With the NFL schedule officially released, the dates are finally set for all the marquee games happening in the NFL next season. It’s time to mark your calendars for epic quarterback battles, division rivalries and rookie debuts. Here is a ranking of the 8 must-watch matchups.
8. 49ers @ Patriots – October 25th
Jimmy Garoppolo vs Jarrett Stidham will generate some fascinating storylines. Tom Brady’s heir apparent vs the man who was supposed to be Tom Brady’s heir apparent will provide plenty of drama and pressure, most of which will fall on the shoulders of the Patriots. Logical or not, the questions of whether or not the Patriots made the right decision with Garoppolo will be raised.
A win for Stidham could do a lot to instill confidence in the Patriots fanbase with him as the future of the franchise. A loss, especially if it comes in the midst of a few other losses, could send the Boston media into a frenzy.
7. Packers @ Buccaneers – October 18th
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, the two quarterbacks on the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, have only squared off twice in their respective careers. The series between the two is split and this should serve as the tiebreaker. While neither quarterback is in their prime, it will still be an awe-inspiring sight to see two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time face off.
6. Chiefs @ Saints – December 20th
The Chiefs and the Saints are the only two offenses in the NFL to finish top five in points per game for each of the last two seasons. It should be quite the shootout between Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. The game will actually feature three of the eight quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for over 5,000 yards in a single season if you include Jameis Winston.
5. Buccaneers vs Saints (twice) – September 13th & November 8th
The new division rivalry between Tom Brady and Drew Brees is already getting significant buzz around the NFL. Two elite quarterbacks over the age of 40 in the same division duking it out with legacies on the line. The other offensive skill players involved in this game only add to the intrigue. Michael Thomas. Mike Evans. Emmanuel Sanders. Chris Godwin. Alvin Kamara. Rob Gronkowski. What more could you want? Each quarterback has plenty of offensive fire power. Which aging legend will reign supreme?
4. Chiefs @ Buccaneers – November 29th
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes’ games usually don’t disappoint. The first three matchups between them have all been within one touchdown and this could very well be the final time the two quarterbacks square off in their careers now that Brady resides in the NFC. The Chiefs have a tough schedule with pretty much every big game coming on the road. This late season interconference battle could drastically impact the playoff picture in both the AFC and the NFC.
3. 49ers @ Saints – November 15th
Last season’s game between New Orleans and San Francisco is usually regarded as the best game of the 2019 NFL season. With a final score of 48-46, it was a shootout for the ages and ultimately was the difference in playoff positioning for the 49ers, who ended up with a bye and the #1 seed which helped propel them to the Super Bowl, and the Saints, who were bounced in the Wild Card round by the Minnesota Vikings. A matchup with similar playoff implications, shootout potential and an added wrinkle of Emmanuel Sanders playing his former team makes their 2020 matchup a must see.
2. Seahawks vs 49ers (twice) – November 1st & January 3rd
Both of the Seahawks vs 49ers games from 2019 were amazing and two of the best games of the NFL season. The first featured the 49ers coming back from 21-10 down in the 4th quarter to take the Seahawks to overtime, only to lose after their rookie kicker filling in for Robbie Gould missed the game-winning field goal in overtime. The second game, which was also the final game of the NFL regular season, was arguably even better. The game came down to the final six seconds and the Seahawks were just inches short of reshaping the entire NFC playoff picture. The rivalry between these two teams was arguably the best of the last decade and NFL fans should expect more of the same as the league enters the 2020s.
1. Chiefs @ Ravens – September 28th
The first matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson wasn’t as electric as many had hoped, but that doesn’t take away from the potential this game has to be truly special. Two of the most exciting quarterbacks the league has ever seen going at it on Monday Night Football should have the entire NFL world sitting on the edge of their seats. The stage didn’t exactly fit the billing for their last game with it lumped in with the rest of the NFL’s mid-afternoon slate of games. Prime time will give the two teams a more fitting setting for an epic showdown between the last two NFL MVPs.
Photo: (Ted S. Warren – AP Photo)