With eight days until the start of the NFL Draft, the League released a full regular-season schedule for 2019. Week 1 features Green Bay in Chicago to start the season Thursday night, plus two star matchups on Monday night football with Texans at Saints and Broncos at Raiders.
Who is the biggest winner of the new schedule? Which games should you circle in your calendar? Our ESPN NFL expert panel weighs.
Go to question:
What is the game you circled in your calendar?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Green Bay, Chicago, Thursday, September 5 (Week 1). Come on – it's the opening night at Soldier Field. It's an old school. And we get the first place to look at Aaron Rodgers – in his first match under the new coach Matt LaFleur – a match up to the speed and gaming talent of Bears.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Browns in Jets on Monday, September 16 (Week 2). This game was given to us by the rising Baker Mayfield party in 2018 and maybe 2019 will include two eventual playoff teams. This might seem optimistic for the Jets, but the second year Sam Darnold ended up strong as a newcomer, New York has one of the simplest plans of the league, and while the defense has holes, it also includes some interesting star power. If that's not enough, Baker-to-OBJ can be connected under the lights with fun.
KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Steelers at Patriots on Sunday, September 8 (Week 1). The entire offseason of Pittsburgh revolved around internal battles. Facing New England on Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday Night, the world learns if the Steelers can successfully refocus their efforts on external battles.
Mina Kimes, NFL writer: Saints at Rams on Sunday, September 15 (Week 2). As we all know, the city of New Orleans is somewhat confused about some punishment for interference interference that has not been made in the NFC Championship Game; it's their chance of revenge. It's also a great match between two explosive league crimes and a few teams that should be preferred to return to the playoffs.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Colts in Chiefs on Sunday, October 6 (Week 5). Can any of these emerging AFC teams bring down New England at the conference? Is Patrick Mahomes much better than Andrew Luck? This match is about the present and the future.
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Kevin Seifert, NFL National Writer: Chiefs vs. Chargers in Mexico City on Monday, November 18 (Week 12). This game is not just between two fun offenses and divisional opponents, with timing that could play a big role in determining playoff seeding. It also marks the NFL's return to Mexico City after last year's field-related cancellation at the Azteca Stadium. The league has a great interest in growing international fans, and it really needs this game to work from a logistical point of view.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Chiefs of Patriots on Sunday, December 8 (Week 14). This game will put AFC finalists from last season into what I think was the best match of the season. The chess match between Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes and Bill Belichick is something I enjoyed.
The biggest winner of the schedule is _______________.
Bowen: Patriots. New England has some holes to fill the list before we get to the regular season, but the plan for them starts at the beginning of the year. After hosting the Steelers in Week 1, the Patriots get Dolphins (Away), Jets (Home), Bills (Away), Redskins (Away), Giants (Home), and Jets Again (at home) before the Sunday Night match with Baker Mayfield and Browns. If New England can beat Pittsburgh on the opening weekend, they could go for a major run to start the season.
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Clay: AFC East. By my metrics, patriots, jets, and bills will have three simplest plans. In addition to facing dolphin rebuilding twice, these three teams will face NFC East and AFC North, which are probably the two least talented league divisions (except AFC East itself). Playing almost one-third of their games against dolphins, giants, redskins and bengali will certainly help their playoff chances.
Joyner: Patriots host the Steelers in week 1 and then undoubtedly do not interfere with another top-tier team until their 9th match match against Baltimore. Add it to closing the season against Cincinnati, Buffalo and Miami, and the trip is set for the next first round bye for New England.
Kimes: Patriots (what's new?). Looking at the first few weeks of your schedule is 7-0. After a couple of challenging matchups vs. Cleveland and Baltimore in weeks 8 and 9 have a well timed bye before a difficult stretch.
Sando: Rams, with only two games that start at 10:00 PT (does not count London match in week 8), the start time of the start that the West teams are hoping to avoid. Oakland (six), Arizona (five), San Francisco (four), Seattle (four) and chargers (four) have more of those early starts.
Seifert: Browns fans. While the prime-time schedule adds pressure and control to the team, the NFL will give the longest-suffering fan base another shock of excitement. For the first time in more than ten years, the league takes this franchise seriously. Enjoy it!
Yates: Browns. And I don't dive for any reason that concerns who plays, where they play or where. This is about the Browns – Long League Laughs – having four matches scheduled for the main time. This is the team that people will attract to this season.
Bowen: Winnings over 9.5 wins. Indy gets a few tests in the season with chargers in the opener and chiefs in week 5. But I see a very well-trained team here who has also taken a very clever and calculated approach to a free agency. new pieces that can have an immediate impact. In addition, with nine selections in 2019 proposal, General Manager Chris Ballard may continue to build-out his list. I see Colts taking AFC South again.
Clay: They win cowboys over 8.5. Dallas has reached nine winning points in the last three seasons and four of the last five. NFC East champions have improved the list during the offseason, added Robert Quinn, Jason Witten and Randall Cobb. All-Pro Travis Frederick is also expected back.
Ryan Clark makes his predictions for Rams' 2019 plan, including the loss for Browns in Week 3.
Joyner: Browns under 9 victories. Cleveland's plan strongly suggests that nine victories should be considered the high side of their overall projection.
Kimes: Packages over 9 wins. After the disappointing campaign in 2018, the packers have a relatively easy schedule compared to their divisional rivals, defending the new look and, hopefully, a healthy Aaron Rodgers.
Sando: Seahawks Over 8.5 Wins. Seattle should intervene this for the eighth consecutive season with Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson together.
When: April 25-27
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
How to watch: ABC / ESPN / ESPN App
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Seifert: Browns under 9 victories. I reserve the right to change my mind, but while Brown's have taken great staffing steps in the past year, external excitement has far surpassed reality. Four games in the main time are increasing the pressure coach Freddie Kitchens already faces. There is a great mix of celebrities on this list, and public scrutiny will be higher than at any moment because Browns has returned to Cleveland.
Yates: Seahawks Over 8.5 Wins. This team will be more talented than the last season, which won 10 wins and playoffs. Health of key contributors such as linebacker K.J. Wright and, hopefully, a wide receiver Doug Baldwin, gives me the confidence that this team in Seattle will regain 10 victories.
Bonus! What's Your Early Selection of Super Bowl?
Bowen: Chiefs over bears. After the chiefs hired Steve Spagnuola as their new defense coordinator, I have the choice of chargers before this offseason. With Spags running that side of the ball, check out Kansas City to have a much better defensive unit paired with Patrick Mahomes and that explosive to play attack. Give me the Chiefs as Super Bowl champions over Bears, who is on the final dance because of their top defense and noticeable development from Mitchell Trubisky in his second season under Matt Nagy.
Clay: Saints over patriots. Saints were a heavenly judge who moved from the Super Bowl last season and improved what was already excellent during the offseason. It's probably the best league league on paper. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are returning to the Super Bowl for the fourth season, but this time the dynamic duo lags behind the MVP Drew Brees.
Joyner: Chiefs over Orly. Hire Steve Spagnuolo should reduce the number of shootouts of the game Kansas City gets into and results in an AFC title for chiefs. The Eagles have the most complete NFC team if Carson Wentz stays healthy.
Kimes: Saints over patriots. I was tempted to pick up Packers because I like the moves that make this offseason, and I think we'll see a return to form for Rodgers, but the list of Saints is too complete to oppose it. In the AFC, I think Mahomes will continue to shine, but I don't think Chiefs will be defensive enough to attack New England.
Sando: Chiefs over Vikings. Kansas City is at this point easier than patriots at the AFC, simply because New England is in the early stages of completing its defense personnel and filling out its list. Minnesota should have five best defenses, with offense that should benefit from continuity and multiple concepts in the center.
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Seifert: Saints over chiefs. But for a few controversial official talks, and an unpredictable overtime rule, this could have been Super Bowl LIII matchup. The Saints have been kneeling on the door in recent years and had as many pieces as they had. And you can rely on Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who starts the season with a series of adjustments against the opposing defenses that have spent offseason trying to stop quarterback Mahomes.
Yates: Patriots over saints. Saints are returning what is one of the most balanced lists of the league, and assume that they can get support to complement Mike Thomas in the receiving group and should continue to be explosive. While patriots need to continue strengthening their offensive group, the team is stacked to defend what might be the best secondary player in the league. 40-plus year old quarterback rule.