2021 record: 9-8
2021 record: 12-5
Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8:15 pm ET on Prime Video
I think the Chargers are the best team in a power-loaded AFC West. It sounds good when I say this on radio or TV, but I’ll look foolish if the Bolts don’t come to play in Week 2 at Kansas City.
Now, the Chargers did hand the Chiefs a loss in Arrowhead last September, with Justin Herbert throwing four touchdown passes, including the game-winner in the final minute of play. Then the two teams played an instant classic on Thursday Night Footballwith Patrick Mahomes and Co. prevailing in overtime, leaving Brandon Staley to answer questions about some controversial fourth-down decisions.
Mahomes vs. Herbert is going to be special for a long time. And I cannot wait to see the Chargers’ revamped defense, with JC Jackson and Khalil Mack joining Derwin James and Joey Bosa. Will Mahomes remain his dominant self — especially when he comes to blowing the top off the defense — without Tyreek Hill?
Kansas City Chiefs
AFC WEST CHAMPIONS
WinTotal: over 10.5 (-130)
Make Playoffs: -240
Win Division: +160
Win Conference: +500
Win super-bowl: +900
Kansas City made a lot of changes this offseason, from revamping the receiving corps to adding new faces in the secondary. Steve Spagnuolo-led defenses have historically taken up to four games together as a unit before settling into their identity. While the Chiefs benefit from opening their season against a Cardinals team without DeAndre Hopkins, their next six games before the Week 8 bye will be grueling. They’ll need to make the most of the preseason and Week 1 to get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible.
Week 12: Rams at Chiefs
This is one of the most stacked weeks of the season, with awesome games throughout the weekend. This one is at the top of the list, though, because it features the best offensive and defensive players in the NFL, as well as two of the league’s best coaches and many more stars on both sides of the ball.
Arizona will open the season at home for the 10th time since beginning play at State Farm Stadium in 2006. In 18 seasons at Sun Devil Stadium the Cardinals never played at home in Week 1.
The Cardinals will enter the game against the Chiefs with an 11-5 record in home-openers at State Farm Stadium.
Arizona has never lost a regular season opener under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, posting a 2-0-1 record in his first three seasons. The Cardinals have won each of their last two season openers, downing the defending NFC champion 49ers 24-20 in 2020 and defeating the defending AFC South champion Titans 38-13 last season.
Combined with their Week 1 victory at Tennessee in 2021, this will mark the first time since 1996-97 (Colts and Bengals) the Cardinals open consecutive seasons against opponents from the AFC.
Week 1: did Chicago BearsTBD
Week 2: vs. Washington Commanders, TBD
Week 3: vs. Green Bay PackersTBD
Around the NFL
The NFL will open its 2022 season where the final game of last season kicked off — in SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, as the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8, the teams announced on Thursday.
The Bills-Rams matchup features elite quarterback play between Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen, who has guided the Bills to back-to-back playoff appearances. This game highlights a challenging schedule for the Rams, whose opponents have the league’s highest winning percentage from last season (56.7%). NBC will broadcast the game.
The Monday Night Football opener offers an intriguing storyline — Russell Wilson making his Denver Broncos debut against his old team, the Seattle Seahawks, in Lumen Field. Wilson guided the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances and nine winning seasons over 10 years. Seattle traded Wilson to Denver in March for multiple draft picks and veteran players. The game airs Sept. 12 on ESPN.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chiefs—Week 10
For the third consecutive year, the Jaguars selected two players in the first round of the NFL Draft. The theory is that teams at the bottom of the standings get access to better players in the draft, so they have a chance to improve with an infusion of talent.
But that’s just a theory. Since 2008, Jacksonville has eclipsed .500 just ounces. Will first overall pick Travon Walker — along with linebacker Devin Lloyd, who was taken at 20 — finally help turn things around?
With quarterback Trevor Lawrence (and head coach Doug Pederson), it’s always possible. But I wouldn’t call it likely.