This is the final week for byes in 2022 and it’s a doozy. There are a full six teams on a bye, which leaves the Sunday slate a little light. Though we have fewer games, we still have some good ones. Below are the five games I’m most excited to see on the Sunday slate this week.
Sunday Early Games:
New York Jets (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)
About: Things broke right for the Bills in Week 13. They finally won a game in the AFC East, while the Dolphins and Chiefs lost. That puts the Bills back in front in the AFC. But to stay there, they need to keep winning inside a loaded division. When the Bills first met the Jets this season in New York, it was the Jets that got the win. Now, the Bills have a chance to even things up with a win at home. The Jets, meanwhile, moved to Mike White two weeks ago. While the team is just 1-1 since the move, the pass offense has gotten a big lift. If the young Jets want to make the playoffs, they need to keep winning. This one has a lot of big stakes in the AFC playoff picture.
Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Detroit Lions (5-7)
About: Believe it or not, but the 5-7 Lions aren’t yet out of the playoff race. The Lions’ offense seems to be kicking into gear at the right time, with Jamaal Williams running hard, Amon-Ra St. Brown doing his thing and Jameson Williams now active. The Vikings, meanwhile, lead the NFC North and are in a race for the NFC’s top seed. At 10-2, a win Sunday would lock up the division. There are plenty of high stakes when these two division rivals meet Sunday in Detroit. Expect some fun fireworks.
Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
About: The Ravens are tied atop the AFC North but it hasn’t been easy, especially on offense. The depleted offense took another blow Sunday when Lamar Jackson injured his knee. Jackson is very questionable for Sunday’s battle, which could mean another start for Tyler Huntley. The Ravens also need to keep winning to ensure their spot in the playoffs. The Steelers, meanwhile, are going through growing pains in 2022. But of late, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and this offense have begun to click. The Steelers are still below .500 but on a hot streak that could lead them to a respectable finish to the year. They’d also especially like to get a win against their division rival and hurt the Ravens’ playoff chances.
Sunday Late Games:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
About: This one has massive implications in the NFC. This is a battle of two division leaders who are jockeying for position, and even trying to secure the division. Both have dealt with major injuries that have hurt the team. The Buccaneers’ offensive line woes have led to a difficult season spent hovering below and around .500. The 49ers, meanwhile, went all in to make a Super Bowl run. Now, both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo have been lost for the season. That means Seventh Round pick Brock Purdy or journeyman Josh Johnson will have to carry the load at quarterback. This should be a fascinating battle in San Francisco.
Sunday Night Game:
Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
About: The NFL flexed this game into Prime Time to spare America another go around with the woeful Denver Broncos. This one is a better game, featuring two AFC teams that are on the hunt for a playoff berth. Both are coming off difficult and disappointing losses in Week 13. The Chargers slipped to 6-6 after a division loss to the Raiders. The Dolphins, meanwhile, saw a win streak snapped in San Francisco. Both are chasing teams in their division and need wins to stay in the playoff picture. That puts plenty of pressure on both teams as we get to Sunday night’s battle.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.