Thursday Night Football’s place as the ruiner of fantasy programming has been swept away by a decade of familiarity and the slow growth of 9am games broadcast live from Europe. Still, someone in your league is going to forget what day it is and leave a guy who’s benched 20+ points this fall. These are the games worth watching for offense, defense, or other intriguing scenarios.
Week 4: Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals
If Tua Tagovailoa is throwing underground wobblers at Tyreek Hill, this game could slide down a level.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 11, 2022
If, however, Miami’s offseason spending and head coaching change has in fact pushed this team over the hump, we’re looking at a playoff preview. The Dolphins are loaded with talent and need decisive wins to be taken seriously. The Bengals are defending AFC champions and have also used the 2022 offseason to shore up their weak spots. This game could be great or terrible, with both outcomes being equally likely.
Week 5: Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Two teams with new quarterbacks will try to crack the AFC’s ‘haves’ after a 2021 year with the ‘have-nots’. The Broncos still have to travel but have Russell Wilson behind center, which is a pretty good upgrade. The Colts won nine games last season and will now hand over the reins to Matt Ryan, who has been about average the past three seasons despite varying degrees of utility in Atlanta.
Denver has the highest ceiling. Indianapolis on the top floor. Both teams have legitimate playoff aspirations.
Week 7: New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Saints had a winning record last season despite leaving Trevor Siemian, Ian Book and Taysom Hill at quarterback. The Cardinals will welcome DeAndre Hopkins back to the roster after a six-game suspension from PED this week. Since this game takes place before Thanksgiving, it will come before Kliff Kingsbury’s annual death spiral. Factor in a weakened NFC, and you have very real stakes in the playoffs.
Week 13: Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
At first glance, this game belongs to the next level. Then you remember the Bills have beaten the Patriots by an aggregate score of 80-38 in the last two meetings between these teams. And then you factor in helpful off-season Buffalo additions (Von Miller, Kaiir Elam) and New England tiptoe through free agency and the confusing draft and it gets a little harder to be excited about this one.
Still, it’s an AFC East rivalry and Foxborough knows he can’t offer the Bills any more quarters. This game could be awesome. Or Buffalo could score again on seven straight possessions like it did when these two teams met in the playoffs. Whether or.
Week 14: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Raiders were a surprise playoff entrant last winter and were within distance of taking eventual champions AFC in overtime in the Wild Card Round. It may not have been sustainable, so Vegas added Davante Adams to an offense now led by former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with defensive free agents Chandler Jones and Anthony Averett.
Will this be enough to build on 2021? The hallmark of this team was its ability to be good, but rarely excellent. The Rams, who hope to have cleared a path to the top of the NFC West at this point, are a perfect testing ground for a Raider team with playoff aspirations.