While it certainly doesn't carry as much excitement as free agency or the draft, the NFL's schedule release has become an offseason event of its own.
While the full 2021 schedule won't be announced until 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the league began leaking its Week 1 schedule on Wednesday morning. The season will kick off with the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys.
Sunday, September 12
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (CBS, 1 p.m. ET)
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (CBS, 1 p.m. ET)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (CBS, 1 p.m. ET)
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (CBS, 1 p.m. ET)
Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team (CBS, 1 p.m. ET)
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (Fox, 1 p.m. ET)
Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals (Fox, 1 p.m. ET)
San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions (Fox, 1 p.m. ET)
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts (Fox, 1 p.m. ET)
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (CBS, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (CBS, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (Fox, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Denver Broncos at New York Giants (Fox, 4:25 p.m. ET)
The Los Angeles Rams will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, while the Las Vegas Raiders will host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, according to John Breech of CBS Sports.
While the NFL has only officially released the Week 1 schedule, some other potential leaks are floating around the web.
While the Buffalo Bills would have been an intriguing option to face the defending champs in the opener, it seems that the league is saving the matchup for late in the season. According to Ryan Talbot of NYUp.com, the Bills and Buccaneers will face off on December 12 in the late afternoon slot.
According to Buffalo Rumblings, the Bills will also host the New England Patriots on December 6 on Monday Night Football.
The Patriots will reportedly host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 4, according to Bleacher Report's Master Tesfatsion:
This is one of the more widely anticipated games on the 2021 schedule, as it will mark Brady's return to Foxborough. It could also see Brady face off against his long-term heir in New England—if rookie quarterback Mac Jones is able to take the starting job from Cam Newton by then.
According to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants will face off in Week 12.
"Giants fans have to wait until Week 12 to boo the Eagles, whose questionable effort in a Week 17 loss to Washington last season kept the Giants out of the playoffs and drew [Giants coach Joe] Judge's wrath. Since then, coach Doug Pederson was fired, but Nov. 28—the end of Thanksgiving weekend—still will be circled on the calendars."
According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (h/t NFL Update), the Giants will face the Washington Football Team in the Week 2 edition of Thursday Night Football.
Readers may notice that there is only one game scheduled for Monday night in Week 1, which is a departure from recent seasons that have featured a doubleheader. According to NFL Update, ABC/ESPN will instead get a Saturday doubleheader in Week 18.
There will be 18 weeks of regular-season football this year, as the NFL's new 17-game season goes into effect in 2021.