NFL 2022 Schedule: Stay tuned!This is the beginning of a major broadcast change

The Rams and Chargers took center stage.

So did Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

The NFL is trying several experiments, including an unprecedented three-game winning streak on Christmas.

Highlights, wrinkles and easter eggs from the league’s 2022 schedule:

In terms of viewers, two of NBC’s biggest games of last season involved Tom Brady. There’s a kickoff game (Dallas at Tampa Bay) and Brady returns to New England in Week 4. Both are blockbusters.

So this season, the NFL is back with a double dose of Brady. It’s Week 1 again for the Cowboys-Buccaneers, and — though nothing beats Bill Belichick — an early-season matchup between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. That might be the last time Patrick Mahomes and Brady will meet.

This season, the entire country will get a good look at both Los Angeles teams.

The Rams have been in the national spotlight with home games including games against Buffalo (kickoff), Las Vegas (Thursday night), Denver (Christmas) and a double-header between Dallas and San Francisco at Fox National window.

See how far the charger has come. It’s been a long time since they were sold out in prime time, but they played in the first Amazon streaming game on two Sunday nights, two Monday nights and Thursday night.

Quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers will play in a maximum of five prime-time games allowed this season.

(Gina Ferrazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Rams and Chargers in final game Scheduled Sunday night games of the season. Remember, the Sunday night finale for Week 18 is yet to be determined. But it’s worth noting that the league gave them this marquee spot.

If Allen isn’t the next face of the NFL, at least the Buffalo quarterback is in the discussion.

The Bills’ first kickoff game, and they’re back in your living room on Thanksgiving, this time in Detroit. That’s largely because of Allen’s budding superstardom. He led Buffalo to a Thanksgiving victory over Dallas three years ago in what has been the most watched game of the season.

Not only that, but he also played in the first ABC/ESPN side-by-side game. More on that below.

Okay, what is this side-by-side thing?

In Week 2 of Monday Night Football, Tennessee plays Buffalo at 4:15pm on ESPN, then Minnesota at Philadelphia at 5:30pm on ABC.

That’s right, ABC is back in the game. It’s an experiment by the NFL, putting games side by side under the Disney banner.

The rationale is to try to preserve ABC’s relationship with the NFL. This year the network will be broadcasting four ESPN games simultaneously and one game in isolation.

It’s an experiment with an eye toward 2023, when there will be three side-by-side ABC/ESPN games.

Remember those years when ESPN started the season with a “Monday Night Football” double-header game, the first at 4 and the second at 7:15? Well, things weren’t quite as smooth on the East Coast when Game 2 ended around 1am.

With this side-by-side system, instead of six hours of football, it will be closer to 4½. Viewers can watch the first 90 minutes of the early game, then there is an overlap, and then the end of the second game. That way, no one will go to sleep with an alarm clock the next morning.

Denver is a strong candidate against the Rams. That’s exactly the kind of juice that Russell Wilson brings.

Instead, the NFL chose the Broncos to start in Seattle, while Wilson returned to face the Seahawks.

For Seattle Seahawks fans, it would be odd to see Russell Wilson wearing Denver Broncos colors at their stadium.

(David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

Why so fast? Most expected the Seahawks to take a step back this season. While everyone’s hopes are still intact, it’s best to get Wilson’s game in as soon as possible.

When we heard the word “cross-flex” before, it always meant that the league was taking a good game from Fox and handing it over to CBS to back up the network’s inventory. Last year, for example, CBS acquired Chicago at Tampa Bay, Seattle at Green Bay and Dallas at Chargers.

Part of that is to balance the Fox and CBS packages, and part of it is to get some sunshine for some Fox games that may be under-distributed across the country.

Once again, CBS has a big game coming up this season, or Fox’s Rams game in Tampa Bay. But this year has also turned around. CBS is showing Fox: Kansas City a big game for the first time in San Francisco.

One of the reasons is that CBS has a ton of really good games. The AFC is full of good young quarterbacks.

When the new media deal kicks off next season, there’s going to be a big change. The whole concept of the visiting team deciding the TV network disappeared. So no, AFC is on the road, so it’s a CBS game; NFC is on the road, so it’s a Fox game.

Next season, every game is free agency, a jump ball. No commitment, no obligation. The idea that this game belongs to CBS or Fox is outdated.

Now, on the back end, the league will distribute at least a minimal number of matches to the network. So Fox is still going to get more NFC games, more Cowboy appearances, but the old concept of game ownership is over.

Why change? Going forward, the league is moving away from the notion that Fox has premium packages and CBS has fewer. Now, both networks will have to pay similar royalties, some between astronomical and otherworldly.

Fox is gearing up for the biggest four-day game in sports television history, starting with the New York Giants in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Sure, the Giants aren’t what they once were, but it was a classic game with a distinct John Madden-Pat Summerall feel.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott pointed to the warm-up ahead of the 2021 game.

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have always been a good TV show.

(Michael Ainsworth/The Associated Press)

The next day, on Black Friday, Fox will play the United States and England in the World Cup.

The network will be in Ohio with Michigan that Saturday.

There will be an NFL doubles game on Sunday featuring the Rams in Kansas City.

Can Fox reach 30 million daily viewers?

The NFL Network schedule includes a Christmas Eve game between Las Vegas and Pittsburgh.

Imagine the Raiders-Steelers 50 years plus one day after the legendary Immaculate Reception competition.

It’s odd that this is a standings-based game, so the NFL doesn’t know it’s going to happen until the final game of the season.

The Raiders faced the Chargers in their final game Sunday night and finished second in the AFC West. The Steelers finished second in the AFC North.

Now, four days before the one-year anniversary of the sport’s loss of Madden, a perfect rematch.

The NFL is hosting its first Christmas three-game winning streak, Green Bay in Miami, Denver in the Rams and Tampa Bay in Arizona.

Those road quarterbacks were Aaron Rodgers, Wilson and Brady.

Remember this: Christmas is on a Monday next year. You can believe the NFL is planning another three-game winning streak in 2023.


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