The NFL officially released their schedule for the 2019 season and there will be some highly anticipated rematches from the 2018 regular and postseasons, players on new teams looking exact revenge on their former teams, some new head coaches that will face off with against their former employers, must-watch games, intriguing matchups and some Week 17 games that can decide division winners and dictate playoff seeding.
Notable week one bouts:
• Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots: The reigning Superbowl champions will kick off their title defense and unveil their third championship banner in the last five year and sixth in franchise history against a Pittsburgh team that is determined to prove that they are still formidable contenders following the departures of All-Pros Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this offseason.
• Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: These NFC North division rivals will square off for the 199th time in the first game of the 2019 season and the Bear’s will be celebrating their centennial season on Sept.5. The Packers will be looking to put away all of the offseason drama that resulted from the fallout of the Bleacher Report article and the Bears intend on keeping the crown of Kings of the NFC North.
• Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers: While this game is scheduled for a 4:05 pm eastern time kickoff, the battle between two of the most potent and well-balanced offenses in the league could prove to be the most exciting matchup of the first Sunday.
• Los Angeles Rams at Carolina Panthers: The Ram loaded defense, led by All-Pro and two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald, will prove quite the litmus test for a revamped Panthers’ offensive line that will try to protect franchise quarterback Cam Newton, if he is in fact in the line up and not shelved for the year to recover.
• Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars: These two teams faced off with each other last season but this doesn’t qualify as one of the high anticipated rematches of 2018 because this will be the first regular season game that former Superbowl MVP Nick Foles will be at the helm for the Jags, who many believe is a competent quarterback away from being among the AFC’s elite.
Player revenge games:
• Earl Thomas returns to Century Link Stadium: The last time the All-Pro safety suited up for the Seattle Seahawks he was seen getting carted off the field with a broken leg and giving his sideline the “middle finger salute” as he left the game. Now he’s the unquestioned leader of yet another elite secondary in Baltimore after signing a mega-deal with the Ravens in free agency and will look to show his former team why they should’ve offered him a deal when he returns to the house that he helped build in Week 7.
• Landon Collins returns to Metlife Stadium: The three-time Pro Bowl safety makes his first appearance in the Meadowland as the enemy in Week 4. He will be sporting burgundy instead of blue for the first time against the New York Giants in the NFC East rivalry after signing a huge six-year deal with Washington Redskins last month.
• Le’Veon Bell welcomes the Steelers to Metlife Stadium: After sitting out all of 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the game-breaking All-Pro running back will have to wait until Week 16 to make them pay for not paying him.
• Khalil Mack returns to the Oakland Coliseum: He will be making his first appearance in the Bay area since he was traded to the Chicago Bears just a week before last season kicked and will be looking forward to wreaking havoc upon the Raiders offense in Week 5.
• Cousins welcomes Washington to US Bank Stadium: Captain Kirk threw a career-high 30 touchdown passes in his first year in Minnesota and will be looking to show his former team why the Vikings “LIKE THAT!” in Week 8 when the Redskins come to town. Another storyline to watch in this game is current Redskin and former Vikings franchise stalwart Adrian Peterson is making a return to Minnesota in the house he helped build.
• Houston returns to Arrowhead Stadium: While Kansas City versus Indianapolis could fall under the 2018 rematch category since they met in the divisional round of last postseason, Justin Houston most certainly plans to show the Chiefs that he can still be an impactful pass rusher when the two teams face off in Week 5.