NFL Preview 2019: 7 Rivalries to Watch in the League's 100th Season
To celebrate its 100th season, which kicks off Thursday, September 5, the NFL is introducing the NFL 100 Game of the Week. Each designated matchup commemorates an old rivalry, a significant league event or a classic Super Bowl clash.
NFL Network and the league’s broadcast partners CBS, ESPN, FOX and NBC will air highlights and features honoring the people, players, coaches, teams, moments and more from the past century that helped make pro football America’s most popular sport.
Relive the NFL’s indelible legends and get a preview of the 2019 season as we pick the seven best NFL 100 games (in date order), and look back on the ancient and recent history of the opponents:
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
(September 5, 8:20/7:20c, NBC)
Ancient: The Bears and Packers have played each other 198 times, but the ugliest moment came in 1986, when Packers defensive end Charles Martin body-slammed Bears quarterback Jim McMahon long after the play was over. McMahon suffered a torn rotator cuff from the incident and missed the remainder of the season, effectively ending the Bears’ bid for a repeat Super Bowl title.
Recent: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers orchestrated a big 4th quarter comeback to beat the Bears 24-23 in Week 1 last season. The Monsters of the Midway would exact their revenge fourteen weeks later, when quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 win that spoiled the Packers’ chances to reach the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets
(September 16, 8:15/7:15c, ESPN)
Ancient: On September 21, 1970, the Browns beat the Jets 31-21 in the first Monday Night Football game in history. Suddenly, there was a reason to look forward to Mondays and watching primetime football with Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and “Dandy” Don Meredith in the ABC broadcast booth. MNF’s audience and prestige has shrunk since moving to ESPN, but its influence in growing the NFL is undeniable.
Recent: The Jets and Browns have been notoriously bad. The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2010 season. The Browns have had only two winning seasons and zero playoff wins since the franchise was resurrected in 1999. Things started looking up for the Dawg Pound last year when the Browns broke a 19-game winless streak (dating way back to January 1, 2017) with a 21-17 comeback victory over the Jets in Week 3. Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield saw the first regular-season action of his pro career, giving a glimpse of hope to the long-suffering Cleveland faithful.
New York Giants at New England
(October 10, 8:20/7:20c, Fox & NFL Network)
Ancient: The Patriots went 16-0 in 2007 and appeared destined to join the 1972 Dolphins as the only perfect team in the Super Bowl era. It was not to be. Quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants shocked the world in Super Bowl XLII with a 17-14 upset over the Patriots, due in large part to Giants wide receiver David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” that kept the winning scoring drive alive. Four seasons later, the Giants took the rematch with a 17-14 late comeback win over the Pats in Super Bowl XLVI.
Recent: Since losing to the Giants in those Super Bowls, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots have returned to the big game four times and won three Lombardi Trophies. Meanwhile, the Giants haven’t won a playoff game in that span.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
(October 20, 1/noon c, CBS)
Ancient: Vince Lombardi’s Packers defeated Al Davis’ Raiders 33-14 in the 1967 season’s AFL-NFL World Championship Game, now known as Super Bowl II. The Los Angeles Raiders beat the Packers 20-0 in 1987, but the Pack has gone 7-0 in the series since.
Recent: After two straight losing seasons, rookie head coach Matt Lafleur will lean on Aaron Rodgers to get the Packers back to playoff form. In his second season of his second stint as head coach of the Silver & Black, Jon Gruden tries to rebuild a team that has only one winning campaign in the past 16. He’ll have a nice new offensive weapon in wide receiver Antonio Brown.
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
(November 17, 4:25/3:25c, CBS)
Ancient: Talk of a dynasty began following the 2004 season when Tom Brady and the Patriots won their third championship by beating the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. Pats wide receiver Deion Branch tied a Super Bowl record with 11 receptions and was named game MVP.
Recent: Quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles to their first title in a 41-33 barn-burner vs. the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The Pats bounced back last season with a 13-3 snoozer win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints
(December 16, 8:15/7:15c, ESPN)
Ancient: The Saints capped off the 2009 season with their first and only Super Bowl win in franchise history. Quarterback Drew Brees was deadly efficient (32 completions in 39 attempts for 288 yards and two touchdowns) and the defense clamped down on quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts in a 31-17 upset victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Recent: The teams have met only twice since that Super Bowl. The Saints routed the Colts 62(!)-7 in 2011, the year Manning missed due to injury. With Andrew Luck under center in 2015, the Colts kept it closer in a 27-21 loss to the Saints.
Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
(December 21 or 22, time TBA, NFL Network)
Ancient: Two charter AFL teams, the Raiders and Chargers have been fierce AFC West rivals but have met only once in the playoffs. The Raiders beat the Chargers in the 1980 season’s AFC championship and went on to win Super Bowl XV.
Recent: Quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers have swept the Raiders the past two years. The teams’ Week 16 meeting is likely the final battle for bragging rights between the feuding California fan bases, as the Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas in 2020.