1) Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
This is the one! Seriously, did you expect anything different? The 2018 MVP vs. the 2019 MVP. Two majestic young quarterbacks and brilliant faces of the NFL (and American sports) in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Brilliant throws? Mesmerizing runs? Insane fantasy numbers? Making the impossible possible? I’m here for it — all of it.
With this matchup occurring early in the season, we have a better chance of seeing both of these juggernauts operating at full strength. I know quarterbacks typically like to say they don’t actually compete against each other — but rather, the opposing defense. Still, you can’t help but think Pat and Lamar will be looking to one-up each other in this sparkling QB showcase. And don’t discount the complete nature of these two teams under two incredible head coaches in Andy Reid and John Harbaugh.
AFC Championship Game preview? I hope so. And I think so. It’s the AFC title game I wanted last season.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
This is the game many expected to see in the AFC Championship game last year, with the Ravens at home. But they lost as the top seed to the Tennessee Titans, which enabled the Chiefs to play at home in the title game, and then get to and win the Super Bowl. This should be fun watching the Ravens run-heavy offense led by Lamar Jackson against Patrick Mahomes and his passing game.
5. Kansas City’s matchup with the new-look Buccaneers takes place in Week 12
Tampa Bay’s acquisition of Brady and veteran tight end Rob Gronkowski has the football-watching world buzzing, setting the stage for a high-profile matchup between the Buccaneers and the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
The Buccaneers already had several talented players in place, including wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, setting the stage for yet another exciting, late-season contest.
Week 3: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs vs. Patrick Queen, LB, Ravens
A pair of former LSU teammates square off in an early season showdown between the two AFC favorites. Coach Andy Reid has favorably compared Edwards-Helaire to former Eagles star Brian Westbrook, who was often the best player on the field during the prime of his career. Patrick Mahomes’ offense was already a pick-your-poison assignment for linebackers. Now they have to stomach a belladonna scatback after choking on hemlock Hill and strychnine Kelce. Fortunately for the Ravens, their biggest draft need at inside linebacker just happened to coincide with the best player on the board when they scooped up Queen for occasions such as this one.
10) CHIEFS AT RAVENS, Week 3 (Sept. 28), M&T Bank Stadium
We could pick a quarter of the Chiefs’ schedule given that they’ll be appointment viewing all season long, but this takes care of two converging storylines we’ll be watching closely. The evolution of the Ravens’ offense with Lamar Jackson will collide with the defending Super Bowl champions in a matchup that many believed would be the AFC title game in 2020. Their Week 3 game in 2019 was a joy to rewatch this offseason; nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, almost 60 first downs, a 23-point second quarter from the Chiefs. Expect us to be looking forward to Jackson-Mahomes for years to come.
The first two months of this season are going to tell us everything we need to know about how prepared Kansas City is to be the hunted. The Chiefs’ first seven games include four against teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2019. They will play just three contests at Arrowhead Stadium before the calendar turns to November. And if you think the back end must be easier, consider this: Of the four NFC South opponents Kansas City will face this year, the two toughest will come on the road as well (against Tampa Bay in Week 12 and New Orleans in Week 15).
That’s the type of gauntlet that only the most focused and talented of teams could weather. It’s not simply that the Chiefs are taking on some of the league’s best. It’s that most of those teams will be coming at them in waves, without much room for relief. Even the AFC West — which Kansas City has won four straight years — is going to offer more of a test this fall. Every division rival has spent this offseason beefing up on defense and adding as many weapons as possible to counter all the firepower the Chiefs’ offense brings to the table.
Week 1: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
A tradition continues, as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, winners of Super Bowl LIV, will face Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans on September 10; that is, assuming Houston head coach Bill O’Brien hasn’t shipped Watson out of town by then.
1: Chiefs vs Texans: Every sign points to this being an unmitigated bloodbath. You have the Chiefs, defending Super Bowl champions, obliterator of many, destroyer of all. Then you have the Texans, who, well ... they’re the Texans. A year ago this would have been one of the most exciting games of the year, then Houston went all coo-coo bananas and found stunning ways to get worse in the offseason. So ... yeah.
Kansas City Chiefs
Predicted record: 12-4
The Chiefs will face defending division champion opponents in three of their first four games. The Thursday night opener against the Texans at Arrowhead Stadium features an opponent the Chiefs split with in two home games last season. Read analysis from Adam Teicher
But they are there, albeit subtly. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that if a delay to the start of the season is necessary, the schedule was constructed to allow for the early weeks of the season to be tacked on after Week 17, thus pushing back the playoffs and the Super Bowl. There are marquee matchups sprinkled throughout the season that would add drama to any week that was suddenly to become opening week. The Chiefs are scheduled to open against the Texans, an exciting playoffs rematch, but also play the Ravens in Week 3. Tom Brady’s Bucs play Aaron Rodgers’s Packers Week 6, plus the GOAT’s two divisional games against Drew Brees are neatly spaced in Week 1 and Week 9, the latter slated for Sunday Night Football.
Around the NFL
The Titans have $21.4 million in effective cap space to work with in 2020―ninth most leaguewide―and if anyone can figure out how to best deploy the über-versatile pass rusher, it’s Vrabel, who coached Clowney in Houston from 2014 to 2017.
The 2020 schedule will include a rare quirk when the New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day.
Long story short, Lions coach Matt Patricia may have a degree in aeronautical engineering from RPI, but he’s not immune to that tricky time limit getting him like it has the rest of us this spring. And it actually created one of the cooler moments of the last couple months for him and his staff, as the second full-squad meeting of his virtual offseason program of 2020 came to an abrupt end.
“The whole thing crashed,” Patricia said from his suburban Detroit home on Wednesday afternoon. “And I was like, I just lost 100 people on that call, there’s no way I’m gonna get this back. I’m right in the middle of a presentation, there’s no way I’m gonna get this back. And unbelievably within two minutes, everyone was back on, dialed in, locked in and I was rolling. I thought there was no way that was gonna happen.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
New York Jets at Chiefs — Week 8
It may be hard to believe, but there’s a Super Bowl-winning franchise that’s waited even longer than the Chiefs did to win their second championship: the Jets, who won their Super Bowl one year before the Chiefs did. It’s a tribute to the NFL’s insistence on parity that a New York team is among those that have had such a consistent record of despair. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think think things will be any different in 2020.
A tweet to make you think
They didn’t put pat mahomes on thanksgiving schedule. https://t.co/DAhy8NbR7Q— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) May 8, 2020
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