NFL Sunday Night Football became a regular thing in the mid-1980s. ESPN was the first network to be the home for broadcasts, but TNT would eventually air some games as well. Once the 1998 season came to pass, the games were exclusively on NBC.
Before this incarnation, there were occasional Sunday evening telecasts of NFL games. However, the primetime game of the week aired on Monday nights.
Fast forward to today, and it’s a different story. Monday Night Football is still around, but the marquee game of the week airs on Sunday evening.
Two playoff contenders square off in this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football as the New England Patriots head to Houston to take on the Texans. The Patriots are atop the AFC East with a mark of 10-1, while the Texans are tops in the AFC South at 7-4.
The Patriots remain in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC, but questions are mounting on the team’s effectiveness on offense. For the Texans, this is a team that has gone all in on 2019, so they’re naturally looking to make a big statement versus the defending champs.
Here are the current odds for what should be a solid contest.
The Patriots were home on Sunday for a highly-anticipated showdown with the Dallas Cowboys. They were 5.5-point favorites at kickoff for what turned out to be a tight affair which was impacted by rain. Neither side could get much going on offense, but the New England defense did its thing to lead the club to a 13-9 win.
Tom Brady is having a good season, but subpar by his lofty standards with 15 scores versus five picks. Sony Michel hasn’t taken the leap forward that many were anticipating, but he still leads the team in rushing at 174/600/6. Julian Edelman is the top option in the passing game at 76/809/4. Jamie Collins leads the defense with 58 tackles and six sacks.
The Texans were last in action for a Thursday Night Football game at home versus the Indianapolis Colts. They were 3.5-point favorites at kickoff, and this one would also turn into a close affair. The Colts were up 17-10 in the third quarter, but Houston notched the final two scores of the game to walk away with a 20-17 victory.
Deshaun Watson has been excellent this season. To date, he has thrown for 20 TDs versus five picks and added on five rushing scores. Carlos Hyde leads the backfield at 174/836/4. DeAndre Hopkins leads the way for the pass catchers with a line of 81/839/6. Zach Cunningham leads the team with 95 tackles, while Whitney Mercilus is tops with 5.5 sacks.
New England holds a dominant 10-1 lead the all-time series with Houston. The two teams met last year, a 27-20 home win for the Patriots.
For the season to date, New England is 7-4 against the spread and 3-8 on the Over/Under. Houston is 5-6 ATS and 4-7 on totals.
Since the 2016 season, the Patriots are 21-7 overall as road favorites and 18-10 ATS. The Texans are 2-3 straight-up as home underdogs over that span and 2-3 ATS.
There’s a ton at stake for both sides in what should be one of the better matchups of Week 13. While the Patriots remain in control of the top seed, the Baltimore Ravens are right on their tails and own a head-to-head win over them to boot.
The Texans have first place in the AFC South to themselves for now, but the Colts and Tennessee Titans are still in the mix. This game represents a chance for them to prove that they belong in the conversation of AFC elites in 2019.
The first NFL Sunday Night Football game of the year is a showdown of two heavyweights in Foxborough. The Steelers will be in New England to take on the Patriots, a meeting of two clubs that have a combined 12 Super Bowl trophies.
The Patriots added to their collection last year, and they’re among the favorites to win it all again. The Steelers are looking to bounce back from a disappointing year in which the team missed the playoffs. If there’s a must-see matchup of Week 1, this is it.
The second week of the season brings us a primetime tilt between two NFC squads with recent Super Bowl appearances on their resumes. The Eagles will be down in Atlanta for a game with the Falcons, a meeting of two teams with big plans for the coming year.
The Falcons fell to the Patriots by a score of 34-28 in Super Bowl LI. The following year, the Eagles would get the better of the Patriots by a score of 41-33 to take home the title. This is an early-season look at two clubs with playoff aspirations this year.
Two of the most promising teams in the NFL will face off under the lights in Week 3. The Rams made it to the big game last year before falling to the Patriots. They’ll be in Cleveland to take on the Browns, a team who enters 2019 with a lot of buzz surrounding them.
These two teams are expected to be in the playoff mix this year. For Los Angeles, the mission is a return to the Super Bowl to complete the job. Cleveland took some significant steps forward last year. The franchise then spent the offseason adding what it hopes are the missing pieces to the puzzle.
Last year, these two clubs hooked up for a memorable Thursday night affair won by the Cowboys. The rematch takes place on NFL Sunday Night Football, and it shapes up as one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the first month of the season.
Both of these teams came up short in the playoffs last season, but they’re expected to make another run at the crown in 2019. Dallas was one of the only teams to slow down the high-powered New Orleans offense last season. We would imagine that’s still sticking in the craw of the Saints.
These two squads met in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs last year. The Chiefs had the Colts numbered that day, walking off the field with a convincing 31-13 victory. Entering this year, the two teams are once again looking like playoff clubs.
We could have a bit of a shootout with two gunslingers in action. New starter Jacoby Brissett leads the way for Indianapolis, while Patrick Mahomes is behind center for Kansas City. While still early in the year, this tilt could have a bearing on the postseason picture in the AFC.
While the Patriots continue to loom large over the rest of the AFC, there are several challengers this season. They include the Steelers and Chargers, who will be facing off in this night game in Los Angeles in Week 6.
Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers entered the league together in 2004. Roethlisberger has managed to reach his ultimate goal of a Super Bowl, while Rivers is still trying to climb the hill. These two veterans will lock horns in what should be a quality contest.
The NFC East could very well come down to the Eagles and Cowboys this season. The two divisional foes will play for the first time in 2019 on Sunday night in Week 7. Last year, it was Dallas that was able to take the division crown.
Philadelphia laid claim to it the prior season, and both teams enter this year with their eyes set on the same prize. Both sides are loaded with talent so that the division race could come down to the wire. The first salvo will fire on Oct. 20.
Week 8 may be a little early to start talking about potential Super Bowl previews, but you can bet that will come up in the chatter heading into this game. Naturally, that depends on how the Packers and Chiefs start the year, but both clubs are at least looking like potential playoff teams.
This will also be an interesting meeting of two quarterbacks at different stages of their careers. Aaron Rodgers has entered the veteran phase of his career, while young Patrick Mahomes is coming in off of an MVP season. Which side will win this duel?
When the Patriots come to town, it makes for a good measuring stick game for the opponents. The team has been on a run of excellence for close to two decades now. They clearly set the standard for the league.
The Ravens have had their share of success over that span as well, but they’re still chasing New England with the rest of the NFL. Young signal-caller Lamar Jackson leads the way for a revamped Baltimore team who won the AFC North last year.
The Cowboys are called “America’s Team” for a reason. This will mark the club’s third appearance on NFL Sunday Night Football through the first 10 weeks of the season. This game with the Vikings could turn out to be the best of all of them.
Minnesota made it to the NFC Championship game after the 2017 season, but they fell flat and missed the postseason entirely last year. Despite that setback, the team has a ton of talent and will be looking to make a statement in this game.
Last season, these two teams faced off in the Windy City. The Bears got the win in a memorable, low-scoring affair by a final of 15-6. Both clubs would go on to the postseason, and they have ambitions of doing it once again.
Heading into the year, the clubs look like two of the best in the NFC. If they live up to expectations through the early part of the season, then this tilt in Los Angeles could have a considerable bearing on the playoff picture.
This is a meeting of NFC clubs who have sights set on the postseason. The Seahawks and Eagles both made it last year as well, so the stage is set for what could be a slugfest in the City of Brotherly Love.
Russell Wilson has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, while Carson Wentz is among those who could be future members of that exclusive club. Plus with all of the other heavy-hitters on both sides, we should be in for a great game.
The Patriots are on a mission for another Super Bowl crown, but several other AFC teams will have something to say about that. The Texans are one of them, and they’ll be playing host to the defending champs for this late-season game.
New England sets the standard for the league, and Houston is among the many who want to be where they are. That being the case, the Texans have themselves a golden opportunity to make a statement with the eyes of the NFL world watching.
A late-season meeting of two division rivals with playoff aspirations are always entertaining, and this one should be no different. The Seahawks were a surprising wild card team last year, while the Rams took down the NFC West.
Heading into the season, they look like the top two teams in the division once again. This Week 14 meeting could go a long way toward deciding who takes it down in 2019. This should be an action-packed affair under the primetime lights in Los Angeles.
If you’re looking for a potential dark-horse matchup for this year’s Super Bowl, look no further. The Vikings and Chargers are both loaded with talent. It’s not too hard to make an argument for either team representing their conference in this year’s big game.
Either way, this is a quality interconference battle between two teams who don’t get to hook up too often. For the Vikings, a late-season road trip to face off with a top team is far from a welcome gift. Meanwhile, the Chargers will undoubtedly be thinking the same when Minnesota comes to town.
In Week 16, we have another potential Super Bowl preview. The Chiefs made it to the AFC title game last year before falling to the Patriots, while the Bears made it to the wild card round before being knocked out by the Eagles.
Both clubs are locked and loaded once again and among the favorites to win the title this time around. The high-powered Kansas City offense will have quite the test versus the stout Bears defense, but that also applies in reverse.
The final NFL Sunday Night game of the regular season is reserved for the game with the biggest playoff implications. While we don’t have a crystal ball, these three games look like they could fit the bill.
We’ll have to wait and see which game ultimately makes the cut, but it’ll be the most-anticipated matchup of the day regardless.
Since this is typically the marquee game of the week, interest in NFL Sunday Night Football is always high from a betting standpoint.
When it’s a standalone game without other contests going on at the same time, there also seems to be increased interest in prop bets, which are wagers on specific events within the game.
Live sports betting has also been gaining a lot of traction in recent years and has become a popular choice for NFL bettors who like to watch and wager.
As for handicapping these games, standard rules apply. One thing to keep in mind is that attention is amplified for primetime games as the eyes of the NFL world are upon the game. That can lead to some inspired performances, as well as some regrettable ones. While there’s no surefire way to predict which one will happen, it’s a useful tidbit to keep in mind.
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NBC is the exclusive home for Sunday Night Football. There is a game scheduled for each week of the regular season. The schedule makers make a concerted effort to place the week’s most compelling matchup in this broadcast window.
One wrinkle to the schedule is that NBC has the right to “flex” games later in the year.
This means that if the initially scheduled game suddenly doesn’t look so appealing later in the year, the network can swap it out for another contest. Advance notice is needed to make the adjustment though. NBC also has to work in tandem with the NFL’s other broadcast partners for approval on which game will be shifting.
Flex games are put on the schedule to avoid having a less than stellar game on in primetime. The standalone nature of the game means that the eyes of the NFL world will all be watching at the same time.
For the final week of the regular season, the NFL game that will appear on Sunday night is not determined until the prior week. This is done to ensure that the final game of the regular season is the one with the most at stake.
That can inspire some memorable performances, as well as some that are rather forgettable. While there’s no way to quantify this for handicapping purposes, it’s still a question that’s worth mulling over in the runup to the game: Which of these teams shine under the bright lights? Do either of these two squads fold under pressure?
Viewers can find NFL Sunday Night Football on NBC every week and can stream it online via the network’s web and mobile options. NBC is a staple of all cable TV packages and is available on an increasing number of streaming options out there.
One other factor to keep in mind: Athletes are creatures of habit.
For NFL players, the majority of their games will be on Sunday afternoons, while just a handful or less will be at night.
These are indeed well-compensated professionals who should be able to answer the bell whenever it rings; however, disruptions to the routine can throw the best of us off of our game.
Again, we can’t break this factor down on a spreadsheet with raw numbers, but we can still think through the potential impact as we break down NFL Sunday Night Football games. For the NFL’s better teams, who regularly play on primetime, it’s probably not much of an issue.
As for the teams that may only play a single game per year at night, it certainly can impact their performance one way or the other.
NBC has been the exclusive home for NFL Sunday Night Football since 2006. For the upcoming season, we have a game to look forward to every week.