The Kansas City Chiefs' 2021 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate on Wednesday.
The 2021 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing the Dallas Cowboys. ESPN will have a Monday Night Football game on Sept. 13 featuring the Baltimore Ravens against the Las Vegas Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET).
The NFL will change its schedule for the first time in 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played January 9, 2022. The playoffs begin January 15, 2022 and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.
Here's what in store for the Chiefs:
Sept. 12: vs. Cleveland
Sept. 19: at Baltimore (SNF)
Sept. 26: vs. L.A. Chargers
Oct. 3: at Philadelphia
Oct. 10: vs. Buffalo (SNF)
Oct. 17: at Washington
Oct. 24: at Tennessee
Nov. 1: vs. NY Giants (MNF)
Nov. 7: vs. Green Bay
Nov. 14: at Las Vegas (SNF)
Nov. 21: vs. Dallas
Nov. 28: BYE
Dec. 5: vs. Denver
Dec. 12: vs. Las Vegas
Dec. 16: at L.A. Chargers (TNF)
Dec. 26: vs. Pittsburgh
Jan. 2: at Cincinnati
Jan. 9: at Denver
Strength of schedule: T-11th, .511
If the Chiefs are to win a sixth straight AFC West title, they may have to wait to put some distance between themselves and their division rivals. The Chiefs play just one divisional game in the first nine weeks, that coming in Week 3 against the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs then finish with five AFC West games in the final eight, including a three-game stretch in Weeks 13 through 15. The biggest reason the Chiefs have dominated the division is that they've dominated their AFC West opponents.
One storyline to watch
The Chiefs usually get off to fast starts under coach Andy Reid, but will that be the case this year? They will be tested immediately in the season opener by the Browns, who put a scare into the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs last season, and the Ravens in Week 2. The Chiefs are trying to overcome their Super Bowl LV debacle against the Buccaneers, their most lopsided loss since Patrick Mahomes became their starting quarterback. It's difficult to believe that one loss could drag down the Chiefs, who between regular and postseasons had won 25 of 27 games before the Super Bowl. But that loss was so complete, making it natural to wonder how the Chiefs will respond to such a blowout. Another question: Did the Browns and other early opponents learn anything they can use from the way the Bucs took Mahomes and the Chiefs off their game. The Chiefs have won their last six season-openers and started each of the past four seasons by winning their first four games.
What Vegas thinks
Oddsmakers have the Chiefs at 12 wins. The over seems a reasonable take given the Chiefs have won at least 12 games in each of the past three seasons, or in each of their years with Patrick Mahomes as the starting quarterback . They have that 17th game to get to that total this year.
The Chiefs won't get off to their usual fast start. They have too many strong opponents in the early season. Five of their first seven games are against 2020 playoff teams.