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.
Highly anticipated rematches from 2018:
• Saints vs Rams, Week 2: This is a rematch of the 2018 NFC Championship where the infamous “no call” pass interference pass committed by Rams corner Nickel Robey-Coleman occurred. The controversy and outrage from the fallout of that play led to a rule change that now allows coaches to challenge both offensive and defensive pass interference that I called or not called for on a trial basis for the 2019 season. The rematch will take place in Los Angeles but just because the venue has changed, it doesn’t mean that Saints and the rest of the New Orleans faithful have forgotten.
• Chiefs vs Patriots, Week 14: These two AFC powerhouses faced off twice last year, once in the regular season and again for a trip to the Superbowl in the AFC Championship. Both games went down to the wire and resulted with New England with the ball in their hand last to win the game. However, the Chiefs were one neutral zone infraction away from punching their ticket to the big game and will be looking prove that they can not only tangle with the top dogs in the NFL over the past two decades but also triumph over them when they travel to Foxboro for the last season rumble that could decide home-field advantage in playoffs.
• Bears vs Rams, Week 11: This is a regular season matchup from last year in which the red-hot Rams ran into a late-season roadblock when they marched into Soldier Field and were smothered by a ferocious Chicago Bears defense that limited them to just a pair of field goals in Week 14. This time around the game will be played in Los Angeles and the Rams will be looking to rectify that embarrassing defeat.
• Cowboys vs Saint, Week 4: The Saints were the hottest team in the league and in the midst of a 10-game winning streak when Dallas put the clamps on one of the most potent and well balanced in a primetime matchup in Week 13. This time, America’s team will make their way to the Superdome for a Sunday night rematch.
• Rams vs Cowboys, Week 15: The last time these two teams faced off was in the Divisional Round of the 2018 playoffs when Los Angeles steamrolled over Dallas for 261 yards on the ground and saw featured a pair of 100-yard rushers in Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson. This game will likely have playoff seeding implications so late in the season and could prove to be the difference if one of them needs to grab a wild-card spot.
Pivotal week 17 games:
• Ravens vs Steelers: Even though many of the notable names and faces have departed from this rivalry it is still arguably the fiercest in the league. Despite all of the offseason hype surrounding the Cleveland Brown, this game could possibly decide the AFC North Crown or could provide another win-and-get-in scenario for either team in the regular season finale.
• Saints vs Panthers: Carolina picked a win when these two NFC South foes met up in the final game of the regular season last year but New Orleans had already secured the division, the No.1 seed, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs so they rested their starters. The Panthers expect to get back to prominence in 2019 after a down year and could challenge the Saints for the division championship or at least sneak in the playoffs as a wild card.
• Chargers vs Chiefs: The AFC West winner could be crowned in Arrowhead Stadium in the regular season finale as both of these team’s traded victories last year, with each winning a game the road game. They both are expected to be playoff teams and legit Superbowl contenders who will want head into the playoffs and possibly a first-round bye with a big win over a division rival.
• Bears vs Vikings: Baring any major injuries to his key weapons, Kirk Cousins has no excuses for not leading Minnesota back to the playoffs after a disappointing first season. However, Chicago will not want to surrender their crown as kings of the NFC North after winning the division for the first time in nearly a decade in 2018.
• Titans vs Texans/Colts vs Jaguars: Now that the Jaguars finally have a competent quarterback under center with championship pedigree in former Superbowl MVP Nick Foles, the front runners in the AFC South division is truly indistinguishable at this point so it will truly be interesting to see how the division race shakes out as the season unfolds.
• Browns vs Bengals: While I fully expect the AFC North Champion to be crowned a few states over in Baltimore, MD during the same tie this game is scheduled to be played, this battle between these two Ohio teams could end with Cleveland securing one of the final wildcard slots and their first winning record since the 2007 season.