NFL schedule: Brady, Bucs headline primetime slots
- There was no surprise that Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no shortage of primetime action next season.
The release of the 2020 NFL schedule on Thursday was a beacon of hope to sports-starved fans, as the league plans to stage a normal season despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the coronavirus could derail the best-laid plans, the NFL is charging forward and unveiled a tantalising slate of primetime games for the upcoming season.
Eight different teams tied for the most primetime games with five, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and new quarterback Tom Brady.
All of the Buccaneers’ night games come from Weeks 5-11, starting with a Thursday night matchup against the Chicago Bears. Tampa Bay and Brady will be a part of the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas with a Sunday night game on October 25.
On November 2 and 23, Brady will have Monday night matchups against previous Super Bowl foes, facing the New York Giants, who defeated Brady for titles in 2007 and 2011, in Week 8.
Three weeks later, the Buccaneers are visited by the Los Angeles Rams, whom Brady beat for his sixth championship in the 2018 season.
Now division rivals, Brady and Drew Brees will be in the spotlight for Sunday Night Football on November 8, when Tampa Bay host the New Orleans Saints.
While Brady’s 10th career trip to the Super Bowl is anything but guaranteed, Super Bowl LV is scheduled for February 7, 2021 in Tampa Bay, and the Buccaneers will attempt to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Perhaps just as intriguing as Brady’s new team is the one he left behind, the New England Patriots, who also have five primetime games.
Head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots appear content to have second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who has four career pass attempts, be their starter as a new era begins in New England.
The Patriots are scheduled to visit the division rival New York Jets on Monday Night Football on November 9, as well as host the Buffalo Bills on Monday, Dec28.
A Week 2 road game against the Seattle Seahawks and a Week 14 trip to the Rams’ new SoFi Stadium will be primetime Super Bowl rematches, while Belichick and the Patriots attempting slow down reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will take centre stage on Sunday Night Football on November 15.
One of the most exciting games on the primetime slate is a Week 3 Monday night showdown between Jackson’s Ravens and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The Ravens play back-to-back Thursday night games in Weeks 12 and 13, visiting the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on November 26 then hosting the Dallas Cowboys on December 3.
The Chiefs are scheduled to open their title defence on Thursday, September 10, by hosting the Houston Texans, whom they defeated 51-31 in a divisional-round playoff game last season after trailing 24-0.
The Rams will open their new $5billion stadium in Week 1 when they host the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football on September 13, while the Raiders’ new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will debut on Monday, September 21, when the Saints come to town.
The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers have four of their five primetime games at home, including a Thursday night rematch of last year’s NFC championship game rout against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9.
Joe Burrow will likely get his first taste of the NFL spotlight when his Bengals visit fellow No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and the in-state rival Cleveland Browns on Thursday, September 17.
If Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in last month’s draft, wins the starting job for the Miami Dolphins, his only chance at primetime is a Thursday night game in Jacksonville to face the Jaguars on September 24.
The Los Angeles Chargers, along with No. 6 pick Justin Herbert at quarterback, play showcase games in Week 5 in New Orleans and Week 15 in Las Vegas.
Former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, has only one primetime game on the schedule – a Thursday night visit to Tennessee on November 12.
Although the game will kick off in the afternoon, the Saints and the Minnesota Vikings will share the spotlight on Christmas Day, the first NFL game on a Friday since the San Diego Chargers played the Tennessee Titans on Christmas of 2009. The Saints will be looking for revenge for dramatic playoff losses to the Vikings that ended their 2017 and 2019 seasons.
The Thanksgiving Day triple-header for 2020 includes the Texans visiting the Detroit Lions, the Washington Redskins playing against the Cowboys in Dallas and the Ravens battling the Steelers.