New England Patriots to host Pittsburgh Steelers in Week One as NFL release season schedule
AFC rivals to face off in Sunday Night Football blockbuster as NFL 100 features a series of storied match-ups
By Associated Press
Last Updated: 18/04/19 9:46am
Super Bowl LIII champions New England will begin the defence of their title against AFC rivals Pittsburgh after the NFL confirmed the schedule for the upcoming season.
The defending Super Bowl champions are usually given the honour of hosting the season opener in the Thursday Night Football, but the NFL had already confirmed one of its oldest rivalries would have that privilege.
Green Bay's trip to Chicago will start the season, the 199th meeting between the franchises, on Thursday September 5 meaning the champion Patriots switch to Sunday night hosts against their arch-rivals and fellow six-time champions, the Steelers.
It promises to be a memorable opening weekend with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady starting his bid for a seventh title without Rob Gronkowski, but under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick while the Steelers have lost Le'Veon Bell to Free Agency and Antonio Brown in a trade to the Oakland Raiders.
Green Bay and Chicago's meeting to open the season is a nod to the league's centenary season, the pair have met in every season since 1921 and will do so again to open the 16-week regular season.
"We know every year there seems to be a last-to-first story," said new Broncos coach Vic Fangio, the Bears' defensive coordinator last season.
"We were that in Chicago last year. I suppose a lot of teams counted us as a win last year. Every season is a new season and the order they choose for us to play them in, we'll play them in."
The year's first Monday Night football, on September 9 features New Orleans and Denver at Oakland and all four headline live games will feature on Sky Sports alongside with two more games for the two earlier slots on the opening Sunday of the season.
As well as the previously confirmed curtain-raiser, the NFL on Tuesday revealed the first of four International Games, including two at the newly built Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and a fifth International Game
The league returns to Mexico after last season's Chiefs-Rams game was moved to Los Angeles because of poor field conditions at Azteca Stadium. On Monday night Nov. 18, the Chiefs will play LA's other team, the Chargers.
Every team will have at least one national TV appearance. New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Green Bay, Seattle and the Rams get the maximum prime-time games, five.
The traditional Thanksgiving Day games will have Detroit at home to Chicago, then Buffalo at Dallas. The night game to close the holiday schedule will be New Orleans at Atlanta in another long-time rivalry.
Week 2 includes an intriguing Monday night match-up of Cleveland at the New York Jets - another nod to the league's history as the very first Monday nighter was a Browns win over Joe Namath and the defending champion Jets in 1970.
This one will feature the return to the Meadowlands for now-Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr, who left New York Giants for Cleveland this off-season, and two young, potential star quarterbacks in Cleveland's Baker Mayfield and New York's Sam Darnold who were both selected in the top three of last year's Draft and ending the season as starting QBs.
National broadcasts rarely have included the downtrodden Browns, but they're a popular choice this year: Cleveland will have four prime-time games, also facing the Rams, San Francisco and AFC North rivals Pittsburgh.
In Week 16, the NFL has left 10 teams in semi-limbo. Three games are scheduled for NFL Network on Saturday, Dec. 21, and will be chosen among these five: Detroit at Denver; Oakland at the LA Chargers; Buffalo at New England; the Rams at San Francisco 49ers; and Houston at Tampa Bay. The non-Saturday games will be played Sunday.
The season ends on December 29, when Chicago finish at Minnesota for the fourth successive year and for the 11th straight season all finales are divisional games.
Follow the NFL on Sky Sports including full coverage of the 2019 Draft which takes place in Nashville at 12.30am on Friday April 26 and all three days will be live with comprehensive build-up from Inside the Huddle and at www.skysports.com/NFL