SPORTS2021 NFL Schedules – Winners and Losers

The NFL released its teams’ schedules last week, and with many stadiums teasing fans about possible opening-day full capacity games, folks are excited. Adding to the buzz: eight lucky fanbases get to travel to Las Vegas this year to rage in their brand new luxury endzone that is an extension of the Wynn Nightclub fully equipped with hot tubs and bottle service (and rumors of easily accessible cocaine for when the Dolphins come to town)....
Gary Flick7 months ago18818 min
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The NFL released its teams’ schedules last week, and with many stadiums teasing fans about possible opening-day full capacity games, folks are excited. Adding to the buzz: eight lucky fanbases get to travel to Las Vegas this year to rage in their brand new luxury endzone that is an extension of the Wynn Nightclub fully equipped with hot tubs and bottle service (and rumors of easily accessible cocaine for when the Dolphins come to town). Last year was the first year as the Vegas Raiders, but all home games were zero capacity. 

The only COVID restriction related to scheduling was the shortening of the pre-season to two games. All they need to do is shorten it two more games, and it will be the perfect length of “non-existent.” That, of course, is an opinion, but it’s fact the Pittsburgh Steelers have the most difficult schedule based on last year’s win percentages of their opponents, it’s also fact that the Philadelphia Eagles have the easiest by the same measurement.

Below is a divisional breakdown of who plays whom this year, but first, your eight teams who hit the 777 and get to get 21-kinds-of-wonky in the north endzone at Allegiant Stadium with Celine Dion and David Copperfield:

  • Sept 13 – BALTIMORE RAVENS @ LV Raiders
  • Sept 26 – MIAMI DOLPHINS @ LV Raiders (#letitsnow)
  • Oct 10 – CHICAGO BEARS @ LV Raiders
  • Oct 24 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ LV Raiders 
  • Nov 14 – KC CHIEFS @ LV Raiders
  • Nov 21 – CINNCINNATTI BENGALS @ LV Raiders
  • Dec 5 – WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM @ LV Raiders
  • Dec 26 – DENVER BRONCO @ LV Raiders

If the Steelers didn’t have it bad enough with the worst schedule in the league, they also drew the short stick and missed out on the only away game any fan base wants, and that’s against the Raiders who travel to Pittsburgh on Sept 19.

Each team in the NFL plays 16 games. 6 against their divisional opponents (one home, one away X 3) every year, and then each year each team plays all the teams in one division within their conference, and all the teams in one division from the opposing conference, and then two generally random opponents (also in-conference, though). 

We’ll start with the AFC North because the Steelers aren’t getting any love anywhere else. 

Key: DC – Division Champs; W – Wildcard

AFC North

Teams: Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Brown

2020 Playoff Teams: Steelers (DC), Ravens (W), Browns (W)

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC West – Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC North – Lions, Bears, Packers, Vikings

Synopsis: Having 3 teams make the playoffs from a single division is fairly rare in the NFL, though will become more frequent now that 14 teams make the playoffs (this started last year, up from 12). One of the reasons the Steelers have the toughest schedule is because they have to play two other 11-win teams twice in the Browns and the Ravens. With a healthy Joe Burrow, the Bengals should surely improve as well. This is arguably the strongest division in football and any divisional games will be fun to watch; three AFC North teams could definitely make the playoffs again. 

AFC West

Teams: Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos

2020 Playoff Teams: Chiefs (DC)

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC North – Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC East – Eagles, Football Team, Giants, Cowboys

Synopsis: Drawing the NFC East is certainly a nice draw of the proverbial straw, as the division was the worst in history last year and no teams have made any ridiculous moves to inflict any fear on opponents. However, that simply evens out having to face the AFC North. The Chargers are probably set to make the biggest leap, with AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert strapping in for his second season, but the Chiefs are a powerhouse and heavy favorites to win this division for the 6th straight year, having never won at least 12 games in 4 of those last 5 seasons. No other team was above .500 in 2020. 

AFC East

Teams: Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

2020 Playoff Teams: Bills (DC)

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC South – Texans, Colts, Titans, Jaguars

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC South –  Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons, Panthers

Synopsis: Though not a playoff team, the Dolphins went 10-6 last year and Tua is poised to make some noise in his second season. Speaking of quarterbacks, though, Josh Allen is an absolute monster and my pre-season pick for MVP. The Bills are going to be tough to knock off the top spot, but expect another team from this division to make the playoffs. Probably the Dolphins, but we all know the Patriots can never be discounted (though it’s kind of nice to see a new king of the AFC East for anyone not from Massachusetts or whatever other states are up there). 

AFC South

Teams: Texans, Colts, Titans, Jaguars

2020 Playoff Teams: Titans (DC), Colts (W)

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC East – Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC West – Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals

Synopsis: The Titans and Colts jockeyed for this division all season last year. The Texans and Jaguars did not, combining for 5 wins. Most expect the same to happen this year, as the latter two are still very much in rebuild mode, but I genuinely believe that the Colts are putting too much faith in a guy who was just the quarterback for the worst team in the worst division in Carson Wentz. Anyone other than the Titans winning this division would be a huge surprise to me, and I think there is a better chance of two NFC East teams making the playoffs than two AFC South ones. 

NFC East

Teams: Eagles, Football Team, Giants, Cowboys

2020 Playoff Teams: Football Team (DC)

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC South –  Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons, Panthers

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC West – Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos

Synopsis: Already hemorrhaging as the worst division in football, the East could do even worst in 2021 drawing the two division who were represented in last year’s Super Bowl. The Cowboys look to bounce back with a healthy Dak Prescott, and if anyone is going to win ten games, it’s probably them. However, that probably won’t happen, and an 8-win Eagles team, fueled by the weakest schedule in football is my homer prediction to win this coveted title equivalent to being the fastest 3-legged dog at the dog park. 

NFC North

Teams: Packers, Vikings, Bears, Lions

2020 Playoff Teams: Packers (DC), Bears, Vikings, Lions

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC West – Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC North – Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bengals

Synopsis: Similar to it’s North counterpart in the AFC, the NFC North is always a slugfest. Though no team did better than 8-8 except the MVP-laden Packers (13-3), there could still be some surprises in this division. Let’s be honest: Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting traded, he’s getting assurance that he’ll have a stadium box full of whores for the rest of his life once he promises to stay a Packer. The other quarterback getting some attention is Jared Goff, who went to Detroit in a blockbuster trade sending Stafford out of Detroit. I don’t think much is going to happen because of it, but it sure was a big trade. Expect the Pack to win, but there’s a solid chance this division sends two teams to the playoffs again. 

NFC South 

Teams: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

2020 Playoff Teams: Saints (DC), Buccaneers (W [for World Champs in this case])

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC East – Eagles, Football Team, Giants, Cowboys

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC East – Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

Synopsis: It was a true joy to see Drew Brees go out as close to the top as one of Tom Brady’s peers could possibly go out. It wasn’t Tom’s fault he wound up in the same division and got to show everyone in Tampa how to win Super Bowls again, and how to party like a maniac who was stuck at boarding school for 20 years and just shown his first bong. With Brees gone, the Bucs should win this division, but that Sean Payton guy is a genius and I expect the Saints to make the playoffs again, even without Mr. Brees. 

NFC West

Teams: Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, 49ers

2020 Playoff Teams: Seahawks (DC), Rams (W)

2021 NFC Division Faced: NFC North – Packers, Vikings, Bears, Lions

2021 AFC Division Faced: AFC South – Texans, Colts, Titans, Jaguars

Synopsis:

Even though the 49ers went 6-10 last year, this feels like the probably NFC division to send three teams to the playoffs, if one division does, indeed, do that. The Seahawks and Rams both made offseason upgrades, as did the Cardinals who are young, fun, and well-coached by a young up and comer. It’s not going to be a shared opinion by most, but I actually think the Cardinals take this, and we also see the Seahawks and Rams make the playoffs all while the 49ers dish out some surprise victories. 

 

Gary Flick

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