Week 17 – Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos should be in the mix for a playoff spot, especially if second year quarterback Drew Lock is for real, after finishing the 2019 season on a 4-1 tear. And, if the team is in that mix for postseason play, winning a home game, in the division, in Week 17 is likely to be the game they need the most during the course of the season.
Let’s be clear here – anything less than a playoff birth for Denver in 2020 is a colossal disappointment. The team’s general manager, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, has swung-and-missed on multiple quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired. With Lock, he believes he’s finally got it right and he invested substantial resources in shoring up the weapons around Lock for his second year, including the signing of running back Melvin Gordon and the use of the team’s first two draft picks on wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.
If this team is going to make the playoffs, this won’t be a game they can afford to lose. And making the playoffs is the only possible success for Denver in 2020.
Week 6 – Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars
For every team who just drafted in the top five of the 2019 NFL Draft, the biggest goal should be to improve over a season ago. It should be to ensure that your team is not drafting in the top five (or hopefully, top ten) again. For the Detroit Lions, that may be too ambitious.
Absolutely the return of quarterback Matthew Stafford should help the team in 2020. But, the rest of the team is a major work in progress and the rest of the NFC North is pretty good.
With all of that in mind, the team cannot afford to lose in Week 6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they lose this one, on the road, to what should be the worst team in football – it may be time for a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, and the quarterback position, in the Motor City.
Green Bay Packers
Week 8 – Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an interesting team to consider heading into the 2020 season. On the one hand, the team was awfully close to making a trip to Super Bowl LIV, before coming up short in the NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers. The team’s biggest issue a season ago? Pass catchers! But, despite their franchise quarterback perusing the draft board ahead of their first round selection, the team instead took his eventual, theoretical replacement in quarterback Jordan Love.
So, is the team any better heading into 2020 than they were a season ago? Will the rift caused by selecting Love between Rodgers and the organization spill over? Can the team stay healthy?
It all starts with the first big division game, in Week 8 when the team welcomes the Minnesota Vikings, the second best team in the division, to Lambeau Field. A loss here may spell the beginning-of-the-end of the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. But a win, and who knows what kind of run the team might go on.