Seven NFL prime-time games that need to happen

With the 2022 NFL schedule set to be released, here are seven potential prime-time games worth keeping an eye out for.

One of the most anticipated moments of the NFL offseason is approaching: the full regular-season schedule release. Plotlines, key matchups, and star power are some of the biggest reasons why people love sports. The NFL has those elements in heavy supply, plus a gigantic audience. With that thought in mind, here are seven potential NFL prime-time games worth keeping an eye out for.

Possible NFL prime-time games

The 2022 NFL season will feature dozens of intriguing matchups, but there are a few that will stand above the rest. Which games should be featured in prime time this year?

Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills

What better way to kick off the season than a game between the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams — headlined by Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey — against the AFC East champion Bills, led by star quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and former Rams pass rusher Von Miller squaring off against his former teammates.

Of course, it’s a longtime NFL tradition for the Super Bowl winner to host the kickoff game. So, look for a good matchup at SoFi Stadium to launch the NFL season. The other candidates to face the Rams in a home game: the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks.

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans

Browns star quarterback Deshaun Watson would be at center stage in his return to NRG Stadium, where he began his NFL career as a Texans’ first-round draft pick and became a three-time Pro Bowl passer.

Watson was on the Texans’ roster in 2021 but didn’t play in any games after he requested a trade. This offseason, he was dealt to Cleveland and signed a $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

Whether Watson is ultimately on the field for this game remains undetermined. While he was not charged with a crime by two Texas grand juries after being accused of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, Watson remains under investigation by the NFL under its personal conduct policy. He is still facing 22 civil lawsuits.

Should Watson be on the field against his former team, this qualifies as a must-watch game. However, it wouldn’t be out of character from the league to shy away from featuring this game on prime-time television due to Watson’s legal issues.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

Who doesn’t like an epic rematch?

Patrick Mahomes against Josh Allen, two of the brightest stars in the NFL, could be a preview of the playoffs after Mahomes and the Chiefs beat the Bills when an overtime coin toss led to the NFL to alter its playoffs overtime rules.

This upcoming game at Arrowhead Stadium is a no-brainer for prime time. There really isn’t a better game, on paper, to put on television.

Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan against his protégé, Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins’ new head coach.

McDaniel is installing many of the 49ers’ offensive concepts he built and designed with Shanahan. It’s an intriguing coaching matchup against two of the brighter offensive minds in the game. McDaniel knows Shanahan and vice versa.

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks

Along with his new team, Russell Wilson will be back in Seattle after playing a decade for the Seahawks. The relationship reached a point where a trade made the most sense for all parties. What will it be like for Wilson to face his former team?

Wilson won a Super Bowl in Seattle and reached the playoffs eight times. There was a ton of success in the collaboration between Wilson and former coach Pete Carroll, but now they’re opponents.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

There’s a lot to prove in the AFC North, and the onus is on the Ravens after years of bullying the Bengals.

Now, the Bengals are riding high, having reached the Super Bowl and dominating the Ravens last season. Lamar Jackson returns from injuries for the Ravens and should make this a competitive matchup against Bengals standout quarterback Joe Burrow.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What would an NFL prime-time schedule be without the presence of Tom Brady after he ended his extremely short retirement? Even beyond Brady against Stafford, this is a cool rematch.

The Rams booted the Buccaneers out of the playoffs last year. Now, they face each other again after an exciting Divisional Round playoff game.

Aaron Wilson is the NFL Insider for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL.