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10 things Bills fans need to know about the 2021 NFL schedule

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1. AFC title game rematch comes early

Buffalo's gets its opportunity to exact revenge on the team that accounted for half of their losses in 2020 when the Bills travel to face the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 5 in a nationally televised game on Sunday night (8:20 pm).

It's a week earlier than their matchup with the Chiefs last season (Week 6) and it will be on the road.

Patrick Mahomes and company beat Buffalo (26-17) in the regular season and the AFC Championship game last year (38-24), giving Mahomes a 2-0 mark in head-to-head matchups with Josh Allen.

Kansas City has spent most of their offseason fortifying their offensive line while the Bills kept their offensive line together and bolstered their pass rush with each of their top two draft choices.

The last time the Bills played the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the regular season was in 2017, a 16-10 victory.

2. Four primetime games including Thanksgiving

For the second consecutive season the Bills will have four of their regular season games in primetime. Last season Buffalo was scheduled to appear in one Thursday night game, one Sunday night game and a pair of Monday night matchups. Their Thursday night game against Kansas City last season was ultimately moved due to COVID complications as they played at 5 pm on a Monday.

This season Buffalo's primetime positioning is identical. A Thursday night game on Thanksgiving at New Orleans, the aforementioned Sunday night game at Kansas City. Then in Week 6 a Monday night tilt at Tennessee and a Monday night matchup in Week 13 at home against New England.

It's the second time in three seasons the Bills are playing on Thanksgiving. Buffalo beat Dallas on the road 26-15 in Week 13 of the 2019 season.

The most interesting thing about Buffalo's primetime schedule is they're lined up in back-to-back pairs.

Week 5 is Sunday night at Kansas City followed by Week 6 Monday night at Tennessee.

Then Week 12 Thursday night, Thanksgiving day in New Orleans and Week 13 Monday night hosting the Patriots.

Two of their four primetime games last season were also back to back when they played at San Francisco (in Arizona) on Monday night and then hosted Pittsburgh the following week on Sunday night.

3. Home early, home late, a scheduling first

Buffalo has a very good chance to get off to a fast start in the win column and finish strong if the Bills can make home field advantage count.

The Bills open the season with three of their first four games at home (Pittsburgh – Week 1, Washington – Week 3, Houston – Week 4).

Then they close out the season with three of their last four games at home (Carolina – Week 15, Atlanta – Week 17, NY Jets – Week 18).

It marks the first time in team history that Buffalo hosts three of their first four games as well as three of their last four games in the regular season.

The Bills were 7-1 at home last season.

4. Bills have to wait for crack at Super Bowl champs

While much was made of the possibility of seeing the Bills face the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in the league's Kickoff Game on Thursday night Sept. 9th, Buffalo won't even see Tampa Bay in the first half of the season.

The Bucs host the Bills in Week 14 for a 4:25 pm kickoff.

Josh Allen in three shots against Tom Brady as the quarterback in New England could not pull out a victory against the now seven-time Super Bowl champ. Brady is 3-0 against Allen head-to-head. In fact, Brady has more wins against Buffalo than any other opponent in his career (32 victories).

The game could prove to be a heavy passing affair. Both Allen and Brady finished in the top five in passing yards and passing touchdowns last season.

Buffalo last faced Tampa Bay in 2017, Sean McDermott's first season as head coach for the Bills. Tre'Davious White forced a fumble with just over two minutes to play in 27-27 game and recovered the ball at the Tampa 33-yard line to put Buffalo in position for a game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining (30-27).

The Bills last game in Tampa came in the 2013 season, which was also played in Week 14 that year.


5. Sunshine state tour

The Bills will face each of the three NFL clubs in the state of Florida on the road this season. The previously mentioned road game at Tampa Bay in Week 12 is the last of those three.

The first is the Week 2 division matchup in Miami with the second being a Week 9 road game at Jacksonville.

The Bills have never played all three Florida-based teams on the road in one season in their history.

The last time Buffalo faced the Jaguars in Jacksonville was 2009, falling 18-15. The Bills last appearance in Tampa Bay was in 2013 (L – 27-6).

During their last visit to Miami, the Bills won 31-28 also in Week 2 last year.

6. Dolphins up front, Pats and Jets in the back

Speaking of the Dolphins, they'll be the first AFC East rival the Bills will face in 2021. In fact, they'll play the Dolphins twice before facing either of their other two division opponents this season.

After their Week 2 matchup at Miami, Buffalo hosts the Dolphins on Halloween in Week 8 following their Week 7 bye.

The Bills don't have their first meeting with the Jets until Week 10 when they play in New Jersey and don't see the Patriots until Week 13. The second matchup with New England comes in Foxborough in Week 16 the day after Christmas and they see the Jets again in Week 18 to wrap up the regular season in Orchard Park.

7. Strength of schedule is down

The Bills strength of schedule ranks tied for 23rd in the league this season. It's in stark contrast to last year's slate, which was tied for fifth strongest.

The Bills have nine games against teams that finished under .500 last year.

Buffalo does face seven teams with 10 wins or more from last season and seven total playoff teams from 2020. They also face three of the league's top 10 pass defenses from last season in Pittsburgh, New England and New Orleans.

Not that it was a problem for Josh Allen. The Bills QB went 6-1 with 17 passing touchdowns against six interceptions against top 10 pass defenses in 2020. In three of those games he had four passing TDs or more, the most in the NFL against top 10s.  

Only one playoff team from 2020 has an easier schedule than the Bills and it's one of their opponents this fall. Tampa Bay has a strength of schedule of .465 which is marginally weaker than Buffalo's .478.

The 2021 season schedule is here! Scroll through to see when our games will be.

8. The gauntlet?

Even though overall strength of schedule is down, there is one particularly challenging stretch of the Bills slate. The pod of games from Week 11 through Week 14 could be their most difficult string of matchups.

It begins with the team they narrowly defeated in the AFC Wild Card game last postseason when they host Indianapolis. That's followed by the Thanksgiving day game on the road on short rest in New Orleans.

Then the Bills rest up to host New England on Monday night, and then they have a day less to prepare for the Super Bowl champs on the road in Tampa Bay.

Three of those opponents won 11 games last year and qualified for the postseason.

9. Nashville reprise

For the third consecutive season the Bills will travel to Nashville to face the Titans. Buffalo won at Tennessee in 2019 (14-7) but, lost a rescheduled game in the wake of the Titans COVID outbreak in 2020 (42-16) on a Tuesday night.

Buffalo and Tennessee have played each other in each of the last three seasons, with the Bills hosting the Titans in 2018 and winning on a last second field goal 13-12 in Week 5 that year.

The matchups with the Titans is also one of the Bills four primetime games this season. The last time the Bills and Titans tangled in primetime was in 2000 when Buffalo beat Tennessee in a Sunday night season opener in Orchard Park 16-13.

10. Another TBD game

Last year the Bills had a Week 15 game that was either going to be played on a Saturday or a Sunday at Denver. It wound up being played on Saturday, Dec. 19th at 4:30 pm, a game won convincingly by Buffalo 48-19 over the Broncos.

The Bills are in that same boat this season as they again have a Week 15 game that will either be played on Saturday Dec. 18th or Sunday Dec. 19th against the Carolina Panthers.

The good news for Buffalo this time around is it's a home game as Josh Allen faces his good friend and fellow draft classmate from 2018, Sam Darnold.