NFL Preseason Schedule 2021: Start date and opening weekend matchups

The 2021 NFL season will see the return of the preseason after its cancellation in 2020. With teams ready to return to preseason action, when does the 2021 NFL preseason start, what are the matchups and schedule, and how many games will each team play?

When does the 2021 NFL preseason start?

The 2021 NFL preseason has two different start dates. The first preseason game will be the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, August 5. August 12 will then see the preseason begin for the remaining teams. The first week of the preseason will be played across three days: August 12 to 14.

The second and third weeks of the season will follow over the next two weeks. Week 2 begins on Thursday, August 19 and concludes on Monday, August 23. Week 3 will subsequently take place between August 27-29.

2021 NFL Week 1 preseason matchups and schedule

All times listed for the 2021 NFL preseason are in eastern standard time (ET).

Hall of Fame Game | Thursday, August 5 | FOX

Cowboys at Steelers | 8 PM

Thursday, August 12 | Local/NFLN

Steelers at Eagles | 7:30 PM
Washington at Patriots | 7:30 PM

Friday, August 13 | Local/NFLN

Titans at Falcons | 7 PM
Bills at Lions | 7 PM
Cowboys at Cardinals | 10 PM

Saturday, August 14 | Local/NFLN

Dolphins at Bears | 1 PM
Broncos at Vikings | 4 PM
Saints at Ravens | 7 PM
Browns at Jaguars | 7 PM
Jets at Giants | 7:30 PM
Bengals at Buccaneers | 7:30 PM
Texans at Packers | 8 PM
Chiefs at 49ers | 8:30 PM
Seahawks at Raiders | 9 PM
Chargers at Rams | 10 PM

Sunday, August 15 | Local/NFLN

Panthers at Colts | 1 PM

Week 2 preseason matchups and schedule

What is the 2021 NFL preseason Week 2 schedule?

Thursday, August 19 | Local/NFLN

Patriots at Eagles | 7:30 PM

Friday, August 20

Bengals at Washington | 8 PM | Local/NFLN
Chiefs at Cardinals | 8 PM | ESPN

Saturday, August 21 | Local/NFLN

Bills at Bears | 1 PM
Jets at Packers | 4:25 PM
Falcons at Dolphins | 7 PM
Ravens at Panthers | 7 PM
Lions at Steelers | 7:30 PM
Titans at Buccaneers | 7:30 PM
Colts at Vikings | 8 PM
Texans at Cowboys | 8 PM
Broncos at Seahawks | 10 PM
Raiders at Rams | 10 PM

Sunday, August 22

Giants at Browns | 1 PM
49ers at Chargers | 7:30 PM | Local/NFLN
Jaguars at Saints | 8 PM | ESPN

Week 3 preseason matchups and schedule

What is the 2021 NFL preseason Week 3 schedule?

Friday, August 27 | Local/NFLN

Colts at Lions | 7 PM
Steelers at Panthers | 7:30 PM
Eagles at Jets | 7:30 pm
Vikings at Chiefs | 8 PM

Saturday, August 28 | Local/NFLN

Packers at Bills | 1 PM
Ravens at Washington | 4 PM
Bears at Titans | 7 PM
Buccaneers at Texans | 8 PM
Cardinals at Saints | 8 PM
Rams at Broncos | 9:05 PM
Chargers at Seahawks | 10 PM

Sunday, August 29

Jaguars at Cowboys | 1 PM | Local/NFLN
Dolphins at Bengals | 4 PM | CBS
Raiders at 49ers | 4 PM | Local/NFLN
Patriots at Giants | 7:30 PM | Local/NFLN
Browns at Falcons | 8 PM | NBC

How many games does each team play in the 2021 NFL preseason?

Following the introduction of the 17th game of the NFL regular season, the preseason is being reduced. Historically, teams played four preseason games, with the two teams participating in the Hall of Fame Game playing five. After there was no preseason ahead of the 2020 NFL season, the return of preseason football sees a reduction in the number of games.

Going forward, each team will play just three preseason games. The two teams playing in the Hall of Fame Game will be the only ones to play four.

The reduction in preseason games will see a longer gap between the final preseason game and the first regular-season game. Week 3 of the preseason will conclude on Sunday, August 29. Therefore, all NFL teams will have at least a 10-day gap between their final preseason game and their first regular-season game.

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Ben Rolfe is a content director at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN