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5 NFL games to circle on your calendar for 2020

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May 11th, 2020

On Thursday, Sept. 10, the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to host Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans in the kickoff to the NFL’s 101st season.

Now that the 2020 schedule has been released, let's look at five other intriguing games to mark on your calendar.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, Week 1, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

Tom Brady’s debut in a Buccaneers jersey couldn’t come against a better opponent. Right off the bat, the 43-year-old former Patriot will square off against 41-year-old Drew Brees, the NFL’s leader in passing yards (77,571 yards) and touchdown passes (547).

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl winner and four-time Super Bowl MVP (both record totals), isn’t far behind in those passing categories. Brady is second in passing yardage (74,751) and six scores away from tying Brees’ touchdown total.

Brady is 2-1 against Brees and will meet him once more in Tampa Bay on Sunday Night Football in Week 9. Brady has been favored in his past 74 regular-season games as a starter, the longest streak in league history. That will likely come to an end in Week 1, as the Saints are currently five-point home favorites.

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, Week 3, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

In the fourth Monday Night Football matchup of the season, the 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes, will face off with the 2019 MVP, Lamar Jackson.

Jackson and the Ravens achieved a 14-2 record (best in the league) and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs last year. They shockingly fell to the sixth-seeded Titans in the Divisional Round and are back for another try at a Super Bowl run.

The Chiefs retained the core of their high-octane offense, and added running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Ravens built up their defense in free agency and drafted Ohio State star running back J.K. Dobbins.

Kansas City is the Super Bowl frontrunner (+650), with the Ravens next in line in the odds (+700). In Week 3 of the 2019 season, the Chiefs defeated the Ravens, 33-28, at Arrowhead Stadium.

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 6, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

The excitement doesn't stop with Brees vs. Brady twice in one season. We also get Brady vs. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the third time.

Brady and Rodgers last competed against each other on Nov. 4, 2018, when the Patriots defeated the Packers, 31-17, in Foxborough. Rodgers won the other contest, 26-21, back in 2014.

As a backup to Brett Favre, Rodgers also played in some of a 35-0 blowout loss at Lambeau Field in 2006.

In the offseason, Brady inherited a loaded offense, which features Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, plus Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to join his former quarterback in Tampa.

Rodgers could use some help on his side of the ball, but the Packers mostly focused on defense in free agency and used their first-round draft pick on quarterback Jordan Love.

This game should go to Brady on his home turf, but it will be an enticing matchup.

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots, Week 7, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

This will be a reminder of what could have been for Bill Belichick, who will welcome quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers to Gillette Stadium. Jimmy G formerly played backup to Brady with the Patriots, before Brady allegedly asked owner Robert Kraft to trade away his potential successor.

The Patriots sent Garoppolo to San Francisco in 2017, and by 2019, he was playing in a Super Bowl. Now that Brady has bolted from New England, as well, the Pats are left with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and shallow depth at wide receiver.

The Pats are hardly in the Super Bowl conversation, with +2200 odds. The 49ers, on the other hand, are the top choice out of the NFC (+900) to win the title.

NFL holiday games

The Thanksgiving tradition continues, with three NFL games on slate, though only one will probably be worth watching. The Houston Texans will visit the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 26, then the Redskins will battle Dallas for the 10th time on Thanksgiving. Washington has only won once against the Cowboys (in 2012) on the holiday.

The game you don’t want to miss is an AFC North showdown between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Steelers get Ben Roethlisberger back from injury this season and could knock down the Ravens in front of Pittsburgh’s raucous crowd.

In a rare occurrence, we'll also see a Christmas Day clash. The Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to take on the Saints, in a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game, which Minnesota won in overtime on a Kyle Rudolph touchdown. New Orleans has never played on Christmas Day, while the Vikings are 1-2 on Dec. 25.

It will be the first Friday regular-season game since 2009.


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