The recently released 2020 NFL schedule for the Redskins features plenty of intriguing matchups filled with rivalries and reunions. One of those will take place in Week 16, when Washington welcomes the Carolina Panthers to town.
The game will pit Ron Rivera's new team against the one he was leading just a year ago. That's a juicy storyline that everyone noticed immediately. Well, maybe everyone except Rivera.
"We play Carolina?" he joked on the Redskins 2020 schedule release show when asked about the last-season battle.
Of course, that was all in good fun. Rivera did, in fact, know that the Panthers would be on the schedule even before Thursday's release as teams were given their opponents for the season months ago.
However, what did catch Rivera off guard was the timing of the game. Being that is a game that has a deeper connection than some others on the schedule, and the two play each other not far removed from Rivera's sideline switch, he assumed it would be one of the first matchups Washington had in 2020.
“The truth of the matter is, where they put it, to me, I thought it would be our first or second game," Rivera said. "I really did, I thought it would be a real early game. To see it at Week 16 is a little bit of surprise.”
The late-season nature of the game leads Rivera to think (at least out loud on television) that it won't have as much hype to it. With both teams already 15 games in at that point, things won't seem as brand new and raw. The Redskins will be settling in with their new head coach and forgetting the past, as will the Panthers.
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When the two finally do meet, Rivera said he thinks that the outside noise will be a lot louder than the inside.
“Everybody wants it, the media wants it. They want to build that up, they want to hype that," Rivera said.
Though Week 16 may slow the momentum of the matchup, it will still most likely come with a little added incentive for Rivera. Going up against the team you spent nine seasons coaching won't be just another Sunday, even if that's what he'll continue to say.
"It’s just another game," Rivera said with a wink and smile.
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