The NFL announced Thursday night that the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, will kick off the 2020 season in a game against the Houston Texans on September 10 — pending developments in the coronavirus pandemic, of course.
The league debuted the entire 2020 schedule Thursday night, including another highlight on opening weekend: Tom Brady's regular-season debut with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers' new quarterback will face off against New Orleans' Drew Brees on September 13 — the first matchup of two quarterbacks over the age of 40 in NFL history.
The NFL schedule, not to mention offseason activities and the preseason, has to be considered tentative given the current prohibition on large gatherings.
But commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is planning for a normal season — although it is making contingency plans.
"The league and the clubs have been in contact with the relevant local, state and federal government authorities and will continue to do so," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
The traditional Monday night doubleheader on opening weekend will have Pittsburgh at the New York Giants, which has a rookie head coach in Joe Judge, and Tennessee at Denver.
"The number one positive is we're getting ready to play football, so that's the biggest thing," Judge said. "Once you get the schedule, it starts moving a little bit faster in your mind in terms of preparing for what's in front of you."
Top overall draft pick Joe Burrow and the Cincinatti Bengals start off against the sixth overall selection in April's draft, Justin Herbert and the Chargers. The Bengals also will face the other highly rated rookie quarterback Tua Tagavailoa and the Dolphins in Week 13.
New England, without Brady at QB for an opener for only the second time since 2001, hosts Miami on the opening Sunday.
Thanksgiving games will feature Houston at Detroit, Washington at Dallas, and Baltimore at Pittsburgh — one of the league's fiercest rivalries — in the night game.
Late-season Saturday games will be scheduled but with undetermined matchups for flexibility, something the NFL has done previously.
Certain to draw heavy early season interest will be the past two league MVPs, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, facing off in Week 3 on Monday night at Kansas City. The Chiefs and Ravens each have five prime-time games, as do New England, Dallas, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, defending NFC champ San Francisco, and the Rams.
Detroit and Washington have no prime-time outings.
There's one Friday night contest, on Christmas, when Minnesota visits New Orleans.
Every team has two home and two away games in the first month of the schedule. The season ends January 3 with all divisional matchups, as in recent years. Then follow the playoffs, with the Super Bowl slated for February 7 in Tampa, Florida.
First published on May 7, 2020 / 9:30 PM
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