By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
To the Super Bowl winner goes the spoils of opening the entire schedule at home.
So the Los Angeles Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, Sept. 8, to begin the 2022 season.
It’s a juicy matchup of the team generally considered the title favorite by oddsmakers in the Bills traveling to SoFi Stadium, where the Rams won the championship over Cincinnati in February.
The Bengals are home to their division rivals, the Steelers, on Sunday, Sept. 11 when all but two other teams get started. Those two clubs playing on Monday night also offer an enticing storyline: Russell Wilson bringing his Broncos to Seattle. The Seahawks traded their longtime quarterback to Denver in the offseason.
Sunday’s prime-time game features Tom Brady — unless he retires again before September — and the Buccaneers at Dallas. Brady’s decision to unretire after a short hiatus forced NFL schedule makers to scramble and redo some of the game slots.
The rest of the opening Sunday has some eye-opening matches, such as Jacksonville, with new coach Doug Pederson, at Washington, with new quarterback Carson Wentz. Pederson coached Wentz in Philadelphia and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, although Nick Foles was behind center with Wentz injured.
Several key division matchups are on tap for Sept. 11: New Orleans at Atlanta, Indianapolis at Houston, New England at Miami, Las Vegas at the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay at Minnesota.
“Expecting to have an unbelievable crowd there,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell told the Vikings’ website. “I’ve talked a lot about being on that visitor’s sideline, so I know what the Packers will be in store for on opening weekend. I expect to see a stadium full of purple. It’s a great opportunity for us and a challenge.
“What a way to start your season — a challenge but also a great way to kick-start what is hopefully going to be a great 2022.”
Also, it will be Cleveland at Carolina, San Francisco at Chicago, Philadelphia at Detroit, Baltimore at the New York Jets, Kansas City at Arizona, and the New York Giants at Tennessee.
Teams that will open on the road and will be home in Week 2 include Kansas City hosting the Chargers in the first Amazon Prime Video game on Thursday night. Also, it will be Miami at Baltimore, the New York Jets at Cleveland, Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Carolina at the New York Giants, New England at Pittsburgh, Seattle at San Francisco, Houston at Denver, Arizona at Las Vegas, Chicago at Green Bay at night, Tennessee at Buffalo on Monday night, followed by Minnesota at Philadelphia.
Finally playing at home in Week 3 will be Indianapolis against Kansas City, Minnesota against Detroit, New England vs. Baltimore, and Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay, with Brady facing Aaron Rodgers.
The remainder of the entire schedule will be released later Thursday evening.
Previously revealed was that one of the Christmas Day tripleheader games, Denver at the Rams, will be televised by Nickelodeon as well as CBS. Slime, anyone?
Another twist will have that doubleheader on the second Monday night of the schedule — with an overlap. On Sept. 19, the Titans at Buffalo starts 7:15 p.m. EDT. At 8:30 p.m., Minnesota takes on the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Previously announced were the international games:
—Nov. 13, the first regular-season NFL game in Germany, Tampa Bay vs. Seattle in Munich.
—Oct. 9, Green Bay becomes the final team to play in Europe, facing the Giants at the home of Premier League soccer team Tottenham in London. The previous week, Minnesota plays New Orleans there.
—Oct. 30, Wembley Stadium will host the Broncos against the Jaguars.
—Nov. 21, San Francisco and Arizona at Mexico City.
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