The New England Patriots’ 2020 schedule is beginning to take shape.
Though the exact order of New England’s games won’t be revealed until Thursday night, ESPN’s John Clayton reported Wednesday on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that each team will open its schedule with four consecutive non-conference matchups.
.@JohnClaytonNFL tells @937theFan that the NFL schedule will be NFC vs AFC for the 1st 4 weeks of the season. Steelers play the NFC East. So 1st 4 games would be Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, and Giants.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) May 6, 2020
Since the AFC East and NFC West are inter-conference partners this season, that means New England’s first four opponents will be some combination of the Arizona Cardinals (home), Los Angeles Rams (away), San Francisco 49ers (home) and Seattle Seahawks (away).
All four of those games provide compelling storylines: the Patriots’ first look at the Kyler Murray- and Kliff Kingsbury-led the Cardinals, their first visit to glistening new SoFi Stadium in L.A., Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to Gillette Stadium and a Super Bowl XLIX rematch.
This unusual schedule structure will allow the NFL to cancel games without significantly impacting playoff races if the season needs to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NFL could do the Patriots a favor by scheduling their L.A. and Seattle games in back-to-back weeks, which would allow the team to stay on the West Coast between games and avoid taking two additional cross-country flights. The Patriots also are scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Chargers later in the season and will make trips to Houston and Kansas City, as well.
The full NFL schedule will be announced at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.