Eagles hosting Falcons to launch 2018 regular season

ESPN News Services4 Minute Read

Woodson predicts Eagles' record

Darren Woodson suggests the Eagles will start hot as he shares his predictions for Philadelphia's 2018 season.

The Philadelphia Eagles will open their first Super Bowl defense when they host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 6, to start the 2018 NFL regular season, the NFL announced Thursday night.

The Eagles defeated the Falcons 15-10 in the NFC divisional round last season en route to their Super Bowl LII victory.

The New York Jets will host the Detroit Lions on Sept. 10 in the first Monday Night Football game of the season, followed by the Los Angeles Rams at the Oakland Raiders later that night. Former MNF analyst Jon Gruden makes his regular-season coaching return with the Raiders that night.

The Green Bay Packers' home schedule includes a Monday Night Football matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 15, and the New York Giants will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.

Earlier Thursday, the NFL announced dates for its three London games. A matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City on Nov. 19 was announced Wednesday.

The 2018 schedule has three three-game road trips, down from seven last year. Also, no team plays a road game following a road Monday night match. That occurred last year five times.

Thanksgiving will provide a feast of divisional games. The traditional doubleheader in Detroit and Dallas has the Lions playing the Bears, followed by the Redskins at the Cowboys. At night, it will be Atlanta visiting New Orleans.

Other intriguing matchups include the Cleveland Browns, who lost all 16 games last season, hosting archrival Pittsburgh Steelers on the opening Sunday; New England at Jacksonville in a rematch of the AFC title game in Week 2; the Eagles and Vikings in an NFC championship game redux in Philly on Oct. 7; and the Steelers vs. Patriots in Pittsburgh in Week 15.

"We like to open at home in front of our great fans and this will be the second season in a row we do it against the Steelers,'' Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "We start with the best in our division.''

Flexible scheduling in which a Sunday afternoon game can be switched to the evening because it is a better matchup than the previously planned game will be in use for Weeks 11-17. But two Sundays in Weeks 5-10 also can have a game flexed to night.

In a new twist, flex scheduling will be used for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16. In Week 15, two games will be played on Saturday, Dec. 15: Houston at the Jets and Cleveland at Denver, with game times of 4:30 p.m. ET and 8:20 p.m. ET to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday: Baltimore at the L.A. Chargers, Jacksonville at Miami, the New York Giants at Indianapolis, or Washington at Tennessee. Start times for Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the contests not chosen for Saturday to be played on Sunday on the 16th weekend.

"We knew who our opponents would be, and that we would play seven games against teams that were in the playoffs last year, including two against the Super Bowl champions, so we knew it is going to be a challenging schedule,'' said Pat Shurmur, preparing for his first season as Giants coach. "I don't see anything remarkable about the schedule, but it is very challenging.''

As usual, no Sunday night game has been scheduled for the last day of the season, Dec. 30. That will be chosen after the Week 16 games conclude.

The Saints, Rams and Ravens are the teams scheduled for the three-game road trips this season, but the Ravens and Rams also have three-game homestands. In all, 12 franchises are home for three straight weeks, and Baltimore and Indianapolis have a bye mixed in, meaning neither club will leave home for a month.

The playoffs begin with wild-card weekend on Jan. 5-6. The Super Bowl is Feb. 3 in Atlanta.

"I always look forward to this time of year, getting our players back in the building, getting back to football, and then on top of that we get to see how our schedule sets up and start our preparation,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "We've got a lot of work to get done before Sept. 9. I'm excited to get started and I know Chiefs Kingdom will be supporting us the entire way.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.