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The NFL schedule continues to bring major events, even though we’re in the midst of the offseason. After the 2022 NFL draft concluded, the release of the full schedule was the next big thing fans were looking forward to. Even if we already knew who would play between us, we now know the logistical details of each team.
The difference between playing two contenders in a row across the country versus two worst in a row at home is huge. The league is also deeper than ever, so the margin for error in various divisions is small. Losing an unexpected game or two can completely change the face of the playoffs.
We dove into the 2022 NFL schedule release to find the two biggest winners and two biggest losers. The winners still need to seize their chance and the losers still have the ability to get over their first hurdle. A trip to the Super Bowl isn’t complete without a little luck.
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Winner: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are coming off a terrific offseason when they added a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan, a star cornerback in Stephon Gilmore and a high-potential pass-rusher in Yannick Ngakoue. This was the time for Chris Ballard to put his chips into a quality roster and he did well.
The Colts are already off to an advantageous start in 2022 after evaluating their schedule. They have the easiest schedule, based on DraftKings team win projections. Their inherent advantage starts with the bottom AFC South teams in Houston and Jacksonville.
Indianapolis also plays in the NFC East. Both Dallas and Philadelphia are quality teams, but neither is better than the Colts. As a division, the NFC East has only one team projected to win more games than lose.
Having the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at home are also notable advantages. Ryan will be relied on to make the difference in these games. Carson Wentz could not be trusted in the most critical games of the year and was the main factor in the collapse in the 2021 stretch.
There’s still a losing streak for the Colts to deal with. It’s remarkable to go on the road to face Denver, Dallas, New England and Minnesota. In total, they face nine teams with 8.5 or more projected wins.
Unfortunately, this schedule release could have been much worse for the Colts’ playoff hopes. The opening in Houston and Jacksonville should lead to at least a 2-1 start. They end the year with the New York Giants and at home against the Texans.
They will also have four games in prime time.
Ed Zurga/Associated Press
Loser: Kansas City Chiefs
No team has a more challenging schedule in terms of oddsmakers’ win totals than the Chiefs. The arms race in the AFC West certainly played a part in this formula, as each of the team’s six games against the Chargers, Raiders and Broncos will be a battle. Plus, the Chiefs have put together a first-place schedule since winning the division last year.
The bad news is that the Chiefs also have to deal with the loaded NFC West. Three teams in the NFC West are projected to win 8.5 or more games. The Chiefs will be relying heavily on rookies Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis and Skyy Moore, so the focus will be on getting the young players to step in right away.
The Chiefs also play in Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Tennessee and Indianapolis. They are all projected to win 9.5 games. The only positive is that they have home games against Tennessee, Los Angeles and Buffalo.
The three possible easy games are Houston, Seattle and Jacksonville. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will have earned it if they can win the AFC West again.
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
After upgrading their roster by adding star receiver AJ Brown, pass-rusher Haason Reddick and a draft headlined by giant nose tackle Jordan Davis, the Eagles have only one question mark at quarterback. If Jalen Hurts is ready to be a franchise quarterback, the Eagles are a big sleeper in the NFC race. His favorable schedule will also help Hurts hit his ceiling.
Getting the second-easiest schedule by win total will take some of the pressure off Philly of having to go all out all season. Road games against Chicago, Detroit and Houston should be wins on paper. Then factor in the division games against Washington and New York, and it’s not hard to see a path to double-digit wins.
Tough games include home games against Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. However, only Green Bay can say that it has a better overall roster than Philly right now.
The three-week stretch from November 20 to December 4 includes a trip to Indianapolis and home games against the Packers and Titans. Still, it will be hard for the Eagles to complain when their opponents’ winning percentage in 2021 was .464, 30th of all teams.
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Loser: Green Bay Packers
Teams receiving the dreaded trip to London always have a tough draw. Instead of getting a bye after traveling to London against the New York Giants in Week 5, the Packers host the New York Jets the following Sunday. Week 7 features an away game in Washington after the Commanders enjoy a home game.
The next five weeks also have several difficult battles. After Washington, Green Bay travels to Buffalo and then to Detroit. That is followed by a mid-afternoon home game against Dallas on November 13 followed by hosting Tennessee on Thursday night football four nights later.
His reward after Tennessee is a Sunday night football game in Philadelphia to close November.
The Packers are traveling a ridiculous amount without much rest. Getting the London game so early and then having to wait until week 14 for your bye week is tough. Green Bay is a very talented team but it will go through the gauntlet.