For 2022 NFL, teams across the country must gear up for a different-looking league, following an off-season full of changes.
The QB carousel - which, by the way, is still not done spinning with the NFL Draft approaching at the end of April - just moved in league-changing ways.
Expect it to move even more, with openings in Seattle, Pittsburgh, and (arguably) Carolina still needing to be filled.
Beyond that, several rising contenders have made moves to fortify their defense (think the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos to name a few). Some teams (Atlanta, Green Bay) are accepting that the current core probably isn't worth the investment any longer.
Some teams will have to deal with increased competition. The power balance of the league has undoubtedly shifted. So, the question arises: which teams will have the toughest schedule.
Let's take a look at 5 teams who seem to have the toughest regular season schedules in the 2022 NFL.
#5 - Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have enjoyed a dominant nine-year stretch under head coach Andy Reid that has seen just one season with less than 10 wins. Since Patrick Mahomes took over the starting QB position in 2018, the Chiefs have won no less than 12 games in the four seasons since.
It's a run that has propelled the Chiefs to the top of the sport, with the side reaching, at least, the AFC Championship game each of the past three seasons. Unfortunately, it appears as though the Chiefs could be due for some slippage, and have a most difficult road ahead of them in 2022 NFL.
They will have to contend with an improved AFC West without Tyreek Hill in their WR room.
Mahomes and co. will face the last two teams to eliminate them in the playoffs (Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers). They will also have to deal with one of their victims for both of the past two post-seasons - the Buffalo Bills - in intriguing non-divisional showdowns.
#4 - Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow's work leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl since the 1980's - a time before he was even born - may have created a new superstar in the sport.
Here's the catch though: that's only the case if Cincinnati can have a sustained run at the top of the AFC. That's a lot easier said than done considering they were a 10-7 AFC North winner in a division that was airtight.
It's also far easier said than done when you consider the degree of difficulty they'll face in 2022 NFL.
The Bengals cannot start off their season with a whimper considering their final four games are against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee Titans.
Depending on what Pittsburgh does with their QB situation and how quickly Deshaun Watson takes to Cleveland's playbook, those division games could well be significant challenges too.
#3 - Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals have long had talent, but they have not threatened the top of the conference since Carson Palmer led the charge, back in 2015.
They surely didn't threaten the eventual Super Bowl LVI champion Los Angeles Rams during Wild Card Weekend 2022. Kyler Murray came up wildly short with two INTs and no TDs, and the defense gave up 375 total yards.
This upcoming 2022 NFL season will be a massive test for a franchise that has not been able to tread water in the NFC West. The AFC West is a tough opposite conference draw this season, and the Patriots, Eagles, and Vikings make for a fairly challenging schedule otherwise.
#2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Media coverage of Tom Brady's potential final season in Tampa could reach levels previously unfathomable due to recent developments.
Brady retired, then un-retired. Bruce Arians was then canned right after Brady's un-retirement announcement. Brady was even linked to the Miami Dolphins via trade.
All of this adds significant juice to the 2022 NFL season. As does the entertainment value that fans will be treated to due to a difficult Bucs schedule. The Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers cap off a campaign where the AFC North and NFC West are also on the calendar.
#1 - Los Angeles Rams
It's nearly impossible for a team in the NFL to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles. So much so that it hasn't happened since 2003-04 and is a feat accomplished by only six franchises in the history of the league.
The Los Angeles Rams will be attempting to do so after losing one of Matthew Stafford's top weapons in Robert Woods, and replacing him with Allen Robinson. They will also have to navigate the toughest schedule in the league.
A much-improved AFC West provides four stern tests, and their native NFC West continues to be one of the top divisions. Road tests against Tampa and Green Bay provide measuring stick matchups elsewhere in the NFC.
Lastly, Buffalo and Dallas will try to bring their best against the defending champs. Just like everyone should in 2022 NFL.