The Kansas City Chiefs will open defence of their Super Bowl championship by hosting Houston on Sept. 10 in the NFL’s annual kickoff game — pending developments in the coronavirus pandemic, of course.
The Texans won a regular-season game at Arrowhead Stadium in 2019, then blew a 24-0 lead in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Another highlight of the opening weekend will have Tom Brady’s regular-season debut with Tampa Bay against Drew Brees at New Orleans on Sept. 13 — the first matchup of 40-plus quarterbacks in NFL history.
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will debut on the Monday night, Sept. 21, with the Raiders facing Brees and the Saints.
All of the 32 teams released their schedules early Thursday evening, with the full 2020 list scheduled to be revealed by the league a bit later.
The Chiefs, who won their first Super Bowl in a half-century last February, needed baseball’s Royals to move their game for Sept. 10, which now is part of a doubleheader two days earlier. The teams’ stadiums share parking lots.
The NFL schedule, not to mention off-season activities and the preseason, has to be considered tentative given the current prohibition on large gatherings.
Constant contact with government officials
But commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is planning for a normal season, albeit while 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 Bengals start off against the sixth overall selection in April’s draft, Justin Herbert and the Chargers at Cincinnati. 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 — he was suspended for the first four games of 2016 — hosts Miami on the opening Sunday.
Lions, Redskins won’t see primetime
Thanksgiving games will have Houston at Detroit, Washington at Dallas, then one of the league’s fiercest rivalries with Baltimore at Pittsburgh 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. Whether that’s a quirk or by design is unknown.
The season ends Jan. 3 with all divisional matchups, as in recent years. Then follow the playoffs, with the Super Bowl slated for Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida.