There’s nothing more exciting than football. Whether it be a Primetime game, an in division matchup, or just a random shootout, it’s must-watch television. But with so many games every week in the NFL, it can be hard to gauge, which will be the most exciting. Which ones should every fan be tuning into? Well, if you’re a lover of AFC South football, then these are the five games you cannot miss during the 2019 NFL regular season in the AFC South.
Week 12, Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
It’s impossible not to pick an in division matchup in Primetime for the AFC South’s most exciting game of the 2019 season. The Colts and Texans are the two best teams in the quietly improving AFC South.
Also, the revenge factor is key with the Colts having knocked the Texans out on the road in the Wildcard playoff game last season. The way 2018 played out, it looks as though they’ll battling each other for AFC South supremacy every season until Andrew Luck calls it quits.
Is there a division with two better franchise QBs who have yet to hit their prime than the AFC South? It’s hard to top Luck and Watson for that title. Both of them could be competing for the NFL MVP in 2019, here’s to hoping the Texans awful O-line figures it out.
Although Thursday Night Football is an up and down product that probably shouldn’t exist for player safety purposes, it’s still Primetime football, and everybody will be watching. This game could have a major impact on the division winner this late in the season and has all the makings of a Thursday classic.
Even though it’s two of the top QBs in the game going head to head, the key to the game will likely be line play. How will the Texans protect Deshaun Watson for four quarters against the Colts deep rotation of defensive linemen? Will Quenton Nelson and the Colts impressive offensive line be able to keep Luck clean with J.J. Watt and Clowney breathing down his neck?
Outside of the lines, we get all kinds of fun questions with the match-up. Can the Colts young secondary stop DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee? Do the Texans have enough talent outside their front seven to slow down Luck, TY Hilton, Eric Ebron, and the Colts abundance of pass-catchers? Who’s the better play-caller, Frank Reich or Bill O’Brien?
All these questions and more will be answered on a Thursday in November when Luck and the Colts head to NRG Stadium to take on Watson and the Texans.
Week 13, Sunday Night Football: New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
Not only is this Bill Belichick vs. his disciple Bill O’Brien, but it’s now got a revenge factor in play. The Texans fired GM Brian Gaine with the Patriots Director of Player Personnel, Nick Caserio, in mind as his replacement. Well, New England put a stop to that by filing tampering charges against Houston.
Aside from the natural rivalry between Belichick and O’Brien and the Caserio debacle storyline, this is also a matchup between two division winners from the 2018 season. It’s late in the season in Primetime when the whole country will be watching. There will be major playoff implications when these two teams play.
It’s always a treat watching two of the best QBs in the game slug it out. It’s especially fun when it’s the GOAT, Tom Brady, against one of the best young passers in the game, Deshaun Watson. Of course, it’s not just about the QBs. DeAndre Hopkins was the best wide receiver in football last season, and we’ll be seeing him going up against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
On the other side of the ball, there’s an argument that the Patriots will have the best offensive line in the NFL this season. It’s going to be a massive test when they play the Texans. Can their O-line slowdown J.J. Watt and Clowney for four quarters? This is one of the Texans most important games of the season.
Bill O’Brien is by far the most successful former Belichick assistant. He’s 42-38 in five seasons as the Texans head coach, but he’s 0-5 vs. Belichick and the Patriots in the regular season and playoffs. Will 2019 be the year he finally takes down his former boss?
Week 5, Sunday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Despite being the sixth seed in the AFC last season and having to rip-off nine wins in their final ten games to reach the playoffs, the Colts are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. Seeing them take on last years’ fist seed Kansas City Chiefs and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will be a huge test for how high their ceiling is in 2019.
If you ask people to name the next Mount Rushmore of elite QBs in the NFL, the vast majority of will say both Mahomes and Andrew Luck’s names. It’s hard to find any two better QBs under the age of 30 in the NFL and getting to see them duel it out with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on the call is perfection.
Both the Chiefs and Colts are the favorites to win their divisions in 2019. This will this be a tone-setting game for the rest of the season, and more importantly, it’s going to be significant come January with AFC playoff seeding.
Looking at it from a pure matchup perspective, both teams have MVP caliber QBs, elite play-callers as head coaches (Andy Reid and Rank Reich), game-breaking pass catchers, and improving defenses. Offensively this game gives us Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, TY Hilton, Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron, and rookies Mecole Hardman and Parris Campbell. That’s a lot of firepower.
One of the best parts about this matchup will be the trench play. It’s always a treat watching Quenton Nelson and the Colts offensive line, but seeing them take on the Chiefs new-look defensive line will be a huge test. All-Pro Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah, Derrick Nnadi, Alex Okafor, and rookie Khalen Saunders make for a deep and talented group.
Come early October the NFL season will be heating up. Seeing these two AFC powers on Sunday Night Football will be a potential AFC Championship prequel and play a huge role in the MVP race.
Week 1: Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Chargers
This is the only game on the list that isn’t in Primetime. So why’s it on the list? It’s arguably the most exciting game of Week 1. Not only is it between two 2018 playoff teams, but they’re two of the most popular sleeper picks to reach the Super Bowl from the AFC.
This game could have major playoff seeding implications by the time the regular season concludes 16 weeks later. The Colts and Chargers were both Wildcard playoff teams last season and a win to start the season would go a long way in helping them either win division, have home-field advantage, or capture the higher Wildcard seed.
Even outside of the potential playoff implications, this is a massively exciting way to start the NFL season. Both teams have potential NFL MVPs at quarterback with Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers but don’t expect a shootout. These teams both play legit defense and fielded the two best rookie defenders in the league last year in Darius Leonard and Derwin James.
The trench warfare that will go on in this game when Luck and the Colts offense is up against James and the Chargers defense will be magnificent. Indianapolis had one of the best offensive lines in the league down the stretch last year, thanks to stud Quenton Nelson. Seeing the Colts O-line take on a pass rush of Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and first-round rookie Jerry Tillery will be football poetry.
It might not be an in-division game or under the lights, but this could very well end up the most important game of Week 1. Luck vs. Rivers, Frank Reich vs. Gus Bradley, Nelson vs. Tillery, Leonard vs. Melvin Gordon. So many matchups, such a juicy game.
Week 3, Thursday Night Football: Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
To the average fan, this might not seem like a special game. It’s early in the season, it’s between two teams that missed the playoffs in 2018, and it’s more likely than not going to have little implication on the playoffs.
Now, to an NFL fan with a keen eye, they know why this glorious football game is on the list. A Thursday Night Football game in the AFC South is hard to top in terms of wackiness and overhaul confusion. Let’s pray we get the elite color rush matchup here that we deserve.
Watching the Titans play the Jaguars early in the season in color rush jerseys on a Thursday when nothing else is on is a recipe for Twitter blowing up over the likely inept football we will witness. This is going to be a classic game with some bizarre scoring. We’ll probably get a safety if we’re lucky.
Okay, not only will this game be fun for the probable 15-12 final score, but there is going to be interesting storylines surrounding the game. Both teams have questions on offense that start with the quarterback position. This will be the first taste for the newly Nick Foles led Jaguars and it could be the beginning of the redemption tour for Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense.
This game could make or break both the Titans and Jaguars fans season expectations depending on how they show to the world in Primetime. Will they end up in AFC South purgatory once again or will one of them emerge in the playoff race?
Rob Paul is an AFC South writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow his work on Twitter @RobPaulNFL.