The 2020 NFL schedule kicks off this week with the Texans at Chiefs on Thursday night football, and NFL Nation has you covered.
Big questions. Bold predictions. Breakout fantasy football candidates. Over/under picks. Record and playoff projections. Depth charts. And in-depth schedule analysis for all 32 teams. This is what you need to know for the season.
The ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) ranked every team from 1-32 based on how it projects the season to play out. Click the links below to read more about each team.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Will rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire make the offense even better?
Adam Teicher: He will, judging from training camp. He was consistently productive, particularly in the passing game, where he showed reliable hands and the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. The Chiefs didn’t get a lot of help from their backs last year until Damien Williams emerged late in the season. So the rookie out of LSU is a logical place for the Chiefs to grow offensively. Read the full Chiefs preview.
Can Lamar Jackson take the next step as a passer?
Jamison Hensley: Jackson made tremendous strides throwing the ball during his NFL MVP campaign last season, when he led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes. But he has been an uneven quarterback when teams limit him as a runner. Since Jackson took over as a starter midway through the 2018 season, he’s 5-4 when rushing for less than 70 yards. His focus in training camp has been improving his downfield passing, so when teams crowd the box, Jackson can make them pay with the big play. Read the full Ravens preview.
Can the 49ers return to the Super Bowl and finish the job?
Nick Wagoner: Rare is the team that can lose a Super Bowl, return the next year and win the Lombardi Trophy. In fact, it has happened only three times. But the Niners believe they can do it in large part because they return almost all of their starters and coaching staff in a season when continuity might be more valuable than ever. Read the full 49ers preview.
Can the Saints finally thrive in January?
Mike Triplett: Obviously they haven’t clinched a playoff berth just yet. But let’s face it: That hasn’t been their problem over the past three years. This might be the NFL’s most loaded roster from top to bottom, and New Orleans has won more regular-season games than any team in the league since 2017, going a combined 37-11, before falling flat in the playoffs. The solution starts with making sure 41-year-old quarterback Drew Brees has enough left in the tank to peak at the right time. Adding wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders should help quite a bit after they ran out of reliable options behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara down the stretch the past two years. Read the full Saints preview.
How will quarterback Dak Prescott adapt to new coach Mike McCarthy?
Todd Archer: Most of the offense Prescott ran in his first four years with the Cowboys remains, with just tweaks from what McCarthy is accustomed to running. Kellen Moore remains as the playcaller, so Prescott will continue to have a familiar voice in his ear. But McCarthy will have a big influence, and the reason he was hired was because of his ability to raise the level of quarterback play. The talent on the Cowboys’ offense is among the best in the NFL with Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. Prescott is coming off a year in which he set personal bests with 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns but he was not part of even the virtual offseason program since he was looking for a contract. There is a rhythm that will need to be developed between McCarthy and Prescott. If they find it quick, the Cowboys should be a contender. Read the full Cowboys preview.
Will Carson Wentz be protected by his offensive line?
The Eagles’ offensive line is a question mark for the first time in a long time. Philadelphia lost its second starter to injury this offseason when left tackle Andre Dillard went down with a torn biceps in training camp. He joins standout guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles) on the sideline. They got good news this week when Jason Peters, 38, told the team he would move from right guard back to his old post on Wentz’s blind side. While that is the best solution for now, it’s fair to wonder whether Peters will hold up for the full 16-game slate. Wentz had his season cut short each of the past three years, and he needs the front to hold up. Read the full Eagles preview.
Field Yates is having a hard time sizing up the Eagles wide receivers and instead may go harder after Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Do they have a championship-caliber pass rush?
Brady Henderson: It was their biggest deficiency in 2019, as they turned in one of their worst defensive performances of the Pete Carroll era. The Seahawks could have the NFL’s best secondary after trading for Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar. They spent a first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks, who joins All-Pro Bobby Wagner in a deep linebacker corps. But their pass rush has a handful of complementary pieces and no obvious primary threat like Jadeveon Clowney. One of those pieces, second-round pick Darrell Taylor, has been hurt. Read the full Seahawks preview.
How much of a jump will the defense make, particularly with the league’s youngest secondary?
Jenna Laine: Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting said, “We’re not going to act like we’re going to allow our offense to carry us, because at the end of the day we have to hold our own.” Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles added, “I love having Tom [Brady] here, but I can’t focus on that. If we don’t stop anybody, we won’t win any games.” Both are right. In Weeks 1-11 last year, the Bucs’ defense gave up 371.8 yards per game and 31.3 points per game — the most in the NFL. But in Weeks 12-17, they gave up an average of 297.5 yards per game — fifth-fewest in the league — and they gave up just 22.67 points per game. Keep in mind, when Tom Brady was with the Patriots, he had the benefit of playing with a defense that surrendered an average of just 18.44 points per game from 2001-19 — the fewest of any team in the league. They’ll see one of their biggest tests in Week 1 against a Saints team that put up a combined 65 points and 785 yards of total offense against them last year. Read the full Bucs preview.
How will Cam Newton fare as QB1?
Mike Reiss: Everything changed with the Patriots’ quarterback competition when Jarrett Stidham went to a local hospital Aug. 20 for tests after suffering a leg injury (they were negative), opening the door for Cam Newton. The former Panther, who wears No. 1, said he doesn’t feel like the team’s starter, and that he’s not where he wants to be mentally at the line of scrimmage at times, but his acclimation holds the key to the offense. Add on that Newton was named one of the Patriots’ eight captains last week, marking a quick rise after he officially signed with the team July 8. Read the full Patriots preview.
Can Josh Allen make as much progress in Year 3 as he did in Year 2?
Marcel Louis-Jacques: Allen was much improved in his second season (58.8 completion percentage up from 52.8%), but was still the NFL’s least-accurate starting quarterback in 2019. If he can start to win games with his arm, the Bills are a dark horse AFC contender in 2020. Allen called himself his harshest critic and has been working all offseason on several points of his game — including the deep ball, which he struggled to hit last season. Read the full Bills preview.
How will the offense perform without Todd Gurley?
Lindsey Thiry: It’s no secret Gurley’s production declined last season, but the 2018 Offensive Player of the Year still demanded the attention of opposing defenses. Now, quarterback Jared Goff must take a greater command of the offense, while the trio of Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson Jr. and Cam Akers must quickly prove themselves as threats out of the backfield. Read the full Rams preview.
How durable is Ben Roethlisberger?
Brooke Pryor: He came back from major elbow surgery and looks accurate and strong in training camp practices, but how will he fare once the regular season starts? With the absence of a preseason, his first game action will come a day shy of a year since he sustained the elbow injury. Roethlisberger has the potential to be a “better Ben,” as general manager Kevin Colbert touted this offseason, but can the 38-year-old quarterback play a complete season injury-free? Read the full Steelers preview.
Can the Vikings’ defense maintain its level of superiority while in the midst of a rebuild?
Courtney Cronin: While Minnesota lost a host of staples on defense this offseason, Mike Zimmer’s unit is still backed by the likes of Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter. These elite players will be tasked with bringing along a young group of cornerbacks and a handful of new faces on the defensive line while raising the level of play around them. Read the full Vikings preview.
How well can the Colts protect Philip Rivers?
Mike Wells: It’s no secret that the Colts have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. They were the only team to have the same group start all 16 games last season. The issue is the depth behind the starters. The loss of Joe Haeg and Josh Andrews, two key backups last season, during free agency hasn’t been talked about much because the starting group is that good. What the Colts can’t afford is to suffer any key injuries to any of their starters because it’ll have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the team. A strong offensive line will give Rivers — who has been sacked at least 30 times in nine of the past 10 seasons — time to throw the ball. The Colts also plan to rely on their running game this season because of the depth they have, led by Marlon Mack, who topped 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career last year. Read the full Colts preview.
Rob Demovsky: It has been the lingering question ever since the NFC championship, when the 49ers basically told the Packers what they were going to do — they ran it 42 times and threw just eight passes — and the Packers still couldn’t stop it. Nevertheless, general manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t overhaul the defensive front seven. Yes, they will have two new starting inside linebackers, including veteran Christian Kirksey. Also, last year’s first-round pick, Rashan Gary, should be more game-ready after barely playing as a rookie. Read the full Packers preview.
Is Jadeveon Clowney enough to put the pass rush over the top?
Turron Davenport: Clowney gives Mike Vrabel a player that can be utilized anywhere along the defensive front seven. Tennessee needs Clowney’s disruptive presence to create one on one matchups for players like Harold Landry, Vic Beasley and Jeffery Simmons. The inability to consistently rush the passer came back to haunt the Titans last season. If Clowney doesn’t make them better able to impact the quarterback, the Titans could end up at home again in January. Read the full Titans preview.
Is this young offense ready to go?
Jeff Legwold: No on-field work in the offseason and a truncated training camp offered a limited look at the Broncos’ offensive potential. Quarterback Drew Lock will be in his first full season as a starter with a potential starting lineup whose average age is just 24. The offense certainly had moments in camp when it flashed what it could do, but overall it might have to lean on the run game early. Read the full Broncos preview.
How much will the Falcons get out of Todd Gurley?
Vaughn McClure: Once one of the most dynamic forces in the NFL, Gurley’s now a question mark due to left knee issues. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told ESPN he believes a healthy Gurley could see 15 to 25 touches per game. If Gurley can be a red zone scoring threat and provide a little juice in the run game, it could mean the world to a pass-heavy offense dependent on play action. Read the full Falcons preview.
How quickly can the offense jell around Kevin Stefanski’s system?
Jake Trotter: Not only do the Browns have a pair of new tackles (Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills Jr.) and a new tight end (Austin Hooper) to integrate, quarterback Baker Mayfield will be playing for a fourth head coach in just three years in the league. Yet despite all those excuses, with a challenging back half of the schedule looming, the Browns will need to hit the ground running. Read the full Browns preview.
Jake Trotter looks at the Browns’ key additions that can potentially help Baker Mayfield prove he’s the long-term answer at quarterback.
What type of production will the Chargers get from the quarterback position?
Alden Gonzalez: Philip Rivers has of course anchored that spot for the past 14 years. Now, someone new will be taking snaps from under center, presenting a major variable for a team that has its sights set on contention. Barring a surprise, Rivers’ replacement will initially be Tyrod Taylor, who hasn’t started an NFL game since Week 3 of the 2018 season. Is he still capable of leading a playoff team? Read the full Chargers preview.
Can the offense function properly?
Jeff Dickerson: The Bears worked hard in the offseason to retool Matt Nagy’s offense, but the same questions exist. Can Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles be the answer at quarterback? Will Nagy establish any sort of running game, especially after starter David Montgomery suffered a groin injury in training camp? Will the handsomely paid offensive line improve? Believe it or not, the position group that has looked the best in camp is tight end — the group that struggled the most for Chicago last year. Read the full Bears preview.
How will DeAndre Hopkins fit in?
Josh Weinfuss: He’s one of the best players in all of football, not just among wide receivers, so adding him to the offense will instantly make the Cardinals better. But does Hopkins become the No. 1 right off the bat? Is he the go-to receiver on third down or in the red zone? Does he defer to Larry Fitzgerald? These are all questions that will be answered starting in Week 1. Hopkins alone makes the Cardinals’ offense immediately more dangerous. He’ll draw plenty of defensive attention, which will open up the field for the rest of Arizona’s playmakers. Read the full Cardinals preview.
Is the defense re-tuned enough to stay competitive with the high-powered Chiefs?
Paul Gutierrez: The Raiders could have as many as seven new starters on the defensive side of the ball — highlighted by defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, rookie cornerback Damon Arnette and now-healthy safety Johnathan Abram — compared to the starting lineup in the 2019 season finale. They look faster and more fierce, but so, too, do the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Stay tuned. Read the full Raiders preview.
Will David Johnson’s productivity justify the DeAndre Hopkins trade?
Sarah Barshop: Last season for the Texans, Carlos Hyde had a career year, running for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns on 245 carries. Coach Bill O’Brien likes having one feature back in his offense, so Johnson should get plenty of opportunities. It remains to be seen whether he can be both healthy and effective over an entire 16-game season. Read the full Texans preview.
Does Sam Darnold have enough players to realize his potential?
Rich Cimini: It’ll be tough because they lack a perimeter playmaker. Yes, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has crazy speed, but he’s a one-trick pony who will disappear for stretches in a short passing game. With slot receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Chris Herndon, Darnold has enough to be efficient over the middle. It’ll be on coach Adam Gase to scheme up ways to balance inside-outside. If he’s smart, he’ll run the offense through running back Le’Veon Bell, taking pressure off Darnold. Read the full Jets preview.
Is Daniel Jones the real deal?
Jordan Raanan: This will determine whether the Giants will have a successful season and future. They have invested heavily in the second-year quarterback, and now is the time to find out whether he can develop into a top-end starter. In order to do that, he will have to cut down on the fumbles. The only way to find out whether he has fixed that problem is to see him in games when he isn’t wearing a red don’t-touch-him jersey. Read the full Giants preview.
What will the offensive line look like headed into Week 1?
Cameron Wolfe: The Dolphins had the NFL’s worst offensive line last season, and if Week 1 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and eventually Tua Tagovailoa are going to look good, this group has to play well. It’s a twofold question. There are still some starting position battles up in the air, such as which rookie — Solomon Kindley or Robert Hunt — secures a starting spot at right guard. Plus, this group is set to have four new starters without any game action together, so how they jell is a question. Read the full Dolphins preview.
Will Matt Patricia’s defense finally come together?
Michael Rothstein: The Lions could have as many as seven new defensive starters, and whether they can figure out how to become an effective unit leads to the overarching question for the 2020 season: Will Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn start to turn it around after a combined nine wins over two seasons, or will this be their final year in Detroit? Read the full Lions preview.
Will this young secondary be able to hang in there against Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan?
David Newton: Narrowing it down to one big question is hard with a completely overhauled roster and new staff with little NFL experience. But let’s go secondary. The defensive front looks solid, but the secondary will have a lot of youth and inexperience. There’s a good chance two rookies will start in Jeremy Chinn (big nickel) and Troy Pride Jr. (corner). Strong safety Juston Burris has only nine career starts. The offense has the potential to be potent, so how well this group and defense jells is key. Read the full Panthers preview.
How will Joe Burrow adjust to being an NFL starting quarterback?
Ben Baby: The Bengals haven’t hidden their intention to have Burrow be the Week 1 starter. By all accounts, Burrow is further along than other rookies. But with a lack of preseason reps against other teams, how will the former Heisman winner adjust to game speed at the pro level? The season opener against the Chargers could be a good barometer for how Burrow will fare this season. Read the full Bengals preview.
Matthew Berry asserts that the Bengals paid Joe Mixon to be a workhorse back and for that reason he is vaulting Mixon up his overall rankings.
John Keim: Haskins is light-years ahead of where he was at this time a year ago, thanks to the work he has been doing. But losing an offseason of on-field work has slowed his growth. He’s making solid decisions in practice, though he’s still plagued by overthrows at times. The new staff will measure his growth not by stats, but by his leadership and decision-making; it will tell them if they have their guy — not only in 2020, but for years to come. Read the full Washington preview.
Is Gardner Minshew II the answer at QB?
Michael DiRocco: He had a solid rookie season in relief of Nick Foles, going 6-6 as a starter and throwing 21 touchdown passes with only six interceptions, but the offense still only averaged 18.8 points per game. That was good enough for general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone to give him 2020 as a chance to prove he can be the long-term starter. To do that, though, he has to win games. The Jaguars won just 51 games and had just one winning season over the past decade. Turning that around starts with better production in the red zone. Per ESPN Stats & Information, no team had fewer drives reach the red zone than the Jaguars from 2010 to ’19, and they ranked 28th in red zone TD percentage and 31st in red zone scoring percentage. Read the full Jaguars preview.