2022 NFL schedule: Analysing the early fixtures

2022 NFL schedule: Analysing the early fixtures

Following the release of the 2022 NFL schedule, we’ve compared the difficulty of each team’s opening games and their past early-season performances to predict who will make a fast start.

The difficulty of each team’s fixtures for the first nine rounds has been assessed using our latest Super Bowl odds and we’ve also looked back at the previous 10 seasons and calculated their combined records in their opening games.

Building up early momentum is always important and here’s our 2022 NFL season preview:

AFC schedule

The AFC North looks set to be a closely-contested division this season, with not much separating three of its four teams. The narrow favourites are the Cleveland Browns, who have somehow failed to win their first game of the season since way back in 2004, although a trip to the unfancied Carolina Panthers this year means this barren streak could finally come to an end.

Over in the Eastern Division, the Buffalo Bills are the current favourites to win the Super Bowl but have a challenging start. Three of their first seven games are against strong opposition, starting with the season’s curtain-raiser at the Los Angeles Rams.

In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs are another likely championship contender who have been handed a tough start to their 2022 campaign. Like the Denver Broncos, they have registered a win in their first game in eight of the last 10 seasons but will not find it easy to improve that record. They will only face one significantly weaker opponent in their first seven games, with three of those against teams also expected to go far in the playoffs.

NFC schedule

The Green Bay Packers are considered the favourites to win the NFC North and with six of their first seven games against relatively weak teams they could start well, according to our 2022 NFL season preview.

While the Dallas Cowboys are the favourites to win the NFC’s Eastern Division, it could be the Philadelphia Eagles who are the early pace-setters. The Eagles have been strong starters in recent years and all of their first four opponents are expected to struggle; they don’t face one of the six shortest-priced teams until week 12.

In the AFC West, we find the team with the toughest start of all: the Los Angeles Rams. Four of their first eight games will pit them against one of the six Super Bowl favourites, which will prove a rigorous early test of their own playoff credentials and potentially see their run of five successive opening wins come to an end.

Turning our attention to the Southern Division, the New Orleans Saints narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season but have been given the chance to get off to a good start this time around. Only one of their first five games in the 2022 NFL schedule is against a team expected to be in championship contention, with the other teams in the division all facing three favourites in the first nine weeks.

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