As NFL fans, we’re certainly excited by the release of the 2022 season schedule earlier this month. At Amazon, we’re even more thrilled about one specific part of that schedule—the Thursday Night Football matchups.
In fact, Jeff Kaiser, Head of US Sports Programming for Prime Video, thinks that this year—the first year of the 11-year agreement to stream TNF exclusively on Prime Video and Twitch—offers the strongest TNF schedule ever.
“This is the first time in NFL history that TNF will consist of 15 games, all exclusively on Prime Video,” Kaiser said. “We’re thrilled that the upcoming TNF slate will feature 29 of the 32 NFL teams, including all 14 teams that appeared in the 2021 playoffs.”
Amazon TNF viewers are both highly engaged with the games as well as highly engaged with brands and ads. With such an invested audience, a TNF schedule that can pull in audience interest is key to delighting both viewers and advertisers on Prime Video and Twitch. “There are meaningful storylines and enticing matchups throughout the upcoming TNF season, which will only build in magnitude as the season progresses. When you think about it, TNF kicks off the start of every NFL week as its first game—which offers brands a unique positioning opportunity,” Kaiser said.
We connected with Kaiser to get his thoughts on what he likes best about the 2022 TNF games—the competitive matchups, the thrilling storylines, the young talent taking the league by storm. We share his insights in a game-by-game breakdown below.
Top quarterback matchups
TNF on Amazon kicks off on September 15, when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is probably the most electric quarterback in the NFL today, and Arrowhead Stadium is sure to be buzzing for the Chiefs’ home opener. Leading the Chargers is Justin Herbert, the third-year quarterback who has made noise during his short career by setting records for the most passing touchdowns, passing yards per game, and completions for a rookie.
Which other quarterback matchups is Kaiser excited for? How about the October 27 meeting of the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when one of the NFL’s hottest young quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson, goes up against the GOAT (greatest of all time) Tom Brady?
On December 1, Brady’s potential long-term successor, Mac Jones, leads the New England Patriots against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. After Allen’s leap in progression in his third NFL season (he was second in voting for the 2020 MVP Award), it seems like the sky is the limit for Allen in 2022.
And two of Mac Jones’ fellow 2021 first-round quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence (drafted number one overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (drafted number two overall by the New York Jets) face off on December 22. Both teams are coming off of disappointing seasons, but with the Jets receiving raves for their draft picks last month, and the Jaguars hiring Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson, they’re worth keeping your eye on.
As mentioned earlier, the 2022 TNF games feature all of the playoff teams from 2021. Of course, that includes the 2021 Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams, who will host the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium on December 8. This won’t be the first time All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams will play against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey—but it will be the first time that Adams is in a Raiders uniform for their matchup. What will happen when two of the best in the game take the field against each other?
The Tennessee Titans, last year’s number-one seed in the AFC (American Football Conference), will visit the Green Bay Packers, last year’s number-one seed in the NFC (National Football Conference), on November 17. Both teams are looking to redeem themselves after losing their divisional round playoff games last season. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center for the Packers, and running back Derrick Henry in the backfield for the Titans, Kaiser anticipates an excellent game at Lambeau Field.
The Titans also feature in our final TNF game on December 29, as they host the Dallas Cowboys, one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. The Cowboys have their own powerhouse running back, Ezekiel Elliott, to compete against the Titans’ Henry. And since this game happens in week 17 of the season, Kaiser will also have an eye on potential playoff seeding implications.
Everyone loves a good sports rivalry, and there’s no shortage of grudge matches on TNF in 2022. On September 22, the Cleveland Browns host their perennial AFC North divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
We’ll also see two of the most anticipated divisional matchups from the NFC. The Atlanta Falcons visit the Carolina Panthers on November 10. Both teams saw the end of an era with the departure of their franchise quarterbacks within the past few years—but the start of a new era doesn’t mean that the historical rivalry between these NFC South teams is any less fierce.
The December 15 TNF game is close to home for Amazon, as the San Francisco 49ers travel to Amazon’s home city of Seattle to meet their NFC West rivals, the Seahawks. The 49ers, last year’s NFC Championship runners-up, lost both of their games to the Seahawks last year and will be looking for revenge. And Lumen Field, one of the loudest and most raucous stadiums in the NFL, should provide a vibrant backdrop to the face-off.
Who can forget the Cincinnati Bengals’ Cinderella story, where they went from a losing season in 2020 to Super Bowl runners-up in 2021? Quarterback “Joe Cool” Burrow is ready to continue leading the Bengals to another successful season, and on September 29, they host the Miami Dolphins on TNF.
Kaiser pointed out that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s college team, University of Alabama, competed in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) against Burrow’s LSU (Louisiana State University) before they were both chosen in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. Both quarterbacks have been reunited with college teammates—Burrow with wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase from LSU and Tagovailoa with Jaylen Waddle from Alabama. But this year Tagovailoa will have another star receiver to throw to: Tyreek Hill, newly acquired from the Chiefs.
Most intriguing storylines
The 2022 off-season has already generated a plethora of news as players move to different teams and new coaches are hired, so some of our TNF games will have intriguing stories to accompany the on-field competition. Just take a look at these games in October and November.
On October 6, quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan will face off, just like they have seven other times since 2013—only this time, Wilson will be leading the Denver Broncos against Ryan’s Indianapolis Colts. Both players were the franchise quarterbacks for their previous teams for a decade-plus, so how will they look with their new offenses?
The following week, the Washington Commanders will visit the Chicago Bears on October 13. Kaiser looks forward to seeing how the Commanders look in their first year with Carson Wentz as quarterback, and how second-year quarterback Justin Fields progresses under the Bears’ new head coach, Matt Eberflus.
Just one week later, on October 20, the Arizona Cardinals will host the New Orleans Saints. The Saints missed the playoffs last year but are always contenders, and the Cardinals made it to the Wild Card Round. One matchup to look forward to is safety Tyrann Mathieu against the team that drafted him, the Cardinals, and their signal caller Kyler Murray.
On November 3, the Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Houston Texans. The Texans are looking to have a comeback season with first-year head coach Lovie Smith and two highly touted first-round draft picks, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green. Meanwhile, the Eagles made a blockbuster trade to acquire wide receiver A. J. Brown from the Titans on Draft Day, and expect Brown to play a big role in the offense led by young quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Which of the TNF games is Kaiser most looking forward to? “I'm intrigued with Week 4 when the Dolphins head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals,” he said. “The Dolphins have had some big off-season acquisitions highlighted by the addition of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and a new head coach in Mike McDaniel. Will the Dolphins be able to take the next step against the reigning AFC Champion Bengals on TNF in Cincinnati? We shall see on September 29.”