Jul. 28, 2020
"The Stack" 5-9-20
The NFL released the 2020 regular season schedule Thursday night to much fanfare. Plenty of big games and surprises were in the schedule. We break some of it down.
The Stack is back on this Friday and the NFL schedule has been released. Some things were a little surprising. Some things, not so much. WE have reaction to the schedule plus some thoughts on how I did in terms picking the primetime games so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Saturday, May 9th:
NFL Schedule released
The NFL released their schedule last night and the NFL is proceeding with business as usual. Despite the fact that we don’t for sure if the NFL season will start on time and if it does, will there be any fans, the NFL released the 2020-21 regular season schedule and there was no AFC VS NFC in weeks 1-4 as some had speculated. We have some absolutely titanic clashes in primetime and monster matchups in the late afternoon window.
Best games in the 4:25 PM ET window
You don’t have to look far down the schedule to find a huge matchup in this window. It’s week one when Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Tompa Bay Gronkaneers travel to the Big Easy to take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. A battle of the two best teams in the NFC South.
We then go to week 4 and see New England without Tom Brady playing against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. It doesn’t seem like a fair fight, but we’ll see just how good New England is. My guess is they won’t be very good.
Week 6 is the battle of the Bay of Pigs as Chris Berman has affectionately called the rivalry between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. It’s going to be great to see Aaron Rodgers take on Tom Brady in Tampa. My guess is that the Bucs will get the best of the Packers in that one.
The Jimmy Garoppolo Bowl happens in week 7 with San Francisco traveling to New England to take on the Patriots. Again, the Patriots aren’t the Patriots of last year, but Bill Belichick will throw something unique at Garoppolo.
Remember that classic 49ers-Saints game last year, a game that the 49ers won? They’re back at it in week 10 at the Superdome and it is going to be a great game. A potential NFC Championship preview? I think it’s definitely a possibility.
I may be biased, but how can you not get excited for the Dallas Cowboys taking on Mike Zimmer and the Vikings in week 11? It’s going to be a good one. The Cowboys are seeking revenge from the loss they suffered last year at home against the Vikings on SNF.
Oh man, week 12. Are you kidding me? Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs taking on Tom Brady and the Bucs in Tampa? First one to 50 wins that one. One of the games of the year!
And the Chiefs will be taking on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in week 15 in New Orleans. What a game that will be. A potential Super Bowl preview. The Chiefs have a tough schedule, but it is filled with great matchups.
No surprise as the Houston Texans take on the Chiefs to open the season. Hopefully there will be fans at Arrowhead who can celebrate the Chiefs Super Bowl championship. After that amazing divisional playoff game last year, this was the obvious choice, especially once Brady left the Patriots.
FOX starts it out with a bang in week 5 with Tom Brady and the Bucs taking on the Bears in Chicago. Maybe it will be Brady against Nick Foles? Maybe?? Foles got the better of Brady the last time they played.
Week 9 is fantastic! A rematch of the NFC Championship game between Green Bay and San Francisco. The Packers struggled in both trips to the Bay Area last year. I don’t think it will go well in this one either, but it should be a fascinating game to watch.
The Thursday after Thanksgiving you can’t get much better in week 13 than with Dallas traveling to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Dak Prescott (or Andy Dalton) versus Lamar Jackson. What a matchup! That is definitely one to mark on the calendar.
A rematch of the Super Bowl from a couple of years ago (arguably the worst Super Bowl I’ve ever seen) is in week 14 when the New England Patriots stay on the west coast following a game against the LA Chargers in week 13 when they take on the LA Rams. Both teams are going to struggle this year I feel like.
Week 15 includes a trip to Vegas for the Chargers and Raiders, but the week 16 game I have my eye on (for obvious reasons) and that is Christmas Day in week 16 on Friday with a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The Saints will likely beat the Vikings in this one and exact revenge for their playoff loss last year, but the Vikings have beaten them in the playoffs twice in the last few years so that’s what really matters right?
Every SNF game is arguably the best of the week, but week one is big because it’s the LA Rams opening up their new stadium against Jerry and the Cowboys. Hopefully fans will be in attendance for the opening of this game.
Week 2 features a Super Bowl rematch in one of the most controversial decisions ever made in a Super Bowl. New England travels to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Just give Marshawn Lynch the damn ball at the one-yard line Pete Carroll. Maybe Lynch will be on the team again and can try and get in from the one.
Week 3 features Drew Brees and the Saints against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Tough game in the Big Easy for the Packers.It’s going to be a great game to watch though.
Week 7 features Tom Brady against Jon Gruden as the Bucs travel to Vegas to take on the Raiders. Gruden still hasn’t gotten over the Tuck Rule. Maybe he can exact revenge on Brady in this game.
Speaking of Brady, he and the Bucs host the Saints in week 9. It will be the second meeting between the two teams. Will this game decide who wins the NFC South? Probably not, but the loser of the first game will be desperate to win this one and avoid getting swept.
New England ran into the buzzsaw that was Lamar Jackson last year in Baltimore. It may have been Jackson’s coming out party and it was the beginning of the downfall for the Patriots. We’ll see what happens in week 10, this time in New England.
Mahomes and the Chiefs appear a couple of times in the next few weeks, but week 15 between San Francisco and Dallas is absolutely marquee. What a game this should be. The Cowboys offense is going to be so good this year, but the 49ers are the cream of the crop. Who will win in this one? Absolutely fantastic.
ESPN hasn’t gotten the greatest schedule of games the past few years. The NFL is making it up to them right away with two fantastic games in the first three weeks. Week 2, the Raiders open up their new stadium in Vegas against the New Orleans Saints. That’s a great game. You know what game is even better? Week 3 when it’s Patrick Mahomes against Lamar Jackson as the Chiefs travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. This is without a doubt one of the games of the year ESPN is fortunate to have it.
Arizona at Dallas in week 6 has some intrigue. The Cardinals should take a massive step forward. Tom Brady has stumbled against the Giants in the past. We’ll see if the Bucs can get by the Giants in week 8.
A lot of division games to end the year on ESPN MNF. It should be fun to see what the season has in store.
Okay, come on now NFL. We know that people will watch football on Thanksgiving because, well it’s football and it’s tradition, but could you have given us some better matchups? Houston is making their first appearance on Thanksgiving in franchise history when the play at Detroit so that is kind of cool, but Green Bay would have been a better team. And Washington at Dallas is so old. The Eagles playing at Dallas in a battle of the top two teams in the NFC East would have been far better. At least we get Baltimore at Pittsburgh to cap it off.
I know they are opening up new stadiums this year, but do the LA Rams and Las Vegas Raiders really deserve to be on primetime as much as they are this year? The Rams have five nationally televised games while the Raiders have four. I don’t think either team is going to do much of anything this season, but if I had to be on one team it would be the Raiders. I don’t think the Rams will do much this year. Having them on in primetime as much as they are could get old fast.
Eight teams have five nationally televised games. They are:
· Kansas City
· San Francisco
· LA Rams
· Tampa Bay
· Green Bay
· New England
Not a surprise to see that list apart from the Rams that I mentioned above. Some might raise an eyebrow seeing the Patriots on that list and on national television five times, but until they falter, the Patriots are the standard and will continue to play in primetime.
Some might also question or be surprised that the NFL schedule played out the way it did. There were some reports that the NFL would pit AFC versus NFC the first four weeks of the season. There was also some thought the NFL would set up the schedule so that it would be easy to consolidate should it be required to do so due to the coronavirus. That would mean a back loaded second half of the schedule filled with divisional games. That’s not necessarily the case. Look at the first two weeks with 15 division games. The NFL surely has something set in place to consolidate the schedule, but still, they are proceeding as business as normal.
As for my predictions on the primetime games and late afternoon predictions, I think I did fairly good. While the location was switched, I did get Cleveland and Cincinnati in week 2. The week one TNF & SNF games were spot on though there really wasn’t much of a limb to go out on. Both New Orleans and Tampa Bay, I predicted they wouldn’t have many early kickoff starts. That proved to be the case. I wasn’t right on a ton, but I did have a good chunk of matchups in the late afternoon window and some primetime slots pegged just right or close to it within a couple of weeks.
As for my mock Minnesota Vikings schedule, two games were correctly picked. Week 2 at Indianapolis and week 17 at Detroit. Tennessee and Houston were flipped around. So close and yet so far away. The goal will be to do better next year. Here’s hoping now that the NFL season actually gets going on time and that there are at least some fans in the stands week one.
Coming up later: MLB season preview and NBA and NHL Playoff talk if they happen