2022 NFL schedule winners and losers: Eagles get smooth start and ideal finish, Dolphins face brutal early gauntlet, and more

The NFL has released the 2022 regular-season schedule and some teams, including the Eagles and Browns, were set up better than others.

The wait is over. After slowly trickling out matchup announcements over the past two weeks, the NFL released its entire 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday night. As with anything in the NFL, there were clear winners and losers in the schedule announcement.

2022 NFL schedule winners and losers

The road to Super Bowl 57 will be paved with twists and turns for several teams as they look to make their way to a Lombardi Trophy. As with every season, some teams made out better than others on the schedule.

Winners

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles start the season on the road but face one of the presumed worst teams in the league in the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. From there, they have a home opener against the wild card Minnesota Vikings and face the Washington Commanders (a Carson Wentz reunion special) on the road. Then, they will square off with the Jacksonville Jaguars at home and battle the Arizona Cardinals without DeAndre Hopkins on the road.

There’s a very strong chance that Nick Sirianni and company can start 4-2 or 5-1 in their first six matchups.

The Eagles also have the ability to close out strong. After three consecutive road matchups against the New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia closes out with two home games, a battle against the New Orleans Saints, and a rematch with the Giants. The Eagles can improve their extra 2023 first-round pick against the Saints one week and potentially clinch the NFC East division title the next.

Cleveland Browns

While the possibility of a suspension still lingers for QB Deshaun Watson — due to his 22 civil suits stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct — the Browns are set up to succeed with or without their new franchise leader early on. Cleveland has drawn a fairly favorable early-season slate.

The Browns begin the campaign on the road against the seemingly directionless Carolina Panthers before hosting the New York Jets at home. From there, they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football and travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 4. All four of those games are winnable, even with Jacoby Brissett at QB.

The Browns then close out the season against three middling squads. They will host the Saints in Week 16 before finishing up on the road against the Commanders and the Steelers.

Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson’s new squad will benefit early on from his presence. The Broncos face a relatively advantageous first-half schedule, and Wilson will get plenty of rest before a big Monday Night Football matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

The Broncos will travel to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Week 1. From there, they’ll host the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts. All three of those teams are in weird spots with their QBs, and the Colts matchup, which takes place on Thursday Night Football, will earn the Broncos a mini-bye week before their crucial game against the Chargers on MNF.

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Following the showdown with LA, the Broncos can coast into their bye week with matchups against the Jets at home and the Jaguars in London.

While their second-half slate ends with two contests against the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 14 and 17), a faceoff against the Los Angeles Rams (Week 16), and a rematch with the Chargers (Week 18), the schedule is set up for the Broncos to get off to a fast start and then build momentum down the stretch — if they are true contenders.

Losers

Miami Dolphins

Yikes! The Mike McDaniel era didn’t get a kind introduction from the schedule-makers. Miami will face off against the Patriots (home), Ravens (away), Bills (home), Jets (away) Bengals (away), Vikings (home), and Steelers (home) in the first seven games.

While the Dolphins are vastly improved, especially on offense, they start their climb against a buzzsaw of 2021 playoff teams and potential 2022 contenders in the first three weeks. Like the Dolphins, the Vikings and Steelers are going through transition phases, so those games could be toss-ups.

The Dolphins also have a brutal December. They’ll face back-to-back road games out west against the 49ers (Week 13) and Chargers (Week 14) before traveling to Buffalo to face the Bills (Week 15) in a rematch. Then, they’ll need to host the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.

New York Jets

Like the AFC East rival Dolphins, the Jets have a murderer’s row setup to start the season. To begin the campaign, they face the gauntlet of the Ravens (home), Browns (away), Bengals (home), Steelers (away), Dolphins (home), Packers (away), Broncos (away), Patriots (home), and Bills (home) before their Week 10 bye. Every single one of those teams is expected to battle for a playoff spot this year.

Zach Wilson will have his hands full with weekly defensive nightmares and shootout challenges. While the Jets, like the Dolphins, are significantly improved on paper, this schedule projects to be a terrible early draw for Gang Green.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons aren’t expected to contend for a playoff berth this year, but their schedule adds another level of difficulty to their outlook. Presumed to have one of the worst rosters in the league, they are set to face nothing but bumps in the road to start Year 2 of the Arthur Smith era.

In Week 1, they’ll face off against the Saints at home, and while that might not seem like a daunting task, New Orleans is still significantly better — on paper — than the Falcons. From there, they face back-to-back West Coast battles against the Rams and Seahawks. After that two-week excursion, the Falcons will host the Browns — with or without Watson — who have a strong roster built around the QB spot.

Then, the Falcons will travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers and host the 49ers in Atlanta. They’ll then go back on the road to face the Bengals before hosting the Panthers and Chargers. Realistically, the first eight weeks of the season could lead to a 1-7 or 2-6 start for the franchise.

The Falcons also close out the season against four likely playoff contenders. They’ll face the Saints and Ravens back-to-back on the road before hosting the Cardinals and Buccaneers to close out the season. Hopefully, Arthur Blank has low expectations this year and craves the No. 1 overall pick.

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Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.