AROUND THE NFL
The NFL schedule is out, and we will have detailed analysis of most of the NFC teams today, more on Friday.
Some notes –
* – Ten teams received the maximum five primetime games. They are Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, LA Rams, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Seattle in the NFC and Kansas City, New England and Pittsburgh in the AFC. Green Bay, Minnesota and Pittsburgh got the max without making the playoffs in 2018. New Orleans is among three teams with four. No team from the AFC South received more than three.
* – The Bills are the only team with not a single primetime game (although they do pop up late on Thanksgiving in Dallas). Eight teams make just one token appearance. The unloved eight are Arizona, Carolina, Detroit and Tampa Bay in the NFC and Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Miami and Tennessee in the AFC.
* We count 53 appearances on national primetime TV for NFC teams, 43 for those from the AFC.
Here are some notes pertaining to television from the NFL release:
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.
There are 18 games in the “NFL Network” package – 11 on Thursday Night also on FOX, plus 7 others:
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.
And the NFL is having something called the NFL100 Game of the Week:
To help celebrate 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.
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.
Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com with a note on how hope springs eternal among fans, including ESPN writers:
When the NFL schedule comes out, fans often become overly optimistic, eyeballing the schedule and thinking, “Yeah, my team can win most of these games.” Reporters, however, should be more objective.
At ESPN, the 32 beat writers covering their teams proved wildly optimistic.
ESPN asked each of the 32 writers to predict their teams’ records after the 2019 NFL schedule was released. Those 32 projected records should, of course, contain an equal number of wins and losses: The cumulative record of the entire league always equals .500.
Unfortunately, ESPN’s writers are overly optimistic: They were a cumulative 64 games above .500.
Comparing the ESPN predictions to the Vegas win totals for each team, 26 ESPN writers think their teams will win more games than the Vegas odds suggest. Five writers think their teams will exactly match the Vegas win total. Only one ESPN writer, Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe, has his team hitting the under. (Wolfe thinks the Dolphins will go 4-12; the Vegas odds have the Dolphins at 4.5 wins.
Kudos to Wolfe for not being afraid to take a pessimistic view of the team he covers. Ideally, all beat writers would cover their teams with an objective eye, and not with the overly optimistic view of fans.
1 Sep 5 (Thurs) Green Bay 8:20 pm NBC
2 Sep 15 @ Denver 4:25 pm FOX
3 Sep 23 @ Washington 8:15 pm ESPN
4 Sep 29 Minnesota 4:25 pm CBS
5 Oct 6 @ Oakland (London) 1:00 pm FOX
7 Oct 20 New Orleans 4:25 pm FOX
8 Oct 27 L.A. Chargers 1:00 pm FOX
9 Nov 3 @ Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
10 Nov 10 Detroit 1:00 pm CBS
11 Nov 17 @ L.A. Rams 8:20 pm NBC
12 Nov 24 N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm CBS
13 Nov 28 (Thurs)@ Detroit 12:30 pm FOX
14 Dec 5 (Thurs) Dallas 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
15 Dec 15 @ Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 Kansas City 8:20 pm NBC
17 Dec 29 @ Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
The Bears get the royal treatment from the NFL with the maximum five primetime games (two early in the season, two in December), plus a national Thanksgiving Day game on FOX…They get to open the NFL’s 100th season at home against the Packers (they opened at home against the Packers last year, but on Sunday)…They get to go to London (but not national at 9:30, at 1 p.m. as a FOX regional)…The Bears only have five Sunday afternoon home games – and 3 of them will be on CBS (and none of the CBS games is against an AFC foe). FOX does not have a Bears home game after Halloween…Nothing too exciting with home-and-away and the division games are pretty well spread out…That said, each of the division meetings is home, then away, so the last three road games are all at NFC North foes, sandwiched around tough nocturnal home games with Dallas and Kansas City…The London game is in the new Hotspurs stadium in Tottenham. It is the first game for the Bears in London since 2011…Then when they get back, after the bye there is a tough stretch of New Orleans, Chargers, at Philadelphia, ahem, Detroit, and the Rams.
1 Sep 8 @ Arizona 4:25 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 L.A. Chargers 1:00 pm CBS
3 Sep 22 @ Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 Kansas City 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 14 @ Green Bay 8:15 pm ESPN
7 Oct 20 Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
8 Oct 27 N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
9 Nov 3 @ Oakland 4:05 pm FOX
10 Nov 10 @ Chicago 1:00 pm CBS
11 Nov 17 Dallas 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ Washington 1:00 pm FOX
13 Nov 28 (Thurs) Chicago 12:30 pm FOX
14 Dec 8 @ Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 Tampa Bay 1:00 pm FOX
16 @ Denver
17 Dec 29 Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
Bland from a primetime perspective, with one road Monday night game (at Green Bay)…After the Chargers visit on CBS in Week 2, everything else at home is slated for FOX and all eight homes are early on Sunday…There is one stretch of three road games in four weeks, just after three home games in four…Division games are slightly backloaded, but nothing dramatic…They have one of the Week 16 Flex games that could show up on Saturday or Sunday…The opener at Arizona is key, because they have three playoff teams after that before the early bye.
1 Sep 5 @ Chicago 8:20 pm NBC
2 Sep 15 Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
3 Sep 22 Denver 1:00 pm FOX
4 Sep 26 (Thurs)Philadelphia 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
5 Oct 6 @ Dallas 4:25 pm FOX
6 Oct 14 Detroit 8:15 pm ESPN
7 Oct 20 Oakland 1:00 pm CBS
8 Oct 27 @ Kansas City 8:20 pm NBC
9 Nov 3 @ L.A. Chargers 4:25 pm CBS
10 Nov 10 Carolina 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ San Francisco 4:25 pm FOX
13 Dec 1 @ N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
14 Dec 8 Washington 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 Chicago 1:00 pm FOX
16 Dec 23 @ Minnesota 8:15 pm ESPN
17 Dec 29 @ Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
Always interesting to see what the NFL does with one of the national brand teams after a bad season. In the case of the 2019 Packers, it was schedule business as usual…Green Bay gets the max five national games, somewhat front loaded, one each with their three division foes…They get an early stretch of five out of six at home, followed by four of five on the road (two on the West Coast)…10 games on FOX, counting the Thursday night affair in Week 4…The last three are against division foes, including the last two on the road.
1 Sep 8 Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 @ Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
3 Sep 22 vs Oakland 1:00 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 @ Chicago 4:25 pm CBS
5 Oct 6 @ N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 13 Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
7 Oct 20 @ Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
8 Oct 24 (Thurs) Washington 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
9 Nov 3 @ Kansas City 1:00 pm FOX
10 Nov 10 @ Dallas 8:20 pm NBC
11 Nov 17 Denver 1:00 pm CBS
13 Dec 2 @ Seattle 8:15 pm ESPN
14 Dec 8 Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 @ L.A. Chargers 8:20 pm NBC
16 Dec 23 Green Bay 8:15 pm ESPN
17 Dec 29 Chicago 1:00 pm FOX
The Vikings get the maximum five primetime games, but they don’t start until Week 8…So that is five of the last nine games under the lights after none of the first seven…There is a proviso though, since Weeks 10 (at Dallas) and 15 (at Chargers) are on NBC and flexible…Each of their first three meetings with a division foe are on the road, then they meet the rest of the NFC North at home in three of the last four weeks…So on FOX for eight of the first nine games, then only twice in the last seven.
1 Sep 8 N.Y. Giants 4:25 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 @ Washington 1:00 pm FOX
3 Sep 22 Miami 1:00 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 @ New Orleans 8:20 pm NBC
5 Oct 6 Green Bay 4:25 pm FOX
6 Oct 13 @ N.Y. Jets 4:25 pm CBS
7 Oct 20 Philadelphia 8:20 pm NBC
9 Nov 4 @ N.Y. Giants 8:15 pm ESPN
10 Nov 10 Minnesota 8:20 pm NBC
11 Nov 17 @ Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ New England 4:25 pm FOX
13 Nov 28 (Thurs) Buffalo 4:30 pm CBS
14 Dec 5 @ Chicago 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
15 Dec 15 L.A. Rams 4:25 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 @ Philadelphia 4:25 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 Washington 1:00 pm FOX
After playing early on FOX in two of the first three weeks, the Cowboys will only be at 1 Eastern twice thereafter (and Week 17 with the Redskins is easily flappable)…They show up five times on FOX’s America’s Game of the Week and once late on Sunday on CBS…The Cowboys play three straight primetime games starting on October 20…Without ever seeming to have a corresponding string of home games, they play three of four on the road in November (and four of six counting games on either side)…This is the sixth time in eight years that the Cowboys have opened up with the Giants and they are done with New York on November 4…The Cowboys will actually play consecutive games at MetLife Stadium around a bye (Oct 20 and Nov 4) – yet they never play consecutive games at AT&T Stadium…Todd Archer of ESPN points out that in what should be their last game against QB TOM BRADY, the Cowboys are 0-4 against him as they go to Foxborough on FOX on November 24.
NEW YORK GIANTS
1 Sep 8 @ Dallas 4:25 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 Buffalo 1:00 pm CBS
3 Sep 22 @ Tampa Bay 4:05 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 Washington 1:00 pm FOX
5 Oct 6 Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 10 (Thurs) @ New England 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
7 Oct 20 Arizona 1:00 pm FOX
8 Oct 27 @ Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
9 Nov 4 Dallas 8:15 pm ESPN
10 Nov 10 @ N.Y. Jets 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ Chicago 1:00 pm CBS
13 Dec 1 vs Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
14 Dec 9 @ Philadelphia 8:15 pm ESPN
15 Dec 15 Miami 1:00 pm CBS
16 Dec 22 @ Washington 1:00 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
The Giants get three primetime games, none of them on Sunday which helps clear out the New York market for other games on television…Three of four at home starting with Week 4 with the lone road game a short Thursday jaunt to New England…They actually play five of seven at home, since the November 10 road game at the Jets will still see them in the same locker room…The Giants don’t see the Eagles for the first time until Week 14…Meanwhile, after opening with the Cowboys for the 6th time in eight years, they are done with Dallas by Week 9…CBS takes a big market battle with the Bears out of the traditional FOX inventory.
1 Sep 8 Washington 1:00 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 @ Atlanta 8:20 pm NBC
3 Sep 22 Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
4 Sep 26 (Thurs) @ Green Bay 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
5 Oct 6 N.Y. Jets 1:00 pm CBS
6 Oct 13 @ Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
7 Oct 20 @ Dallas 8:20 pm NBC
8 Oct 27 @ Buffalo 1:00 pm FOX
9 Nov 3 Chicago 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 New England 4:25 pm CBS
12 Nov 24 Seattle 8:20 pm NBC
13 Dec 1 @ Miami 1:00 pm FOX
14 Dec 9 N.Y. Giants 8:15 pm ESPN
15 Dec 15 @ Washington 1:00 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 Dallas 4:25 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 @ N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
The Eagles finish with four division games, two against the Giants…They have a three-game road trip in October, followed by a three-game homestand in November…With a bye in November, they do not leave home in that month, but three times each in October and November…No West Coast trips, just Dallas, Minnesota, Miami and Green Bay of any distance…The Eagles get the maximum five primetime games, including three on Sunday night…The other 11 games are all on the network they were “supposed to be” before the NFL started flexing things around.
1 Sep 8 @ Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 Dallas 1:00 pm FOX
3 Sep 23 Chicago 8:15 pm ESPN
4 Sep 29 @ N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
5 Oct 6 New England 1:00 pm CBS
6 Oct 13 @ Miami 1:00 pm FOX
7 Oct 20 San Francisco 1:00 pm FOX
8 Oct 24 (Thurs) @ Minnesota 8:20 pm FOX/NFLN
9 Nov 3 @ Buffalo 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 N.Y. Jets 1:00 pm CBS
12 Nov 24 Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
13 Dec 1 @ Carolina 1:00 pm CBS
14 Dec 8 @ Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 Philadelphia 1:00 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 @ Dallas 1:00 pm FOX
Not much to say about the Skins – two primetime games seems about right, both early…All the rest, 14 in all, are in the early Sunday window…Tough start with four of the first five being playoff teams from last year, including all three home games…the four AFC North teams, New England and the three lesser ones, come in a six week mid-season run…The last three games are against division foes.
1 Sep 8 @ Minnesota 1:00 pm FOX
2 Sep 15 Philadelphia 8:20 pm NBC
3 Sep 22 @ Indianapolis 1:00 pm CBS
4 Sep 29 Tennessee 1:00 pm CBS
5 Oct 6 @ Houston 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 13 @ Arizona 4:05 pm FOX
7 Oct 20 L.A. Rams 1:00 pm FOX
8 Oct 27 Seattle 1:00 pm FOX
10 Nov 10 @ New Orleans 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 @ Carolina 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 Tampa Bay 1:00 pm FOX
13 Nov 28 New Orleans 8:20 pm NBC
14 Dec 8 Carolina 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 @ San Francisco 4:25 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 Jacksonville 1:00 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 @ Tampa Bay 1:00 pm FOX
Last year, the Falcons played at New Orleans on Thanksgiving on NBC. In 2019, the site is flipped with the Saints coming to Atlanta…The Falcons’ other primetime game is also at home – Week 2 against the Eagles…Atlanta has a three-game homestand around Thanksgiving – and it features all three of their NFC South foes…In fact, Atlanta doesn’t have a division game in any of its first eight games, then five in a row starting at New Orleans on November 10…In Weeks 10-11, the Falcons are at New Orleans and then Carolina. Then in Weeks 13-14, the Falcons host New Orleans, then Carolina…The Falcons are on FOX only once in the first four weeks, then in 11 of their last 12 games.
1 Sep 8 L.A. Rams 1:00 pm FOX
2 Sep 12 (Thurs) Tampa Bay 8:20 pm NFLN
3 Sep 22 @ Arizona 4:05 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 @ Houston 1:00 pm FOX
5 Oct 6 Jacksonville 1:00 pm CBS
6 Oct 13 Tampa Bay (London) 9:30 am NFLN
8 Oct 27 @ San Francisco 4:05 pm FOX
9 Nov 3 Tennessee 1:00 pm CBS
10 Nov 10 @ Green Bay 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ New Orleans 1:00 pm FOX
13 Dec 1 Washington 1:00 pm CBS
14 Dec 8 @ Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 15 Seattle 1:00 pm FOX
16 Dec 22 @ Indianapolis 1:00 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 New Orleans 1:00 pm FOX
Somehow, both Tampa Bay-Carolina games are in exclusive time periods – but neither is on one of the four primary broadcast partners…Week 2 in Charlotte is a Thursday game that’s not on FOX and Week 6 at Tottenham is also an NFL Network exclusive game…After the bye, the Panthers go away-home for 10 straight weeks…Done with Tampa Bay by Week 6, they don’t have their first meeting with New Orleans until Week 12…That’s better than last year, when the first Saints-Panthers meeting was not until Week 15.
1 Sep 9 Houston 7:10 pm ESPN
2 Sep 15 @ L.A. Rams 4:25 pm FOX
3 Sep 22 @ Seattle 4:25 pm CBS
4 Sep 29 Dallas 8:20 pm NBC
5 Oct 6 Tampa Bay 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 13 @ Jacksonville 1:00 pm CBS
7 Oct 20 @ Chicago 4:25 pm FOX
8 Oct 27 Arizona 1:00 pm CBS
10 Nov 10 Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 @ Tampa Bay 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 Carolina 1:00 pm FOX
13 Nov 28 (Thurs) @ Atlanta 8:20 pm NBC
14 Dec 8 San Francisco 1:00 pm FOX
15 Dec 16 Indianapolis 8:15 pm ESPN
16 Dec 22 @ Tennessee 1:00 pm FOX
17 Dec 29 @ Carolina 1:00 pm FOX
The Saints show their wares in four interesting games on each of the primary broadcast partners to start the season with CBS purloining a game from the basic FOX inventory in Week 3 for a national doubleheader game…FOX does get the replay of the NFC title game, this time in Los Angeles, and this time presumably with new officials…The Saints drift from national sight in the middle of the season except for an America’s Game of the Week in October in Chicago, then have a pair of primetime matchups later on starting on Thanksgiving at rival Atlanta…Unlike much of the league, the Saints only have one division game in December after a run of four in a row in November…Lots of marching in twos for New Orleans – as three times they have back-to-back home games and three times they have two-game road trips.
1 Sep 8 San Francisco 4:25 pm FOX
2 Sep 12 (Thurs) @ Carolina 8:20 pm NFLN
3 Sep 22 N.Y. Giants 4:05 pm FOX
4 Sep 29 @ L.A. Rams 4:05 pm FOX
5 Oct 6 @ New Orleans 1:00 pm FOX
6 Oct 13 Carolina (London) 9:30 am NFLN
8 Oct 27 @ Tennessee 1:00 pm FOX
9 Nov 3 @ Seattle 4:05 pm FOX
10 Nov 10 Arizona 1:00 pm FOX
11 Nov 17 New Orleans 1:00 pm FOX
12 Nov 24 @ Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
13 Dec 1 @ Jacksonville 1:00 pm FOX
14 Dec 8 Indianapolis 1:00 pm CBS
15 Dec 15 @ Detroit 1:00 pm FOX
16 TBA Houston TBA
17 Dec 29 Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX
Pretty much straight vanilla except for the Carolina games, one of which is a Thursday nighter on NFL Network and the other is at 9:30 a.m. EDT in London (a home game yielded by the Glazers to the NFL’s international outreach)…Bruce Arians is re-united with the Cardinals in Tampa on November 10…The Buccaneers are done with both the Panthers and Saints before they see the Falcons for the first time on November 24…Tampa Bay won’t play at Raymond James Stadium between September 22 and the Cardinals visit on November 10 with four of five on the road and the home game in London.
This from Mike Reiss of ESPN.com:
The New England Patriots’ most recent Vince Lombardi Trophy, from Super Bowl LIII, has a baseball-sized dent in it, courtesy of retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The team’s website posted video of the often-playful Gronkowski using the trophy as a bat before an on-the-field appearance at the Boston Red Sox’s home opener April 9.
.@RobGronkowski left a mark on this organization.
And on the sixth Lombardi.
No one thought he would actually follow through on using the trophy as a bat — until he squared around to “bunt” a warm-up pitch from Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman.
That left a dent in the Lombardi trophy that the team might fix in the future. For now, executive vice president of media relations Stacey James said: “We’re going to keep the dent and tell the story.”
Gronkowski and about 20 other players were present at the Red Sox’s home opener to be recognized for the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Gronkowski threw out a ceremonial first pitch alongside Edelman and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
As backup quarterback Brian Hoyer told the team’s website, “Rob’s parting gift to the organization was leaving his mark on his last Super Bowl trophy.”
THIS AND THAT
This tweet from Clay Travis:
NBA playoff ratings down 26% so far this year. Imagine the reaction if NFL playoff ratings were down 26%. NBA has a player, LeBron, not a league. Without LeBron league collapses. NBA without LeBron will take a hit like NBA without Jordan did. Will take years to recover.
NHL playoffs are down 16%, NCAA tournament was up 9% even without a team with a national brand (ok, maybe Michigan State) in the Final Four.