2020 NFL schedule released – Tom Brady to face Drew Brees’ Saints in Buccaneers debut
7:58 PM ET
  • Kevin SeifertESPN Staff Writer

    • national NFL writer
    • NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
    • Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

Tom Brady‘s new football life will begin with a bang. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open the regular season against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, one of the early highlights of the 2020 NFL schedule, as announced Thursday night.

The game will pit two of the best players in NFL history and mark the first time that both starting quarterbacks are at least 40 years old. Brees, 41, and Brady, who will be 43 when the season begins, have played against each other only five times, but they are now divisional rivals in the NFC South. They rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions.

The Buccaneers and Saints will play in New Orleans in the late Sunday national window at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sept. 13. The Buccaneers also have been scheduled for the maximum number of prime-time games (five), including three consecutively in Weeks 7-9, a reflection of the excitement in Tampa surrounding Brady and fellow newcomer Rob Gronkowski.

Meanwhile, Brady’s former team — the New England Patriots — will host the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. That matchup could feature the first career starts of Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa.

But before Tagovailoa, Stidham, Brees or Brady make their regular-season debuts, the NFL will stage its annual kickoff classic on Sept. 10 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs, winners of Super Bowl LIV, will host the Houston Texans in a rematch of their 2019 divisional playoff game. On that memorable day, the Chiefs overcame a 24-0 second-quarter deficit to beat Houston 51-31.

The NFL announced its schedule in anticipation of playing a typically timed season despite the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, told teams in a memo this week that adjustments will be made if necessary.

“We will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities,” Goodell said in a statement Thursday night.

Other highlights of the 2020 schedule include:

• A Friday afternoon game on Christmas Day, when the Minnesota Vikings will play at the Saints. The NFL most recently played a Friday game in 2009, and it has scheduled a total of 10 regular-season games on a Friday since the 1970 merger.

• In addition to the Christmas Day contest, the Saints have four games scheduled for prime time. Of their remaining 11 games, seven are scheduled for the late-afternoon Sunday window. The Christmas Day matchup could be the final career home game for Brees, who has an agreement to join NBC as a broadcaster after retirement.

• The Thanksgiving Day tripleheader will feature the Texans at the Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET), followed by the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET) and the Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET).

• Buccaneers fans will have their first chance to watch Brady at his new home when the Carolina Panthers visit Tampa in Week 2.

• No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow will have the opportunity to debut as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback at home against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1.

• The Las Vegas Raiders will begin on the road at Carolina before opening their new home in Week 2 against the Saints on Monday Night Football.

• As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, every team shares the same bye week as its Week 2 opponent, a twist that could help with rescheduling games if the NFL is forced to push back the start of the season. Any week of the season could serve as Week 1, according to Schefter.

• The NFL designated five Sunday games in Weeks 15 and 16 for a possible shift to Saturday. Up to three games will be moved, with notice given to fans and the public no later than four weeks prior to game day.

• In their first season at Allegiant Field, the Raiders will have four prime-time games at home: in Week 2 against the Saints on Monday Night Football, Week 7 against the Buccaneers, Week 11 against the Chiefs and Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

• The Vikings will play at the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, making Minnesota the first team since the 1970 merger to play a nondivisional opponent on the road in three consecutive seasons. In all, the Seahawks have won their past four games at home against the Vikings. They last lost at home to the Vikings in 2006.

• The NFL will celebrate its 100th birthday on Sept. 17 with a Thursday night matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.

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