Tom Brady‘s new football life will begin with a bang. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open the regular season against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, one of the early highlights of the 2020 NFL schedule, announced Thursday night.
The game will pit two of the best players in NFL history, and will mark the first time that both starting quarterbacks are at least 40 years old. Brees, 41, and Brady, who will be 43 when the season begins, have only played against each other five times but are now divisional rivals in the NFC South. They rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions.
The Buccaneers and Saints will play in the late Sunday national window at 4:25 p.m. The Buccaneers have also been scheduled for the maximum number of prime-time games (five), including three consecutively in Weeks 6-8, a reflection of the excitement in Tampa surrounding Brady and fellow newcomer Rob Gronkowski.
Meanwhile, Brady’s former team — the New England Patriots — will host the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. That matchup could feature the first career starts of Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
But before Tagovailoa, Stidham, Brees or Brady make their regular-season debuts, the NFL will stage its annual kickoff classic at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Chiefs, winners of Super Bowl LIV, will host the Houston Texans in a rematch of their 2019 divisional playoff game. On that memorable day, the Chiefs overcame a 24-0 second-quarter deficit to win 55-31.
The NFL announced its schedule in anticipation of playing a typically timed season despite the coronavirus epidemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, told teams in a memo this week that adjustments will be made if necessary.
“We will continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season, including with [Thursday’s] schedule release,” Goodell wrote, “and we will be prepared to address any contingencies as they arise.”
Other highlights of the 2020 schedule include:
• A Friday afternoon game on Christmas Day, when the Minnesota Vikings will play at the Saints. The NFL last played a Friday game in 2009 and has scheduled a total of 10 regular-season games on Friday since the 1970 merger.
• In addition to the Christmas Day game, the Saints have four games scheduled for prime-time. Of their remaining 11 games, seven are scheduled for the late-afternoon Sunday window. The Christmas Day matchup could be the final career home game for Brees, who has an agreement to join NBC as a broadcaster after retirement.
• The Thanksgiving Day triple-header will feature the Texans at the Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET), followed by Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys (3:25 p.m. ET) and the Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET).
• Buccaneers fans will have their first chance to watch Brady at his new home when the Carolina Panthers come to Tampa Bay in Week 2.
• The Las Vegas Raiders will begin on the road at Carolina before opening their new home in Week 2 against the Saints on Monday Night Football.