National Football League

Week 1 of 2021 NFL season highlighted by Saints-Packers showdown

May 12

The 2021 season will be the biggest in NFL history.

And the expanded 17-game campaign starts with a battle of NFC heavyweights in Week 1, when the Green Bay Packers visit the New Orleans Saints in the second game (4:25 p.m. ET) of a FOX Sunday doubleheader Sept. 12.

The defending NFC South champion Saints hope to begin a new era on a high note as they play their first game following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

The Packers? Well, they're just hoping to have their own future Hall of Famer and reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, under center as they begin defense of their NFC North title. But after a tumultuous offseason, Rodgers' status in Titletown remains murky.

The entire 2021 schedule will be announced tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network and FS1. Single-game tickets go on sale at the same time on

In other Week 1 action on FOX, Russell Wilson and the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks start the season in Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET), where the Colts will have new starting QB Carson Wentz at the helm. Wilson is a perfect 5-0 in his career against Wentz, including a victory in a 2020 NFC Wild Card playoff at Philadelphia.

The Detroit Lions and first-year coach Dan Campbell will get their first look at their new quarterback, Jared Goff, when they host the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Goff is certainly no stranger to the Niners' defense, but he has struggled in 10 career starts with a 3-7 record against San Francisco, including four straight defeats.

Two new coaches will look to begin their careers with a victory in Atlanta, where the Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Sirianni meet Arthur Smith's Atlanta Falcons (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Smith is known for getting the most of his quarterbacks, and he'll be working with former MVP Matt Ryan, who has a new target in rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

The Minnesota Vikings will start their season in Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, FOX), where the Bengals expect to have QB Joe Burrow back from a knee injury and throwing to his favorite target from LSU, rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

The New York Giants will open in Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) and welcome back running back Saquon Barkley, who has not played since tearing his ACL in Week 2 of 2020.

The first game of the season, which traditionally features the defending Super Bowl champions playing on Thursday night, will feature Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 9. The Bucs return all 22 starters on both sides of the ball as they bid to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since 2005.

In one of Week 1's most intriguing games, new Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold will face his former Jets teammates in Charlotte on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), where rookie Zach Wilson will likely make his first career start for New York.

No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence will begin his NFL career on the road when the Jaguars travel to Houston (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Week 1 will also feature two showdowns of AFC powers. In a rematch of an AFC Divisional Playoff from January, the conference champion Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cleveland Browns (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). K.C. won that playoff matchup, 22-17, in a game that went down to the final seconds. Earlier Sunday in Buffalo, the AFC East champion Bills will host the AFC North champion Steelers in a 1 p.m. kickoff.

The Arizona Cardinals, who added three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt in the offseason, will open in Tennessee (1 p.m., CBS).

Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert, the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, will begin his sophomore season on the road against the fierce pass rush of the Washington Football Team (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Bill Belichick's New England Patriots will look to rebound after a rare non-playoff season when they host division rival Miami and its collection of burgeoning young talent.

A pair of intriguing prime-time games will wrap up the opening weekend. The Chicago Bears will travel to L.A. to face the Rams and new QB Matt Stafford on Sunday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

The first Monday night game of the season pits Lamar Jackson and the Ravens against Jon Gruden's Raiders in Las Vegas.

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