Last season, Patrick Mahomes punctuated the Year of the Black Quarterback by leading the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years while winning the game’s MVP award. Now, prepare for the Era of the Black Quarterback.
With the release of the NFL schedule Thursday night, the page has officially turned from last season — the one in which African American passers shone brighter than at any time in the league’s first 100 seasons. Mahomes and his contemporaries begin the next 100 atop the mountain, where many league executives, coaches and players expect them to remain for a long time.
Let’s take an early look at the most intriguing 2020 matchups featuring the game’s superstar black quarterbacks.
WEEK 1: HOUSTON TEXANS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Sept. 10, 8:20 p.m., Arrowhead Stadium
Talk about starting off right. Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson, breakout members of the 2017 NFL draft class, headline the first game of the season. Mahomes is currently the best player in the game, and Watson isn’t far behind. Chicago Bears executives probably shouldn’t watch this one. Remember: The Bears made Mitchell Trubisky the first quarterback selected in 2017.
WEEK 2: BALTIMORE RAVENS AT HOUSTON TEXANS
Sept. 20, 4:25 p.m., NRG Stadium
Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson won last season’s Associated Press league MVP award. Watson, who has a new cast around him, has what it takes to take home the hardware this season. Both teams will be among the AFC’s elite again this season.
WEEK 3: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
Sept. 28, 8:15 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
Mahomes vs. Jackson is must-see television. At only 24, Mahomes is the youngest player to have both a Super Bowl title and a league MVP award. Jackson, meanwhile, led the Ravens to the best record in the AFC last season. Oh, and he joined New England Patriots passer Tom Brady, widely considered the greatest quarterback in the game’s history, as the only quarterbacks to be unanimously selected as league MVP.
WEEK 4: BALTIMORE RAVENS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Oct. 4, 1 p.m., FedEx Field
Washington starts anew (again) under head coach Ron Rivera, who’s counting on second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins to deliver after the team selected him 15th overall during the 2019 NFL draft. We already know what Jackson did in his second year with the Ravens, who will play five prime-time games this season.
WEEK 6: ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DALLAS COWBOYS
Oct. 19, 8:15 p.m., AT&T Stadium
Arizona’s Kyler Murray went from being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft to winning the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He is the future of the Cardinals. Dallas’ Dak Prescott is the undisputed leader of America’s Team. Presumably, the Cowboys will sign their franchise passer to a long-term deal long before this game.
WEEK 7: Seattle SEAHAWKS AT Arizona CARDINALS
Oct. 25, 4:05 p.m., University of Phoenix Stadium
Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the dean of the group, is coming off one of his best seasons. In his eight-year career, Wilson has led the Seahawks to seven playoff appearances. Murray, a younger version of Wilson, will be looking to make his first playoff appearance this season.
WEEK 11: Arizona CARDINALS AT Seattle SEAHAWKS
Nov. 19, 8:20 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Seattle is one of the toughest places for visiting teams to play — and hear. In Round 2 of this NFC West battle, will the 22-year-old Murray be up to the challenge? For the Cardinals to take a big step forward with Murray as their leader, this is the type of game they’ll have to win.
WEEK 12: WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT DALLAS COWBOYS
Nov. 26, 4:30 p.m., AT&T Stadium
The Redskins and Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving is a great tradition. We should have a better idea around this time if Haskins and Prescott will battle in the NFC East for years to come.
WEEK 13: DALLAS COWBOYS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
Dec. 3, 8:20 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
Although Prescott and Jackson have vastly different styles, they’re similar where it matters most: They win. Prescott has a 40-24 career record, while Jackson has a 19-3 record. This late-season encounter could have a major impact on both the NFC and AFC playoff races.
All game times listed are Eastern time.