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2021 NFL Schedule: League Releases Official Regular-Season Slate

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87), left, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate together after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla. NFL Films has been chronicling Tom Brady’s career since he entered the league in 2000, but there are still times when there are still new things to reveal. That is the case with this year’s Super Bowl film, chronicling Brady’s seventh championship and his first with the Tampa Buccaneers.  (AP Photo/Steve Luciano, File)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

The NFL has pulled back the curtain on the 2021 regular-season schedule, a slate that will look a little different with the inclusion of a 17th game.

The league announced in March it was expanding the regular season to 18 weeks while taking away one week from the preseason. It was the first time since 1978 that the schedule has expanded.

NFL @NFL

Beginning in 2021, the NFL is expanding to a 17-game regular season. https://t.co/skNisJwPS2

Things will get underway Sept. 9 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium.

Here's a look at the NFL's biggest dates for the year ahead and the schedules for all 32 teams.

             

2021 Key Dates

Sept. 9: Regular-season opener (Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Sept. 12: Regular-season kickoff weekend

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Sunday, February 13: Super Bowl LVI (SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California)

         

AFC East

     

AFC North

       

AFC South

      

AFC West

      

NFC East

      

NFC North

      

NFC South

      

NFC West

        

Division to Watch: NFC West

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

For the time being, you could make an argument for any one of the four teams in the NFC West to win the division.

Things would obviously change dramatically if the Seattle Seahawks were to trade Russell Wilson, who has reportedly become disgruntled over the level of influence he has within the organization.

According to multiple reports, the Chicago Bears made a strong push to acquire Wilson and even put three first-round picks on the table. That Seattle resisted those overtures would seemingly signal a desire to open the season with the seven-time Pro Bowler on the roster.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Chicago made "a very aggressive pursuit" of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, per sources, and the Bears were told that Seattle is not trading him at this time. The Bears were one of four teams Wilson's agent named as a place of interest. Now Chicago has an agreement with Andy Dalton.

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

The Bears came hard for Russell Wilson. They needed the Seahawks, and the QB, to greenlight a deal. On Tuesday, they moved on. @nflnetwork @RhettNFL https://t.co/twgH4wEAYD

Andrew Perloff @andrewperloff

Here's Dan talking about what he's heard Bears offered for Russell Wilson: three first-round picks, a third and two veterans. https://t.co/STRIXINjWF

Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams upgraded at quarterback by trading away Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford. They also re-signed Leonard Floyd but lost John Johnson and Troy Hill to free agency.

At worst, the Rams should match their 10 wins from 2020, and the addition of Stafford might raise their ceiling a bit.

The Arizona Cardinals are banking on continued improvement from Kyler Murray after he finished with 3,971 passing yards and 26 touchdowns while running for 819 yards and 11 scores. Arizona also bolstered its roster with established veterans A.J. Green and J.J. Watt.

Even the six-win San Francisco 49ers could take a big step forward with a fully healthy George Kittle and perhaps a new quarterback running the offense. Moving up to the No. 3 pick to get Trey Lance and the record-setting six-year, $138.1 million contract for Trent Williams showed their intent for the season ahead.

               

Most Anticipated Matchup: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Buffalo Bills in last year's AFC Championship Game, and the Bills will have to make another trip to Arrowhead Stadium in 2021.

The result of the encounter could show who has the inside line on representing the conference in Super Bowl LVI.

Until they prove otherwise, nobody will question the Chiefs' credentials. Kansas City was overmatched in Super Bowl LV, but that was largely because the team was without both starting offensive tackles. The Chiefs largely remain the same and strengthened the offensive line with the signing of Joe Thuney. They'll also have the services of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif after he opted out of the 2020 season.

In short, Kansas City is the team to beat in the AFC as long as Patrick Mahomes stays healthy.

Like the Chiefs, the Bills are basically running it back in 2021. They didn't revamp their roster because they didn't need to. They retained Matt Milano, Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano while bringing in Emmanuel Sanders to further strengthen the passing game.

Buffalo's championship chances will rest largely on the right arm of Josh Allen. The 24-year-old broke out in his third season, throwing for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, continuing what has been a trend early in his career.

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Josh Allen's Stats by Year Year 1: 2,074 YDS, 10 TD, 12 INT, 52.8 CMP% Year 2: 3,089 YDS, 20 TD, 9 INT, 58.8 CMP% Year 3: 4,544 YDS, 37 TD, 10 INT, 69.2 CMP%

While it would be great for the Bills if Allen is somehow even better in 2021, they mostly need him to not follow the Goff trajectory. Goff's fourth season is when the train started sliding off the rails.

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