When the NFL season kickoff in 2020, it’s going to be interesting as well as exciting.
Players already talked about the challenges this offseason. The fact that they feel underprepared as a unit due to coronavirus’s impact on their team workouts. So, the first week of football is likely going to be a bit messy. That said, there are still a couple of games that you should mark off on the calendar as must-see events during that first week of NFL football.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
The Dolphins are coming into this one at seven-point underdogs and it makes a fair amount of sense that the Patriots would be one-touchdown favorites as they are the home team.
However, there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding Belichick’s men. They lost Tom Brady and we’re looking at perhaps going with last year’s backup, Jarrett Stidham. But apparently, they waited out the market on Cam Newton and decided that at this point, he was too good of a deal to pass on.
But the Pats also decided to revamp their defense and go for speed… after they had one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen last season. I have to be honest, I do think they’ll still be a good team on the defensive side of the ball… but decidedly worse.
On the flip side, the Dolphins will be testing out Tua and are in the back half of a complete and total rebuild. In other words, this team is on the rise while the Pats’ 20-year reign of dominance is coming to an end. This game is a must-see event because it will clue us in to the 2020 AFC East division dynamics right off the bat. Do the Pats have another playoff season in them, or will they be usurped?
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Carolina Panthers
The Raiders are a slight road favorite in this meeting of mediocrity. I say that in jest, of course. But still, the Panthers are going to have another year or two of struggle ahead while the Raiders, although are much improved, are still in a tough AFC West conference with the Chiefs sitting as directly in their path to the playoffs.
But, the Raiders are a new team in a new city and their first game as the Las Vegas Raiders is one that can’t be missed. On top of that, we need to see if they’ll start their season strong and perhaps be able to pursue the Broncos and Chargers to make a legitimate run at a wildcard spot this season.
The Panthers will be running with Teddy Bridgewater, whom they picked up from the NOLA Saints. So, Along with Christain McCaffery and DJ Moore, they are far from toothless. But they lack defensive depth and if Teddy goes down … well, say goodbye to the season.
This game will show us how far in the hole the Carolina Panthers are right now and if they have a chance at competing in the NFC South. The Saints are still going to be the team to beat but now the Bucs are loaded up with a Gronk-sized weapon and a 43-year-old play-calling machine named Tom Brady.
Of course, you are going to want to watch the Texans and Chiefs play and the Packers against Minnesota – which could be one of the best Week 1 games. The Packers are heading into Minnesota as 3-point underdogs and this could be a telling showdown on who wins the NFC North. Unfortunately for the Packers, their top brass did almost nothing for them to address their glaring needs over the offseason – targets for Aaron Rodgers. So, this is another game we’ll definitely want to see, as it could define the NFC North.
But these two games above will help us read between the lines with the rest of the league. They will help to show us what the landscape of the NFL will look like in 2020 outside of the Chiefs, Ravens, 49ers, Packers, and Seahawks and how the competition in the middle of the pack might play out.