Thank you, NFL

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Sorry, I was playing catch up after taking last week off, but I knew you wanted to know my thoughts on the 2020 Buffalo Bills schedule.

Here we go. Wow! That was my initial reaction, because the first thing I wanted to see was how many night games the Bills were given. We had an inkling of what was coming because Sal Capaccio spoke with an NFL official involved in the schedule-making process, and he told Sal the TV networks were requesting Bills games for their national slate.

My, how far the franchise has come. They used to be at the cool kids table a long time ago, then they were told to move to another table, and now they are back.Truth be told, I am very much a Sunday at 1 o’clock kind of football fan, but how can you not be excited about the Bills having four primetime games? If you put aside, for a moment, how the make up of the schedule could impact the Bills' chances to make the playoffs, then this is about as fun of a schedule as you could draw up for a fan of the team. The Bills get to open the season at home, play five of their eight home games before Thanksgiving (which is great if there are going to be fans at games), play the bigger name teams on their schedule in those night games and have a regularly scheduled Sunday night national TV game in Orchard Park for the first time since 2000. If the Bills are indeed in a playoff race, whether it's for a Wild Card spot or an AFC East title, the back half of the schedule could play out nicely for them too. The Bills and, what should be one of the league’s best defenses, have a chance to face a rookie quarterback or a fairly inexperienced quarterback in five of their final seven games. In Week 10, they go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals and go up against second-year man Kyler Murray. Coming out of the Week 11 bye, they host the Los Angeles Chargers, who might be starting first round draft pick Justin Herbert by then. Of course, if Herbert isn’t starting, then we get to see Tyrod Taylor make his return to New Era Field as an opponent. In Weeks 13 and 14, they’d face more difficult challenges in Jimmy Garoppolo and Ben Roethlisberger. But the final three games of the season are against the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. That means Drew Lock, who will be in his first season as a full-time starter, and probably Jarrett Stidham, who has yet to make an NFL start. There could be another rookie quarterback in the season finale in Tua Tagovailoa, but if the Dolphins are in the playoff race then the Bills would see old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick.By the way, how cool would it be if that Dec. 28 Monday Night Football matchup in New England turns out to be the game where the Bills clinch a division title for the first time since 1995. If you’re an older fan like myself and you remember the days when Miami was the big rival, my guess is you were delighted to see the Dolphins' annual trip to Western New York slated for two weeks into winter. I like the first month of the schedule because it gives the Bills a great chance to get off to a strong start and stack some wins like they did last season. The Bills got off to a 3-0 start in 2019 thanks to games against, what would be, three of the worst teams in the league - the New Yor Jets, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals.

The task should be a little tougher this season, but the Bills should be no worse than 3-1 after games with the Jets, Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams and the Las Vegas Raiders. They'll need a successful first quartet of games since a trip to the 2019 AFC runner up Tennessee Titans and a meeting at home with defending Suoper Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will follow in Weeks 5 and 6. My final thought after analyzing the schedule up, down and sideways... hopefully we have a football season.