The NFL released the 2021 schedule on Wednesday, and this regular season will begin with the returning Dak Prescott and Dallas Cowboys, against the defending Super Bowl Champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This season will also feature several subplots and storylines that make predicting this season difficult. That includes the retirement of Drew Brees and the strained relationships of Aaron Rodgers and DeShaun Watson with their respective teams. Without further delay, here are the best matchups for each week of the 2021 regular season.
Matchup of the week: Cleveland at Kansas City
This is a rematch from last season’s divisional playoff round. With a returning Odell Beckham Jr., and the rest of the star-studded offense for the Browns, there is potential for a high-scoring shootout in the opening week.
Honorable Mention: Dallas at Tampa Bay
The return of Dak Prescott and “America’s Team”, visit the defending Super Bowl Champions. Prescott-Brady will be the first Quarterback marquee matchup of the 2021 season.
Matchup of the week: Kansas City at Baltimore
We have seen epic encounters with Mahomes vs. Jackson the past couple of seasons. Both teams are at the top of the AFC pecking order and this one will not disappoint, this early in the season.
Honorable Mention: Buffalo at Miami
Josh Allen and Tua will look to get an early jump in the AFC East standings.
Matchup of the week: Green Bay at San Francisco
Aaron Rodgers has seen several post-season runs fall short, thanks to the 49ers. According to several NFL rumors, he was a part of trade talks before the NFL Draft that could have landed him in San Francisco. Rather, we will see Rodgers vs. Jimmy G, with the 49ers fans looking and praying for Kyle Shanahan to give him the hook, in favor of Trey Lance. Either way, both teams are well-rounded and will be a marquee game in Week 3.
Honorable Mention: Tampa Bay at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have never been the same since losing the Super Bowl to the reigning Super Bowl MVP. Now Brady brings his crew to Los Angeles, for a matchup against Matt Stafford and a strong Rams defense.
Matchup of the week: Tampa Bay at New England
The return of Tom Brady to New England. Brady won the Super Bowl without the Patriots and Bill Belicheck. The Patriots stumbled last season without Brady. So many storylines, this becomes the biggest “revenge” game in the history of the NFL, as Brady will be fired up to play the best game of his career in New England.
Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh at Green Bay
This could be the final time we see Rodgers and Big Ben head to head.
Matchup of the week: Buffalo at Kansas City
A rematch from the AFC Championship game. Although it’s only Week 5, this game will have early implications in AFC playoff seeding.
Honorable Mention: L.A. Rams at Seattle
These two teams play very tight in this NFC West division rivalry. The loser of this game could be staring at the basement in a strong division.
Matchup of the week: Seattle at Pittsburgh
Russel Wilson and Big Ben in Steel Town. Two strong defenses, with two future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks at the helm. A Football fans dream.
Honorable Mention: Kansas City at Washington
Patrick Mahomes will face the toughest defense of the season in Washington. Washington in addition to having arguably the best defense in the NFL, upgraded at the receiver and offensive line positions. This could be a sneaky good matchup.
Matchup of the week: Denver at Cleveland
Two Quarterbacks with great defenses and questions about if they are the answer to lead their teams to championship contention. This game will be an early indicator of who could be the last Wild Card seed in the AFC.
Honorable Mention: Washington at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers faces the toughest defense he will see all season. Washington will be facing the second of back-to-back Hall of Fame Quarterbacks in consecutive weeks.
Matchup of the week: Pittsburgh at Cleveland
These teams hate each other with a passion that football fans can appreciate. The Browns unceremoniously knocked the Steelers of their pedestal and out of the playoffs. This is an important division game at the mid-point of the season. I can only hope for bad weather to perfect this game.
Honorable Mention: San Francisco at Chicago
Both teams may be playing their prized first-round Quarterbacks at this point of the season. Fields vs Lance could draw some curious eyes, despite possible subpar team records.
Matchup of the week: Green Bay at Kansas City
Rodgers vs Mahomes; this could very well be the best game of the NFL regular season. This probably what should have been the Super Bowl matchup last season, if not for questionable coaching in Green Bay. Both these Quarterbacks can carry these teams on their back. Most likely, we will see high scoring and one untimely turnover to decide the game.
Matchup of the week: Seattle at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers goes from a battle with Mahomes to hosting Russell Wilson in consecutive weeks. These two teams always have memorable games and this one will surely not disappoint.
Matchup of the week: Dallas at Kansas City
Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes take center stage. This could be an amazing game or Andy Reid could outcoach Mike McCarthy and the Chiefs could blow out the Cowboys and embarrass them in front of the country. I’m leaning towards the latter.
Honorable Mention: San Francisco at Jacksonville
Most likely this will be the first matchup between Trey Lance and Trevor Lawrence, or Tim Tebow. I just typed that while rolling my eyes.
Matchup of the week: Cleveland at Baltimore
Cleveland could be prime to upset the Ravens as they could be looking towards their Week 13 game against Big Ben and the Steelers. In the NFC North, any loss could be the difference between the division champion and the seven seed of the playoffs.
Matchup of the week: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
The first of two body bruising games begin. Arguably the best division rivalry in the NFL for the past decade begins late in the season. Big Ben vs Jackson, defense vs defense, special teams could be the difference in the first of two meetings.
Matchup of the week: Dallas at Washington
Two old-school NFC East rivals. The division that has not had a repeat division winner in over a decade. This game will no doubt decide the front runner for the division title and first-round home playoff game. Chase Young vs Dak Prescott, the new defense-offense division rivalry in the making.
Matchup of the week: Green Bay at Baltimore
Green Bay may not necessarily need this game to clinch the NFC North, but Baltimore desperately needs the victory with pending games against the Bengals, Rams, and Steelers on the horizon.
Matchup of the week: Pittsburgh at Kansas City
Unless these two teams meet in postseason play, this will be the final battle between Big Ben and Mahomes. Big Ben has the moxy to go to Arrowhead and spoil the party, but does he have the offensive firepower to pull off the upset?
Matchup of the week: Cleveland at Pittsburgh
The final battle for Big Ben against little brother Cleveland. This is probably also the final home game for the future Hall of Famer in Pittsburgh, with the division and a playoff berth still in sight.
Matchup of the week: Pittsburgh at Baltimore
More than likely there will be playoff implications, if not the division title on the line between these two teams. This could also be the final appearance for Big Ben against the Ravens.
Honorable Mention: New England at Miami
Could the Miami curse continue for New England if they need a victory in South Beach to clinch a playoff berth?
How could these matchups change before the start of the season? Could Aaron Rodgers and DeShaun Watson be traded to new teams? What major injuries will change the NFL trajectory? Stay tuned between now and the start of Week 1 for possible answers to these questions.