Complete 2021 NFL regular-season national TV schedule and must-see games

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By , Audacy Sports

The NFL unveiled the complete 2021 schedule on Wednesday night, as part of a televised event on the NFL Network.

Among the scores of games played this season are the usual several-dozen nationally televised contests, including the familiar weekly primetime showcase games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights, as well as the annual Thanksgiving slate, plus a full slate the day after Christmas, which this year falls on the Sunday of Week 16.

As has become customary in recent years, this season begins with Thursday Night Football, pitting Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Bucs against the Dallas Cowboys. Brady already stirred the pot upon learning of his Week 1 opponent, ribbing the Cowboys over whether they deserve their unofficial title as "America's Team" any longer.

Other notable matchups include several "revenge" games, including Brady's surreal return to New England in anything other than a Patriots uniform, in his anticipated showdown with former coach Bill Belichick. Similarly, New Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold gets a chance to prove the Jets made a mistake by unloading him, in Carolina's Week 1 game against Gang Green in Charlotte.

Read on for a comprehensive look at the nationally televised games in 2021. To buy tickets to see your favorite team in action next season, click here.

Week 1

Thursday, Sept. 9: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Sunday, Sept. 12: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Sept. 13: Ravens at Raiders, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The NFL season opens, perhaps fittingly, with Brady beginning his title defense against the Cowboys and Dak Prescott, who will be looking to prove he's healthy and among the game's best after missing most of last season due to injury. .. Bears rookie QB Justin Fields, assuming he's starting, debuts in Los Angeles against a Rams team that also played in the Sunday night opener last season. .. Other notable Week 1 games on Sunday include the aforementioned Darnold revenge game -- Jets-Panthers, 1 p.m. ET -- and four matchups of 2020 playoff teams: Steelers-Bill, 1 p.m. ET; Seahawks-Colts, 1 p.m. ET; Browns-Chiefs 4:25 p.m. ET; and Packers-Saints, 4:25 p.m. ET.

Week 2

Thursday, Sept. 16: New York Giants at Washington Football Team, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Sept. 19: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Sept. 20: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Bengals-Bears game at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday pits a pair of former Ohio State quarterbacks against each other, in Joe Burrow and Fields. ... In the AFC East, the frontrunning Bills get an early test from a presumed challenger to the defense of their division title, in the Dolphins. The Patriots get their first look at new Jets head coach Robert Saleh, as well as rookie QB Zach Wilson. Both of those games are for 1 p.m., as well.

Week 3

Thursday, Sept. 23: Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Sept. 26: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Sept. 27: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Aaron Rodgers' future is fairly uncertain at present, and while some can't see him moving on from Green Bay, others aren't so sure -- and San Francisco has long been rumored to be a potential destination. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it'd be pretty surreal to see Rodgers take on his old team in Week 3. Either way, his presence or absence in this one will be a story.

Week 4

Thursday, Sept. 30: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Oct. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Oct. 4: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:15 p.m. ET

Each of the last two No. 1 draft picks face off on Thursday Night Football, in Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence. ... Brady makes his aforementioned return to New England. The reception should be overwhelmingly positive, but one never knows. ... Elsewhere, in the 1 p.m. window on Sunday, in what should be a similarly noteworthy homecoming of sorts, Andy Reid and the Chiefs visit the Eagles in Philadelphia. Kevin Stefanski of the Browns will likewise pay a visit to his former team, the Vikings. And the Lions and Bears, both beginning new eras of sorts, will renew their division rivalry.

Week 5

Thursday, Oct. 7: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Oct. 10: Buffalo Bills as Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Oct. 11: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Bills-Chiefs matchup on Sunday Night Football marks a rematch of last year's AFC title game, and will surely be hotly anticipated as a potential preview of another postseason clash. The Chiefs outclassed the Bills in that matchup, but Buffalo seems to still be improving.

Week 6

Thursday, Oct. 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Oct. 17: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Oct. 18: Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Brady is back in the spotlight in Week 6, this time for a relatively rare Thursday night appearance against the Eagles. Bills-Titans is an intriguing rematch from a season ago, with Buffalo seeking to exact some revenge from a lopsided defeat.

Week 7

Thursday, Oct. 21: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Oct. 24: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Oct. 25: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

An intriguing "revenge" games from this week pits the Los Angeles Rams against the Detroit Lions, in a matchup of quarterbacks who were traded for each other during the offseason in Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. Needless to say, many interested observers will want to see which team got the better of the deal on this day. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Week 8

Thursday, Oct. 28: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Oct. 31: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Nov. 1: New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Steelers and Browns renew their division rivalry at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, after playing three times last season (twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs). Some of these classic matchups never get old. ... Brady visits New Orleans at 4:25 ET -- but recently retired fellow 40-something Drew Brees will be watching from home.

Week 9

Thursday, Nov. 4: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Nov. 7: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Nov. 8: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Packers visit the Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, in a potential matchup of Rodgers vs. Mahomes. Brady took down Mahomes, one of his presumed successors, in last year's Super Bowl. Can Rodgers do the same?

Week 10

Thursday, Nov. 11: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Nov. 14: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Nov. 15: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Bill Belichick's past and present collide at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, when the Patriots host the Browns.

Week 11

Thursday, Nov. 18: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Nov. 21: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Nov. 22: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Brady may be long gone from the Pats, but Matt Ryan is still doing his thing with the Falcons. Cue up the 28-3 memes now. ... The Giants-Bucs game on MNF is a rematch of a surprisingly competitive and entertaining MFN game from last season.

Week 12

Thursday, Nov. 25 - Thanksgiving Day:
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Sunday, Nov. 28: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Nov. 29: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Turkey Day triple-header opens with a classic NFC North matchup of the Bears and Lions in Detroit. The Raiders-Cowboys game in the afternoon could also be fun, and Bills-Saints in the nightcap looks intriguing. Browns-Ravens and Seahawks-WTF also look like strong primetime matchups for your holiday viewing pleasure.

Week 13

Thursday, Dec. 2: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Dec. 5: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Dec. 6: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Week 13 heralds the start of December, and with it a strong batch of national TV games. Niners-Seahawks and Patriots-Bills are divisional matchups that could both have postseason implications. ... Ditto for Steelers-Ravens at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Week 14

Thursday, Dec. 9: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Sunday, Dec. 12: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Monday, Dec. 13: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Ravens and Browns face off at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Will first place in the AFC North be on the line?

Week 15

Thursday, Dec. 16: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Saturday, Dec. 18: TBD

Sunday, Dec. 19: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20