With Thursday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans officially kicking off not just Week 1 but the season as a whole betwixt the background of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 NFL season is sure to look different from the ones that came before it.
While sports might seem secondary with all that’s going on in the world, football aficionados have been eagerly anticipating this week since the Super Bowl ended back in February. If you’re one of us who has been counting down the days to the start of football season, here’s what you should watch in Week 1.
The Chiefs Begin Their Super Bowl Defense
The Chiefs were dominant last year. And that, of course, culminated in them winning Super Bowl LIV. With Patrick Mahomes leading his team to the promised land, the Chiefs’ front office accordingly rewarded him with a ten-year contract worth upwards of $500M, the richest in the history of professional football. With the Chiefs having a taste of what it’s like to be champions, now begins the part where many Super Bowl winners have failed: keeping their foot on the gas and becoming a dynasty.
The very first game of the season has the Chiefs opposing the Texans, the team led by quarterback Deshaun Watson and pass-rush extraordinaire J.J. Watt. One thing that will make the Chiefs glad in this one, though, is the fact that DeAndre Hopkins is no longer on their roster after being traded to the Arizona Cardinals. This should be a quality tune-up game for the Chiefs But if they struggle in this one, it may be a sign of greater concerns.
IT’S GAMEDAY! pic.twitter.com/CVA7doMSS1
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 10, 2020
Brady vs. Brees: The Next Chapter
As a gift to football fans everywhere, Week 1 includes a duel between two legends with a historic rivalry: Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
This meeting is special, of course, as this is the first meeting with Brady as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having spent the entirety of his illustrious career, to this point, with the New England Patriots. Brady and Brees have had five prior meetings, with Brees having a 3-2 advantage in those encounters.
Depending on how long Brady decides to stay in Tampa, the two could be seeing a lot more of each other, as both of their teams are in the NFC South. To add to the intrigue of this encounter, both Brees and Brady will have chips on their shoulder in this game, as it’s Brady’s first with his new team, and both quarterbacks were involved in Wild Card Weekend upsets last season. If you’re someone who particularly cares about the history of the game, a match-up between the game’s all-time passing leader and the all-time winningest QBs is something you will absolutely not want to miss.
The Arrival of Joe Burrow
The pride of Louisiana State University, Joe Burrow is one of the most anticipated quarterback prospects in recent memory, and he brings a bit of hope to a team that has been utterly devoid of it recently in the Cincinnati Bengals.
The first overall pick in this year’s draft, Burrow will look to prove he can produce at the professional level at anything close to the mind-boggling rate he managed to while at LSU. Burrow’s first game under center for the Bengals is the equivalent to getting thrown to the wolves, as he will face one of the NFL’s top defenses right away against the Los Angeles Chargers. With three high-level corners in Casey Hayward, Chris Harris Jr., and Desmond King, Burrow will have to be extremely careful where he throws the ball, and with a defensive line consisting of Pro Bowlers Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Linval Joseph, he might not get much time to think about his accuracy.
The Chargers are missing one of the league’s top safeties in Derwin James, but this is still going to be a tough ask for Burrow to impress in this one. If he does, Burrow might be even better than we thought.
The Ravens Redemption Arc
The Baltimore Ravens entered this past postseason as the top-seeded team in the AFC and were considered the heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl. With reigning Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson confounding defenses, it was assumed they would steamroll the competition on their way to a league championship. They absolutely did not.
The Ravens were instead bounced by the Tennessee Titans on the back of a mammoth game by Derrick Henry in the Divisional Round. Now, the Ravens went and beefed up their defensive line with Calais Campbell and they’re looking to prove their status as the premier NFL team of the next decade. I almost feel sorry for the Browns in this one, because I feel this Ravens team is going to go out of its way to show their dominance.
This could get downright gruesome, and I don’t think the Browns can even keep this one close. Keep your eyes on this game as the first step in a campaign that the Ravens will hope takes them directly to a Super Bowl title.