The Kansas City Chiefs are all over the NFL’s primetime schedule in 2021. They — along with nine other teams — were given the maximum-allowable five scheduled primetime matchups when the NFL schedule was released on Wednesday night.
Interestingly, only three AFC teams made this list — the Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. But seven NFC teams have been given five primetime games: the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
From Wednesday night into Thursday, NFL news sites trotted out their lists of the season’s must-watch primetime games. The Chiefs figure prominently in almost all of them.
NFL.com’s Adam Schein picked two Chiefs games among his nine primetime favorites: the Week 2 Sunday Night Football game against the Ravens — ranked fourth on his list — while his second-ranked contest is the Chiefs’ Week 5 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
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 talent 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!
On The Big Lead, Liam McKeone picked the same two games in his top-five list — but flipped their positions, ranking the Chiefs-Ravens game as second-best.
The Chiefs and Ravens have met three times in the last three seasons. In 2018 and 2019, the combined margin of victory was only eight points (both Chiefs wins). That trend was bucked last year when Patrick Mahomes handled Baltimore and Lamar Jackson easily in primetime with a 34-20 victory, but I’m betting that’s the exception to the rule. These are two of the best teams in the AFC, boasting two former MVPs and the two most exciting quarterbacks in the game for vastly different reasons. With the game coming so early in the season, both sides will be looking to make a statement. Great football will be played, and that’s all we really want from a primetime matchup.
The best TNF games are always the ones that go completely off the rails (in a good way), and this one has potential. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert exchanging bombs against defenses with half a week of prep sounds like recipe for the best kind of chaos, and could have significant playoff ramifications that late in the season.
Over at Awful Announcing, Brad Gagnon ranked all 56 primetime games, placing four Chiefs games in the top 11: Chiefs-Ravens first, Chief-Bills second, Chiefs-Chargers 10th and the Chiefs’ Week 10 Sunday Night Football game against the Las Vegas Raiders as 11th.
Las Vegas played Kansas City tough last year so this could be quite compelling with the Chiefs on the road.
Gagnon, however, was less-than-complimentary about the team’s fifth primetime game: the Chiefs’ Week 8 Monday Night Football contest against the New York Giants — which he ranked 55th.
Two popular teams with strong fanbases — and I do have some hope for the Giants this year — but the blowout potential is pretty high at Arrowhead.
But we certainly expected one of Kansas City’s primetime matchups to be against the Packers. It’s possible to argue that the controversy surrounding quarterback Aaron Rodgers — which could potentially lead to Rodgers being traded to another team like the Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders — played a role in the league’s decision to make their Week 9 game a late-afternoon contest. But while acknowledging the uncertainty of the situation during an appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Thursday, the NFL’s director of broadcasting Charlotte Carey denied it played a significant role in the Chiefs-Packers game being a late-afternoon matchup.
“This one was a very unique situation — especially getting that late in the schedule process,” Carey said, per NFL.com. “At the end of the day, we have no idea what he’s going to do. We don’t know if he’s going to stay with the Packers. We don’t know if he’s going to get traded. And if he gets traded, where does he go? Beyond that, is he gonna retire? Is he gonna go host Jeopardy!? I don’t think any of us know.
“So when an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers is in that position, it’s definitely tricky for the schedule team. But we really just stuck to our guns. The Packers have a fantastic schedule this year. They’re a great football team. We hope No. 12 is under center, but if he’s not, we’re still all in on the Packers. They’re a big, big brand in the NFL and have a huge national following, so we’re all in.”
Packer Central’s Bill Huber touched on another potential angle: that the Packers are playing so many teams that appeared in the 2020 postseason, it was hard to settle on which Green Bay games would be in primetime.
Whether it’s Rodgers, Jordan Love or Blake Bortles [who was reportedly signed to the Packers on Thursday], the Packers face a daunting schedule – on paper, anyway. By opponent winning percentage, Green Bay will play the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL. With the addition of the Kansas City Chiefs as a 17th game, it will play a league-high 10 games against teams that reached the postseason last year.
And of course... the game could still end up being flexed to primetime. Should both the Packers and Chiefs make it to Week 9 with 8-0 records — or even if just one of them does — flexing the game into Sunday night would be a no-brainer for the league.
But even if that doesn’t happen, the Chiefs will be well-represented in as many of the league’s most visible and important games as any other team. Including late-afternoon contests, 10 of Kansas City's 17 games will be available to national audiences.
It’s a great time to be alive.