NFL: Five Prime Time Games to Look Forward in 2019

Photo: USA Today/ Reuters

With the 2019 NFL schedule being released last Wednesday, it’s time to take an early look at some prime time match-ups that could provide real excitement and intrigue this season. Here are five prime time games that you have to tune in for:

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets: Monday, September 16 at 8:15 PM on ESPN

Look, I know it’s not what we all wanted, which would be the Browns and their flashy offseason acquisition and star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. taking on his former team, the Giants, in his former home stadium in East Rutherford. The positive, though, is that we still get to see OBJ go back to his old stadium to take on the other New York team, the Jets.

While the “OBJ returning to New York” story will dominate the week leading up to the game, there’s other great match-ups to consider. The respective No. 1 and 3 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold will go head to head in an early season tilt that’ll give both of these young, highly touted quarterbacks the opportunity to gain a leg up on the other.

Also, rookie head coaches Adam Gase and Freddie Kitchens will faceoff in a pivotal opportunity to gain some momentum early on in the season. Then, there’s Le’veon Bell. After sitting out all of last year with Pittsburgh and snagging a $52 .5 million contract with the Jets in March, Bell wants to prove his worth this season. Can the Browns’ rush defense slow him down? Or, will the 2x All-Pro dazzle on MNF? It’s safe to say that this one should have plenty of story lines, at the very least.

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs: Sunday, October 6 at 8:20 PM on NBC

Yes sir, this one’s gonna be a dandy. This Week 5 rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round will hopefully provide all of the action that fans are expecting. It could also hold some importance in terms of playoff seeding in the AFC. After all, these two teams could very well be the cream of the crop in the AFC this season. Indy doesn’t want to go to Arrowhead again in the playoffs, where their 2018 season ended in a disappointing 31-13 loss at the hands of the Chiefs.

At QB, Luck vs Mahomes is a great battle. Both teams boast great tight ends as well, with Eric Ebron and Travis Kelce emerging as top TEs in the game after Rob Gronkowski retired this offseason. Offensively, this match-up is straight dynamite. Both teams have solid defenses, but give the Colts the advantage in this one. Indy’s Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore II will build off good first impressions last season and take a step forward for the Colts.

This one could most certainly foreshadow an AFC Championship game, just like last season’s Week 6 thriller between the Chiefs and the Patriots did. Look for a motivated Colts team to make a mark in this key Sunday night tilt.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals: Thursday, October 31 at 8:20 PM on Fox/NFL Network

No, I’m not joking. The two worst teams in the NFC in 2018 going head to head on Halloween has the potential to be a great Thursday night game. First off, the coaching battle will be excellent. Kyle Shanahan, head coach of the 49ers is a bright mind, despite a lack of results in his head coaching career thus far. On Arizona’s sideline, Kliff Kingsbury will be coaching in his first season after a solid college coaching career at Texas Tech. What will these two coaches bring to the table this season, and how will they combat each other in this match-up?

With an influx of youth in San Francisco occurring in prior years and continuing this year, the 49ers may finally be ready to roll. Jimmy Garoppolo is returning from his season-ending ACl tear in 2018, so he and players like George Kittle can shine in 2019, barring any major injuries.

In terms of Arizona’s roster, there are still a lot of holes. But, with the number 1 pick in the upcoming draft, the Cardinals can draft star Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray. If that happens, this game between two NFC West rivals will provide intrigue and excitement if nothing else.

Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints: Monday, December 16 at 8:15 PM on ESPN

This Week 15 prime time game will be a great test for two teams that should be contending at this point in the season. The Saints narrowly missed a Super Bowl appearance last season because of a blatant missed pass interference call vs the Rams in the NFC Championship game. In 2019, the Saints will be going all in as their franchise QB, Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. At the age of 40, the end is in sight for the future Hall of Famer.

On the other hand, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is ready to win his first ring and a win in New Orleans would be a huge statement for the Colts’ superstar. Two good defenses, and stars everywhere on offence. Aside from the quarterbacks, there’s Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas for the Saints, along with Ryan Ramczyk who has done an incredible job of protecting Brees thus far in his career. For the Colts, TY Hilton and Eric Ebron provide the firepower upfront.

Both teams will be looking to get home field advantage in the postseason, so the importance of this game cannot be overlooked. This is a great test for both teams who can run up the score, so expect plenty of fireworks in this one.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: Monday, December 23 at 8:15 PM on ESPN

This Week 16 meeting between two AFC North rivals could have massive importance. Would anyone be shocked if both of these teams were competing for a wild card spot, or even the AFC North title? Chicago is for real, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to replicate what they did last season, so this game may be a deciding factor in the division.

Aaron Rodgers has a flair for the dramatic. We’ve all seen his crazy Hail Mary throws and comebacks in the 4th quarter throughout his career. Will he need to stage another comeback in this one? Who knows, but the point is that Rodgers provides interest and surreal talent, if nothing else. His QB counterpart in this game, Kirk Cousins will be looking to get the Vikings back into the playoffs after missing out in 2018. Will this game hold meaning in that regard? If so, it has the potential to be a legendary late season showdown between two classic rivals on MNF.

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