After two straight road games in weeks 4 and 5, the Bills return home in week 6 to play the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. On a positive note, this is a home game for the Bills, but it would have been nice if the Bills were not coming off back to back road games before playing the Chiefs. The Chiefs will be traveling to Buffalo after two straight home games of their own, and this matchup will be an excellent early-season test for the upstart Bills.
The Bills must prove that they can hang with the likes of the Chiefs and the Ravens in the AFC. A solid showing, and ideally a win against the champs, will validate some of the hype the Bills have received throughout the offseason. This game has the feel of an early-season momentum grab. If the Bills are 3-2 or 4-1 heading into this game and can win, it could be the catalyst for a nice winning streak heading towards the week 11 bye.
With the week 6 matchup against the Chiefs firmly in the rear-view mirror, the Bills second primetime game in 2020 does not come until week 13. In week 13, the Bills start a stretch of four games where three out of four matchups will be played in primetime. Traveling cross country for a Monday night affair, the Bills find themselves playing the NFC representative from the Super Bowl last year.
The 49ers will enter 2020 with immense expectations, but this matchup is certainly one that the Bills could win. Before heading to Santa Clara, the Bills will be fresh off a bye, followed by a home game against the Chargers. Meanwhile, the 49ers will be coming off a road trip against the division rival Rams. I had written last year how I thought the Bills could model their approach and in-game philosophy after the 49ers, so I will be excited to see both strong defensive units in action.
Following their Monday night showdown with the 49ers, the Bills will be afforded a slight cushion of rest as they get the late Sunday Night game the very next week. While it is difficult to predict this far in advance, it would seem unlikely the Bills vs. Steelers matchup on SNF would be “flexed” out of primetime. The Steelers should be back in contention for the playoffs in 2020, and they draw a huge national audience.
While this game may have a similar feel to the Sunday night matchup between these two teams from a year ago, the personnel on the field could look quite different. Obviously, the Steelers are expecting Big Ben to play at a high level for the entire year and assuming that both Josh Allen and Ben Roethlisberger are playing at a high level, this game could be the best of the four in primetime. I love that the Bills get to play this game at home, and I expect there to be significant playoff ramifications on the line.
Perhaps I am slightly bitter but other than an anomaly in 2018, the Bills Monday Night matchups in recent history have all been on the road. Counting the two games in 2020, the Bills will have played five of their last six Monday night games on the road. They have also played three of their last four Monday Night games against the Patriots on the road. In a way too early prediction, this game very well could decide the division winner.
Many people are writing off the Pats in 2020, but they should still field an elite defense, and Bill Belichick is still at the helm. By week 16, Jarrett Stidham may be proving himself to be a capable starting NFL quarterback (hopefully not), and there will almost assuredly be pressure on the Bills to win this game. Until the Bills prove they can beat the Pats (on the road or not), there will still be a mental hurdle for this team to climb to take the division. Here is to hoping that 2020 is the year where they clear that hurdle.