Matthew Stafford to Make Rams Debut vs. Bears in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The first NBC Sunday Night Football game of the 2021 NFL season will feature Matthew Stafford making his Los Angeles Rams debut in a home game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12. 

CBS Sports' John Breech provided the full Week 1 schedule ahead of the league's schedule release Wednesday night:

John Breech @johnbreech

The NFL's Week 1 schedule is officially out, mark your calendars now. Some highlights: Cowboys at Buccaneers (Thursday opener) Bears at Rams (Sunday night) Ravens at Raiders (Monday night) #NFLSchedule #Cowboys #Raiders #Buccaneers https://t.co/OTY6QBnuMA

Stafford was acquired by the Rams from the Detroit Lions as part of a March blockbuster trade that sent fellow signal-caller Jared Goff and three draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders, to Detroit.

It was an all-in move by L.A., which led the NFL in total defense last season and features enough offensive playmakers to make some serious noise following the upgrade at quarterback.

Stafford explained he had discussed finding a trade partner that had a chance to contend with the Lions.

"We had kind of spoken about trying to get to a place to where the team was ready to have success in short time, and obviously the Rams are a team like that," Stafford said after the trade. "They've had a bunch of success as a team, that's something that attracted me to them. There are other teams that were possibilities, no question, it just happened to work out the way they did."

The 33-year-old University of Georgia product was playing at an MVP level in 2019 before suffering a season-ending back injury after eight games. He didn't match that level of production in 2020 while playing through injuries, finishing with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but moving to a more complete L.A. squad should help.

On the opposite sideline, the focus will be on how long the Bears go before handing the offense to rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

Chicago signed veteran Andy Dalton early in the offseason, and he made it clear he was drawn to the organization by the opportunity to start.

"They told me I was the starter," Dalton told reporters in March. "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I've had has been that, so that's the assurance that I've gotten."

That didn't stop the Bears from trading up to the No. 11 slot in the 2021 draft to select Fields following his standout collegiate career at Ohio State.

Don't be surprised if Fields is already the starter in time for the Sunday Night Football opener.