Pressing forward with its plans for an on-time start to the 2020 season, the NFL is trying to find ways to start its season on time. Preseason games have been cancelled, and the recent discussion of teams looking to expand roster sizes. If there is a 2020 NFL season it may be the most unique season we have ever witnessed. There will be no international games this season, and we don’t know exactly what kind of crowd control methods the league will implement amid the coronavirus pandemic. But if the games do begin on time, their are a lot of action packed games and compelling story lines. Here are my personal top five games for AFC West teams.
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills (Nov 29. Week 12) CBS- This is somewhat a revenge game for Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor as he started and led the Buffalo Bills to its first playoff appearance since the Music City Miracle. The way they repaid Taylor was by drafting its now starter Josh Allen. Its hard to believe this isn’t a game that Taylor doesn’t have circled on his calendar. Only thing that can throw a monkey wrench in those plans if Chargers decide to start rookie Justin Herbert. Both teams had a solid off-season Bills added pro bowl WR Stefon Diggs via trade from the Vikings and made other solid off-season additions such as CB Josh Norman. Buffalo looks to improve on its 10-6 record from a year ago. It’s really the first time for the AFC East that the division is up for grabs. As far as the Chargers are concerned they are a talent stacked team and the key to their success going forward might be finding a full-time consistent quarterback and staying healthy. The narrative of this ball game will only exist if Tyrod still has the job in Week 12. All signs are pointing to Taylor holding on to the job for an entire season to give Justin Herbert a year to learn.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Oct. 10 Week 5) CBS- The Broncos and Patriots were once one of the better rivalries in all of the NFL mainly because of the two signal callers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Both quarterbacks are long gone and I guess you can say this match-up has lost a lot of it’s luster. However, with the Patriots adding Cam Newton to the forefront this maybe a game he has circled on his schedule. If we go back in history Cam Newton has somewhat of a checkered history against the Broncos. It was in Super Bowl 50 where Von Miller and the Broncos beat Cam’s Panthers in his MVP year. Than the following year in week 1 the rematch Cam’s Panthers fell short again. Highlights of that game still loom today as he took some rough hits. They say revenge is a dish best served cold and now the threat of Cam in a Bill Belichick/ Josh McDaniels coached offense skies are the limit and it’s fun to see how he will be utilized. Denver is a much improved team with Drew Lock, Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon. Denver added a ton of firepower on offense and they added key pieces to their defense. This maybe one of those measurement stick games to show a young team where they are playing such a tough veteran team early on the road.
New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders (Sept.9 Week 2) ESPN- This game will sure to be rocking! As it’s the first time the Raiders will be playing on their brand-new home turf. Raiders fans everywhere will be decked out in their proud Silver and Black as they stay glued to their TVs during the entire game. These are one of those games I hope fans can be in attendance for because we know the relationship the Raiders have with their fans. This is the chance for the Raiders to make a statement to the entire nation about their revived franchise in a prime time Monday Night Football game. The Saints will probably be favored to win, and we don’t have to dig deep to see why. The Saints have some of the best players at their positions on their roster: veteran quarterback Drew Brees, a healthier running back in Alvin Kamara, veteran-wide receiver Michael Thomas and adding Emmanuel Sanders in the off-season. For the Raiders they added enough firepower on both ends to contend this season. They are one of the younger more talented teams with Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller and defensively they had a complete overhaul. Both teams are expected to have strong passing games in the 2020 season, and the Saints’ defense appears better equipped to handle such offenses. I still, do not put it past Carr to pull off some 4th quarter antics, and fully expect these two to come to put up fireworks as they did in their 2017 meeting.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens (Sept. 28 Week 3) ESPN- Baltimore and Kansas City have a bit of a rivalry going on in the AFC lately. It feels like the Ravens loaded up on talent in the draft and free agency and have their sights set on beating the Chiefs.A match-up between the last two MVPs of the league squaring off on Monday Night Football has a script for must see TV. This is the closest thing to having a playoff game in September. This game essentially counts as a game and a half for the Ravens and Chiefs. With only one first-round bye in each conference, Baltimore and Kansas City are clearly the cream of the crop in the AFC so this game could be very important for all the tiebreaker scenarios that could exist. Every time these two teams meet its a nail-biter. Patrick Maholmes once threw a no look pass with heavy pressure in his face on 4th down to Tyreke Hill to defeat the Ravens. Even last season Chiefs were able to knock off Ravens 33-28 I expect another fantastic finish again.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Nov. 29 Week 12) CBS- One of the biggest story lines going into 2020 is Tom Brady going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many view this week 12 match-up as a potential Super Bowl preview. The talent pool for Brady isn’t exactly bare. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Brady will be throwing to one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. Brady also brought fellow former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski who came out of retirement to be traded to the Bucs. Joining Gronk in the tight end room is the talented (and still young) O.J. Howard, who is looking for a breakout season with his new quarterback. Tampa Bay will be returning with almost their entire defensive unit one that was playing very good football at season’s end. Kansas City is the defending Super Bowl champs. With TB12 being in his 40’s we may not get another Brady Maholmes match-up so this could be one for the books with each team having equal firepower on the field.