2021 NFL schedule release: Live analysis, Thanksgiving matchups, Thursday/Monday night games and more

The leaks are over, the 2021 NFL schedule has been released! 

Now that we have the full 272-game regular season schedule, here are a few highlights: 

  • The Buccaneers will kick off off the NFL season by hosting the Cowboys in the Thursday night opener (Sept. 9).
  • Tom Brady will be making his long-awaited return to New England when the Buccaneers play at the Patriots in a Week 4 Sunday night game.
  • The annual triple-header on Thanksgiving Day will open with the Bears at the Lions followed by the Raiders at the Cowboys. The Bills will then travel to New Orleans for the Turkey Day nightcap. 
  • The NFL is giving us a doubleheader on Christmas Day. On Saturday, Dec. 25, the Packers will host the Browns and the Cardinals will host the Colts.
  • Finally, as you've probably heard, the NFL will be playing 17 games this year for the first-time ever, which means the season won't be ending until Jan. 9. The extra week means that the Super Bowl will be held on Feb. 13, which is the latest it has ever been held.  

If you want to know more about your favorite team's schedule, be sure to join us on CBS Sports HQ on Thursday night, because we'll be breaking down everything you need to know about the schedule until midnight. You can find the link for our coverage by clicking here

If you want to stick around in the live blog, we'll be analyzing each team's schedule as they get released. 

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Finally, let's close things out with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Tampa Bay's biggest problem on the schedule: When you're the defending champion, you don't have to worry about problems. However, the Buccaneers biggest speed bump on the schedule probably starts in Week 3 when they have to play three road games in four weeks. One of those games will come in Los Angeles (Week 3) and then they have to fly all the way across the country for Tom Brady's reunion with the Patriots in Week 4.

One thing the Buccaneers should like: The Buccaneers close the season with three very winnable games (at Panthers, at Jets and Panthers), which means if they're in a dog fight for the top seed, they're probably going to get it.

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Buccaneers 2021 schedule Buccaneers
May 13, 2021, 2:02 AM
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Let's move on to the Washington Football Team.

Washington's biggest problem on the schedule: They have a three-game stretch starting in Week 5 where they play the Chiefs, Saints and Packers. Of course, that stretch won't seem so bad if Green Bay ends up trading Aaron Rodgers.

One thing the Football Team should like: They get to close the season with five straight games against teams that all missed the playoffs last year.

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Washington 2021 schedule Washington Football Team
May 13, 2021, 1:57 AM
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The Seahawks will actually be playing the Steelers this year, so let's check out Pittsburgh's schedule.

Pittsburgh's biggest problem on the schedule: The Steelers close the season with a brutal stretch that sees them playing four teams that made the playoffs last season (Titans, at Chiefs, Browns, at Ravens)

One thing the Steelers should like: Starting in Week 2, the Steelers will be getting four of five games at home and three of those four home games will come against teams that didn't make the playoffs last year.

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Steelers 2021 schedule Steelers
May 13, 2021, 1:54 AM
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Let's keep things in the NFC West and check out Seattle's schedule.

Seattle's biggest problem on the schedule: The Seahawks open with three of four games on the road and those games will have the team traveling all over the place with one in the central time zone, one in the eastern time zone and one in the pacific time zone.

One thing the Seahawks should like: They get three primetime home games, which is good news for the Seahawks, because they're almost unbeatable at home in primetime.

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Seahawks 2021 schedule Seahawks
May 13, 2021, 1:51 AM
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Let's head out west to check out the 49ers schedule.

San Francisco's biggest problem on the schedule: The 49ers have five games in the eastern time zone that are scheduled to kickoff at 10 a.m. ET, which isn't ideal for a team coming from the west coast.

One thing the 49ers should like: They have the Jaguars, Bengals, Falcons and Texans on their schedule, teams that just happened to finished with four of the five worst records in the NFL last season.

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49ers 2021 schedule 49ers
May 13, 2021, 1:48 AM
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Let's stay in the Big Apple and check out the Jets schedule.

New York's biggest problem on the schedule: Four of their final five games are against teams that all finished 10-6 or better last season (Saints, Dolphins, Buccaneers, Bills)

One thing the Jets should like: They get four of five games at home starting in Week 10.

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Jets 2021 schedule Jets
May 13, 2021, 1:45 AM
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Let's head back to the NFC East for the New York Giants.

New York's biggest problem on the schedule: The Giants will start their December off by playing four of five games on the road, which is definitely not how any NFL team wants to start off their December.

One thing the Giants should like: The Giants will come out of the gate with three games against teams that all finished with a losing record last year, which means starting 3-0 isn't completely out of the question.

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Giants 2021 schedule Giants
May 13, 2021, 1:41 AM
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It's time for the fighting Jameis Winston's AKA the Saints.

New Orleans' biggest problem on the schedule: Coming out of their Week 6 bye, the Saints will play three games in four weeks against teams that made the playoffs last year (Seahawks, Buccaneers, Titans).

One thing the Saints should like: If Aaron Rodgers isn't on the field in Week 1, there's a chance the Saints could beat the Packers on their way to a 5-0 start.

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Saints 2021 schedule Saints
May 13, 2021, 1:38 AM
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Time to check in on the Vikings.

Minnesota's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 9, the Vikings play four of five on the road and those four games will come all over the country with two in California and two in the eastern time zone.

One thing the Vikings should like:They have a three-game stretch starting in Week 5 where they play three teams that all finished 6-10 or worse last season.

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Vikings 2021 schedule Vikings
May 13, 2021, 1:35 AM
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Let's stay in the AFC East and head to New England

New England's biggest problem on the schedule: Tom Brady will be returning to New England in Week 4 and he's going to be out for blood. Also, starting in Week 12, the Patriots play four straight games against playoff teams from last year (Titans, at Bills, at Colts, Bills).

One thing the Patriots should like: Starting in Week 5, they get five straight games against teams that all finished with a losing record last year.

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Patriots 2021 schedule Patriots
May 13, 2021, 1:32 AM
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Let's take our talents to South Beach and check out the Dolphins schedule.

Miami's biggest problem on the schedule: They close the season with the Saints, Titans and Patriots, which could get ugly.

One thing the Dolphins should like: Starting in Week 9, the Dolphins will only leave Miami one time between Nov. 1 and Dec. 26. While everyone else is battling cold-weather, the Dolphins will get to hang out at home.

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Dolphins 2021 schedule Dolphins
May 13, 2021, 1:28 AM
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Let's stay out west and head back to Los Angeles with the Rams.

Los Angeles' biggest problem on the schedule: Starting with a Monday night game against the Cardinals in Week 14, the Rams have to play three of four games on the road.

One thing the Rams should like: The Rams open the season with three of their first four games at home and if they can get off to a hot start, they just might be able to win the division in 2021.

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Rams 2021 schedule Rams
May 13, 2021, 1:24 AM
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Let's go ahead and close out the AFC West with the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS.

Las Vegas' biggest problem on the schedule: The season could get off to an ugly start for the Raiders and that's because they open with three straight games against teams that went 10-6 or better in 2020. That includes a Monday nighter in Week 1 followed by a cross-country trip to Pittsburgh on a short week.

One thing the Raiders should like: Coming out of their Week 8 bye, they get four of five games against the Giants, Bengals, Cowboys and Washington, which all feel winnable.

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Raiders 2021 schedule Raiders
May 13, 2021, 1:20 AM
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Let's continue our run through the AFC West with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Los Angeles' biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 3, they'll be facing the Chiefs, Browns and Ravens over a four-game stretch and all three of those are very losable games.

One thing the Chargers should like: Starting in Week 12, the Chargers get three straight games against teams that were all 6-10 or worse last season.

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Chargers 2021 schedule Chargers
May 13, 2021, 1:18 AM
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Now it's time for the defending AFC Champs. Let's check out the Chiefs schedule.

Kansas City's biggest problem on the schedule: The Chiefs close the season with three out of four games on the road. Problems don't really seem to bother the Chiefs though, so this probably won't be a big deal.

One thing the Chiefs should like: Starting in Week 8, the Chiefs will go through an seven-week stretch where they only play one game on the road. If you're scoring at home, that means they'll only be leaving Kansas City once between Oct. 25 and Dec. 15.

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Chiefs 2021schedule Chiefs
May 13, 2021, 1:14 AM
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Let's go ahead and close out the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 6, the Titans will go through an ugly five-game stretch against five teams that all made the playoffs last year (Bills, Chiefs, at Colts, at Rams, Saints).

One thing the Titans should like: They have a Week 13 bye followed by three home games in four weeks, which means they could make a late-season run.

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Titans 2021 schedule Titans
May 13, 2021, 1:11 AM
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Let's keep this party going in the AFC South with the Colts.

Indy's biggest problem on the schedule: They start the season by playing five straight games against teams that all won 10 or more games last season. Carson Wentz better pick up Indy's offense quickly or things could get ugly.

One thing the Colts should like: Three straight home games starting in Week 8 and they're all winnable (Titans, Jets, Jaguars)

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Colts 2021 schedule Colts
May 13, 2021, 1:08 AM
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Houston, we have a problem. I feel like that's going to be the Texans' theme for the year.

Houston's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 4, they start a stretch where they play four of six games on the road and that stretch is brutal (at Bills, Patriots, at Colts, at Cardinals, Rams, at Dolphins).

One thing the Texans should like: They get three straight home games starting in Week 12.

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Texans 2021 schedule Texans
May 13, 2021, 1:05 AM
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Let's keep things in the NFC North with the Packers schedule.

Green Bay's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 10, they start a stretch where they play six of seven games against teams that made the playoffs last year (Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams, Bears, Ravens, Browns). That could be a nightmare if they don't have Aaron Rodgers.

One thing the Packers should like: After going 5-1 in the division last year, the Packers will be thrilled to see that they close the season with two straight division games (Vikings, Lions).

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Packers 2021 schedule Packers
May 13, 2021, 1:01 AM
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Now, we're heading from Denver to Detroit.

Detroit's biggest problem on the schedule: They open the season with three games in their first four weeks against playoff teams from last year. The only game that isn't against a playoff team is against a 49ers team that made it to the Super Bowl in 2019.

One thing the Lions should like: The most winnable stretch on their schedule starts in Week 13 with a run of four straight games against teams that all finished with a non-winning record last year (Vikings, Broncos, Cardinals, Falcons). If the Lions can't take advantage of that, it's going to be a long year.

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Lions 2021 schedule Lions
May 13, 2021, 12:56 AM
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Let's move on to the Broncos!

Denver's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 4, they'll be going through an AFC North gauntlet with three games against the division in four weeks and those games are against the Ravens, Browns and Steelers.

One thing the Broncos should like: Starting in Week 12, they get three of four games at home and all three of those home games are against teams that finished with a non-winning record last season.

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Broncos 2021 schedule Broncos
May 13, 2021, 12:53 AM
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It's time for America's Team.

Dallas' biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 11, they play four of five games on the road with two of those games coming against the Chiefs and Saints.

One thing the Cowboys should like: They get three straight very winnable home games starting in Week 3 (Eagles, Panthers, Giants).

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Cowboys 2021 schedule Cowboys
May 13, 2021, 12:40 AM
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And now we're jumping from the AFC North to the NFC North with the Bears.

Chicago's biggest problem on the schedule: They don't play consecutive home games the entire season.

One thing the Bears should like: Starting in Week 2, there's a stretch of three games in four weeks that are very winnable with the Bears playing the Bengals, Lions and Raiders.

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Bears 2021 schedule Bears
May 13, 2021, 12:36 AM
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Let's stay in Ohio and do the Cleveland Browns

Cleveland's biggest problem on the schedule: Brutal stretch starting in Week 12 where they play four out of five games against teams that made the playoffs last year (Ravens x 2, Packers, Steelers).

One thing the Browns should like: From Week 2 to Week 7, the Browns don't play a single team that finished 2020 with a winning record.

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Browns 2021 schedule Browns
May 13, 2021, 12:32 AM
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Up next: The Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati's biggest problem on the schedule: They close the season by playing three straight games against playoff teams from last year (Ravens, Chiefs, Browns). That's not ideal .

One thing the Bengals should like: They only leave Cincinnati once between Nov. 22 and Jan. 8, which is kind of crazy.

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Bengals 2021 schedule Bengals
May 13, 2021, 12:29 AM
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Let's move on to the Panthers

Carolina's biggest problem on the schedule: The Panthers got handed arguably the most brutal closing stretch of any team in football. Their final four games are: At Bills, Buccaneers, at Saints, at Buccaneers.

One thing the Panthers should like: The reason the Panthers schedule is backloaded is because in 10 of their first 11 games, they play a team that finished with a losing record last year. The Panthers are going to have to capitalize on that early schedule if they want to be good.

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Panthers 2021 schedule Panthers
May 13, 2021, 12:24 AM
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Next up: The Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore's biggest problem on the schedule: Starting in Week 10, the Ravens play four of five on the road and all four road games come against teams that either made the playoffs or finished with a winning record last season (Dolphins, Bears, Steelers, Browns).

One thing the Ravens should like: The Ravens should send a thank-you note and that's because the NFL gifted them with four straight home games starting in Week 5. From Oct. 4 to Nov. 10, the Ravens won't leave Baltimore a single time.

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Ravens 2021 schedule Ravens
May 13, 2021, 12:19 AM
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Let's head out to Buffalo and check out their schedule:

Buffalo's biggest problem on the schedule: A game against the Chiefs in Week 5 starts a brutal stretch where Buffalo has to play four of five on the road.

One thing the Bills should like: Bills open with three of four games at home. If they can beat the Steelers in Week 1, there's a pretty solid path to 4-0. Also, the Bills get three of their final four games at home.

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Bills 2021 schedule Bills
May 13, 2021, 12:16 AM
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Jumping back to the AFC, let's check out the Jaguars schedule

Jacksonville's biggest problem on the schedule: From Week 13 thru Week 17, the Jaguars play four of five on the road. Yikes.

One thing the Jaguars should like: They get to open the season against four teams that didn't make the playoffs last year, which means they'll have a good chance of matching their 2020 win total during that span.

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Jaguars 2021 schedule Jaguars
May 13, 2021, 12:13 AM
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Let's keep this bird team theme going with the Eagles

Philadelphia's biggest problem on the schedule: From Nov. 8 to Dec. 17, the Eagles only play one home game. Thats not ideal when you're coming off a 4-11-1 season and you have a young QB.

One thing the Eagles should like: They get a Week 14 bye, which is the latest bye any team has ever been given since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002. The Eagles also play zero road games against teams that finished with a winning record last year. 

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Eagles 2021 schedule Eagles
May 13, 2021, 12:11 AM
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