The NFL'S 2019 Must-See Matchups

The NFL'S 2019 Must-See Matchups


Photo by Derick E. Hingle, USA Today Sports

Written by Joe Carlino


The NFL Draft has come and gone, and 256 young men have seen their dream be realized, being selected by one of the 32 member clubs between last Thursday-Saturday Now with this momentous event in the rearview mirror, we can get back to what’s important: the schedule. Come this September, every team will be gunning for the best record and a chance to represent their conference at the Super Bowl in Miami.


With every schedule release in April, there are always matchups which have “must-see” capabilities, meaning they’re ones fans cannot miss because of the potential this game could possess. It’s always fun to think about what games are the best, so with that in mind, here’s my list for the top 10 games for the upcoming 2019 NFL season.


#10) Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets, Week 16, 1:00 EST

This game barely cracks into the top 10 because of the familiarity. Le’Veon Bell, who last year held out the entire season, recently signed a four-year deal with the Jets, and now faces the team he left late in the season. New York will definitely be contending for a wild card this year and must win the big matchups on their schedule. Pittsburgh late in the year is one of those must-win games. Despite all that Pittsburgh has gone through in recent months, the extension Big Ben signed will provide some extra motivation towards a playoff push.


#9) Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears, Week One, 8:20 EST

Ah, the opening salvo between two of the most storied franchises in NFL history. What better way to kick off the centennial than with this matchup? Last year, we were treated to this same matchup on Sunday Night Football, and unless you were living under a rock, you’re quite familiar with what happened (for reference, Chicago went up 23-0 before that badddddd man Aaron Rodgers brought Green Bay back). The NFL made a great decision when creating this schedule to have this game start us off; both teams will prove why the decision is warranted.


#8) Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots, Week Eight, 4:25 EST

I’m going to preface this pick by saying I’m still not sold on the Cleveland hype train yet. Every year, there’s always a glorified team with the big name players and everyone wants to see them win the championship. Ask the Tampa Bay Lightning about that one, see what they say. I do think Baker will be an above average quarterback with a prolonged career, primarily because everything he’s done recently has brought shame to those who used all the negative off-field incidents to drag his stock down. Brady and Co. are still virtually unbeatable at home, so it’s hard to see Baker pulling the upset. However, if he can do what Patrick Mahomes did last year, he’ll have a shot.


#7) Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots, Week One, 8:20 EST

A marquee matchup which usually comes in December takes a twist and comes to our viewing pleasure to conclude Week One’s slate of Sunday contests. Ben Roethlisberger will be going into this contest without Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell for the first time, while New England goes into this without Rob Gronkowski, who retired after the Super Bowl. Ben will be relying on Juju Smith-Schuster to keep the offense afloat, while Brady will be checking down consistently to keep the Steelers defense on their toes. Maybe both team’s first-round picks will establish themselves in this game. We’ll just have to wait and see.


#6) Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams, Week 11, 8:20 EST

A rematch of last season which saw Jared Goff throw four interceptions against the fearsome “Monsters of the Midway” defense, the Rams now play host in this contest which could hold top NFC seed implications if the cards play out properly. Chicago had a rejuvenation when they traded for Khalil Mack, but now with a full season under his belt, he’ll be tasked with ensuring the Bears remain a formidable NFC foe for years to come. With the Rams, however, they’re going to have to continue on their momentum from last season, even if they went cold in Atlanta. It remains to be seen how Todd Gurley’s knee is going to hold up, and now that Ndamukong Suh has left, Aaron Donald is back to his old mantra of being the anchor up front. Can Mitchell Trubisky do just enough to win? Or will he need his defense to bail him out again?


#5) Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs, Week Eight, 8:20 EST

A proverbial passing of the torch contest which will see the current holder of “best throwing arm in the NFL”, Aaron Rodgers, face the future holder of that title. It’s no secret that Rodgers can do some extraordinary things with a football in his hand, consistently making throws other quarterbacks dream about. Who doesn’t remember that throw to Jared Cook on the sideline in the divisional round against the Cowboys? Or the throw against Chicago last year to Randall Cobb? His talent is still present, and now with a new coach in Matt LaFleur, it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds. Of course, just because he’s great doesn’t excuse the rest of his team, and their defense will be tasked with slowing down Mahomes and his receiving core. Oh, yeah, and one of those players is Tyreek Hill. Good luck, Green Bay.


#4) Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots, Week 14, 4:25 EST

This game was foreshadowed twice last season, and in both contests, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense stayed on par or played a little better at times than New England. However, in the first matchup, Brady was just a little better, and in the AFC championship game, an offsides penalty by Dee Ford negated the Chiefs from getting retribution. Because this game is in New England, like the Cleveland matchup, signs favor Brady and the Pats. That said, Mahomes has the talent and team to beat Brady late in the season. If they can negate the bad decisions and costly mistakes, they have the formula to win in Foxborough.


#4) Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs, Week Five, 8:20 EST

There’s always one game people never want to expect would have the capabilities of being a must-see contest every year. This is the 2019 season’s matchup. Indianapolis has essentially been reborn with savior quarterback Andrew Luck finally being healthy again, and with Darius Leonard, Marlon Mack, and T.Y. Hilton, they’re going to keep being a perennial playoff team. That said, Kansas City is that new flashy offense every fan wants for their team, and Mahomes is proving without question that Andy Reid made the right decision to trade up for him. Tyreek Hill is still the fastest player out there and Travis Kelce is now the best tight end in the league with Gronk gone, so the offense will show up for sure. Week Five’s SNF game will be an instant classic.


#3) New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons, Week 13, 8:20 EST

This game could easily be the top game on this list if #1 didn’t have much merit. Atlanta and New Orleans is easily the most underrated rivalry of all time, and the level of pettiness between players, coaches, and fans alike is incredible (did you see what Atlanta did to troll New Orleans during the schedule release? Classic). Ever since Drew Brees left the Chargers and Sean Payton became the head coach, this rivalry has exploded into contests everyone wants to watch. Last year, it took the Saints overtime to beat Atlanta in Week Three (and some key injuries late) and some costly Falcons fumbles inside the red zone to win last Thanksgiving. This year will not be the case, as both teams will be in the midst of their respective NFC South November gauntlets (yes, I had to put an Avengers reference somewhere). Expect a major firestorm after your Thanksgiving dinner, NFL fans, because you’re going to get it from this matchup.


#2) Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots, Week 14, 4:25 EST

This game was foreshadowed twice last season, and in both contests, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense stayed on par or played a little better at times than New England. However, in the first matchup, Brady was just a little better, and in the AFC championship game, an offsides penalty by Dee Ford negated the Chiefs from getting retribution. Because this game is in New England, like the Cleveland matchup, signs favor Brady and the Pats. That said, Mahomes has the talent and team to beat Brady late in the season. If they can negate the bad decisions and costly mistakes, they have the formula to win in Foxborough.


#1) New Orleans Saints @ Los Angeles Rams, Week Two, 4:25 EST

Of course, this contest is going to be the most must-see game of 2019. Why wouldn’t it be? We all know what happened back in January, with the infamous non-PI call which set in place for a replay review to be expanded (yay, more stoppage time). Nevertheless, what Saints fans still don’t want to accept is their team had multiple opportunities to win before and after the call, so just harboring on one incident isn’t going to solve everyone’s problems. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and their offense stagnated in the Super Bowl two weeks later, so there’s that semblance of retribution. Because this contest is in Los Angeles and not the Superdome, the NFL and their referees can feel a little relief in not having to be booed off of Bourbon Street in Week Two. Regardless, this is the best game of 2019, and both teams are going to come out swinging. The question remains: who’s going to come out with the win?

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