We have an NFL schedule. Now we just have 141 days to wait for the regular season to kick off.
In what has become a mini-holiday for NFL fans, the league announced its regular-season schedule on Wednesday night, complete with long dueling television specials on ESPN2 and NFL Network.
On Sept. 5, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kick off the NFL’s 100th season, the first of 256 games before the playoffs. Let’s take a look at some of the key revelations and dates from the regular-season schedule:
Historic opener breaks from tradition
For the NFL’s 100th season, the league wanted to switch things up a bit on opening night. Or, maybe, the NFL realized everyone has some New England Patriots fatigue.
The defending champions won’t host the first game of the NFL regular season. Instead, the NFL’s oldest rivalry takes center stage as thee Packers face off with the Bears. The Patriots get a great Week 1 game too: They host the Steelers on “Sunday Night Football,” and will celebrate their Super Bowl LIII title then.
While it’s a bit odd to not have the champs on the first Thursday of the season, it’s not like the NFL gave us a bad opener. The Bears are the defending NFC North champions and the Packers, with a new coach in Matt LaFleur and some dirty laundry aired involving Aaron Rodgers, are trying to reestablish themselves as contenders.
Five international games, including return to Mexico
The NFL had to cancel its game in Mexico City last year due to significant concerns about the turf. The game reverted to Los Angeles, and the Chiefs and Rams gave us what is likely the greatest regular-season game in NFL history.
The NFL will try again. Included in the five international games this season is a “Monday Night Football” game in Week 11 between the Chiefs and Chargers. One would assume the turf will be ready.
The other four international games will come from London: Bears vs. Raiders (Week 5), Panthers vs. Buccaneers (Week 6), Bengals vs. Rams (Week 8), Texans vs. Jaguars (Week 9). The Panthers-Bucs and Texans-Jaguars game will be in the 9:30 a.m. ET window.
Two title game rematches
Last season, conference championship weekend produced two classics. Hopefully, we get two great rematches.
The Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime of the NFC championship game, with a lot of controversy involved. Those two teams will meet again Week 2 in Los Angeles.
The AFC championship game went to overtime too, and the New England Patriots knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs. That rematch will take place in Foxborough late in the season, in Week 14.
Kicking things off
As always, the NFL will have a doubleheader on “Monday Night Football” to start the season.
In Week 1, the Houston Texans will play at the New Orleans Saints in the first game, and the Denver Broncos play at the Oakland Raiders, with new star receiver Antonio Brown, in the late game. That caps off Week 1, which always produces plenty of surprises.
Thanksgiving games look familiar
The NFL didn’t get too creative for its three Thanksgiving games.
The matchups between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, and the late game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, should look familiar. They were Thanksgiving games last year, and we get them again in 2019. In between those two familiar matchups the Dallas Cowboys will host the Buffalo Bills, which is different at least.
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