NFL Thursday Night Football
The 2020 NFL season kicked off with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson squared off in a rematch of last year’s exciting AFC Divisional Playoff battle, and Mahomes led the Chiefs past the Texans 34-20. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a great debut with 138 yards and a touchdown. There were doubts about whether there would be an NFL season considering all that happened this year, but the NFL proved more resilient than the other professional sports leagues.
In Week 2, Joe Burrow showed us that he had what it takes to lead the next crop of talented quarterbacks. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns in a narrow 35-30 loss to Cleveland.
The Week 5 game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave us the first real upset of the Thursday night slate. Tampa Bay entered the Windy City as a moderate favorite, but the Bears upended the Buccaneers to move to 4-1. Tom Brady was a bit shaky against Chicago’s defense, as the Bucs lost after settling for field goals way too often. The Bears finished the game with just 243 total yards in their 20-19 win.
We saw a potential AFC Championship showdown in Week 6 between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, but that game was moved back to Monday night due to COVID issues with Buffalo. The Chiefs dominated the Bills on the stat sheet, amassing 466 yards compared to 206 yards for Buffalo, but the Bills kept it close by turning all their long drives into points. Still, it wasn’t enough to knock off the Super Bowl champions.
The Week 9 game between San Francisco and Green Bay was a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game. The 49ers ran all over the Packers in that game with Raheem Mostert setting records, but Green Bay avenged that defeat with a similar beatdown. Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdown passes as the Packers took a 34-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter in a comfortable win.
Tennessee and Indianapolis have been battling it out for the AFC South much of the year, and the Colts got the upper hand on the Titans in Week 10. Derrick Henry got his 100 yards, but Ryan Tannehill had one of his worst games of the season in a 34-17 loss to Indianapolis. Philip Rivers completed 29 of 39 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown in the win, as the Colts scored twice in the span of a minute in the third quarter to take the lead for good.
The NFC West has been the most competitive division this season, and Seattle and Arizona are both in position to make the playoffs. The Seahawks edged the Cardinals 28-21 in Week 11 on Thursday Night Football stopping a late Arizona drive that got all the way down to Seattle’s 27-yard line. Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray weren’t spectacular in that game, but the two best quarterbacks in the division played well.
For the first time ever, two straight Thursday Night Football games were postponed in Week 12 and Week 13. Major COVID issues in Baltimore led to the Ravens’ game with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night being pushed back to the next Wednesday, and that subsequently led to Baltimore’s TNF game against Dallas in Week 13 to be moved to Tuesday.
The penultimate Thursday night game of the season was a rematch of Super Bowl LIII. The Los Angeles Rams completely stifled the New England Patriots in a 24-3 victory that ensured New England would not be returning to the postseason. Rookie Cam Akers had the best game of his young career in the win, while the Patriots could only muster 220 total yards of offense.
Two AFC West rivals met in the last TNF game of the season on December 17. The Las Vegas Raiders needed to beat the Los Angeles Chargers to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but they couldn’t get the win to lose in four of the last five weeks. Justin Herbert may have essentially locked up Offensive Rookie of the Year with the victory, while Derek Carry’s injury paved the way for Marcus Mariota to finally see some action again.
Thursday Night Football Schedule
At first glance the week three game between the Dolphins and Jaguars doesn’t look like much but that impression could drastically change on game day because of the probability that Tua Tagovailoa could be under center by the time this matchup kicks off.
The week five matchup between the Buccaneers and Bears will be highly anticipated. Tom Brady taking over as Bucs quarterback and his strong supporting cast makes Tampa Bay a compelling story. Meanwhile the Bears are looking to bounce back to their 2018 NFC North Division title form.
The very next week features the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs at the Bills, who are an emerging contender coming off a 2019 playoff campaign. The atmosphere in Buffalo should be electric in this showdown of historic old American Football League rivals.
Week nine is a marquee rematch of the 2019 NFC championship game between the Packers and 49ers. San Francisco emasculated Green Bay to earn a Super Bowl berth last January. It figures that the Pack should roar back with a strong revenge effort.
And that is followed up by Philip Rivers and the Colts taking on Ryan Tannehill and the Titans in what could be an AFC South first-place showdown. Rivers has given Colts fans rejuvenated hope while the Titans are trying to prove last year’s playoff run was no fluke.
Week 13 features a potential Super Bowl preview with the Cowboys at the Ravens. Dallas had a great 2020 NFL Draft and now has a credible coach in Mike McCarthy. Baltimore was top seed in the AFC last year and had a draft that was even better than the Cowboys.
Following that is a Super Bowl rematch of the Brady-less Patriots and the Rams. Playoff spots could well be at stake in this one.
Sin City marks its inaugural season with its first-ever Thursday Night Football matchup of the AFC West rival Chargers and Raiders. These two have been going at it since 1960 as charter members of the AFL.
And the week 16 series finale of the Vikings and Saints is a rematch of last year’s divisional playoffs in which Minnesota scored a stunning overtime upset win in the Crescent City.
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