There is a new meaning of “West Coast Bias.”
The NFL schedule aligns just right in 2022 so that each of the four teams in the AFC West – maybe the NFL’s best-ever quarterback division – not only face each of their three rivals twice but also cross over with three Super Bowl contenders residing in the NFC West.
All of those games could be called “can’t-miss,” but there are other intriguing games among the 272 announced Thursday when the NFL released its schedule. Here are The Post’s 10 must-see games, spreading the wealth for a chance to follow as many contenders and key storylines as possible:
Bills at Rams, Week 1
A possible Super Bowl preview with a twist. Remember when it was inevitable that future Hall of Famer Von Miller would re-sign with the Rams after winning a Super Bowl ring? Well, the Bills swooped in with a six-year, $ 120 million contract to lure Miller and his 10.5 career playoff sacks (second among active players) to be the finishing piece to a contender.
Broncos at Seahawks, Week 1
QB Homecoming Game I should include ovations showered on nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, who brought the first Super Bowl title to Seattle and kept the divorce from getting ugly even if he didn’t see eye-to-eye with coach Pete Carroll on play-calling.
As the Seahawks started a rebuild, he was traded to the win-now Broncos for a package including likely opposing starter Drew Lock.
Packers at Buccaneers, Week 3
How many more Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady matchups will fans get? They were cheated out of one in the playoffs last season and almost lost them forever during Brady’s month-long retirement.
The Packers have claimed the only bye in the NFC playoffs each of the last two years, but the Buccaneers play in the softest division now, so the winner of this game could emerge as the Rams ’primary challenger.
Jaguars at Eagles, Week 4
What better time to check in on surprise No. 1 overall draft pick Travon Walker and all the free agents who went into the Jaguars’ $ 265 million spending spree than at the same time coach Doug Pederson makes his return to Philadelphia? There’s a statue of Pederson, who coached the Eagles to win in Super Bowl LII but was fired three years later, outside Lincoln Financial Field.
Bills at Chiefs, Week 6
A rematch of “The Game of the Century” so far. The last two minutes of their Jan. 22 playoff game included 25 points scored and three lead changes. The Bills took a three-point lead with 13 seconds remaining but lost in overtime without touching the ball again, which forced a change of the rules to de-emphasize the coin toss. Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes looks like the new Brady-Peyton Manning playoff rivalry.
Commanders at Colts, Week 8
QB Homecoming Game II has a very different tone. Carson Wentz was essentially blamed by owner Jim Irsay for the Colts’ late-season collapse and booted out of Indianapolis. Former MVP Matt Ryan took Wentz’s spot in the Colts’ five-year revolving door of quarterbacks. Wentz, who unsubtly suggested he was taking the high road on Irsay, gets one more season to salvage his once-promising career – and it includes two games against the Eagles, from whom he had a first bitter divorce.
Chiefs at Bengals, Week 13
Joe Burrow’s 2021 Bengals became just the second team to beat Mahomes’ Chiefs twice in the same season. This Bengals’ season is about proving last year’s run to Super Bowl LVI – highlighted by an 18-point comeback win against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game – was no fluke. If they had this year’s offensive line in the Super Bowl, maybe they would be the defending champions.
Dolphins at 49ers, Week 13
A lot of crossover. The Dolphins made the trade in 2021 that allowed the 49ers to draft quarterback Trey Lance. But Lance remains on the bench behind Jimmy Garoppolo, who led the 49ers to the NFC title game last season. The Dolphins won seven straight games but missed the playoffs, fired Brian Flores and hired offensive whiz kid Mike McDaniel from the 49ers to be the coach who helps Tua Tagovailoa break through.
Rams at Chargers, Week 17
After two decades without the NFL, Los Angeles is back at the epicenter. Rams coach Sean McVay and defensive star Aaron Donald decided against retirement to chase a repeat. The Chargers significantly upgraded in the offseason to make a run around budding star quarterback Justin Herbert after missing the playoffs on the regular season’s last snap. What will be the makeup of this crowd at $ 5 billion SoFi Stadium, where out-of-towners usually rule?
Browns at Steelers, Week 18
A new era to one of the NFL’s best rivalries. Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson could be suspended when the teams meet in Week 3. Kenny Pickett – a favorite son in Pittsburgh after his record-setting college career and the only rookie quarterback drafted in the first 73 picks – could take over for the Steelers if Mitch Trubisky falters. A playoff spot and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s streak of 15 straight non-losing seasons could be on the line.