The 2020 NFL regular season will start on time despite the pandemic, with the annual Kickoff Game on Sept. 10 when the Chiefs begin defence of their title against the Texans.
Will the season actually finish? No one can be sure of that with the concern the virus will surge more during typical flu season in the winter months. While the NBA and NHL restarts have been huge successes, they are taking place in bubbles. The NFL isn’t doing that and really can’t with the size of team rosters. This season’s Super Bowl 55 is scheduled for February 7 in Tampa, Fla.
Home-field advantage is arguably more important in the NFL, especially in the playoffs, than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because of the large, passionate crowds at each game. But will there even be fans in stadiums this season? That seems to vary by city and none will be close to full.
Incidentally, no team since the 2012 Baltimore Ravens has reached the Super Bowl without having a first-round postseason bye. Starting this year, only the top seed in each conference gets Wild-Card Weekend off. The No. 2 seed will now play the newly-added No. 7 seed in each. Thus, topping the conference standings is more important than ever.
NFL Super Bowl LV Odds
No team has ever played in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers change that? Of course, by far the biggest offseason story in the NFL was quarterback Tom Brady leaving New England and bringing his record six Super Bowl rings to Tampa – he even talked fellow future Hall of Famer and tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to join him.
The Bucs look absolutely loaded on offence with those two and arguably the NFL’s best pair of wideouts in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The team also signed former league rushing king LeSean McCoy. Tampa caught a break in one regard in that just one player opted out of the season and it was not someone who was going to play.
Brady’s new conference looks much deeper than the AFC with the Bucs (+500 to win NFC), defending conference champion San Francisco 49ers (+400), New Orleans Saints (+500), Dallas Cowboys (+750), Seattle Seahawks (+950), Green Bay Packers (+1000), Philadelphia Eagles (+1000) and Minnesota Vikings (+1000) all legitimate title contenders. Minnesota just got better Sunday with the trade for ex-Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, our pick to emerge from the NFC is Dallas, which also recently got better with the signing of former Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen – and the Cowboys may still add seven-time Pro Bowl safety Early Thomas, recently cut loose by the Baltimore Ravens. The Cowboys legitimately may not have a hole on the roster and had a spectacular draft by landing stealing Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb in Round 1, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs in Round 2, and Oklahoma defensive tackle and Ottawa native Neville Gallimore in Round 3.
In this writer’s opinion, the AFC has one top tier of just two teams: The Chiefs (+275) to repeat as conference champion and Ravens (+300). They also happen to have arguably the two best quarterbacks in the league in Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (2018 NFL MVP) and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (2019 winner).
Keep in mind that while the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions, they would have been underdogs for a potential AFC title game in Baltimore in January. The Ravens simply got caught looking ahead to that game a bit and were upset in the Divisional Round by the Tennessee Titans (+1200 to win AFC).
The New England Patriots (+700) are a complete mystery after losing Brady and replacing him with 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. The Pats also lost a league-high eight players to an opt out.
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since the 2004 Patriots and we don’t think the Chiefs do, either, even though Mahomes is ridiculous. K.C. lost two starters to an opt out, including running back Damien Williams, and two more in free agency.
Who Will Win Super Bowl 55?
Your champion is the Baltimore Ravens.
Super Bowl LV Score Prediction
Ravens 27, Cowboys 23