The has made the release of a schedule a work of art. And this year it is bigger than ever. The addition of a 17th regular-season game is giving NFL fans more football than ever before, and we now know how all of the games will be laid out for the 2021 season.
The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get a chance to defend their throne with Tom Brady back for an encore. That title defense begins in the NFL’s season opener, but the marquee game on the Bucs’ schedule will be Brady’s return to his old stomping grounds. Kansas City also is looking to get back to the Super Bowl after coming up short against Tampa Bay and the Chiefs’ path to a third straight AFC title is littered with must-see matchups. Rivalries also will be intense this year, especially in the AFC North.
Here is a list of 10 of the top games on the 2021 schedule, with a few bonus games to keep you entertained that just missed the cut.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (Week 4, )
Tom Brady returns to Foxborough for one of the most anticipated matchups of the year. Everyone will want to see if Brady can get the best of Bill Belichick in their first head-to-head matchup.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (Week 18)
Bitter rivals could be battling for the AFC North Division, if not a final spot in the AFC playoff picture.
3. Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 1)
The hype for the Browns continues to be trending upward, and Baker Mayfield and the Browns are looking for some revenge for last year’s playoff setback in Arrowhead Stadium.
4. Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 14)
A possible Super Bowl preview? We came close to seeing this matchup last season, and neither team looks to be taking a big step back this season.
5. Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans (Week 7)
A showdown between potential division leaders means there are some potential playoff seeding implications on the line. The Titans will also be coming off a Monday night home game against the Bills.
6. Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (Week 5, )
The top two teams in the division in recent years meet for the first time in Week 5 on a Thursday night. Their rematch in Week 15 should also be included on your to-watch list.
7. Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1, NFL opener)
The first game of the 2021 season sees the reigning Super Bowl champions host the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas will welcome back Dak Prescott to the field after last season’s injury, but tackling Tom Brady in the opener is a tough task for the defense.
8. Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 11)
Later in the year, the Cowboys visit the other Super Bowl participant from a year ago. Can the Cowboys go 2-0 against last year’s Super Bowl teams?
9. Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 9)
Aaron Rodgers came close to meeting Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl. Will he get his chance in Week 9?
10. Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams (Week 7)
The two NFC franchises swapped starting quarterbacks this offseason. Sometimes the storylines write themselves.
Don’t forget about:
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (Week 1)
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (Week 1, )
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (Week 4)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (Week 4)
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (Week 3, )
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (Week 6)
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (Week 6)
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (Week 12)
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angels Rams (Week 15)
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (Week 16)
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him , on Twitter , on , and .