With the 2019 NFL season officially in the books, an early glance at 2020 offers an intriguing possibility.
The Patriots could face a matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Week 1 of next season. There are several indications that this might happen.
The first — and most obvious — part is that Kansas City will host a primetime matchup to raise the team’s second Super Bowl banner. This has been a longstanding tradition in the NFL. Many previous Super Bowl winners played the first game of the season on Thursday night, while last year’s Patriots played on Sunday night.
Exactly who the Chiefs’ opponent will be is more of a question. The Patriots are certainly in the mix, given that New England is scheduled to play the entire AFC West as part of its predetermined schedule in 2020.
Additionally, the Patriots are slated for an away matchup against Kansas City.
There is also some history involved: In 2017, following the win in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots hosted the Chiefs in the season opener (the most recent year in which the AFC East and West were scheduled to play against each other). New England lost at home 42-27, overrun on defense by a Kansas City offense led by then-Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Kansas City’s other home games for 2020 are: the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and the New York Jets.
A divisional matchup is of course possible, and a potential divisional round playoff rematch against the Texans (who the Chiefs defeated 51-31) also carries appeal for NFL schedulers.
One final consideration could be the player movement that occurs in the offseason. If Tom Brady — eligible to become a free agent — signs with either the Raiders or Chargers, it potentially further impacts scheduling decisions.
For context, the NFL announced that the 2019 season’s opening game would be between the Bears and Packers on March 25.