Turn on the lights: Browns to play in 4 primetime games in 2019

In case you've never played trivia at your local sports pub, here's a fun fact for your future winning efforts: The first Monday Night Football game in NFL history was played between the Browns and New York Jets on Sept. 21, 1970 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

That matchup will be revisited in 2019, the 50th season of Monday Night Football, when the Browns travel to East Rutherford, New Jersey, for their Week 2 meeting with the Jets on ESPN's primetime show.

Beyond the history of the series' first matchup -- which was won by the Browns when reserve linebacker Billy Andrews intercepted Joe Namath and returned it for a late touchdown -- this game features two of the league's brightest young quarterback prospects in Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. The two will clash for the second time in as many meetings, with Mayfield coming off the bench to lead the Browns to a 21-17 win over New York on Thursday Night Football in Week 3 of 2018.

Also included: Two new eras of football for two franchises. The Browns begin 2019 with new head coach Freddie Kitchens at the helm, while the Jets do so with new head coach Adam Gase.

Oh, and there are those two new, key offensive additions for each team: Cleveland's Odell Beckham Jr., and New York's Le'Veon Bell. The Browns will also see a familiar face in new colors in linebacker C.J. Mosley, the former Ravens star who signed with the Jets in March.

The Browns' 2019 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery.

The Browns haven't found themselves under the bright lights of Monday night since the 2015 season, when they hosted Baltimore in late November. It will also be Cleveland's first Monday night game away from home in more than 10 years (Dec. 15, 2008, at Philadelphia was the Browns' last).

If that isn't enough to make you drool, there's more -- three more, in fact, for a total of four, the most since the Browns saw primetime five times in 2008.

Immediately after the Browns return from New Jersey, they start preparations for a Week 3 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams, a contest set for the cameras of NBC's Sunday Night Football.

The defending NFC champions come to town fresh off their own test, a rematch of the NFC Championship Game in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. They'll also be the Browns' second primetime opponent in as many weeks, something that hasn't happened since the Browns hosted the Broncos on Thursday Night Football and then traveled to Buffalo for a Monday night game against the Bills in Weeks 10 and 11 of 2008.

The Sunday night contest against the Rams also ends another primetime drought of 10-plus years. The Browns will appear on the NBC show for the first time since Sept. 14, 2008, when they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers are involved in their own bit of schedule-release history with the Browns in 2019. The Browns will host the Steelers in Week 11 on TNF before traveling to Pittsburgh in Week 13 for a 4:25 p.m. kick. Their two matchups in three weeks (Weeks 11 and 13) marks the first time the Browns have faced a division opponent twice in as short of a span since the creation of the AFC North, part of a league-wide realignment to eight divisions in 2002.

History, while slight, favors the Browns in the Thursday night matchup. Cleveland is 1-0 against Pittsburgh on Thursday night, thanks to a 13-6 win on a frigid night in Cleveland on Dec. 10, 2009.

That takes care of three primetime games. And the fourth? That's a less-frequent matchup between the Browns and another upstart franchise, the San Francisco 49ers.

Once the darling picks for Super Bowls in the late 1980s, the two franchises haven't since found themselves with similar build-ups of expectation at the same time, but that can change in 2019. The 49ers return Jimmy Garoppolo, whose knee injury undercut what was a promising 2018 campaign for the team. And they'll meet the Browns, who have owned much of the offseason news cycle with their bevy of improvements.

That contest comes on Monday night in Week 5 at Levi's Stadium, and makes 2019 the first time Cleveland has seen Monday night more than once in a season since -- you guessed it -- 2008.

As for the Browns' history in primetime slots, they own a 24-32 mark in games played on Sunday, Monday or Thursday nights. They're 15-15 in MNF games, own a decent 6-8 mark in TNF games (which have been around the shortest amount of time), and are just 1-9 in Sunday night games. They'll get a chance (or two) to improve on all three of those marks in 2019 before they close the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals, something they haven't done since Dec. 28, 2003.

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