The National Football League is back in full swing Sunday after Thursday night’s opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. Here are three storylines to watch as the 2020 regular season gets under way.
Playing amid the pandemic — There’s no getting around the coronavirus pandemic. It will make this NFL season, as has been the case for every other major sport, the strangest season in a long time, if not ever. Teams will mostly play in front of empty stadiums, although some franchises are allowing limited attendance (the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the only team to do so Sunday), but health and safety will be the biggest question marks, as the risk of a potential outbreak will likely loom over the league throughout the season. The NFL opted not to play in a bubble like the NBA, but so far league-wide test results have been encouraging.
Master and apprentice — Tom Brady, at 43 years old, will don a new uniform for the first time in 20 years when he leads a talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers team against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, while his old coach Bill Belichik will try to keep the New England Patriots’ winning ways going without the Hall of Fame quarterback under center against the Miami Dolphins. It’ll be worth watching how the once seemingly inextricable duo will operate without each other.
Game 1 for No. 1 — Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft who comes armed with a college national championship and the Heisman Trophy, will take his game to the pro level Sunday when he starts for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angeles Chargers. Cincinnati has high hopes for the quarterback, but because the pandemic led to the cancellation of preseason games and shortened training camp, he’ll really have to learn on the fly. Tim O’Donnell