The Los Angeles Rams are running it back for 2022, and now they know their path to a second straight Super Bowl title.
The NFL rolled out the full schedule for all 32 teams for the upcoming season.
The campaign will get underway Thursday, September 8 with the Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.
All roads lead to State Farm Stadium for Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12.
Thursday, September 8: 2022 season opener
Sunday, September 11: Kickoff weekend
February 12, 2023: Super Bowl LVII (State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
Division to Watch: AFC West
Here are the starting quarterbacks in the AFC West: Derek Carr, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
The quarterback position has never been more important than it is now, and the presence of Mahomes has forced the Kansas City Chiefs' division rivals to collectively raise their level. Maybe the Denver Broncos still trade for Wilson even if they don't have to worry about playing Mahomes twice a year, but it's easy to tie the two things together.
The high QB standard across the AFC West has had a corresponding effect on how teams have approached their pass rush. The Broncos (Randy Gregory), Las Vegas Raiders (Chandler Jones) and Los Angeles Chargers (Khalil Mack) all made notable additions to their front seven.
Once the season begins, the Chiefs will likely be the favorites to win the division, but any of the other three teams could plausibly claim the AFC West crown.
Herbert set NFL records for the most passing yards (9,350) and passing touchdowns (69) through the first two years of a career, per Stathead. The Chargers supplemented their defense by signing J.C. Jackson and acquiring Mack from the Chicago Bears.
The Broncos got Wilson, Gregory and D.J. Jones to build further on what was a solid foundation.
The Raiders signed Jones to pair with Maxx Crosby and then shocked the NFL by trading for Davante Adams and giving him what was at the time the biggest contract ever for a wide receiver.
Every game between AFC West teams is basically appointment viewing for fans.
Most Anticipated Matchup: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
As things stand now, the balance of power seems to rest firmly in the AFC. Even San Francisco 49ers star Deebo Samuel couldn't refrain from commenting on how the NFC watched a lot of talent leave:
But somebody still has to represent the conference in the Super Bowl, and the battle might come down to the Rams and Green Bay Packers.
In Green Bay, the excitement generated by the return of Aaron Rodgers, who agreed to a three-year, $150 million extension, was offset by the news of the Adams trade. The Packers went from employing one of the NFL's best receivers to potentially having Allen Lazard as their No. 1 wideout.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Rodgers didn't expect Adams to return for this coming season, though, when he was working on a new deal with Green Bay. The front office may have already mapped out how it intends to bolster its passing game.
And for all of the justified concerns about the Adams trade, the Packers still re-signed De'Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas. They shouldn't be falling off a cliff.
Likewise, the defending champion Rams won't be going anywhere despite losing Von Miller to free agency and Andrew Whitworth to retirement. They signed Bobby Wagner to address Miller's departure.
Taking a quick look around the NFC, every other serious contender has at least one major question mark.
The San Francisco 49ers are entrusting Trey Lance, who threw 71 passes as a rookie, with the offense. The Arizona Cardinals melted down in the second halves of 2020 and 2021. At some point, Tom Brady surely has to hit a wall, right? And the Dallas Cowboys are, well, the Cowboys.
When the Rams make the trip to Lambeau Field, it could be a preview of the NFC title game.