There are some people who don't enjoy the spectacle of the NFL schedule release. I get it. We already know who the opponents are going to be, and whether or not they're going to be home and away. When they play those teams, in that order, it doesn't matter as much that we already know the who and where.
But I don't care; I still love it.
If nothing else, it's fun to see which teams fall into primetime slots knowing that, no matter where you live, you'll have a chance to watch those teams.
With primetime games, the strength of schedules and much more, here are five big winners from the 2020 NFL schedule release.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Five Primetime Games
Since 2005 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a league-low 17 primetime games, which includes Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday Night Football matchups.
This year they have five.
- Oct. 8: at Chicago (TNF)
- Oct. 25: at Las Vegas Raiders (SNF)
- Nov. 2: at New York Giants (MNF)
- Nov. 8: vs. New Orleans (SNF)
- Nov. 23: vs. Los Angeles Rams (MNF)
It ties Tampa Bay for the most, and maximum, amount of primetime games a team can have in a single season.
Why so many this time around?
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.
Adding Tom Brady in free agency immediately made the Buccaneers a national commodity in a way they haven't been for much of their history. Tampa Bay is 12-18 all-time in prime-time games while Brady is 50-21 in his career, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine, including 17-7 on Monday night, 12-1 on Thursday night and 21-13 on Sunday night games.
Brady brings more experience and success than the Buccaneers have ever had under the brightest lights.
No London Games
This was a big win for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars were set to become the first team in NFL history to play back-to-back games in London during the 2020 regular season. The schedule release would have been the time to find out who they were playing against. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league recently announced it won't have teams playing international games in 2020.
Instead, the Jaguars get to keep both of their home games.
Falcons, Chiefs, Chargers, Cowboys
Bye Week During Masters Tournament
Is this considered a win? You bet it is.
The NFL's international plans weren't the only sporting events affected by the coronavirus. One of golf’s four major championships, The Masters Tournament, was postponed. Instead of the tournament happening in March, it will now take place Nov. 9-15 or Week 10 of the NFL season.
There are four teams with byes that week: the Falcons, Chiefs, Chargers and Cowboys.
Each of those fan bases can kick back and enjoy what will be one of the most memorable golf tournaments in the history of the sport given the popularity, magnitude and circumstances.
AFC Is A Two-Team Race
The Ravens are poised to make another deep playoff run. They are bringing back the league's MVP at quarterback, Lamar Jackson, added talent like Calais Campbell and had a great draft, highlighted by first-round pick Patrick Queen, that made their roster even stronger.
When it comes to Baltimore’s matchups, its schedule is the easiest in the league, according to the strength of schedule numbers from last year. The Ravens don't even leave the Eastern time zone after Week 2, which makes for shorter, more comfortable travel.
When you look at the other potential AFC contenders for the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoff: Tom Brady left New England, Buffalo and Houston both have the top-10 most difficult schedules and Tennessee’s repeat of success isn't a guarantee.
It looks like it’s a two-team race between Baltimore and Kansas City for that top spot.
Top-10 QB Matchups
The 2020 schedule gave us exactly what we wanted when it comes to rookie first-round quarterbacks matchups.
There were three quarterbacks taken in the top 10 who are projected to start at some point in the upcoming season. Joe Burrow went No. 1 to the Bengals, Tua Tagovailoa went No. 5 to the Dolphins and Justin Herbert went No. 6 to the Chargers.
Each one of them could face one another at some point:
- Week 1: Burrow vs. Herbert
- Week 7: Herbert vs. Tagovailoa
- Week 13: Burrow vs. Tagovailoa
With Tagovailoa's health and Herbert having to beat out incumbent passer Tyrod Taylor for the starting job, there's no guarantee when either will see significant time under center. However, it's still exciting to see those matchups on the schedule, especially if there’s a rematch of the incredible LSU-Alabama game if Burrow and Tagovailoa face off again, this time as pros, in Week 13.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022