Isn’t it amazing how much of an event the NFL’s schedule release has become?
The unveiling of the 2021 version was a primetime television event on Wednesday night, as it has been in recent years. NFL teams’ social media accounts have teased the release for weeks, and everyone has a take on how their favorite team’s schedule lays out.
That includes us at Arrowhead Pride; we recorded a rapid reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2021 schedule on Wednesday night. It can be heard on the Arrowhead Pride Podcast network.
The only thing sillier than overanalyzing the layout of the team schedule is making game-by-game predictions four months before the season — so that’s EXACTLY what I’ll be doing in this article. Let’s put some way-too-early predictions on the record:
Chiefs’ 2021 Schedule
Week 1 - vs. Cleveland Browns (Sept. 12, 3:25 PM, CBS)
I believe Cleveland will be among the most competitive teams to the Chiefs in the AFC this season. Their playoff appearance in 2020 proved they were an all-around team with good coaching. They’ve made significant improvements to their defense, and another year of experience can only help quarterback Baker Mayfield
All that said, the Chiefs aren’t losing the first game back inside a full-capacity Arrowhead Stadium. Plus, the Browns seem like a team that may not hit their stride until later in the campaign. WIN, 1-0.
Week 2 - at Baltimore Ravens (Sep. 19, 7:20 PM, NBC)
For the fourth-consecutive season, the Chiefs and Ravens will face off in what should be an important game in the AFC playoff picture. The Chiefs have won all three of the previous matchups; the last two were also very early in the regular-season campaign. I believe that factor gives the Chiefs an advantage.
Head coach Andy Reid and company have all offseason to game plan specifically for Baltimore’s style of play — a style they are familiar with; the Ravens haven’t had any significant coaching turnover. WIN, 2-0.
Week 3 - vs. Los Angeles Chargers (Sept. 26, 12:00 PM, CBS)
Unlike the Ravens, the Chargers have had coaching turnover: rookie head coach Brandon Staley was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams last season, where he headed a unit that was considered the best in the NFL. He’ll have a lot of individual talent to work with in Los Angeles’ defense. Not to mention the young, rising star at quarterback — Justin Herbert — and an improved offensive line to protect him.
They’ll be a worthy adversary in the AFC West this season, but they don’t come into Arrowhead and win this early in the season. WIN, 3-0.
Week 4 - at Philadelphia Eagles (Oct. 3, 12:00 PM, CBS)
This will be the first time Andy Reid will return to Philadelphia since Week 4 of 2013 — his inaugural season with the Chiefs. There will always be an underlying motivation to come out victorious against his former franchise.
That’s not the reason the Chiefs win though. The Eagles are a work in progress, and won’t be able to compete. WIN, 4-0.
Week 5 - vs. Buffalo Bills (Oct. 10, 7:20 PM, NBC)
The first primetime game at Arrowhead Stadium with the seats completely filled should be a magical evening. I’d be surprised if the team didn’t break out the red-on-red uniforms for this game. The opponent will match the significance of this big game.
Buffalo is clearly the second-best AFC team if you ask me, and they’ll be hungry to avenge last year’s AFC championship disappointment. The Bills become the latest team to upset the Chiefs in an October home game. LOSS, 4-1.
Week 6 - at Washington Football Team (Oct. 17, 12:00 PM, CBS)
While the Washington defense will absolutely be a problem for opponents, their offense will be very high variance in their results. Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to be the starting quarterback, and that could either mean a high-flying passing offense or a disastrous, multi-turnover game.
I see Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo forcing the latter. WIN, 5-1.
Week 7 - at Tennessee Titans (Oct. 24, 12:00 PM, CBS)
When you think of AFC contenders in 2021, don’t think of the Titans. They’re due to come down to earth this year: they lost wide receiver Corey Davis, tight end Jonnu Smith, and biggest of them all: offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Their defense was already one of the league’s worst, and now their offense will be less dynamic.
This shouldn’t be a game that Chiefs fans worry too much about. It should make for a fun road trip though. WIN, 6-1.
Week 8 - vs New York Giants (Nov. 1, 7:15 PM, ESPN)
The Giants are a team that has a lot of different, realistic outcomes. They seem to have a talented defense and an improved group of offensive skill positions, but it all hinges on how quarterback Daniel Jones plays.
Even if he does make progress this season, it’s hard to imagine Jones stepping up to the plate in primetime at Arrowhead to overcome the Chiefs. WIN, 7-1.
Week 9 - vs. Green Bay Packers (Nov. 7, 3:25 PM, FOX)
This could either be one of the NFL’s most exciting games of the season, or just another interconference game with no real implications. It all depends on how the Aaron Rodgers saga plays out.
If Rodgers is the team’s quarterback for this game, it should be as exciting a matchup as any for the Chiefs in 2021. The Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender as long as Rodgers is under center, so this could be a title game preview. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs step up to that challenge. WIN, 8-1.
Week 10 - at Las Vegas Raiders (Nov. 14, 7:20 PM, NBC)
The Raiders proved they knew how to play with the Chiefs and stay in a competitive game with their division rival in 2020. They came into Arrowhead and upset Kansas City the first game, then hung in the second matchup until the last second. Now, they’ll have the new black hole behind them to make it a tough environment for the Chiefs specifically.
This could be a tough game, but I can’t bring myself to predict the Chiefs to lose to the Raiders. Besides, Las Vegas may have become a worse overall team than they were last year based on their offseason. WIN, 9-1.
Week 11 - vs. Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 21, 3:25 PM, FOX)
This game is one that I will be anticipating the most. With a healthy Dak Prescott at quarterback, the Cowboys are absolutely one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Statistically, Prescott was one of the league’s best quarterbacks before getting hurt last season.
This could be a fun shootout. If Dallas performs up to their ceiling leading up to this week, we could be calling this a potential Super Bowl preview by the time it comes around. I do think the Chiefs are still the better overall team. WIN, 10-1.
Week 13 - vs. Denver Broncos (Dec. 5, 12:00 PM, CBS)
Denver is one good quarterback away from being a very serious threat in the AFC West. However, their options right now are Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater — and neither moves the needle very much.
If either of those two are the full-time starter, I’m not expecting much out of the Broncos this season. WIN, 11-1
Week 14 - vs. Las Vegas Raiders (Dec. 12, 12:00 PM, CBS)
Chiefs aren’t losing to the Raiders at home again, although it’s reasonable to see Kansas City looking ahead to the Thursday Night Football game in Week 15. WIN, 12-1
Week 15 - at Los Angeles Chargers (Dec. 16, 7:20 PM, FOX, NFLN, Amazon)
As I mentioned before, there’s a lot to like about the Chargers coming into 2021. At this point in the season, they should be hitting their stride and pushing for a playoff spot. They’ll be highly motivated to beat their AFC West foe with possible playoff implications on the line.
Besides that, the game is on the west coast on Thursday night — meaning the short week and time difference could play a role in this late-season battle. LOSS, 12-2.
Week 16 - vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Dec. 26, 3:25 PM, CBS)
I see the bottom falling out for Pittsburgh this season. I can see quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally admitting he needs to retire, the defense regressing, and their offensive line is suddenly very shaky.
I don’t expect the Steelers to be in the postseason mix at all in 2021. WIN, 13-2.
Week 17 - at Cincinnati Bengals (Jan. 2, 12:00 PM, CBS)
The Bengals are a promising team with a handful of young, individual talent. By this time in the 2021 season, quarterback Joe Burrow and company could feel more comfortable running the system and become a scrappy, competitive opponent for any team.
They won’t be able to pull this one out, but these are not the same Bengals we are used to from recent seasons. WIN, 14-2.
Week 18 - at Denver Broncos (Jan. 9, 3:25 PM, CBS)
I see the Chiefs clinching the top seed in the AFC and not needing to play starters against the Broncos. That makes this a meaningless loss ahead of the postseason. LOSS, 14-3.
Final Record: 14-3
This is absolutely a tough schedule for the Chiefs. They’ll play most of the legitimate AFC contenders, while also seeing two possible NFC contenders.
It won’t be easy to get to 14-3, but the players that were in Kansas City in 2020 will be highly motivated following an embarrassing Super Bowl LV loss — and the new additions will prove to be significant upgrades to the units they’re joining. Once again, this team should clearly be the top team in the AFC.