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Awkward reunions, like Deshaun Watson vs. Texans, highlight 2022 NFL season’s best grudge matches

Awkward reunions, like Deshaun Watson vs. Texans, highlight 2022 NFL season’s best grudge matches


The NFL released its full 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday evening with no shortage of intriguing matchups.

Current playoff sport rematches and star-studded quarterback faceoffs — Patrick Mahomes vs. 45-year-old Tom Brady, anybody? — pack drama into the 18 regular-season weeks. So do some, effectively, fascinating reunions of gamers, coaches and former groups on this unprecedented period of blockbuster NFL trades. New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, for instance, received’t wait lengthy earlier than the league sends him to play against his former team, the Seahawks.

Whether or not you’re dialed into draft-day dilemmas, free-agency frenzies, postseason rules or just the league’s most fun stars, USA TODAY Sports ranked the top-10 most alluring grudge matches of the 2022 season.

Behold, NFL followers’ road-to-revenge information:

10. Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders

Week 10, Nov. 13 at 4:05 p.m., CBS

Josh McDaniels takes the Raiders head submit after 10 seasons as New England Patriots offensive coordinator. However it was the Indianapolis Colts, simply 4 years prior, who thought McDaniels was coming to information their franchise. As a substitute, McDaniels withdrew from an settlement to educate Indy, leaving the Colts “shocked and disillusioned,” the staff mentioned in a press release on the time. McDaniels has confronted off in opposition to the Colts and head coach Frank Reich — whom they employed from Philadelphia after McDaniels backed out — twice as offensive coordinator since. However internet hosting the Colts for the primary time calling the pictures takes on a brand new stage of gravity. The Vegas glitz will likely be a becoming background for a drama-laden present.

9. Kansas Metropolis Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 16, Dec. 4 at 4:25 p.m., CBS

The Bengals’ extra time win at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC championship featured pleasure from every staff that declared: The rivalry between Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes’ squads is simply starting. The Chiefs’ first half was stellar earlier than their assault steadily unraveled to permit 21 unanswered second-half factors adopted by a scoring drive off a Mahomes interception in extra time. Will the Bengals’ zero-to-100 squad take the following step to win a Tremendous Bowl in Burrow’s third season because the Chiefs did in Yr 3 of Mahomes? Or will Mahomes, with new offensive challenges sans receiver Tyreek Hill, rise to the event to point out Burrow and Co. he’s not performed operating the convention but? Maintain an eye fixed throughout this matchup on Bengals stud kicker Evan McPherson, who was 4-of-4 on area aim makes an attempt, together with a 52-yarder, within the Bengals’ convention championship victory at Kansas Metropolis.

8. Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 9, Nov. 6, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

Since Tom Brady bolted to the NFC two years in the past, he has but to defeat the defending Tremendous Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. The Rams triumphed 34-24 the primary time Brady the Bucs confronted them. Much more memorably, the Rams knocked the Buccaneers out of last season’s playoffs — regardless of the Bucs scoring 24 unanswered factors within the second half, together with on a 55-yard landing from the 15-time Professional Bowler, to tie the sport within the ultimate minute. The Rams’ championship, and Brady’s brief retirement, adopted briefly order. Now, Brady will once more have to chase away a protection with stars like defensive deal with Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Matthew Stafford might want to defend Los Angeles’ assault from the second-half collapse that nearly proved deadly in January. Don’t be shocked if this Week 9 matchup is a preview of NFC postseason play.

7. Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

Week 13, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m., CBS

The Texans awarded Deshaun Watson a four-year, $160 million contract in September 2020 just for Watson to … demand a commerce after one season, annoyed with franchise administration choices together with participant trades and entrance workplace hires. Watson sat out everything of 2021 whereas ready for a commerce, legal battles also ongoing as 22 ladies accused him of impropriety throughout therapeutic massage periods. The franchise managed simply 4 wins final season with out its quarterback, and Watson’s frustration festered as commerce talks stalled. Will Watson, who led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards his final lively season, remind the Texans of the caliber of expertise they misplaced when he arrives again in Houston rocking Browns gear and a $230 million fully-guaranteed deal? Or will the Texans parlay a rising assortment of expertise they acquired because of his commerce haul to frustrate Watson but once more? A couple of groups might have bones to choose with Watson this season, together with the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. Watson’s hometown staff thought it had closed the deal to accumulate the proficient 26-year-old and as an alternative now carries $40 million in useless cash after trading former QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons have motive to wish to spite Watson, although maybe not sufficient expertise.

6. Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

Week 12, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. on CBS

Any playoff loss hurts. However the AFC’s top-seeded Titans suffered acute sting when rookie kicker Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard area aim as time expired to bounce Tennessee in the divisional round. Rely quarterback Ryan Tannehill among the many most pained, his three-interception playoff exit sending him to a “dark place” with a “deep scar,” the quarterback informed reporters this month. Tannehill mentioned he struggled to sleep earlier than working by means of the ache through strategies together with remedy. Tannehill and Co. may have one other likelihood to exorcise demons — with a more healthy operating again Derrick Henry this time, they hope — when the Bengals return to Nissan Stadium.

5. Kansas Metropolis Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 4, Oct. 2 8:20 p.m. SNF on NBC

Any matchup of quarterback GOATs like Mahomes and Brady is must-see TV, because the schedulers duly famous when awarding “Sunday Night time Soccer” billing. Add within the groups’ first faceoff because the Buccaneers’ 31-9 trouncing in Super Bowl 55, and the stakes solely rise. Will the Chiefs’ offensive line proceed the assist that it has given Mahomes since that two-interception, three-sack Tremendous Bowl efficiency have the option to chase away Tampa’s nasty move rushers? Will Brady’s offense, with out Bruce Arians on the helm anymore, be jelling by Week 4 after the 44-year-old (he’ll be an informal 45 earlier than kickoff) emerged from a brief retirement with what he mentioned was the hearth to nonetheless compete? Losses of Arians on Tampa’s sideline and receiver Tyreek Hill for Kansas Metropolis tweak the revenge dynamic maybe barely. However the alternative to look at convention title contenders face off for what might very effectively be the final time in Brady’s profession greater than restores any luster misplaced.

4. Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles

Week 10, Nov. 14 8:15 p.m. MNF on ESPN

Positive, this may technically be Wentz’s second NFC East sport in opposition to the Eagles, who journey Sept. 25 to play Wentz’s new squad at Washington. However Wentz’s nationally televised first journey again to the Linc — with its rowdy, egg-throwing fan base — is certain to convey drama. Will the Eagles have selected Wentz successor Jalen Damage’s long-term potential by then? Will Wentz have settled into the Commanders’ offense and located a greater rhythm than his 2021 Colts marketing campaign that ended with an interception-and-fumble efficiency in a loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars? Philadelphia followers aren’t shy once they have one thing to say, and Wentz’s return to Eagles territory ought to show no exception.

3. Dallas Cowboys at Inexperienced Bay Packers

Week 10, Nov. 13, 4:25 p.m. on Fox

Some NFL followers may be sufficiently old to recollect when Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl collectively following the 2010 season. However relationship between coach and quarterback strained mightily within the years that adopted, and Rodgers has proven no scarcity of capability to levy a grudge. For the primary time since he was fired Dec. 2, 2018, McCarthy will return to Lambeau Discipline. Will Rodgers be deep right into a protection of his MVP marketing campaign by then, or will McCarthy’s third Cowboys yr be rounding into high type to play their finest soccer in November and December, as McCarthy usually advises? Rodgers has received six of his final seven contests in opposition to the Cowboys, although an upstart 2016 Cowboys staff with then-rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott received the final matchup at Lambeau Discipline. Can Dak and Zeke stay unbeaten in Inexperienced Bay, McCarthy leveraging 13 years’ price of inside information to beat Rodgers? Or will Rodgers’ already-MVP sport burn even brighter in opposition to his former coach?

2. Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Week 1, Sept. 12, 8:15 p.m. MNF on ESPN

Your eyes don’t deceive you in case you assume you see Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson opening his season in Seattle. Even the NFL couldn’t wait to see the nine-time Professional Bowl passer return to face the franchise he received a Tremendous Bowl with — the one franchise, till this very sport, that Wilson may have performed for throughout his decade as a professional. Wilson and the Seahawks’ front office spun conflicting narratives concerning the divorce, and the Seahawks’ public statements that Wilson wished to depart seemingly solely fuels the quarterback extra. Will Wilson thump his maiden staff to kick off his marketing campaign to turn into the league’s subsequent perennial Professional Bowler to win a Tremendous Bowl in Act 2 in Denver? Or will Pete Carroll and Seattle’s seeming rebuild materialize far faster than a fanbase searching for a quarterback to adore expects? The Week 1 nationwide billing is due.

1. Buffalo Payments at Kansas Metropolis Chiefs

Week 6, Oct. 16 4:25 p.m. on CBS

The Payments had the Chiefs proper the place they wished them with 13 seconds to play in regulation of the AFC divisional sport. Josh Allen had simply discovered Gabriel Davis for the receiver’s fourth landing of the day, Buffalo taking a three-point lead with 13 seconds to play at Arrowhead Stadium. However one way or the other, a way, Mahomes moved magic downfield to ship the sport to extra time. Kansas Metropolis received the coin toss, Mahomes discovered Travis Kelce for a landing on the primary drive, and a talented Bills team’s season ended abruptly. The confluence of occasions prompted a lot outcry over NFL extra time guidelines that the league has since changed protocol to permit every staff an extra time possession within the postseason and hopefully keep away from stars like Allen being topic to the whim of a coin. However regular-season extra time guidelines stay the identical, so Allen and Co. finest mount their lead in regulation throughout Week 6. The matchup of two proficient AFC quarterback stalwarts guarantees leisure, additional intrigue warranted by the Payments’ addition of move rusher Von Miller to torment quarterbacks like Mahomes, who may also be competing with out speedy wideout Tyreek Hill for the primary marketing campaign of his profession. Maybe the 2022 rematch received’t attain classic status like Kansas City’s 42-36 win in January, however well-constructed and well-coached rosters nonetheless provide a tantalizing matchup.

Honorable mentions

Eagles receiver A.J. Brown faces the Titans squad that traded him on draft weekend throughout a Week 13 matchup in Philadelphia. … Saints coach Dennis Allen hosts the Raiders, whom he coached from 2012-14, Week 8 on Oct. 30. … Top 2022 draft pick Travon Walker’s Jaguars journey to the Detroit Lions and No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson in Week 13, Dec. 4. … The 2021 high two draft picks, quarterbacks fairly than the 2022 defenders, additionally face off once more: No. 1 choose Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars go to the New York Jets and Zach Wilson on Thursday, Dec. 22 for a Week 16 sport broadcast solely on Amazon Prime. … Brady’s Bucs might have beat the Saints when it mattered most, within the playoffs en path to their Tremendous Bowl LV victory. However he’s 0-4 within the division in opposition to New Orleans, with probabilities to treatment that blemish Week 2 in New Orleans and Week 13 — on “Monday Night time Soccer” — in Tampa.

Observe USA TODAY Sports activities’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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