2020 NFL Schedule: What it Tells Us

Here's everything you could ever hope to know about the 2020 NFL schedule but wouldn't even have thought to ask — at least the highlights, and lowlights, for many teams:

Arizona Cardinals — After opening the season at the 49ers, none of their next five opponents had a winning record in 2019 — although one of them, Dallas, almost certainly will in 2020.

Atlanta Falcons — Won their last four in a row in 2019, and their last three in a row in 2018, to get up for second place in the NFC South in both seasons — on tie-breakers both times, and at 7-9 both times. But the opposing quarterbacks in their last three this time around are Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Brady again.

Baltimore Ravens — Statically, they have the easiest schedule in the NFL (their 2020 opponents had a .438 winning percentage in 2019), and dynamically, only the Browns and Bengals are taking a bigger drop in strength of schedule than the 56-percentage-point Nestea plunge they're taking (their 2019 strength of schedule was .494) — and if that's not enough, none of their last six opponents finished over .500 a year ago. If the NFL had a Presidents' Trophy, they would be the overwhelming favorites to win it again.

Carolina Panthers — They have all three second meetings within the NFC South at home, which is everywhere a team wants to be — and Teddy Bridgewater is 22-13 as a starter. Their schedule is also 49 percentage points easier than last year's, which is the biggest drop in the NFC, and they and division foe Tampa Bay have the NFL's latest byes, in Week 13 (not since 2001 has any team been idle later). Might surprise a few people.

Cincinnati Bengals — Also all three second meetings within their division at home — and they take the biggest drop in strength of schedule in the entire NFL, 76 percentage points; then again, they had the same thing going for them last year, and we all saw what good it did them. Plus they open the season with four of their first six games on the road — and they will enter 2020 with a league-high 13 consecutive road losses.

Cleveland Browns — If they stay in the Big Apple between their December 20 game at the Giants and their December 27 game at the Jets, they won't be doing much traveling the last four weeks because they play Baltimore at home before those two games and Pittsburgh at home after them. 72 percentage-point drop in strength of schedule, as well.

Dallas Cowboys — Having to play the second meeting against the Eagles on the road — and in Week 16 into the bargain — cost them the NFC East title last year. But as Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning prove, turnabout is fair play, as they host Philadelphia in Week 16 this go-round — and their getting to play Minnesota and Atlanta while Philly draws Green Bay and New Orleans figures to add up to at least a one-game gain for America's Team. Only knock is four cold-weather games, the most for any of the 18 teams who play their home games either in the Sun Belt or indoors; worse yet, two of them are at night, making the kickoff-time temperature even colder.

Detroit Lions — Along with NFC North rival Green Bay, they get the short end of the bye stick, taking theirs in Week 5, the earliest in the league. And not only do they have no prime-time games, but every one of their games has an early-time-slot start, except for their September 27 game at Arizona, which has to be late.

Green Bay Packers — Four warm-weather or domed-stadium teams must visit the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in November (Minnesota and Jacksonville) and December (Carolina and Tennessee).

Indianapolis Colts — All three second meetings within the AFC South at home — and playing the Jets and Las Vegas while Houston has to play New England and Kansas City and Tennessee has to play Buffalo and Denver doesn't hurt, either.

Los Angeles Rams — Their first three games are Dallas at home, at Philadelphia, and at Buffalo. When Houston overcame an 0-3 start to make the playoffs in 2018, it was the first time since 1998 that any NFL team had accomplished that feat. On the bright side, they are one of just two warm-weather/indoor teams who do not play a cold-weather game this season.

Miami Dolphins — When they play the Jets at home in Week 10, both teams have a bye in Week 11, and then play the Jets on the road in Week 12, it will mark the first time since 1966 that two teams will have played a "home-and-home series" against each other.

Minnesota Vikings — Kirk Cousins will be delighted to know that he will have to play only six games against teams that finished over .500 last season. And why is that? Because Cousins is 7-31 lifetime vs. over-.500 teams.

New England Patriots — Somebody has to take the biggest jump in the league in strength of schedule — and this year, it's them. All this and no more Tom Brady, too.

New Orleans Saints — All three second meetings vs. division rivals on the road — but with their having won the division three years in a row, the last two seasons by a combined 12 games, they can afford to do this.

Philadelphia Eagles — A three-game mid-season home stand followed by a bye week might come in handy — and they have the same potential situation as Cleveland, in that they are at Arizona in Week 15, then at Dallas in Week 16.

San Francisco 49ers — A 6-0 start is not beyond the realm of possibilities, their first six games being Arizona at home, at the Jets, at the Giants (and maybe they stay back east between these two games?), Philadelphia at home, Miami at home, and the Rams at home. And speaking of the Rams: Like them, they, too, do not play a cold-weather game this year.

Tennessee Titans — All three second meetings within the AFC South on the road.

Washington Redskins — Only a Thanksgiving Day game at Jerry World, and games at Arizona in Week 3 and at San Francisco in Week 14, are even in the late time slot, let alone on prime time. This lack of respect for Ron Rivera, whose career record is 79-67-1, with three Elite Eight appearances, including one Super Bowl appearance, is surprising.

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