WPTV.com takes a game-by-game glance at the complete "Sunday Night Football" lineup for the 2021 NFL season. All games can be seen on WPTV.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Sept. 9 (Thursday)
The Buccaneers, who became the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl at their home stadium, will have a bull's-eye on their backs when the Cowboys visit for the Thursday night NFL season opener. Tampa Bay returns all 22 starters from its championship season, most notably superstar quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady joined the Buccaneers last year after spending 20 seasons with the New England Patriots. All the Super Bowl MVP did was help bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Tampa. He was also able to lure his longtime teammate out of retirement.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams | Sept. 12
Welcome to Los Angeles, Matthew Stafford. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Detroit Lions will take the field for the first time as a member of the Rams. Likewise, Andy Dalton will open the season as the starting quarterback for Chicago, but for how long? The Bears drafted former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the first round. These playoff teams from a season ago will look very different in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens | Sept. 19
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson have the distinction of being former NFL MVPs. The Chiefs have made the playoffs for six straight seasons. The Ravens have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons. Will they be able to keep their streaks alive in 2021? The Chiefs beat the Ravens 34-20 last season.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers | Sept. 26
There was plenty of offseason drama in Green Bay, where an unhappy Aaron Rodgers let it be known he never wanted to play for the Packers again. Nevertheless, the franchise quarterback is back for a 17th season with the Packers. Not even predecessor Brett Favre can make that claim. Now the Packers just have to prove they can win another Super Bowl with Rodgers. The Packers beat the 49ers 34-17 last season, avenging a 37-20 loss in the NFC Championship game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots | Oct. 3
Step aside, Mac Jones. Tom Brady is coming home. For anyone wanting to know if Bill Belichick made Brady during their 20 seasons together in New England, this game should provide some answers. This is must-watch television for football fans.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs | Oct. 10
This is a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game. While the Chiefs made back-to-back title game appearances, it was Buffalo's first since the 1993 season. Could the Bills be even better in 2021?
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers | Oct. 17
How much more does Ben Roethlisberger have left in the tank? All signs point to the Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh quarterback hanging it up at the conclusion of this -- his 18th -- season. Roethlisberger threw 33 touchdowns last season coming off elbow surgery, but he'll need to cut back on the costly turnovers this year. After throwing four interceptions over the first nine games last season, he threw 10 over the final seven games, including four in a playoff loss to Cleveland.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers | Oct. 24
The Colts were a surprise wild-card playoff team a season ago, but Philip Rivers has since retired, leaving Indianapolis to trade for quarterback Carson Wentz in the offseason. San Francisco, meanwhile, drafted North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick, making Jimmy Garoppolo a short-time starter before the 49ers turn the offense over to Lance. The 49ers have dropped their last four games against the Colts and haven't beaten Indianapolis by the bay since 1998, when now-retired Peyton Manning was a rookie.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings | Oct. 31
This should be a scary good game on Halloween night. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns last season before he broke his ankle and missed the final 11 games. Two surgeries and a hefty contract extension (his four-year, $160 million deal is the second-richest in NFL history) later, Prescott should be ready to roll when the 2021 season begins. The Cowboys endured one of the worst defenses in team history last season, so head coach Mike McCarthy gave defensive coordinator Mike Nolan the boot and replaced him with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. An improved defense will be necessary against a Minnesota team that ranked fourth overall in total offense.
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams | Nov. 7
The Titans hope to be back here in February for the Super Bowl. Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey is from Tennessee, so he'll be looking to put on a show against the team from his home state. Ramsey recorded 44 tackles, nine pass breakups and an interception in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders | Nov. 14
The Chiefs are 1-0 in Las Vegas since the Raiders relocated to the desert, winning 35-31 last season. Jon Gruden enters his fourth season in his second stint as head coach of the Raiders with playoff aspirations, but to do so will likely mean dethroning the Chiefs, who have won five consecutive AFC West Division titles.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers | Nov. 21
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was impressive as a rookie last season. Herbert set NFL rookie records for completions (396), yards (4,336) and touchdowns (31). Can he lead the Chargers back to the playoffs for only the second time since the team bolted from San Diego in 2017?
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints | Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving)
The Bills and quarterback Josh Allen will spend Thanksgiving in New Orleans. Allen set multiple team records last season, including passing yards (4,544), touchdown passes (37) and total touchdowns (46). How will he fare against a stingy Saints defense that ranked fourth in the NFL a season ago?
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens | Nov. 28
This AFC North Division rivalry is filled with animosity, intensity and -- at least last season -- lots of scoring. The Ravens swept the Browns in 2020, but the game in Cleveland was a nightmare for defensive coordinators as the teams combined for an NFL-record nine rushing touchdowns. The 89 points scored in Baltimore's 47-42 win were also the most scored in the history of the rivalry.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks | Dec. 5
All eyes will be on Russell Wilson when the 49ers visit Seattle. Despite making the playoffs and setting a team record with 459 points scored last season, the Seahawks quarterback seemed disgruntled by the direction of the franchise during the offseason. Wilson was sacked 47 times during the 2020 season and 394 times total since he arrived in Seattle in 2012.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers | Dec. 12
Third-year Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur is 11-1 against NFC North opponents, leading the Packers to consecutive division titles and NFC Championship game appearances. Then there are the Bears, who haven't won at Lambeau Field since 2015.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Dec. 19
Jameis Winston returns to Tampa Bay, which made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. But Winston became expendable once Brady joined the Buccaneers, so Winston spent last season serving as a backup to Drew Brees. Now that Brees has retired, the offense belongs to Winston, who led the NFL in passing yards, completions and attempts while also leading in interceptions during the 2019 season. Oh, and he set an NFL record for interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season. Which Winston will show up in Tampa? The Saints handed Brady the largest margin of defeat in his career in a 38-3 win in Tampa last season.
Washington at Dallas Cowboys | Dec. 26
Despite winning the NFC East Division and making the playoffs in 2020, Washington still had a losing record and went through a revolving door of quarterbacks. Entering his 16th NFL season and ninth team, Ryan Fitzpatrick comes to Washington as the clear No. 1 quarterback. Without Prescott, the Cowboys were swept by Washington in a pair of blowouts -- 25-3 at FedEx Field and 41-16 at Dallas.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers | Jan. 2
Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook finished last season with 1,557 yards -- the second-best in the NFL -- and an NFL-best 137 yards per game from scrimmage. Remember Green Bay's impressive record against NFC North teams? Well, the lone loss was a 28-22 setback against the Vikings at Lambeau Field last November.