The National Football League's 2019 schedule was released Thursday, April 19, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. The season kicks off with an NFC North showdown as the Green Bay Packers and new head coach Matt LaFleur head to Chicago to face last year's division champion Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The 2019 season will be the NFL's 100th. Green Bay and Chicago first played each other in 1921 and have faced each other 198 times since. The Packers actually hold a slight advantage in the series, 97-95-6.
Defending Super Bowl champion New England gets underway in the final game of Week 1. The Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers - minus WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell - on Sunday, Sept, 8, in the first game of the season for both teams. New England quarterback Tom Brady will be 42 years old when he takes the field.
One of the big stories of the offseason has been the Cleveland Browns. The league's laughingstock franchise, the Browns obtained All-Pro WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason to go with quarterback of the future Baker Mayfield and RB Nick Chubb. The defense is loaded with the likes of DE Myles Garrett and, as a result of all the hype, Cleveland is favored to win the AFC North.
The Browns also received a total of four prime time games something that Cleveland fans desperately need. The first Browns prime-time appearance will be against the New York Jets on Monday night, September 16. The match up pits Mayfield against fellow second-year quarterback Sam Darnold of the Jets. This season, Darnold will have the luxury of having Bell, the former Steeler, in the backfield. A year ago, a Browns-Jets meeting was a yawner. In 2019, it's a highly anticipated matchup.
Cleveland will also host Sunday Night Football for the first time in franchise history. On September 22, the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams will take on the Browns. Rams QB Jared Goff will have the likes of WR Brandin Cooks and a healthy Todd Gurley at running back as Los Angeles seeks another trip to the Super Bowl. It could be a statement game for the Browns who haven't been relevant in a long time.
The NFL will play four games in London two of which will be played at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The stadium is the first football-only venue built outside of the United States. None of the four match ups are what could be considered marquee games, but the league's other international contest should be.
On Monday, November 18, Kansas City and their AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers will face off in Mexico City. A year ago, the NFL had to cancel its game scheduled for Mexico City. This year, the Chiefs-Chargers matchup is sure to have an effect on the postseason.
Christmas is likely to come early for NFL fans in the form of a Sunday, December 22, matchup between the NFL's best offense in 2018 - Kansas City - against the league's best defense last year - Chicago. The outcome of the game will also have an effect on the postseason. Many analysts believe the Chiefs are the team to dethrone the Patriots in 2019 and the Bears are a favorite to repeat as NFC North champions.