It has been seven months since the New England Patriots slammed the door shut on the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl LIII. After a long offseason and four weeks of exhibition games, the 2019 NFL regular season will finally kick off this week. Here are the top five games of Week 1 to look forward to:
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Odds: Bears -3 -120
The NFL’s 100TH season will kick off with the renewal of one of the oldest rivalries in the sport when the Packers visit the Bears on Thursday Night Football. Aaron Rodgers and company have something to prove after a disappointing season in which they finished 6-9-1 and missed the playoffs. In order to get back to the postseason, they will need to get through teams as good as the defending NFC North champions Chicago. Coming off a 12-4 season, the Bears want to take that next step and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders this season.
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings
Odds: Vikings -3.5
This is another intriguing matchup featuring a pair of potential NFC playoff teams. Both teams have made somewhat recent playoff runs but have disappointed since. The Falcons lost in Super Bowl LI but have stumbled since. Meanwhile, the Vikings played in the 2018 NFC Championship Game but fell off the map in their first year with Kirk Cousins in the lineup.
This Week 1 matchup will set an early tone for both teams.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Odds: Chiefs -3.5
The Chiefs fell just one win short of reaching the Super Bowl a year ago. Now they return with a revamped defense and the league MVP at quarterback, hoping they did enough to put themselves over the top in the AFC. A Week 1 trip to Jacksonville will be a good opening test for Patrick Mahomes and company.
The Jaguars went from an AFC Championship Game appearance in 2018 to a disappointing 5-11 season in 2018, so they have lots to prove. They finally addressed its quarterback situation by trading for Nick Foles, who will make his debut for the team in Week 1. We’ll see how their vaunted defense matches up against the explosive Chiefs.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
Odds: Browns -5.5
After all of the hype that followed the franchise throughout the offseason, the new-look Browns will kick off their season at home against the Titans on Sunday afternoon. Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield has some new weapons to work with, including Odell Beckham Jr. Week 1 will provide us with our first look at an offense that has the potential to be among the most explosive in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Titans enter the fifth year of the Marcus Mariota era with serious question marks about whether or not he can be their franchise quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
Odds: Patriots -6
The first Sunday wraps up with the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots unveiling their sixth Super Bowl banner before hosting the Steelers. While it’s only Week 1, this game could have significant implications for both teams. Pittsburgh begins the post-Antonio Brown, post-Le’Veon Bell era with quite an optimism that they have enough pieces to contend for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, in New England, we’ll see what this year’s Patriots look like with Tom Brady a year older and no Rob Gronkowski to work with.