The Kansas City Chiefs will open their title defense at home against the Houston Texans on Thursday, Sept. 10, the NFL announced Thursday evening while revealing the entire 2020 schedule.
Tom Brady’s first game as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on the road against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 13.
The Saints will then be part of another first in Week 2, participating in the Raiders’ initial home game in Las Vegas. The contest will be the Monday night game on Sept. 21.
The inaugural game at SoFi Stadium, the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, will see the Rams playing host to the Dallas Cowboys on the night of Sept. 13.
The NFL plans to start its season on time despite the coronavirus pandemic. Contingency plans reportedly were built into the schedule. The 17-week regular season is due to conclude Jan. 3, and the playoffs are set to culminate with the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Tampa.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said, “The plan is to move forward as normal, to play a full season, a full schedule, until the medical community tells us otherwise. … Any guidelines as it pertains to what the governors’ orders are as it pertains to the stay-at-home policies, let’s just make sure we’re aligned, and that’s been the approach as we look at our virtual offseason, as we look and prepare for training camp and the regular season.”
ESPN reported the full season could be pushed back weeks if necessary, with the early-season games potentially moved to the end of the regular season instead. The report also noted all Week 2 opponents have the same bye week, allowing those games to made up with minimal disruption to the season should the schedule be pushed back.
The Brady effect on the Buccaneers was palpable, as Tampa Bay was scheduled for five prime-time games after playing just one night game last season during a 7-9 campaign. The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback signed a two-year, $50 million deal with the Bucs in March, and one of his favorite former targets, tight end Rob Gronkowski, subsequently came out of retirement and was dealt from the New England Patriots to the Bucs.
Tampa Bay’s night games are Oct. 8 at Chicago, Oct. 25 at Las Vegas, Nov. 2 at the New York Giants, Nov. 8 against New Orleans and Nov. 23 vs. the Rams.
The Patriots, even with Brady gone, will play in prime time five times. They also have a matchup with one of Brady’s former backups, Jimmy Garoppolo, when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 25. New England, presumably quarterbacked by Jarrett Stidham, will open at home against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.
“(We’ll) start on the early opponents and make sure we’re ready for those in training camp,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of how he views the schedule reveal. “… The main thing in training camp for us is to make sure that we know what we’re doing and we’re ready to go. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time, assuming the preseason goes somewhat the way it has in the past, … to evaluate the preseason games and get an idea of what players we’ll be facing.”
The Patriots have the league’s toughest schedule based on their opponents’ 2019 records.
The Chiefs beat the 49ers 31-20 in the Super Bowl last season. Kansas City’s Week 1 game will be the rematch of a divisional-playoff classic from January, when the Chiefs overcame a 24-0 deficit to stun the Texans 51-31.
Kansas City will have five night games this season. The Chiefs also will be the visitor when the Chargers play their first home game at SoFi Stadium, on Sept. 20.
The appeal of Las Vegas allowed the Raiders to attract four prime-time home games, a first in team history, according to the club that formerly played in Oakland and Los Angeles.
The NFL will play one game on Christmas Day, which falls on a Friday, with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the Saints. Visiting Minnesota knocked New Orleans out of the playoffs in the wild-card round last year.
The last time the league scheduled a game on a Friday was on Dec. 25, 2009.
The three-game Thanksgiving Day slate features the Texans at the Detroit Lions, the Washington Redskins at the Cowboys, and the Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 49ers will conclude their regular season against the visiting Seattle Seahawks. The same two teams met the season finale at Seattle last year, and San Francisco emerged with a tight victory to clinch NFC West title and the conference’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said on NFL Network of closing vs. the Seahawks again, “It doesn’t surprise me. I know that’s fun to watch. I know that’s football as good as it gets. It’s not always good for my heart, my family’s heart, everyone on our team, our fans, but … I’m just happy that this time it will be in San Francisco.
An intriguing late-season matchup has Cleveland visiting the New York Giants on Dec. 20, the first time Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is scheduled to oppose his former team.
Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is due to make his Indianapolis Colts debut on Sept. 13 at Jacksonville. The Colts do not face Rivers’ former team, the Chargers.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)