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2021-2022 Season Schedule Release

Updated: May 25, 2021

Wednesday, the NFL officially released the entire schedule for the upcoming season, or at least whatever wasn't leaked by the end of the day. TRO takes a way too early look to try to highlight what games seem most exciting week in and week out.


TRO'S TOP GAMES TO WATCH:


WEEK 1:


CLEVELAND BROWNS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

via BrownsWire / USA Today


A rematch from last year's AFC divisional round playoff game should not disappoint. Despite already being widely considered as playoff contenders, both of these teams seemed to only improve this offseason. Last season's matchup featured drama and came down to the wire until backup quarterback Chad Henne came in for the injured Patrick Mahomes late in the ballgame, and was able to turn a 3rd and long to 4th and inches. He then executed Andy Reid's gutsy 4th down call to seal the game and extinguish the Browns' playoff run. Hopefully we can keep everyone healthy in this Week 1 matchup and be rewarded with an exciting game.



SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

via Indianapolis Colts


This game will feature two more playoff-caliber teams, and it will kickoff the Carson Wentz redemption tour. It will be interesting to see how he will fare in a change of scenery and surrounded by a much improved team. The Seahawks usually start the season off relatively hot, so it should make for some good football.



NEW YORK JETS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS

via Associated Press / Carolina Panthers


Now, a Sam Darnold revenge game might not sound like a headliner game to most nonPanther and nonJets fans, but hear us out. Not only will it be the first revenge game of the year, but it will also be the debut of the number 2 overall pick in Zach Wilson. Both of these quarterbacks will likely be at their best later in the year, but if either (or both) of them can make a splash in Week 1, it could go a long way in keeping any critics at bay. Given these circumstances, it should make for a highly watchable football game.


WEEK 2:


DALLAS COWBOYS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

via Wesley Hitt / Getty Images


Not only will this be the home opener for the Chargers and likely the first time the miraculous SOFI Stadium will have fans in it, but it also will make for an interesting matchup. You put Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert on the same field, in good California weather, it's bound to turn into an all out shootout. The Cowboys hold training camp up near Los Angeles each year, so they should have plenty of fans in attendance. They should feel comfortable, and it should make for a heated and intense environment.



KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

via Shawn Hubbard / Baltimore Ravens Photos / Ben Liebenberg / AP Photos


Patrick Mahomes. Lamar Jackson. Enough said.


WEEK 3:


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

via Jason Behnken / Associated Press


This is an intriguing matchup. We all know how good the champs are. The Rams pose an interesting matchup, as film will show the best way to attack Tom Brady is up the middle. It helps the Rams have arguably the best overall football player in the league in Aaron Donald steamrolling right through the middle each and every snap, and it helps to have Jalen Ramsey lead the defensive back unit. Now, the Rams have a quarterback in Matt Stafford who is better suited to take advantage of any opportunities his defense gives him compared to the previous regime. As a result, it should make for an exciting, nail-biting affair.


WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM AT BUFFALO BILLS

via BillsWire / USA Today


This is a fun, old school style matchup. Solid defenses and big armed quarterbacks. Ron Rivera gets to go up against his former Defensive Coordinator from both of their tenures in Carolina, and this should just be a hard-hitting, gun-slinging all out war.


WEEK 4:


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS

via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


This year's number one overall pick gets to battle it out against last year's number one overall pick. Who will get an early step as the future face of the league? Trevor Lawrence has his shot at revenge from the 2020 National Championship Game. Fans of the sport should enjoy this one from start to finish.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

via MileHighSports


This article is being written under the assumption that Aaron Rodgers will be a Green Bay Packer through the 2021 season. Rodgers-Big Ben, Steelers-Packers, two storied quarterbacks playing for even more storied franchises at Lambeau Field. It just simply makes for great television, and if for some reason Jordan Love is at the helm for the Packers, then that will most likely be interesting in its own right.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

via Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald


Everyone on planet Earth will be tuned into Tom Brady's return to Foxborough. After 20 years and six Super Bowls, Brady and Bill Belichick will duel against one another for the first time ever. Both will be out to prove their case against one another. We can't overlook the fact that both of these rosters are stacked and there will be marquee matchups to look out for all over the field and on both sides of the ball.



WEEK 5:


LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

via Jae C. Hong / AP


As you'll see later throughout this article, we tried to focus away from picking every division game, especially the first matchup between two teams. Frankly because we all know how important division games are, and we tried to write this article from just a league-wide enjoyment aspect. That being said, the Rams defense always seems to make Russell Wilson work extra hard, and these games seemingly always come down to the wire. Couple that with the fact that Wilson will be dueling with Matt Stafford for the first time as division rivals, and this should make for an excellent football game.


BUFFALO BILLS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

via BillsWire / USA Today


An AFC Championship rematch. In case you forgot, the AFC Championship ended very chippy between these two squads, and I'm sure there's no love lost going into this season. Arrowhead will likely be full of fans, and we'll get to see two of the most complete teams in football battle it out while Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen take turns making mind-blowing play after play.


WEEK 6:


DALLAS COWBOYS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

via Tom Fox / The Dallas Morning News


Two teams with huge fan bases. This matchup is especially interesting because you have "America's Team" and the Patriots, who some think should be crowned "America's Team." There's a lot of household names spread across these two teams, and they don't play each other very often. It will definitely be one to tune into.


ARIZONA CARDINALS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS

via Arizona Cardinals


Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Myles Garrett and Chandler Jones. Odell Beckham, Jr./Jarvis Landry/and company and DeAndre Hopkins/A. J. Green/and company. The list goes on and on. These two teams stack up well with one another because they honestly remind us of one another. Again, another matchup we don't get to see often, and this time both teams are playoff contenders, so it should get interesting.


WEEK 7:


DETROIT LIONS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

via RamsWire / USA Today


Matt Stafford and Jared Goff will get to face their former teams for the first times in their career, showcasing a sort of double-edged revenge game (even though there's no animosity between Stafford and the Lions). The Rams are certainly the better team, but you know Goff will be looking to stick it to his former squad.


CAROLINA PANTHERS AT NEW YORK GIANTS

via Associated Press


This is an intriguing matchup between two teams that are about equal in talent across the board. Both teams will be on that fine, fringe playoff line looking to earn Wild Card spots. It should make for a physical and competitive game. Especially with Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley looking to bounce back with huge seasons now that they both have clean bills of health.


WEEK 8:


TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

via TitansWire / USA Today


While the league has set most second-time divisional matchups towards the end of the year, the Titans and Colts will be facing off for the second time by Week 8. This will be a huge game. These two teams will likely finish the season with similar records, so any divisional wins are big. Since the first game will have been played at this point, the team who won can sweep the other, or the team who lost can level things up. This could go a long way in determining the AFC playoff picture, as these will certainly be the top two teams in the AFC South.


DALLAS COWBOYS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS

via VikingsWire / USA Today


These two teams seem to always put on a show when they play each other. Both have explosive offenses with big play receivers, quarterbacks that are no stranger to one another, and tier 1 star running backs. Not to mention with both of these teams having some of the best uniforms in the league (see: https://www.readoptionfootball.com/post/ranking-the-uniforms-from-all-32-teams ). At worst, it makes for an aesthetically pleasing game, but we can bet on the quality of football being good as well.


MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS

via Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports


Similar to the Titans and Colts game mentioned above, this matchup between the Fins and the Bills will likely be pivotal in determining the AFC playoff picture down the road. Miami won 10 games last year and still missed out on the playoffs. With the Bills seemingly returning in full force, the Patriots revamping their roster, and the Jets potentially finding their new face of the future, there's not going to be much wiggle room for errors in the AFC East.


WEEK 9:


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS

via WBTV


This will be Cam Newton's first time playing the Panthers and being in Bank of America Stadium coming out of the visitor's locker room. Anytime a the best quarterback in a franchise's history returns to play his former team, it's a must-watch situation.


TENNESSEE TITANS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

via Tom Hauck / Getty Images


This game simply makes for a fun matchup. What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? We'll find out when Derrick Henry and Aaron Donald go toe to toe.


WEEK 10:


CLEVELAND BROWNS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

via PatriotsWire / USA Today


A November meeting between the Browns and the Patriots just sounds like a whole lot of fun. Both of these teams have rather complete rosters and will be jockeying for positioning amongst the AFC standings as things start to heat up approaching the final stretch.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

via PackersWire / USA Today


Two of the NFC's perennial juggernauts clash for a battle of the heavyweights as things get cold in Lambeau. What more do we need to say? This game should be a spectacle and an anchor in the late afternoon slot.


WEEK 11:


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT BUFFALO BILLS

via Harry Scull Jr. / The Buffalo News


Last year's Super Wild Card weekend featured a great matchup between these two teams. Both of them have reloaded, and in some areas retooled, and are primed for another fun battle as the Colts will look to get revenge on the Bills.


DALLAS COWBOYS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

via ChiefsWire / USA Today


Oddly enough, we've never been treated to a Prescott - Mahomes duel. Hopefully everyone stays healthy, and we'll finally get to experience one. You can only imagine the boatloads of yardage and offense these two quarterbacks would produce on the same field. Not to mention the crowd at Arrowhead would be absolutely rocking at this time of the year and throughout a game of this magnitude.


WEEK 12:


CHICAGO BEARS AT DETROIT LIONS

via Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press


Thanksgiving! This list would not be complete without a Turkey Day game. Not only will we be treated to the Lions generic, logoless, silver on blue uniforms, but we'll also likely get to see a fun divisional matchup with the Bears. We all know that there's no doubt that Justin Fields will be starting by this point of the season, if he isn't named the starter by Week 1, and I'm sure he'd love nothing more than to put on a show on Thanksgiving.


LOS ANGELES RAMS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

via Matt Ludtke / AP Photo


If you haven't noticed, we are fans of the playoff rematches. You know the Rams are itching to take another shot at the Packers following last year's ugly Divisional Round loss. Matt Stafford is no stranger to facing off with Aaron Rodgers, let's see how he does against him now that he's loaded with a supporting cast and a coaching staff that are among the best in the business. This Week 12 matchup should feel like a playoff game from the moment that it is kicked off.


WEEK 13:


DALLAS COWBOYS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

via Tom Fox / Dallas News


It seems like when these two teams get together, the games always end up being entertaining. TRO strongly believes that Jameis Winston is the clear-cut starting quarterback for the Saints this year, and honestly, that's a good thing if you're a Saints fan. His gunslinger mentality, coupled with Dak Prescott's ability to pile on passing yards should lead to a big-armed battle down in the Big Easy.


WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

via Rob Carr / Getty Images / Ethan Miller / Getty Images


Here's a unique matchup that will be worth keying in on. Both of these teams kind of play up and down to the level of their competition week-by-week. On paper, the Washington Football Team's defense should prove to be far too much to handle for the Raiders, but this is the same Raiders team that will likely split with the Chiefs like they always seem to do. Both of these teams will likely try to establish the run game, and it will be thrilling to see how Washington schemes for Darren Waller.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

via PrimeSportsTalk


This will be the second time these two division rivals will face each other this season. As the best division in football, it is pertinent to grab wins in the NFC West when you can. Whether it's Jimmy G or Trey Lance squaring off with Russell Wilson in this Week 13 matchup, you can count on it being worth the watch.


WEEK 14:


BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS

via Gregory Shamus / Getty Images


This will be the second time these two teams meet in 2021. Let's take a look back to their second meeting last year. The Ravens pulled off a 47-42 victory in what might have been the most exciting game of the season last year. For those of you having a hard time remembering, this was the Lamar Jackson calf cramp (bathroom break) game. It was an absolute rollercoaster ride, and we can expect much more of the same this coming December.


LOS ANGELES RAMS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

via Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo


The Rams are tremendous at creating pressure up the middle and forcing quarterbacks to release the ball too quick giving the Rams' ferocious secondary a chance at the football. Kyler Murray is tremendous at escaping pressure up the middle and improvising when plays break down. We're blessed by the quality of football coming out of this division, and this late season game two between the Rams and the Cardinals should not disappoint.


BUFFALO BILLS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

via Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images


Last season, a lot of people had this pegged as their projected Super Bowl matchup. These two teams don't play each other often, and it will certainly be the first time they face off with both of them being as good as they are. There's going to be elite players and coaches scattered all across Raymond James Stadium in Week 14, and we all are going to be zeroed in on it.


WEEK 15:


GREEN BAY PACKERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

via Shawn Hubbard / Baltimore Ravens


Aaron Rodgers (maybe?) and Lamar Jackson, the 2020 MVP and the 2019 MVP. Both of these quarterbacks seem to add to the highlight reel almost each and every week. Put them both on the same stage, and you know you're in for a show. Let's not forget about Aaron Jones and JK Dobbins either. Both of these teams would love to pound the rock, and we'll see how it plays out for both of them.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

via Andy Bao / The Seattle Times


These two NFC West rivals had the joy of playing each other THREE times last year. The Rams were able to pull it out when it counted most, sending the Seahawks packing in the playoffs. With the second meeting between these two falling on Week 15, coupled with the fact that the NFC West is the tightest division in the country, this game right here could be for all of the marbles.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 2

via SaintsWire / USA Today


You could almost copy and paste the paragraph above and apply it to this matchup. This will be the second time these two teams square off. Last year they played three times, with the Bucs sending the Saints home in the playoffs despite getting swept by them during the regular season. These games got aggressive and chippy, and this one should be no different. These two teams could be lobbying for a division title at this point as the NFC South remains competitive.


WEEK 16:


CLEVELAND BROWNS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

via Sports Illustrated


It seems like since the Browns finally got good, they gotten hampered with a heap of tough matchups. Well, if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. As the Browns try to achieve stability, they'll be squaring off against a team that's been able to sustain stability for years and years. This should make for fantastic football.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

via Trevor Ruszkowski / USA TODAY Sports


Cardinals-Colts, another matchup with two teams that seem to stack up nicely on paper. The Cardinals take the edge in quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive line, but the Colts appear to be stronger at running back, linebacker, and secondary. This should be a battle of wills, and it'll be more than worth tuning into to find out who comes out on top.


BUFFALO BILLS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

via Harry Scull, Jr. / The Buffalo News


Two physical, AFC East rivals laying it all on the line as a division title could be up for grabs? Sign us up. If we know one thing, it's that Bill Belichick and Sean McDermott are going to get their teams to play hard each week. This will be one of those games where you see the opposite team's colors rubbed off on the other's helmets.


WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM AT DALLAS COWBOYS

via Getty Images


The NFC East has been so volatile as of late. Last year it looked like the NFC Least. The winner was seemingly crowned by deciding which team wanted to lose the least, rather than who wanted to win the most, if that makes any sense. That being said, there are two things that are for real in this division, and that is this Washington Defense and Dak Prescott. Ron Rivera has this group looking like it can explode into the League's top defensive unit at any moment. They've got a much more solid quarterback room than last year, and Dallas can look to have Dak Prescott healthy following his gruesome ankle injury. The NFC East is trending upwards, and these two teams are the clear-cut top teams in the division.


WEEK 17:


CAROLINA PANTHERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

via PanthersWire / USA Today


The Panthers and the Saints more often than not find themselves locked in competitive matchups that come down to the final possession. These teams have played 53 games, and are only separated by three games. While the Buccaneers are heavy favorites to win the NFC South, these two teams could be jockeying for either second place and/or a Wild Card spot.


ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DALLAS COWBOYS

via Ron Jenkins / AP


This just seems like an ultra-fun game. Both teams have good quarterbacks, elite receivers, and talented playmakers on both sides of the ball. Another wrinkle to look at is the first two rookie linebackers taken in this year's draft in Micah Parsons and Zaven Collins will be in the same arena for the first time. Look for a high-scoring affair where the team to make the extra defensive play comes away with the victory.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

via VikingsWire / USA Today


The Vikings always seem to have a solid recipe to play the Packers well. This will likely be a game that Minnesota needs to win to get into the playoffs. Assuming Aaron Rodgers is a Green Bay Packer this season, the Vikings will likely need to win this game to make up for a couple of non-division losses on their record to have a shot at the division title. On the other hand, say Rodgers is shipped out of town, then the Vikings will need this game to pull away with a division title as clear-cut favorites. Either way the chips fall, this game will have huge implications for the NFC North.


CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS

via Joe Sargent/Getty Images


Once again, we'll have a matchup featuring two teams with disdain for one another that was only amplified by the two of them squaring off three times last year. The Browns finally got a meaningful jab at big brother when they sent the Steelers home packing in the Wild Card round last year. The Steelers will be out for revenge, and the Browns will be looking to legitimize their recent success. A good ole end of the season AFC North battle will certainly keep everyone's attention.



WEEK 18:

via DirecTV


EVERY SINGLE GAME.


Thank God (or whoever you wish to thank) for the Sunday Ticket. The final week of the year is always chaos. This will be the first Week 18 in NFL history, and if you look at the schedule, they are doing it BIG. Every. Single. Game. Is. A. Divisional. Matchup. It's going to be pure chaos, and the playoff picture won't be decided until it's night time, and we're all left on the couch trying to process what happened. If you don't have the Sunday Ticket, or the football stamina to track this day of madness, don't worry, we'll do it for you and report it all, right here at The Read Option.


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