The Kansas City Chiefs will start their 2021 season with some similarities to how they ended 2020.
The Chiefs will play their entire AFC postseason slate from last year, facing both the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, in the first five weeks of the season.
It’s part of an intriguing schedule that includes five primetime games for the Chiefs in the first 17-game regular season in NFL history.
They open the 2021 season at home on Sunday, Sept. 12 against the Browns, who they bested 22-17 in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on Jan. 17, 2021.
The rematch, though, represents a formidable challenge. The Browns kept that game close despite playing without injured star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
They have since signed Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year, $8 million deal to pair with Myles Garrett and give them two former No. 1 overall picks to man the defensive end positions. The Browns also were praised for their draft class after selecting Greg Newsome II, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Anthony Schwartz in the first three rounds, respectively.
The Chiefs, however, won that playoff game without Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was out with a leg injury, and, of course, Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter and did not return.
In the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, 2021, the Chiefs defeated the Bills for the second time last season. They won the playoff game 38-24 after coming back from a 9-0 deficit.
The Bills will seek revenge when they travel to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for Sunday Night Football on Oct. 10.
It is just one of the five primetime games the Chiefs are slated to play. They visit the Baltimore Ravens for Sunday Night Football in Week 2, host the New York Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 8, visit the Las Vegas Raiders for Sunday Night Football in Week 10 and visit the Los Angeles Chargers for Thursday Night Football in Week 15.
Many expected the Chiefs-Green Bay Packers game in Week 9 to be in primetime too since it could be the first matchup between two regular-season MVP and Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes, who missed the 2019 game against Rodgers because he was recovering from a knee injury.
That exciting quarterback matchup on Nov. 7, however, could be in peril. Even though Rodgers has three years left on his four-year, $134 million extension he signed in 2018 and is due $22 million this season, there have been rampant rumors that he will sit out the season or force a trade from the Packers.
Even if that quarterback matchup doesn’t materialize, Mahomes should face another future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger — and perhaps for the last time on Dec. 26 at Arrowhead. The 39 year old’s one-year, $14 million contract expires after the season.
The Chiefs have beaten the Steelers’ rival, the Ravens, in three straight seasons. This year’s game — a Sept. 19 contest — not only will serve as a likely battle of conference supremacy, but also feature a couple of prominent reunions.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who missed 14 games during his three years with the Chiefs but excelled in the postseason, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Ravens. And protecting Mahomes’ blindside will be recently-acquired Orlando Brown Jr., who enters the last year of his rookie deal after spending the first three years of his career with the Ravens.
Andy Reid will return to his old stomping grounds when he makes his second trip to Philadelphia — where he served as Eagles head coach from 1999 to 2012 — since joining the Chiefs. Kansas City won 26-16 in Philadelphia on Sept. 20, 2013.
This time the Chiefs play the Eagles in Week 4 on Oct. 3.
It will be a homecoming for Reid during what Chiefs fans hope will be another special season, ending in a third straight Super Bowl appearance.