Football is back, baby! After what was one of the wildest NFL off-seasons in recent memory, watch Week 1 blow the top off the 2022 campaign out of the gate. With more drama than a week's worth of soap operas, you're going to wanna grab your popcorn, secure your spot on the couch, and prepare to be entertained.
Looking into Thursday Night
It all starts Thursday night with what could be a preview of Super Bowl LVII and could have been the Super Bowl LVI match-up last season. The Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills face off against the reigning champion Los Angeles Rams. This game is sure to be a shoot-out of epic proportions. It’s not unreasonable to think we could see over 1,000 yards passing between these two quarterbacks with big arms and talented receivers. The real questions in this game are:
- Will Allen Robinson show early on he can handle the WR2 role in LA?
- Can Cam Akers return to form and bring home the Championship Ring?
- James Cook, maybe?
- Is Von Miller the key to unlocking the Buffalo defense?
- Gabe Davis or not so much?
Regardless of how these things play out, you'll want to tune into this one, as it's likely the only good game we'll see on Thursday night all season.
Where to Watch:
8:20 PM EST
- BUF @ LAR (+2.5) on NBC (Partly cloudy & 87) O/U 51.5
What to Watch for on Sunday
The early slate starts Sunday with a bang, featuring a match-up made in revenge game heaven. The new home of maligned signal caller and former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Carolina Panthers will face off against Mayfield's former employer. We are not even two months removed from the nasty split between him and the Browns, one that saw the team essentially call him a child. Baker wants blood, and this one could get deliciously ugly early on. Watch out for an upset in Week 1.
Where to Watch:
- NO @ ATL (+5.5) on FOX (Dome) O/U
- CLE @ CAR (-1.5) on CBS (Rainy & 77)
- SF @ CHI (+7) on FOX (Rainy & 71) O/U 40.5
- PIT @ CIN (-6.5) on CBS (Rainy & 77) O/U 44
- PHI @ DET (+4) on FOX (Dome) O/U 49
- IND @ HOU (+7) on CBS (Sunny & 89) O/U 45.5
- NE @ MIA (-3.5) on CBS (Rainy & 90) O/U 46.5
- BAL @ NYJ (+7) on CBS (Partly Cloudy & 82) O/U 44.5
- JAX @ WAS (-2.5) on FOX (Partly Cloudy & 73) O/U 44
- KC @ ARI (+6.5) on CBS (Sunny & 98) O/U 54
- LV @ LAC (-3) on CBS (Rainy & 80) O/U 52.5
- GB @ MIN (+1.5) on FOX (Dome) O/U 47
- NYG @ TEN (-5.5) on FOX (Rainy & 84) O/U 43.5
Sunday Night Football
- TB @ DAL (+2.5) on NBC (Dome) O/U 51
Monday Night Lights
Monday night features newly-minted preseason King of the World (in Denver anyways) Russell Wilson kicking off his tenure with the Broncos at his longtime home field in Seattle in front of a sure-to-be-welcoming crowd. He will be up against many former teammates, including former backup quarterback who will line up behind center as Wilson's replacement. While the storyline is fun, it's likely to be a blowout, with Denver boasting Super Bowl ambitions and Seattle just praying they can win at least a few games. DangeRuss has a lot to prove, and that starts with showing the Seahawks how big of a mistake they made in trading him away.
Where to Watch
8:15 PM EST
- DEN @ SEA (+6.5) on ABC (Partly cloudy & 69) O/U 45
Week 1 Storyline to Watch
It's not just revenge tours in the opening week of American professional football. Oh no.
- Stars on new teams have to show the world they weren't reliant on their quarterback/offensive scheme to succeed.
- Veterans who have lost pieces must prove they can stand alone.
- 2021 break-outs who want to continue their hot streak.
- Rookie disappointments who are eager to impress in every opportunity they receive.
Trevor Lawrence, anointed a future Hall of Fame quarterback before ever throwing an NFL pass, is free of the mess of Urban Meyer and surrounded by legitimate weapons. Fortunately, the journey to clear his name starts against a putrid mess of a Washington team. Alongside Trevor's quest, Travis Etienne will finally see an NFL field alongside his former quarterback at Clemson. Can he live up to the hype?
Speaking of college teammates, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams has reunited with Fresno State teammate Derek Carr. The blockbuster trade that sent the elite pass-catcher to Sin City sent ripples through the league, raising questions in Wisconsin and Las Vegas. Will Aaron Rodgers continue as a dominant passer without his go-to receiver? Will Adams maintain elite status separated from a Hall of Fame quarterback?
- Adams and Carr have a rough test out of the gate. The Chargers defense is much improved, and they are division rivals.
- Aaron Rodgers will have to face a tough Minnesota defense in Minnesota. Can Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins be reliable targets?
Along the same lines as Rodgers, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be sans his safety blanket, Tyreek Hill, in 2022. Instead, Mahomes will look downfield at wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Of course, he'll still have old reliable Travis Kelce, but with one of the worst running back corps in football, he will have to be a magic man to repeat the Chiefs' previous success in one of the toughest divisions in football.
Will Jalen Hurts impress? It's entirely possible. The offensive line is improved, and he has a new, elite weapon in A.J. Brown. Head coach Nick Sirianni is in year two, and the running back committee they have assembled should back-up Hurts in the ground attack sufficiently. The real question is will his passing accuracy improve?
The quarterback drama in San Francisco between Trey Lance and Jimmy Garrapolo was finally squashed early in training camp. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan publicly "declared" Lance the starter. Then, last week San Francisco restructured Jimmy G's contract, sending everyone into a tizzy.
"THEY DON'T TRUST TREY LANCE"
Only time will tell, of course, but this was a business move. Or was it?
The great thing about football is we have 18 weeks of regular season action and four weeks of intense, insane, unbelievable playoff excitement to see how all of this will play out.
Some things will go as we expected:
- Cooper Kupp will be a WR1
- Cris Collinsworth will be the most divisive announcer; you love him, or you hate him
- Steve Belichick will make weird faces
- Sammy Watkins: Week 1 WR1
- Sunday/Monday Night Football >>>Thursday Night Football (but it's still football)
Some things will shock us to our core:
- If I knew this, I'd be rich. I am not.
I cannot believe we’ve survived seven months without actual, real, live football. I couldn’t be more excited to see how everything we’ve discussed at Infinitum plays out. Whether you’re chasing a TrophySmack Championship Trophy or are just a casual NFL fan, there is a lot to look forward to on the horizon. All I ask is you enjoy the ride.
I’ll be back next week with more musings on the week ahead and a review of the week just behind us, right here in the Smackzone.