NFL schedule release: 7 matchups to circle on the calendar

We’re back to hurtling towards the NFL regular season with schedules being released on Thursday, May 9 in preparation for the 2024 season. All we’re waiting for at this point are the dates and times, with opponents being announced back in January.

How the schedule will piece together remains to be seen, but these are the games you should get ready to circle on your calendars upon release — because they’re going to absolutely rule.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

We’ve done this plenty of times before, but it never gets old. Chiefs vs. Bills is one of the NFL’s great modern rivalries, and what began with offensive shootouts has become more fascinating as Kansas City has committed to defense.

These games are always like boxing heavyweight title matches. Two heavy hitters circling each other, getting small jabs in — and then invariably all hell breaks loose and we see a flurry of haymakers to close it out.

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen doing their thing is just fun, and this year has the added wrinkle of first-round pick Xavier Worthy, who the Bills handed to the Chiefs in the draft via a trade.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers

This marks the return of Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh — in the best way possible. The hope will be that this happens a little later in the year so Jim Harbaugh and the Chargers have time to set their system and get comfortable in it, but either way it’s going to be fascinating.

Los Angeles signed the Ravens’ top two running backs in free agency in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, with Jim knowing the kind of players he and his brother value. We also get a face-off between two great defenses, and two amazing quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert.

There’s not much more to ask for here.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos


The Russell Wilson experiment in Denver was an abject disaster, not only for the record of the Broncos — but their salary cap. In the end Wilson was unceremoniously dumped, but not before he agreed to sign with the Steelers and try to become their missing piece.

This is a statement game for both teams. Sean Payton will want to try and prove that he was right and Russ was the problem, while Wilson will look to dismantle the rebuilding Broncos and show that he’s still got it.

Don’t expect this to be an especially good game, because Denver needs a lot of work — but it’s going to be fun nonetheless.

Carolina Panthers vs. Chicago Bears

How can two of the worst teams in the NFL a year ago be a game to watch? Simply put: the intrigue behind it all.

There’s tremendous hype behind the Bears (and rightfully so) after they drafted Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick, while adding Rome Odunze to a receiver room with D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen. This is Chicago’s best effort to turn the corner. However, the real reason this is fascinating is because of the trade history between these teams.

The Panthers are still resolute that they made the right call taking Bryce Young with the first pick in 2023, believing that incoming head coach Dave Canales can work his magic with Young the same way he did with Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay. There’s a timeline here where the traded No. 1 picks in back-to-back years mean the QBs on these teams could have easily switched if the Bears pulled the plug on Justin Fields a year earlier, taking Young.

These are two desperate franchises trying to rebuild and it’ll be a great litmus test of how this is going.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings

Do we need to say any more here? The NFL really crafted this schedule with beef in mind, as this will be the first time Kirk Cousins faces his old team.

Cousins’ free agency decision sent shockwaves through the league, after it was expected he’d just re-ink with the Vikings and try to run it back. It left Minnesota in a position where they had to make moves to secure a quarterback, while the Falcons appeared to be in win-now mode until they took Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall pick.

That decision needs to be mentioned in every discussion surrounding the Falcons in 2024.

In any event, this will be really fun to watch. It’s not like there’s bad blood, but it’ll be curious to see whether Cousins bet on the right horse by moving to the NFC South in pursuit of wins, or if he would have been better off sticking in Minnesota.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Super Bowl rematch is always fun to watch, and this year there’s a little more to it.

Kansas City had a really strong offseason by solidifying their receiving position with Hollywood Brown and Xavier Worthy, while also tackling their biggest issue by re-signing Chris Jones to a long-term extension. It’s full steam ahead for K.C., and they figure to be in the mix once more.

It’s San Francisco where things feel more tenuous. Sick of being the bridesmaid, the 49ers seem to be approaching their breaking point with dozens of offseason rumors surrounding Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. This game will go a long way to determine whether this team are world beaters once more, of if cracks are starting to widen.

New York Jets vs. … whoever

Literally circle any Jets game this season. 2024 will mark whether or not this Aaron Rodgers experiment was worth it, or if it turns into a mess. Everything on paper tells us that New York will be in a place to contend, but there’s growing sentiment that maybe Robert Saleh doesn’t have what it takes to keep all this together.

This season will either mark the last big run of Rodgers’ NFL career, of put the Jets back in the stone ages where they have no future hope by going all-in on a dud. There’s no way to predict which way this will go in either direction, and that makes it can’t-miss football.

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