NFL 2021. Photo: ticketmaster
NFL 2021. Photo: ticketmaster

The NFL will change its schedule for the first time in 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played Jan. 9, 2022. The playoffs will begin Jan. 15, 2022, and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022, at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.

Here's a bold prediction for every team following the schedule release.

The Athletic's NFL writers broke down what to expect and what to look forward to as the league prepares for a 2021 season that likely will welcome fans back to its stadiums.

The full Week 1 schedule was announced Wednesday morning, kicking off with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys. And later in the season Bucs quarterback, Tom Brady will face his former team for the first time, a matchup that figures to be the most-hyped regular-season game in Patriots history. Somewhat surprisingly, the Bucs by one measure has one of the two easiest schedules in the league.

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The 2021 schedule is out and if you are ready for some football, Vivid Seats is here to help. Check out the games you want to see to find something in your price range. How high will the Bucs at Pats tickets soar?

The Athletic's NFL staff studied the schedules and came up with predicted order of finish for each division. But before that, NFL writers Mark Kaboly, Mike Sando and Vic Tafur were here offering their thoughts on the schedule, the matchups, the TV picture, and more.

Win/Loss Total Predictions for all 32 NFL Teams

Here's the best prediction for every team following the NFL schedule release.

1.Buffalo Bills

Is it still bold to say the Bills will win their second straight AFC East title? Probably not, so let's go bolder. I said they would sweep the division last season and they did so, despite a nail-biter or two. How about this: Buffalo does so again in 2021. That's right, two years without losing a division game.

Read More: Buffalo Bills Predictions

2.Miami Dolphins

Despite the need to start strong, the Dolphins will be 1-3 after four games. That start will be too much to overcome, and the Dolphins will miss the playoffs

Read More: Miami Dolphins Predictions

3.New England Patriots

The Patriots will be 3-0 entering their Week 4 matchup against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who will also be 3-0 entering the game -- further heightening the hype and excitement for what promises to be one of the most memorable nights in Gillette Stadium history.

Read More: New England Patriots Predictions

4.New York Jets

New coach, new quarterback, new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, pretty much new everything -- and that's a good thing because the old way stunk. But there will be growing pains, plenty of growing pains, so the Jets are headed to a 6-11 season.

Read More: New York Jets Predictions

5.Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens will sweep their December division road trips to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati. How bold is this? The Ravens have gone undefeated on the road in the AFC North only twice (2011 and 2019). But Lamar Jackson has shown that he plays his best at the end of the regular season. He has won his past 11 starts in December, producing a league-high Total QBR (78.5) and scoring the most total touchdowns (31).

Read More: Baltimore Ravens Predictions

6.Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati will win at least two games against the NFC North and the AFC North. That combination should be enough to keep the Bengals' playoff hopes afloat as they enter December.

7.Cleveland Browns

In a rematch from last year's divisional playoffs, the Browns will knock off Kansas City for just their second season-opening victory since returning to the NFL in 1999 (Cleveland defeated Baltimore to begin the 2004 season). The Browns have not won a game in Week 1 since, falling to the Ravens 38-6 last year in the opener.

Read More: Cleveland Browns Predictions

8.Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers will go 0-4 to end the season and miss the playoffs in 2021. The team suffered a late-season slump a year ago, losing four of their final five games, including to a woeful Bengals squad. This time around, the Steelers could be facing four juggernauts in Tennessee, Cleveland, Kansas City and Baltimore -- and two of those games are on the road.

Read More: Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions

9.Houston Texans

The Texans will get swept in the AFC South. Half of the Texans' four wins in 2020 came against the Jaguars, who finished last in the division and ended up with the No. 1 pick. Jacksonville used that pick to take quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and his addition might be enough to leave the Texans in last place and 0-6 in the AFC South in 2021.

10.Indianapolis Colts

The Colts will beat Tom Brady in a game for the first time since Peyton Manning was the franchise quarterback. The Colts have lost nine straight meetings -- including two in the playoffs -- to Brady, with each loss occurring when he played with the New England Patriots. Indianapolis hasn't beaten Brady since Nov. 15, 2009.

11.Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars will end their eight-year losing streak in Nashville against the Titans. (They haven't won there since 2013, which was Gus Bradley's first season as coach.) Why? Because coach Urban Meyer is fantastic in rivalry games. He went 16-2 at Florida against Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State and 7-0 at Ohio State against Michigan. The Titans are the Jaguars' biggest rival.

12.Tennessee Titans

The Titans will sweep their AFC East opponents. Going against the revamped Patriots and an improved Dolphins roster will be a challenge. The biggest threat to the sweep will be the Bills, but they have to travel to Nissan Stadium to face the Titans at home.

13.Denver Broncos

Who will line up under center in Week 1? Will Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater compete or will the Green Bay Packers relent and trade Aaron Rodgers? No matter who is throwing the ball, the Broncos will have two 70-catch wide receivers -- Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy -- for the first time since 2016, when Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders finished that season with 90 and 79 catches, respectively.

14.Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs won't get off to their usual fast start. They have too many strong opponents in the early season. Five of their first seven games are against 2020 playoff teams.

15.Las Vegas Raiders

The offense will hum early, the defense will not fold late and the Raiders will win more than they lose in December and January and, backed by a raucous home-field advantage in a fan-filled Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas will finally (mercifully?) fulfill coach Jon Gruden's vision and qualify for the playoffs. You wanted bold, right?

16.Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers will make the playoffs for the third time since 2009 and beat the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs at least once. They will also beat the Raiders and Broncos in their division, setting them up for the postseason.

17.Dallas Cowboys

NFL calendar: Key 2021 dates, Full offseason schedule

April 19 – June 18: NFL offseason workout programs

The NFL released its offseason workout schedule, detailing when teams can begin having players for workouts at team facilities.

  • Phase 1 – April 19 May 14: No on-field workouts permitted
  • Phase 2 – May 17 – 21: NFL teams may begin limited on-field work
  • Phase 3 May 24 – June 18: Teams can increase on-field work, hold 10 organized team activities

June 8-10 or June 15-17: Mandatory Minicamp opens

After voluntary OTAs, players must report for mandatory minicamp with their teams in June. Under the new CBA, any player who doesn’t attend minicamp will be fined daily. The rule was included to reduce the number of contract holdouts.

Thursday, August 5: Hall of Fame Game, NFL preseason begins

As we learned upon the 17-game regular-season schedule reveal, the current plans are for the NFL preseason to be reduced from four to three games. It was canceled in 2020, as was the annual Hall of Fame game, which is played in Canton, Ohio.

In the three prior years it was played, the exhibition opener took place on the first Thursday of August, hence the projected date here.

2021 NFL Schedule: Team-by-team opponents for NFC

Photo: usatoday
Photo: usatoday

Baltimore Ravens 2021 schedule

Week Baltimore Ravens 2021 opponent Time (ET) TV
1 @ Las Vegas Raiders (MNF) 8:15 PM ESPN, ABC
2 vs. Kansas City Chiefs (SNF) 8:20 PM NBC
3 @ Detroit Lions 1 PM CBS
4 @ Denver Broncos 4:25 PM CBS
5 vs. Indianapolis Colts (MNF) 8:15 PM ESPN
6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers 1 PM CBS
7 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 1 PM CBS
9 vs. Minnesota Vikings 1 PM FOX
10 @ Miami Dolphins (TNF) 8:20 PM FOX/NFLN
11 @ Chicago Bears 1 PM CBS
12 vs. Cleveland Browns (SNF) 8:20 PM NBC
13 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 4:25 PM CBS
14 @ Cleveland Browns 1 PM CBS
15 vs. Green Bay Packers 1 PM FOX
16 @ Cincinnati Bengals 1 PM CBS
17 vs. Los Angeles Rams 4:25 PM FOX
18 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM CBS

Cincinnati Bengals 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Week Cincinnati Bengals 2021 opponents Time (ET) TV
1 vs. Minnesota Vikings 1 PM FOX
2 @ Chicago Bears 1 PM FOX
3 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM CBS
4 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (TNF) 8:20 PM NFLN
5 vs. Green Bay Packers 1 PM FOX
6 @ Detroit Lions 1 PM FOX
7 @ Baltimore Ravens 1 PM CBS
8 @ New York Jets 1 PM CBS
9 vs. Cleveland Browns 1 PM CBS
10 BYE
11 @ Las Vegas Raiders 4:05 PM CBS
12 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM CBS
13 vs. Los Angeles Chargers 1 PM FOX
14 vs. San Francisco 49ers 1 PM CBS
15 @ Denver Broncos 4:05 PM CBS
16 vs. Baltimore Ravens 1 PM CBS
17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs 1 PM CBS
18 @ Cleveland Browns 1 PM CBS

Cleveland Browns 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Cleveland Browns 2021 away opponents Cleveland Browns 2021 home opponents
Bengals Bengals
Ravens Ravens
Steelers Steelers
Chargers Bears
Chiefs Broncos
Patriots Lions
Packers Raiders
Vikings Texans
17th game: Cardinals

Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 away opponents Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 home opponents
Bengals Bengals
Browns Browns
Ravens Ravens
Bills Bears
Chargers Broncos
Chiefs Lions
Packers Raiders
Vikings Titans
17th game: Seahawks

Houston Texans 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Houston Texans 2021 away opponents Houston Texans 2021 home opponents
Colts Colts
Jaguars Jaguars
Titans Titans
Bills Chargers
Browns Jets
Cardinals Patriots
Dolphins Rams
49ers Seahawks
17th game: Panthers

Indianapolis Colts 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Indianapolis Colts 2021 away opponents Indianapolis Colts 2021 home opponents
Jaguars Jaguars
Texans Texans
Titans Titans
Bills Jets
Cardinals Patriots
Dolphins Rams
49ers Raiders
Ravens Seahawks
17th game: Buccaneers

Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 away opponents Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 home opponents
Colts Colts
Jaguars Jaguars
Titans Titans
Bengals Bills
Jets Broncos
Patriots Cardinals
Rams Dolphins
Seahawks 49ers
17th game: Falcons

Tennessee Titans 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Tennessee Titans 2021 away opponents Tennessee Titans 2021 home opponents
Colts Colts
Jaguars Jaguars
Titans Titans
Jets Bills
Patriots Cardinals
Rams Chiefs
Seahawks Dolphins
Steelers 49ers
17th game: Saints

Buffalo Bills 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Buffalo Bills 2021 away opponents Buffalo Bills 2021 home opponents
Dolphins Dolphins
Jets Jets
Patriots Patriots
Buccaneers Colts
Chiefs Falcons
Jaguars Panthers
Saints Steelers
Titans Texans
17th game: Washington

Miami Dolphins 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Miami Dolphins 2021 away opponents Miami Dolphins 2021 home opponents
Bills Bills
Jets Jets
Patriots Patriots
Buccaneers Colts
Jaguars Falcons
Raiders Panthers
Saints Ravens
Titans Texans
17th game: Giants

New England Patriots 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

New England Patriots 2021 away opponents New England Patriots 2021 home opponents
Bills Bills
Dolphins Dolphins
Jets Jets
Chargers Browns
Colts Buccaneers
Falcons Jaguars
Panthers Saints
Texans Titans
17th game: Cowboys

New York Jets 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

New York Jets 2021 away opponents New York Jets 2021 home opponents
Bills Bills
Dolphins Dolphins
Patriots Patriots
Broncos Bengals
Colts Buccaneers
Falcons Jaguars
Panthers Saints
Texans Titans
17th game: Eagles

Denver Broncos 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Denver Broncos 2021 away opponents Denver Broncos 2021 home opponents
Chargers Chargers
Chiefs Chiefs
Raiders Raiders
Browns Bengals
Cowboys Eagles
Giants Jets
Jaguars Ravens
Steelers Washington
17th game: Lions

Kansas City Chiefs 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Kansas City Chiefs 2021 away opponents Kansas City Chiefs 2021 home opponents
Broncos Broncos
Chargers Chargers
Raiders Raiders
Bengals Bills
Eagles Browns
Ravens Cowboys
Titans Giants
Washington Steelers
17th game: Packers

Las Vegas Raiders 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Las Vegas Raiders 2021 away opponents Las Vegas Raiders 2021 home opponents
Broncos Broncos
Chargers Chargers
Chiefs Chiefs
Browns Bengals
Colts Dolphins
Cowboys Eagles
Giants Ravens
Steelers Washington
17th game: Bears

Los Angeles Chargers 2021 schedule: Home and away opponents

Los Angeles Chargers 2021 away opponents Los Angeles Chargers 2021 home opponents
Broncos Broncos
Chiefs Chiefs
Raiders Raiders
Bengals Browns
Eagles Cowboys
Ravens Giants
Texans Patriots
Washington Steelers
17th game: Vikings

Why is each team playing 17 games in 2021?

As part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated in 2020, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to the potential of extending the season to include 17 regular-season games. After the NFL owners primarily agreed to the change in December, it became official in March 2021.

The 17th game will see each team face one extra opponent from the opposite conference. The opponent was determined based on the finishing positions of each team within their division. Therefore, the team finishing first in the AFC East (Buffalo Bills) will face the team finishing first in the NFC East (Washington Football Team).

For the 2021 season, the rotation sees the AFC East face the NFC East, the AFC West face the NFC North, the AFC South face the NFC South, and the AFC North face the NFC West. The divisions will rotate each year, and the home game will flip between the AFC and NFC each year, according to Profootballnetwork.

2021 NFL schedule: Top 9 prime-time games

Photo: sportsnaut
Photo: sportsnaut

9) Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 28 at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon

For the sake of this exercise, I'm operating under the assumption that Aaron Rodgers remains a Packer. If he doesn't ... well ... we'll pretend this blurb was actually a captivating preview of the mid-October meeting between Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. But Rodgers and the Cardinals have some pretty special history. Show me the fadeaway, Hail Mary! Remember, though: The Cardinals ended up winning that Divisional Round playoff game in overtime.

I think Arizona is loaded after an active free agency period and fruitful draft. Wisconsin native J.J. Watt gets his first piece of the Packers in a Cardinals uniform. Rodgers is always must-see TV, and if he does indeed stay with the Pack, Green Bay is a Super Bowl-caliber team. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are a show, too, and they have some pretty awesome Hail Mary history of their own.

8) Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

There are a number of reasons why I chose this game, starting with Justin Herbert. I'm obsessed with the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. He screams prime time. And the Steelers equal eyeballs. Everyone will be watching. That's the kind of stage a spectacular talent like Herbert deserves.

I also want to see gorgeous, new SoFi Stadium filled -- and I want it filled with Chargers fans. I already named the Bolts as my Cinderella team in 2021. I love this squad, with Herbert under center, Brandon Staley in the big chair, and a whole bunch of talent on defense. While I'm not high on this year's Steelers, I will operate under the assumption that this is Ben Roethlisberger's final season in Pittsburgh. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This could be one of his final games in prime time -- I will savor it. Especially with Big Ben going against a younger, spryer version of himself.

7) Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon

The key words above: "at Seattle Seahawks." After the COVID-19 pandemic kept them out of the building last season, the 12s will be rocking. But will this be their final season to root for Russell Wilson in Seattle?

This game always delivers. It's always fun and competitive, always down-to-the-wire and wacky. (I'm immediately reminded of "Greg the Leg" just missing a would-be game winner on Thursday night a couple years ago.) Sean McVay going head-to-head with Pete Carroll is a fabulous "game within the game." And the great Matthew Stafford gets his first taste of this division rivalry's nastiness in prime time.

6) Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Now here's a showdown I love being in prime time late in the year. These two teams provided an epic Monday night matchup last December, with the Ravens prevailing in Cleveland, 47-42. This year's late-November bout should be brimming with implications for the AFC North race and general playoff seeding.

These two teams are both loaded in 2021, and they do NOT like each other. Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson will always be linked together by the 2018 NFL Draft, in which Mayfield went first overall and Jackson came off the board with the last pick of the first round. Cleveland's stacked defense trying to chase down Lamar will be worth the price of admission alone.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 30 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network

Too high? Oh heck no! Trevor Lawrence vs. Joe Burrow in a matchup of the last two No. 1 overall draft picks. Two young studs at the game's most important position going head-to-head, with a bevy of weapons at their disposal. I'm obsessed with this game -- and it's early in the season, so the hype won't be muted by the win-loss totals of two teams that could be substandard by year's end. Brilliant job with the placement, schedule-makers! This is what you live for as a football fan. The last time we saw these two on the same field, Burrow's LSU Tigers were taking it to Lawrence's Clemson Tigers in the 2019 national title game. Something tells me the new face of the Jaguars hasn't forgotten that loss.

This contest also represents Urban Meyer's first prime-time game as an NFL head coach, and it takes place in the state where he's an icon following his legendary run at Ohio State.

4) Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson is electrifying for the football soul. You won't find two more exciting players in the NFL today -- not to mention, it's a matchup between two of the past three league MVPs. And these teams are tied together in some intriguing ways. The Ravens now employ former Chief Sammy Watkins. Also, Kansas City and Baltimore got together for a pre-draft trade that benefited both teams, with the Chiefs landing Orlando Brown to protect Mahomes and the Ravens gaining a pick package that ultimately netted explosive first-round edge rusher Odafe Oweh. Brown and Oweh figure to go up against each other at times in this very game.

With consecutive trips to the Super Bowl, Kansas City has become the class of the AFC. Baltimore has been stellar in the regular season of late, but the Lamar-led Ravens have yet to truly make their mark when it matters most. A win over the Chiefs would be a huge statement in the 2021 season's opening month.

3) Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

CAN'T WAIT. I'm so thrilled this was the league's choice for the Kickoff Game. Talk about starting a new season off with a bang! Tampa's running it back in an effort to go back-to-back. Like, seriously running it back. Every offensive starter returns. Every defensive starter returns. Shoot, the head coach and both coordinators return. The great Bucs fans couldn't fill the stadium in the midst of the global pandemic last season, so the joint will be jumping in 2021. But don't underestimate the Dallas intrigue in this opening-night tilt.

Dak Prescott is healthy and ready to rock after his devastating ankle injury abruptly ended a scintillating start to last season. (Don't forget that this cat averaged 422.5 passing yards per game over the first four weeks of the 2020 campaign.) Plus, he's armed -- finally -- with the nine-figure megadeal that he long deserved. Cowboys COO Stephen Jones was on my SiriusXM Radio show last week, and he didn't hide the high expectations in Big D after Dallas went heavy on defense in the draft. The Jones family is right to think big in 2021. With Prescott back at the controls, the offense will explode. The fresh faces on defense -- and the unit's new coordinator, Dan Quinn -- should help that side of the ball improve significantly from last year's historic awfulness.

I won't be surprised if the Cowboys win this game. I won't be surprised if these teams meet again in the playoffs.

2) Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

A nice AFC title game rematch in October? Yes, please!

Heading into the 2021 season, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen could be the top two candidates for league MVP. They are must-watch players on their own. Going against each other? Dreamy! Furthermore, think about all of the incredible pass-catching talents in this game. Stefon Diggs just led the NFL in catches (127) and receiving yards (1,535) during his first season in Buffalo, while Cole Beasley fell just short of his first 1,000-yard season and Gabriel Davis scored seven touchdowns as a rookie. And then there's Kansas City, which boasts the most explosive wideout (Tyreek Hill) and tight end (Travis Kelce) in football.

The Bills know they can play better than they did this past January on Championship Sunday. It's an early-season revenge game. And if Buffalo can knock off Kansas City -- in Arrowhead Stadium -- watch out!

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

It's the game of the year, bar none. This was a no-brainer decision for me, making Bucs-Pats the prime-time king. Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick for the first time ever. I get chills just typing that. And I'm glad it's this year, as opposed to last. Not only is Tampa Bay fresh off a Super Bowl title, but New England figures to be more competitive in the wake of a highly productive offseason that restocked the roster with oodles of talent via free agency and the draft. I'm also glad the game will take place earlier in the season, so the feel of Tampa being the defending champ still looms in a major way.

Belichick is the greatest coach in sports history, with an earned reputation of flummoxing the greatest offenses and quarterbacks. Will Brady feel the heat? Or will he rip Belichick apart? And with TB12 back in Foxborough, will the G.O.A.T. get a hero's welcome in the pregame, NFL reported.

Game-by-game predictions for the 2021 season

Photo: theringer
Photo: theringer

Week 1: at Panthers

Sunday, Sept. 12, 1 p.m.

The Zach Wilson era gets off to a great start, in a thriller at Bank of America Stadium. Former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold plays well in his first game for the Panthers, and Wilson has a solid debut for the Jets. But it's the Jets' defensive line that gets the job done in the fourth quarter, allowing Wilson to lead the game-winning drive after the Carolina offense stagnates.

Prediction: Jets

Week 2: vs. Patriots

Sunday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.

The Jets have lost 10 straight games to the Patriots, their worst streak in this rivalry. And this isn't an easy one to win, because the Patriots' offense is much deeper and more talented than it was a year ago. But, again, the Jets' defense makes the difference by getting to Cam Newton late in the game and forcing him into a key defeat. Not only do the Jets beat the Patriots for the first time since 2015, but they are two games over .500 for the first time since that season.

Prediction: Jets

Week 3: at Broncos

Sunday, Sept. 26, 4:05 p.m.

The Broncos were pretty good on defense in 2020, considering how many key players they lost. And with Von Miller expected to be back on the field, and Denver's upgrades on defense this offseason, they figure to have one of the best defenses in football. That leads to an understandably tough week for Wilson, as Vic Fangio dials up some looks that even a veteran would have a tough time with. It's not a disaster, but it's the Jets' first loss of the season.

Prediction: Broncos

Week 4: vs. Titans

Sunday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m.

One big storyline heading into this one is wide receiver Corey Davis, who joined the Jets in the offseason after a strong start to his career in Tennessee. Davis has a strong showing against this former teammates. But the problem for the Jets is stopping the Titans' run game. Derrick Henry has a big day and the Jets' lack of depth at cornerback leaves them susceptible to play-action, which the Titans use to make the big plays in a close game.

Prediction: Titans

Week 5: at Falcons (in London)

Sunday, Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m.

The Jets are 2-0 in regular-season games played outside of the United States. And they're going to have a good chance to win their third against an Atlanta team that is also trying to find its way back to relevancy. It will come down to the weapons. And rookie tight end Kyle Pitts is going to create the mismatches that make the difference in a close game.

Prediction: Falcons

Week 7: at Patriots

Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m.

The Jets haven't beaten the Patriots since 2015. And it's too much to ask them to sweep the season series. The Jets manage to keep this one respectable, something they haven't done during their past five games in New England, losing each by 14 points or more. But the Patriot's offense is starting to click and they find a way to get the job done.

Prediction: Patriots

Week 8: vs. Bengals

Sunday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m.

This is one of the better matchups of the season, as the battle at quarterback between this year's No. 2 pick, Wilson, and last year's No. 1 pick, Joe Burrow, could be the first of many over the years if things turn out the way both these teams want them to. This is an exciting game with Wilson and Burrow getting their new targets involved — the Bengals took receiver Ja'Marr Chase in the first round and the Jets took Elijah Moore early in the second — but the Jets come out on top and end their losing streak.

Prediction: Jets

Week 9: at Colts

Thursday, Nov. 4, 8:20, p.m.

The Colts are hoping to take the next step after a promising 11-5 season ended with a close loss to the Bills in the Wild Card round. The Jets are much improved, but they're not anywhere near that level yet. This is a tough opponent for them to get on a short week, as Wilson and the offense will have a challenge getting ready for one of the best defenses in football. It's too much to overcome.

Prediction: Colts

Week 10: vs. Bills

Sunday, Nov. 14, 1 p.m.

The Bills are the best team in the division and their defense should be improved after that was the one area of their 2020 season that didn't meet or exceed expectations. The Jets always seem to hang tough with Buffalo, and we don't expect that to change. But the Bills have more playmakers with more experience together and they find a way to get the job done in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Bills

Week 11: vs. Dolphins

Sunday, Nov. 21, 1 p.m.

The Dolphins' 10-win season in 2020 should be proof to the Jets that it is possible to turn things around quickly. And while the Jets are a little behind Miami in their own rebuild, they're still a much more competitive team than they were in 2020. It shows on this day, as Wilson gets his first taste of this rivalry by sending MetLife Stadium into a frenzy with a late, game-winning touchdown drive.

Prediction: Jets

Week 12: at Texans

Sunday, Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

This is the hardest game on the schedule to predict because no one knows if Deshaun Watson will be the quarterback for Houston at this point. If he is, the Texans are the favorite to win. But Watson seems intent on getting out of Houston and there's still the uncertainty about his legal situation. Without Watson, the Jets go to Houston and come away with a win for the first time there since 2009.

Prediction: Jets

Week 13: vs. Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 5, 1 p.m.

This game was added to the schedule in March when the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games. It doesn't end up as the ninth and final home game on the schedule, but it's a good opportunity for the Jets to get a win over a team that is clearly in the midst of its own rebuild. With the victory, the Jets have their first three-game winning streak since November of 2019.

Prediction: Jets

Week 14: vs. Saints

Sunday, Dec. 12, 1 p.m.

Drew Brees is gone, but the Saints are still a very deep team with a tough defense and explosive weapons on offense. Perhaps Jameis Winston will get a shot at starting, or maybe it'll be Taysom Hill. But no matter who it is, the Saints are the better team and they'll have plenty to play for. They come to MetLife and end the Jets' streak, kicking off perhaps the toughest stretch of the Jets' schedule.

Prediction: Saints

Week 15: at Dolphins

Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 18, 19, TBD

The Jets have a habit of going down to Miami and losing in soul-crushing fashion. That won't happen this time. They run into an angry Miami team, wanting revenge after their loss to the Jets earlier in the season. The Dolphins win comfortably and the Jets are left searching for their first win at Hard Rock Stadium since 2015.

Prediction: Dolphins

Week 16: vs. Jaguars

Sunday, Dec. 26, 1 p.m.

This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the season, as two rebuilding teams face off against each other with the top two picks of the draft starting at quarterback. This could be a tough day for Jets fans, who might be reminded of what they're missing out on in Trevor Lawrence. Instead, it's a tough day for the Jags. The Jets are the more talented team and Wilson gets them their seventh win of the season.

Prediction: Jets

Week 17: vs. Buccaneers

Sunday, January 2, 1 p.m.

When Tom Brady departed the Patriots for the Bucs in 2020, Jets fans hoped they had seen the last of him. But they probably knew better. Brady plays potentially his final game against the Jets and it's not the kind of ending the fans at MetLife will enjoy. Although, it would be a fitting send-off. And who's to say that Brady, 43, won't still be playing the next time the Bucs play at MetLife in 2029?

Prediction: Buccaneers

Week 18: at Bills

Sunday, January 9, 1 p.m.

Buffalo in early January? Woof. This is a tough one to end the season on for the Jets, and not just because of the weather. If the Bills have anything to play for, it's hard to see the Jets winning this game.

Prediction: Bills

Final record: 7-10

A tough finish to the season shows the Jets that they still have a ways to go before being a contender, but they head into 2022 knowing that they're on the right track, North Jersey cited.


You could make an outstanding viewing plan by watching nothing but the Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. They are here, plus a few more suggestions.

  • Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1): The blockbuster season opener will offer a very good early look at how much the Buccaneers' offense improved during an offseason together and how much better the Cowboys' defense can be after an offseason revamp.
  • Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (Week 3): Nobody had more injury hardship than the 49ers last year. This is an outstanding litmus test for a team many expect will bounce back to Super Bowl contention.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (Week 4): There is no bigger game this season. Or any other season.
  • Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 5): The AFC Championship Game rematch. Can the Bills get over the hump?
  • Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 9): Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes meet for the first time ... we think? Keep your fingers crossed for peace in Green Bay and that we get what might be the game of the year.
  • Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 11): Dak Prescott returns, but this is really a test for the Cowboys' new-look defense.
  • Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 14): How much better is the Bucs' offense after a year together? Can Josh Allen handle the Bucs' defense? A gauge of each team's championship hopes.
  • Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (Week 14): As Ben Roethlisberger's career nears its end, this could be the rivalry that defines the AFC North for years to come.
  • Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (Week 15): Because we all need some fun -- and Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert is near as fun to watch as Mahomes, especially in a late-season game that could have playoff implications.
  • Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (Week 15): The Rams sacked Russell Wilson five times in their playoff win last year. Does Matthew Stafford's arrival portend the Rams' ascension back to the top of the NFC's toughest division?
  • Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (Week 16): The first of what could be many meetings between the top two picks in this year's draft, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
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