Finally, after seven months of waiting, a period where we really didn’t think it would happen and a lot of anticipation. NFL Football starts in just a few hours. With the weekend stacked of professional sports like we’ve never really seen before, you might not have time to immerse yourself in all the NFL action – although we strongly recommend you do. If that’s the case, then these are the five games that you simply must watch during the opening weekend of the 2020 NFL season.
5. Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs
The game doesn’t just make the list because it’s on tonight, although it definitely helps. Last year the Houston Texans managed to beat Kansas City in the regular season and also jumped to an early lead in their playoff match-up.
This is the perfect fixture to kick off the 2020 regular season, the two bright new faces of the league squaring off on opening night. Both starting quarterbacks have signed mammoth extensions during the off-season, securing the long-term future of their respective franchises. Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year, $500m deal – the biggest contract in the history of professional sports, whilst Deshaun Watson signed for 4 years and $156m. Money which will actually see him paid more than Patrick Mahomes throughout the duration of the next four seasons.
Both squads are used to playoff football with their young signal-callers under center, facing off in Week 1 will be a great assessment for the aspirations of the respective teams. If the Chiefs get off to a hot start at home, many will be looking for them to repeat the success of 2019. On the flip side, if the Texans manage to win again then they quickly become a dark horse in the race for the AFC.
4. Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings
Another division race which has the potential to swing on the outcome of this match-up. The Green Bay Packers ran away with the North last year, but Minnesota have put in work throughout the off-season to close that gap.
The arrival of Yannick Ngakoue is a major addition, especially as Danielle Hunter is headed to IR to start the season. Unfortunately for Coach Zimmer, Michael Pierce opting out of the season makes hurts the potential of the defensive line, but this is still one of the better defensive units in football. The 2020 NFL Draft was strong for the Vikings, adding impact players all over the roster, it will be interesting to see how many make it on to the field for their first taste of NFL action on Sunday.
3. Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens
Please, for football fans everywhere, please let the Cleveland Browns be good. If the Browns are good, then we too can hope that one day our under-performing favourite team has a chance of winning games again. For the past two seasons, the Browns have been the plucky underdog team that everyone has high expectations of because of new faces both on and off the field. Well, nothing’s really changed.
Since the last time they took the field, Cleveland have a new general manager in Andrew Berry, a new head coach in Andrew Berry, multiple free agent signings and a top-ten draft pick. So surely, after another off-season of high profile additions, Cleveland are on the cusp of being competitive.
There is no better litmus test for the Browns in 2020 than a Week 1 match-up against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens finished last season with the best record in the entire league at 14-2 and boast unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson under center. It isn’t just the offensive side of the ball where the Ravens are strong, additions such as Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen are going to elevate the defensive side of the ball – which already ranked third in the NFL last year.
Both sides are star-studded and full of hope and expectation, this game could blow open the AFC North race right from the start.
2. Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Rams
Under new management in Mike McCarthy. the Dallas Cowboys are clear favourites to win their division. This game presents an opportunity for two powerhouses of the NFC to state their intentions early as whoever wins this one will be sending an early statement to the other teams in the conference that they are ready to mount a post-season challenge. Dallas have offensive firepower to match the very best in the league, it’s just a question of whether their defense is good enough to hamper the offensive abilities of a Sean McVay side.
The Rams are trying to stop the bleeding after a disappointing 2019. Sean McVay went from the prodigal coach of the future to someone who may start to feel the pressures of LA if he can’t continue to deliver wins, whilst quarterback Jared Goff has not looked impressive since signing to a huge deal. If the Rams don’t start quickly this year, star defender Jalen Ramsey – who just signed a $105m extension, might be wondering if he should have looked elsewhere.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
The fact this isn’t a prime-time game is criminal. This is the match-up all analysts had circled, highlighted and underlined ever since Tom Brady announced he was leaving Foxboro for Tampa Bay. Brady and Drew Brees have been chasing some of the all-time passing records for years now but haven’t crossed paths anywhere near often enough. Going into Week 1 Brees is directly ahead of Brady in both passing yards and touchdowns thrown, also posting the best completion percentage in the history of the NFL.
Whilst the New Orleans Saints haven’t been able to turn their regular season success into championships, they have commanded the division for the past few years winning three straight division titles. Of course, their status as the top-dogs in the South is now under considerable threat with the arrival of Tom Brady.
Everybody knows that Brady is not used to losing. After he had taken over as a starter in New England, the Patriots won a staggering 17 out of a possible 19 division titles. The most dominant a single franchise has been over such a long period of time. Combining with Bruce Arians and the multitude of weapons in that Buccaneers offense, Brady will be hoping for another stint full of success, more Super Bowls and will be keeping one eye on Brees’ passing records.
The race for the NFC South will likely come down to the head-to-head record between these two teams. Getting the steal on your division rival so early in the season will give the winning side a huge momentum boost to carry on into the rest of the season.