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2021 NFL Schedule: Release date, schedule changes, divisional opponents, key dates, more

Published: May 07, 2021 at 06:57 PM

With the the 2021 NFL Draft behind us, the next step this offseason is the anticipated release of the 2021 NFL schedule. Below are the answers to all the key questions to get you ready for the upcoming season.

When is the 2021 NFL schedule released?

Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the NFL schedule release?

A special Schedule Release '21 show will be broadcast live on NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12. The special will feature division-by-division analysis, breaking down the top matchups and all prime-time games.

When does the 2021 NFL season start?

The 2021 NFL Kickoff Weekend is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers being the customary host of the new season's official start.

For information on purchasing tickets, links to all 32 clubs' ticket pages can be found here.

How do they make the NFL schedule?

The league's 32 teams are split into two conferences — the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The 16 teams in each conference are split into the East, North, South and West divisions with every division containing four teams.

Here's a breakdown of how each team's opponents are set:

  • Six games against divisional opponents — two games per team, one at home and one on the road.
  • Four games against teams from a division within its conference — two games at home and two on the road.
  • Four games against teams from a division in the other conference — two games at home and two on the road.
  • Two games against teams from the two remaining divisions in its own conference — one game at home and one on the road. Matchups are based on division ranking from the previous season.
  • Team-by-team opponents for the 2021 NFL season can be found here. The top 10 matchups of the 2021 NFL season have already been laid out by's Nick Shook.

    Insight on how the NFL schedule is created every season can be found here.

    When and where is the Super Bowl?

    Super Bowl LVI is scheduled to be played on Sunday, Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California -- home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.

    Is the NFL having preseason games?

    Yes. As part of the many changes approved by NFL owners ahead of the 2021 NFL season, this new year will feature three preseason games per club.

    Is the NFL playing 17 Games?

    Yes. NFL owners approved a 17-game schedule in March. Each club will now take part in an additional AFC vs. NFC game based on division standings from the prior season and on a rotating divisional basis with AFC teams as the home squad for the additional game this season.

    Source: 2021 NFL Schedule: Release date, schedule changes, divisional opponents, key dates, more

    NFL Says in Memo Training Camps Can Take Place Away from Team Facilities

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The NFL will allow teams to conduct training camps away from team facilities after prohibiting the practice in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a Friday memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the NFL Management Council said any club that wishes to conduct camp activities at a location other than its home stadium or headquarters can do so with league approval of an infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plan.

    IDER plans must be submitted by June 11. 

    That process shouldn't be unusual for teams. The league required all clubs to get joint approval from the NFL and NFL Players Association on an IDER plan last year before athletes arrived at camp. According to Friday's memo, the league will be using the same form.

    This year, leagues must include information on air flow and filtration for any alternative location, hotel or transportation being utilized.

    Additionally, the league confirmed vaccinated staff members may interact and gather with each other outside club facilities during the offseason. Players are permitted to do the same. However, staffers and players cannot gather with each other yet. Clubs are also prohibited from sponsoring or organizing offsite events for players and staff to interact.

    Players for nearly two dozen teams have announced they will not attend offseason training activities or minicamps for health and safety reasons. After the NFL hosted a virtual offseason last year, many in the NFLPA are pushing to continue the practice.

    It's unclear which teams plan to submit IDER plans to host training camps outside their home facilities.

    Source: NFL Says in Memo Training Camps Can Take Place Away from Team Facilities

    NFL Draft: What Experts Are Saying About the Jaguars in Way-Too-Early 2022 Projections

    There is always a too early time to look forward to the NFL Draft. It is the most exciting and impactful three-day event on the NFL's calendar, but teams and fans alike are turning their eyes toward the 2021 NFL season. 

    But scouts and draft analysts have the luxury of being able to do both. As a result, there is already an abundance of way-too-early projections for next year's draft to give an idea of which prospects are currently being considered as top prospects. 

    The Jaguars and their fan base have as much of a reason as any team to ignore the 2022 draft -- Jacksonville just drafted Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall and new head coach Urban Meyer has breathed life into the organization. With that in mind, Jacksonville's future wins will be built through the 2022 draft, so it is always a worthy exercise to at least take a small look ahead. 

    With this in mind, what are the experts currently saying about the Jaguars when it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft, and what do we think of the early projections? 

    Todd McShay, ESPN: Jaguars select LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr., at No. 3 overall

    Who knows what the Jaguars' needs look like entering the 2022 NFL Draft, but cornerback being the most pressing need would be ... surprising. Really surprising, even. Still, McShay sees it as the pick because Stingley is the best player on the board. 

    "The Jaguars took Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell in the second round this year, and they used the No. 9 overall pick on CJ Henderson in 2020. But Stingley is special and would be an immediate starter for the Jacksonville defense," McShay wrote.

    Derek Stingley is a terrific player who was perhaps the best cornerback in all of college football as a freshman in 2019, but it is hard to wrap one's head around the Jaguars taking a cornerback with their first pick in 2022, even when looking from a year away. This doubt is even more magnified if the pick is as in the top-3 like McShay and ESPN slotted. 

    Few teams have invested more into the cornerback position in the last two seasons than the Jaguars. The Jaguars have a former No. 9 overall pick in CJ Henderson, this year's No. 33 overall pick in Tyson Campbell, and a big-money free agent in Shaquill Griffin. If even one of those players don't hit and aren't impact players by 2022, the Jaguars still have enough invested in the group in general to not pick a cornerback this early.

    Stingley is a good player and the best strategy at the top of the draft is to take the best players on the board regardless of need, but the Jaguars and the cornerback position take that theory too far. 

    To make matters worse, here are the positions picked in the rest of McShay's top-10: OT, OT, S, QB, EDGE, OT, CB. The Jaguars won't need a quarterback at this point in 2022, but offensive tackle, edge, and safety all would have made a lot more sense than cornerback. 

    Dane Brugler, The Athletic: Jaguars select Texas A&M OT Kenyon Green at No. 5 overall

    Jaguars fans likely wouldn't be in love with the idea of taking another Texas A&M offensive tackle in the top-5 due to Luke Joeckel busting, but that doesn't impact any actual draft implications for the Jaguars. As a result, Dane Brugler goes a safe route and mocks Kenyon Green to the Jaguars.

    "An All-American at left guard as a sophomore, Green is expected to make the move to left tackle as the Aggies’ only returning offensive lineman. He is a balanced, explosive mover with the upper-body power and awareness that NFL teams covet," Brugler wrote. 

    It isn't hard to think offensive tackle is high on the Jaguars' priority list in 2022. They will have needs on the interior since A.J. Cann and Andrew Norwell are both on expiring contracts, but there could needs at tackle too. Left tackle Cam Robinson was franchise tagged in March and is only guaranteed to be on the roster in 2021. Meanwhile Jawaan Taylor, a former second-round pick and two-year starter at right tackle, likely has to make a leap in 2021 to impress Urban Meyer and his offensive staff. 

    If Robinson and Taylor both play poorly in 2021, the Jaguars would legitimately have two holes at offensive tackle entering Trevor Lawrence's second season. 2021 No. 45 overall pick Walker Little can fill one of those holes, but the Jaguars could still be looking for a player to fill the hole on the other side of the offensive line.

    "Walker Little is going to push our tackles. Our tackles have to play better. I like how hard they’re working, I like their talent level, but the best thing you can do is create a little competition, and I’ve made that clear with Walker," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said on Saturday following the 2021 NFL Draft. 

    Mike Renner, PFF: Jaguars select Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal at No. 5 overall

    Out of these three picks, this one seems like the best fit as of this way-too-early moment. The Jaguars got zero production from the defensive tackle position in 2020 and that led to them making additions such as Malcom Brown, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Jay Tufele. Even with this group, the Jaguars could still spend an early-round selection on a defensive tackle because none of those three players came at a particularly large long-term investment, especially past 2021. 

    "Leal has shown inside-outside versatility at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds and earned himself an 88.3 overall grade for the Aggies as a true sophomore last year. He’s got the kind of twitch that warrants a top-five selection," Renner wrote.

    Leal seems like an Urban Meyer-type player, too. He was the No. 16 overall recruit coming out of high school, a five-star player who was also ranked by 247Sports as the No. 2 defensive tackle recruit in 2019. He played as a true freshman in the SEC, recording two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. 

    Leal took a big step forward in 2020, setting him up for a breakout campaign in 2021. He started all 10 games and, according to Texas A&M, led the team in hurries with eight and ranked fifth in tackles with 37. He also added 2.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, one interception, one fumble recovery, and three pass deflections.

    Source: NFL Draft: What Experts Are Saying About the Jaguars in Way-Too-Early 2022 Projections

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