The NFL’s schedule release is, well, on schedule.
There may not be a season come September 10. But tonight, football fans can pretend that there will be. And so will we.
Instead of watching a three-hour made-for-TV video conference about which team got screwed, or what the Bills bye week means for the playoff picture, we’ve compiled a list of games to mark on your calendar.
Use a pencil just in case.
Games to watch:
Houston @ Kansas City
Opening night in the NFL gives us a rematch of the AFC divisional round. In that game, the Texans blew a 21-point lead and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Expect Houston to come out swinging and, maybe, give us the first upset of the year.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
This game will mark the first divisional meeting between Brees and Brady. Without question, Tom Brady has moved to a tougher division, with better defenses, and he’ll feel it on week one. Also, the media hype surrounding this game will be enormous. For one year, and one year only, the commentators will foam at the mouth for “this matchup between two future hall of famers.” It’s only May, but I can hear Joe Buck saying it now.
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Joe Burrow is expected to start and will probably lose a bunch of games this year. But you’ll watch, right? The 2020 Bengals remind me a bit of the 2019 Cardinals. They’re young, expectations are low, but that does not mean they can’t compete in a few exciting games. Their first game, against the Chargers, should be a good test for both the young QB and the team.
Green Bay @ New Orleans
It’s hard to believe, but Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have not faced off in a game since 2014. A lot has changed in the league since then, including both quarterbacks’ age. These guys are considered old now. This matchup could be the last time we see Brees play against Rodgers.
Kansas City @ Baltimore
The Super Bowl MVP and the MVP will meet in a game that was supposed to be the AFC championship. Mahomes and Jackson are the most exciting quarterbacks in the league. The game will not only showcase star talent, it will serve as a window into how NFL offenses will run for years to come.
Los Angeles @ Miami
Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert were drafted back to back at #5 and #6, respectively. There is speculation that both quarterbacks may sit behind a veteran QB for their first year. But rookie quarterbacks seem to be making their NFL debuts earlier and earlier. If these teams suck enough by week seven, maybe we’ll get to see a matchup between future stars in the league.
Green Bay @ San Francisco
Hopefully this game will be more entertaining than the NFC championship. If Rodgers can find some more folks to throw to, expect the Packers to actually compete this time.
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
Could this be a game of the year candidate? I know we haven’t seen Brady in a Tampa uniform yet, but I have a feeling he’ll improve an already solid Bucs roster. The last time Mahomes faced Brady, the Chiefs won 23-16. I don’t know what to expect this time, but I know I’ll be watching.
Baltimore @ Cleveland
The Browns hype is back like they never went 6-10. But with an improved roster and a relatively easy schedule, is this actually the year they enter the playoff contention conversation? One of their biggest tests will be when the Ravens come to town. Remember, the Browns found a way to win at home last year against Baltimore. Could they do it on Monday night?
Philadelphia @ Dallas
Last year, this game practically decided the NFC East. Who’s to say it can’t happen again? These two teams are the odds-on favorites to win the division. Don’t be surprised if this game has playoff implications come December.
Tennessee @ Houston
Another game that could decide the fate of the division. Last year, these two teams met twice in the span of three weeks. They split the series, and won playoff games. Maybe I’m higher on the Titans than anyone else, but I expect this division to go down to the wire again.
Seattle @ Sam Francisco
The last game of the 2019 regular season saw the 49ers beat the Seahawks in Seattle. With the win, San Francisco clinched the NFC West, a first-round bye, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. These teams are ready to make another run to the Super Bowl. By the end of 2020, this matchup could help define the playoff picture.