For football nerds, it’s become the biggest post-draft event of the spring. Sure, the matchups are predetermined, but there’s nothing like schedule release day.
The NFL released the 2021 schedule on Wednesday as it enters its first-ever 17-game season. It’s never too early to start circling dates on your calendar for this fall, so here are 10 games you won’t want to miss.
10. Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams, Oct. 24
These teams that pulled off a blockbuster quarterback trade last winter are heading in opposite directions. But Jared Goff might have something he wants to prove to Sean McVay and company.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets, Dec. 26
Remember how the Jets were in pole position for the No. 1 draft pick almost all season before blowing it with meaningless wins in December? Here’s hoping Trevor Lawrence doesn’t rub it in Zach Wilson’s face too much a year later.
8. Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints, Nov. 25
Thanksgiving is no Mardi Gras, but New Orleans still gets to party with the Turkey Day nightcap following Bears-Lions and Raiders-Cowboys. At this point in the season, will the Saints’ starting QB be Jameis Winston … or Taysom Hill?
7. Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sept. 9
Week 1 is packed with intriguing matchups like Browns-Chiefs and Packers-Saints, but it all kicks off when Dak Prescott is expected to make his return from a broken ankle while Tom Brady’s Bucs raise their Super Bowl banner.
6. Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, Sept. 19
Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson could end up being this generation’s Brady-Manning rivalry. For now, Mahomes leads in the head-to-head — and in Super Bowl rings.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams, Sept. 26
One of Tampa’s biggest obstacles to a repeat Super Bowl appearance will be the new-look Rams, with Matthew Stafford running the show on offense and a healthy Aaron Donald available to terrorize Brady.
4. Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs, Nov. 7
A high-octane matchup of two Super Bowl contenders, Mahomes squares off with Aaron Rodgers for the first time — as long as Rodgers is still playing for the Cheeseheads, that is.
3. Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens, Dec. 19
If an aerial shootout isn’t your speed, the most recent two MVPs are slated to meet late in the year when Jackson’s run-heavy Ravens offense faces gunslinger Rodgers in a battle of divergent styles.
2. Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 10
At the risk of loading this list up with too much Kansas City, don’t sleep on this rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. After a 13-3 season, could the Bills actually be better this year?
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots, Oct. 3
This shouldn’t need an explanation. We can only imagine what sort of defensive torture Bill Belichick will cook up for Brady in what might go down as the ultimate revenge game in NFL history.
Browns at Chiefs, Sept. 12
Jaguars vs. Dolphins (in London), Oct. 17
Cowboys at Patriots, Oct. 17
Raiders at Giants, Nov. 7
Seahawks at Packers, Nov. 14
Bills at Buccaneers, Dec. 12
Browns at Packers, Dec. 25
–By Adam Zielonka, Special to Field Level Media