The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the schedules for NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS (plus nearly everything else), the NFL still plans to go ahead with its 2020 campaign. The lead-up to the season, however, has been anything but normal. A number of players have opted out, all preseason games have been canceled and training camps opened late so teams will go right from practice to week 1 of the regular season.
There are plenty of unknowns about what football in 2020 will look like, and if it will even take place. Here is what we know ahead of the current Sept. 10 opening night game between the Texans and Chiefs.
When does the NFL season start?
The NFL regular season is set to begin on Thursday, Sept. 10 with the Houston Texas visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.
Where will games be played?
The current plan is for teams to play their games as scheduled in their respective home stadiums.
Will fans be allowed in?
This is one of the big wildcards. There is no clear answer, with some teams planning to open with fans and some without.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Aug. 17 that the Chiefs plan to host their home opener with 22% capacity at Arrowhead Stadium, which would equate to roughly 16,800 fans.
Other teams, including the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears, have said that they plan to host their respective home openers without fans in the stands. This so far seems to be a team-by-team, city-by-city situation that is subject to a lot of change before the games kick-off.
What happened to the preseason?
The NFL canceled the entire 2020 preseason in July, with teams focusing on doing their own training camps to prepare for the upcoming season.
Will the NFL end Sunday games?
This seems possible, especially if college football doesn't happen or is scaled back significantly. The NFL has been rumored to be looking at moving some games to Saturday if college football gets canceled, but this is still very much an unknown. Some of the Power 5 college football conferences still currently plan to play games this fall.
The NFL would potentially need to seek government approval if it did want to move games to Friday or Saturday nights due to Chapter 32 of the United States Code that was designed to keep those nights free from September through December for high school and college football.
Which players are sitting out?
Like other sports, a fair amount of NFL players have opted-out of the 2020 season. Here are a few of the notable players not participating this year, with a larger list available at ESPN:
- Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots
- Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots
- Marqise Lee, WR, New England Patriots
- Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
- Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Geronimo Allison, WR, Detroit Lions
- C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets
- Nate Solder, OT, New York Giants
- Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
How can I watch the NFL?
Assuming the 2020 NFL season goes ahead, you can expect to watch it in a number different locations, including on CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, the NFL Network and NFL Red Zone. (Disclosure: CNET, like CBS, is owned by ViacomCBS).
The NFL will also once again broadcast 11 games on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.
As for catching every game, a number of live-TV streaming services offer broadcast networks or the NFL Network and Red Zone. Exact channels may also vary based on where you live.
FuboTV costs $60 a month for its Family plan and includes CBS, Fox and NBC plus ESPN and the NFL Network. An $11-a-month Sports Plus add-on will let you get Red Zone as well.
Click here to see which local channels you get.
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes nearly all the channels NFL fans need: CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area, though the NFL Network and Red Zone are not available.
Hulu with Live TV costs $55 a month and includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. Click the "View channels in your area" link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. Like YouTube TV, the NFL Network and Red Zone are not available here.
AT&T TV Now's basic, $55-a-month Plus package includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live. The NFL Network and Red Zone are not available.
Sling TV splits its live NFL options across its $30-a-month Blue plan and $30-a-month Orange plan, which forces NFL fans into a tricky decision or encourages them to spring for both at $45 a month. Sling Blue includes NBC and Fox. Sling Orange includes ESPN.
Sling TV doesn't offer CBS, Red Zone or the NFL Network but its packages are discounted by $10 for the first month. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.
CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month and will let you watch the games being broadcast on your local CBS station on Sundays if you live in one of these 206 markets where the service offers live TV. It makes for a good add-on for Sling TV subscribers, who don't get CBS.
All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our massive streaming services guide.
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