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  • Bradley Locker

2019 Sunday Night Football Matchup Rankings

Oh, Sunday night: After an afternoon chock full of seemingly endless football, the Sunday Night Blues hit. That is, only until you hear the welcoming sound of Carrie Underwood’s goosebumps-inducing anthem as well as the voices of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya, and the rest of the phenomenal Sunday Night Football crew (not to mention Cris’ iconic slide-in).

In 2019, SNF’s lineup has plenty of dandies in store. From playoff rematches to interconference battles to stars galore, these are my rankings for this season’s upcoming Sunday Night contests.

Note: All of these games are slated to be in the Sunday primetime slot. NBC may elect to shift any of them—they have a precedent doing so. Additionally, no SNF matchup has been set yet for Week 17.

Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady met in the inaugural week of the 2018 season. Both playoff hopefuls will encounter each other once again at NRG Stadium this season.

16. Patriots at Texans (Week 13)

This game last happened to start the season in 2018. In that Foxborough contest, Deshaun Watson almost guided the Texans to a victory, but of course Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to eke out a win. To me, this matchup will be interesting because Belichick and Brady will be revisiting the stadium in which they hoisted their 5th Lombardi trophy, but I worry about how well the Texans will be playing by this point—not to mention that the Pats are 10-1 all-time against the Texans.

15. Vikings at Chargers (Week 15)

The Chargers are on the rise after a surprise 2018 campaign, but the Vikings are a team that I think will either stagnate or take a step back in 2019. This contest only happens once ever four years, but with both teams in loaded divisions—the NFC North and AFC West, respectively—each will likely have to contend for Wild Card slots.

14. Vikings at Cowboys (Week 10)

As mentioned above, I’m concerned about the Vikings. These teams have ample playoff history stretching back to 1971; the last time Minnesota ventured to AT&T Stadium, future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Peterson charged for 140 yards and 1 touchdown. This game will likely be close, but the SNF slate is too good to put it in the top 10 this year.

13. Patriots at Ravens (Week 9)

Much like the prior game, these two franchises have met in the postseason 4 times. Will Tom Brady be able to overcome a hostile Baltimore crowd and second-year QB Lamar Jackson? With a depleted Ravens’ defense, I like New England’s chances in a gritty contest.

12. Eagles at Falcons (Week 2)

Both of these teams have uncertainties, in my mind: whether or not Carson Wentz can return to his 2017 MVP form, and if the Falcons can fully recover from the shell shock of their Super Bowl 51 defeat. I’m not entirely confident that the Falcons will make the playoffs, not to mention that this game is quite early in the season—it has a relatively small magnitude. However, the Falcons have a chance to exact revenge from their oh-so-close 2017 Divisional Round defeat to Philly in their pulchritudinous new stadium.

11. Eagles at Cowboys (Week 7)

This rivalry will be good for years to come, but Dallas has had the recent advantage: the Cowboys are 3-1 against Philadelphia in the last 2 seasons. The only thing that precludes this matchup from being higher is that it occurs yearly, though last season’s final-seconds tip touchdown by Amari Cooper was certainly memorable.

In a game mired in officiating controversy, the Chargers upset the Steelers 33-30 at Heinz Field. The teams will suit up against one another on October 13th.

10. Steelers at Chargers (Week 6)

When the Steelers visited Qualcomm Stadium in October 2015, Michael Vick was Pittsburgh’s quarterback, and the team won a close Monday Night Football contest thanks to a Le’Veon Bell buzzer-beating score. Both teams should be in playoff contention this year, and the Chargers will look to beat the Black and Gold in their last season in Dignity Health Sports Park.

9. Seahawks at Rams (Week 14)

Again, a phenomenal game that could have a dramatic influence in who prevails as the NFC West Champion. Will Jared Goff be able to outduel freshly-inked Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson, as he did twice last year? Just like Eagles-Cowboys, this game is too salient to be considered enthralling relative to other matches.

8. Packers at Chiefs (Week 8)

One of the NFL’s best in Aaron Rodgers meets the future of the league in Patrick Mahomes. After a solid offseason, the Packers look to be back in business. Rodgers hasn’t set foot in Arrowhead Stadium since 2011—this will be a duel of which secondary can assuage air attacks and unreal throws the best.

7. Colts at Chiefs (Week 5)

This is a rematch of last season’s snowy AFC Divisional Game in which Andy Reid & crew emerged victorious. With a year more of experience under their belts, do Frank Reich and Andrew Luck have what it takes to dethrone arguably the most formidable AFC force? This could be a playoff preview.

6. Seahawks at Eagles (Week 12)

Russell Wilson has won 4 straight against the Eagles, but newcomers Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside look to rewrite the narrative. This atmosphere should be electric, as should the prevalence of green. This, too, could prognosticate how the playoffs will unfold.

5. Steelers at Patriots (Week 1)

This game will be a phenomenal way to start the 2019 SNF campaign. A restocked Steelers squad, led by veteran Ben Roethlisberger and youngsters JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, looks to “slay the dragon” against the AFC powerhouse of the century. If the Steelers win this one, it could set the tone for a season in which they are hoping to silence the doubters; regardless, the Patriots will signify that they, too, have 6 Super Bowl titles by hoisting yet another banner.

4. Rams at Browns (Week 3)

In 2017, the Rams shocked the NFL landscape by going third-to-first. Now, the Browns will look to do the same after bolstering their squad via the acquisitions of Odell Beckham, Jr., Kareem Hunt, Sheldon Richardson, Greedy Williams, and more. This game, as well, adds intrigue due to the acumen of Rams coach Sean McVay opposing the intellect of Browns GM John Dorsey. Some will clamor that this is a Super Bowl 54 preview; regardless, it’s still certain to be a fun contest.

In their 2018 matchup, the Cowboys' defense flustered QB Drew Brees as the Saints' signal caller mustered a mere127 passing yards. The Saints hope to avenge their defeat in one of the best Sunday Night games of the year.

3. Cowboys at Saints (Week 4)

In Week 13 of last season, the Cowboys—albeit due to some questionable officiating—were able to outlast the Saints in a close Thursday Night Football contest. This game is early on in the season but nevertheless could project as a playoff contest as the weather grows colder. Tensions will also be high due to seemingly perennial rumors that Sean Payton yearns to coach in Dallas.

2. Bears at Rams (Week 11)

Jared Goff and the Rams entered Soldier Field on December 9th, 2018 with the best record in football at 11-1, but a stout Bears defense—coupled with frigid conditions—stifled Los Angeles. Bears fans will be hoping to replicate their success some 2,023 miles away, while the Rams will be looking to improve their 13-13 record at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (playoffs included) since returning to LA. This may very well be a snapshot of the 2019 NFC Championship Game.

1. Chiefs at Bears (Week 16)

Out of all options, this game was the easiest to choose. Nascent face of football Patrick Mahomes takes his dynamic arm to Soldier Field to incur Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, and more; essentially one of the best offenses trades blows with the best defense. Not only is this game late in the season—both teams should be gearing up for the playoffs—but it will test the mettle of one of the most luminous stars in the league. To claim that this is a preview of what we will witness in Miami on Sunday, February 2nd is certainly plausible—get your remotes ready or buy your tickets now.

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