NFL schedule 2019: 5 must-see prime-time games

A half-century of TDs and a trio of passing records — MVP Patrick Mahomes in Opta numbers

The NFL announced its schedule for the upcoming season Wednesday, and there’s plenty of prime-time action to indulge in.

Rather than opening action on Thursday like past championship defenders, the Patriots will kick off their regular season and raise their Super Bowl 53 banner in the league’s first “Sunday Night Football” showdown Sept. 8 against the AFC rival Steelers.

As for the opener, the league will kick off its 100th season by pitting the Packers against the Bears on Sept. 5 to honor its oldest rivalry. Chicago and Green Bay first played in 1921 and have faced each other 198 times since, with the Packers holding a 97-95-6 edge.

Here are five other must-see prime-time games:

Five must-see prime-time games in 2019

Browns at Jets, Monday, Sept. 16

Odell Beckham Jr. will return to New York for the first time since being traded to Cleveland and while it won’t be against his former team, it’s still a notable homecoming.

The Browns were one of the surprise teams last season, finishing 7-8-1 after going 1-31 the previous two seasons. Meanwhile, the Jets went 4-12 after going 10-22 the previous two years, though the addition of Le’Veon Bell is sure to give Sam Darnold the boost he needs after a lackluster rookie campaign.

Rams at Browns, Sunday, Sept. 22

For the first time since 2008, “Sunday Night Football” is coming to Cleveland.

And what better way to celebrate than having two former first-overall picks square off? Browns second-year signal-caller Baker Mayfield will have his work cut out for him when quarterback Jared Goff rolls into town with Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks.

Packers at Chiefs, Sunday, Oct. 27

It’s hard to believe Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers have yet to face off under center.

In another first, the Chiefs young gun will square off against the Packers veteran as MVP past and future collide. Mahomes went head to head with Tom Brady in the conference championship last season in a memorable matchup, and this one will be no different.

Chiefs at Chargers, Monday, Nov. 18

The NFL’s lone meeting in Mexico turned out to be a disaster last season, but the league hopes to make up for it this year.

The 2018 game between the Chiefs and Rams was moved to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum over concerns about the state of the playing surface at Estadio Azteca. For 2019, the Chiefs will head south of the border to take on a different Los Angeles team led by veteran Philip Rivers.

Chiefs at Bears, Sunday, Dec. 22

Christmas is sure to come early with this intriguing matchup.

Mahomes will lead his unstoppable offense against Khalil Mack and his immovable defense. The 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year made quite an impression in Chicago after being traded from Oakland, though slowing Mahomes won’t be an easy task for Mack.