Monday, May 23, 2022

2022 NFL schedule release: Browns opponents, previews, full list of teams on regular-season schedule

The big waves of free agency are over. The draft is complete. Now, all eyes are on the upcoming NFL season. Few teams made more headlines this offseason than the Cleveland Browns, who traded a king’s ransom to the Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns are hoping that Watson can eventually lead Cleveland to the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth. 

Cleveland’s roster is comprised of some of the league’s best players. Along with Watson, the Browns’ roster includes All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward, three-time Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, fellow former Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt, and former Cowboys Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper. The Browns are hoping to make a return trip to the postseason after finishing with a disappointing 8-9 record in 2021. 

First, they’ll have to make it through their 2022 opponents. Below, find a complete look at the teams set to square off with Cleveland this year, as well as a rundown of their 18-week regular-season schedule (once announced):

2022 opponents

Baltimore Ravens: Besieged by injuries, the Ravens started 8-3 last season before losing their final six games. The Ravens made waves during the draft after trading receiver Marquise Brown to the Cardinals. The move was a surprise for Lamar Jackson, who is 1-2 against Pittsburgh as Baltimore’s starting quarterback. 

Cincinnati Bengals: The Browns’ best performance last season came against the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 9. Denzel Ward’s 99-yard pick-six and Nick Chubb’s 70-yard touchdown keyed Cleveland’s 41-16 win. Cleveland capped off the 2021 season with another win over the Bengals, who sat several key players that included quarterback Joe Burrow. The reigning AFC champions should be a formidable foe once again in 2022 with the offseason additions of offensive lineman Alex Cappa, La’el Collins and Ted Karras

Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh swept the season series in 2021 after Cleveland upset them in the wild card round of the 2020 playoffs. The Steelers’ offense will look vastly different this season with Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement and the offseason acquisitions of Mitchell Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh’s offense will continue to feature running back Najee Harris, who ran for 279 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ wins over the Browns last season. 

New England Patriots: The Browns will look to avenge their 45-7 thumping at the hands of the Patriots last season. Cleveland’s defense will have to do a better job this time around against New England quarterback Mac Jones, who threw three touchdown passes before leaving the game early. Cleveland’s lone bright spot that day was running back D’Ernest Johnson, who ran for 99 yards on 19 carries in a losing effort. 

New Orleans Saints: New Orleans is a vastly different team than the one that edged the Browns in a 21-18 game in 2018. Dennis Allen has succeeded Sean Payton as the team’s head coach. Jameis Winston has replaced Drew Brees as New Orleans’ starting quarterback. The Saints do still have running back Alvin Kamara, receiver Michael Thomas, and defensive end Cameron Jordan. New Orleans missed the playoffs in 2021 despite posting a 9-8 record. 

New York Jets: The Jets have undergone massive personnel changes this offseason. New York is expected to start several members of their highly-touted rookie class that includes receiver Garrett Wilson, cornerback Ahmad Gardner, defensive end Jermaine Johnson II, and running back Breece Hall. New York’s roster also includes several former Bengals in defensive end Carl Lawson and tight end C.J. Uzomah

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Browns will face Tom Brady for the first time since he signed with Tampa Bay in 2020. Cleveland’s defense will have to be up to the task against a Tampa Bay offense that features Brady, receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and running back Leonard Fournette. This game will likely come down to which team can better protect their quarterback. 

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons acquired veteran and rookie quarterbacks this offseason. Atlanta signed former Titans starter Marcus Mariota, then used a third-round pick to select former Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder. The Falcons used their first-round pick to select Drake London, a 6-foot-5 receiver who the Steelers will undoubtedly focus on when the two teams face off this season. 

Buffalo Bills: Led by quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs, the Bills raced to the divisional round last season before suffering another playoff loss in Kansas City. While they dominated subpar passers, the Bills’ pass defense struggled against elite quarterbacks in 2021. Part of that was due to the loss of Tre’Davious White, who this season will be flanked in the lineup by rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam following Levi Wallace’s offseason departure to Pittsburgh. 

Carolina Panthers: Many thought the Panthers would use the No. 6 overall pick to select Pickett, who ultimately landed in Pittsburgh. Carolina instead used a third-round pick to select former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. For now, the Panthers’ starting quarterback is Sam Darnold, who defeated the Steelers in his first start against Pittsburgh in Week 16 of the 2019 season. 

Miami Dolphins: The jury is still out on Tua Tagovailoa, who won 13 of his 21 starts during his first two seasons in Miami. The Dolphins are hoping that the arrival of new coach Mike McDaniel and former Chiefs All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill can help propel Tagovailoa’s game to the next level. 

Houston Texans: Watson will face his former teammates for the first time. Instead of replacing Watson with a seasoned veteran or a fresh-faced rookie, the Texans have instead moved forward with Davis Mills, who completed nearly 67% of his passes in 13 games last season. Houston’s starting lineup is expected to include four rookies in offensive lineman Kenyon Green, receiver John Metchie III, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and safety Jalen Pitre

Washington Commanders: The Browns will face a Washington team that has undergone personnel changes following last year’s disappointing season. Washington acquired former Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Wentz, who went 9-8 as the Colts‘ starting quarterback in 2021. Washington is hoping that the additions of rookie receiving Jahan Dotson and running back Brian Robinson Jr. can complement a defense that is led by pass rusher Chase Young and defensive lineman Montez Sweat

Los Angeles Chargers: A rematch of the two teams’ high-scoring matchup in Week 5 of the 2021 season. While the Browns’ offense generated 42 points, their defense surrendered 47 points to the Chargers and quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target that day was receiver Mike Williams, who pulled down eight passes for 165 yards and two scores. Needless to say, the Browns’ defense will look try to fare better in this matchup. 

Full 2022 schedule

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