The NFL RedZone Channel has changed the way we watch football. You get every big play from every game, but you lose the game experience. Football is more than highlights. It’s the back and forth, the small decisions on a huge third down and the build up to every big play. That is why I look forward to the key matchups and watching one game for each time slot. These are the best matchups going into the 2020 NFL season, excluding prime time games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday night.
12:00 pm – Browns @ Ravens
The Browns added talent and protection around Baker Mayfield and need the third year quarterback to take the leap and be the guy in Cleveland, but even if Mayfield can meet expectations this year, will it be enough to beat Baltimore and their MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson? I think this game will be closer than anyone predicts and the Browns prove they can compete in the AFC North.
3:25 pm – Buccaneers @ Saints
I don’t know why this isn’t the Sunday night game, but oh well. This is an early battle for the NFC South between not only two of the best quarterbacks in the game but potentially two of the best teams. This will be Tom Brady’s first game against Drew Brees as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and potentially a deciding game for the division winner.
12:00 pm – Vikings @ Colts
I almost went with the Rams @ Eagles here but I like this matchup better. We get an early battle of two teams that drafted very well and will lean on their young rookies. While it might not be the most exciting game, if you like power running like I do, this is your game.
3:25 pm – Ravens @ Texans
The NFL might hate the Texans more than general manager Bill O’Brien hates the Texans. After a week one matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston will host the Ravens and MVP Lamar Jackson in Week Two. The Texans will have their hands full but Deshaun Watson and Coach Bill O’Brien can give any team in the NFL a run for their money.
12:00 pm – Texans @ Steelers
This feels like a joke but it’s not. The Texans, again, will be tested by a top AFC team. Mike Tomlin gets Big Ben back at quarterback and we get to see how the AFC will play out before bye weeks start. The Texans will have a tough time starting the season with a winning record, but I wouldn’t count them out this early.
3:25 pm – Cowboys @ Seahawks
In my opinion, which is why you’re here, these are two of the top teams in the NFC. Russell Wilson has never had a losing season and Dak Prescott is looking to get his team to the playoffs and collect his paycheck. This pivotal week three game will shake out the NFC playoff picture very early in the season.
12:00 pm – Steelers @ Titans
Defensive football! Two of the best coaches in the AFC face off in an early Week Four game in a chess match of defensive minds. You won’t tune in for a high scoring game but you will be able to get a look at how good these quarterbacks can be in 2020. Big Ben is coming off nearly a season-long injury and Ryan Tannehill is trying to prove he is worthy of his new contract. Can the quarterbacks do that against these defenses?
3:25 pm – Patriots @ Chiefs
Can we just call this game the Mello Bowl? The battle of two of my favorite quarterbacks and a sneaky rivalry in the AFC. Patriot fans are not ready to pass the torch to the Chiefs and Chiefs fans want to beat the Pats more than they do the AFC West teams. If Jarrett Stidham is who I think he is—and who the Patriots think he is—this is still a good matchup in the AFC.
12:00 pm – Bills @ Titans
Both teams took a big leap in 2019 and made good runs in the playoffs, but now the expectations are higher. Week Five in Nashville with good Titans football should be a beautiful Sunday, until Bills Mafia shows up in guitar town with tailgates and tables. The team that comes out on top could be that much closer to an AFC bye or home field advantage.
3:25 pm – Colts @ Browns
Your Week Five afternoon options are Colts @ Browns, Dolphins @ 49ers or Giants @ Cowboys. So, we should all be watching Colts @ Browns. Again, two teams that want to focus on running the ball but also feature great young running backs. Plus, I hope we can get Baker Mayfield and Papa Phil Rivers talking trash to each other. I know it’s not likely but I need it!
12:00 pm – Ravens @ Eagles
The Texans @ Titans will be another great game this week, but I want to see the battle of the birds here. Can Carson Wentz go into Week Six healthy? Does Jalen Hurts have a role in this offense? By this point in the season we should have answers to those questions and we see how the Eagles fare against a top team in the NFL.
3:25 pm – Packers @ Buccaneers
Tom Brady against Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks of all-time and Brady has all the Super Bowls. The two aging quarterbacks can add fuel to the fire of “Who is the GOAT?” Assuming Rodgers is still playing and starting for Green Bay in Week Six with Jordan Love looking over his shoulder.
12:00 pm – Steelers @ Ravens
Easily one of the best rivalries in football. The Steelers are looking to get back on top of the AFC North but to do so they will have to prove they can hang against the Ravens. The Steelers might not be able to win in Baltimore, but they need to prove they’re on pace to compete within the division with the Ravens.
3:25 pm – Chiefs @ Broncos
As a Chiefs fan I feel very confident the tribe can win the AFC West, but the Broncos scare me. Denver has put together a string of good draft classes and may have found their quarterback of the future in Drew Lock. Going into Mile High Stadium is going to be tough, but Kansas City does still have Patrick Mahomes.
12:00 pm – Vikings @ Packers
The marquee battle in the NFC North. Green Bay finished 13-3 last season but may have taken a step back in the division with their draft class and a pissed off Aaron Rodgers. Factor in the excellent draft the Vikings had and we might have a new leader in the NFC North.
3:25 pm – 49ers @ Seahawks
Arguably two of the best teams in the NFC gave us some of the best games in 2019. I expect no different in 2020 as Nick Bosa and the 49ers defensive line tries to get after Russell Wilson in Centurylink Field. The 12’s better come prepared because Seattle will need everything it has to top San Francisco.
12:00 pm – Ravens @ Colts
The Colts will always be the Baltimore Colts to me. Ok, not really. I wasn’t even born when they moved. But I still remember the amazing matchups of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis trying to get inside the mind of Peyton Manning. Now the turntables have turned and it is the Colts trying to figure out what Lamar Jackson and this talented Ravens offense will do.
3:25 pm – Steelers @ Cowboys
The Steelers and Cowboys were both on the verge of a playoff spot in 2019 but both teams came up short. Looking ahead to 2020 neither team can afford to lose this out of conference game and will need to take care of business in Jerry World.
12:00 pm – Texans @ Browns
The Texans managed to go 10-6 in a tough AFC South last season and will be tested heavily in 2020. The Browns are in a similar situation playing in a tough AFC North, where they need to win as many non division games as possible. This week 10 matchup could have huge playoff implications.
3:25 pm – 49ers @ Saints
By Week 10 we should have a good idea of what we have in each team. But key matchups like this will definitely help weed out the weak. I’m not saying either team is weak here, but the hierarchy of the NFC will be more clear after this Week 10 afternoon game.
12:00 pm – Falcons @ Saints
If the Falcons want to be taken seriously they have to come away with a tough road win and this could be the spot after New Orleans has to take on the 49ers in Week 10. On the other side of the field, will the Saints be at the top of the division or trying to keep pace with Tampa?
3:25 pm – Cowboys @ Vikings
Spoiler Alert! I think the Cowboys will be a contender for the NFC crown in 2020 but a tough road game in Minnesota could be one of their few losses. We know the ‘Boys have enough fire power on offense, but will they be able to stop the run heavy attack of the Vikings?
12:00 pm – Dolphins @ Jets
Look, not all weeks are created equal and every now and then I want to watch two dumpster fire teams compete for top draft picks. I think the Dolphins could be a sneaky good defense in 2020 and 2018 QB1 Sam Darnold will be tested by the AFC East foe.
3:25 pm – Chiefs @ Buccaneers
As I mentioned before, Chiefs/Pats is a rivalry in the NFL. It may not be a big one, but the fan bases do not like each other. Tampa Bay gets to feel a sense of that with their new quarterback trying to prove he can get the job done outside of New England.
12:00 pm – Colts @ Texans
The AFC South gave us two playoff teams in 2019 and could do so again in 2020. The Week 13 game could be a deciding factor for the AFC playoff picture, or at least the South division, where the Titans are the front runner.
3:25 pm – Eagles @ Packers
December football in Green Bay, Wisconsin just hits differently than other places. The Eagles got hot at the end of 2019 and pushed their way to win the division. If they make a similar run in 2020 they will have to get a very tough win in one of the toughest places to play.
12:00 pm – Vikings @ Buccaneers
Week 14 belongs to the NFC matchups. I have a good feel for how the AFC will play out but I would not be surprised to see a major shake up in the NFC. Minnesota looks very good no paper, but are their young corners good enough to slow down the best receiver duo in the NFL?
3:25 pm – Saints @ Eagles
The NFL did the Eagles no favors. They face the Seahawks, Packers and Saints in Weeks 12, 13 and 14. Without one or two wins in these three games the narrative of the Eagles season could look completely different going from Week 12 to Week 15.
12:00 pm – Buccaneers @ Falcons
The Saints are on top of the division until someone knocks them off the top. However, the Bucs and Falcons will be battling for the second spot in the division and possibly a second spot in the playoffs.
3:25 pm – Chiefs @ Saints
Points. Points. Points! We get Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid against Drew Brees and Sean Payton in a dome late in the season. I’m going to set the over under for points at 78.5, and I feel good about the over.
12:00 pm – Colts @ Steelers
By Week 16 we should have some playoff seeds clinched and other teams looking to sneak in. I don’t feel like Indianapolis or Pittsburgh will be leading their division, or have clinched a playoff spot, but will be in the playoff hunt like usual.
3:25 pm – Eagles @ Cowboys
The lights don’t get much brighter than when the Eagles travel to Dallas late in the season and the NFC East could be decided in this Week 16 matchup. With both teams hungry for a playoff spot I would bet on this game being flexed to Sunday Night Football.
12:00 pm – Packers @ Bears
I like to get at least one Packers/Bears game on the viewing schedule a year and Week 17 in the windy city should provide some excitement. Will the Bears have enough to compete? Will Aaron Rodgers still be starting? Regardless, the Bears and Packers will provide any football fan with entertainment on an early Sunday matchup.
3:25 pm – Seahawks @ 49ers
A repeat of the Week Eight game but we get to see how the west was won in Week 17. I would bet on both teams having clinched a playoff spot before now, but bye weeks or home field advantage could still be very much up for grabs for both teams.