The NFL released its 2020 regular-season schedule Thursday, and that created much-needed hope and anticipation.
We knew the matchups, but now we know the dates, too. We also know that the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady are featured prominently on the list below, of the games to have circled on your calendar.
Sporting News breaks down the 17 best regular-season games you can’t miss in the 2020 NFL season:
17. Bengals at Dolphins (Dec. 6, CBS)
Really? We’ll couch this with a big “if”: If Miami starts Tua Tagovailoa against Cincinnati and Joe Burrow. That would be a rematch of last year’s “Game of the Century” between Alabama and LSU and a glimpse into a more promising future for both franchises.
16. Eagles at Steelers (Oct. 11, Fox)
The Keystone State battle is always entertaining, and this will be a hard-hitting defensive contest that both fan bases can appreciate. Pittsburgh won the last two meetings at Heinz Field.
15. Texans at Chiefs (Sept. 10, NBC)
The best part about the “Thursday Night Football” opener wouldn’t be Deshaun Watson vs. Mahomes. It would be the fact that we have football on time.
14. Seahawks at 49ers (Jan. 3, Fox)
The rivalry between these two NFC West teams almost always lives up to expectations. They split the regular-season meetings in 2019, with Seattle winning in Santa Clara 27-24 in overtime.
13. Steelers at Cowboys (Nov. 8, CBS)
The Super Bowl history and large fan bases always make this game an event, and this one will be no different. Dallas has won seven of the last 10 meetings between the classic franchises.
12. Ravens at Texans (Sept. 20, CBS)
Jackson and Watson have a longstanding rivalry dating to their days at Louisville and Clemson, respectively, and the Ravens won 41-7 last season. This should be a closer matchup in Houston.
11. 49ers at Cowboys (Dec. 20, NBC)
Another classic rivalry between NFC teams, and a chance to see those replays of George Teague and Terrell Owens meeting at the Star. Who wins the quarterback matchup between Jimmy Garoppolo and Dak Prescott?
10. Patriots at Bills (Nov. 1, CBS)
Buffalo has lost seven straight to the Patriots and hasn’t beaten New England at home since 2011. If Josh Allen is going to lead Buffalo to an AFC East division title, then this is the time for the Bills to show they’re for real.
9. Steelers at Browns (Jan. 3, CBS)
Yeah, that’s three Pittsburgh games, but none will have more heat than its first trip back to Cleveland since Myles Garrett hit Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s helmet. The AFC North rivalry is real heading into the final week of the season.
8. Ravens at Patriots (Nov. 15, NBC)
How will Jarrett Stidham add to the traditional AFC rivalry between Baltimore and New England? The Ravens routed the Pats 37-20 on “Sunday Night Football” last season, but Baltimore is 0-5 at Gillette Stadium in regular-season games heading into the rematch.
7. 49ers at Patriots (Oct. 25, CBS)
Remember when the Pats traded Garoppolo to San Francisco? He’s coming off a Super Bowl appearance now, and New England is expected to have Stidham under center for Bill Belichick in this one. Brady might even be watching this one with great interest.
6. Buccaneers at Saints (Sept. 13, Fox)
Speaking of Brady, there will be two matchups against fellow 40-something Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. The matchup at the Superdome should be the more interesting of the two, and it falls on Week 1.
5. Cowboys at Ravens (Dec. 3, Fox)
The Cowboys always produce high TV ratings, and this will be just the sixth meeting between the teams. Can Jackson improve Baltimore’s record to 5-1 in those games?
4. Packers at Buccaneers (Oct. 18, Fox)
It’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Brady, and only the third head-to-head matchup between the two quarterbacks. The rubber match might be the last one between the two Hall of Famers.
3. Chiefs at Saints (Dec. 20, CBS)
This is being pegged as a potential Super Bowl preview, and putting both teams indoors screams shootout. Remember Chiefs-Rams on “Monday Night Football” two years ago? The 49ers-Saints game last year? This will be that kind of thriller.
2. Chiefs at Ravens (Sept. 28, ESPN)
A matchup of the last two NFL MVPs in Jackson and Mahomes could determine home-field advantage in the AFC. Kansas City beat Baltimore 33-28 last season. Expect another fantastic finish here.
1. Chiefs at Buccaneers (Nov. 29, CBS)
The two biggest stories of the season. Kansas City is the defending Super Bowl champion, and Mahomes will try to lead a repeat bid. The trip to Tampa Bay to face Brady, who is 2-1 in head-to-head matchups against Mahomes, should generate the most headlines — especially if Tampa Bay is that good. Who knew we would get to see Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski on the same field again?