As much as it feels like the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl championship is over, the excitement will ramp back up once we get closer to football season and the unveiling of a Super Bowl champion banner at Arrowhead Stadium. The first step towards that is the NFL schedule release on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Arrrowhead Time.
Since 2004, the defending league champion has traditionally hosted its Week 1 opponent on the Thursday night before the first Sunday of the regular season. Looking through the history of this annual game, the defending champion’s opponent tends to be from the same conference, while also being either a postseason rematch or another contender.
Along with everything else nowadays, we can’t expect the NFL schedule to meet normal standards. Complications from the COVID-19 pandemic may force the league to re-think how they layout the schedule. Not only may the game be played on a different day, but it also could be an irregular matchup.
.@JohnClaytonNFL tells @937theFan that the NFL schedule will be NFC vs AFC for the 1st 4 weeks of the season. Steelers play the NFC East. So 1st 4 games would be Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, and Giants.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) May 6, 2020
This news being confirmed would lead to the possibility that the Chiefs will face one of the two NFC South teams in the Week 1 season opener. The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers are both scheduled to visit Arrowhead Stadium in 2020.
I don’t know about everyone else, but either would be an anticlimactic opponent to me. A championship banner will be being raised in Arrowhead to fly forever. If the league chooses to set a more traditional opponent, I looked at four intriguing teams to play:
One of the Chiefs’ biggest rivalries has been one-sided lately, with nine straight victories over their AFC West foe Denver Broncos. That being said, their recent investment in offensive talent has them looking like postseason contenders in the near future.
Their second-year quarterback Drew Lock is ready to have a breakout campaign with his heavily stocked arsenal of receiving weapons — not to mention their exciting backfield duo of running backs Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay.
With the possible suspension of starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland or any delays to the ACL rehabilitation of safety Juan Thornhill, the beginning of the season might be a challenge for the defensive secondary. Denver’s playmakers in the pass game could turn a potential season-opening matchup into a high-tempo, high-scoring shootout.
Historically, some season openers featured rematches from the previous postseason. A matchup with the Houston Texans would certainly fit the bill.
Things haven’t been so hot in Houston ever since they took that 24-0 lead in the second quarter of the Divisional round postseason game in January. Not only did they blow the three-score lead, they also traded away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and got an overpaid running back in return — all while not making significant upgrades to the team in general.
Whether they progress or regress, they still have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in quarterback Deshaun Watson. His presence in a game makes it a must-watch — so him and Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes together would make for a great way to start the season.
Las Vegas Raiders
The NFL will assuredly want their newest city’s team to succeed — so getting the Las Vegas Raiders into the year’s first primetime matchup with their rival would make sense.
The Raiders had a similar style of draft as the Broncos, adding weapons in the passing game in the hopes of keeping up on the scoreboard with the Chiefs offense. The infusion of talent may allow Raiders head coach Jon Gruden to transform his offense and utilize the variety of skill-players he has.
Their potentially new-look offense could make for far more competitive games in 2020 than in 2019. If not, I don’t think Chiefs fans will complain much about hanging a championship banner, then proceeding to watch a smackdown of their most hated rival.
New England Patriots
If quarterback Tom Brady decided to stay with the New England Patriots, this article would not have to be written. A matchup between these two teams makes too much sense — especially because it’d be a chance for the Patriots to avenge the 2017 season-opening 42-27 loss at home to the Chiefs.
Alas, the Patriots moved on from possibly the greatest quarterback of all-time and look to be starting second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham. The 23-year old was a fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft. There could still be moves made, but it sounds like Stidham is being trusted as the starter going into the year.
A contest between Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is always an intriguing game. A Stidham-led offense may become rough for the Patriots — but Belichick could also have an effective plan to succeed. Either way, this game would have all the storylines that the NFL loves.
What’s your favorite choice for the opponent on banner night? (The season opener on Thursday night) #Chiefs— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2020
5,029 Twitter users gave their input on who there favorite choice would be for the season-opening opponent. 40% went with the Patriots — and I’ll have to agree with the majority here. Unveiling the championship banner in the presence of the old dynasty that was dethroned would be a great feeling.
A symbol that the torch has officially been passed.