NEW YORK CITY, New York - The NFL announced its season schedule for 2019 on Wednesday night.
The 17-week, 256-game 2019 regular-season will kick off on Thursday night, 5 September in Chicago, and conclude with 16 division games on Sunday, 29 December.
The league’s 100th season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game. Two of the NFL’s oldest franchises will renew one of the richest rivalries in sports when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Thursday, September 5 (NBC).
To mark the NFL’s 100th season, each week during the regular season will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The games will be split across days and networks based on how they fall on the schedule.
New England begins defense of its Super Bowl LIII title on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, September 8, hosting Pittsburgh.
The 50th season of Monday Night Football kicks off September 9 with an ESPN doubleheader, as Houston travels to New Orleans followed by Denver at Oakland in the nightcap.
ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16, including the two teams (Cleveland at the New York Jets, September 16, that kicked off the longest running television series in American history, in 1970. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.
All 32 clubs are again scheduled for at least one nationally televised Thursday, Sunday or Monday game.
Thursday Night Football will air exclusively on NFL Network in Weeks 2-3, while FOX kicks off its Thursday night slate in Week 4. FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night). Those FOX games will be simulcast via NFL Network, distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes, and streamed on Amazon Prime Video, beginning with Philadelphia at Green Bay, September 26.
All told, NFL Network will exclusively televise seven games (two on Thursday night, two games in London and all three in Week 16 on Saturday, December 21), with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.
A select number of games will be "cross-flexed," moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced today and other "cross-flexed" games will be decided during the season.
The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 29. For the 11th consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.
Six 2019 games are rematches of 2018 playoff games. That group includes five matchups -- Kansas City at New England (December 8, CBS), the Los Angeles Rams at Dallas (December 15, FOX), Chicago at Philadelphia (November 3, FOX) and Houston at Indianapolis (October 20, CBS) – that will be played at the home of the team that had to travel in January.
The first four contests in the NFL100 Game of the Week lineup include each of the league’s four network broadcast partners. Rivals Green Bay and Chicago open the series September 5 (NBC), followed by the Browns at Jets September 16 (ESPN) in a rematch of the original 1970 Monday Night Football game. Miami comes to Dallas September 22 (FOX), reuniting the Super Bowl VI teams, and the Chargers travel to Miami September 29 (CBS), evoking memories of their epic 1981 Divisional playoff, when Dan Fouts led his team to a 41-38 overtime triumph at Miami.
Other 2019 schedule highlights:
- Five clubs will play both Super Bowl LIII teams. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dallas have both the Patriots and Rams on their slates.
- One of those Thursday games is a Super Bowl XLII and XLVI rematch, the New York Giants at New England (Week 6). Other rematches include Seattle at Pittsburgh (Super Bowl XL, Week 2, FOX), New England at Philadelphia (Super Bowls XXXIX and LII, Week 11, CBS) and Baltimore at San Francisco (Super Bowl XLVII, Week 13, FOX).
- The overall schedule is balanced in that no team will play more than seven 2018 playoff teams and no team will play fewer than five 2018 playoff teams.
- The Patriots and Chiefs, featuring the teams with the NFL’s longest-tenured head coaches (Bill Belichick and Andy Reid), meet for a third consecutive year. Their last two regular-season games (2017-18) have combined for 152 points.
The NFL’s 2019 international slate features four games in London and one in Mexico City. The Oakland Raiders will host the Chicago Bears in Week 5 on Sunday, October 6 (FOX), in the inaugural NFL game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. One week later on Sunday, October 13 (NFLN), also at Tottenham, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Carolina Panthers, who will be playing their first game in London. London action shifts to Wembley Stadium in Weeks 8 and 9 when the Los Angeles Rams host the Cincinnati Bengals on October 27 (CBS) followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Houston Texans, another first-time visitor to London, on November 3 (NFLN).
Mexico City's Azteca Stadium will host a matchup between AFC West rivals Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11 on Monday Night Football, November 18 (ESPN). Both teams will be playing in Mexico for the first time.
Thanksgiving will feature a trio of matchups in Week 13 on Thursday, November 28. The first game will send the Bears to Detroit to face the Lions (FOX). The late-afternoon game will feature Buffalo visiting Dallas (CBS), the Bills’ first game on the holiday in 25 years, since a trip to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1994. The Thanksgiving Day festivities conclude with an NFC South showdown as the Falcons host New Orleans on NBC.
The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12.
"Flexible scheduling" will again be used in Weeks 11-17. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game.
In Week 16, three of five possible matchups currently listed as TBD will be scheduled for Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at Tampa Bay, Buffalo at New England, Detroit at Denver, Oakland at the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco at the Los Angeles Rams. Start times and Saturday games for Week 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.
For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 29. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives "surprise" teams a chance to play their way into primetime.
Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.
The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference and begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 4-5. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.
Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 11-12. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19, followed by the Pro Bowl on Sunday, January 26, at a site to be determined.
The NFL’s 100th season concludes on Sunday, February 2, with Super Bowl LIV at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium (FOX).
The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets. All postseason games are televised nationally.
Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.