With the NFL announcing the complete schedule for the 2021 season this week, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst matchups you can look forward to for Sunday Night Football throughout the upcoming year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots, Week 4
This game will be hyped up beyond any game this season, but it also could be a very good game as well. Last season this wouldn’t have been a good game. The Patriots were bad and the Buccaneers weren’t. But the Patriots have made a bunch of moves this offseason and will be better on both sides of the ball. Brady and the Bucs will still be favorites, but in Foxborough, with history flowing through every play, this should be a close game and full of drama.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, Week 5
This game is a replay of the AFC Championship game from last season. The Bills and Chiefs still look like the cream of the AFC crop and this late season matchup could be for the No. 1 seed and a preview of the championship game. The Bills lost twice to the Chiefs last season and it appears they are that final hurdle they need to jump before getting to the Super Bowl. On paper, this looks like the best game of the year.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks, Week 6
The Steelers and Seahawks will go at it in Week 6 as both Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger are back for another season with their respective teams. The Steelers finished top in the AFC North last season while they were eliminated from the postseason early on when they lost to the Cleveland Browns in the wildcard game. The Seahawks had a nearly identical situation in 2020, finishing atop the NFC West while losing to the LA Rams in the wildcard round by a score of 20-30. The Steelers are moving downward along with Roethlisberger’s arm while the Seahawks will still be good, but the NFC West is going to be much better this season and the Seahawks could easily end up in third place.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints, Week 15
A rematch of last season’s NFC Divisional Round game, these teams will face off against each other as the Saints will look for redemption after being knocked off by Tom Brady and the Bucs with a 30-20 final score back in January. Brady is back with the Bucs after signing a one-year extension while 42-year-old Drew Brees announced his retirement from the NFL back in March, leaving the Saints in a pickle as both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will compete for the starting QB role. Sean Payton has won without Brees, but by Week 15, these teams could be in extremely different spots in the win column.
Sneaky good matchups
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, Week 12
The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the tougher schedules this year and looked awful to end last season and ended up losing to the Browns in the playoffs. This might be the year that Cleveland jumps them in the standings and goes head to head with Baltimore for the AFC North crown. This game sets up to be a huge for the division and for playoff seeding.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, Week 1
This matchup will be the first time we see Matthew Stafford with the Rams. That may not sound like the first time we see Tom Brady with the Buccaneers, but the Rams are only behind Kansas City and Tampa Bay in the odds to win the Super Bowl. We know the Rams defense is Super Bowl caliber and now with Stafford at the helm, we’ll see if he can elevate the offense enough to get them over the hump. But what would make this game truly special is if we got to see Justin Fields at the helm for the Bears. Maybe the Rams crush the Bears here, but Fields vs. Stafford would be a cool way to start the season.
SNF matchups for the 2021 NFL season
Week 1: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 3: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 5: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 6: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 7: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 8: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 9: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 10: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 11: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 12: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 13: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 14: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 15: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 16: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 17: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 18: TBD