With the start of the 2018 NFL season just around the corner, most fans are excited about their team’s prospects. Fans are eager to see how they will fare after a wild offseason and an April draft that saw five quarterbacks go in the first round. The slate is wiped clean from last season and it’s time to start fresh.
Here are five burning questions to consider as we head into the 2018 season, which kicks off on Thursday, September 6, when the Atlanta Falcons visit the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles.
- Is there trouble in Foxboro?
Opening game: Sunday, September 9: Texans @ Patriots, 1pm
The Patriots went to the Super Bowl again last year, which surprised no one. But rumors of unrest are swirling around Gillette Stadium — Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s relationship status, Rob Gronkowski’s happiness, and whether the locker room is divided.
The team also lost a lot of talent during the offseason, which included LT Nate Solder, WR Danny Amendola, RB Dion Lewis, DB Malcolm Butler, and WR Brandin Cooks. But the impending demise of the Patriots is usually exaggerated. They seem to go through this every offseason, yet have somehow managed a winning record every year since 2001.
- How far can the Rams go?
Opening game: Monday, September 10: Rams @ Raiders, 10:20pm
The Rams engineered a surprising 11-5 turnaround last year after a subpar 4-12 season in 2016. Most people credit new head coach Sean McVay, and rightfully so. But don’t underestimate the amount of talent the team had on its roster in 2017 and the new players they added in what turned out to be productive offseason.
Jared Goff is entering his third season as quarterback, and his second in McVay’s offense. Running back Todd Gurley had a banner year, and Aaron Donald is coming off a season in which he was named Defensive Player of the Year. Plus, they added veteran players in Cooks, DB Marcus Peters, DL Ndamukong Suh, and CB Aqib Talib. These moves could pay off with a deep run into the playoffs.
- Will the Browns improve? And if so, how much?
Opening Game: Sunday, September 9: Steelers @ Browns, 1pm
The Cleveland Browns have a record of 1-31 in their last two seasons. In the past 15 years, they have finished last in the AFC North 13 times and managed only one winning record: a 10-6 tally in 2007. But a new general manager is in town (John Dorsey) who took over for Sashi Brown last December.
Dorsey and his staff have been busy this offseason. They added former Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, then drafted Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield at the same position with the first-overall pick. Add in running back Carlos Hyde, offensive tackle Chris Hubbard, and defensive backs Damarious Randall and Terrance Mitchell, and the Browns may have their strongest roster in decades.
- Which AFC South quarterback is ready to shine?
Sunday, September 9: Bengals @ Colts, 1pm
Sunday, September 9: Titans @ Dolphins, 1pm
Sunday, September 9: Texans @ Patriots, 1pm
Sunday, September 9: Jaguars @ Giants, 1pm
The Colts’ Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury, though the team seems to be banking on his return to form. The Titans’ Marcus Mariota had a down year statistically, but he has a new coaching staff led by Mike Vrabel and a new offense run by Matt LaFleur, who came over from the Rams.
Deshaun Watson was 3-3 as a starter for the Texans before suffering a season-ending knee injury. But in the games in which he played, he surprised fans with 1,699 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and rushing performances of over 269 yards.
Then there’s the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles. He showed flashes of brilliance last season while leading his squad to the 2017 AFC Championship Game, but inconsistency has plagued his career.
We’ll know at 1pm on Sunday, September 9, which AFC South quarterback is off to the right start for 2018.
- Will 2018 be Eli Manning’s last year as the Giants QB?
Opening Game: Sunday, September 9: Jaguars @ Giants, 1pm
Most agree that 2017 was a subpar year for Eli Manning, who threw 19 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and a pedestrian 80.4 passer rating. Many factors went into that down performance, including season-ending injuries to star Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr.
But coming off a 3-13 season, the front office strengthened the offensive line with the addition of Solder. They also drafted electric running back Saquon Barkley with the second-overall pick. Manning said that the NFL is a “one year at a time” league. This has never been truer for him as he heads into his 15th season.
How can you watch NFL football?
To make sure you’re keeping track of every big game, these two channels are your best options for full-season coverage:
- NFL Network airs football coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It includes over 2,000 hours of original programming, including NFL Replay and Top 10, and airs every Thursday night game.
- NFL RedZone allows football fans to tune in every Sunday to catch key plays and scores live from each game, all on one channel. It also includes up-to-the-minute fantasy stats and extended highlights.
For Xfinity customers, the Digital Preferred Package allows you to follow your favorite team’s schedule and keep an eye on the competition.
2018 NFL Thursday Night Football Schedule
Kickoff time 8:20pm EST
- Week 1: Sept. 6, Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (NBC)
- Week 2: Sept. 13, Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (NFL Network)
- Week 3: Sept. 20, New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (NFL Network)
- Week 4: Sept. 27, Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 5: Oct. 4, Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 6: Oct. 11, Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 7: Oct. 18, Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 8: Oct. 25, Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 9: Nov. 1, Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 10: Nov. 8, Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 11: Nov. 15, Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 12 (Thanksgiving): Nov. 22, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (NBC)
- Week 13: Nov. 29, New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 14: Dec. 6, Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (FOX/NFL Network)
- Week 15: Dec. 13, Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (FOX/NFL Network)
2018 NFL Sunday Night Football Schedule
Kickoff time 8:20pm EST
All games are on NBC
- Week 1: Sept. 9, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (NBC)
- Week 2: Sept. 16, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (NBC)
- Week 3: Sept. 23, New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (NBC)
- Week 4: Sept. 30, Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC)
- Week 5: Oct. 7, Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans (NBC)
- Week 6: Oct. 14, Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (NBC)
- Week 7: Oct. 21, Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (NBC)
- Week 8: Oct. 28, New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (NBC)
- Week 9: Nov. 4, Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots (NBC)
- Week 10: Nov. 11, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (NBC)
- Week 11: Nov. 18, Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars (NBC)
- Week 12: Nov. 25, Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC)
- Week 13: Dec. 2, San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (NBC)
- Week 14: Dec. 9, Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders (NBC)
- Week 15: Dec. 16, Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (NBC)
- Week 16: Dec. 23, Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (NBC)
2018 Monday Night Football schedule
8:15pm EST start time, except where noted
All games are on ESPN
- Week 1: Sept. 10, 7:10 PM, New York Jets at Detroit Lions (ESPN)
- Week 1: Sept. 10, 10:15 PM, Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders (ESPN)
- Week 2: Sept. 17, 8:15 PM, Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (ESPN)
- Week 3: Sept. 24, 8:15 PM, Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ESPN)
- Week 4: Oct. 1, 8:15 PM, Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (ESPN)
- Week 5: Oct. 8, 8:15 PM, Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (ESPN)
- Week 6: Oct. 15, 8:15 PM, San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (ESPN)
- Week 7: Oct. 22, 8:15 PM, New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons (ESPN)
- Week 8: Oct. 29, 8:15 PM, New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (ESPN)
- Week 9: Nov. 5, 8:15 PM, Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys (ESPN)
- Week 10: Nov. 12, 8:15 PM, New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (ESPN)
- Week 11: Nov. 19, 8:15 PM, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams (Mexico City) (ESPN)
- Week 12: Nov. 26, 8:15 PM, Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (ESPN)
- Week 13: Dec. 3, 8:15 PM, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN)
- Week 14: Dec. 10, 8:15 PM, Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (ESPN)
- Week 15: Dec. 17, 8:15 PM, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (ESPN)
- Week 16: Dec. 24, 8:15 PM, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (ESPN)