EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published on March 25, 2022 and has been updated with dates and times of the games below reflecting the release of the 2022 NFL regular-season schedule.
Did you know Return of the Jedi was originally going to be titled Revenge of the Jedi until George Lucas decided to change it (maybe) because Jedi were not motivated by revenge? I'm not sure how many NFL players are Jedi, but there is going to be a lot of opportunity for revenge in the 2022 season, what with so many big-name players changing teams this offseason. Maybe they're all Sith, come to think of it.
At any rate, I'm here to discuss my favorite revenge games on the 2022 slate.
Before we dig in ... One game I kind of wish were on the docket but isn't: Mitch Trubisky and the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. ... the Kansas City Chiefs. I bet you thought I was going to go with Trubisky vs. the Bears, but with Chicago cleaning house, I'm more interested in Trubisky vs. Matt Nagy, who is now the quarterbacks coach in K.C. It would be something to see Mitch lead Pittsburgh to victory over the Chiefs, with numerous cutaways to Nagy sitting there in his visor, watching on. Oh, well -- maybe we can get that in the AFC playoffs!
OK, here we go: My favorite revenge games of the 2022 season!
If your last meeting was a playoff battle so intense that it precipitated a rule change, then your matchup MUST be on the list. And there are layers of revenge here. The Bills already got a small matter of revenge in Week 5 last season, for a defeat in the 2020 AFC title game. But then Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs once again got the better of Josh Allen and Co. in a Divisional Round contest deemed by many to be one of the best football games ever played. Will the Bills' signing of Von Miller and the Chiefs' decision to trade away Tyreek Hill even the playing field? This is quickly becoming one of the top rivalries in the game.
Raiders at Chargers, Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Chargers at Raiders, Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4 at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
The 2021 regular-season finale between these AFC West rivals was an all-timer. To refresh your memory, all the Raiders and Chargers had to do in the Week 18 Sunday-nighter was tie to guarantee they'd both make the playoffs -- and deny the Steelers a spot. Let's be truthful: The world (probably even Ben Roethlisberger) was rooting for this outcome. Stunningly, Vegas and L.A. nearly did it. If not for Chargers coach Brandon Staley's odd timeout in overtime, perhaps the game would have ended with the sides knotted up instead of in a Raiders victory. Now there is some extra oomph added to one of the best rivalries in the game, which should be even further spiced up after major additions by the Bolts (Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson) and Raiders (Davante Adams, Chandler Jones).
Rams at 49ers, Week 4: Monday, Oct. 3 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
49ers at Rams, Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30 at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Going into the NFC Championship Game, Kyle Shanahan's 49ers had faced Sean McVay's Rams in 10 contests since they each assumed their head-coaching jobs in 2017 -- and San Francisco had won seven times, including six straight. So it was not unreasonable to expect another Niners win in the battle for a spot in Super Bowl LVI, even with the game taking place in Los Angeles. But then San Francisco lost. And watching a sea of red-clad onlookers filing out of SoFi Stadium, you knew it had to really eat away at the 49ers Faithful, who haven't enjoyed a Super Bowl victory since the 1994 campaign. (Wow, has it really been since '94? Spoiler alert: Yes.) The shared history of Shanahan and McVay only adds to this rivalry.
Speaking of the Rams, gotta put this game on here, too. Tom Brady is coming out of retirement to right a wrong. Like a Liam Neeson movie where the Rams stole something that belonged to him. And what belonged to him was a Lombardi Trophy. Another Lombardi Trophy. But here is the thing with Brady: In recent times, every time TB12 has lost in the playoffs, he has responded by immediately winning the next Super Bowl. Mostly because he has a specific set of skills. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
This will actually be the second time Lovie Smith leads a team into Soldier Field to face his former employer, but the first time didn't go so well, as the 2014 Bears beat Lovie's Bucs, 21-13. He also lost to the Bears one year later in Tampa Bay. But this will no doubt be big for Lovie -- and those Bears fans who are still mad he was let go in the first place. I mean, if we want to get down to it ... Had Lovie's Bears hired the right offensive coordinator (as opposed to Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice) when they had Jay Cutler, we'd be talking about multi-time Super Bowl winners. Sorry, I might have veered off course.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS
I honestly don't want to spend too much time here with this game, going into why this is a big deal. You all know the reason. I'm certain that, as you were reading the Texans-Bears passage just above, you were wondering if Houston is scheduled to played Cleveland. They are. And I'm sure the showdown is going to dominate headlines. But this is all I'm going to say about that. Let's keep it moving.
Colts at Jaguars, Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Jaguars at Colts, Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Save your Jags jokes, because I won't stand for you besmirching my friends down in Duval County. Obviously, last year wasn't great for the franchise, with the whole Urban Meyer debacle. But you don't want to test the pride of a team in the final week of the season, especially with the opportunity to keep a rival out of the playoffs. The Jaguars ruined Jim Irsay's year with that Week 18 shocker. Plus, the Colts haven't won in Jacksonville since my guy MJD was on the team (or close enough, don't ruin this for me). But at the same time, Matty Ice has a chance to change that here.
You know, we missed out on a ton of potential revenge games, including Davante Adams going against the Packers. But we do get Russ vs. the 'Hawks. Wilson is always full of smiles, seems like a good enough dude ... but the man is a stone-cold killer on the field. The whole mantra of the last couple of years was "Let Russ cook." I imagine Broncos receivers are going to EAT at Lumen Field. Especially when you look at the Seahawks' defense.
Eagles at Commanders, Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Commanders at Eagles, Week 10: Monday, Nov. 14 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Wentz was a leading NFL MVP candidate before he blew out his knee against the Rams back in December of 2017. Can we pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that this was four-plus years ago? (Or two Tom Brady rings ago.) Wild to think about where Wentz has gone from there -- and where he is now, a member of the rival Commanders. These two bouts against the Eagles are going to be saucy.