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2021 NFL Schedule: Release date, schedule changes, divisional opponents, key dates, more

With the the 2021 NFL Draft behind us, the next step this offseason is the anticipated release of the 2021 NFL schedule. Below are the answers to all the key questions to get you ready for the upcoming season.

When is the 2021 NFL schedule released?

Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the NFL schedule release?

A special Schedule Release '21 show will be broadcast live on NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12. The special will feature division-by-division analysis, breaking down the top matchups and all prime-time games.

When does the 2021 NFL season start?

The 2021 NFL Kickoff Weekend is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers being the customary host of the new season's official start.

For information on purchasing tickets, links to all 32 clubs' ticket pages can be found here.

How do they make the NFL schedule?

The league's 32 teams are split into two conferences — the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The 16 teams in each conference are split into the East, North, South and West divisions with every division containing four teams.

Here's a breakdown of how each team's opponents are set:

  • Six games against divisional opponents — two games per team, one at home and one on the road.
  • Four games against teams from a division within its conference — two games at home and two on the road.
  • Four games against teams from a division in the other conference — two games at home and two on the road.
  • Two games against teams from the two remaining divisions in its own conference — one game at home and one on the road. Matchups are based on division ranking from the previous season.

Team-by-team opponents for the 2021 NFL season can be found here. The top 10 matchups of the 2021 NFL season have already been laid out by's Nick Shook.

Insight on how the NFL schedule is created every season can be found here.

When and where is the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl LVI is scheduled to be played on Sunday, Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California -- home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.

Is the NFL having preseason games?

Yes. As part of the many changes approved by NFL owners ahead of the 2021 NFL season, this new year will feature three preseason games per club.

Is the NFL playing 17 Games?

Yes. NFL owners approved a 17-game schedule in March. Each club will now take part in an additional AFC vs. NFC game based on division standings from the prior season and on a rotating divisional basis with AFC teams as the home squad for the additional game this season.

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