The 2021 regular season officially begins where the 2020 season ended.
The next NFL campaign opens with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers raising a banner and hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
NBC announced on Wednesday morning that Cowboys-Bucs launches the first 17-game slate in league history on Thursday, September 9. It will be Game No. 1 of 272.
The Buccaneers won their second Super Bowl title in February on the same field. They were the first team to play in a Super Bowl staged in their home stadium.
New Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who fell to Brady as the Seattle defensive coordinator in Super Bowl XLIX and the Falcons head coach in Super Bowl LI, will get a baptism by cannon fire against a Tampa Bay offense that returns all significant weapons. Ditto for the defense, as the Bucs become the first team since the 1970s to return all 22 starters.
For the Cowboys, the game will mark the return of quarterback Dak Prescott, who suffered a broken ankle in Week Five of the 2020 season. The Dallas offense is potent, and it could be a high-scoring and entertaining game.
The other options to start the season in Tampa were the Bills, Dolphins, Giants, Falcons, Saints, Panthers, and Bears. Each of those teams will play in Tampa at some point between Week Two and Week 18.
The full schedule officially will be released tonight. Leaks throughout the day are inevitable.