When the Kansas City Chiefs lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy after their come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl 54, the conversation in New England quickly shifted to Week 1 of the 2020 season. After all, the Patriots are one of eight possible opponents for the newly crowned world champions on opening day — and certainly the highest-profile team scheduled to visit Arrowhead Stadium over the course of the next regular season.
There is an argument to be made by the NFL’s schedule makers against picking New England as Kansas City’s opponent to open the regular season on September 10, however, and it is a pretty straightforward one: The season opener will be a highly-rated game regardless of the Patriots’ involvement. The league therefore might decide to schedule their road game against the Chiefs at a later point in time when ratings are generally lower across the NFL.
Just go back to last season to see this approach in action: New England, fresh off its victory in Super Bowl 54, had the Chiefs on its list of home opponents for the 2019 season. The league decided against “wasting” the rematch of the 2018 AFC Championship on opening weekend, however, and instead chose the Pittsburgh Steelers as the Patriots’ opponent on Sunday Night Football. New England eventually hosted Kansas City in Week 14.
Given this precedent and the development of ratings over the course of the season, it would not be a surprise if the league opted to go a similar route in 2020. As a result, it seems likely that the Chiefs’ opening opponent will be picked from the following teams:
Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers
The Texans — a playoff opponent for the Chiefs in 2019 — or the freshly relocated Raiders appear to be the most plausible picks from the NFL’s perspective. The Patriots, despite their status as one of the most popular teams in pro football, are not.