The 2022 NFL season kicks off on Thursday with a matchup between Josh Allen and the Bills and Matthew Stafford and the Rams at SoFi Stadium. The game will be broadcast on NBC.
Meanwhile, the Patriots begin Year 2 of the Mac Jones era on Sunday against the Dolphins.
The Sunday night game will be — you guessed it — Tom Brady and the Buccaneers visiting the Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. The Broncos, with new QB Russell Wilson, travel to Seattle for the Monday night opener at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.
Here’s a look at the upcoming season:
Amazon Prime will be the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” from 2022 through 2033. Following the regular-season opener on NBC, the rest of the Thursday schedule will be on Amazon Prime. In all, Amazon Prime will broadcast 15 NFL games from Weeks 2 through 16 this season. Games will be televised free in the local markets of the teams that are playing, while out-of-market viewers will be able to watch “Thursday Night Football” with an Amazon Prime subscription. The games will also be streamed on the Amazon app, but will not be televised by any national network.
All of NBC’s games will also be available on Peacock, provided you pay for one of its premium subscriptions, while games broadcast by CBS will also be available on Paramount Plus’s premium tier. In-market and prime time games can also be streamed on the Yahoo! Sports app.
OT playoff rules: One of the most hotly contested topics the last few years. The new rules say if a playoff game is tied at the end of regulation, both teams will have an opportunity to possess the football. If the game remains tied after each team holds one possession, then sudden-death rules apply and the next score will win the game. (The rules will stay the same for the regular season.)
Injured reserve: The NFL adjusted the IR protocols, allowing players to return from injuries. Players must spend at least four weeks on IR before returning to the team. In addition, teams are only allowed to return eight players from the list during the season. Players can return up to twice in a season.
Practice squads: Teams will now be allowed 16 practice-squad players, up from 12 the last two years. Other changes include veterans being allowed on practice squads, and that players can be elevated up to three times before having to pass through waivers.
Free-kick formation: The free-kick formation change that was implemented last year becomes permanent: Until the ball is kicked, all receiving team players must be inbounds and behind their restraining line, and at least eight, but no more than nine, players must be positioned between their restraining line and a spot 15 yards behind their restraining line (the “setup zone”).
Old faces in new places: Wilson (Seattle to Denver), Baker Mayfield (Cleveland to Carolina), Carson Wentz (Indianapolis to Washington), and Matt Ryan (Atlanta to Indianapolis) were the notable quarterbacks who changed addresses this offseason.
Meanwhile, receiver Davante Adams (Green Bay to Las Vegas), linebacker Khalil Mack (Chicago to the Los Angeles Chargers), and cornerback J.C. Jackson (New England to the Chargers) were some of the position players who are with new teams at the start of the 2022 season.
There are several coaches guiding new teams this year. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas), Doug Pederson (Jacksonville), and Lovie Smith (Houston) are a few of the head coaches who are heading into new jobs. In addition, Brian Daboll (New York Giants), Matt Eberflus (Chicago), and Mike McDaniel (Miami) are among the coaches who are going from assistant to the top job this year.
Super Bowl hangover? The Rams face a daunting challenge in trying to repeat. It’s been almost 20 years since a team won back-to-back Super Bowls (the 2003-04 Patriots). Meanwhile, the Bengals will be trying to overcome the Curse of the Super Bowl loser: Only eight teams in history who lost the Super Bowl returned the year after losing. And only three of those teams (a group that includes the 2018 Patriots), were able to win the whole thing the year after finishing on the short end of a Super Bowl loss.
Return to glory: Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City) both fell short of the Super Bowl last season, but they are back with revamped lineups in 2022 looking for a shot at another ring.
What’s next for Brady? The former Patriots’ signal-caller famously retired for 40 days before deciding to make a comeback for (at least) one more year, citing “unfinished business.” After taking more than 10 days away during training camp, it’s fair to say there’s plenty of drama swirling around the 45-year-old. But can he rise above it and add an eighth Super Bowl ring to his collection and get a second title in three seasons for the Buccaneers?
Super Bowl odds
According to Bovada, entering Thursday’s opener, the Bills (+550) and Buccaneers (+750) are the favorites to reach Super Bowl LVII. The Chiefs and Packers are next (both at +1000), while the Rams (+1200), Chargers (+1400), Niners (+1600) and Broncos (+1600) are at the head of the pack.