Sundays are for football once again, as the 2021 NFL season is about to get underway. With that comes a full slate of Sunday Night Football games airing in primetime on NBC to cap off a full day of action.
Sunday Night Football has been a staple on NBC since 2006, featuring Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth as the announcing duo. The Sunday night matchup is typically one of the most anticipated games of the week, and the NFL makes sure of that later in the season when the option to flex games into Sunday Night Football arrives to spotlight important matchups based on how the season is playing out.
Sunday Night Football is one of the most-watched live TV programs running right now, so here’s what you need to know about the 2021 season of Sunday Night Football, including schedule and how to watch it.
While NBC will host the broadcast for the NFL’s kickoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that game will take place on Thursday, Sept. 9, so is actually a Thursday Night Football game. But don’t worry, we’re not going without a primetime Sunday game in week one, or any week for that matter in the entire regular season.
Here is the 2021 Sunday Night Football schedule; an asterisk notes that the game is subject to flex scheduling.
Week 1: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 3: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 5*: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 6*: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 7*: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 8*: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 9*: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 10*: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 11*: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 12*: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 13*: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 14*: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 15*: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 16*: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 17*: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
Week 18: TBD vs. TBD
Matchup preview: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
The first game of the Sunday Night Football slate will pit the Chicago Bears against the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams enter the season with new quarterbacks, but much different expectations.
For the Chicago Bears, the Mitchell Trubisky era of the last few years is over and the Justin Fields era (who they drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft) is about to begin; but after an expected short Andy Dalton tenure. The veteran Dalton is getting the nod to start as QB1 for the beginning of the season, though many predict that Fields will make his debut sooner rather than later.
The Bears are coming off a season where they finished with an 8-8 record but made the playoffs as a wild card team, only to be ousted in the first round by the New Orleans Saints. While they’re figuring out their quarterback situation, a roster that includes the likes of Allen Robinson, David Montgomery and Khalil Mack could allow for this team to once again be fighting for a playoff spot if the quarterback situation proves serviceable (essentially the Bears motto for the last 40 years).
It’s not going to be an easy start to the season, however, as the Rams are a favorite among many pundits to be one of the top teams in the NFC this season. The 2020 edition of the Rams went 10-6, earned another wild card spot and beat their divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs before losing to Green Bay in the second round. The Rams return many of their key pieces to one of the better defenses in the league, including Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd, as well as their dynamic receiving duo of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp on offense.
The Rams did suffer a key injury in the preseason, as they lost starting running back Cam Akers for the entire season. They added former New England Patriot Sony Michel via trade to join Darrell Henderson Jr. in the backfield.
Also new to the offense for the Rams is quarterback Matthew Stafford, who the team traded a ransom for in the offseason to try and finally get over the hump. The former Detroit Lion will play with arguably the best team he’s ever had, and one that is definitely in win-now mode.
As of Sept. 10, the point spread for the game favors the Rams by 7.5 points.
Sunday Night Football is an NBC production, meaning that the game airs on local NBC channels across the country. This makes it simple enough to watch for anyone still subscribing to a form of traditional cable, as NBC is included on all basic cable packages. Another old school method to watch the games includes using a TV antenna.
NBC is also a fixture on newer cable services like Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. All of these services feature a subscribers live local NBC channel in their base package. Each offers its own unique set of channel packages and services, but if you’re looking for simply the best deal of the bunch, that would probably have to go to Sling TV, on which you can watch Sunday Night Football on Sling TV Blue, which goes for $35 per month.
Those with access to NBC through a TV provider can also watch the games on the NBC Sports app, the NBC app of NBCSports.com when you provide your TV provider login.
A cable subscription is not necessary, however, to watch Sunday Night Football, as the Peacock streaming service will live stream the game every week to subscribers. A Peacock Premium account is required to stream Sunday Night Football, either the $4.99 ad-supported plan or the $9.99 ad-free version.
In addition to offering a live broadcast of the game, Peacock is debuting its own post-game show this year, Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. NBC Sports commentators Kathryn Tappen and Chris Simms will host and provide instant reactions to each game along with highlights and interviews. As part of the NBC Sports Channel on the streaming service, Peacock Sunday Night Football Final will be available to all Peacock subscribers for free, Premium or not.
NFL fans over in the U.K. will have the opportunity to watch Sunday Night Football games every week via Sky Sports’ NFL Channel. The home of live NFL action in the U.K., Sky Sports shows live Sunday, Monday and Thursday games. Make sure to have the tea brewing for the games, with the time difference between across the Atlantic, the 8:20 p.m. ET kickoffs for Sunday Night Football means a 1:20 a.m. kickoff for U.K. viewers.
If that’s too late (or early) for you, NFL Game Pass is an option. The international version of this subscription service offers live broadcasts of games as well as the opportunity to watch the full broadcast on-demand or a condensed version of the broadcast that only features the plays.
The other futbol may be the game that has a more international reputation, but if NFL fans find themselves spread out across the world but eager to tune in to Sunday Night Football they should look into a virtual private network. A VPN is designed to route network traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, allowing viewers to watch content on an encrypted feed over a computer.
ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it’ll help keep your network traffic away from any prying eyes on public networks.
And it’s a great way to keep up with action from anywhere in the world.View Deal