Look, no one can sit here and tell you that they know for sure the NFL is going to happen as the schedule is being released tonight. However, if there’s one organization that I’ll never bet against bending the world to get what they want, it’s the NFL. If there’s any sliver of hope for a full on-schedule season, these are the people whose hands I want that hope to rest in. With that said, let’s look at five games that’ll be really super awesome if they happen.
1. Chiefs @ Ravens – Week 3 Monday Night Football (9/28)
Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson in the battle of the two quarterbacks of the future who also might be the best right now. This is the best game on paper that ESPN has gotten for Monday Night Football in years — Rams-Chiefs a couple years ago turned out to be a classic, but no one knew that would be the case before the season. It’s the defending Super Bowl champions against another preseason contender.
2. Vikings @ Saints – Week 16 Christmas
NFL opting to play their Thursday Night Football game on Fox at 4:30 pm on Christmas on Friday instead of Christmas Eve Thursday is interesting. It’s not unheard of for the NFL to run on Christmas, but it’s interesting they’re doing their first Friday game in over 10 years. The NBA still has this season to finish, but it’ll be intriguing from a media nerd perspective to see how they schedule around this game. They already put their best game in primetime now — this past year was Lakers-Clippers.
3. Packers @ Bucs – Week 6 Sunday late afternoon (10/18)
After the Packers played the Patriots in 2018, we didn’t know if we would ever see a matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady again. This is a big get for Fox, and at this point in the season it’s hard to see either of these teams being out of the contention mix yet.
4. Cowboys @ Rams – Week 1 Sunday Night Football (9/13)
I get that this could be among the most precarious dates on the schedule depending on when training camp and the preseason can get started but these are both teams that I’m really excited to see this year. The Cowboys have Mike McCarthy in charge now, and however they wind up performing it’s guaranteed to be entertaining and interesting to talk about. The Rams had a down season last year and it’s going to be revealing to see the extent to which Sean McVay can weather the storm.
5. Seahawks @ 49ers – Week 17 Sunday late afternoon (1/3)
Last season, these two teams met in Week 17 and the NFC West decided by no more than a couple inches when Jacob Hollister was denied the endzone. For now Fox has this game although this is the territory where big games can be flexed. The 49ers are the NFC champions, while Russell Wilson is a magician who perennially has Seattle in the mix.
6. Titans @ Texans – Week 17 – Sunday early afternoon (1/3)
The schedule makers don’t deem this game worthy of a marquee spot, but they were the top two teams in the AFC South last season, and I want to see if Mike Vrabel, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and the rest of the Titans recapture some of the magic they had late last season.
7. Patriots @ Chiefs – Week 4 – Sunday late afternoon (10/4)
This is the time of season where, if it starts on time, we should be starting to really form opinions about exactly who the Patriots are without Tom Brady. The Chiefs will be a good test to see if Bill Belichick still has this team in the heavyweight division.