The NFL schedule release is one of my favorite sporting events of the entire year. First, you get to see how many prime time games your team gets and who they will play in those spots. Second, for football junkies like myself, you get to see all the prime time games for every week at all the different times. Whether that would be TNF, SNF, MNF or the 4:25 ET afternoon spot on Sunday. Just for the record if I were to rank how “prime time” each spot would be it would go SNF, 4:25 ET day slot on Sunday, MNF and then finally TNF. Whether it’s a 1 P.M. ET kickoff or a primetime game however, in no particular order, these are the 11 games you need to mark on your calendar.
Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Thursday, September 10th at 8:20 ET (NBC)
We’ll kick off this list with the season opener! The first game of the season is always so exciting because you have the defending Super Bowl champion getting their rings and unveiling their championship banner on opening night. It is also the first football game in 7 months so everyone will want to tune in. This years match up is a rematch of the AFC Divisional Round game. I remember choosing not to go and was holding out for the potential chance to go to the AFC Championship game the next week. By the beginning of the second quarter I thought I was being punished for that decision until the Chiefs who were down 24-0 early in the second quarter ended up going into halftime leading 28-24, and eventually went on to win 51-31. Safe to say I missed probably one of the greatest games to ever be at, but I was there to watch us win the AFC Championship for the first time in 50 years so I’ll take it. This game has other story lines like Houston playing their first game without DeAndre Hopkins. Safe to say it should be a very entertaining start to the 2020 season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints: Sunday, September 14th at 4:25 ET (FOX); Sunday, November 8th at 8:20 ET (NBC)
It’s crazy to think that in the 19 years Tom Brady and Drew Brees have been in the NFL together they’ve only faced off 5 times. This year we will get to watch them head to head AT LEAST 2 times. Both of these guys are at the end of their careers, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be freaking amazing when they take the field against each other. Whenever two all time great QB’s battle one another it is always must see TV. Right now Brees owns the head to head match up with a 3-2 record over Brady. This season could be the last time we see these two play against one another so make sure you tune in.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints: Sunday, September 27th at 8:20 ET (NBC)
Another match up that pits two first ballot Hall of Famers against one another. The Green Bay Packers had a very interesting draft where in the first two rounds they drafted a QB and a RB. Both of those positions were at the very bottom of needs for the team. They didn’t even draft a WR for Aaron Rodgers, which any football fan would tell you makes absolutely no sense. This will be the first spotlight game of the season for Rodgers and the Packers, and will be a perfect time to show management and the world why drafting Jordan Love was the wrong move. Believe it or not the last time we saw Brees vs. Rodgers was all the way back in 2014 when the Saints destroyed the Packers 44-23 in New Orleans. These guys are 2-2 against one another so it’ll be interesting to see who ends up leaving with the better record over one another.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens: Monday, September 28th at 8:15 ET (ESPN)
What many call the next Brady vs. Manning rivalry. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have both accomplished so much in their young careers already. Both have already won the MVP and have yet to fail at making the playoffs so far. Mahomes however not only has a 2-0 record over Jackson, but has already won his team a Super Bowl while Jackson is still looking to win his first playoff game. Many people thought we would see this match up in last years AFC Championship game. This will be the first time these two play each other in Baltimore and is a great opportunity for Jackson to start making his case for why he is better than Mahomes. I don’t even think Booger McFarland can ruin this game.
Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sunday, October 18th at 4:25 ET (FOX)
When Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers faced off back in 2018 I certainly, barring a Super Bowl match up, thought it was for the last time. Brady going to Tampa gifts us with at least one more game between what many consider the two greatest quarterbacks of the decade. What’s really interesting about this game though is that Aaron might be staring into his future on the other sideline. When the Packers drafted Jordan Love it all but told you that Rodgers will be finishing his career somewhere else. After spending 20 years in New England Brady finds himself finishing his career for another team. For Rodgers, it may happen sooner than you think.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: Thursday, November 5th at 8:20 ET (FOX/NFL)
Anytime you have a Championship game or Super Bowl rematch from the previous year it has to make the list. The 49ers dominated the Packers in both games last year by just being the more physical team. The 49ers offensive line manhandled the Packers defense in the NFC Championship game, and the 49ers defensive line wrecked havoc on Rodgers and the Packers offense in both games. A lot of people are saying the Packers didn’t do enough in free agency and the draft to close the gap between themselves and the 49ers. Not sure that I love this game being on a Thursday night because it gives both teams less time to prepare. We’ll find out then though if the Packers are for real.
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints: Sunday, November 15th at 4:25 ET (FOX)
Rematch of what may have been the best game of the regular season last year. A 48-46 shootout which included 26 total points scored in the final 10 minutes of the game. I thought we would get to see a rematch of this classic in the NFC Championship game last year, but a Vikings upset ruined that. These teams were the clear best in the NFC last year and entering 2020 I don’t believe anything has changed. Hopefully they can put on a performance that comes close to what they were able to do last year. At this point during the season we will know who are contenders and maybe this year we will get to see them meet again in January.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sunday, November 29th at 4:25 ET (CBS)
Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady Part IV. I could leave it with just that and it would be fine, but I’ll go a little deeper. Barring a Super Bowl match up, which would be freaking insane and I think my head might explode, this will be the last time these two play against one another. It will also then be the last game for Mahomes to even the score and get his second win against the GOAT. A .500 record against Brady would be huge for his legacy down the road and wouldn’t allow a shriveled up 80 year old Skip Bayless to say Brady was 3-1 against Mahomes head to head. If Mahomes is able to win this will be a true passing of the torch moment.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints: Sunday, December 20th at 4:25 ET (CBS)
I’ll tell you what man the 2020 season is loaded with star quarterback match ups that we get to enjoy throughout the season. In week 15 we get to watch the present and future of the NFL face off against the guy who has every passing record you can think of. At this point during the season this game will have major playoff implications so you know each team is going to bring their all. Again barring a Super Bowl appearance, which I thought would happen back in 2019 and boy was I wrong, this will be the one and only time you’ll be able to see Mahomes vs. Brees. Can we get to football season already man typing this out has got me itching.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: Sunday, December 27th at 4:25 ET (FOX)
Even though I could care less about the Dallas Cowboys I’ve got to get them on here somewhere and just like last year this game could be for the division title. One really good thing about when the Eagles and Cowboys play is it gives us great memes from Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4jE00NkUcE Here is the most recent one which still makes me laugh. Here’s a hot take for you with this game. What if it’s a division title game and the starting QB’s are Andy Dalton and Jalen Hurts…? Dak Prescott is either holding out or gets benched for poor play and Carson Wentz is hurt again. I’m not predicting this, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible.
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers: Sunday, January 3rd at 4:25 ET (FOX)
While both of the games between the Seahawks and 49ers will be great I’m only listing this one because of where it is at on the schedule. They also played last year on the final week of the season for the #1 overall seed in the NFC and it very well could happen again. Both of their games last year were 2 of the best for the entire season. An overtime thriller that saw a turnover in scoring position and missed game winning field goal. The second match up may have been even better when the Seahawks were stopped literally inches from the goal line as time expired and were inches from being a #1 seed compared to where they ended up with the #5 seed. If these teams are in a similar position next year it should be fun to watch.