2019 NFL Schedule: League Releases Official Regular-Season Slate

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2019

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Football fans can start making their travel plans and putting in their sick days after the NFL unveiled its full regular-season schedule for 2019.

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have the honor of kicking off the new campaign. They'll meet Sept. 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The dates for the remaining 255 games are available on NFL.com following Wednesday's schedule release.

The schedules for each of the 32 teams are below, along with some of the more notable dates throughout the year.

       

2019 Key Dates

Thursday, September 5: Regular-Season Opener

Sunday, September 8: Regular-Season Kickoff Weekend

Sunday, December 29: Final Day of Regular Season

Saturday, January 4: NFL Playoffs Begin

Sunday, February 2: Super Bowl LIV (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida)

     

AFC East

     

AFC North

       

AFC South

      

AFC West

      

NFC East

      

NFC North

      

NFC South

      

NFC West

      

Division to Watch: AFC North

Even before the 2019 offseason got underway, the AFC North was shaping up nicely this season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013, Lamar Jackson energized the Baltimore Ravens in the second half of 2018 after taking over for Joe Flacco, and the Cleveland Browns won seven games after going 4-44 in the preceding three seasons.

All three teams were pretty active over the last few months, providing even more intrigue.

Nobody did more in the NFL to excite their fanbase than the Browns. Cleveland acquired Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants and signed Sheldon Richardson to a three-year, $37 million deal.

By adding Beckham to the mix, the Browns offense is basically approaching Madden-like proportions.

"It's going to be exciting," Baker Mayfield told reporters. "We've got two LSU Tigers we're throwing to, and obviously, we have a lot more talent, too. So it's going to be a thing where you pick your poison."

Cleveland has gone from the perennial doormat in the AFC North to the betting favorite (7-5), according to Vegas Insider.

Just as the Browns are on the rise, the Steelers may be heading in the opposite direction.

In September, Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman wrote a piece critical of head coach Mike Tomlin, arguing Tomlin had effectively lost the locker room. Pittsburgh proceeded to go 9-6-1, the first time since 2013 it failed to get to double digits in wins.

Few expected Le'Veon Bell to return to the Steelers after he sat out the 2018 season, and he eventually signed with the New York Jets. The trade of Antonio Brown was a little more surprising, even though he had requested a move elsewhere in January. It felt like cooler heads would prevail by the summer. Instead, Brown is a member of the Oakland Raiders.

James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster were Pro Bowlers in 2018, but Pittsburgh is essentially asking them to replicate the production of two players who were the best at their respective positions.

After they finished 13th in defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders, the Steelers have done little to improve their defense as well. While the team's Super Bowl window isn't shut, it may be slowly closing.

The Ravens will have the luxury of a full season with Jackson as the starter.

He threw for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns while running for 695 yards and five scores as a rookie. Jackson ended the year on a sour note with his performance in Baltimore's AFC Wild Card Round defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers, but that shouldn't dampen the enthusiasm around his potential in 2019.

Baltimore lost Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley to free agency. Weddle's departure was addressed by signing Earl Thomas, while the Ravens have failed so far to make corresponding moves with regard to Suggs and Mosley. Together, their exits shouldn't be a crushing blow for what was one of the NFL's best defenses.

In general, one could make a strong case for any of the Browns, Steelers or Ravens to take the AFC North crown.

The Cincinnati Bengals are the lone exception. 

Firing Marvin Lewis was the right move because the team was beginning to stagnate. By hiring Zac Taylor, a 35-year-old first-time head coach, the Bengals appear to be building more for the future rather than hoping to compete in 2019.

       

Most Anticipated Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8

Speaking of teams that had stagnated, the Green Bay Packers didn't even wait for the 2018 season to end before firing Mike McCarthy. Joe Philbin served as the interim head coach before the Packers hired Matt LaFleur as McCarthy's permanent replacement.

Instead of transforming the roster, the Packers opted for more incremental moves this offseason. They signed Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos to strengthen a defense that fell well short of expectations.

And that was the right approach. A coaching change should do wonders for this roster, which has the pieces to contend for a Super Bowl.

Hosting the Packers will be a great test for the Kansas City Chiefs defense.

While you can't blame the defense solely for Kansas City's loss in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots' game-winning drive in overtime was predictable because the Chiefs couldn't stop anybody all year. The team allowed 405.5 yards per game, second-most in the NFL, and finished 26th in defensive efficiency.

The Chiefs responded by firing defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and bringing in Steve Spagnuolo. They also signed Tyrann Mathieu as a replacement for Eric Berry, the latter of whom missed nearly all of the last two seasons.

Related

    Stat Predictions for Every Starting QB

    How will your QB do in 2019? ➡️

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Stat Predictions for Every Starting QB

    How will your QB do in 2019? ➡️

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Le'Veon Ready to Ride with Gase

    Jets HC shoots down rumor he plans to trade RB

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Le'Veon Ready to Ride with Gase

    Jets HC shoots down rumor he plans to trade RB

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Nick Bosa (Hamstring) Out 3 Weeks

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Nick Bosa (Hamstring) Out 3 Weeks

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Gerald McCoy Drawing Interest from Bengals

    Reports say six other teams could be in the mix for DT

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: Gerald McCoy Drawing Interest from Bengals

    Reports say six other teams could be in the mix for DT

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report