In a tweet posted on Thursday afternoon, writer Jeff Duncan of The Athletic wrote that he was able to confirm two games penciled in for the 2020-2021 NFL season — the Christmas Day matchup between the Saints and Vikings to be held in New Orleans, and a Week 2 Monday Night Football game between the Saints and the Las Vegas Raiders, with the latter team hosting.
Two Saints games I've been able to confirm via sources:
• Week 2: At Raiders on MNF
• Christmas Day vs. Vikings in Superdome
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) May 7, 2020
As of this writing, it’s not clear when the purported game would be played, but The Athletic writer Katherine Terrell posits that the league will settle on a kickoff at 3 or 3:30 p.m. CDT.
Christmas Day is on a Friday this year.
As SaintsWire reports, though Christmas Day games are not unusual for the NFL, it’s exceptionally rare for the league to schedule a regular-season game on a Friday, preferring instead to limit its schedule to Sunday, Monday, and Thursday — at least during the college football season, where games are usually played on Saturdays.
What’s more, the National Basketball Association usually schedules some big-ticket games on or around Christmas Day. That prompted USA Today writer John Sigler to speculate that perhaps the NFL is attempting to steal some of its competitor’s thunder that weekend.
“The NBA often schedules big-time matchups to dominate the holiday’s sports broadcasts, so this might be a sign that the NFL is aware of different plans from across the aisle,” he wrote.
This would be the fifth time the Saints and Vikings have met during the regular season since the 2017 season opener, including postseason games and excluding one preseason contest.
It bears noting that, as of this writing, neither the NFL nor the Saints, Raiders, or Vikings have confirmed any of the purported upcoming games.
That the NFL is scheduling at all would indicate that the league intends to hold its 2020-2021 games at teams’ home stadiums, rather than at neutral sites.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the NFL is the only major sports league in the U.S. that hasn’t had to make drastic changes to its schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA and NHL are both reportedly looking into holding their playoffs — it’s too late to salvage what was left of either league’s regular season — at neutral sites and without fans, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, once it’s safe for them to go back to work.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is reportedly looking at holding its own season — or as much of it as possible — at a handful of neutral sites, also without fans. Major League Soccer is reportedly still on board with holding its entire season, albeit at later start and end dates, with more games crammed into a tighter schedule and no fans at each team’s home stadiums.
The NFL, meanwhile, escaped the coronavirus pandemic and has been afforded the luxury of taking a wait-and-see approach to scheduling its upcoming season. However, whether or not spectators will be allowed at the league’s games — if indeed they take place — remains to be seen.