We are ALL looking forward to the start of the National Football League season. This week – the league is expected to release their 2020 schedule. This is the final season of a 16 game schedule, but the playoffs will feature 14 teams as opposed to 12 this season. Let’s take a look at some of the news and notes from the great folks at ESPN Stats for the 2020 season:
- Home and away against its 3 division opponents (6 games).
- 4 teams from another division within its conference on rotating 3-year cycle (4 games).
- 4 teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating 4-year cycle (4 games).
- 2 intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a 1st-place team
against the 1st-place teams in the 2 same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The
2nd-place, 3d-place, and 4th-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
Potential Revenge Games in 2020:
WR Odell Beckham Jr. – Browns at Giants
OBJ faces off against his former team for the first time since he was traded to Cleveland in March of 2019.
Beckham Jr. averaged 92.8 receiving yards per game with the Giants, by far the highest mark in team history.
Despite only spending 5 seasons in New York, his 44 receiving touchdowns with the Giants are the 4th-most in
RB Melvin Gordon – Broncos at/vs Chargers
Gordon decided to stay within the division when he signed a 2-year/$16M deal with the Broncos. Gordon held out
for a new deal from the Chargers last season, but the team did not budge. Gordon recorded a career-low 612 rush
yards and had the 2nd-largest dropoff in yards per rush from 2018 to 2019 among players with 100 carries both
seasons. Despite the slump, Gordon’s 36 rush TD since entering the league in 2015 ranks 6th in the NFL.
QB Teddy Bridgewater – Panthers at/vs Saints
Bridgewater filled in admirably for an injured Drew Brees last season, going a perfect 5-0. He stays in the division,
agreeing to a 3-year/$63M deal with the Panthers with $40M guaranteed over the 1st 2 seasons. Bridgewater has not
been a full-time starting QB since 2015 when he went 11-5 with the Vikings.
CB Chris Harris Jr. – Chargers at/vs Broncos
Harris decided a switch in teams within the division worked best, agreeing to a 2-year/$20.5M deal with the
Chargers. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Harris has allowed the lowest completion percentage below
expectation among slot cornerbacks the last 4 seasons. The 4-time Pro Bowler joins an outstanding secondary that
includes Derwin James, Desmond King and Casey Hayword, all of which have either made the Pro Bowl or were
1st-team All-Pro in their careers.
T Jack Conklin – Browns at Titans
Jack Conklin was the 8th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Titans, who traded up to acquire that pick from
the Browns. Now Conklin signed with the Browns in free agency after spending his first 4 seasons with the Titans.
When playing right tackle, his 92.5% pass-block win rate was 3rd in the NFL, and his 92.1% pass-block win rate in
single teams was 1st in the NFL when playing RT.
DE Calais Campbell – Ravens vs Jaguars
Campbell was acquired by the Ravens from the Jaguars, who are reshaping the defense that was the main reason for
their advancement to the AFC Championship Game in 2017. Campbell has had at least 5 sacks in 11 straight
seasons, the longest active such streak in the NFL.
QB Nick Foles – Bears at Jaguars
Foles’ career in Jacksonville lasted just one season as he was dealt to Chicago for a 4th-round pick. Foles lasted just
11 snaps into the season opener last year when he broke his collarbone, forcing him to miss the next 10 weeks. He
was 0-4 as a starter with the Jaguars and now is on the team which he beat in the infamous “double-doink” Wild
Card game during the 2018 season.
CB Xavier Rhodes – Vikings at Colts
Xavier Rhodes’ Indianapolis Colts will host his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, in 2020. Rhodes was the
25th-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was a Pro Bowl corner before his declining play ultimately led to his
release after 7 seasons with the team. Rhodes signed a 1-year “prove-it” deal with the Colts and will have an
opportunity to cover his former teammates Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen at some point in the year.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo – 49ers at Patriots
Jimmy Garoppolo spent the first 3 seasons of his career backing up Tom Brady in New England. Now, he will
return to Gillette Stadium and face his former team for the first time. As far as who will be opposing him under
center for the Patriots, it is anybody’s guess at this point. But it is certainly a notable game, as many Pats fans have
wondered if they should have held on to the young QB from Eastern Illinois who just took the 49ers to the Super
Bowl in 2019.
Ron Rivera – Panthers at Redskins
Rivera, the all-time winningest coach in Panthers history (76-63-1), will face his old team as the Redskins head
coach this season. There’s even a bit of added revenge factor on the line, too: Rivera’s final game as Panthers head
coach was a 29-21 loss to the Redskins in Week 13 of last season. Rivera has added several of his former players to
Washington’s roster, including QB Kyle Allen, who started for Carolina in that loss.
Potential Playoff Rematches
- NFC Championship Game rematch: Packers at 49ers (49ers won 37-20)
The Packers went on the road to face the 49ers twice last season and lost those 2 games by an average of 23 points
per game including a 37-20 loss in the NFC Championship Game. Green Bay will get a chance to avenge those
losses with another trip to Levi’s Stadium in 2020. Aaron Rodgers is 1-4 in his career against the 49ers on the road, tied for his worst road record against any opponent (min. 3 games – also 1-4 at Seahawks).
- AFC Divisional Playoffs rematch: Titans at Ravens (Titans won 28-12)
The Titans went into Baltimore and shocked the 14-2 Ravens in a 28-12 upset to earn a spot in the AFC
Championship Game. Baltimore entered the game on a 12-game winning streak but could not slow down Derrick
Henry who rushed for 195 yards and threw a touchdown pass. Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, turned the ball over three times in the loss.
- AFC Divisional Playoffs rematch: Texans at Chiefs (Chiefs won 51-31)
The Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead in Kansas City, but the Chiefs reeled off 41 straight points en route to
becoming the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game by 20 points after trailing by 20 points according to
Elias. Kansas City scored a touchdown on 7 consecutive drives, the first team to do that in a playoff game in NFL
history. In the win, Patrick Mahomes became the 1st player in NFL history with at least 300 passing yards, 50
rushing yards and 5 passing touchdowns in a playoff game.
- NFC Wild Card rematch: Vikings at Saints (Vikings won 26-20 in OT)
More playoff heartbreak for the Saints…they trailed 20-10 entering the 4th quarter but came back to force overtime. Kirk Cousins led the Vikings on a game-winning drive on the first possession of overtime, capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on 3rd and goal. The Saints became the 2nd team in NFL history to be eliminated on the final play of the game in 3 straight postseasons (Packers in 2013-15).
- NFC Wild Card Round rematch: Seahawks at Eagles (Seahawks won 17-9)
In his first career playoff start, Carson Wentz only played two series due to a concussion he suffered after a hit
from Jadeveon Clowney early in the 1st quarter. At 40 years old, Josh McCown became the oldest player in NFL
history to make his playoff debut. D.K. Metcalf hauled in 7 receptions for 160 yards in the Seahawks win, the most
receiving yards by a rookie in a playoff game in NFL history according to Elias. Including the playoffs, the
Seahawks have won 6 consecutive games against the Eagles…Philadelphia’s last win over Seattle came in 2008.