By Mary Cunningham
The Eagles open their defense of the Super Bowl championship on Sept. 6, 2018 at the Linc against the Atlanta Falcons, whom they beat in the NFC divisional round last season.
The NFL is also moving up kickoff time for prime-time games, “Monday Night Football” will start at 8:15 p.m. (15 minutes earlier); “Sunday Night Football” will kick off at 8:20 (10 minutes earlier); and “Thursday Night Football” will begin at 8:20 (five minutes earlier).
Here’s a look at some of the schedule’s most intriguing games.
Falcons at Eagles, Sept. 6: The Eagles begin a defense of their Super Bowl title in the NFL’s season-opening game. Will it be with Carson Wentz back at quarterback or with reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles still filling in?
49ers at Vikings, Sept. 9: The Vikings made Kirk Cousins the NFL’s highest-paid player by signing the free agent quarterback to a guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract. Cousins’s first game comes against the Niners and Jimmy Garoppolo, who signed a five-year, $137.5 million deal before free agency to remain in San Francisco.
Texans at Patriots, Sept. 9: Deshaun Watson probably would have been the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season if his season hadn’t ended early. He returns to try to pick up where he left off.
Bengals at Colts, Sept. 9: Andrew Luck once was going to be the NFL’s next big thing at quarterback. Will he be back in the lineup on Opening Day and, if so, will he once more resemble a franchise quarterback?
Patriots at Jaguars, Sept. 16: The rematch of last season’s AFC title game comes in Week 2 in Jacksonville.
Chargers at Rams, Sept. 23: The “Fight for L.A.” becomes more than a Chargers’ marketing slogan.
Vikings at Eagles, Oct. 7: Cousins returns to a familiar NFC East site in a high-profile matchup of prospective conference favorites.
Eagles vs. Jaguars in London, Oct. 28: They were two of the league’s most surprising success stories last season. Everyone will be waiting to see what each can do for an encore. The NFL gives fans in London a matchup of very attractive teams.
Saints at Vikings, Oct. 28: The two teams that produced one of the most memorable endings ever to an NFL playoff game get back together, this time in a Sunday night game.
Raiders at Niners, Nov. 1: The offseason roster retooling by the 49ers, with the re-signing of Garoppolo and the arrival of Richard Sherman, and the hiring of Jon Gruden as the Raiders’ coach provide some intrigue to this Thursday night meeting of the Bay Area’s teams.
Rams at Saints, Nov. 4: They were the two NFC front-runners that failed to reach the conference championship game last season. There are plenty of reasons to believe they could be back in the Super Bowl chase this season given the Rams’ big offseason moves and Drew Brees’s decision to remain in New Orleans.
Packers at Patriots, Nov. 4: Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. Appreciate it while they’re both still at (or near) the tops of their games.
Steelers at Jaguars, Nov. 18: The Jaguars ousted the Steelers from last season’s AFC playoffs. The Steelers get their chance at a small measure of regular season payback.
Vikings at Patriots, Dec. 2: The Vikings added Cousins as the potential final piece to a Super Bowl puzzle. If they actually do get there, perhaps the Patriots would be waiting for them.
Eagles at Rams, Dec. 16: It’s Wentz vs. Jared Goff as two potential NFC heavyweights square off.
Patriots at Steelers, Dec. 16: The NFL’s new catch rule means that, this time, the Jesse James play would have been a catch and a touchdown. That comes a bit late for the Steelers.