2019 NFL Storylines

A Legendary Kickoff: I’ve lived in Illinois for a while now. No matter what the Chicago Bears record maybe, the fans will always be amped up for their annual rivalry game with the Green Bay Packers. The two games last year were memorable. The Packers stormed back from down 20 points to beat the Bears behind a heroic performance from Aaron Rodgers who was basically on one knee. The second game in December was the division clincher for the Bears. To kick off the 2019 season, these iconic rivals will begin the 100th season of the NFL. The Bears won the division for the first time in eight seasons and the Packers missed the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time since 05-06. I think both teams are wanting to prove something. The Packers want to prove they are still one of the best teams in the NFC and the Bears want to show everyone that last year wasn’t a fluke. Thursday, September 5th is the day when NFL football is back!

The Defense: Tell me if you’ve heard this saying before. The New England Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions. For the sixth time in 19 years, the opening game for the defending champs will take place in Foxborough, Massachusetts. They will begin their title defense on a Sunday night against their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers who will be making their first trip to Gillette for the first time since the 2016 AFC Championship game. This is the best rivalry in the NFL right now and even with the Steelers trading away a superstar, the matchup between Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady is more than enough to capture the attention of football fans. The last two showdowns between these teams have been very memorable. In 2017, the infamous overturn of Jesse James’ touchdown and last year, the Steelers finally held on and beat the Patriots. This should be a fun one to kick off Sunday Night Football.

Uh Oh: When I think of the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, the call that wasn’t often comes to mind, why wouldn’t it? That was the worst no call I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching the game of football. If the flag gets thrown, the Saints are in the RedZone, they score, and I think that game is over. You know this is a game that immediately grabbed my attention as I saw the schedules. For the first time since that January Sunday at the Superdome, these two will meet in an NFC title game rematch, this time in Los Angeles. For a fact, I know the Saints have this game circled on their calendars. This is an early showdown between two well-known powerhouses in the NFC.

Revenge?: Khalil Mack was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and became a defensive superstar. I often considered he and Derek Carr the cornerstones of this current era of Oakland Raiders football. The Summer of 2018 comes around and neither Mack’s camp nor the Raiders were able to come to an agreement on a new contract. September 1st comes around and the Raiders have traded the all-pro to the Chicago Bears. On October 6th, Khalil will face his former team for the first time in his NFL career across the pond in London. This is also an interesting quarterback matchup between Mitchell Tribusky and Derek Carr.

Luck/Pat II: The Indianapolis Colts were one of the biggest improvements all around last year. With a healthy Andrew Luck, they are a playoff team. Without him, they are a train wreck. The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the two best teams in the AFC last season. When they last met, it was in the divisional round of the playoffs with Kansas City advancing. They will meet again at Arrowhead for the rematch. This game will also mark the return of Justin Houston who signed with the Colts as a free agent this off-season. Justin spent the first portion of his NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Forever 04: The quarterback class of 2004 will always be one to remember. Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers will be linked to one another forever. We will get to see two of these guys face each other. Ben will lead his Steelers out to Los Angeles for a tilt with a hungry Chargers team. These two met last season in early December with the Steelers jumping ahead to a big lead. Then, they blew it and allowed the Chargers to come back to get the win and push their playoff chances. Who knows how much longer either quarterback may have playing so it’s always nice to get a quarterback matchup like this.

Mirror, Mirror: If you’ve seen my analysis of Patrick Mahomes, I’ve often referred to him as the closest thing I’ve seen to Aaron Rodgers. We’ll finally get to see these two on the same field facing each other. Two of the best quarterbacks in the business will face each other for the first time in their careers. Mahomes became a star last season and wowed us all with his MVP season. Rodgers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the last nine years or so. I see so many similarities between the two with how they’re able to move the pocket, extend plays and make pinpoint accurate passes.

OBJ/TB12: The Cleveland Browns made a splash when they traded for Odell Beckham giving Baker Mayfield two very reliable weapons on the perimeter. This will feature two of the biggest names in the NFL. The star wideout that makes every catch whether it’s one handed or with both and the greatest quarterback ever to play. A second-year quarterback against a six-time Super Bowl winning signal-caller. I have a feeling the Browns will be featured a lot in some big games this upcoming year.

52 Questions: When we last saw the Patriots and Eagles play, it was in Minnesota for Super Bowl 52 and Tom Brady was attempting to catch a pass. The Eagles were also clinching their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. This will mark the team’s first time playing since then and it will also mark the first career matchup between Carson Wentz and Tom Brady. The Linc will be ready for this one as the last two Super Bowl champions square off.

Wanna Be Legendary: The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears are two of the iconic franchises in the NFL today. So many big names who went onto become Hall of Famers have played for these teams. These were two division winners from last season, and they’ll meet this season. Both teams pride themselves on playing good defense, running the ball and have young quarterbacks.

Round III: The Chiefs and Patriots gave us some memorable matchups in 2018. The first took place in October that ended in Kansas City losing their first game of the year by a score of 43-40. After that game, I knew they were going to see each other once again for the right to go to the Super Bowl. In January, they met for the AFC title and New England got them again. They will meet in December with a lot potentially on the line. Division titles? Home-field advantage? A first-round bye? This could be a huge game in the AFC when this one rolls around.

A Couple of Drew’s: Another late game with both teams potentially on the cusp of clinching playoff berths. Andrew Luck and Drew Brees are two of the best quarterbacks in the league. Believe it or not, this will be the second time ever that they will battle each other. I see points being scored in this one between these two teams on a Monday nighter in December.

An All-Around Reunion: Matt Nagy coached under Andy Reid for three seasons in Kansas City. Then, Matt branched out, became the coach of the Chicago Bears, led the Bears to a division title, 12 wins and was named coach of the year. Now, he will face his former boss as a head coach this time around. This game will also feature Mitchell Tribusky and Patrick Mahomes, these two were drafted from the same draft class.

What the Bell: Le’Veon Bell wanted to spend the rest of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it didn’t work out that way. He sat out all of 2018 after failing to sign the franchise tag. This March, he signed with the New York Jets as a free-agent. The Jets will welcome the Steelers to MetLife for a battle late in the season. Talk about another revenge game, this could be an interesting one leading up to kickoff.