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Tea NFL calendar continues to bring major events, even though we’re in the middle of the offseason. After the 2022 NFL draft wrapped up, the full schedule release was the next big thing for fans to look forward to. Even if we already knew who would play each other, we now know the logistical details for each team.
The difference in playing two contenders in a row across the country compared to two bottom-feeders in a row at home is massive. The league is also as deep as it has ever been, so the margin for error in several divisions is tiny. Losing one or two unexpected games can completely change the playoff picture.
We’re diving into the 2022 NFL schedule release to find the two biggest winners and two biggest losers. The winners must still convert on their opportunity and the losers still have the ability to overcome their first obstacle. A Super Bowl journey isn’t complete without a little luck.
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Winner: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are coming off an excellent offseason when they added a veteran quarterback in matt ryan, a star cornerback in Stephon Gilmore and a high-upside pass-rusher in Yannick Ngakoue. This was the time for Chris Ballard to push his chips in on a quality roster and he executed well.
The Colts are already off to an advantageous start in 2022 after evaluating their schedule. They have the easiest schedule, according to DraftKings‘ team win screenings. Their inherent advantage begins with AFC South bottom-feeders in Houston and Jacksonville.
Indianapolis also plays the NFC East. Both Dallas and Philadelphia are quality teams, but neither is head-and-shoulders better than the Colts. As a division, the NFC East has only one team projected to win more games than lose.
Getting the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at home are also notable advantages. Ryan will be connected upon to be the difference in these games. Carson Wentz couldn’t be trusted in the most critical games of the year and was the primary factor in collapsing down the stretch of 2021.
There’s still a rough patch for the Colts to deal with. Going on the road to face Denver, Dallas, New England and Minnesota is notable. In total, they faced nine teams with 8.5 or more projected wins.
Alas, this schedule release could have been much worse for the Colts’ playoff hopes. Opening at Houston and Jacksonville should lead to at least a 2-1 start. They finish the year at the New York Giants and at home against the Texans.
They’ll also have four prime-time games.
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 drew a first-place schedule since they won the division last year.
The bad news is 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 on rookies Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis and Skyy Moore quite a bit, so the focus will be on young players to step in right away.
The Chiefs also play Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Tennessee and Indianapolis. They’re all projected to win 9.5 games. The only positive is they have home games against Tennessee, Los Angeles and Buffalo.
The three potential easy games are Houston, Seattle and Jacksonville. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will have earned it if they can once again win the AFC West.
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
After improving their roster by adding star receiver AJ Brown, pass-rusher Haason Reddick and a draft haul headlined by mammoth nose tackle Jordan Davis, the Eagles have just one question mark at quarterback. If Jalen Hurts is ready to be a franchise pass, the Eagles are a major sleeper in the NFC race. Their favorable schedule will also help Hurts reach his ceiling.
Getting the second-easiest schedule per win totals will take some pressure off Philadelphia from having to go all-out all season long. Away games against Chicago, Detroit and Houston should be wins on paper. Then factor in divisional games against Washington and New York, and it’s not hard to see a pathway to double-digit wins.
The hard games include home games against Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. However, only Green Bay can say it has a better overall roster than Philadelphia right now.
The three-week stretch from Nov. 20 through Dec. 4 includes a trip to Indianapolis and the home games against the Packers and Titans. Still, it’ll be hard for the Eagles to complain when their opponents’ 2021 win percentage was .464, 30th of all teams.
Tony Avelar/Associated Press
Loser: Green Bay Packers
Teams that are given the dreaded London trip always get 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 a road game at Washington after the Commanders enjoy a home game.
The next five weeks have several difficult battles as well. After Washington, Green Bay travels to Buffalo and then Detroit. That’s followed by a midafternoon home game against Dallas on Nov. 13 followed by hosting Tennessee on Thursday Night Football four nights later.
Their reward after Tennessee is a Sunday Night Football game at Philadelphia to close out 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 their bye week is rough. Green Bay is a highly talented team but will go through the gauntlet.