Breaking down the NFL's 2020 prime-time schedule: Expect a lot of Tom Brady and the Bucs

The NFL officially dropped the full schedule for the 2020 season on Thursday night, and plans to start its season on time in September amid the COVID-19 pandemic

With it came an impressive slate of prime-time games, with “Thursday Night Football” on Fox, “Sunday Night Football” on NBC and “Monday Night Football” on ESPN.

There is, of course, a lot to look forward to, even with the assumption that the prime-time schedule will get adjusted as the season moves along. Football fans everywhere, though, will get to see plenty of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady and the Bucs will partake in five prime-time games in just seven weeks this season — including three straight. The Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers will also make five prime-time appearances. The Las Vegas Raiders will have plenty of opportunities to show off their new stadium, too, with four home games in prime-time.

Here’s a look at every prime-time game this season.

Thursday Night Football

There are some really good Thursday Night Football games planned for this fall, including a great matchup between the Houston Texans and Chiefs right off the bat.

There are also some potential duds to avoid.

The full TNF slate:

Week 1: Texans at Chiefs (NBC)

Week 2: Bengals at Browns

Week 3: Dolphins at Jaguars

Week 4: Broncos at Jets

Week 5: Buccaneers at Bears

Week 6: Chiefs at Bills

Week 7: Giants at Eagles

Week 8: Falcons at Panthers

Week 9: Packers at 49ers

Week 10: Colts at Titans

Week 11: Cardinals at Seahawks

Week 12: Thanksgiving*

Week 13: Cowboys at Ravens

Week 14: Patriots at Rams

Week 15: Chargers at Raiders

Week 16: Vikings at Saints (Christmas Day)

The best TNF game: Cowboys at Ravens

The Cowboys are a wild card every season. But if all goes well in Dallas this fall, this December matchup in Baltimore should be a lot of fun — especially with reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson taking on the Dak Prescott-Ezekiel Elliott duo.

The worst TNF game: Dolphins at Jaguars

It should be mildly entertaining to see Gardner Minshew and Tua Tagovailoa square off in this Week 3 matchup. That, though, could be about it. The Dolphins were horrendous last season, and the Jaguars weren’t much better. Compared to some of the other Thursday games this fall, this Florida battle is likely the worst.

Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving slate of games largely remains the same, with the Lions hosting the first matchup of the day and the Cowboys hosting the afternoon game. The night game this year will be an entertaining divisional matchup to round out the holiday.

Game 1: Texans at Lions

Game 2: Redskins at Cowboys

Game 3: Ravens at Steelers

Sunday Night Football

Sunday night is generally reserved for the best game each week, and rightfully so.

The Cowboys and Packers will each appear on Sunday Night Football three times, with Dallas opening the season against the Rams in Los Angeles at the new SoFi Stadium. There are plenty of other high-profile games to look forward to, too, including a matchup between Drew Brees and Brady midway through the year.

The full SNF slate:

Week 1: Cowboys at Rams

Week 2: Patriots at Seahawks

Week 3: Packers at Saints

Week 4: Eagles at 49ers

Week 5: Vikings at Seahawks

Week 6: Rams at 49ers

Week 7: Buccaneers at Raiders

Week 8: Cowboys at Eagles

Week 9: Saints at Buccaneers

Week 10: Ravens at Patriots

Week 11: Chiefs at Raiders

Week 12: Bears at Packers

Week 13: Broncos at Chiefs

Week 14: Steelers at Bills

Week 15: 49ers at Cowboys

Week 16: Titans at Packers

The best SNF game: Saints at Buccaneers

There are plenty of great games to look forward to on this list. The Week 9 matchup, however, takes the top slot purely because of the quarterback battle it will provide. Seeing Brees take on Brady — two of the top quarterbacks in the league, if not of all time — under the lights in Tampa shouldn’t disappoint.

The worst SNF game: Titans at Packers

This is the last Sunday Night Football game of the year, and could easily be flexed away. But for now, it looks to be the weakest. It will be the Titans’ first appearance in that time slot, but the third for Green Bay. The Packers’ other two matchups — against the Saints and rival Bears — are simply so much more intriguing.

Monday Night Football

ESPN will have lots of high-profile recurring teams this fall, as the Saints, Ravens and Buccaneers are slated to make multiple appearances on Monday Night Football this year.

Though their slate of games aren’t always the best — the top games are usually reserved for Sunday night — ESPN should be able to provide fans with plenty of entertaining matchups this fall, even if their first weeks’ doubleheader isn’t as good as it could be.

The full MNF slate:

Week 1: Steelers at Giants, Titans at Broncos

Week 2: Saints at Raiders

Week 3: Chiefs at Ravens

Week 4: Falcons at Packers

Week 5: Chargers at Saints

Week 6: Cardinals at Cowboys

Week 7: Bears at Rams

Week 8: Buccaneers at Giants

Week 9: Patriots at Jets

Week 10: Vikings at Bears

Week 11: Rams at Buccaneers

Week 12: Seahawks at Eagles

Week 13: Bills at 49ers

Week 14: Ravens at Browns

Week 15: Steelers at Bengals

Week 16: Bills at Patriots

The best MNF game: Chiefs at Ravens

This game has an insane amount of potential behind two MVP-caliber quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Expect an impressive and entertaining shootout in this early-season Monday Night Football battle.

The worst MNF game: Chargers at Saints

On paper, this is likely the most lopsided Monday Night Football matchup. The rebuilding Chargers, behind Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert, will have to square off against Brees in New Orleans — which would be a difficult matchup regardless of when the game is held. While this game is still months away, it could feature the biggest blowout on ESPN’s slate this fall.

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