Assuming the NFL returns to its usual practice of awarding the Thursday night opener to the defending Super Bowl champion, the 2020 season will kick off in Kansas City this September.
Who should face the Chiefs, who rallied to win 31-20 over San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, in that marquee Week 1 matchup? In our eyes, that’s a no-brainer: the New England Patriots.
The Patriots have staged several epic battles against the Chiefs in recent years — including a 37-31 overtime thriller at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2018 AFC Championship Game — and are scheduled to visit KC at some point during the upcoming season. Who wouldn’t want to watch the latest Super Bowl champ begin its title defense against the franchise that’s dominated the AFC for the better part of the last two decades?
Plus, this matchup would give New England an opportunity to spoil a celebration the way Kansas City did back in 2017, when the Chiefs strolled into Gillette Stadium and throttled reigning champion Patriots in a 42-27 rout.
The last three Pats-Chiefs meetings have been one-score games, including the aforementioned AFC Championship shootout and a 43-40 barnburner in Foxboro, Mass., earlier in 2018. Their 2019 tilt was a more subdued affair, with Kansas City winning 23-16 at Gillette in a game marred by horrendous officiating.
Obviously, Tom Brady choosing to sign elsewhere in free agency this offseason would drain a fair amount of juice from this matchup. But New England beginning a new chapter at quarterback against the NFL’s new top dog would be a compelling storyline in its own right.
The Chiefs’ other 2020 home opponents are the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Houston Texans. If the NFL shies away from divisional rivalries, as is typically the case in these post-championship openers, the Texans are really the only other intriguing option on that list. Houston led 24-0 at Arrowhead in this year’s divisional round before self-destructing in a 51-31 loss.
The NFL switched things up in 2019 to celebrate the league’s 100th season, moving the defending champion Patriots’ opener to Sunday night in favor of a Thursday night clash between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. A 2020 kickoff game at one of the new stadiums in LA or Vegas remains a possibility.
The 2020 NFL schedule will be released in April.