D.A.: 10 Best Games Of The NFL's 2020 Schedule Release


The NFL schedule-makers decided to move forward as though nothing was amiss about this 2020 season. One could imagine Roger Goodell yelling over a Zoom call to the rest of his league executives, "The Shield must march on!" So despite real concerns about whether the league will be able to actually host all of these events, and deeper concerns over whether fans will be allowed inside them, the NFL released its matchups. 

Here's the top 10 events on my calendar (slightly edited after a deeper dive), with a few qualifiers baked in. Somehow no October games made my list. This is not because I'm anti-Halloween month. I love my king-sized Butterfingers like any proper American. I just didn't see much juice in October. Also, the Patriots notably are not on the list. This is not out of spite. I just don't think they're compelling theater. No one west of Worcester is hyped about a Jarrett Stidham-to-Mohamed Sanu connection. I also left Justin Herbert's Chargers games, Philip Rivers' starts in Indy, and Teddy Bridgewater days in Carolina off the list. New faces in new places, but not all that thrilling. Sorry to the L.A. teams, your new stadium isn't that much of a draw. And the Bills and Vikings probably deserve to make the list, but you got squeezed out. Here we go. 

10) Bengals at Dolphins, December 6. Burrow vs. Tua. 

Despite how awful the Bengals may be, their new quarterback is going to be fantastic to watch. This is late enough in the season where the Dolphins may feel comfortable starting their rookie, assuming his hip checks out. If Miami still has Fitzpatrick under center, there are a handful of other matchups that jump over this for Burrow like Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Let's see the kids. 

9) Saints at Raiders, September  21. Vegas opens. 

The new Black Hole opens with one of the best teams in the league coming to the desert. It's more interesting than SoFi Stadium in L.A. is because the crowd has always been a defining characteristic of Raiders home games. Will it be a sanitized, watered-down version of the wild Oakland crowd? Will it be a Vegas-style party? The looming reality is that we may not have fans allowed in the building at that point. The Raiders are in primetime so many times we may get sick of them, but the first hopefully will be fun. 

8) Texans at Bears, December 13. Deshaun's revenge. 

Chicago would not have made this list except we could see significant fireworks at Soldier Field. Watson has been public about how little respect he got in the draft process from the Bears’ front office. Here's guessing Deshaun will want to put on a show, and by this point in the season Nick Foles may have pushed Trubisky out of the job. This could be a sad day in the Windy City. 

7) Cowboys at Seahawks, September 27. Dak under attack. 

What Dallas team will we get? The sleep train that muddled its way through last year, or a squad with enough weapons to be one of the best in the NFL? After re-signing Amari Cooper and drafting Cee Dee Lamb, Prescott has no excuses. He's got a new coach empowered to freshen up the attack. He's still behind one of the best lines in football and an elite running back to hand off to. But if they go to Seattle and lay and egg, the doubts swirl once again. 

6) Chiefs at Bucs, November 29. Mahomes vs. Brady finale. 

Saint Patrick and the KC offense against the future Hall of Famer one final time. Assuming these two don't meet in the Super Bowl, this will be the final dance between the legend and the next great one. Can Brady muster up a few more classic moments at 43 years old to keep up with the young guns? The torch has already been passed as Mahomes got his first Lombardi in February. But this is a moment we'll probably discuss years down the road.

5) Packers at Niners, November 5. NFC Championship Game redux. 

Will Green Bay get roughhoused again? The game in January was alarming for the ease with which the Niners dominated. The Packers are betting that Aaron Rodgers is coming to an end, but that will likely motivate him to an amazing season. If so, Rodgers may end up delivering a classic performance to redeem what happened in the playoffs. 

4) Chiefs at Ravens, September 28. MVP Duel. 

This was the AFC Championship Game until the Titans intervened. These two have had some thrilling matchups recently, and it's a symbol of what's to come for the next decade. Mahomes is a star, and the new face of the league. Jackson broke out last season, and may be the greatest running QB ever (apologies to Mike Vick). Could this decide early where the AFC Championship Game is played? 

3) Ravens at Steelers, November 26. Turkey Night. 

The hatred that boils over for these two AFC North rivals is just perfect for the Thanksgiving nightcap. We imagine it will be a frosty night in Pittsburgh as we all settle in to digest our meal. If Big Ben stays healthy, this will be a huge game toward winning the division. And even when these two teams have down years, the matchup always brings out the intensity and mutual dislike.