Make those travel plans and circle those situational spots because the 2022 NFL schedule has been released. We already knew the opponents for each team based on division vs. division matchups, finishing order and the six games against division rivals, but now we have weeks and dates to assign to those games.
Schedule release day is a big one for football junkies, astute bettors and the sportsbooks. Season win total lines can be adjusted and sportsbooks can put out early lines for wagering on all 272 games from Week 1 through Week 18.
Here are five early lines that really stand out based on the spreads from DraftKings Sportsbook:
Week 1: Cleveland Browns (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers aren’t expected to do much this season, but the Browns could end up with a really high ceiling. Of course, we go into the upcoming campaign with no idea how long Deshaun Watson will be suspended or if he will even be suspended at all. The way Cleveland structured his new mega contract suggests that they believe a suspension is forthcoming. Are we going to see a Jacoby Brissett-led Browns bunch favored by more than a field goal in the season opener on the road?
How much is Watson worth to the line? Brissett is a capable backup quarterback and a guy that has a lot of starting experience. Watson hasn’t even played since 2020, so how much of an upgrade would he be? It seems like this line is priced under the presumption that Watson does play. Could we see the Panthers acquire Baker Mayfield from the Browns prior to Week 1? There is a lot going on with this game and the line is one of many interesting things about the matchup.
Week 2: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
The Monday Night Football game in Week 2 features the Vikings and Eagles, as we get our first primetime look at a Philadelphia squad generating a lot of buzz. Minnesota could also be in line for improvement, with Kevin O’Connell now in place of Mike Zimmer as the head coach. O’Connell was the offensive coordinator with the Rams, but now gets a chance to work with a really talented offense as the sideline boss. This is quite a start to the season after facing NFC North rival Green Bay in Week 1.
Anytime you get two teams with some buzz against each other early in the season, that is a line that will be monitored closely and a game that could have a lot of fireworks. Questions remain about Jalen Hurts, but with the addition of A.J. Brown and several other intriguing pieces, the Eagles are a team that could very well make a big push, as our own Matt Youmans wrote about recently.
Week 6: New York Jets at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
The bye following a London game is generally a given, but it is up to the team’s discretion as to whether or not they want to use that one coveted week off after coming back stateside. The Packers have opted not to do that this season, as they’ll play in London against the Giants in Week 5 and then head back to Lambeau Field to prepare for what should be a much-improved Jets team in Week 6.
This feels like the kind of spot when an inferior team can sneak up on a superior bunch, so this is a really interesting line. Perception is down a little bit on the Packers after losing Davante Adams and the Jets seem to be moving in the right direction for the first time in a while. The Packers sure seem like they would have been bigger favorites in the past, but this line is indicative of both the spot and the direction of each team.
Week 10: Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5)
This line was posted at DraftKings Sportsbook prior to schedule release day, but it still merits a mention now that we know what happens before and after the game for each team. Understandably, the Buccaneers are a massive favorite for the NFL’s first game in Munich, Germany against a Seahawks team expected to be one of the worst in the league this season. Seattle plays at home against the Giants prior to this long trip, but interestingly, the actual travel time for both teams is pretty similar. It is the time difference that could be more daunting for the Seahawks.
This had to be a bit of a tricky line to set. Obviously you have to wonder how invested a bad Seahawks team could possibly be in traveling all the way to Germany to likely lose to the Bucs. On the other hand, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations and a much bigger picture in mind, how invested will they be in this game? Doesn’t it feel like the Bucs would have been a touchdown or more favorite in Seattle anyway and closer to -14 at home? Given the power rating difference between the two teams, this line actually feels light.
Week 11: San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
The Week 11 finale between NFC West rivals might be a very important game. The lines for the 49ers could look significantly different when we get to game week as opposed to how they look now. The most important position on the field is a giant unknown for San Francisco, as Trey Lance takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo. It may take Lance a few weeks to get a grasp of the offense in NFL games that matter, or he could still be fighting it by the time this game takes place. Or, who knows, he could already be a star as the signal caller by this point.
The 49ers aren’t the only team that bettors will be cautious with in the lead-up to the season. The Cardinals have plenty of uncertainties of their own. They’ve made some coaching changes on offense, but kept Kliff Kingsbury around. They got Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and exercised the fifth-year option on Kyler Murray, but we’re still waiting to see if Murray gets his long-term deal. Where will things stand with these teams by Week 11? Only time will tell, but this line really seems to say a lot.