The 2020 NFL schedule is officially out, leaving plenty of fans anticipating the start of the season and projecting the wins and losses for their favorite teams. While the broadcast schedule and times are finalized, there are some pretty interesting quirks that you might not have caught at first glance.
Here are five interesting tidbits on the 2020 schedule that will certainly catch your eye:
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1. Buccaneers hit the big time
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are strangers to prime time, having played just 17 prime-time games over the past 15 seasons. But Tom Brady is now in Tampa, which boosts the national television profile, and as a result Tampa Bay's five prime-time games are the most in franchise history.
The Buccaneers will play on "Monday Night Football" for the first time since 2018, hosting the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11, but first they will travel north to face the New York Giants in Week 8. Tampa Bay also faces the Las Vegas Raiders on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 7 and hosts the New Orleans Saints in Week 9. The last time Tampa Bay played on "Sunday Night Football" was in Week 15 of the 2016 season, a road game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Bucs also will be on "Thursday Night Football" against the Chicago Bears in Week 5.
Tampa Bay plays four prime-time games in five weeks, showcasing how badly the league wants to feature Brady with his new team. They have three straight prime-time games from Weeks 7 to 9 and a prime-time slate in Week 11. Count the nationally televised games (4:25 ET window) on Sundays and the Buccaneers are on national TV nine times -- all in the first 12 weeks.
2. Patriots go on an L.A. vacation
The Patriots have no reason to leave Los Angeles for Weeks 13 and 14. On Sunday, Dec. 6, New England heads to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Chargers then plays on "Thursday Night Football" against the Los Angeles Rams -- in the same stadium! This is the first year the Chargers and Rams will play in the brand-new SoFi Stadium, but it's rare a team would play two games in five days at the same stadium in the same city (neither the Chargers and Rams are in the same division as New England, either).
In the 1960s, the AFL-era Patriots faced the Chargers and Oakland Raiders in back-to-back weeks in seven of 10 years, so a two-week California swing isn't new. However, this will be a quick five-day business trip for New England before getting 10 days off prior to a trip down south to face the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 20.
The Patriots will go 29 days between home games in late November and December, but at least the road trip isn't as brutal as it could have been.
3. Vegas hosts four prime-time games
We all want to go to Vegas for a fun vacation. The NFL certainly wants to showcase its newest city as well, scheduling four prime-time games in the new Allegiant Stadium in 2020. The Raiders' prime-time slate: Week 2 vs. the Saints (MNF), Week 7 vs. Buccaneers (SNF), Week 11 vs. Kansas City Chiefs (SNF), and Week 15 vs. Chargers (TNF).
The NFL typically wants to split its primetime appearances for teams, so the ratio for the Raiders is intriguing. Las Vegas opens its palace in Week 2, which will be the first "Monday Night Football" game on broadcast television in 15 years in honor of the 50th anniversary of MNF. The Raiders will also play on "Sunday Night Football" for the first time since 2017.
Not a bad slate for a team that has just one winning record in the last 17 seasons.
4. NFL's contingency plan
The NFL may have released a normal schedule in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but the league secretly has a contingency plan in case the season were to be delayed. Every team's Week 2 opponent has the same bye week later in the season. Some examples are the Rams playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 and both teams have a bye in Week 9 (a potential make-up date). The Atlanta Falcons play the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, and they both have a bye in Week 10 (another potential make-up date).
If games were to be postponed, the league can clearly make up those Week 2 games in those bye weeks later in the year without altering the schedule. The league isn't new to changing up the schedule on a minute's notice, as evidenced by the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as the Saints being forced to move out of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They've done this before.
There are zero division matchups in Weeks 3 and 4, another interesting quirk in case the league as to alter the schedule.
Only two teams were not selected to play in prime time this season,: the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. Both teams will not play a single night game in 2020, even avoiding the "Thursday Night Football" slate.
That doesn't mean the Redskins and Lions are devoid of nationally televised games, as both teams will play on Thanksgiving (so they still get one short week). The Lions host the Houston Texans in the early game while the Redskins face the Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. ET showdown. For those two teams, this is their chance to be showcased in the national spotlight.
Not every team plays on "Thursday Night Football" either. The Saints and Minnesota Vikings will instead play on Christmas Day, which falls on a Friday and still represents a short week. In essence, every team will play on a short week in 2020, though in different ways.