Everything You Need to Know About the 2021 NFL Schedule Release


Emma Stark, Co-Editor for Sports

The anticipation of NFL schedule release day is a day that every NFL fan longs for. Right after the Super Bowl, the league’s scheduling group began reviewing nearly 500 potential schedules. After narrowing down the possibilities, the NFL revealed its 2021-2022 schedule last Wednesday night. 

To kick off the start of the season, the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will host the Dallas Cowboys in the Thursday night opener on September 9. 

The first thing that caught the eyes of many coaches was the timing of the bye weeks. Each team is scheduled one bye for the duration of the season. However, since the regular season expanded from 16 to 17 games, it was rumored that the league would add a second bye to the schedule. Although, this was not the case. Each of the 32 teams received one bye, though some of the teams have it better than others. The dreaded early byes will occur in Week 6 for the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers. The addition of a seventeenth game extends the regular season to end on January 9, which means the Super Bowl will not take place until February 13, the latest it has ever been held. 

What makes this schedule particularly exciting is that international games will return with two matchups (Jets-Falcons and Miami Dolphins-Jacksonville Jaguars) at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Coronavirus prevented the NFL from carrying out this international initiative last season. Now, UK fans will finally be allowed to watch some of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league: the top two picks of the NFL Draft Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (Jets), four-time Pro Bowler Matt Ryan (Falcons), and thrilling play-caller Tua Tagovalioa (Dolphins). “We are excited to be returning to London and welcoming back our fans for two great matchups,” says NFL Executive Vice President/Chief Strategy and Growth Officer Christopher Halpin. “We expect these games to be a celebration of our sport and our robust UK fan base.”

Lawrence is one of the most notable players entering the NFL. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled for just one prime-time appearance, the Week 4 Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The NFL is satisfied with the decision since Jacksonville is expected to host a national preseason game to showcase the quarterback. Charlotte Carey, the NFL’s Director of Broadcasting and a member of the league’s scheduling team, believes Jacksonville has “the opportunity to play their way into prime time,” rather than simply handing them the national coverage. 

In another Week 4 game, Tom Brady will make his long-awaited return to Foxborough, Massachusetts, when the Bucs face the New England Patriots on a Sunday night. As for the annual Thanksgiving triple-header, the Detroit Lions will host the Chicago Bears, followed by the Los Vegas Raiders at the Cowboys. The Buffalo Bills will then travel to New Orleans to end the night. The NFL also scheduled a Christmas Day doubleheader: Packers-Browns and Cardinals-Colts. 

After enduring the uncertainty of the ongoing global pandemic, this schedule will bring fans a sense of normalcy. Instead of wondering if games will take place, fans can, once again, purchase tickets and begin planning their travels for the season. The atmosphere of tailgating with family and friends to the rumbling stadiums brings the culture of football to life.