The NFL schedule will officially be released tomorrow at 8 PM ET, but it’s tough to wait to see every matchup from Week 1 to Week 17. So, what are some of the best potential matchups for all 32 teams? The NFL would do well to have several of these games in primetime this season.
Arizona Cardinals: vs. CLE
If Kyler Murray isn’t the No. 1 pick in the draft, then this would not be the most desirable primetime matchup for the Cardinals to participate in. But assuming Murray is the pick, it’d be the previous two Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 picks (both Oklahoma Sooners) starting at quarterback in this game, which would be the first time that happens in NFL history.
Atlanta Falcons: vs. NO
The Falcons and Saints have had entertaining primetime games the last couple of seasons, but New Orleans has won the last three contests. Atlanta should be a lot healthier in 2019, so expect them to make a serious push in the NFC South; the schedule-makers should have given one of the Falcons-Saints matchups a primetime time slot.
Baltimore Ravens: vs. CLE
Two of the first three most-desired primetime matchups come against the Browns, which tells you the excitement surrounding Baker Mayfield and company heading into the season. With the Ravens losing a bunch of starters, many people are counting them out of the division race already—they’ll probably be looking to prove those people wrong. The thrilling Week 17 matchup last season clinched a postseason berth for Baltimore.
Buffalo Bills: vs. DEN
A matchup with the Browns will also be interesting for the Bills in primetime, as will the two Jets matchups because it’ll be Josh Allen facing fellow top-ten picks from last year. However, one of the most surprising teams to pass on Allen was the Broncos, who selected defensive end Bradley Chubb fifth overall instead. This will likely be a defensive battle.
Carolina Panthers: vs. NO
The Panthers were one of the most difficult teams to determine the most appealing primetime matchup, as they have mini rivalries with the Seahawks and Redskins among non-division opponents that they’ll face again in 2019. They’ll be gunning for the defending NFC South champions, though, so at home against Saints will be a critical game ideal for primetime.
Chicago Bears: @ PHI
Things might be a lot different right now if Eagles defensive lineman Treyvon Hester didn’t block Cody Parkey’s kick in last season’s Wild Card Round, but you can bet the Bears will be determined to get a little redemption. On the other side, Jordan Howard will be hosting his former team after he was basically given away to another NFC contender in a surprising trade. This feels like a lock for primetime.
Cincinnati Bengals: @ OAK
The Rams are a good fit because Zac Taylor will be facing the team he was just the quarterbacks coach for last year, but there might be more intrigue with the Bengals going to Oakland to face a team that added Antonio Brown and former Bengal Vontaze Burfict. Bengals vs. Raiders would be a good Thursday nighter.
Cleveland Browns: @ NE
There might not be a team that’ll get more hype leading up to the season than the Browns, and we’ll get a glimpse of what they’re really about when they travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots. It’d be shocking if this isn’t at least a late-afternoon contest.
Dallas Cowboys: vs. PHI
The Cowboys are typically a good draw for television networks, and they’ll probably be in primetime at least a few times. You can’t go wrong with a matchup against the Eagles, as both teams are among the better bets to be competitive in 2019.
Denver Broncos: @ IND
Vic Fangio’s defense trying to stop Frank Reich’s offense should be fun, and this all-time series is 14-13 in favor of the Broncos, with the teams splitting the last six games.
Detroit Lions: vs. DAL
The two Thanksgiving hosts could potentially face each other on the Thursday after Turkey Day. It should be a well-played game as Matt Patricia gets his guys going in the second year of his program.
Green Bay Packers: vs. MIN
Obviously, the Chiefs might also be fun, but it’s unclear how good the Packers will be in Matt LaFleur’s first season as head coach. You can’t go wrong with a divisional rivalry like Packers-Vikings, and there could be offensive fireworks that many fans love to see.
Houston Texans: vs. IND
Despite two close regular season games in a 1-1 split, the Texans were no match for the Colts in the postseason last year. They’ll be ready to go after that outing, and Indy should perform well every week with their playing style.
Indianapolis Colts: @ KC
While the Colts knocked the Texans out of the postseason, they were then knocked out by the Chiefs the next week. Indy’s roster will be stronger in 2019, and Kansas City will be a big test for them. Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes is an easy sell for a primetime game.
Jacksonville Jaguars: vs. TEN
Oakland feels like a good fit for the Jaguars to face in primetime, as both teams want to win with a tough, edgy style. However, the Jaguars really want to get over their blowout loss suffered last December on Thursday night, when Derrick Henry did this to them:
Kansas City Chiefs: @ NE
Chiefs vs. Patriots will be a 4:25 PM ET matchup at the very least (and many people probably prefer that over Sunday night anyway). The AFC Championship rematch will arguably be the best game of the season, so it’ll be interesting to see where it lands on the schedule.
Los Angeles Chargers: @ KC
Last December’s epic comeback win by Philip Rivers and the Chargers at Arrowhead was one of the highlights of the season, so the two matchups between the teams will be highly-anticipated this year. The game in Kansas City is the preferred primetime matchup because the home crowd is far superior to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Rams: @ ATL
The NFC title game rematch we’ll get to later, but the Falcons are the only NFC team that’s knocked Sean McVay’s squad out of the playoffs through two seasons. Seattle of course would be one of the better matchups, too, but the Rams are considered heavy favorites for the division.
Miami Dolphins: vs. NYJ
The current Dolphins players didn’t seem to have any issues with former head coach Adam Gase, but it’ll still be interesting to see Gase face his former team. Also, new Jets running back Le’Veon Bell seemingly wanted to receive interest from Miami in free agency but did not.
Minnesota Vikings: vs. WAS
There’ll be a lot of talk about Kirk Cousins and his time in Washington leading up to this one, but don’t forget about Case Keenum on the other side, too. Vikings vs. Redskins will likely be a Sunday night game. A matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will also be a fun test for Mike Zimmer’s defense and a strong potential primetime matchup.
New England Patriots: @ PHI
The Patriots take things week-by-week and don’t care about what’s happened or what’s going to happen when preparing for the task in front of them, but there might be a little extra for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady after they lost to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII. And Carson Wentz is a totally different quarterback than Nick Foles for Belichick’s defense to defend.
New Orleans Saints: @ LAR
Hopefully there isn’t too much talk about the non-call in the NFC Championship, as it’s something that’ll get tiresome for average viewers to constantly hear about. But the Saints are going to be about as fired up as possible for a regular season game when they face the Rams this year.
New York Giants: vs. PHI
The Giants are 1-9 in their last ten games against the Eagles, but it’s a long-time rivalry that’s one of the better candidates for a primetime matchup during the NFL’s 100th anniversary season.
New York Jets: vs. NYG
The week leading up to Jets-Giants will be filled with endless debate about Sam Darnold vs. Saquon Barkley, but it’ll be nice to see the two New York/New Jersey teams play things out on the field. The game will likely get heated.
Oakland Raiders: vs. KC
The Raiders have made it clear they know they have some work to do if they’re going to catch up and compete with the Chiefs in the AFC West. They’ve already added a number of key pieces early in the offseason, and the draft gives them another opportunity to select a handful of Year 1 difference-makers. We’ll see where they stand after this matchup.
Philadelphia Eagles: @ MIN
Games against the Patriots, Bears, and NFC East foes are other potential primetime games for the Eagles, but this rivalry could be big-time in 2019. Philadelphia will be returning to where they won their first Super Bowl, but Minnesota will look to make it an unwelcome return.
Pittsburgh Steelers: @ CLE
The Steelers have won the last three AFC North titles, so they might be extra determined with all the talk about the Browns as the division favorites.
San Francisco 49ers: vs. SEA
It might be a stretch for the Niners to compete with the Rams in the NFC West this season, so the Seahawks could be a good target for the schedule-makers for a primetime matchup. Both teams are expected to be in the wild-card mix.
Seattle Seahawks: vs. LAR
However, the Seahawks probably feel they can compete for the division crown after they played them tough twice in 2018. Russell Wilson is 22-5-1 in primetime games, so Seattle would arguably be the favorite at home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: vs. ARI
Bruce Arians and the Cardinals didn’t appear to leave on poor terms, but clearly the two-time Coach of the Year wanted to keep coaching. With Kliff Kingsbury leading the offense on the other side, there could be a bunch of points scored between the Bucs and Cards.
Tennessee Titans: @ IND
There’s a long way to go until the season, but the Titans are an under-the-radar team as things stand. Hopefully Marcus Mariota will be healthy in 2019 after he missed last season’s win-and-in Week 17 game against the Colts.
Washington Redskins: vs. DAL
For the NFL’s 100th anniversary, Redskins-Cowboys is going to be big. A late-afternoon game should certainly be the time slot for one of the matchups, but a primetime showdown also should be in consideration.