While NFL teams have known for months who they will play during the 2023 season, next year’s full NFL schedule was released Thursday night, allowing teams and fans alike the opportunity to see exactly when the biggest games will be happening.
There are several games with intriguing Utah storylines — here’s a look at the best Beehive State-related NFL games to watch in the 2023 season.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Week 1, Sept. 10
The Jordan Love era officially begins.
The former Utah State star has briefly played in relief of Aaron Rodgers over the past three seasons — he has completed 60% of his passes for 606 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in his career — but the Packers have handed the offense over to him now, after trading Rodgers to the New York Jets.
Love will kick off his first full season as the team’s starter by playing the NFC North Division rival Bears on the road in a hostile environment at Soldier Field.
He’s facing another young quarterback — both Love and Justin Fields are 24 years old.
Fields, though, has the edge in NFL experience, having started 25 games since joining the league one year after Love, while Love has one career start to his name.
There are several Utah ties on both rosters to watch here — among them are two Bears defenders, former Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson and rookie linebacker Noah Sewell of Orem High.
Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London
Week 5, Oct. 8
This is a matchup of the two former Utah football stars who have been first-round draft picks in back-to-back seasons — the first time in school history that has happened.
On one side is Jacksonville linebacker Devin Lloyd, who had a successful rookie season that ended in the playoffs.
On the other side is Buffalo tight end Dalton Kincaid, who used a breakout year at the U. to elevate himself to a first-round selection.
It will be one of the NFL’s international games, with the game taking place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
It also matches two defending AFC division champions and teams that will be expected to contend for the postseason again.
Both Kincaid and Lloyd could go head-to-head several times as well.
That all adds up to what may be the most anticipated Ute vs. Ute game of the year.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Week 12, Nov. 26
There will be a lot of BYU connections in this one when the two NFC South divisional rivals meet.
This is the first game between the two, with the second coming Week 18 in New Orleans.
In New Orleans, longtime Saint and utility playmaker Taysom Hill is being joined by his former BYU teammate, running back Jamaal Williams.
In Atlanta, Tyler Allgeier is coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season for the Falcons.
Former Utah cornerback Clark Phillips, a fourth-round draft pick by Atlanta this year, will also get in the mix.
That makes several interesting storylines and players to follow when these two teams face each other this season.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Week 1, Sept. 10
Former Utah State star linebacker Bobby Wagner forged his All-Pro career in Seattle before playing for the Rams for a season last year.
It’s appropriate, then, that Wagner’s return to the Seahawks comes against his former team.
Wagner also played his last game for Los Angeles in Seattle, when the Rams closed the 2022 season against the Seahawks at Lumen Field.
Wagner is still the face of the franchise in Seattle after starring 10 previous seasons for the Seahawks and piling up six NFL All-Pro first-team citations, three All-Pro second-team honors and more than 1,500 tackles in his career.
Another fun Wagner game to catch this season will be when the Seahawks face the Washington Commanders on Nov. 12 in Seattle. Former Utah linebacker Cody Barton helped replace Wagner in Seattle last year, and now Barton, who like Wagner was drafted by the Seahawks, has moved on to the Commanders.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Week 2, Sept. 17
As NFC West rivals, the 49ers and Rams will face each other twice this year, with the second game taking place Week 18 in the Bay Area.
This one will feature two former BYU players — San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner is one of the game’s best defenders, while Los Angeles rookie receiver Puka Nacua is one of the more promising young offensive talents to come out of BYU in recent years.
Wagner, a two-time NFL All-Pro first-teamer, has been a key piece of the 49ers defense since entering the league in 2018, though it may be a bit early in his career to expect much out of Nacua during this Week 2 matchup.
There is certainly enough intrigue, though, for BYU fans to tune in and see if either Cougars tie will have a big performance that day.
Another Utah name to watch for will be tight end Cameron Latu of Olympus High, who the 49ers drafted in the third round last month.
Other games that just missed the cut
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks — Week 12, Nov. 23: It’s the first Thanksgiving Day home game in Seahawks history and will feature the latest contest involving both Wagner and Warner, two of the game’s best linebackers who have always played in the same division.
Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts — Week 4, Oct. 1: Former Utah kicker Matt Gay, who signed a record deal with the Colts this offseason, will face his old team that he won a Super Bowl ring with.
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers — Week 13, Dec. 3: Love’s only start to this point came in 2021, when he was filling in for Rodgers. That day, Love threw for 190 yards, one touchdown and an interception in a 13-7 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Love will get his second chance to face Mahomes when the two teams play.
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers — Week 9, Nov. 5: BYU has had two offensive tackles taken in the past three NFL drafts — Blake Freeland by Indianapolis this year and Brady Christensen by Carolina in 2021 — and they will be on opposite sidelines when the Colts face the Panthers.
Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs — Week 11, Nov. 20: The rematch of Super Bowl 57 features a handful of Utah ties, including former Utah receiver/returner Britain Covey in his second season with the Eagles, BYU alum Andy Reid in his 11th season as Chiefs head coach and former Utah quarterback Brian Johnson in his first season as Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator.