NFL schedule 2020: Could regular season start with four straight non-conference games for each team?

The NFL’s contingency plan for the 2020 regular-season schedule might be getting a bit clearer.

We knew there would be some plans in place, and one in particular seems to make sense.

Veteran NFL reporter John Clayton told 93.7 The Fan that the NFL schedule, which will be released on Thursday, will have all NFC vs. AFC games for the first four weeks. If that’s the case, the first game of the NFL season will be either the Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons at the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, Sept. 10.

That would be quite unusual, but everything in the sports world is unusual this year due to coronavirus. And front-loading the non-conference games makes sense.

What will NFL do for contingency plans?

The NFL needs an easy way to shorten the schedule, in case opening day is pushed back.

Non-conference games would be easiest to dump, so front-loading them makes sense. If the start of the season takes place in October, it wouldn’t complicate the rest of the schedule to eliminate the first four weeks. We had already heard that the NFL could have one week in which all teams face an opponent with the same bye week. That would allow the NFL to seamlessly eliminate bye weeks if need be. The league reportedly wants its Super Bowl to happen no later than the end of February.

There have to be a few plans in place for the NFL to change up the schedule as needed. We’ll find out what they are on Thursday night.

Could we see Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey on the NFL's opening night? (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

NFL schedule will be released Thursday

It’s pretty clear that the schedule we’ll see on Thursday night will be a little odd. A month straight of AFC vs. NFC games just isn’t what we’re used to, if that’s part of the league’s plan. That hasn’t been confirmed.

But the NFL has obviously been working on realistic contingency plans for a while. Putting together a 256-game schedule is arduous work, and this year presented challenges the NFL has never dealt with before.

There will be some weird things regarding the schedule, whether it’s four weeks of non-conference games to start or something else. But that will be OK. As long as we get football in the fall.

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