Well, we are now just a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2021 NFL season and the hype is growing and growing. Pre-season is well underway and rosters are beginning to form. The 2021 season is set to be the longest ever with the addition of the 17th game for every team. Not only is it the longest season ever, but it could also be the very best.
2020 had no fans involved due to the global pandemic but 2021 is set to see every team back to having sold-out stadiums and passionate fans cheering on their teams. That mixed in with a schedule that has plenty of marquee matchups is why this season will be the best NFL season to date.
In this article, I will do my best to narrow down the plethora of great games to the three best, well the three that have the potential to be the best games of the season. So without further ado, let’s take a look.
Cleveland Browns At Pittsburgh Steelers
Who doesn’t love a revenge game? What makes this one even better is that it is a divisional rivalry. In the 2020 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns met three times with Cleveland edging it 2-1. That stat does not tell the full story however. In the first meeting of the season, the Steelers welcomed the Browns to Heinz field. Much was made of the Browns and how they should be considered playoff favorites for the 2020 season. Pittsburgh did their very best to put the Browns back in their place. Ben Roethlisberger and company romped to a 38-7 victory and kept their place firmly at the top of the AFC North.
This would be the end of the victory parade for the Steelers against the Browns in 2020. In the final week of the season, with the playoffs secured, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to rest their starters and this meant that Cleveland was able to get the win and take the momentum into the first week of the playoffs. Once into the playoffs, the Browns exercised many demons by convincingly defeating the Steelers and ending their rival’s hopes of a seventh Super Bowl.
All of which sets up for a great game in the final week of the 2021 season. Granted we need to wait a while for this matchup but it will be worth waiting for. Heinz Field could be playing host to a division decider and not just a playoff decider. Both these teams have improved in the offseason, with the Steelers adding a run game and the Browns bolstering their secondary, and will be thinking that they are the division champions in waiting. Week 17 is always exciting with the playoffs approaching but this game could be one of the best of the year. Let’s not forget it could be Ben Roethlisberger’s last ever game against the Cleveland Browns. Plenty of storylines.
Buffalo Bills At Kansas City Chiefs
For years now Tom Brady has ruled the AFC and has only ever really been challenged by Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and most recently Patrick Mahomes. (Since 2003 the only other player to win an AFC Championship game is Joe Flacco). Now his rule of the AFC is over and has been handed over to Patrick Mahomes…..or has it? A certain gunslinging quarterback in Buffalo may have something to say about that.
Josh Allen broke multiple Buffalo Bills records in 2020 as he led his team to the top of the AFC East for the first time in forever and went all the way to the AFC Championship game. Despite getting off to a great start against the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes led his team back and managed to advance to the Super Bowl. Buffalo’s defense was unable to stop the masterclass of Mahomes but since this game, the Bills have prepared for the 2021 season and improved. That being said, so have the Chiefs. A new offensive line should give Mahomes even more time to execute his magic.
Josh Allen will not want to lose again to Mahomes as he will be hoping to make this a competitive matchup for years to come. If he is to do that then he needs to get a win over the opposing quarterback. Lamar Jackson was hoping to be the one to challenge Patrick Mahomes for AFC dominance but he has failed time and time again to get one over on the Chiefs quarterback. Allen will not want to set a precedent here. He is already 0-2 against Mahomes and will need to turn that around if he wants to be considered the best quarterback in the league.
This game in mid-October could very easily be a sneak preview of the AFC Championship again. These quarterbacks lit up the league to a combined tune of 9,284 yards and 77 touchdowns in 2020 and were both considered in the race for the MVP. Something that they will both be hoping to do in 2021.
Green Bay Packers At San Francisco 49ers
For this one, we only need to wait until week three of the new season. A battle of two powerhouses of the NFC. Not only that, a battle of two teams who will be hoping to dethrone the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and be the team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Just like the Chiefs v Bills, this could be a sneak preview of the NFC Championship game.
San Francisco was ravaged by injury in 2020 and slumped to a measly six wins after reaching the Super Bowl the year before. Now that the players are back from injury they will be hoping to regain that 2019 form. There is no reason to suggest that they won’t. They have a strong defense, a strong running, and one of the best play-action games, and they have their choice of quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo can run this offense exactly how Kyle Shannahan wants it to be run but Trey Lance provides that spark and excitement that head coaches can’t help but fall in love with.
As things stand the starter is Jimmy Garoppolo but by week three that could be a different story. Trey Lance is the future of the 49ers and all that stands in his way is a couple of bad games from Garoppolo. As for Green Bay, they have the quarterback that was the league’s MVP last year finally involved in their pre-season and they will be hoping nothing else happens between now and this week three matchup.
Aaron Rodgers had a dominant 2020 year that was cut short in the NFC Championship game when his team lost out to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Much has been made during the preseason of the Green Bay Packers and whether or not Rodgers would be there for the start of the new season or not. As things stand he will be and that is great for the fans.
In the last ten years, both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers have competed in four NFC Championship games and played against each other in the 2019-2020 Championship game. Both franchises certainly have the players to make it back to the big game and the matchup in week three could be a sneak preview of things to come.
Narrowing the 2021 schedule down to just three games was near impossible as there are plenty of games that could have made the list. Nevertheless, all three games involve strong defenses, potent offenses, and quarterbacks that have a combined nine Super Bowl appearances. To go with that they all have an element of a revenge game, and everyone loves revenge games. All of which will make these games extremely interesting.
They might not be your choice of favorite games for the season but they are mine and you might not agree but that’s fine. Leave a comment with your favorite games for the upcoming 2021 season.
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