fbpx

5 biggest early-season games on 2021 NFL schedule

There’s some absolutely huge games on the early portion of the 2021 NFL schedule. It starts with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys looking to make a statement against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Later in Week 1, the Kansas City Chiefs will play host to a championship-contending Cleveland Browns team. Can Baker Mayfield and Co. make a major statement?

These are among the five biggest games during the early part of the 2021 NFL schedule.

Week 1: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL schedule: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This is going to be a statement game for Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys. A loss against the defending champion Buccaneers would make a statement that these Cowboys are not back after an ugly six-win 2020 season. On the other hand, if Dallas were able to go in on the opening Thursday night of the season and come away with a win over Tom Brady and Co., it would change the dynamics in a big way.

As for the Buccaneers, they return all 22 starters from last season’s championship team. Anything less than a convincing win over a lesser team could tell us a story of regression on Tampa Bay’s part. That’s especially true with Raymond James Stadium expected to be at 100% capacity and absolutely rocking for this NFL opener.

Week 1: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

Baltimore Ravens schedule, Cleveland Browns
Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns are coming off their best season since Bill Belichick was their head coach all the way back in 1994. They are also expected to be one of the biggest threats to knock off the two-time defending AFC champions. Wanting to get off to a good start in this Week 1 afternoon affair at Arrowhead, this is a huge early-season game for Cleveland.

On the other hand, Kansas City sought to upgrade its offensive line in front of Patrick Mahomes after the former NFL MVP was battered by the aforementioned Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV this past February. Orlando Brown Jr. takes over at left tackle with Joe Thuney starting at guard. Set to take on a ferocious Browns pass rush that includes Myles Garrett and the recently-signed Jadeveon Clowney, this will be an interesting early-season matchup for Kansas City.

Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

NFL schedule: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of the Chiefs, they were not done many favors by the schedule-makers around the NFL. After going up against Cleveland in Week 1, Kansas City must contend with Lamar Jackson and Co. on the road during this “Sunday Night Football” matchup. We’re highly intrigued to see how the Chiefs’ offensive line, former Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. included, holds up here.

As for Baltimore, talk about an early-season statement game around the NFL. Most expected these two teams to do battle in the AFC Championship Game this past January. Unfortunately, a brutal overall performance against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Playoffs put that to rest. Can Baltimore hold serve at home with a huge early-season win?

Week 3: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

NFL schedule: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, Week 3
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers. And some more Aaron Rodgers. Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft in late-April, the reigning MVP thought he was headed to the San Francisco 49ers after requesting a trade. Once San Francisco selected Trey Lance No. 3 overall, that was thrown out the window. Lance will now compete with Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job in training camp for a championship-contending 49ers squad.

In Green Bay, things are rocky right now. Rodgers, 37, wants to be moved. He’s not happy about the direction of the organization and is even more unhappy about the Packers’ decision to trade up for Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL Draft. Should Rodgers be under center for this Week 3 “Sunday Night Football” game, it will be interesting to see how Green Bay performs at Levi’s Stadium. More struggles against the 49ers could lead to even more drama in Wisconsin.

Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams

NFL schedule release: Cowboys at Buccaneers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams’ decision to trade for Matthew Stafford early in the NFL offseason laid the gauntlet down. They are looking to compete for a Super Bowl title at the risk of long-term salary cap implications. It’s certainly win-now mode for Sean McVay’s squad.

Enter into the equation a Week 3 matchup with the defending champions at home. The Rams’ new Southern California stadium will be rocking big time on national television. Tom Brady and his Buccaneers will want to make another early-season statement. How this game turns out could have wide-ranging ramifications throughout the NFL as the 2021 campaign continues.