Let’s presume the 2020 NFL season takes place exactly according to the schedule released this week, unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak.
And let’s also presume that all the games slated for NBC’s blockbuster “Sunday Night Football” remain there and don’t get flexed to earlier in the day.
Here are games to be sure to watch.
Week 1: Dallas Cowboys at Rams
Neither team made the playoffs last year, but they won’t be the star attractions of this broadcast. The Rams’ new Inglewood home, the $5-billion SoFi Stadium, will make its NFL debut on prime-time TV.
Week 3: Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
Both teams finished tied with eventual NFC champion San Francisco for the conference’s best record (13-3) last year. And both teams were one-and-done in the playoffs.
Week 9: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s one big reason to watch this one — the possibility of Saints backup quarterback Jameis Winston facing the team that ditched him during the offseason for some old dude. Psych! Of course, it’s Tom Brady vs. Brees in a matchup of the league’s two all-time leaders in passing yards and touchdowns. Might be the last time the two 40-something quarterbacks meet on the field.
Week 10: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to a 14-2 record last year before stumbling in the divisional round of the playoffs. He will lead the team into Foxborough to face coach Bill Belichick and ... whomever he gets to replace Brady. Right now it’s looking like that’s going to be untested second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Week 13: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
The Super Bowl champs are only slated for two “SNF” appearances and this looks to be the better matchup of the two. Patrick Mahomes and company will take on the Chiefs’ AFC West rival Denver Broncos, who appeared headed in the right direction last year behind then-rookie quarterback Drew Lock.