On 12 January, the Houston Texans amassed a 24-0 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs after 20 minutes in the divisional round of the playoffs. The rampant Chiefs offence subsequently reeled off 41 consecutive points en route to a 51-31 demolition.
Nine months later, Houston returns to Kansas City to kick-off the NFL 2020 season against the champions. The quarterback matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson has proven to be an electric encounter when they have previously faced each other, with the teams sharing the spoils last season in their two games.
As the season looks to begin, I earmark both outfits as having the potential to challenge for the title. To begin with, we start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who made several key offseason coups, most notably acquiring six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. After 19 years with Bill Belichick at the New England Patriots, the pair have parted ways as Brady embarks on a fresh quest to claim the Vince Lombardi trophy once again.
The Buccaneers are primed to challenge New Orleans for top spot in the NFC South
He is joined at the Buccaneers by former teammate and four-time All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, and talented running back Leonard Fournette. With the team already possessing two of the best wide receivers in the game, they are sure to improve on their 7-9 record and are primed to challenge the New Orleans Saints for the top spot in the NFC South.
With the exit of Tom Brady, the New England Patriots appeared destined for a year of significant decline; however, to the surprise of the general public they swooped in to sign former MVP Cam Newton on a one-year deal. After being named as the starting quarterback ahead of Jarrett Stodham and Brian Hoyer, he was also selected as one of the captains for the side.
With the best secondary in the league and the prospect of Newton rediscovering his best form, the Patriots may defy the odds and continue their winning record.
Pressure continues to mount on last season’s MVP Lamar Jackson
Elsewhere in the league, pressure continues to mount on last season’s MVP Lamar Jackson, as the 14-2 Ravens hope to improve on their divisional playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. With the addition of defensive end Calais Campbell, alongside second-round draft pick J.K. Robbins, the Ravens will again be title-challengers and should post a regular-season record akin to last season.
Pivoting back to the season-opening fixture, the hosts will again be one of the favourites for the season having kept the core of the team unchanged. The Texans, on the other hand, will have to deal with the loss of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, albeit in a trade for young running back David Johnson.
Other notable signings in the league saw the Seattle Seahawks acquire Jamal Adams, which could elevate them above the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. The Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers all drafted quarterbacks this season. The Dolphins and the Chargers will look to gradually phase in Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert respectively, whereas Joe Burrow will be needed to transform the 2-14 Bengals.
Overall, this season is one which should conjure up a few surprises along the way as teams become more and more equally talented.