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Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The NFL released its 2020 schedule on Thursday, kicking things off with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans on Sept. 10.

The state of play: Tom Brady's move to Tampa Bay clearly had an impact on their fortunes. The Bucs had one primetime game last year, but landed five this year — the most in franchise history.

  • Stadium debuts: The first regular season game at L.A.'s SoFi Stadium will be Rams vs. Cowboys on Sept. 13 (Sunday Night Football), and the Raiders will begin their Las Vegas journey at Allegiant Stadium against the Saints on Sept. 21 (Monday Night Football).
  • Sorry, D.C. and Detroit: Every team got at least one prime-time slot except for two: the Redskins and the Lions (though they'll both play on Thanksgiving).
  • Congrats, Dallas: Conversely, the Cowboys have six prime-time games, and eight teams have five: the Chiefs, 49ers, Ravens, Packers, Patriots, Rams, Buccaneers and Saints.
  • NFL a️nd ESPN: This is the best Monday Night Football slate in years and features perhaps the game of the season in Week 3, when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs visit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

The backdrop: The league is operating as if it will play a full season, but as The Ringer's Danny Heifetz notes, it has contingency plans:

  • "If the season is delayed the league is prepared to fit in a full 16-game schedule by potentially pushing back the playoffs and the Super Bowl (which is currently scheduled for February 7) by weeks or months."
  • "Every team's Week 2 opponent has the same bye week, so if the beginning of the season is delayed, Week 2 matchups could be rescheduled during bye weeks and the season can be played without giving teams any breaks (though that move may be unpopular with players)."
  • "Since divisional games are essential to playoff seeding, they are the last games the league wants to cancel. ... This year, there are nine divisional games in Week 1 and six in Week 2, but zero in Weeks 3 and 4. ... If the NFL is forced to cancel games, Weeks 3 and 4 may be canceled first."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Aug 11, 2020 - Sports

Factions form with college football season in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With college football on the brink, Monday saw an outpouring of support for playing a fall season from numerous parties, including President Trump, Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

Yes, but: Monday also saw the Mountain West Conference become the second FBS league to postpone fall sports, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 are expected to make the same decision as early as this morning.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.

48 mins ago - Health

America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The race to figure out just how dangerous the Omicron variant is will likely be a global effort, but some experts are skeptical that the U.S. will play a dominant role.

Why it matters: The CDC has repeatedly come under fire for inadequate data collection throughout the pandemic — and figuring out how to respond to Omicron requires a lot of data that doesn't currently exist.

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