pittsburgh, Seattle at San Francisco, Houston at Denver, Arizona at Las Vegas, Chicago at Green Bay at night, Tennessee at Buffalo on Monday night, followed by Minnesota at Philadelph­ia.

Finally playing at home in Week 3 will be Indianapol­is against Kansas City, Minnesota against Detroit, New England vs. Baltimore, and Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay, with Brady facing Aaron Rodgers.

Previously revealed was that one of the Christmas Day triplehead­er games,

Denver at 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 the Raiders at the Steelers.

The traditiona­l Thanksgivi­ng games will have Detroit hosting Buffalo, 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 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 vs. Seattle in Munich.

—Oct. 9, 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 and Arizona at Mexico City.

Week 15 has a triplehead­er on Saturday, Dec. 17, though which of five matches 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 at Washington.

The final weekend, Jan. 7-8, 2023 — all intra-division matchups — will also have two games moved to Saturday. Those will be determined early in Week 18.

“For months, we’ve known who we’re playing and where,” Browns

coach Kevin Stefanski said, “but to see how it unfolds, where our bye week is and where our division opponents are is fun for our coaches. That first opponent is something you look at so you can start to work on their coordinato­rs, understand what they’ve done and try and get a head start on that game.”

Only one franchise is not set for prime time: Detroit. But the league’s flex schedule could change that if the Lions show significan­t improvemen­t.

In contrast, the Rams, Packers, Bucs, Broncos, Eagles, Cowboys, Chargers, Chiefs, Steelers, 49ers, Patriots and Bengals each have five night games.

Oddly, the AFC champion Bengals face all three division foes (Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh) on the road in prime time. Las Vegas has three straight night games in December.

Nine teams will enjoy three-game homestands: the Cowboys, Giants, Bears, Lions, Vikings, Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams and 49ers. Four must endure three-game road trips: Kansas City, Miami, Green Bay and Philadelph­ia.

Byes begin in Week 6.

Two notable anniversar­ies: --Sunday night in Week 7 has the Dolphins home for the Steelers and Miami will honor the 50th anniversar­y of the undefeated 1972 season: 17-0, including a victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC championsh­ip game.

--In Week 16, the Steelers host the Raiders, 50 years after the “Immaculate Reception” during the AFC divisional playoffs. 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. EST on Dec. 18 will be followed on Fox at 1 p.m. by split coverage of Lions-Jets and Cowboys-Jaguars, and at 4:05 p.m. by Cardinals-Broncos.

 ?? File photo ?? Quarterbac­k Mac Jones, above, and the New England Patriots start the 2022 season on the road against AFC East rival Miami on Sunday, Sept. 11.
File photo Quarterbac­k Mac Jones, above, and the New England Patriots start the 2022 season on the road against AFC East rival Miami on Sunday, Sept. 11.

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