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Best and worst Thursday Night Football matchups on 2021 NFL schedule

We break down the best and worst matchups for Thursday Night Football in the 2021 NFL season.

Will the Bengals make things interesting in the AFC North?

The 2021 NFL schedule is out and now it’s time to dive in head first. Thursday Night Football isn’t widely loved, as it can push your favorite team to a quick turnaround game on short rest. They also aren’t always the best matchups, as the league gives every team a prime time game, but if your team isn’t great, the TNF game is the bone they throw to you. But, and this is a big but, it is NFL football on a weeknight. And sometimes the stars align for an exciting matchup or at the very least, you get to revel with others on Twitter in just how awful the game is.

Best matchups

Week 5: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

The Rams are tied for third-best in the odds to win the Super Bowl after replacing Jared Goff with Matthew Stafford this offseason, while the Seahawks are tied for ninth. By Week 5 we will have an okay idea how the Rams are faring with Stafford, but they could rely on the defense while they get their offense rolling. Neither team has an easy schedule to start, so they should be battle tested and ready for a showdown that will have major ramifications in the NFC West, which could be the best division in the league.

Week 10: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins won 10 games last year. It’s true! The Ravens appeared to take a step back as they lost the AFC North to the Steelers, but the loss that doomed them was also a game where they didn’t have Lamar Jackson and a huge chunk of their starters due to COVID-19. Both of these teams should be in the playoff hunt at this point in the season

Worst matchups

Week 3: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

Are you prepared for Sam Darnold versus Tyrod Taylor? No, nobody is. The Panthers at least have some good young players and there is still hope for Darnold with Joe Brady as his offensive coordinator, but the Texans appear locked-in on a disastrous season. This one could be ugly.

Week 9: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts

The optimist in me believes that these two teams could be playing well at the midway point of the season. The Jets have a ton of young and gifted personnel while the Colts have a strong base in the running game and on defense. But, we also will have a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson against Carson Wentz, who was incredibly awful last year.

Sneaky good matchups

Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow versus Trevor Lawrence! Who knows if these two teams will be clicking this early in the season, but the two No. 1 picks over the last two seasons are facing off, so it will be informative at the very least. And, these teams have the players now to put on a good show.

Week 7: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns

The Broncos and Browns have some of the best players in the league. If either of them had Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback, they’d be favorites to win it all. But, they don’t, at least not yet. Baker Mayfield showed last season he could help his team into the playoffs and compete. He’s not great yet, but he has the potential while the Broncos are just average with Drew Lock at the helm. I mentioned Rodgers due to the rumors that he could end up with the Broncos, which would push this game from sneaky good to one of the best matchups of the year.

TNF matchups for the 2021 NFL season

Week 2: New York Giants at Washington Football Team, 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Week 3: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans, 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Week 5: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 7: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 8: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 9: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 10: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 11: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 12: Thanksgiving slate
Week 13: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 14: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 15: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
Week 16: San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans, 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Week 17/18: None