ESPN NFL Experts
With 8 times right up until the start out of the NFL draft, the league has released the entire frequent-year agenda for 2019. 7 days 1 functions Inexperienced Bay at Chicago to kick off the season on Thursday night time, additionally two stellar matchups on Monday Night time Football, with Texans at Saints and Broncos at Raiders.
Who’s the biggest winner from the new plan? Which games should really you circle on your calendar? Our panel of ESPN NFL specialists weighs in.
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Which recreation have you circled on your calendar?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Eco-friendly Bay at Chicago on Thursday, Sept. five (Week 1). C’mon, it really is opening night at Soldier Subject. That is previous-school. And we get a key-time seat to look at Aaron Rodgers — in his initially video game less than new coach Matt LaFleur — match up to the velocity and playmaking talent of the Bears’ protection.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Browns at Jets on Monday, Sept. sixteen (Week two). This matchup gave us Baker Mayfield‘s coming-out bash in 2018, and most likely the 2019 variation will element two playoff teams. That could appear optimistic for the Jets, but second-year Sam Darnold completed sturdy as a rookie, New York has just one of the league’s most straightforward schedules, and although the protection has holes, it incorporates some intriguing star electrical power. If that isn’t plenty of, the Baker-to-OBJ connection beneath the lights could be entertaining.
KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Steelers at Patriots on Sunday, Sept. eight (7 days 1). Pittsburgh’s total offseason has revolved around interior battles. Struggling with New England in the 7 days one Sunday night time matchup will allow the environment know in a hurry if the Steelers were being equipped to refocus their initiatives on exterior battles.
Mina Kimes, NFL author: Saints at Rams on Sunday, Sept. fifteen (7 days 2). As we all know, the metropolis of New Orleans is a small miffed about a sure move interference penalty that went uncalled in the NFC Championship Sport. This is the Saints’ chance for revenge. It really is also a good matchup amongst two of the league’s most explosive offenses and a pair of groups that should be favored to return to the playoffs.
Mike Sando, senior NFL author: Colts at Chiefs on Sunday, Oct. 6 (7 days five). Can one of these rising AFC groups unseat New England in the meeting? Is Patrick Mahomes improved than Andrew Luck? This matchup is about the existing and the upcoming.
Kevin Seifert, countrywide NFL author: Chiefs vs. Chargers on Monday, Nov. eighteen, in Mexico Town (Week twelve). This match is just not just amongst two enjoyable offenses and division rivals, with timing that could enjoy a significant role in determining playoff seeding. It also marks the NFL’s return to Mexico City soon after last year’s field-connected cancellation at Stadium Azteca. The league has a vested curiosity in cultivating international enthusiasts, and it wants this recreation to do the job from a logistics perspective.
Area Yates, NFL analyst: Chiefs at Patriots on Sunday, Dec. eight (Week 14). This activity pits the AFC’s finalists from previous year in what was — in my impression — the finest activity of the year. The chess match concerning Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes vs. Invoice Belichick is something I’m currently relishing.
The greatest winner of the routine is ____________.
Bowen: The Patriots. New England has some holes to fill on the roster ahead of we get to the frequent time, but the plan sets up for them to get started the period. Soon after web hosting the Steelers in 7 days one, the Patriots get the Dolphins (away), Jets (house), Charges (away), Redskins (absent), Giants (house) and Jets all over again (house) right before the Sunday night time matchup with Baker Mayfield and the Browns. If New England can conquer Pittsburgh on opening weekend, it could go on a important operate to get started the time.
Clay: The AFC East. By my metrics, the Patriots, Jets and Costs will enjoy the a few easiest schedules. In addition to going through the rebuilding Dolphins two times, the three groups will encounter off with the NFC East and AFC North, which are arguably the league’s two the very least-gifted divisions (moreover the AFC East itself). Participating in nearly one particular-3rd of their games versus the Dolphins, Giants, Redskins and Bengals will definitely assistance these teams’ playoff odds.
Joyner: The Patriots host the Steelers in 7 days one and then arguably you should not sq. off from another top rated-tier workforce till their Week nine matchup with Baltimore. Increase that to closing the year in opposition to Cincinnati, Buffalo and Miami, and the highway is set for an additional very first-round bye for New England.
Kimes: The Patriots (what’s new?). Glancing at the to start with couple weeks of their schedule, 7- is in engage in. Soon after a few of demanding matchups vs. Cleveland and Baltimore in Weeks 8 and nine, the Patriots have a effectively-timed bye ahead of a challenging extend.
Sando: The Rams, with only two game titles kicking off at 10 a.m. PT (not including a London game in Week eight), an early start off time that groups from the West Coastline hope to prevent. Oakland (six), Arizona (5), San Francisco (4), Seattle (four) and the Chargers (four) have extra early commences.
Seifert: Browns enthusiasts. When the prime-time schedule will insert strain and scrutiny to the group, it will give the NFL’s longest-struggling fan foundation another jolt of exhilaration. For the first time in extra than a ten years, the league is taking this franchise severely. Love it!
Yates: The Browns. I am not diving into any cause that ties into whom they engage in or the place they participate in them. This is about the Browns — extensive the laughingstock of the league — getting 4 video games scheduled for primary time. This is the crew that folks will gravitate toward this period.
Article-absolutely free agency acquire totals are out. Which above or beneath do you truly feel finest about picking correct now?
Bowen: Colts about nine.5 wins. Indy will get some early season assessments with the Chargers in the opener and the Chiefs in 7 days 5. But I see an very effectively-coached workforce below that took a pretty sensible and calculated technique to free company, re-signing important veterans though adding some new items who can make an rapid affect. Moreover, with nine picks in the 2019 draft, common supervisor Chris Ballard can keep on to create his roster. I see the Colts getting the AFC South.
Clay: Cowboys about eight.5 wins. Dallas has arrived at the nine-acquire mark each and every of the earlier a few seasons and four of the previous 5. The defending NFC East champions enhanced the roster during the offseason, incorporating Robert Quinn, Jason Witten and Randall Cobb. All-Professional Travis Frederick is also anticipated back.
Ryan Clark would make his predictions for the Rams’ 2019 routine, including a reduction to the Browns in 7 days 3.
Joyner: Browns underneath 9 wins. Cleveland’s schedule strongly suggests that 9 wins need to be considered the superior aspect of the Browns’ earn complete projection.
Kimes: Packers around nine wins. After a disappointing 2018 marketing campaign, the Packers have a fairly effortless schedule in contrast to their division rivals, a new-seem protection and, with any luck ,, a nutritious Aaron Rodgers.
Seifert: Browns under 9 wins. I reserve the ideal to alter my head, but whilst the Browns have produced significant staff strides the earlier year, exterior pleasure considerably outpaces reality. 4 primary-time video games only increase to the force that coach Freddie Kitchens faces. There is a significant mix of personalities on this roster, and general public scrutiny will be increased than it has been at any stage given that the Browns returned to Cleveland.
Yates: Seahawks around eight.five wins. This team will be extra gifted than the one particular that reached ten wins and the playoffs last year. The overall health of crucial contributors this sort of as linebacker K.J. Wright and, ideally, huge receiver Doug Baldwin offers me faith that this Seattle staff will access 10 wins once again.
What is actually your early Tremendous Bowl decide on?
Bowen: Chiefs above Bears. Just after the Chiefs employed Steve Spagnuolo as their defensive coordinator, I’m flipping from my choose of the Chargers earlier this offseason. With Spags working that aspect of the ball, look for Kansas City to have a a great deal improved defensive unit to pair with Patrick Mahomes and that explosive perform offense. Give me the Chiefs as the Super Bowl champions in excess of a Bears workforce that helps make it to the ultimate dance for the reason that of its top-tier defense and obvious improvement from Mitchell Trubisky in his next period underneath Matt Nagy.
Clay: Saints more than Patriots. The Saints ended up a sky judge overrule absent from a Tremendous Bowl look previous year and improved what was by now an excellent roster for the duration of the offseason. They are arguably the league’s finest group on paper. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady return to the Tremendous Bowl for the fourth consecutive season, but the dynamic duo falls short to MVP Drew Brees this time around.
Joyner: Chiefs about Eagles. The selecting of Steve Spagnuolo should really cut down the range of shootout game titles Kansas Town receives into and outcome in an AFC title for the Chiefs. The Eagles have the most total team in the NFC as prolonged as Carson Wentz stays wholesome.
Kimes: Saints in excess of Patriots. I was tempted to decide on the Packers since I like the moves they’ve manufactured this offseason, and I imagine we are going to see a return to type for Rodgers, but the Saints’ roster is also comprehensive to decide on against. In the AFC, I believe Mahomes will carry on to glow, but I never believe the Chiefs’ protection improved ample to challenge New England.
Sando: Chiefs around Vikings. Kansas City is an less complicated decide than the Patriots in the AFC at this position, basically for the reason that New England is in the early levels of finishing its defensive employees and filling out its roster. Minnesota must have a major-5 defense, with an offense that need to advantage from continuity and a lot more under-centre principles on early downs.
Seifert: Saints around Chiefs. But for a handful of controversial officiating phone calls and a quirky extra time rule, this could have been the Tremendous Bowl LIII matchup. The Saints have been knocking on the doorway the earlier number of years and have as lots of pieces in area as they have at any time experienced. And you can rely on Chiefs mentor Andy Reid to open the year with a host of adjustments to counter opposing defenses that used the offseason seeking to quit quarterback Mahomes.
Yates: Patriots in excess of Saints. The Saints return what is one of the league’s most well balanced rosters, and presuming they can come across a boost to enhance Mike Thomas in the obtaining group, they need to keep on to be explosive offensively. When the Patriots have to have to carry on to beef up their offensive skill team, the workforce is stacked on protection with what could be the ideal secondary in the league. Forty-as well as-calendar year-aged quarterbacks rule.
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