The 2021 NFL schedule has dropped and here are the 15 most anticipated games

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·7 min read
The 2021 NFL schedule has dropped and here are the 15 most anticipated games
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Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady. AP Photo/Ashley Landis
  • The 2021 NFL schedule is out.

  • Teams will play 17 games this year, spread over 18 weeks of action.

  • The schedule already has plenty of amazing matchups, including a homecoming for Tom Brady.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The 2021 NFL regular season schedule was released on Wednesday night, sending football fans around the country to cancel weekend plans months in advance.

Teams will play 17 regular-season games for the first time, and there are already plenty of matchups to look forward to, including a homecoming for Tom Brady, a chance for vengeance for Sam Darnold, and several face-offs between MVP candidates.

Take a look below and mark your calendars for the best games of the coming NFL season.

15. Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders - Week 1

Jon Gruden
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The first "Monday Night Football" game of the 2021 season will see a packed house in Las Vegas for the first time in NFL history.

While the Raiders opened their stadium in Vegas last season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Allegiant Stadium has yet to host an NFL crowd. That changes Week 1, with the Baltimore Ravens coming to Sin City to truly break in the new arena.

14. Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Week 14

Josh Allen
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Josh Allen was an MVP contender last year, and this year is hoping to take the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl. Their matchup against the reigning champions late in the season is a potential Super Bowl preview.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets - Week 16

Trevor Lawrence
Getty/Alika Jenner

The top two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft will face off in Week 16, with first overall pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars traveling north to take on second overall pick Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.

Even if these teams are not in the playoff mix late in the season, watching the two rookies go head-to-head for the first time should be a blast.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams - Week 3

Tom Brady
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

The biggest star in football makes his debut at one of two stadiums hosting its first season with fans in the stands. SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles is a big deal and will host the Super Bowl in February.

Chances are Brady and the Buccaneers will want to get comfortable with the building they hope to defend their title in come playoff time.

11. New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers - Week 9

Cam Newton
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

Cam Newton returns to Carolina for the first time since joining the Patriots last season. While it's unclear if Newton will be starting for New England in Week 9, given that the team drafted Mac Jones in the first round this year, let's hope that Newton gets his shot to take on his former team.

10. Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers - Week 3

Aaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Matt Ludtke

Assuming Aaron Rodgers and the Packers can put aside their differences before the season, Green Bay's trip to San Francisco this fall should be one to watch.

Rodgers has a history with San Francisco, as he had hoped they'd be the team to draft him out of college back in 2005. They didn't, and Rodgers has been making them regret that decision ever since.

9. New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Week 11

Tom Brady
AP Photo/Al Goldis

Tom Brady does not like the New York Giants, recently saying that he would have given up two of his Super Bowl rings if it meant besting the Giants back in 2007 to complete the Patriots' perfect season.

The Giants have been one of the few thorns in Brady's side during his career, with a 2-0 Super Bowl record against the GOAT. Brady is never one to hold back on the field, but don't be surprised if he has a little extra heat coming off him in Week 11.

8. New York Jets at Carolina Panthers - Week 1

Sam Darnold
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The Sam Darnold Bowl!

Darnold was traded to the Panthers by the Jets in the offseason so that New York could make way for their new quarterback of the future, Zach Wilson. In a bit of scheduling magic, Wilson's first NFL start will likely come against the man he replaced in New York.

This game is a gift to sports radio hosts in the greater New York area, who should get a solid three weeks of content out of debating whether the Jets made the right move.

7. Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens - Week 2

Patrick Mahomes
Getty/Jamie Squire

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson might be the two most exciting players in the NFL right now, and football fans will only have to wait until Week 2 to see them face off.

Jackson has yet to beat Mahomes in three career meetings, but it could be time for a breakthrough in front of the home crowd in Baltimore.

6. Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers - Week 17

Baker Mayfield
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Cleveland traveled to Pittsburgh, the Browns ran the Steelers out of the building in a playoff shellacking decades in the making.

This Week 17 divisional clash could have huge playoff implications for both teams, and there is no doubt Steelers fans are eager to boo Baker Mayfield and company.

5. Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs - Week 5

Patrick Mahomes
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This Week 5 contest could give an early hint as to who the team to beat in the AFC is this year.

Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes both bring plenty of star power, and under the lights of "Sunday Night Football," they should be ready to put on a show.

4. Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs - Week 9

Aaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Mike Roemer

This game is the Super Bowl that could have been if the Packers had been smart enough to go for it on fourth down in the NFC Championship game last year. Instead, Green Bay gifted the Buccaneers a trip to the Super Bowl.

But fans hoping to see Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes go toe-to-toe will get their wish this year in Week 9.

3. Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions - Week 7

matthew stafford
Mark Tenally/AP Images

The biggest deal of the NFL offseason was a quarterback swap between the Rams and Lions, which sent Jared Goff to Detroit and Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles.

In Week 7, the two teams will meet to see which side got the better end of the deal.

2. Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Week 1

Dak Prescott
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

What a season opener! As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the first game of the 2021 NFL season on Thursday, September 9.

Coming to meet them in Tampa will be the Dallas Cowboys, who should be led by returning starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Barring a setback, this will be Prescott's first game back since suffering a devastating injury in October 2020.

Welcome back, Dak, and welcome back football.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots - Week 4

Tom Brady
AP Photo/Doug Murray

The prodigal sons return!

After serving as the cornerstone of the most dominant dynasty in NFL history, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. They then added yet another Super Bowl ring to their trophy cases.

Week 4 will be the duo's first trip back to New England since leaving the franchise, making this edition of "Sunday Night Football" can't-miss television.

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