2020 NFL Schedule Announced With Some Exhilarating Matchups To Come...
The NFL has released its schedule for the 2020 season, with defending champions Kansas City Chiefs due to welcome the Houston Texans on Thursday September 10th.
The game will be a matchup of two MVP-calibre Quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson and offers the perfect apéritif to begin the season.
Week 1 has further matchups to whet the appetite for the season ahead. Aaron Rodgers takes the Packers into Minnesota to face the Vikings in what will be an early indicator of likely divisional supremacy and the Kyler Murray-led upstart Cardinals will travel to San Francisco to attempt to dethrone the reigning NFC Champions.
There are many other hotly anticipated games on the slate, but nothing will be as closely scrutinised as Tom Brady’s debut for Tampa Bay.
Brady and the Bucs will face an important litmus test of their progress and legitimacy as media-anointed contenders straight out of the gate. They face perennial favourites Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the Louisiana-based Mercedes-Benz Superdome in what could be a potential opener for the ages.
Brady’s profile has seriously boosted the national TV appeal of the Buccaneers. Not even in the Championship winning era of Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, and Derrick Brooks have Tampa ever had five prime time games in a season.
Some tantalising titbits of the 256-game schedule:
-- Las Vegas has its first showcase in Week 2. The newest NFL city will welcome the Saints on Monday 21st September (01:15 Tues 22nd for UK fans).
-- There are eight teams who have the maximum allowed 5 prime-time games: the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and Green Bay Packers.
-- The (hopefully full) 70,240-seater SoFi Stadium; new home to the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams will see its first game in Week 1 as the Dallas Cowboys arrive in town in to face the Rams.
-- Week 3 has a mouth-watering Monday night game as the Chiefs travel to play the Baltimore Ravens in what is many people’s choice as a preview for a potential AFC Championship contest.
-- Week 17 sees the heated rivalry between the Seattle Seahawks and 49ers being played in San Francisco in what could be an NFC West and Conference seed decider.
-- Ditto the above in the AFC as the Tennessee Titans visit Houston to go up against the Texans.
-- The Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions will not play a prime-time game this year.
A further addition to the schedule will see the NFL delivering a present to fans at Yuletide, serving up a Christmas Day treat in New Orleans as the Saints and Vikings do battle in what could have huge ramifications for NFC playoff seedings.
This will also be the first Friday game in 11 years, and only the 10th since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The game will be a welcome EastEnders/Dr Who tonic for UK fans on Christmas Day evening as it is due to be staged at 21:30, GMT.
There has also been an increased number of Saturday games added to the schedule, with two Saturday triple-headers due this season. These are set to be in Weeks 15 and 16 and will be flexed to contain matchups that will deliver the best possible drama in the leadup to the playoffs.
Of course, questions abound as to the validity of this schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the NFL assures us that contingencies are in place in case the season does come into question. These include simultaneous future bye weeks for teams who play in Week 2 in case games need to be moved back into said bye weeks, among other plans.
Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement said that: “…we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice” and that the NFL will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary to the scheduling.
For now though, as was the case with the NFL Draft, let’s just sit back as fans and enjoy the welcome relief and debate that this schedule release brings as we eagerly anticipate what could be the most unique season of all time.