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Schedule release: Predictions, takeaways and revenge games for all 32 teams


The 2024 NFL schedule was released Wednesday night.

Can quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs three-peat as Super Bowl champs?

The Chiefs will kick off the NFL season Thursday, Sept. 5, by hosting the Baltimore Ravens. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” opener is Sept. 9 and will feature the New York Jets at the San Francisco 49ers.

Based on strength of schedule — which is determined by opponents’ records in 2023 — the Cleveland Browns have the toughest schedule of the 2024 season and Atlanta Falcons the easiest.

The final regular-season games for the 2024 season will be played Jan. 5, 2025. The playoffs begin Jan. 11 and continue through Super Bowl LIX on Feb. 9 in New Orleans.

Here’s a bold prediction for every team following the schedule release. Click on the links to see the full schedule and more analysis.

NFC EAST

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The Cowboys’ Week 17 game against the Eagles will be moved to prime time and will be for the NFC East championship. History is not on the Cowboys’ side, as no team has repeated as NFC East champ since the 2003-04 Eagles. While the Cowboys have not made the moves many wanted in free agency — anybody remember owner Jerry Jones’ “all-in” comment? — there is still distance between Dallas and Philadelphia compared to the Giants and Washington. Imagine a cold-weather night game at Lincoln Financial Field? A ratings monster. Read more from Todd Archer


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The Giants will finish with a winning record at home for the second time in eight seasons. That is saying something, considering even in their playoff season in 2022, they went 5-3-1 at MetLife Stadium. But this year, a majority of their easier matchups are in New Jersey. The Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders and Cincinnati Bengals all missed the playoffs last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also had the worst record of any division winner. This year’s home slate should have some winnable games on it for the Giants, with a big one coming Week 1 against Minnesota and (possibly) the quarterback they passed on in the draft in J.J. McCarthy. Read more from Jordan Raanan


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The Eagles’ two games against the Giants will be must-see TV. This has been a lopsided series of late, with the Eagles winning 13 of the past 16 against New York. That has sucked some wind out of one the best rivalries in football. But the juice is back thanks to running back Saquon Barkley making the move from New York to Philly. It will be electric in both stadiums every time he touches the ball. Add in the fact that the Giants’ overall roster seems to be improved, and you have the makings for a couple spirited, competitive games between division foes. Read more from Tim McManus


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Thanks to better playcalling and an improved interior line, the Commanders’ run game will be successful early in the season with running back Brian Robinson Jr. topping 100 yards twice in the first five games and Jayden Daniels doing so once. Of the Commanders’ first six opponents, three ranked among the bottom four run defenses in yards per carry and three were among the bottom seven in rushing yards per game. Also, Baltimore, Arizona and the Giants all ranked among the bottom eight teams in yards per carry allowed by quarterbacks last season. Read more from John Keim


NFC NORTH

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This shouldn’t be bold, but considering the Bears haven’t beaten the Packers since their first meeting in 2018, predicting a Chicago win against Green Bay qualifies. And why not take it a step further? The Bears take advantage of their strength of schedule, grab wins on the road at Indianapolis, Washington, Detroit and Minnesota, to name a few, and finish with a 10-7 record and trip to the playoffs. Read more from Courtney Cronin


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Detroit will win the NFC for the first time in franchise history. After experiencing a heartbreaking loss to the 49ers on that same stage last year, the Lions return with the right mentality and have added the right pieces to punch their first Super Bowl ticket. Defensively, they drafted Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. and added veterans Carlton Davis III and Amik Robertson to help with the secondary. In free agency, the Lions picked up former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader, and outside linebacker Marcus Davenport. Read more from Eric Woodyard


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Packers quarterback Jordan Love will put himself in the MVP conversation, in part because more often than not he will outduel the likes of the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, Rams’ Matthew Stafford, Texans’ C.J. Stroud, 49ers’ Brock Purdy, Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Lions’ Jared Goff and Bears’ Caleb Williams in many of those head-to-head battles. Read more from Rob Demovsky


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The Vikings’ best stretch of the season will come during a quirky six-week period that starts with a three-game road trip and finishes with a three-game homestand. None of the six opponents in that stretch made the playoffs in 2023, and while there are always teams that make big improvements from one year to the next, this looks to be the softest part of the Vikings’ schedule and the best chance to at least be relevant for the final few weeks of the season. If they want to make the playoffs, the Vikings need to be in pretty good position entering a final three-game stretch that includes a trip to Seattle and the NFC North’s best two teams in the Lions and Packers. Read more from Kevin Seifert


NFC SOUTH

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The Falcons will have a better record on the road than at home. That’s nothing against the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s just that the Chiefs are in Atlanta in Week 3 and they’ve won back-to-back Super Bowls. The Cowboys and Steelers are both top-15 teams in the latest ESPN NFL Power Rankings and they also visit Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Vikings, Raiders, Commanders and Broncos are currently ranked in the bottom 10 teams of the league and host the Falcons this season. Read more from Marc Raimondi


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The Panthers will win eight games. It doesn’t get much bolder than this since they’ve averaged 5.1 wins the past six seasons and haven’t won more than seven games in a season since 2017, when they went 11-5. But with the league’s third-easiest schedule, a weak NFC South and a much-improved roster, the potential is there. Remember, they won seven games in 2002 coming off an NFL-worst 1-15 record. Read more from David Newton


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The Saints will have a losing record heading into the Broncos game in Week 7. The Saints are not only installing a new offense, but they have multiple questions on their offensive line, and that ended up being a major issue early last season. The early schedule does them no favors with the Super Bowl champions and three early playoff teams in the first five weeks. Considering how long the offense took to gel last year, that should be a big concern in 2024. Read more from Katherine Terrell


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The Bucs will suffer three divisional losses in 2024, largely because they’ll have three divisional matchups in a span of four weeks sandwiched between games against the Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs and 49ers. Those early divisional games feature two contests in four weeks against the Falcons, whom many have pegged as the NFC South favorite this year, with quarterback Kirk Cousins and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris at the helm. Morris also worked with Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen on the Rams’ staff. Read more from Jenna Laine


NFC WEST

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The Cardinals are in prime position to take control of their season by October. An opener against the Bills will be a litmus test for a team that believes it’s built the kind of roster to make a playoff run. But, with three straight home games to follow, the Cardinals can use home-field advantage to put themselves in a good spot heading into the rest of the season, where they have back-to-back road games three times — possibly putting them on a fast track to the playoffs. Read more from Josh Weinfuss


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The Rams beat the 49ers at home during the regular season for the first time since 2018. The Rams did end their regular-season losing streak to San Francisco in the season finale, but both teams rested significant starters as they’d already clinched playoff spots. Prior to that win — led by backup quarterback Carson Wentz — the Rams had lost nine straight games to the 49ers in the regular season. That playoff game, of course, was the 2021 NFC Championship that the Rams won en route to Super Bowl LVI. Read more from Sarah Barshop


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Defensive end Nick Bosa will win his second Defensive Player of the Year award. After what he considered a down year in 2023 (10.5 sacks, 35 quarterback hits), Bosa is in position to have a big season. With no concerns about contract negotiations this year, Bosa will be in training camp healthy and on time, which should have him ready to go when the season starts. The Niners’ changes at defensive coordinator will help tie the pass rush and coverage together more coherently to create more pass-rush opportunities. What’s more, San Francisco signed veteran edge rusher Leonard Floyd in free agency, giving Bosa the best complement he’s had on the other side since Dee Ford. This will get Bosa close to the 18.5 sacks he had when he won DPOY in 2022. Read more from Nick Wagoner


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The Seahawks will go 4-0 against Denver, New England, Minnesota and Chicago. All four teams have a chance to be much improved after finishing below .500 last season. But all four will likely be starting rookie quarterbacks. With a defensive mastermind in coach Mike Macdonald, Seattle should have an advantage. Read more from Brady Henderson


AFC EAST

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The Bills will win six of their eight home games. This is not an easy slate for a team in transition, but no team has had a better home winning percentage than the Bills since 2020 (79.4%). The AFC East will present significant hurdles, especially from the Jets and Dolphins, in addition to the defending conference champions on each side — the 49ers and Chiefs — visiting Buffalo. Warm-weather teams like the Jaguars, Titans and Cardinals heading to Buffalo is always an advantage and gives the Bills an opportunity to put together another strong home record. Read more from Alaina Getzenberg


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The Dolphins will win at least nine of their first 11 games. Coach Mike McDaniel’s team was excellent at winning the games it should last season (outside of the Titans’ loss) and should continue that trend in 2024 — especially with a litany of non-playoff teams on the schedule during the first three months of the season. Two games against Buffalo and another against the Rams are the toughest challenges during an otherwise favorable slate. Read more from Marcel Louis-Jacques


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Jerod Mayo will earn his first victory as head coach in Week 2 at home against the Seahawks, who are also under the direction of a new head coach in Mike Macdonald. Seattle used to struggle with 10 a.m. PT kickoffs but has reversed that trend in recent years. If the Patriots don’t win that game, it could be several weeks before they secure their first victory based on the strength of opponents through the first six weeks. Read more from Mike Reiss


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After a tough opener, the Jets will ride their highly-touted defense to a 4-1 start. Check out the teams/quarterbacks they face in Weeks 2-5 — the Titans (Will Levis), Patriots (Jacoby Brissett or rookie Drake Maye), Broncos (rookie Bo Nix/Jarrett Stidham/Zach Wilson) and Vikings (Sam Darnold or rookie J.J. McCarthy). Conceivably, the Jets could face three rookies who will be playing away from their home stadiums. The Jets have been known to frustrate some of the league’s elite quarterbacks; they should be able to chew up this group of neophytes and placeholders. This should take some pressure off the Aaron Rodgers-led offense as it comes together early in the season. Read more from Rich Cimini


AFC NORTH

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The Ravens will end the regular season by going undefeated in December and January. This is ambitious considering Baltimore faces four playoff teams from 2023 in its last five games. Those four playoff teams — the Eagles, Steelers, Texans and Browns — all had double-digit records last season. But, there is no quarterback that finishes a regular season stronger than Lamar Jackson. His 18-3 regular-season record (.857) in December and January is the best in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts. He has thrown 39 touchdowns and seven touchdowns in those months. So, while there are still questions about Jackson in the postseason, he knows how to close out the regular season. Read more from Jamison Hensley


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The Week 11 game against the Chargers could be one of the games of the year. With Cincinnati coming off a long layoff, the Bengals could end up in a high-leverage matchup featuring the Chargers and Justin Herbert, who was drafted in 2020 along with the Bengals’ Joe Burrow. Burrow was on the losing end of the his lone matchup against Herbert when the two teams met in Cincinnati in 2021. Read more from Ben Baby


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The Browns will enter their bye week atop the AFC North with a 7-2 record. Cleveland’s chances of a strong start will be boosted if running back Nick Chubb, returning from a pair of knee surgeries, is ready for Week 1. But there are winnable road games early against the Raiders and Commanders. The Browns also host three straight games against the Bengals, Ravens and Chargers before the bye. Cleveland will have some breathing room before a tough second-half finish. Read more from Daniel Oyefusi


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The Steelers start 4-0. Yes, Pittsburgh has three of its first four games (Atlanta, Indianapolis and the Chargers) on the road (the home game is against the Broncos). And yes, this organization last went 4-0 in the 2020 season. The Steelers have struggled out of the gate in recent seasons, going 2-2 last year and 1-3 in 2022 and 2021, but with a new offensive coordinator, quarterback and offensive line, this group is set up well to get off to a fast start. Read more from Brooke Pryor


AFC SOUTH

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The Texans don’t win the AFC South. Houston has improved as a team and should reach 10 wins, but their first-place schedule in 2024 will be challenging. They’re facing seven teams that made the playoffs last season, three that reached the conference championship, and the defending champs. The rest of the AFC South improved in the offseason which likely prevents a repeat title. Read more from DJ Bien-Aime


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The Colts will win in Jacksonville this season for the first time since 2014. Look for this to be the season the Colts snap the stretch of nine consecutive road losses against their division opponent. As for the logic behind this pick, well, there’s not much beyond the reality that it’s got to happen sometime. So, why not this season, when the Colts have managed rare continuity within their roster, have an ascending young quarterback and a bright, innovative head coach in Shane Steichen? Read more from Stephen Holder


The Jaguars will flip their finish from 2023. After an 8-3 start, the Jaguars went 1-5 down the stretch and missed the playoffs. They’ll win five of their final six games this time, which will include a sweep of Tennessee, and finish with a winning record for the third consecutive season. That’s something the franchise hasn’t done since posting four consecutive winning seasons from 1996-99. Read more from Michael DiRocco


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The Titans will sweep the AFC East. Tennessee travels to Buffalo and Miami, then hosts the Jets and Patriots. Sweeping the division is a tall order, especially considering the explosive offenses the Bills, Dolphins and Jets will field. But, the Titans defense should be up for the task under new coordinator Dennard Wilson. Expect to see vast improvements from Tennessee’s pass defense which has undergone a makeover with cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Chidobe Awuzie replacing the previous starters. Read more from Turron Davenport


AFC WEST

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The Broncos will finally find a way to beat the Raiders. The Broncos ended a 16-game losing streak to the Chiefs last season, but that dismal stretch camouflaged the fact that the Broncos haven’t beaten the Raiders since 2019 (0-8 in that stretch) and Denver still hasn’t won a game in Las Vegas. Read more from Jeff Legwold


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The Chiefs will have a better record on the road than in the games at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were 4-4 at home, 6-2 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site during the regular season in 2023 and then won their first AFC playoff games away from Arrowhead in the Patrick Mahomes era by beating the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens. They have been an excellent road team over the years with coach Andy Reid. The road schedule doesn’t appear quite as rugged as the home slate this season. Read more from Adam Teicher


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The Raiders will go 4-0 in their strange late stretch of four games against the NFC South and AFC South, setting up another win-and-they’re-in season finale against the Chargers. It happened in 2021, when the Raiders kicked a last-second field goal in overtime to beat the Chargers at Allegiant Stadium, punching their own ticket to the postseason while sending L.A. home. A fast finish to the season, after a slow start, will keep the Raiders in contention until the season finale. Read more from Paul Gutierrez


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SoFi Stadium will have a proper home atmosphere for the Chargers for the first time since they returned to L.A. in 2017. Harbaugh’s arrival has brought renewed excitement and anticipation for the Chargers, who often have been an afterthought in the crowded L.A. sports market. Read more from Kris Rhim



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