The 2020 NFL season is one of the most anticipated ones in recent memory. Thanks to Tom Brady heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, there are plenty of storylines and new rivalries to be formed featuring Brady — and his new team, as he’ll suit up with a talented Tampa Bay offense each week.
Brady changing teams after two decades with the Patriots calls to mind Brett Favre getting traded to the New York Jets (and later signing with the Minnesota Vikings) in 2008 and 2009, and Joe Montana getting dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. Those seasons provided plenty of must-see matchups as two Hall of Fame quarterbacks switched uniforms.
Besides the Brady factor, the NFL is blessed with six active quarterbacks who previously won a league MVP award. Even with Cam Newton still without a new team, the league has plenty of elite quarterbacks who will face off this season.
There are so many elite quarterback matchups in 2020, some worthy ones still weren’t even good enough to make the cut (Aaron Rodgers vs. Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott vs. Lamar Jackson, to name two). Here are the top five quarterback matchups you simply can’t miss this season (circle the dates on your calendar):
1. Tom Brady (Buccaneers) vs. Drew Brees (Saints)
Week 1: at New Orleans (Sunday, Sept. 13, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Week 9: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Nov. 8, 8:20 p.m. ET)
This is arguably the most anticipated quarterback matchup in NFL history, as the league’s most accomplished passers will face off twice a year. Brees ranks No. 1 in NFL history in passing yards (77,416) and touchdowns (547) while Brady is second those categories (74,571 and 541). Brady ranks first in wins by a quarterback (249) while Brees is fourth (171).
For those keeping score at home, that’s 151,987 passing yards, 1,088 touchdowns and 420 wins between Brady and Brees combined. We get to see two of the greatest quarterbacks ever square off twice a year thanks to the Buccaneers and Saints both playing in the NFC South — and one of those matchups is in the first week of the season, to boot. These games probably will determine the division title.
Brady and Brees have faced each other only twice in the last eight years. We’ll get to see them duel twice in nine weeks.
2. Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) vs. Lamar Jackson (Ravens)
Week 3: at Baltimore (Monday, Sept. 28, 8:15 p.m. ET)
The Week 3 matchup between Mahomes and Jackson last year was a classic, despite Jackson not having his best performance (51.2% completion rate, 267 yards, 0 TDs; eight carries, 46 yards, TD). Imagine how this game is going to go down in Baltimore, a year after Jackson took the league by storm in winning league MVP honors and Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP.
Jackson is now a more experienced quarterback for the rematch with Mahomes; and he’s been incredible on the primetime stage (71.2% completion rate, 11 TD, 0 INT; 32 carries, 242 yards, 2 TD). The Chiefs and Ravens combined for 955 yards and 61 points in last year’s Week 3 matchup as Mahomes threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns in the 33-28 Chiefs win.
We also got this play from Jackson (0:45 mark).
This “Monday Night Football” showdown between the last two league MVPs is going to be fun.
3. Tom Brady (Buccaneers) vs. Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
Week 12: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Nov. 29, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Unless the Buccaneers and Chiefs square off in one of the next two Super Bowls, this is probably the last time we’ll see Brady square off against Mahomes (Brady isn’t in the AFC anymore, so duels with Mahomes will come once every four years).
Brady and Mahomes have faced off three times, with two of the matchups resulting in over 68 combined points. Mahomes won the defensive battle last season to get his first win over Brady (Chiefs 23-16) while Brady won both shootouts — including the thrilling 37-31 victory in the 2019 AFC Championship Game.
Mahomes has completed 60.7% of his passes and thrown for 930 yards with eight touchdowns and three INT in three games against the Patriots (102.2 rating) while Brady has has completed 66.1% of passes for 971 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions (88.5 rating).
This is going to be a fun one, especially since Brady has a much better offense than the one he played with last season.
4. Carson Wentz (Eagles) vs. Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
Week 8: at Philadelphia (Sunday, Nov. 1, 8:20 p.m. ET)
Week 16: at Dallas (Sunday, Dec. 27, 4:25 p.m. ET)
The annual Wentz-Prescott matchup will be epic once again, as the Eagles and Cowboys are the two best teams in the NFC East and are the clear frontrunners for the division title. Prescott has gotten the better of Wentz over the years with a 4-3 record against him (4-2 in meaningful games), but Wentz and the practice squad of Eagles receivers upset the Cowboys in Week 16 last season for the division title.
For those keeping score at home, Wentz has completed 68.2% of his passes against Dallas, throwing for 1,713 yards, 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions (99.4 rating). Prescott has completed 63.9% of his passes for 1,877 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions against the Eagles (83.5 rating).
This year’s Week 16 showdown will be in Dallas, where the Eagles haven’t beaten the Cowboys since 2017 (and only once in the Doug Pederson era). Dallas also added CeeDee Lamb to its star-studded offense while the Eagles should have DeSean Jackson back for both contests, not forgetting Miles Sanders and what he did in the Week 16 matchup last year (156 total yards, TD).
Expect a shootout in both these games by two of the game’s top 10 quarterbacks, with the division at stake in both contests.
5. Russell Wilson (Seahawks) vs. Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
Week 7: at Arizona (Sunday, Oct. 25 at 4:05 p.m. ET)
Week 11: at Seattle (Thursday, Nov. 19, 8:20 p.m. ET)
For those who didn’t get to see Murray on the regular in his rookie campaign, you missed out on a spectacular first season. Murray took the Cardinals offense to new heights and now has an even better offense with DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona.
Murray and the Cardinals shocked the Seahawks in Week 16 last season, when Seattle had the No. 1 seed in the NFC and was locking to clinch home-field advantage. Murray left the game with a hamstring injury, but threw for 118 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 40 yards (the Cardinals had 253 rushing yards in the win). All this happened in Seattle.
Murray became just the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a season. Expectations are even higher for the Cardinals with all their offseason upgrades, even in a loaded NFC West where the Seahawks are a division title threat every season.
Wilson, meanwhile, was in the league MVP race a season ago. He threw for 4,110 yards, 31 TDs and 5 INTs (106.3 QB rating) and had an even higher rating (110.9) the previous year. Last year against Arizona, Wilson completed 64.4% of his passes for 409 yards and two touchdowns.
Murray squaring off against Wilson will be a fun matchup featuring talented QBs who both are under 6-feet but can make all kinds of special plays. Get ready to see Houdini acts from both quarterbacks.